Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Point - Rescuing Masculinity from Patriarchy

A good article over at The Point on Rescuing Masculinity from Patriarchy. I don't have time to comment on this, but I would love to hear what all of you think -- please leave your thoughts in the comments after you go read the whole post.

Here is a taste to whet your appetite:

But back to reclaiming the definition of masculinity:

There a few ways to go about this, and the following list refers to brainstorming sessions with a few bottles of wine over a few nights with varied company. To be balanced, I include a list on femininity.


Integrity, accountability, supportive, courage, protective, strength, assertiveness, determination, will, high regard for love, power, energy/active, physical, sexual, present, trustworthy, fierce, raw


intuitive, flexible, tolerant, compassionate, creative, emotional, nurturing, capable, practical, graceful, gentle, sensual, receptive

To be clear, this is not a list of how people should act. Women need to be assertive and men need to be compassionate. Some men behave in feminine ways, some women in masculine ways, and there is nothing wrong with this, as long as one does not judge these individual qualities as better/worse. Every person carries a unique balance of these energies, and the key is to not restrict them or judge them. In the traditional eastern Yin/Yang symbol, it is shown how in each dual pair there is always the aspect of its opposite, or even, that trying to identify each idea/concept without its ‘opposite’ is only possible philosophically, as they are inextricably linked in this world.

The negative reaction I have elicited from some people using archetypes and dualism as semiotic base references come from what I believe to be cultural connotations that incorrectly reflect the true meanings of these concepts, and how they relate to the subconscious and the psyche. In America, dualism seems to popularly have taken on a zero-sum nature. It is exactly the interactions of dualities that I refer to, the description of reality in a manner that relates reality to itself. Though it could even be seen in greater american culture, the desire for zero sum duality; that there is only love, no fear. Only light, no dark. At least marketing seems obsessed with the idea. That if only we could escape that darned dualistic nature to life, and achieve a purity of experience, we could be happy. All happy, no unhappy, that is. This is, of course, impossible.

So how do we extricate the masculine from the patriarchal?

Here is a little more:

So how do we extricate the masculine from the patriarchal?

By understanding that patriarchy is the weakest form of masculinity, and represents its extreme misuse.

  • The weakest expression of power is tyranny
  • The weakest expression of assertiveness is aggression
  • The weakest expression of protectiveness is war
  • The weakest expression of accountability is control
  • The weakest expression of determination is stubbornness
  • The weakest expression of strength is violence
  • The weakest expression of will is domination
  • The weakest expression of sexuality is rape
  • and so on.
I think the author makes a good point -- masculinity and patriarchy are NOT the same thing, and we need to extricate healthy masculinity from the oppressive tradition of patriarchal contexts.

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