I can’t stop thinking about the article Paul, Tom, and I discussed two weeks ago from the New York Post entitled “Broke men are hurting American women’s marriage prospects.” According to the article by Hannah Frishberg, women want to “marry up,” (i.e. improve their financial status through marriage) and the lack of men with good jobs today is making that difficult. As Paul said at the time, boo hoo for them!
I have a confession to make. I married up. My husband is smarter than I am and has a lot more cultural capital. I suppose we all have our personal biases.
But I can honestly say that financial considerations never entered into my decision.
And why should it have? From the time I was a little girl in the early 1970s, during the groundswell of the Second Wave of feminism, it was made clear to me that I wouldn’t have to marry for money. In fact, I was under the impression that this was a relic of ancient times when women’s ability to support themselves was limited. I always worked and eventually I found a great job. I could marry for love, and I did.
Therefore, I was shocked—and disgusted—to find the Post’s Hannah Frishberg quoting a recent study to report that “the reason for recent years’ decline in the marriage rate could have something to do with the lack of ‘economically attractive’ male spouses.”
Wait a minute! Aren’t feminists always complaining about the so-called wage gap, expressing outrage that American men still occupy the highest niches of economic power? The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently claimed that “Women, on average, earn less than men in nearly every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio” and blamed “outright discrimination” for the situation. CNN Business reported just two days ago that “the average woman makes 82 cents on the dollar compared to the average man, losing nearly half a million dollars over the course of her career.” You would think from that statement that American men are stealing women’s hard-earned cash.
How can men be riding high economically, making on average 20% more than women and dominating the most sought-after positions, while also not making enough to be marriageable?
The lead author of the study quoted in the Post article, Daniel Lichter, doesn’t address the pay gap myth. On the contrary, he identifies a “shortage” of “men with a stable job and a good income” and even makes it clear that part of the problem is that women are simply doing too well in comparison. According to Lichter, “Many young men today have little to bring to the marriage bargain, especially as young women’s educational levels on average now exceed their male suitors.”
If women are doing well at men’s expense—which we should expect given the long-running and ongoing drive to hire and promote women in place of men through affirmative action policies—then why would it any longer be necessary or even desirable for women to marry men who earn more than the women do?
For the lead investigator in the study quoted, the fact of the matter is crudely straightforward, and is reported unapologetically by Frishberg, who concludes, “And sure, there’s the whole “love” factor in a marriage. But, in the end, ‘it also is fundamentally an economic transaction,’ says Lichter.”
Is it? Sure, for a traditional couple who decide that mom will stay at home to raise a large family, it may still be necessary for the male partner in the marriage to have a well-paying and stable job. But that accounts for only a relatively small percentage of marriages today. What kind of woman won’t marry a man due to his lack of cash especially if she herself already has a good job? Is this not an astounding admission of female selfishness, greed, and fundamental spiritual and emotional shallowness?
What does it mean to mention love in the same paragraph that defines marriage as “an economic transaction”?
What would we say of men who admitted that they weren’t interested in marrying women who couldn’t offer them material advantages? Haven’t women complained for decades about being “sex objects,” advocating instead—what they claimed to want—a spiritual and intellectual partnership? The fact of the matter is that sex at least has a close connection to love; the same can’t be said for money. Warren Farrell’s comment that men are often mainly “success objects” to women has perhaps never been more clearly illustrated.
And the author of the piece, a woman, doesn’t attempt to explain, rebut, or justify the news. In fact, her very first sentence, which targets the dearth of “men who have their act together,” puts the blame squarely on men for denying women the wealthy husbands they so richly deserve.
Frishberg also seems unashamed of a linked article about women who have chosen, partly out of necessity, to “date down.” This article features a number of successful women married to men whose jobs do not match theirs in status or earning power. The idea behind the article seems to be that these women deserve applause for their high-mindedness and courage. Imagine that: a female lawyer who stooped to marry a mere electrician. How admirable! The whole article provides a deplorable illustration of female condescension and entitlement.
I said in our discussion then that a simple solution to this so-called problem is for women to stop taking men’s jobs. I didn’t mean that talented and dedicated women should not contribute their skills in the workplace if they so desire and if they believe that is the best use of their energies. What I meant was that we should immediately put an end to all affirmative action hiring and promotion of women. It has gone on for far too many decades already. If female business owners and entrepreneurs want (and are able) to create jobs for women: fine. But women should stop stealing the jobs men created and developed.
I don’t expect that will happen any time soon. Instead, women will continue to complain about men’s failures, and to get sympathy for their self-pity, even when their complaints, as in this case, are remarkably self-contradictory.
Meanwhile, the revelation of the ugly face of at least some portion, perhaps a majority, of women today—their crude, grasping natures, their absurd risk-avoidance and materialism, and their inability to love men for themselves—still haunts me.
A menaregood video on relational aggression. You can watch the video or read the exact script below.
A gynocentric world is a dangerous place for men. The hazards are many including traps that are simply beyond the awareness of most. Relational aggression is one of those traps. Most of us are aware of the physical violence of many women and the cultures disinterest in holding women accountable but this is different. Relational aggression is more insidious due to its invisibility and the encouragement from the culture at large. Let’s have a look at this trap called relational aggression.
We have spent nearly 50 years warning women about men’s physical aggression. We’ve created laws, built institutions and flooded the media in efforts to protect women. In the process we have been told repeatedly that this is not just a problem of a few men who are out of control but instead is a problem of all men and their masculinity. This is Crazy stuff.
All the while there has been a muffled silence about women’s aggression. Some has trickled through like a bit of attention on mean girls but the reality and lethality of women’s aggression has rarely leaked into the media. The sad news is that women’s aggression is really a trap for men. Being aware of the trap may help you navigate and steer clear.
With that background let’s have a good look at women’s relational aggression, how it works, where it starts and the dangers and traps that men face as a result. We will also spend a little time in looking at how this form of aggression impacts nearly all men’s issues and importantly how feminism is literally based on this form of aggression but is never called out for it.
Let’s get started.
Relational aggression starts early. The youngest female researchers have identified practicing relational aggression was 2.5 years old. But what is this thing called relational aggression?
The best definition I have seen calls it “Bullying without physical violence.” That sums it up pretty well. Researchers define it something like this:
Behaviors that harm others through damage (or threat of damage) to relationships. They go on to talk about how relational aggression is meant to destroy feelings of acceptance, friendship, or group inclusion. Basically attacking someones identity and trying your best to hurt them without being violent.
How is this accomplished? Well through excluding, ignoring, teasing, gossiping, secrets, backstabbing, lies, false accusations, rumor spreading and hostile body language (i.e., eye-rolling and smirking).
These may sound more tame than physical aggression but think about it. How many suicides have you heard about that were due to someone getting beat up repeatedly? Maybe a few. But then think about how many suicides you have heard about from people being ostracized or shamed by groups? I have heard more of those and I am betting you have too.
