Tuesday, 22 May 2018

All men are 'involuntarily celibate'! Sexual frustration is the engine of civilisation, so get over yourself

Dante's Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1871)

Hierarchies are a part of life. As Jordan Peterson writes in the first chapter of his book 12 Rules for Life, we are hard-wired for them. Most of us do not exist at the top of any hierarchy, and we spend our lives striving to advance even one step up in the pecking-order of whatever field we happen to be in. Sexuality is just as much of a hierarchy as a corporate office, and just as unfair. It is, however, a fact of life, not an injustice.

As much as it sucks to have to come to terms with our place in a given hierarchy, it is the brutal fact of life’s orders of merit, that allows us to enjoy the rush of accomplishment, the fascination of our ideals and aspirations, and which gives us the motivation to keep striving for something better. Again, as Jordan Peterson tells us, if we didn’t have hierarchies, we wouldn’t have our values. We wouldn’t be able to say certain things are better than others, and it is this discernment between what we don’t like and what we love, that is the foundation of a meaningful life.

It is depressing, then, to hear of an underground group of men - Incels - who instead of striving to rise up the natural sexual hierarchy, are seeking to dismantle that very hierarchy and call for revenge. This is allegedly the movement that formed the ideological backdrop for the recent van terror attack in Toronto, which killed ten and injured fifteen. Toby Young, writing in the Spectator points to a concept called ‘sexual redistribution’, coined by Robin Hanson in the wake of the horrific attack. That we are even talking about this shows just how mired in identity politics and class-war ideology such a movement is. It also shows how bankrupt a crude theory is, if it can be transposed easily from wealth to sexuality.

With the violent rage of a jihadi, coupled with the science-denying stupidity of a campus SJW, fanatical Incels view their place in the biological pecking-order not as a fact of life’s suffering with which they must contend, but as the product of some kind of conspiracy and injustice. Instead of using their natural grievances as energy to catalyse growth and change and become everything they can be, they lazily apportion blame on a faceless system which is supposedly rigged against them. Following the mindless and predictable trend of our time, they identify with their pain, and take it out on innocent people as representatives of their mythical oppressor.

Every woman who rejects them or does not return their sexual interest, must be some kind of privileged sexual aristocrat, and they must, according to this boring and unthinking view of life, be taught a lesson for their haughtiness and superiority.

Unrequited love can indeed be a kind of psychological torture. It can break the spirit and throw anyone into years of depression. It cuts right to the core of our integrity and self-esteem. Loneliness, we are told, is an epidemic, it damages our immune system and can shorten our lives. In short, yes, it bloody well sucks to have to face up to and accept our place in the sexual hierarchy.

That said, this very suffering is intrinsic to civilisation and essential for individual flourishing. To deny this and blame some mythical conspiracy for our lack of love, sex, wealth or happiness, is to relinquish our very personhood, to make ourselves unhuman. It is our grief and suffering that feeds our development as citizens and individuals. If there is no hierarchy, there is no sense of achievement. If there is no order of merit when it comes to sex and love, then there is no thrill of success. Love becomes meaningless. Sex is reduced to a bodily function. Without the threat of failure, there is nothing to strive for.

Dante could never get Beatrice, so he became the foremost poet of European civilisation. Shakespeare was driven mad by the love of an unattainable and beautiful narcissist. So he left world literature with some of the most intimate and relatable sonnets ever written. The genius of the best popular music - from Billy Holiday to John Lennon - comes from the intractable suffering of rejection and unrequited love. If it were not for life’s natural, sexual hierarchy, so much of civilisation and culture would not exist.

As Camille Paglia puts it in her masterwork Sexual Personae:

‘Everything great in western culture has come from a quarrel with nature. The west and not the east has seen the frightful brutality of natural process, the insult to mind in the heavy blind rolling and milling of matter. In the loss of self we would find not love or God but primeval squalor. This revelation has historically fallen upon the western male, who is pulled by tidal rhythms back to the oceanic mother. It is to his resentment at this daemonic undertow that we owe the grand constructions of our culture.’

