So, as I already said, Project Brando is as much about mental and spiritual health as it is about looking good. Initially, it was about looking as good as I could be as a kind of fuck you to my ex girlfriend. The best kind of revenge is success – that kind of thing. In any case, for anyone getting over a relationship, I highly recommend the gym. There is nothing comparable to the feeling of bursting through your pain barrier while listening to “Heatwave” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas at top volume on your ipod. No, not even sex. This is far more righteous.
In fact, at some point, I will dedicate a blog post to the topic of the perfect Gym playlist. It is an essential part of salvaging one’s pride, and there are a few must haves that should be on everyone’s list.
Gym aside, the real point of Project Brando, is self-esteem. This is crucial. And by that I mean, your actual self-image, your male ego, your sense of worth. For me, it is the feeling of being able to walk tall, to take up my metaphysical space without apology, or even a need to prove myself to anyone else. It is just knowing that the fundamental truth about yourself is that you are a worthy human being.
And this goes back to what I said last post. For men, and it is true for women too, our sense of self-worth is conditional on our role in society. I think this a particular problem for men. Women have a biology which means that they will inevitably confront their relationship to life and nature, their inherent self, at one point or another. And it is something they learn very early on.
For guys, it is not so direct. Perhaps it should be, but centuries of conditioning has generated a culture of external validation of the male psyche. A man’s self-esteem is grounded in external factors, whether it be the size of his cock, his car or his girlfriend’s tits. Notice it is often got something to do with size. Does size matter? It does if you make it matter.
This is also the roots of female objectification. All men are taught by the social reality around them, to view women as potential pieces of property. The reason we do this, is because we do it with EVERYTHING, not just women. Of course, treating another human being as property, i.e. something that adds to your value within a society, is ludicrous and is, in fact, a form of slavery.
So, for the record, I recognise this. I acknowledge the work of feminism in breaking this down, but it is only half the picture. The only way this can fully be eradicated is if we dissolve the wider cultural assumptions that feed into such behaviour. As a further side note, the liberation of women is in danger of backfiring. Empowerment does not exist in subsuming your environment into an extension of your self-esteem. And this is exactly what capitalism seems to have done to the women’s movement. Things are better, but we risk losing everything if don’t go a level deeper and actually challenge the assumptions of a patriarchal society.
Right. So the closest I can get to defining a real man, is just a wholesome human being. That is, someone who does not place their self-value in externals such his property, his family, and how he is perceived in public opinion. A person who does this is a slave, and he will seek to enslave everything in his path in order to salvage his already very delicate self-esteem.
I would venture that this phenomenon of placing your value in external things is the root of domestic abuse, alcoholism and violence in men. It is almost certainly the basic root of rape. Because rape is about power, and a man is empowered to the extent that he can get what he wants.
It is generally my view that we live in a society in which we are all raped, all enslaved. Okay, that’s a fucking bleak way to look at things, but the point is, it doesn’t have to be that way.
What is it that you admire in your heroes? Courage? Physical strength? Success?
For me, it is an attitude. It is like Bogey when he comes up against the femme fatale, and she’s got his number, she calls him on some hard facts about himself – but he remains unperturbed. He comes right back with a devilish wisecrack and downs his whisky. Yeah, this is simplistic, but it illustrates the point. The common factor in all the men I look up to and admire, is that their self-esteem is not conditional on anything. They don’t care what I think, or what anyone else thinks, because they have been to the bottom of themselves. The are able to confront themselves, their failures and weaknesses, their vulnerabilities, and yet remain grounded in their own sense of value.
They do not go to pieces when something doesn’t go to plan. If they lose something, whether it is the love of their life, their family or their fortune, it might be tragic, but it does not affect the truth about who they are.
This is easier said than done. Intellectually, this has long been obvious to me, and I still aspire to achieve this groundedness. But in reality, what would living like that look like? I am going to bet only handful of men on the planet can honestly say that this is their truth. It’s okay for Bogey, right? He has a script from which to pull his wisecracks, and shrug off the coldness of a woman or the unforeseen double-cross.
But this is the real world. What kind of foundation could you have for your sense of self, that did not mean your value was determined by an external factor – your body, your possessions, even your natural talents? Without all of that, what is it that makes you a valuable human being?