Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Male Bonding

Male bonding is an essential aspect of masculinity. Without it, men become co-dependent on their women in unhealthy ways.

Male bonding and solidarity is usually looked on by the post-feminist as being a sort of immaturity in men, an archaic exclusivity and elistism. But I am not talking about boys clubs here.

I am talking about the natural, joyful free association of men that most males will gravitate towards and for which there is no replacement in other forms of relationship.

It is ironic to me that the post-feminist should articulate such cynicism in the face of this tendency. Because I believe a lack of healthy male bonding and shameless emotional intimacy with other men is at the roots of much of the neediness and the dysfunctional nature of the way men relate to women in a Patriarchal context.

In my last post, I talked about how other men helped their brothers in the hunt to process the intense emotional flux involved in facing these particularly male challenges.

It is crucially important not only that we recognise the significance of this, but also that we encourage it. Because in male bonding, we create emotional space. In male bonding we create an emotional dimension that is beyond the feminine. In male bonding we take the burden of emotional support off women, and place it back in the responsibility of men.

If we ignore the tendency to dissolve gender and actually see that the male experience is something that must be nurtured, validated and accepted, then we actually do Feminism a great favour. No longer are women loaded down with the Madonna-like responsibility of being the caretakers. Men no longer look to the women in their lives for the totality of their emotional resources. They no longer replace the emotional vacuum that our society creates within them, with a relationship with a woman.

With male bonding, men have a foundational emotional reservoir, an alternative emotional dimension other than that of their relationships with lovers and female friends. They are able to find a mirror and a validation of their masculine identity which will make them healthy and reliable boyfriends, husbands and fathers.

So I want to emphasise that male bonding is not some residue of Patriarchy. In Patriarchy men long for the emotional intimacy with their fellow men, only to have it drowned out in competitiveness, backstabbing, bullying and suspicion.

If men had greater healthy relationships with each other, I guarantee that male behaviour towards women would improve. Not only that, the Patriarchal tendency towards dominance and control of our fellow humans, imperialism, racism and sexual violence would start to fall away. To say nothing of humanity's relationship to its environment.

It is more convenient for the post-feminist culture in which we live to simply say that certain forms of dysfunction are inherent in the male psyche. But a historical anthropology of masculinity doesn't back this up. On top of that, can we say that we have ever tried, in the context of what we call civilisation, to nurture healthy relationships among men?

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