In my previous article I discussed how ignoring the fundamental differences between men and women has failed to elevate us, and led to a dysfunctional culture in which we are punished for our biological imperatives.
Today I want to discuss a bit about what we have to gain, and how we can, create a culture that is in tune with our innate biological drives. Obviously, I’d need to write a couple of books to give a whole picture on this subject (I’m working on it!) And there are a few writers, like Michael Gurian (The Wonder of Boys) who’ve already started painting that picture. But I wanted to start by discussing acceptance and honouring.
In our current culture we have become very hostile to Masculine impulses. Some, like the male need to look at attractive women, is punished with everything from dirty looks to sexual harassment charges. Others have essentially become demonized, like the need to compete and the innate divide we feel between love and sex. Some we have aimed to completely wipe out, and have done so by punishing little boys for who and what they are.
The problem is, no matter what you try to do to change, constrain, or bend men, you will fail, because these impulses come from a part of us that exists beyond conditioning and learning. It is Male and comes as part and parcel of the Male Body. This doesn’t mean merely that “boys will be boys” however: how we use those impulses is rooted in our learning.
Every culture in human history has been constructed to help us make as good use of the impulses that Men and Women are innately born with. They have succeeded to varying degrees, and none has been prefect in its execution. Human beings are such bundles of conflict and contradiction that I do not believe it is possible to build a culture that will ever help us deal with every push and pull our sexual being drives us along. Whatever lessons we take from the history of human culture, however, I believe there are several there are vitally important to learn:
The sexuality of both sexes can be a very dark and primal thing. Sexuality is amoral, and it needs moral and spiritual guidance to be healthy.
Children of both sexes need guidance and role models, not just from their parents, but from their community in order to learn to be a part of culture. A sense of belonging for both sexes is necessary for that culture to thrive.
When we fail to honour either sexes’ innate drives and needs, young people are given no choice but to learn to do with those impulses on their own, and this usually leads to the absolute worst manifestations of those impulses.
I think that last point in particular is important to understanding what is happening in our culture with boys. The further we have pushed Boys and Men away from a healthy expression of their Masculinity, the more open they necessarily have to become to unhealthy and destructive expressions of their masculinity.
Men are naturally competitive: the feeling of Aggression is part of who and what we are, but Aggression does not necessarily have to turn into violence and domination. Men naturally strong and active feelings of Lust; and all heterosexual Men look at Women partially as sex objects during the high points of Lust (I believe women do the same to Men to a different degree). But Lust doesn’t need to lead to constant objectification, not does it need to lead to men using women, nor to pornography addiction, nor infidelity, nor rape. Men are naturally physical beings: they live in their bodies and feel best when they can move and act. This physicality does not need to lead to academic failure, thoughtlessness, or rashness. Men inherently feel anger more powerfully than women and more readily. This anger needn’t turn into abuse, vandalism, rebellion, or gang culture.
When we teach young men that the feelings they have are not acceptable, that they simply must stamp them down and try to act more like a girl, we invite them to rebel. Young men put in this position close themselves off from adult guidance. They try to figure out what to do with their drives on their own, in gangs, or by turning to the media… none of which teach them constructive and healthy ways to use their energies.
I don’t believe we have the right, when we vilify and abuse boys in this way, to be surprised by the rampant pornography culture, the failure in schools, gang violence, hate groups, and social dropout culture that has evolved in the absence of meaningful guidance for boys. Nor should we be surprised at the epidemic of depression and suicide among young men. These are the worst manifestations of the male impulse, and we have given them few other choices.
Nor are Men the only ones falling into the worst impulses their sex has to offer. While our culture tells Boys that there is nothing good or desirable about their impulses, the same culture tells Girls that there is absolutely nothing bad about theirs. Pickup culture, skyrocketing divorce rates, legislative impingement on personal freedoms, institutional misandry, and consumerism come from the worst impulses of Women. We have not only left Girls unguided, we have told them they don’t need guidance and taught them to take offence when it is offered.
When we are honest about the way both Men and Women are – and what they need – we can help them channel those impulses both to the good of society and to the good of themselves.
Men who feel respected, and who have been taught strong values by a firm mentor have been the hands and minds that have driven the greatest societies in the world. Aggression channelled creatively have helped us invent commerce, industry, and the Academy so that we can prove the mettle of our minds and voices. Lust tempered by love and compassion has been the spark that has helped us create our finest works of art and shaped our spirituality. Men’s physicality has helped us spread across the planet and thrive as a culture, and keeps us safe every day. Anger worked out with compassion and sacrifice has given shape to systems of law and justice, and moulded much of our religious landscape.
Likewise, Women who feel loved and needed, and who’ve learned modesty and compassion have always been the guiding stars that keep the societies men drive on course. Women who have channelled their impulses towards creative ends have shaped our values, defined what a good human being is, and kept our cultures alive from generation to generation as teachers. Every Man who has made a lasting impression on our culture has been shaped by the culture of the women around him.
It is not enough to simply understand that “Men are like this” and “Women are like that” and making decisions on that basis, however. We have understood Men and Women perfectly well for centuries, and made expedient decisions around that understanding, often to the detriment of one or both sexes. We have to learn to honour each sex as being wonderful and complete as it is, and rather than trying to change one another, try and find the best possible compromises that help us make wise decisions and live up to our potential.