Ultimately, all men are ‘involuntarily celibate’ at some point in their lives, many for most of their lives. It comes with the territory. An inability to accept the rough with the smooth of our erotic instincts is fundamentally just psychological laziness. When a man gets over any childish entitlement to sex he automatically becomes sexier, because he gives off the energy of responsibility and the strength needed to grow, adapt and lead. He shows potential partners that he is not unfamiliar with struggle, rejection and disappointment, even as he walks tall and is honest about what he wants. He knows his value, and he is prepared to test that value against the slings and arrows.

It is exactly this kind of man who created the great shifts in human culture, from Alexander the Great through Leonardo da Vinci to Steve Jobs. The very poetry of the human experience comes from turning rejection and loneliness into creative achievement. To hide your resentment at not being the top of the hierarchy behind the rhetoric of some cookie-cutter oppression theory is to turn yourself into the walking dead, and to let civilisation die on your watch.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

The #MeToo movement has become mob justice at the hands of abusive women

Contrary to the claims of the serial hashtagers, #MeToo has become an engine of shame, mob justice and vindictive abuse against masculinity. It is no longer a legitimate campaign to help female victims of abuse.

Amid all the pathological gossip and ritual destruction of people’s careers, we are also only hearing one side of the abuse story. The rage fuelled madness of #MeToo and its one-sided nature serve to cover up a very inconvenient fact about human relationships: Women are just as abusive as men.

Of course it is rare to find the kind of physically threatening thug-like Harvey Weinstein-types among women. However, there are plenty of women who behave equally badly and who destroy lives as they do so.

The difficulty in proving this lies in the fact that whereas men abuse physically, or harness their power in the material world to get what they want, women abusers often use psychological techniques, shame tactics, emotional blackmail and gaslighting.

In a fascinating and heartbreaking Ted Talk by Tim Golden, he describes the ways in which men end up in abusive situations. A mixture of social programming on emotional repression, and the psychological erosion of their inner integrity at the hands of abusive women, can literally cause the death of thousands of men.

In his talk he describes a man who grew up in a ‘hyper-masculine’ culture, that taught him to avoid being emotional. This man went on to form a marriage with a women who attacked his self-esteem and psychological integrity over a period of years, moving from passing hurtful comments about his appearance and mocking his looks, to outright outbursts of vindictive rage.

These attacks became so common he could predict when he was due for his next six-monthly bout of outward abuse about his lack of sexual attractiveness. This cycle of abuse eventually led to a complete withholding of sex until he promised to become less overweight and more attractive.

Tim eventually admits that the man’s life he is describing is his own. The abuse he experienced led him more than once to attempt suicide. The relief of ending his pain was still preferable to compromising his perceived ‘masculinity’ and admitting that he had been a victim of abuse.

Whereas the abuse of men like Harvey Weinstein is the abuse of a shameless and explicit tyrant, the abuse at the hands of toxic women is abuse by a thousand cuts.

The novelist Margaret Atwood recently wrote in the Globe and Mail that simply criticising women or the #MeToo movement has rendered her ex-communicated as a Bad Feminist. Atwood’s simple point was the ultimate sacrilege for modern feminism: that men and women are equally capable of evil and abuse.

She wrote: ‘My fundamental position is that women are human beings, with the full range of saintly and demonic behaviours this entails, including criminal ones. They're not angels, incapable of wrongdoing. If they were, we wouldn't need a legal system.’

The fact that #MeToo can’t withstands this kind of dissent exposes its illegitimate and sinister motives. Rather than actually being an effective campaign to help victims of abuse get the justice they deserve, it has become an aggressive and dangerous orgy of virtue-signalling and hate towards men.

It has itself become a form of abuse, in that it has created a culture of guilty-until-proven-innocent and uses public shaming to satisfy the mob’s pathological schadenfreude.

Dr Tara J Palmatier, a psychologist who specialises in helping men free themselves from abusive relationships, writes on her website shrink4men.com that we are living in a culture which reacts vehemently to reports of women being abused but which explains away the behaviours of abusive women abusers as the actions of victims of mental illness or those simply acting out on their own experiences of abuse.

