Monday, February 1, 2010

This is Timber Wolf - ACLAF signing off

It’s taken me a lot of work to get to this particular point in my life. While I have no interest in counting the exact number of days, by my honest estimate, I spent roughly one year of my life seething with anger and rage. I don’t look back fondly on those days, and I have no desire to return to them. Yet they existed, they were difficult, but I think perhaps they were necessary.

I feel that I have been a victim of a misandrist culture, that is, a culture which vilifies, demonizes and hates men and boys. I feel strongly that through a process I don’t fully understand, I gradually began to hate masculinity, and as a consequence felt deep contempt for who and what I am, a man. A deeply conflicted, confused, frail human being, but still very much a man.

I have, in the past blamed feminism for turning my culture into a hotbed of misandry. Perhaps however feminism was the catalyst, and not really the cause. It’s undoubtedly true that men in the past have abused the women close to them, and men with political authority have abused that authority creating a systematic disenfranchisement of the genders, which has, on the whole penetrated society in a number of ways. In the past years, we’ve seen the vast majority of the overt forms of this dynamic overturned or reversed. My understanding is that feminism coins this phenomena patriarchy, something which I have reacted to with great negativity.

I do feel that my “knee-jerk” reaction is for two reasons. First, because being male, I see men on balance in a very positive and honourable light - and patriarchy of course means “rule of the fathers.” As a consequence, I don’t react well to anything that diminishes the pride and honour that men can feel in their legitimate accomplishments. Where feminists have proposed replacing the word patriarchy with the word Kyriarchy, my guard goes down, almost reflexively, since the concept becomes stripped of its exclusively sexist, masculine root. I see, perhaps mistakenly so that attacks on patriarchy are an attack on men. An attack on Kyriarchy would probably mean nothing to me.

The second reason is because feminism has been in my opinion, very disingenuous towards patriarchy. Patriarchy is what humanity adopted, for good or ill, and our presently lofty technological and affluent position is most certainly due do in part or in whole to patriarchy. The vast majority of progress which allows feminists to have any success at all, even to exist in the first place, is thanks at least in part, to having adopted a scientifically rigorous patriarchal system. I therefore on some level perceive feminist rejection of patriarchy as pure subjugation as a betrayal of men. This isn’t to say that subjugation and disenfranchisement are acceptable outcomes. In the past, women demanded that our society change to treat all human beings equally, and this to one raised in the outcome of this demand, that we comply with these demands seems so logically, ethically and philosophically sound that it is beyond questioning.

However, that should not, but sadly does, diminish the fact that the very survival, the very existence of feminist women was purchased by the sacrifice, often the ultimate sacrifice made by men, mostly. Feminists seem only too happy to overlook those men who fought and died to protect hearth, home and most importantly, family. Whether socialized or essential, masculinity makes a very rigid demand of men; that we be willing to fight, and if necessary die, if those close to us should ever be threatened. Masculinity constructs us to be willing to die first, and constructed or not, men find honor, duty, pride, and fulfillment in this simple reality. While almost certainly a sexist construction, I believe the conclusion, that the end result of this impulse is in no way meant to be oppressive; it is the burden that masculinity demands that men carry with them every minute of every day of their adult lives. Biologically, this construction makes sense, and will, at least until human biology changes drastically always be the default survival strategy - women and children FIRST.

I believe that the traditional male domination of certain dangerous occupations was in no way intended to subjugate or oppress women; this domination was brought about because where sacrifice was required, no surviving civilization was willing to sacrifice women or children, at least not in the numbers demanded by primitive conflict. Since even a single male is capable of impregnating a large number of women, the group will survive so long as a single male remains. A single woman and a number of men however almost certainly won’t survive - even in a situation of extreme fecundity, there is a very real limitation on the number of potential offspring. When this fact is coupled with the uncertainty of human pregnancy and birth, earlier societies had no absolutely alternative: when faced with starvation, conflict, or any substantial strife the men die first as much as required, as often as required. Survival was not assured even in these circumstances, but the odds were more favorable for the ones who realized and acted on the principle that if someone must die, the first to do so must be a man. Those who did not adopt this principle in some fashion have simply not survived. At best, they have been absorbed into more aggressive groups.

