Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Masculine Disease

The word Patriarchy can be a little off-putting, I admit it. It sounds too highfaluting, too abstract, and smacks of academic sociological discourse, which itself has a bad name. Words like this can cause people to stop reading what I am writing here, and I am aware of that.

However, Patriarchy is real, and what the word represents to me is much more than perhaps the received academic sense of the term. When I use Patriarchy to describe culture, I mean something very serious, an ideological disease so insidious it is almost impossible to formalise it in a tangible way.

I'm talking about the ideology of power that affects our daily lives, our relationships, our families our workplaces and even the time we have alone with ourselves. I am talking about the psychology of human development as it has come to be in a culture that requires human beings to be less than human, that requires them to function rather than express themselves authentically.

Patriarchy is associated with masculinity, but it is not the totality of it. It is an aspect of it gone insane.

For those who still want to dismiss the project of this blog with a glib cod-psychology, they would do well to relate what I say about men to the chief concerns of our time.

The chief concerns of our time, as I see it, are the economy, the environment, and a violent grab for resources in an overpopulated world. At the core of these issues is a common problem, one of how we relate – to each other, to the world around us, and ultimately to ourselves. Call it spiritual, or call philosophical. Call it political if it makes you feel better.

However we choose to characterise it, the day to day issues of our time, can be reduced to a problem of masculinity. That is, Patriarchal dominance, the idea that one must dominate others, dominate our environment and dominate our emotions.

Everything, our wealth, our well-being, our success, is determined by the level of power we are perceived to have, and that power itself is determined by some form of externalised control.

I believe that if we are to actually change, or evolve as a human race, we must start to assess our ideas about masculinity. We have to start taking the challenges of Feminism and run with them to their fullest conclusion.

There will only ever be equality for women, if men actually change. Otherwise Feminism will find itself in a permanent state of gender battle. We will only ever alter the relationship we have with the environment, and stop poisoning the very biological platform that supports our existence, if we change our ideas about power. And our ideas about power are intimately connected our ideas about masculinity.

We will only ever put an end to war, if we change the foundations of our ideas about who we are, about what constitutes human nature - and vital to our sense of human nature, is our conception of survival and the role of the masculine in that process.

If all of this is still problematic, then I urge you to look at the dynamics of war, economy and politics in most of human culture. You will find that it is indeed driven by a dominant male ideology, but a maleness that is simplistic, objectified and brutally functional.

The deepest problems of our culture, the problems that all of us cannot escape are problems of the masculine. This is why I think that the future of our society depends on the quality of dialogue we have about masculinity in our culture, and role of men within it.

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