(Warning: I’m offgassing frustration here 😛)
I’ve been contemplating the Red Pill’s critique of the emasculation of men, and simultaneously hearing a similar critique of men from generally leftist or leftist/agnostic spiritual communities.
The narrative is, on both sides, that men suck. This is coming from both men AND women. Most people seem to agree.
In the case of red-pillers, men are emasculated, don’t defend themselves from state control and have lost any moral compass. According to red-pillers, women find them unattractive because they’re too kind and understanding, and they’ve lost their bite. Some extremists even say it’s a plot for foreigners to come in and rape and pillage the country.
In the case of spiritual communities, men aren’t showing up in their masculine leadership. They don’t know how to hold space for women or communicate their desire. They don’t know how to set the frame and course of a relationship, allowing that to default to women.
Often, these critiques come from other men who hold themselves up as examples of “the right kind” of man.
Be like me and you will be saved. Follow my simple 5-step method and create polarity in your relationships.
Critiques from people on the TRP side are horribly scathing, insulting men’s masculinity, calling people cucks, using all sorts of ad hominem attacks against men who display the qualities of sensitivity or thoughtfulness (or at the very least aren’t ready to pick up a weapon).
Critiques from people on the other side are generally thoughtful, but there’s almost a sense of hysteria about them. It’s a war, men are failing, it’s sad. Men need to rise up, men need to this, need to that, etc… When a man steps into a masculinity workshop, he is to be re-educated about how to show up WELL as a man. Cuz, you know, there’s a “right” way.
In both cases I see the hallmarks of a toxic relationship in the thinking. Here’s how:
1) Use of broad, sweeping, generalizations along with always/never binary thinking.
Many people’s relationship with the concept of “men” is quite explosive, and applies to what apparently all men do, and more importantly what that behavior MEANS.
You can just smell people’s first boyfriend or unprocessed dad trauma on their breath. That’s what sweeping generalizations mean: I’ve got a bone to pick with an entire group due to my experience of one or two members of that group.
2) Continually making demands on the male’s behavior to change something without any attempt at ownership of how they (or other factors) might have contributed to the situation.
In the case of the leftists, it’s “take responsibility” or “be vulnerable” and in the case of the right-wingers it’s “stop being a pussy.”
Beat men into submission. Cuz that works.
3) Shutting down of dialogue other than “You’re right. I/we need to do better, and you have the answers about how.”
Stifling male sovereignty is the solution. It’s not how we got here… at all…
4) Dredging up of past behavior without creating a clear route to success, or having that route to success sound like “just be better” or “stop it.”
Although I understand this behavior, it’s also a trauma loop that hurts everyone involved in it. People don’t change because one person said they should. They change because they feel supported and WANT to do the work for their own personal benefit.
5) Triangulation/use of third parties or groups to confirm male wrong-ness.
When you have an issue with someone, or an entire gender, it is the height of toxicity to say shit like “All my friends agree” or “I read 5 articles today that confirm…” or tagging people to run a train on someone who is asking an honest question.
6) Continually changing/raising the bar without celebrating success.
It’s been 6 years since I’ve been in this discussion, and you know what? Very little about it has changed. The number of appreciations I’ve seen for men has not significantly increased.
You’ll almost never see it in TRP communities, because those men hate themselves on a deep level.
However, it’s still rare that I see appreciations for men in “conscious” communities as well. And every year it seems a new article or video goes viral with a title like “where are the men?”
7) Implying that there is a “right” form of behavior that must be discovered and adhered to.
People must find out their truth for themselves. When you tell them what that is, you’re actually making a bid to take their power away from them.
It is my humble opinion that men do not need another “right” answer, another program or operating system to run.
Men have been shaped into boxes of “right” and “wrong” behavior for the majority of their lives.
They get it from boy scouts, religion, sports games, military indoctrination, children’s books depicting men as rule-following knights and saviors.
These programs have left them with several metric tons of internalized shame about who they are not showing up as.
They have been denied community, or a sense of belonging and expected to show up as kings.
But, you know what? Not all men want to be (or are born to be) kings. Some men are scholars, philosophers, warriors, hermits, engineers. What people really mean is empowered adult. And each empowered adult looks and behaves differently.
The reductive king/queen discourse in the spiritual communities can be fun and empowering on the surface, but in this sorcerer’s opinion it’s ultimately infantilizing.
Men need space to be and to explore themselves, they need championship and authentic support, not a blueprint to show up “right.”
People who give a shit about them, who don’t see them as disposable or interchangeable cash vending machines, personal bouncers/saviors/protectors, or dicks-on-a-stick for when women get horny enough to overcome their deep-seated resentment.
I have listened to these critiques of men, and find them lacking.
Men will start to show up when they’re good and ready to do so, and not a minute before. Give them OPPORTUNITIES to experience things that would be personally enriching or healing. Don’t drag their faces through the dirt.
You can’t shame men into things. Well, you can, but it won’t work for long or have the outcome you desire.