Palmatier’s website states: ‘When a man is abusive, he’s designated a jerk and we encourage his wife or girlfriend to end the relationship. Abusive men are publicly humiliated, vilified and often imprisoned for their violent behavior. When a woman is abusive, we advise her male target that she’s just emotional, she was abused as child, so he needs to be patient and sensitive to her feelings and stick with her no matter the personal cost.’

Of course none of this is being discussed to diminish the pain of the women who are right now seeking to heal from monstrous pain inflicted upon them by abusive men. However, the #MeToo movement has become nothing more than a kind of PR tactic for women who are themselves quite abusive and who wish to vent their rage and purify their own sins by attacking easy targets.

Abuse exists. We have laws to deal with it. Anyone who feels they have been abused should report these things to the police, not social media. And if there are barriers to justice discovered within the system, that is something that needs to be addressed, through parliament or political campaigns.

However, any attempt to right abusive wrongs should have nothing to do with social media and have nothing to do with celebrity culture. If we continue to add fuel to the #MeToo mania, we will allow gossip and mob tactics to cause a critical breakdown in human relationships, and we will continue to whitewash the reality of toxic femininity and to only tell one half of the story of abuse.

Monday, 27 November 2017

'Yes but, what do you mean by "masculinity", anyway?'

The very question of how to define masculinity goes hand in hand with the modern dogma that ‘gender is a construction’. By that, most people mean that it is not real. However, this is to make sweeping generalisations that in any other context would be rigorously challenged.

Gender may well be something that is distinct from sex. It may well be a cultural phenomenon. It is ironic, however, that in this age of treating mental illness as being as important as physical illness, and placing human rights on a foundation of cultural identity, that ‘culture’ should be talked of in such dismissive terms.

Gender may not simply be a biological fact. It is probably more accurately described as the cultural expression of biological imperatives. This would account for the apparent consistencies of gender roles over variant cultures, and also the differences across those variations.

Shiva is a the God of consciousness and creation, the male principle. Source - https://goo.gl/SfRejx and www.wikiwand.com

In any case, to say that ‘gender is a construction’ is as crude and ignorant a generalisation as saying that gender is programmed into the biology of a human individual. It also indicates a philistine’s world-view, as it reduces culture to some political interpretation. Culture is a complex concept. It does not lend itself to scientific precision. Broadly speaking, we might say that culture is what emerges when biological imperatives meet environmental variables.

None of this is rigorously scientific, and none of it is precise. It is not meant to be. It is merely a sensible working model, which accounts for common experiences.

Masculinity, then, does not need a precise definition. It it is a fool’s errand to try and formulate a definition, and nothing much would change even if we had one. What is observably true, however, is that certain virtues are esteemed higher by the majority of men, and that certain challenges present themselves to people of the male sex.

The question of how to define masculinity is a secondary question to the practical questions around men’s sense of meaning and purpose in the world; how they relate to women; what it means to be a father, and - most importantly - how men take responsibility for their emotional hygiene.

For anyone interested in the challenges men face today, the innovative work of poet and male coach Rick Belden is a good place to start. His articles in the Huffington Post on the unique challenges facing men, can be found here.

In this blog, I refuse to answer the question ‘yes but what is masculinity?’ It is a quibbling distraction. Masculinity, like jazz, can’t be defined, and if one has to ask, one will never know.

The purpose of this blog has always been to evolve knew forms of expression for the ancient imperatives of masculinity. Science is irrelevant here. What matters in this context is culture. And anyone who wants a definition of culture will have to look elsewhere.

This refusal to make definitions is not ignorance disguised as defiance. It is a rejection of a model of discussion which I believe drives all philosophical ideas into paralysis.

The question of what a term means, is not the search for a final truth. It is the jumping-off point for wider discussion. However, in modern discussions of ideas, the quest for definitions is really a desire to shut discussion down.

Modern philosophy is incapable of being of any cultural value because it is not interested in being of value. It’s only purpose it to dissolve mystery. However, ideas are by nature mysterious. They are necessarily incomplete.