So this stuff is lethal. It may sound harmless but that is simply not the case. It can lead to very serious consequences including what is being called 3rd prty abuse which is when relational aggression tricks authorities into unwittingly continuing the abuse.
Relational aggression is also stealth. With physical aggression you leave bruises, scars, or broken bones. These things can be seen. People gasp when they see them. But how about relational aggression? You can’t see it. It Is basically invisible. If that wasn’t bad enough, the invisibility also makes it very difficult to challenge. Try proving someone gossiped and spread lies about you. Try disproving a false accusation. Both nearly impossible but both potentially lethal. This leaves relational violence a stealth tool that is so easy to deny. “Who me? I didn’t do anything, why are YOU so upset about nothing?” And of course gynocentrism plays its ugly part in all this in protecting the lying female making matters worse still.
This is not to say that there are no physically violent women. There are. The research has found some interesting things about violent women. It seems that those women who are physically aggressive and men who are relationally aggressive have been found to have more psychological pathological than their counterparts. So be on the lookout for relationally aggressive men and physically aggressive women. Danger Will Robinson. Danger!
Some are seeing that one precursor for relational aggression is what they are calllng “hostility attribution bias.” Basically this means that the person assumes wrongly that a hostile act has occurred and wrongly assume it was directed towards them. Say a young girl sees two friends whispering and wrongly assumes it is about her. She is a experiencing hostility attribution bias and this apparently occurs more with girls and women in relationships.
How many times as a man have I heard something from a woman claiming that I thought a certain way or did something for a certain reason. I know it is completely false but she is beyond convinced that she is right and I am lying. This ever happened to you? I bet it has, repeatedly. The researchers are saying that sometimes it is this hostility attribution bias that stimulates the relational aggression. Makes sense to me and it gives us a clue about how to defend ourselves. Beware of the hostility attribution bias. This is a red hot danger sign. Run if you can.
One researcher, Nicki Crick, studied young boys and girls and found some very interesting results. She noted that 15.6% of the young boys used physical aggression but only .4% of the girls. She also found that 17.4% of the girls used relational aggression and only 2% of the boys. Crick totaled these and realized that the boys and girls were equally aggressive, they just had different paths to get there. The boys were more physical, the girls more relational. More and more of recent research is working to measure both relational aggression and physical aggression but you still don’t hear much about that in the media.
One might assume that if boys and girls have similar levels of aggression that you would find that the culture would address both. Right? Wrong. Our gynocentric culture perseverates on the aggression if males and ignores and even promotes the relational aggression. Men’s violence is seen as atrocious and wicked and women’s relational aggression is ignored.
One indicator of this bias was shown by researchers when they studied the animated films of Disney. What did they find? They found that 100% of the animated Disney films contained relational aggression and specifically found that the average was 11 relationally aggressive acts per hour. That’s an act every 6 minutes or so. The relational aggression was often portrayed as justified and shown to have few negative consequences. The worst news is that such aggression was often portrayed by female characters who were attractive, rich, and popular.
The media is literally training our young girls that it is okay to be relationally aggressive, in fact it is what rich, attractive, and popular girls do. There are no calls of concern from parents or teachers to stop this. I hope you are getting a picture of how dangerous this is for men and boys.
The trend for girls to be more relationally aggressive than boys continues into adolescence and beyond. There is some evidence that men start using more relational aggression as they get older but I think the accepted idea is that women are more likely to use relational aggression. It does make one wonder why.
Why Relational Aggression?
The evolutionary psychologists have some ideas about that. They say that men for eons have had to aggressively compete with other men in order to seek reproductive access, in other words, get the girl. In doing this they would form hierarchies not unlike other primate males who physically compete for alpha status. The higher your status in the hierarchy the more likely you get the top female. Men became accustomed to competing with their fellows and taking their place within a hierarchy of winners and losers and all those in between. Women on the other hand didn’t have the same need to aggressively compete for a mate. She was a chooser not a competer. Instead women needed a community to aid her while she was dependent due to being pregnant and raising children. This pushed women to not compete, but to strive to be an accepted part of the group. If a woman tried to elevate herself above the others in her group she was seen as an outlier, someone who was betraying the group by trying to make themselves appear above the others and this was discouraged or even punished. So the idea was to only be aggressive if it was stealth and could be easily denied. This insured their place in the group.
Present day psychologists see this tendency in the workforce where if a woman appears to be succeeding and doing better than the other women at the office she is often subject to relationally aggressive attacks by the other females. Gossip, finger pointing, rumours, lies etc. This hides their aggressiveness since open aggression would be seen as counter to the group cohesiveness. Making the attacks quiet keeps the group stable. She doesn’t sacrifice her group inclusion.
Researchers have found that Women’s in-group preference, that is an automatic preference for their own gender is over four times as important as a male’s in-group preference is for him. Women depend on other women and are reluctant to risk exclusion.
Another example of women being dependent upon the group is the recent understanding of how women heal from loss and stress. Shelly Taylor’s research found that women, when stressed, move towards interaction and other people. Women depend on others, mostly other women, to aid in their healing unlike men who tend to heal through action, or inaction on their own. This makes a women’s group of friends important to her for her own healing and offers us more reasons why she would not want to appear overtly aggressive and risk being excluded.
This actually explains something I saw in a research study years ago. The study had men and women playing a computer war game. The subjects were to decide how much to bomb the opponents. Under most conditions the women bombed far less than the men, but in one condition they bombed as much or more than the men. That was when others could not see how much the women were bombing! As long as no one could see, it was bombs away! The researchers were puzzled but Again, this seems to show the female preference for relational aggression that can be hidden and easily denied.
So how does relational aggression play out in men’s issues? Simple. It is embedded in just about all of it. Think about divorce and parental alienation. What an alienating mother does to the child is all relational aggression. She is telling lies to the child about the father, she is attempting to use those lies to hurt the father. This is relational aggression. And it is obviously lethal.
Think about false accusations. Falsely accusing a man of rape is straight up relational aggression. It is lying with the intent to cause pain.
Both cases, the Parental Alienation and the false accusation show us something important. The lies that are used are very difficult to disprove and are very easily denied. If the father or the falsely accused man challenges the woman it is simple for her to deny and blow it off. If it ever gets to the point of her needing to admit she did this she can then say, “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.” It is nearly impossible to disprove a false accusation. And keep in mind in both of these instances it is likely the authorities will get involved and become a tag team with 3rd party abuse.
Think of domestic violence. The feminists have maintained for decades that domestic violence is all about violent men beating innocent women. But is that really the truth? There are likely a small minority of couples where the husband is a sociopath and the feminist version is close to being correct but I think those situations are very rare. Research has shown us that most domestic violence is reciprocal. That is, both parties are involved in the altercations. So how did they get to the point where the man would hit her? It doesn’t take much creativity to realize that she likely used relational aggression of some sort that lit his fuse and eventually moved into their violent interchange. It’s a very good guess that she is using her relational aggression skills to create as much pain in him as she can and then he blows his top and the feminist oligarchy comes in and ignores her part in igniting the fuse and only focuses on his overt violence. Then the entire 3rd party abuse Duluth treatment regime takes over and officially sees him as the problem and her as the victim. That is insane.