Men hunt, and women gather, not because the men are misogynists, but because they recognize that they can’t afford to loose women if something goes wrong. I believe that when this willingness to self-sacrifice became firmly constructed, men concluded that they should make decisions. Even if attacked by rivals, the inherent value present in women would hopefully, keep them alive, while the men, would almost certainly all be killed. Since the men as a group believed that they had more to loose, they almost certainly demanded the authority to make decisions for the whole. Since they took the risk, they argued that they should bear the responsibility for the whole, and thus the authority to make decisions on behalf of the whole. With the advent of civilization, this became institutionalized and codified. And here I believe the true subjugation and oppression of women began.

The subjugation of women was not ethically correct. but it is mitigated by having been necessary, or at least, perceived as necessary. The goal was I believe not one of subjugation but one of protection and ensured survival. Now that our human circumstances have changed, it only stands to reason that unequal treatment and injustice begin to end.

However, this correct impulse has I believe resulted in a culture of misandry. The preconditions for misandry, that of being willing to sacrifice for women, and the transgressions of a significant number of men, combined with women’s emancipation and empowerment has resulted in a culture that not only sees men as disposable, but one that sees men as perpetrating evil against women. Positive male role models, and positive portrayals of masculinity are all but gone. The strengths of masculinity have been reconstructed; men have become evil when they are in fact very good.

This persistent rejection of positive male imagery has, I believe damaged me personally. I believe, that I recognized immediately that women were human beings, equal but obviously different to men, so naturally, equality for women was beyond questioning. I believe that I always enjoyed the company of women. But rather than see myself as positive in the lives of women the culture I believe was very poisonous to my budding masculinity. Since I liked women, but was not one of them, I think I came to believe that I would never be fully accepted into the intimate circles of women, and therefore would always be deficient. I recognize now that women should have their space as needed, conflict arose when the culture did nothing to inform me on what I should be as a man. In school, my achievements, my contribution seemed to always be regarded as inferior to female contributions. School of course, had been restructured more to cater to girls than boys, but try explaining this me then, and even boys now. Feminists I believe aren’t interested in the statistics which is unfortunate since they helped contribute to the disenfranchisement and growing subjugation of men. Some individuals I think see this as a necessary historical injustice, which I believe fails on a philosophical level.

In any case, I continued to experience negative a portrayal of men, and thus I believe that I began to hate myself. This manifested, I suspect in a general apathy about myself and detachment from making any substantial investment in my own future; women would never want me, and so I felt largely without purpose, or utility to anything. I found an outlet, as many do in video games, where the thrill of competition could be satisfied, achievement was always rewarded, even if the points are entirely meaningless to society, at least then, they felt like they meant something. It took a very long time, and possibly the birth of my daughter for me to be able to see myself as anything other than a useless lump of flesh. I believe that this very same affliction has become rampant in modern western society. People who doubt that this is happening have only to listen, or examine the inordinate number of women who complain that all their boyfriend or partner does is play video games. Those that do this sadly, do not understand the damage that has been done to men. Those who realize it however can be a crucial source of healing and renewal, but only if they are patient, and extremely devoted. I believe that the explosive expansion of the video game industry is due in no small part to satisfy a primal craving in men for what society has either chosen to deny them, or vilified. Video games fulfill some sort of need within modern young men, and they do this better than women are able, or willing. I believe that it took the birth of my daughter to get me to reverse course, I can’t begin to suggest that the arrival of children will do anything for other men. Almost certainly, it won’t, and we will generally continue a pattern of self-destructive, purely self-serving behavior.

This self hatred also I believe, did substantial damage to my interactions with women, and almost certainly damaged my marriage, probably my education, and my professional career. I have been deeply dissatisfied with my sex-life with my wife not because there is anything wrong with her, but because after the initial infatuation wore off, she quickly realized that while I had enormous potential, the man I was wasn't the kind of man she wanted. It's only through her decision to stay with me, and try to help me see my true potential and inherent strengths that we're still together.