The central question of this blog then, is not to answer abstract questions of masculinity, but to offer a range of possible answers to the question I believe men need to be asking themselves: How do I express MY masculinity?

Sex drive is always a good place to start, when you are faced with some typically entrenched pseudo-academic challenge about ‘what does masculinity really mean anyway’.

Most men you meet will be struggling with how they manage the primal, vibrant imperatives of their sexual desire, in a cultural and moral context that is wildly different from that of their forefathers’.

One of the many confusions young men experience today is the sense that they have to hide their natural powers, for fear of being seen as some kind of violent and archaic patriarch; while at the same time knowing that they cannot attract a mate, without showing the teeth of this very inner animal.

Being a man today, is a complex psychological challenge. It means being intimate with a violent and dangerous power - Whitman’s procreant urge - while at the same time adopting nurturing and empathic behaviours that would have been foreign to men of previous generations.

This is why I focus on Marlon Brando so much, and have been fascinated by his acting style for years. Brando, for all his faults, used a peculiar spectrum or emotional range to articulate complexities that were never seen before or since, in Hollywood heroism.

Watching Brando, one gets a sense of competing and complementary forces in the male psyche, forces which are equally primal, but which create layers of friction, mystery and difficulty.

The challenge we face then is how to evolve knew cultural forms that capture such complexities and frictions. This is a huge responsibility, and science is of very little help. We need art, creativity, beauty and mythology to navigate these dark, deep waters.

The question ‘what does it mean to be a man?’ is a poetic question, it is not a scientific one. This means that each man must himself become a poet and deploy the full force of his erotic imagination, in order to carve a new path of leadership and heroism, to meet the demands placed upon him in the world today.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Creativity and masculinity: The friction of competing strengths

The apparent paradox of creative masculinity is brought hilariously and rather hearteningly to light by a story about Oscar Wilde in his schooldays. Apparently the future lord of London dinner tables was reciting his poetry in front of class, only to be mocked and sneered at by a boorish philistine in the back row. According to witness accounts, the large and burley budding aesthete pounced on the man and unleashed a pugilist power that surprises fans of Wilde to this day.

For a man so much associated with effete decadence and homosexual scandal, to say nothing of his dandyism and love of lilies, this story acts not as a counterexample against the cultural perceptions about maleness and creativity, but rather serves as an exception proving the rule, given the surprising violence of the story.

Creativity and masculinity are not supposed to go together. Male artists created the culture we enjoy, and yet, something about being creative and expressing yourself makes you less of a man, in the common perception.

Wildred Owen used poetry not only to cure his traumas but to transcend them and to become an unlikely warrior

It is true that for a man to be creative he must be in touch with femininity in a way that an athlete or political leader doesn’t need to be.

However, there is a presumption that being in touch with femininity somehow amputates masculinity.

This is silly, of course, because in all true healthy people, both femininity and masculinity exist together, and neither is repressed. That’s not to say that they are equal. However, they very much need to be balanced.

There’s a lot of posturing going around these days, that somehow it is now more acceptable for men to express their feelings; that gender is a construction, so what I am addressing here doesn’t matter anyway. After feminism, vulnerable men are celebrated and creativity is seen as being very masculine indeed.

This posturing is dangerously false. It is a kind of PR that people tell themselves about themselves, so they can bask in the glowing self-image of openness and tolerance.

It is the great falsehood of our age that eradicating differences somehow makes one more ‘tolerant’. If only we could get rid of gender, race, culture, borders, hierarchies, somehow we would become a more tolerant people.

It is baffling then that the very people who espouse this view, are often not very tolerant in practice.

Sex differences have a cultural impact. We could argue the toss about whether gender is a construction or not, but the reality is, for the large majority of people, sex differences manifest themselves in common behaviour patters. To deny this, is to augment reality through political abstractions.

One of those gender differences happens to be around the area of creativity. Expressing feelings, is still seen as being anti-male. And if it exists at all, it is a decadence. Creative men are aberrations of the norm.