It wasn’t always like that. When I worked at a mental health center in the 1970’s we were trying to help female victims of DV. At that time the feminists did not have a stranglehold over the services like they do now. There were competing voices. One of those competing voices was those doing family therapy. They believed that in the majority of cases (excluding the sociopaths) that what was needed was to help the couple with conflict resolution. This of course really pissed off the feminists since it negated their idea of bad man victim woman. A huge fight ensued between the two groups and as you can imagine the feminists won. Who knows what sorts of relational aggression they used to get their way. They needed to be sure that their basic assumption of men bad women victim was not tarnished or given a secondary place. Thus the feminists submarined any kind of attention that might have been paid to the woman’s side of the problem. Only men were the bad guys.
Feminism is Relational Aggression, They are the mean girls.
Where did that come from? Think back to the hostility attribution bias. Remember that? When you wrongly assume intent? The whole of feminism has a massive hostility attribution bias in their assumptions that men are the root of their problem. They blame men. Individuals misinterpret single interactions while groups like feminism misinterpret huge swaths of reality. The feminists have misinterpreted men’s providing and protecting of women for ages as being the oppression of women. That’s hostility attribution bias on steroids. Somehow they have convinced nearly everyone that this falsehood is the truth. Of course it is not and it is merely a mistaken assumption but in this case it is a deadly one.
Feminists start by swallowing a huge hostility attribution bias but they go much farther. In so many ways feminists act like mean girls. Don’t disagree with a mean girl, if you do you will pay a huge price. Same thing with feminism. Try disagreeing with a feminist and see what happens. Mean girls. Feminists bully by relational aggression. They have been telling lies and spreading rumors about men for decades and everyone assumes they are being honest. That’s Relational aggression. They threaten their own members with exclusion if they don’t follow the exact party line much like the mean girls do. They bully. They use the same exclusionary threats with legislators when they demand their bills are passed or else they will exclude them and label them as misogynists. Our cowardly legislators have been unable to rise above the bullying and the open blackmailing and this has left us with laws that are written by bullies with a huge bias.
Mean girls know they lie, and so do feminists. But they also lie about lying. Take false accusations as an example. The false accusation itself is purely relational aggression. It is a lie told that is meant to hurt. But the mean girl feminists add on to that. They lie that women never lie. This entire idea of forcing everyone to always believe the woman no matter what, is actually a relational aggression since it is simply a lie on top of another lie. I mean really. Could these people really believe that women never lie? They don’t, but they are willing to lie in order to get their way, just like the mean girls.
In the end it is all about power and control. The two very things they accuse domestic violence abusers of doing. Mean girls demand power and control and so do feminists. I think it is time we started to call feminists mean girls, and point out their relational aggressiveness every time we see it.
We need to do the same thing with the women in our lives whether it is our spouses, sisters, mothers or whoever. We need to keep our eyes peeled for hostile attribution bias and for relational aggression and call them out when we see them. Most importantly we need to maintain our cool and calmness as we confront. Speak the truth and don’t back down. Remember the relational violence is intended to get you upset and pissed off. Don’t let it. Your upset WILL be used against you. Calmness will help you turn the tables. If you disallow them to piss you off it will likely backfire and instead they will be the ones to blow.
So guys I hope you are seeing that relational aggression leaves men in a very vulnerable state. Women are literally encouraged to practice this stuff at your expense and the expense of your children. Use caution and keep in mind that men are good, as are you.
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Physical Aggression 15.6% .4%
Relational Aggression 2% 17.4%
TOTALS 17.6% 17.8%
“The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. ‘Live,’ Nietzsche says, ‘as though the day were here.’ It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal––carries the cross of the redeemer––not in the bright moments of his tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.” Joseph Campbell ~ The Hero with a Thousand Faces
♦ ♦ ♦
Anyone suggesting that they have ideas that will actually help men, psychologically speaking, has an obligation to place their philosophy, their rationale, front and center for men to see. I also understand that most practitioners don’t really do that, especially in what I loosely define as the “mental health” industry.
Usually what you get is a short and sputtering list of platitudes about “wholeness,” finding your “inner this” or “inner that,” accompanied by an obscure definition of the practitioner’s approach. It is either that or you get nothing but the bill.
Sometimes, often actually, they will inform you that they subscribe to feminist theory, which is an admission of their philosophy, except to the extent that it should be viewed cautiously, regardless of your sex.
This writing is intended to explain exactly what An Ear for Men is about in regard to assisting men, specifically in their more modern struggle for identity and an understanding of where they fit in the world. This is particularly important as the lack of those things may well result in some serious problems. Among them are family dysfunction, substance abuse, suicide, violence, anxiety, depression, shame and a lack of self-respect that often crosses the line into self-hatred.
It is not that the current crisis of male identity is the sole cause of these problems. It certainly isn’t. For example, family dysfunction is a self-perpetuating malady passed down from parents to children. In and of itself it has little to do with modern masculinity. Alcoholism is not a “male problem,” nor is violence or other forms of abuse, though those practicing under a feminist shingle may send that very message.
When assessing problems, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between cause and symptom, between a problem and its source. Does family dysfunction cause substance abuse or is substance abuse the cause of the dysfunction? Is violence at the root of relationship problems or do relationship problems fuel and promote the violence? Do communication problems cause hostility or does hostility cause communication problems?
Are all these problems symbiotic, just a teeter-totter interaction of various pathologies feeding each other? If so, can we ameliorate one problem by successfully intervening on another?
I suggest that there may be some truth answering those last two questions in the affirmative. There are, however, workarounds, back doors if you will, to what may well form part of the root structure of an array of problems with no readily visible connection. The good news about that is that you don’t need to see the connection initially in order to do something about it.
The philosophy here is that solutions begin with a recognition that there is indeed a crisis in male identity and male self-respect. It affects all of us, gay or straight, black or white or other race, regardless of religion or socioeconomic status.
Fifty years of gender politics have thrust all men into a new paradigm of sexual politics with no rule book. We are now three generations of men who have been pummeled with messages of who we are, almost all of them wrong, and who we are supposed to be, almost all of them destructive in one way or another. Our mental health industry is one of the prime proponents of these misguided ideas. They are espoused, for profit, at the expense of our men and boys.
The Old School Archetypes
The classic, historical masculine archetypes of Hero, Villain, Ruler, Warrior, Creator, Sage, Rebel and Explorer, all of which either defined what men chose or what they were driven to be. They provided men a model of what they chose not to be as well. They gifted men with a sense of identity and purpose, a rudder for their navigation of life. To a great degree (with some downsides) they worked. Jungian analysts, in the days before the ideological corruption of the field of psychology would likely tell you that these archetypes are rooted in our biology.