When I began to work outside of people strictly my own age, I think my first supervisors were astounded by my capacity for cynicism and negativity. My hurdle to overcome, yes, absolutely! It didn't help however that I didn't know how else to be. Cynicism and negativity had been my default state for so long that I couldn't imagine any other way to be.

Fortunately, my capacity for introspection and personal change has allowed me to overcome some of the challenges that I faced, and my marriage is back on the right course. Sadly, I feel t hat in this ability to adapt, I am a rare case. I don’t feel this makes me special, I feel that many others will not be so fortunate. Many have argued that family is the building block of society, true or not, I believe that as a consequence many individuals will suffer greatly thanks to the culture misandry. Until we either adapt to the demands of feminism, or we take immediate steps to undo the damage that misandry is doing to men, western society will continue to decline. I believe that it is certain that if we do not act, the less scrupulous elements in the world will destroy, or consume us, and feminists will loose everything they have gained for women, while western men will have failed in their duty to hearth and home. History will show without question that if we do not restore balance, all of the worst elements of patriarchy will strike back, and they will win because we have stolen from men the ability to manifest themselves as powerful noble defenders of the home. If women wait too long to restore this ability in men, then it will be too late as the enemies of freedom will adapt much more quickly than our hamstrung men are able. Some feminists have even gone so far as to blame men, an act which I feel is akin to blaming rape-victims. I believe that the effects of one are no less damaging than the other.

I grow more angry when I realize that the masculine sense of honour demands that we make restitution for our transgression, and that realize that don't think feminists will be willing to accord men the same courtesy. Where we recognized that we have done wrong to women, feminists do not, and likely will not for a very long time. And even if they do recognize what has happened before its too late, I don't believe that women feel the same burden of responsibility that men do. They made the mess, but they won’t help us clean it up. I believe that my personal sense of honour will therefore not allow me to truly reach out to feminists. Until both sides are willing to try to make amends, there can be no peace.

The worst part is, that modern masculinity needs feminism, and feminism needs modern masculinity. I believe that we can only succeed if feminism is strong enough to turn its collective eye to constructing a positive powerful form of masculinity. The old impulse of women and children first will then be able to buttress and support feminism to do what it needs to do for women. We can save each other, history will only care about whether we did or not. I don’t believe modern men have any interest in subjugating or oppressing women. There are misogynists who invest in this behavior to our collective detriment, fortunately they tend to be old, out of touch, and ignored by the progressively minded. Their power is waning, but feminists fail to see the opportunity to seize and utilize that power for the accomplishment or their own objectives. They would however need to turn their attention towards masculinity, and they would need to make it a priority.

Feminists argue, perhaps rightly that men should be taking charge of this, that men need to be the ones to right the sexism. I don’t think we can do this without the help of feminists. We are not organized, and we are largely disenfranchised. Institutions feel comfortable ignoring men, and I believe that this will continue, until the vast majority of people men and women alike realize that we cannot succeed as a culture without the harmonious interaction of the sexes.

But I tire of this. I suspect that there's so much bitterness from feminists and from men who perceive themselves as anti-feminists that any advice, or attempt to heal the divide is doomed to failure. I think I've seen objectively enough to know that we need to work together in spite of ourselves, but that in all likelihood we cannot master ourselves enough to do so.

For myself, I wanted to stop being angry. I wanted to deal once and for all with my old feelings of outrage, and anger. It's my baggage, my issues that I needed to cope with. I only can do that, by rigorous unflinching examination of what I think, and how I feel. I think I've finally done that, I think I can let go of my old prejudices, and I'm happy and willing to grow. I might be completely right about everything I've said, and I might be completely wrong about everything I've said, I'm not sure it really matters. It will matter if I'm wrong, it will matter if this little bit of meditation can make a positive difference. I suppose I show my masculine stripes quite openly – I feel it my duty to try to protect hearth and home, and this is probably my fumbling attempt to meet that challenge. If it could help, then it is my fondest hope that it change the world for the better.

But, since that possibility seems so remote (still wearing the dark-tinted glasses by the look of things) what matters to me, in the now is that in the words of a great man, I came, I saw, I conquered. Or more appropriately I conquered myself, and gave myself the peace and serenity that I deserve.

In this spirit, my past is behind me, my future lies ahead. I step forward.