Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Denial is not Progress

Anger and the ego are so much an intrinsic part of what it means to be a man in our culture. I know that to talk about this stuff is slightly uncomfortable for the post-modern man, the man who has been taught to be sensitive and tender hearted. But whether we admit to it or not, our sense of self, our sense of identity and separateness are vital to us. But the problem is that our ego itself has become a kind of violence. My point is that it doesn't matter if you like to see yourself as Mr Yoga, Mr Nice Guy, or whoever. The male ego is just as strong and destructive as the ego of say, your Stanley Kowalskis, Mike Tysons or the Homeric heroes, or any other picture of the classic male pathology.

Usually, underneath all that sensitivity, lies a need to distinguish ourselves as men. It is just another search for some kind of prowess, some kind of sense of self. And more often than not we are simply trying to cover up the same kinds of urges and shame that characterise the kind of masculinity we are distancing ourselves from. That is why the most ardent objectors to this dialogue and this blog, are the so called sensitive males. But I would argue that these men are simply unable to admit to the pathological ego in themselves. They don't see that it doesn't matter if you are artistic or sporty, intellectual or hands on – you are still bound by the pathological ego.

It is my feeling, as a recovering “sensy,” that it is far more healthy to express your male ego than to pretend that it is not there. More often than not, when we like to project a persona of someone who is above the basic urges of masculine energy, it is because we are sexually repressed in some way. Often, this tendency is positively Freudian. It is protecting the image of the mother in our psyche, it is preserving an idea of the purity of the Madonna.

Whatever it is, it is a form of post-feminist denial. It is a way of pretending that the forces which created a patriarchal society are no longer there. But the fact is, we cannot undo thousands of years of conditioning and culture in twenty-five years.

We have to be honest with ourselves, and we have to understand just how deep the roots of this pathology of the male ego go. On top of that, we have to stop viewing it through the fashionable lens of post-modernist feminist critique. It is my contention that this perspective is not healthy, that it is not even productive for the evolution of masculinity. What is more healthy is to stop viewing the pathology as right or wrong. As men, we are under no obligation to do that.

To call something destructive is not a moral judgment, necessarily. It is simply to make an observation about the conditions of reality we encounter. It is just being honest with ourselves.

The male ego is a destructive force. But it is a force that needs to be examined, not denied or repressed. This is not just necessary to the evolution of men, but to the development of a healthier society. And this is really the driving force behind this blog.

Perhaps what I am calling for here (and this is the controversial point), is having a more compassionate understanding of the male pathology. The male ego developed out of a warrior culture. That is, a culture whose sole aim was that of survival. Out of this culture, grew the cultures of Greece and Rome, the empires of the east. The pathologies of the Caesars, of Genghis Khan and Alexander, and for that matter the Church, were simply an expression of this drive to survive through a domination of our environment. This drive became a pathology and it is a pathology that exists today, and which threatens to dismantle any resemblance of a cohesive human existence that might still survive.

Denying it out some sense of political correctness or shame about the sins of the father, is at best pointless and insincere. But I think it is more than that. It is itself a form of patriarchy.

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