It is also important to note that all these archetypes are anthropomorphic projections of the human male experience. They took root in our earliest mythologies because they were already in play in human life. Strangely, “mythology” told the real story of our lives. Every epic battle, great journey, tragedy and triumph of mythical figures mirrored the internal and external experience of real human beings in some way or another.
And so it went from epoch to epoch.
All that has been supplanted with a new and toxic narrative. To simplify it, we now live in a Zeitgeist where all male archetypes have been reduced to that of Villain, with the expectation that they will assume the role of Hero when needed…and directed. The ongoing expectations of men to protect, provide, sacrifice and endure have not changed. The change in narrative, however, demands that recognition and honoring of those things ceases in favor of persistent demonization.
Similar changes have happened in the lives of women. The Manipulator, the Bitch, the Saboteur, the Queen and the Damsel in Distress have usurped the timeless archetypes of mother (Demeter), daughter (Persephone), lover (Aphrodite), civic life and learning (Athena), etc.. While all these and other female archetypes are on full social display, the spectrum of those archetypes has begun to degrade into a vacillation between two roles based on immediate perception. Women are universally seen as the Queen, unless they are in distress or claim to be in distress. Once the perception of female distress registers, social consciousness reverts them to being the original Damsel in Distress. It is as though they live in a perpetual state of flux between empowered and helpless, depending on which is more advantageous, just as we see play out today across the geopolitical landscape.
That, too, is ultimately heading for a crisis of identity in women, though for the purpose of this discussion we need not explore that further.
The denial of all this, and the assumption that it has not had a tremendous impact on the psyches of men, has left them in an emotional and social wasteland that produces more of the psychosocial problems already identified in this writing.
This leads to an inescapable conclusion. While men do need assistance with specific problems, they are also suffering in a famine of functional archetypes. Failing to recognize this, even if we seek in earnest to help them with problems symptomatic of that deficit, is putting a Band-Aid on potentially mortal wounds.
If we are to help men, it requires us to enable them to nurture a new narrative of themselves and their lives. They need new archetypes that foster a new sense of identity if they are going to thrive in a new age.
So what exactly is an archetype?
The Greek root words are archein, meaning “original or old,” and typos, meaning “Model or type.” Archetype: Original Model. Archetypes are the old, original models on which men, in the unconscious recesses of their biology, shape and mold their lives.
Perhaps in the days when there were payoffs, e.g. honor, appreciation, respect and status, men’s unconscious movement toward one archetype or another made more sense.
We do not live in those times any more, and we haven’t for most or all of your lifetime. What remains for most men in modern life is a world of expectation without reward, burden without honor and service without self.
Most men know on some level that this is true, but many have a very hard time facing it out of fear. Fear of the loss of social approval, the loss of love and the loss of what they imagine is the only space the world grants them.
Some of the fear is at least superficially warranted. Facing these issues means reaching a level of consciousness sufficient to make you a bad fit in the world of the walking blind. It means a new mythology with new archetypes born of a newer and more accurate picture of the world.
The daunting challenge is that men can no longer afford the luxury of allowing biology alone to write their story. Technology and ideology have rendered that too dangerous. The old model makes men far too easy to manipulate and far too willing to comply with the manipulation to their own detriment. You can find this same story throughout classic mythology so it is nothing new. Those, however, were cautionary tales, the moral lesson from which has been erased from the cultural consciousness. Most dare not speak honestly of Hera and Medea in the modern age.
The results of that resembles a modern genocide of the male soul.
Fortunately, that which has been forgotten can be learned again. And that which has been learned in error can be corrected. The fruits of that effort are the restoration and “wholeness” so easily promised and seldom delivered.
The risks of embracing this on a personal level is actually an illusion. Once you walk the newer path you will most probably find you don’t particularly want to return to the old one. The feigned approval of others loses its luster when the vision clears.
Despite appearances, all of this is really not so arcane. It is actually quite simple. You can start with most any problem in life; relationship and family issues are a good start. Map the mythology that got you there, that determined your actions and reactions. Were you playing the role of the Hero? The Warrior? Were you surrendering to the Siren’s Song? Was the Damsel in Distress a façade with something more sinister behind the surface impression?
Did a faulty narrative of your place and worth in this world lead you directly into a painful wall? And if that is true, do you have the fortitude to face it and change the story?
Imagine the consciously constructed mythology that would lead you to a better place with better people. Imagine the story of you being written by your own hand.
The solutions are not always easy, but they are made much more accessible when you make the decision to clear your own path; when you are at the helm, navigating your own way, when the stars in the sky are arranged according to your own dreams and desires.
How many miserable professional men out there can remember a time when they aspired to be artisans, writers or artists, only to watch those dreams buckle beneath the oppressive weight of a story that they did not write?
How many desperate men are clinging to the role of provider and protector, having become automatons in loveless, abusive marriages that have ground their self-respect into the dust?
How many men have stories that end with a bottle of scotch and a handgun because they cannot breathe and do not know where to find free air?
Men need an alternative to the new mythology’s archetypes of Servant, Slave and Scapegoat. The only thing preventing that from happening is being trapped in or clinging to a narrative they did not produce and which has never served them.
We have seen the results of men living in a world that is devoid of any honoring of men’s roles or even of men’s being. How can men cope in this sort of world? How can therapists or anyone else facilitate a man moving from this restrictive, prison-like consciousness into a more truly masculine path that embraces his well-being, self-interest and happiness?
That is the objective; to create male space. Not just space for men to tell their stories, but to author and own them with support and encouragement from other men.
Paul Elam is the author of Men. Women. Relationships. – Surviving the Plague of Modern Masculinity. He also offers fee-for-service life coaching through his website.
Andrew Samuels, Jung and the Post-Jungians ISBN 0415059046, Routledge (1986)
It was exhilarating to read the conclusions of Harry’s Masculinity Report for 2018, which asked men about their values and did not turn their responses into a tale of masculine failure. In fact, the study found that American men tend to hold strong values of honesty, reliability, and loyalty and feel at their best when they are supporting their families and engaging in meaningful work. Overall, American men experience high life satisfaction and are not “in crisis.”
The lead author of the study, Dr. John Barry of University College London, deserves congratulation for the validating picture of American men his survey made possible.
The analysis of the data took aim at some feminist assumptions about masculinity—that men are selfish, greedy, and competitive—and showed that these are far from accurate. Even in doing so, however, it’s possible the study was unduly influenced by feminist preconceptions of healthy masculinity.
The summary of the report’s findings noted, for example, that men’s participation in sport is a significant contributor to a positive mindset, allowing for socializing and healthy competition. It stated emphatically that “Among the factors which were relatively unimportant to men were: winning; developing an attractive physique or ‘being skillful.’ As the old cliché would have it, it really isn’t the winning, it’s the taking part that counts.” Perhaps many men genuinely do not care much about winning; or at least place the joy of effort and camaraderie above it.