One of the ways this manifests is through the jokes men make to each other about opening up their feelings, or through the default insult of homosexuality.

I remember myself, at school I was ridiculed for liking Jim Morrison, often on the receiving end of aspersions cast about my sexuality. I am no saint, either. I remember teasing other men for singing in the choir, likening them to girls, or saying they ‘have no balls’.

Women too, insult and degrade men for being creative or for expressing their feelings. Social scientist Brene Brown has recently studied the difference between how women talk about vulnerable men, and how they actually treat them.

My own experience is that women pay lip service to wanting to be around more sensitive and creative men, but in reality, they find such personalities disconcerting and uncomfortable.

Of course, these are generalisations, and there are plenty of artistic men and women who ally with other creative people, regardless of gender. The point stands, however. If we are not comfortable with openness and vulnerability, then we find it repellent in others, whether we admit to it or not.

It is tempting to explain away the distaste among men for vulnerability and creativity. We could resort to evolutionary speculation, and quite sensibly say that men needed to be tough to survive, that a certain amount of repression became instinctual and made normal, in order that men grew up able to kill in the hunt, and devastate in wars.

It is thought that violent rituals around manhood were ways of encouraging this toughening up in young men. Too much vulnerability and sensitivity then would be a liability.

However, this is too simplistic, despite making some sense. Another aspect of survival apart from resilience and strength, is adaptivity.

In conscious animals, creative thinking, the ability to innovate new solutions to unforeseen challenges is an essential tool. Terence McKenna, the psychedelic thinker, speculated that the role of the artist is a modern version of the role of the shaman - someone who serves his community by confronting the unknown.

Whatever these theories amount to, it is clear that there is a friction inherent in being a male artist. Competing kinds of strength exist in creativity and physical survival, and both can’t exist without the other.

Artists like Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Hunter S Thompson and Jack Kerouac are extreme modern examples of this friction being barely managed and eventually being badly handled.

The strength needed to confront physical challenges can often conflict with the strength needed to face the challenges of the psyche. There is a reason that the contemplative and the warrior led different lives throughout history.

However, there are civilised traditions where those two kinds of strength are brought together. Disciplines in which imaginative courage and physical courage are married.

The Samurai tradition of Japan, and all eastern martial arts, at their most exquisite, manifest this paradox of vulnerability and monstrous violence.

The Knights Templar lived like monks, turning their warrior training to the service of a philosophic idea.

The Renaissance ideal of the Courtier, the civilised man, is often thought of as slightly effete, however, the courtly Prince was required to be as much a swordsman as we was a lover and a scholar. To be civilised also meant being ready and able to defend that civilisation from the all too real threat of barbarism.

Vulnerability, and a capacity for beauty, are not non-masculine traits. However, they do exist alongside physical strength and warrior sensibilities, with a certain amount of friction.

One of the most striking examples of how an artistic personality can exist in a warrior context, is the story of Wilfred Owen. Not only did the practice of poetry help him to heal his PTSD and the trauma of being a sensitive, Keatsian boy thrust into the bloodied hell of the trenches in World War One, it actually facilitated a transformation of the aesthete into courageous leader of men.

Owen, once cured, insisted on going back to the trenches to lead his men and to carry out his duty. Had it not been for his work as a poet, this transformation would not have happened.

On top of that, Owen has left us with a body of work which to this day is a portal into the horrors and trauma of one of the most shameful humanitarian disasters in civilised history. If it wasn’t for this marrying of the poet and warrior, our culture and countless schoolchildren every year, would be markedly ignorant of the full implications of modern warfare.

The platitudes about men opening up and being more vulnerable, and this being a kind of strength, are generally false. They tend to be uttered by people who in practice exhibit a quick and fierce disdain for that same vulnerability in men.

Creative men are celebrated, but they are not celebrated for their skills and their imaginative capacities, so much as their successes and triumphs of social status.

Regardless of these uncomfortable truths, masculinity and creativity are intimately linked, and creativity clearly manifests itself differently in men than it does in women.

