Thursday, 1 December 2011

Post-feminist Patriarchy

This society expects the world of its men, and it gives back a lot less. It requires its men to be leaders, soldiers and lawmakers. Jesus, it requires them to be fathers. It requires that the men provide the energy of its economy, and from as early as the age of a teenager, that they fight and shed blood for its ideology.

And what does it give back? What does it give in order that these expectations might be fulfilled?

The crisis in masculinity, and anyone with an ounce of cultural perspective should agree that there is a fucking crisis, results from a lack of resources. As men we are failed by the men that have gone before us. As men, we are failed by the dynamics of Patriarchy. Isn't it strange that the more emphasis a society has on male domination, male lineage and power, the less it provides for the emotional development of its male offspring?

In more primitive and egalitarian communities, the men are cared for. The rites and rituals and mythologies of that kind of culture, are tangibly dedicated to giving the child's subconscious resources and models as to how a man should behave, and what is required of him. The elders of the tribe take great care to ensure that the boy is educated and instilled with a set of values that will give him the tools to fulfill his obligations.

Not so in this society. The problem is that in the height of Patriarchy, the roles were so rigid, so base and so brutal, that there was probably no need for a boy to be given any such resources. The values were obvious and spoke for themselves. God was a male. Being a man was being a strong fighter, being dedicated to the cause. The noblest ideal was simply having an unflinching readiness to sacrifice your life for the survival of the society.

You didn't need emotional resources, because emotions themselves were irrelevant to the man.

The post-feminist landscape is altogether different, though few of us, including feminists, have yet to acknowledge the implications for men. The problem is that we are still in transition. Men and women both have one foot in Patriarchy and one foot out, and it is difficult for us to progress because there is no alternative. We all know that the old ideas are no longer workable, for men as much as for women.

But the post-feminist landscape is like a nuclear fall out. No values remain. Popular culture is a confusion of mythologies, whereby women are thought to be liberated because they are represented in traditional male roles, and men have no definitive gender identity, they have no sense of themselves as being of value qua their masculinity.

And generally, this is thought to be a good thing. No one is allowed to question it because questioning this chaotic status quo, means the possibility that someone might critique feminism itself. And this is a sacred cow.

However, it is not feminism that is to blame. It is the way that feminism has been integrated into a Patriarchal schema. The wall to wall broadcast of Beyoncee videos humiliating men in order to celebrate womanhood doth not a feminist revolution make. On the contrary it perpetuates the Patriarchal value system (if it can even be called that) of power through dominion, security and survival by means of violence.

It is classic Nietzschean resentament. The lambs are pecking at the eagles, but they are still pecking nonetheless.

The result is that we live in a world where the archaic expectations of men are still prevalent, unquestioned and culturally reinforced, while at the same time, the living out of these expectations is either impossible or condemned.

Men are born into a wasteland, and it is difficult to see who will come along and refresh the fertility of the kingdom. We are given nothing but a cacophony of misleading and mismatching messages, a collective feedback loop of Patriarchal schemes and memes, articulated as if it represented some post-history female emancipated dialectic. However it is by nature Patriarchy and imperial values, simply splashed in hyper-colour, and it emancipates nobody, because it does not give anyone, male or female, the resources to develop healthy identities.

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