But that certainly hasn’t been my impression of men (or of women, quite frankly). Moreover, without the male drive to win and to be the best, it’s doubtful whether many of our civilization’s greatest advancements would have been made. There is nothing wrong with wanting to win and developing the skills necessary to do so.
Feminist commentators, however, have been telling us for decades that the desire to win is one aspect of “toxic masculinity,” and that a “positive masculinity” would see men unlearn this supposedly damaging attitude. Is it possible that both the survey respondents and their interviewers were consciously or unconsciously framing their conversations about sport with feminist interdictions in mind? If toxic men are those who want to win, respondents may have felt that it was safer to say that winning was less important than enjoying a collective endeavor.
A similar doubt is raised by the “Conclusions and Recommendations” section of the report that claimed that “What’s truly inspiring is that American men understand the importance of their mental health, even above physical health. They are ready to talk, and they want to improve their happiness.”
“They are ready to talk” is a strangely phrased sentence, suggesting that men of the past may not have been so ready. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the primary criticisms of men by feminists, particularly in the field of psychology, is that they aren’t willing to talk about their feelings in the way women are—and that this is a big problem accounting for such tragedies as male suicide and substance abuse. Harry’s Report seems to accept talk as the gold standard for mental health, assuring readers that men are ready for this crucial guarantor of wellness. “And they want to improve their happiness”—well, who doesn’t? A skeptic like me might hear, “They are ready to do what the feminists have been telling them to do in a bid for peace and approval.”
The report asserts optimistically that “Men get happier as they get older. This is an aspirational message that can provide all men hope. With wisdom and experience comes stability and inner contentment […].” Perhaps so. But do the researchers know for a fact that the older men they spoke to became happier as they aged, or is this conclusion simply an extrapolation from the fact that the older men surveyed reported higher levels of happiness than the younger men, a fact which doesn’t prove the younger men will necessarily get happier later in life. It might mean that older men are happier because their masculine identity was formed at a time when the constant negative barrage young men experience today was far less vehement. As feminist man-blaming and societal discrimination increase, it is quite possible that, far from becoming happier with age, today’s younger men will find themselves more alienated over time.
I am in favor of presenting uplifting accounts of male values and identity so long as problems are not thereby downplayed. But care is needed, even as one pushes back against anti-male assumptions, not to implicitly affirm feminist myths about positive masculinity.
Men are good not only when they’re non-competitive, open, and willing to talk about mental health. They’re also good when they compete to win and deal with problems through stoic self-reflection (and speaking of which, could a disinclination to focus on problems have played a role in the positive answers given? Perhaps some men prefer not to speak of their pain with researchers).
Ultimately, I hope Harry’s is far from the last survey to ask men how they’re doing and to acknowledge the good in their answers. There is much more to be explored outside a feminist framework about the many ways modern men find meaning in their lives.
It was three weeks after I left the last residential treatment center for which I would ever work. A Saturday morning to be precise, and the phone rang- jarring me from the rare pleasure of a sleep in. It was Camille, so I knew it wasn’t good.
She wouldn’t call me if it were good
“You remember that boy Johnny you worked with, the one from Louisiana?” she asked.
“Dead,” she said. It was uttered in the tone of someone doing a poor job acting like they didn’t like delivering bad news.
“Drugs?” I asked.
“No,” she replied, “Suicide. Killed that little girl he was married to, as well. And shot some guy she was sleepin’ with, but he made it.”
I just lay there silent.
“Anyway, I knew you would want to know.”
I hung up without saying anything else. Knew I would want to know? Yeah, sure. Couldn’t wait to tell me was more like it. Camille was an ideological crusader. She made a career of telling the men we counseled what louts they were for being men, leaving me with the part time job of cleaning up her messes. We were the only two counselors in that program and the mix was volatile. I spent many days in the administrative offices fending off complaints about my “unusual style” in dealing with male clients. Unusual meant that I did not view masculinity as a mental health problem.
Johnny wasn’t the first tragedy in my years of doing that kind of work. Drug addicts very sadly have a way of dying young and I have never seen evidence that the negative messages I heard constantly at work about men were helping to change that.
I remembered Johnny’s story, and his pain. He was a twenty-two year old stock boy at an auto parts store in the hot and humid swamp lands of southern Louisiana. When he spoke, it was with rural earnestness, and a Cajun accent as thick as gators in bayou country.
Man, Paul, I doan know what to do ‘bout that girl o’ mine. I know she cheatin’. I know I doan make a dime what she don’t spend right away. Sometime she spend it on some other guy. But I can’t help it. Every time she call my name I got to come runnin’. Lord never made a bigger fool than me.”
Johnny was right. He was a fool, and couldn’t be talked out of his foolishness. Just like so many “real” men. His story isn’t reserved just for those who drink and drug themselves into oblivion because they have a woman they can’t live with, or without.
In this awful age of misandry, we live so many lies about men that we have lost all touch with the reality of what they are really like. And the cost of it is written in caskets and countless souls lost in a world with no memory of why they died.
You see, men love. They love with the most profound intensity and selflessness of which any creature on this earth is capable. And the steely bond between them and women is, unlike their hearts, unbreakable. When men die on the battlefield, they often fade away telling fellow soldiers “Tell my wife I love her.” Others cry out for their mothers as blood soaks the soil.
They are flattened by divorce, by the loss of love, even when that love is an illusion. Many will eat a gun rather than face life unloved.
They will lay down in traffic for the women they love and stand in the way of bullets to protect them. And they will strike down any many who dares offend them. They have been doing this for all of human history.
79% of all suicides are men. The death class. Yet all this has been rewritten with misandric ink. It has been revised by scholars who tell us men are bad, by psychologists whose main field of work seems to be targeting men as inadaquate women, instead of helping them on their own terms.
The religious establishment is of little help either. In most cases men are advised by clergy to “man up” and take full responsibility for whatever abuses they encounter in a relationship. The mentality behind all of this now drives our family law system, pushing men to despair and despondency with tragic frequency. That is not to even mention what it is doing to their children.
I hope, more than anything else, that at some point in our future that people wake up to this tragedy hidden in plain view. I hope that when we see the story on the evening news about a man who set himself ablaze outside a family court that we might stop and ask ourselves what kind of pain could drive someone to ease it with fire? When we read in the newspaper about the man who holed up in his house with a gun and his children, threatening to take them all out, can we at least wonder if this is just a crazy man, or a man driven to the brink by a pain so monstrous and devastating that even the unthinkable could become an option?
The normal 4 to 1 ration of male suicide more than doubles during divorce, without so much as causing a hiccup on the women’s numbers. Is this because men are inept at articulating feelings in a female mode? Or is it because we gleefully rip their lives to shreds during a divorce and then tell them they had it coming?