To be creative and vulnerable is not to be any less a man. It does however, present an ongoing challenge for creative men to negotiate a psychic diplomacy between their imaginative inwardness and their ever strident physical instincts.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Time for snobby women to stop whining. Men will no longer be shamed for their sexuality

Men are sick of being lectured to about ‘toxic masculinity’. Men are sick of the endless preachings from Huffington Post, Oxbridge debutantes about ‘privilege’, and the implication that every or any sexual advance is a form of harassment until proven otherwise.

Have men been abusive towards women in history? Yes. Has this often become a cultural rule of thumb? Of course. However, theories about ‘the patriarchy’ and ‘rape culture’ demonise men by painting in dangerously broad strokes.

Speaking personally, I grew up thinking that my sexuality and my masculinity were dangerous and pathological. Before I could put such feelings into words, it was clear to me, given the messaging of the times, that to be a man, was to be bad.

The only hope was for a man to emancipate himself by becoming more like women. Listening more, understanding women’s struggle more and amputating his testosterone urges in favour of reaching out across the gender divide.

The phoney language of gender ecumenism is really just a PR front for a brand of feminism that is itself obsessed with power.

As Nietzsche warned, every revolution carries with it the danger of ‘resentement’ - the process of turning the tables of power, only to replace the old regime with a new one built of former slaves.

That is what we have happening across the western world right now. Women are being bred to be entitled, tyrannical and nasty people, and they are told that behaving in this way is ‘empowered’.
A culture of vain, pathological femininity is dominant. Men are being told that to be good and moral, and to be loved and cherished as men by women, they have to convert themselves from their natural proclivities.

Masculinity is now defined by the most extreme pathological behaviours. To the point that being a man itself is considered something to be cured. A religion of ‘progress' exists around women and femininity, as if to be born with a vagina is to be born a beautiful and perfect madonna.

Like the dangerous sexual sublimation of Catholic priests, men now find themselves in a double bind in expressing their sexuality. Either they express it and risk being branded a ‘creep’ a ‘harasser’ or a threat of such a kind; or they suppress it, dislodge themselves from sexual culture, thus thwarting their own development.

The horrifying irony of this is that the double-bind is far more likely to create ‘toxic’ behaviours than a compassionate and honest cultural examination of the nature of masculinity would do.

Men of all stripes must rebel against this crazed, oestrogen hegemony. It’s time to put these sexual tyrants back in their place. Not through identity politics, but through a shameless sexuality, a shameless expression of male erotic power and a creative and cultural male renaissance.

Let us invent new idols, let us delve deep into the heritage of our mythic heroes and dredge up a new, powerful masculinity that serves to exalt the better angels of our masculine potential.

And let us not listen to the PhD, teacher’s pets and sneering hipsters who would slander our masculine entrenchment as some kind of reversal of equality.

A truly emancipated woman wants to see the men in her life live fulfilling and productive and meaningful stories. She wants them to be reliable and loving, strong and kind.

A truly free and self-empowered woman will not seek to demonise the men in her life, or castrate her male allies. She will take time to understand male sexuality, see the mysteries in it, the hidden powers that it provides for her and her tribe.

For too long the public discourse around gender and sexuality has been dominated by damaged, resentful and angry women, women who exhibit psychological pathologies and who seek to project those wounds onto every nuance and challenge in sexual relationships.

The result is a culture of demands and superior elitist proclamations that bear no relation to ordinary, balanced women, and which alienate young men and teach them to apologise in advance for their sexuality.

Shaming men, even those men who have never abused their sexuality and that of others, for the actions of the fringe extremes, is leading to a deeply repressive sexual culture. It is also going to increase loneliness, isolation and give an extra charge to the rampant nihilism of our age.

All of this because a bunch of over-educated women are ill at ease with their own sexual power. Feminism has taught women that they have no power. No wonder then that when young women intuit their sexual powers they feel rage and shame about not being able to express them.

A whole ruling class of snobby, snotty and entitled princesses - whose chief weapons are in the mainstream media - are taking out their dissociated sexual guilt on men.

