Saturday, 10 September 2016

We must celebrate masculinity not shame it

We live in an age when men's sexuality is guilty until proven innocent.

Until we deal with the shame and introverted rage of male sexual development, all of feminism will be worth nothing.

It could be domestic abuse. It could be “rape culture”. It could be the neutered maleness of the modern man.

Everywhere you turn the message is – men are failing women. We failed with the Patriarchy. And now we are failing by being too nice, too wimpy, too insecure; or the opposite, too aggressive, too sexual, to objectifying.

It doesn't really matter, as long as you are given to understand – you are failing.

Well, it's time to buck up, is it not?

Yes. I do feel that there is a problem with male culture. I do feel that the range of expression and avenues of emotional development for men are inadequate and, as a result, destructive.

However, apologising is not the solution. Feeling guilty is not going to help.

Shame and masculinity have gone together for too long. Since recorded time actually, and I think it's time to peel them apart.

I won't speculate about the evolutionary reasons why shame and male sexuality have gone hand in hand – suffice to say that shame serves a purpose in a state of nature.

I believe however, that many of the problems that women are reacting to, and what is generally called “toxic masculinity” - come from the fact male sexuality is wrapped up in shame.

Shame almost always means repression, and repression is the opposite of expression. But something as primal as the life force of human existence, cannot be repressed forever – right?

The longer it's repressed, the more unhealthy the ways that energy will be released.

Messaging around male sexuality is usually by example, and usually mixed messaging at that. Our life force, our sexuality, is both bad and good, strong and creepy, aggressive and vulnerable.

If you don't believe me – answer me this: when were you ever told by an elder, a potential date, or peer, that your sexuality was a force for good in the world?

Also, can you point to a piece of cultural messaging that tried to convey that idea to you as you were developing into manhood?

No. The message for young men is that their sexuality, their testosterone, is dangerous, toxic, something to be hidden, and only expressed in flirty codes.

Rather than challenge these suffocating memes, the so-called sexual revolution has served only to confine honest male sexual expression to the seedy fringe.

Despite the erotic hubris of modernity, sexuality has become generic and predictable, and the current gender discussion only serves to increase the shame of boys' sexual development.

A concept like “rape culture” is controversial case in point.

Rape is serious problem, most especially in cultures where sexuality is actively repressed. The more repression and shame, the more rape. Shame will not solve toxic sexual behaviours, it will only increase them.

However, rather than try to examine the role that shaming young boys plays in the growth of their primal, sexual energy, the modern gender dialogue is doing its best to repress masculinity in deeper subconscious shame.

Shaming men for their sexuality is not only counterproductive, it's creating a ticking bomb of resentment, helplessness and sexual paranoia.

The only cure for toxic sexuality is to celebrate male sexuality. We need modern fertility rituals that prize maleness, and the hyper-productivity of testosterone.

We need to understand that aggression and ritualised violence are part of our natures, and if they are not celebrated, they become toxic.

We will not deal with the problems of domestic violence, rape and abusive sexuality, by showering shame on men for expressing their sexuality.

We need to create new ways in which the mysteries of maleness are conceived, and the beauty and poetic fury in the masculine heart is unleashed.

The first port of call should be a creative exploration of male sexual desire.

Paintings, films, poetry, songs and photography – a relentless campaign of celebration that reminds the world that men are emotionally complex, irreplaceable and sexually innovative.

Instead of shaming people into being better, we need to free their better angels from the medieval trap of prissy puritanism.

All the challenges normally grouped under the evils of the “patriarchy” can only be adequately addressed by focusing on men and masculinity. Otherwise the battle for equality will only ever be half-won.

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