Indeed, there is a great deal we have to ask. The only problem is that all the wrong people are asking all the wrong questions. Former President Obama used to mark Father’s Day by shaming men for not being better Dads. We have psychotherapists spread the destructive illusion that women are a victim class and that men are a perpetrator class. Of course, they treat those men and women accordingly. And we have a system of higher education that is so ideologically corrupt that it is nearly impossible to get honest scholarship on the problems.
All this in a culture that still raises men to put women first in all matters without even pausing to think. In fact, when men attempt to reject that form of programming the people around them can become hateful in a hurry.
That may well have been what was needed on the African Savanna three million years ago, but today we need to start having the difficult, even scary conversation about teaching boys as much or more about taking care of themselves than taking care of women. It is not narcissism but survival skills and perhaps a prescription for less social violence.
Perhaps if Johnny were raised not to “come running” so quickly he would have learned enough to prevent two deaths.
Perhaps President Obama, in his own erroneous way, was right. We do need better Dads. We need Dads to teach their sons, not “how to treat a woman,” but how to hold their own with them. We don’t need to teach them to “take care of their woman,” but to value their own worth enough to have standards that they will hold women to other than their appearance.
And we need to teach them how rare that is in modern life. The social picture I have painted here is also an artifact of the last 50 years of radical feminism’s toxic effect on sexual politics. Men and women do need to talk to each other, but differently than we seem capable of today. We need honesty between the sexes in a dishonest world. And we need compassion for men in a society that hates them.
I know, it’s obligatory. I can’t write a piece like this and not include some resources for men to call in in times of crisis, such as those paltry resources are. So I will include something here. But I would still like to think, that somewhere, at some point in time, we can quit offering Band-aids for men to put on tumors and start helping them with their real problems.
Paul Elam is the author of Men. Women. Relationships. – Surviving the Plague of Modern Masculinity. He also offers fee-for-service life coaching through his website.
There is a part of me that sparks a gag reflex when I think about writing dating advice claptrap. And while I am still not going to sink into such pablum, some responses to a meme I recently made reminded me of a theme I have seen echoed through parts of what some would call the manosphere for years.
The best explanation would be to show you the meme I placed on facebook, highlighting one of the early comments to it:
And now the comment:
Too bad women have the uncanny ability to completely fake everything about them until they are married. But I like your point.
Like · Reply · 14 ·
I have heard and seen this sentiment many, many times before. It is, with all respect to the man commenting, what I consider to be a copout on personal accountability.
Before anyone rages, I get it. Women (and men) tend to enter relationships careful to always have their best foot forward. In the honeymoon phase of a new relationship, what you see is almost never what you really get.
I know too that many personality disordered women have especially honed skills at “fooling” their target into thinking they are something they are not. They have refined expertise in figuring out what makes you tick and indeed an uncanny ability to project precisely what they know you want to see and hear.
They are the master of the Love Bomb and will pile on adulation and admiration from the earliest moments in the relationship, almost smothering you in unconditional approval.
So, it is easy to nod my head in agreement with the well-meaning commenter who apparently feels like he is at the mercy of women with ill-intents because he has no way of knowing better.
It is also even easier to not nod my head in agreement because I pretty much think all this is bullshit. It is a copout designed for men to absolve themselves of their responsibilities when choosing women with which they will be vulnerable.
With some rare exceptions, men can screen out high-conflict, high-maintenance, high-frustration and high-danger women with a relatively small amount of consciousness and the willingness to accept responsibility for their own choices.
For some men that means taking a rather bitter dose of medicine in the form of the truth.
One, if you are sucked in by anyone in life saying all the right things at all the right times, you are what carnies call a “mark.” That is the carnival crowd’s term of endearment for a sucker who is just begging to part with his money.
On the heels of that is the reality that what people say is generally meaningless in assessing them as a human being. Sure, some crazies out there can’t talk for more than 30 seconds without revealing a bunting of crimson flags on full display.
Most women who turn out to be bad choices are somewhat more subtle, at least till you have an opportunity to see how they operate when stressed or disappointed.
And there’s the rub. People almost never show you who they are with words. They do it with actions. If you are like so, so many men and you are just listening for the right words and getting all tingly when you hear them, then you are the one with the problem.
I have long suggested that men pick a point early in a relationship to issue a firm NO to something relatively inconsequential that she wants, and then to watch her reaction like it was the most important psychodrama in your life. That is not a stretch because it actually could be. Add a few more years, a few more noes and a lawyer and you have 100% assurance of being in a living hell.
If her reaction is an immature level of disappointment; if she becomes cold and aloof, withholds sex and affection; if she responds with that ubiquitous female “fine” in a tone that promises retribution for not getting her way, then she is showing you everything you need to know.
One step further toward her after a demonstration like that and you have just elected to become the architect of your own misery. Telling yourself you had no way of knowing is a bit of self-delusion most men cannot afford in the long run, though there are millions of men every day who do just that – writing checks with their desire for love and sex which their bodies ultimately cannot cash.
You don’t even need to create a test scenario to find out. Modifying behavior completely, even in the do-good early days of relationship infatuation, is nearly impossible. There are tells in your line of vision at all times.
Does she shower you with buckets of, “You’re the most remarkable man I have ever met,” on the third date? That is not a sign that you have stumbled on Ms. Right. That is a sign that you are walking into a minefield and you need to quickly backtrack out of it.
Is she putting you up as some sort of savior for her physical or emotional life, before she knows how you take your coffee or how you like your eggs cooked? If that is the case, and you are buying it, you might want to consider that the only thing in you gullible enough to fall for it is your ego.
Healthy men don’t just not need a pedestal to stand on, they avoid standing on pedestals like the plague. And they cast a very, very wary eye at anyone who tries to elevate them to that level after spending a collective 8 hours or so getting to know them.
Here’s the deal, guys. Crazy women are NOT that skilled at hiding their crazy. Anyone actually looking for it can see it. In almost all cases it is only hidden from men who refuse to quit wearing blinders. That is the real, and I wager only problem here.
You may point out, and quite correctly, that it is easier to suck in a man who has very damaging and unresolved family of origin issues. It is indeed easier with men who have those problems. They were trained to seek abuse, and they are good at it. Crazy women, the destructive, high-conflict variety, have a great deal of cold empathy and have an expansive set of tools with which to manipulate and control their mark. If the mark has family issues, it paints a bigger target on his back.
The answer to it is just the same as it is for anyone else. Stay out of relationships until you are conscious of how you are manipulated and controlled. Family of origin issues can be very tough and time consuming to fully process, but it does not stop you from taking appropriate action when it is called for. As they say, “Fake it till you make it,” and, “If you bring your mind, your ass will follow.”
Feminism has brought us 50 years of women digging a chasm between themselves and men. Their path is one of mistrust, distance and separatism (except from men’s wallets and the occasional desire for proxy violence). It is an ideology not of healthy bonding between men and women, but rather it is a poisoning of the ground.