It stops here. It’s time for this generation of women to grow up. Men will no longer shoulder responsibility for female unease about sex, or for the fears they have of their own desires.

Time for women to do some deep work on a culture-wide level. Time for women to examine themselves, to look beyond the lies they tell themselves about their own victimhood and powerlessness.

Most men today understand that an acute self-awareness about their own urges and desires is necessary to remain balanced in a civilised world. More than ever, men are cautious and think deeply about their sexualities and physical drives in the context of a free and emancipated culture.

It is time for women to stop glossing over their own problems. It’s time for women to meet us men half-way. The industry of self-congratulation that now passes for feminism is boring, dangerous and it is destroying human relationships.

Until women start to take responsibility for their own sexual anxieties, their own horror at the power and erotic charge of their own desires, feminism will amount to nothing but a corrupt and toxic sham.

Do men still have work to do? Yes, of course. But women have not even begun to examine themselves with the same honesty as men. Instead, we now have a culture of elitist, superior zealots, using shame and rage to deflect from their own sins.

This is a message to all those resentful, boring furies out there, confident in their own righteousness: the game’s up. No progress will be made unless you too get down in the psychic mud and do your own fair share of self-work.

Otherwise, expect a riot. Expect the palace walls to crumble. Expect the ramparts to burn. You’ve been warned.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The modern woman needs the emotional leadership of creative men

As long as women are the ones burdened with childbirth, gender roles will exist. Nature herself is sexist, and we need to get used to it.

That being said, men's roles have changed. The modern man cannot afford to base his own existential certainty on his role as a breadwinner.

I do believe, though, that our masculinities provide a tonic to the moral panic of modern life. It is still our role to provide leadership and security for the women in our lives, and it is still necessary for us to demonstrate a fighting spirit alongside our sisters.

They still need us, despite what they like to say. And they need us for more than opening the jam jar and taking out the trash.

There's something important to note here about the exploration of masculinity in a post-feminist world. The uncertainty of men's roles is actually a godsend in my view, because it highlights the mystery and poetry of being a man – no longer do we depend on our careers, our egos and our material or financial value for a sense of self-worth.

That much we can certainly thank the original feminists for. In freeing women, they liberated men also from a narrow, positivist definition of masculinity. We are now free to assert ourselves beyond language, and free from the symbology of capitalism.

The world is coming round to the idea that men are not ended, we are not defunct, and we are not extraneous, just because women too can be their own providers. The great news is that men are no longer defined by their use, or their functional value. And yet, the ladies can't live without us.

This is especially good news for the creative boys among us. The writers and the poets, the actors and dancers. More than a few times I have heard women mock creative men. The old-world, pre-feminist view that creative men are not real men, really does persist.

Let me just say that any woman, or any man in fact, who professes to be a feminist, and yet still clings to the idea that creative men are not real men, is a hypocrite, or worse, a fake. Their cherished views on emancipation only go so far.

So how does the creative man benefit from the more nuanced view of masculinity that is emerging?

Well, one of the key ideals of what it means to be a man is “a leader”. The modern, poetic male, offers a kind of leadership that the modern woman cannot live without.

As they become more independent materially, women are starting to experience the exhausting, existential angst men have always felt – the feeling of disconnection that comes from over-identification with our material value, our bodies and our egos.

Creative men are often mistaken for being feminine because their sense of self is not manifested in material ways. Their courage and their power is directed inward. It is contemplative, rather than physically proactive.

As women become more and more free to define themselves in ways traditionally associated with men, men too are free to go within, to nurture their spiritual strength and their visionary potential.

Women, now more than ever, need men who are connected to themselves, and who can offer a spiritual, rather than material, form of leadership and support.

So, guys, I say to you this: You are a leader. Your intuitive, non-rational, non-financial value, is exactly what women need right now.

Your leadership will not be political or economic. It will not be authoritarian, but visionary, a boldness born from facing your own demons and emotional conflicts.

As women face the challenges of being all things to all people, of being both the economic, self-dependent warrior, and the strong, nurturing mother – they risk losing their spiritual identities.

