What issues do men have anyway?

Many people believe ‘men are still on top’.

In most countries, men make up 50% of the population; this is the situation in Australia. But men make up 93% of the gaol population here in Australia. Men are more likely to be violent criminals (and the victims of violent crime). Every week, stories of every depravity possible, mostly committed by men: murder, abuse, rape, torture.

Let alone the self-harm! Men in Australia are 4 times more likely to kill themselves than women. For men in rural areas, the rate is seven times…Depression, alcoholism, substance abuse, gambling, domestic violence, the list continues!

Men commit these things. But is it inevitable? Does the Y-chromosome condemn a proportion of us to be criminals, monsters? I don’t believe it. It was important for women that feminism uprooted and demolished the roles that women were imprisoned in. But some extreme feminists blamed men for everything. Genetically inferior, masculinity was something to be quashed, mocked, ashamed of. Men had no gifts to bring. Fathers, when not being depicted as suspicious, dark, destructive, were painted as idiotic, incompetent, fools, large children in men’s bodies, kept out of trouble by a wise and all-knowing mother.

The simplification of the extreme feminist message was that it ignored the suffering of men; that just as women had suffered under roles that crushed them, so had men. Starting with the economic pattern established in 18th Century England and Scotland, men were forced by necessity out of their villages and farms and into the cities and factories; families and communities broken up. Men started working 12 hour shift work in factories, mills, mines, shipyards. Men’s role in the family was distorted into that of primarily the walking wallet, the main contribution money. What else could you expect when the father came home, exhausted after 12 hours of exhausting and repetitive work? Boys were encouraged to be violent, competitive. “Prove you’re a man!”. At least in the Australian experience, artistic or intellectual tendencies were suspect. God forbid anyone think you might be gay!

The feminist message also implicitly stated that the men who were the oppressors, the criminals, were ‘on top’, were the ‘winners’ out of the system. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that men who commit such crimes or live such lives are hardly to be envied. They are pathetic, distorted people, they are not really men.

And that is it actually. How do we get ourselves out of this hole? Nothing less than redrawing what we think a man is. Redefining what we think masculinity might encompass. What fatherhood could be.

What an incredible opportunity we have! We can break the pattern that has hamstrung us, our fathers and grandfathers. We can dream of what manhood can be. We can bequeath that new vision to our sons, help them grow to be freer, healthier men than we are. For a start, we could dump the ridiculous idea that you need to ‘prove’ that you are a man!

This blog is partly about what that new vision could be…

Published in: on Monday, 6 September 2010 at 9:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Mythocracy

Time to clear out the bullshit

Marc Rudov lists five myths about women:

1. “Women don’t like or need sex as much as men”

2. “Women aren’t as visually stimulated or as obsessed with looks as men are.”

3. “Women are more faithful than men.”

4. “Women are more relationship oriented than men – men prefer to date.”

5. “Women are kinder, gentler and more romantic than men.”

These implicit myths about women are as much a problem for women as they are for men. They are bullshit, and blanket endow all women with virtues they may not necessarily have.

How about if we flip these on their head?

1. “Men don’t like or need sex as much as women”

2. “Men aren’t as visually stimulated or as obsessed with looks as women are.”

3. “Men are more faithful than women.”

4. “Men are more relationship oriented than women – women prefer to date.”

5. “Men are kinder, gentler and more romantic than women.”

It does seem odd to read these flipped-around myths – but I bet you can think of your own examples where men have been more faithful, gentle, or less focussed on sex than women. Women will shout these down as exceptions to the rule but I believe this is more because they feel their position on Mt Moral High Ground is threatened rather than because the myths are true. The myths, to a degree, also socially condition men and women and frame how they see each other.

Men have been imprisoned in a cage that refuses to acknowledge their fidelity, their self-control, their ability to see beyond mere surface appearance, their empathy, idealism, kindness and that all these qualities are a part of masculinity. The cold, unemotional John Wayne is bullshit — and men should junk this false cardboard cutout of maleness.

The 50s tough guy man is a modern invention and denies the great spirit, and tradition of male emotion and experience. We men are able to control our emotions – we must do so to be to be good firemen, coast guards or policemen. Our ability to control our emotions is a great strength of men and one that was always traditionally celebrated. The great sagas, fairy tales and epic poems celebrate this and look down on men who gave in to their passions and indulged their emotions without any vestige of thought or reason.

Up til not long ago, popular tales or accounts of men, of explorers, shipwreck survivors or soldiers, often celebrated this ability to control fear, despair and other destructive emotions, and men’s strength in getting on with the job. If you are in an overcrowded lifeboat in the Midatlantic, and you are running out of water, and you are suffering from sunstroke, it is not helpful to crawl into a ball and cry as the water seeps in through the caulking in the boat.

There is a great difference between control and denial. By controlling emotions, it doesn’t mean we deny them, it just means that we need to know when and how to let those emotions flow. Manginas get it wrong, because they think that maleness and emotionality are incompatible. We men have our own emotions and they cannot be anything but masculine. How could they not be – we are men! Men’s emotions simply differ in degree of maturity and his progress along the path of manhood.

As for fidelity, it is simply a fact that women cheat as much as men – but other women generally ‘close ranks’ and give ad hoc excuses for why that woman’s infidelity was OK “She must have felt destitute” or “He probably never listened to her/He ignored her” etcetera.

I grant full equality to women: they can be as shallow, destructive, duplicitous, brutal, callous, cynical, lecherous, manipulative and hollow as men can be.

We men don’t have to accept the myths that grant women immunity from their vices. Don’t buy into them, and don’t let women hoist their pennant, unchallenged, on Mt Moral High Ground.

Don’t accept these myths, don’t be a willing sheep in the Mythocracy.


Published in: on Saturday, 19 January 2008 at 6:01 pm  Comments (3)  
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What this blog is about

Men Working Together

Ask most women whether there should be a National Men’s Day, and they will laugh at you. “Every day is a man’s Day! What problems do men have?”

Men have many problems. We die younger than women, we commit suicide more frequently, and we are responsible for most of the crime and a lot of the violence in society. But it is a fatal step to infer that men are the problem per se. The problem is, we don’t have enough strong, healthy, balanced and loving men. We don’t have enough men who are free of women; men who neither seek to dominate nor submit to them.

The problem boils down to what men think a man truly is. You have John Wayne on the one hand, and Woody Allen on the other. The tough guy and the SNAG. Both are a load of crap.

There is so much bullshit about men, and we are suffering from it. Plenty of other blogs in the Men Going Their Own Way movement discuss the myths and lies about men, and with humour and a good deal of potent argument they demolish them.

But after the smoke has cleared and we all crawl out of the craters, there is some space for rebuilding what men actually are and can be.

This blog is about men, from a young Australian man’s perspective. This blog is about us, what we need, what makes us tick and how we can go forward. I want to talk about and provoke thought, and from thought, action such that men can redefine where they are going. Because where we are at now sucks, and where we have come from wasn’t that hot either.
We can make the change; the first step is to seed the ideas.

Gentlemen, we have a long road to go. At least let’s go down it together.

Published in: on Monday, 6 August 2007 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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