Men who believe they are hapless victims of evil women, but who make no effort to screen them out based on character or values, are following right into the feminist mindset of a hostile-dependent relationship with the enemy.
It is the worst model for male-female relations in human history and it thrives because it only demands a victim mentality, fertilized with a lack of agency and accountability.
Is this an endorsement for marriage to “the right woman”? No. Refusing to participate in marriage is wise because it reduces the chances that the state will wind up governing your life, and it removes the temptation for women to play that trump card, no matter how carefully screened, should the opportunity arise.
It still remains that human beings are a pair-bonding species. Marriage or not, most people choose not to fly solo. With that in mind, every human individual has a choice about who they are with. In short, there are no victims, only volunteers.
The more men that understand that, the fewer men will end up searching pathetically for help that is most likely not there.
Paul Elam is the author of Men. Women. Relationships. – Surviving the Plague of Modern Masculinity. He also offers fee-for-service life coaching through his website.
This is a quick excerpt from the Helping Mothers book (pg 84) about a school that uses boys competitive nature to make school enjoyable and productive for the boys. The book tries to help parents see that the same strategies can be used at home in a variety of ways from discipline, to chores, to having fun.
There’s a private boys’ school outside of Washington DC, the Mater Dei School, that uses boys’ competitive nature to help in both deportment and scholarship. They divided the school into two groups, the Blues and the Whites. When you enroll in that school you are assigned either to the white or the blue team. From that point forward everything you do creates points for or against your team. If you get straight A’s, your team benefits, do more community service, your team benefits. If you excel in sports or extra-curricular activities your team gets points. The rivalry is fierce. The boys push each other to get more points and when they have more points they get both special privileges and bragging rights. Needless to say, the boys do much of the policing and the grades are top notch. Compare this to our default public schools that have removed competition from the curriculum. Schooling has become increasingly buffered from all things competition. The focus is not on who is first, second and third, the focus is on getting along, being nice to each other, and staying quiet. It doesn’t take much to notice where the boys are doing better. Give them some competition.
This school also awards a young boy once a week with the school prize for best school citizen. The boys strive to get the award. The older boys also have an award but theirs is monthly and rather than be decided by the teachers and administrators, the older boys vote on a winner among their peers. This school is very wise in giving boys the opportunity to succeed with recognition and also giving the older boys more responsibility for their own behavior and evaluation of their peers. My hat is off to this school.
“I often joke with people that feminism has been like a born-again religion for me—that once I found it and let it into my life, my entire perspective shifted in such a way that suddenly, everything made sense—and that I feel compelled to spread that gospel,” writes Melissa Fabello in Everyday Feminism.
Fabello says she is joking—but is she? In creed and conduct, belief and behaviour, isn’t feminism actually a secular religion?
Religion is a belief system that explains the origin and purpose of life, posits a spiritual or supernatural dimension to human existence, involves faith in what cannot be definitively known, and results in the radically changed understanding and behaviour of the believer.
Feminists do not usually define feminism as a religion but as a social science. Feminism postulates that most societies, and certainly all western societies, have been structured to reflect male perspectives and experiences while marginalizing female perspectives and experiences. Feminism thus presents itself as an evidence-based analysis of society and relationships.
But feminist methodology does not stop at the well-defined boundaries of social science. It ventures beyond these parameters and enters the realm of religion in its adherence to myths and unverifiable theories. Professor Mary Daly at Boston College, even seeks to go “beyond God the Father” (the title of her most influential book). Furthermore, feminists often describe their identity and understanding of the world in quasi-religious terms.
The feminist Garden of Eden, is protected not by a male god, but by a reigning spirit, the divine feminine.
As religions do, feminism offers an origin story—the patriarchy, an unjust and hierarchical social order in which elite white men dominate and oppress all other groups. Some feminist theories also posit an ancient matriarchy, a nurturing, collectivist, egalitarian, and non-exploitative state predating patriarchy, in which human beings lived in harmony with one another and with nature.
This is a feminist version of the Garden of Eden, protected not by a male deity but by a reigning spirit, the divine feminine. Here women held power and exercised it benevolently for the good of all. Some indigenous cultures are of particular interest to feminists because of their claims to offer proof of such matriarchal social structures in which women had or continue to have significant political and spiritual authority.
At some point in all feminist origin stories, humankind fell from grace because of male sin, i.e. the male lust for power. Men invented and imposed patriarchy, a structure of social relations that severed women from their natural harmony with the earth and with other women. Men introduced other forms of hierarchical control based on race, sexual identity, physical ability, and so on.
Specific feminist theories go even further and address the related, “intersectional” forms of oppression. But all feminisms, regardless of their particular emphases and approaches, believe that patriarchy is man-made rather than natural. It is an unjust social arrangement that denies the life possibilities of women (and other “marginalized” groups) and must be overturned.
According to the feminist origin story, patriarchy imposed artificial gender roles, prohibiting women from their once respected roles as warriors, healers, and inventors. Patriarchy restricted women to the domestic realm, forcing women to serve the sexual, emotional and material needs of men. Patriarchy limited the personal development of women to nurturing children and activities associated with it. Patriarchy enforced the economic, social, and psychological inferiority of women.
The religion of feminism then moves along its narrative arc from the archetypal myths of creation and fall towards the possibility of salvation and redemption from the patriarchy.
Just as some feminists posit a utopian matriarchal society from which women “fell” into their present servitude, so it imagines an idyllic condition of liberation towards which women can and should strive. It also offers at least partial redemption for men through strenuous disavowal of and restitution for their masculine sinfulness. It thus provides a purpose for all feminist activists: the bringing into being of a just world. In this eschatological future, patriarchal bondage and hierarchy will be vanquished, and all women regardless of background or condition will love and value one another and nature and the feminist kingdom of heaven will come down to earth.
In keeping with its purpose of creating a better world, a distinctive spirituality or mysticism is evident in many feminist accounts, including even the most pragmatic and materialist. Almost unvaryingly, feminist theories associate spiritual power with feminine activities, modes of being, or individual women.
This power may take the form of a liberating energy, a sexual purity, a deeper insight or caring, a greater empathy (sometimes as a result of oppression), a greater capacity for collective living, or a revolutionary ethos. The invariable assumption is that simply by virtue of being a woman—whatever that might mean to the theorist (the category of “woman” is hotly debated)—one brings gifts to the world that men do not possess.
- Feminist theologian Mary Daly argues that women’s interactions demonstrate new modes of non-hierarchical relationship in “cosmic covenant”
- Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin claims that only women, because of their lived experience of one another’s pain, can imagine “the real practice of equality”
- American psychologist Carol Gilligan argues that women develop a different, and superior, form of interpersonal morality
- French feminist theorist Helene Cixous celebrates the special capacity of womanly creativity as joyful, non-linear, and intimately associated with the fecund powers of the female body
- Avant-garde lesbian novelist Monique Wittig pictures women-loving women as uniquely sexually powerful
- Many popular notions stress women’s capacity for empathy, problem-solving, non-violence, and egalitarianism.