What they need now are men connected to their own purpose, fearless in the face of uncertainty, mystery and failure. Men who know well, and are unfazed by, dark nights of the soul. Men who can offer courage and leadership in the unseen battle of the human spirit.

So, it's time to hold the head high. Time to embrace your true value as a man. Time to embrace a less defined, less materially certain masculinity, and to harness that mystery to cultivate a new ideal of male leadership.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

We must celebrate masculinity not shame it

We live in an age when men's sexuality is guilty until proven innocent.

Until we deal with the shame and introverted rage of male sexual development, all of feminism will be worth nothing.

It could be domestic abuse. It could be “rape culture”. It could be the neutered maleness of the modern man.

Everywhere you turn the message is – men are failing women. We failed with the Patriarchy. And now we are failing by being too nice, too wimpy, too insecure; or the opposite, too aggressive, too sexual, to objectifying.

It doesn't really matter, as long as you are given to understand – you are failing.

Well, it's time to buck up, is it not?

Yes. I do feel that there is a problem with male culture. I do feel that the range of expression and avenues of emotional development for men are inadequate and, as a result, destructive.

However, apologising is not the solution. Feeling guilty is not going to help.

Shame and masculinity have gone together for too long. Since recorded time actually, and I think it's time to peel them apart.

I won't speculate about the evolutionary reasons why shame and male sexuality have gone hand in hand – suffice to say that shame serves a purpose in a state of nature.

I believe however, that many of the problems that women are reacting to, and what is generally called “toxic masculinity” - come from the fact male sexuality is wrapped up in shame.

Shame almost always means repression, and repression is the opposite of expression. But something as primal as the life force of human existence, cannot be repressed forever – right?

The longer it's repressed, the more unhealthy the ways that energy will be released.

Messaging around male sexuality is usually by example, and usually mixed messaging at that. Our life force, our sexuality, is both bad and good, strong and creepy, aggressive and vulnerable.

If you don't believe me – answer me this: when were you ever told by an elder, a potential date, or peer, that your sexuality was a force for good in the world?

Also, can you point to a piece of cultural messaging that tried to convey that idea to you as you were developing into manhood?

No. The message for young men is that their sexuality, their testosterone, is dangerous, toxic, something to be hidden, and only expressed in flirty codes.

Rather than challenge these suffocating memes, the so-called sexual revolution has served only to confine honest male sexual expression to the seedy fringe.

Despite the erotic hubris of modernity, sexuality has become generic and predictable, and the current gender discussion only serves to increase the shame of boys' sexual development.

A concept like “rape culture” is controversial case in point.

Rape is serious problem, most especially in cultures where sexuality is actively repressed. The more repression and shame, the more rape. Shame will not solve toxic sexual behaviours, it will only increase them.

However, rather than try to examine the role that shaming young boys plays in the growth of their primal, sexual energy, the modern gender dialogue is doing its best to repress masculinity in deeper subconscious shame.

Shaming men for their sexuality is not only counterproductive, it's creating a ticking bomb of resentment, helplessness and sexual paranoia.

The only cure for toxic sexuality is to celebrate male sexuality. We need modern fertility rituals that prize maleness, and the hyper-productivity of testosterone.

We need to understand that aggression and ritualised violence are part of our natures, and if they are not celebrated, they become toxic.

We will not deal with the problems of domestic violence, rape and abusive sexuality, by showering shame on men for expressing their sexuality.

We need to create new ways in which the mysteries of maleness are conceived, and the beauty and poetic fury in the masculine heart is unleashed.

The first port of call should be a creative exploration of male sexual desire.

Paintings, films, poetry, songs and photography – a relentless campaign of celebration that reminds the world that men are emotionally complex, irreplaceable and sexually innovative.

Instead of shaming people into being better, we need to free their better angels from the medieval trap of prissy puritanism.

All the challenges normally grouped under the evils of the “patriarchy” can only be adequately addressed by focusing on men and masculinity. Otherwise the battle for equality will only ever be half-won.