The assumption is that simply by virtue of being a woman one brings gifts to the world that men do not possess.
While most feminists deny that feminism promotes female superiority, nonetheless many contemporary feminist campaigns and social movements, whether of the ‘Women never lie about rape’ variety, the insistence on saving women from the draft, the determination to keep women out of prison or to change laws to provide special protections for them—all manifest a basic underlying assumption that women are more moral than men, deserving of special concern and protections not warranted for men.
Arguments to increase the number of women in politics and in the boardroom often rest on the (explicit or implicit) assumption that women bring special powers for good—caring about children, social sensitivity, cooperation—that men do not possess. Arguments to raise the number of men in certain occupations or sectors of society—for example, in primary-school teaching—almost never rest on similar assumptions about masculine virtues.
The blatant contradiction between two opposed ideas—that femininity is entirely a social construct of patriarchy, based on nothing biological; and that women possess distinctive capacities for good that should be generally recognised and promoted—is an example of the incoherent magical thinking that characterises much feminism and that highlights its faith-based foundation.
Of course, religious elements might similarly be found in many totalising worldviews (such as Marxism, for example) that judge the present as unjust and embrace a utopian vision for the future. But feminism’s umbilical cord with religion becomes more striking in relation to the manner in which a “sinner” or “seeker” comes to accept feminist claims, and their subsequent effects on believers’ attitudes and behaviours.
Most fundamentally, feminism requires a fervent belief in a central tenet or proposition for which no indisputable evidence exists, whether it be patriarchy, male sexism, the social construction of gender, or women’s sexualised oppression
Although feminism claims to rest on scientific observation, and although feminists of all stripes tend to cite irrefutable-seeming statistics about the wage gap, violence against women, sexual harassment, and the glass ceiling, etc., all of these not only fail to stand up to objective scrutiny but are effectively nullified by other statistics showing female advantage and male suffering, including numbers regarding male suicide, workplace fatalities, health outcomes and longevity, real wages and job status, rates of incarceration and sentencing, and post-secondary participation.
If it were a matter of evidence, feminism would have lost its legitimacy as an explanatory framework long ago. But no matter how many times feminist assertions are shown to be false—including inflammatory sexual assault statistics and the truism that women are paid less than men for the same work—such myths continue to be cited with respect by pundits, politicians, and policy-makers.
Here is where the element of faith shows itself most clearly. No matter how many times feminist statistics are undermined and no matter how many times countervailing evidence is revealed—feminists continue to cling to their beliefs, often simply by repeating the original mantras with increased fervour and conviction.
If evidence for the biological basis of sex is brought forward, a feminist will simply claim in response that all science is sexist. When StatsCan data shows that men report levels of domestic violence comparable with women, feminists continue to proclaim “violence against women” as the pressing reality. Nearly any fantastical belief—about rape culture, repressed memories of childhood abuse, or gender bias in STEM—comes to seem real through devotional reiteration, not dissimilar to the repetition of a religious creed.
The matter of belief leads to what is perhaps the most salient feature of feminism as religion: its marked effect on the believer’s attitudes and behaviour. Becoming a feminist is akin to a religious conversion in that there is a marked transformation in the believer’s orientation to the world, a sense of “rebirth” or “awakening” that changes all one’s personal coordinates. Melissa Fabello speaks for many when she explains how “Feminism has coloured every single thought and action that passes through me in a day. Feminism has changed how I see myself and others. [It] has rebooted my entire being.”
If it were a matter of evidence, feminism would have lost its legitimacy as an explanatory framework long ago.
What may once have seemed a heterogeneous mix of experiences is now organised by a single dazzling insight into the reality of structural inequality, the “casual and ingrained sexism” of even “the best men (and women).” Nothing escapes the explanatory power of the intersectional feminist thesis. Previously innocuous behaviours by men are now placed on the continuum of expressions of male privilege. All interactions between persons, no matter how trivial or seemingly amicable, are understood as negotiations of social power in which the oppressed person, usually a woman, is at a perilous disadvantage. This changed perception is not only applied to the world ‘out there,’ but to the most personal dimensions of the believer’s life.
As a result, a profound sense of grievance and passionate desire to fight for collective justice well up in the believer, along with a fervent longing for feminism’s promised land—the end of all inequality under the sign of the divine feminine. All of the feminist believer’s former experiences are now re-evaluated in light of the feminist insistence on women’s experience of sexualised violence. In cases where the conversion is truly radical, a sweeping hatred of feminism’s ‘other’—the white heterosexual man—may develop. Women who do not share the believer’s new understanding are classed as unenlightened, deluded by patriarchal “original sin” (which according to Mary Daly was, for women, internalized guilt and self-blame).
A young woman can write about her horror at discovering that she is pregnant with a male child; a feminist leader can pen an article proposing that boys’ failures in school are the result of their ‘privilege’ in the world—and that we should stop helping them succeed in life; these are seen as reasonable expressions of elite opinion. The satirical question “Would you rather your child had cancer or feminism?” refers to an immediately recognisable reality for many parents, friends, or lovers, who have had family members alienated irreparably because of feminist-inspired paranoia and resentment.
There are evident parallels to the fanatical religious believer who becomes alienated from former friends and family members. The difference, however, is that the major religions of the western tradition, including Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism, stress the believer’s continued responsibilities to family (especially in the commandment to “honour your father and mother”) and to the wider human community. The God of these religions is a loving Father who cares for His creatures whether they know Him or not. Such is not the case with feminism, whose goddess-spirit cannot dwell in the masculine.
Feminism differs from most orthodox religions in making its ‘Promised Land’ a place that must be built in the here and now, not in an afterlife, with the result that a deep urgency attends all efforts to renew present society. The effort by necessity includes the harsh punishment or exile of feminism’s enemies (think of feminist efforts to destroy those who argue with them online), for the feminist utopia cannot be created while the unregenerate pollute the land.
Feminism contains no injunction to “Love your enemies” (or even your neighbour) and it demands immediate and ongoing reparations for the perceived injustices of the past. Thus it may be said to encourage all the negative aspects of fervent religious beliefs—irrational passions, a rigid worldview that refuses other perspectives, the demonisation of non-believers—and none of the benevolence and self-sacrificing love that characterise true religions at their best. In its supremacism and justification of violence against non-believers (and ‘dhimmi’ status for male feminists), it perhaps most closely resembles fundamentalist Islam.
The impact of a religion on an individual or on a whole society is not necessarily bad, of course—it all depends on the content of the religion and the cultural forms it takes. We should be clear that feminism is closer to a religion than a social science, concerned less with truth than belief, often impervious to reason, and highly intolerant of competing viewpoints. It may be allowed a carefully circumscribed place in the public sphere, but it should not be allowed to operate as an unofficial state sanctioned religion.