Subscribe or watch the video podcast:. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBnxssmnspM
If your only image of a man is the male patriarch oppressor — if you belittle, insult and repress good men — then the Harvey Weinstein/Donald Trump may be the male monster is what you get. Don’t we need to, at the very least, cultivate a more positive and compassionate view of men? How can feminism every have any success without gratitude for the good men?
Men have different challenges to women, and these are often overlooked in an ideological climate of sameness. It’s good to remember that men die about six years younger on average — usually of testosterone poisoning or just natural selection, which means isolated and alone. Moreover, men do most of the life threatening and dangerous jobs like cleaning sewage, garbage collection, and running heavy machinery; they do most of our plumbing, keep our infrastructures running; are more susceptible drugs, alcohol and violent crime—we forget that men are the first to be ‘sacrificed’ at war. And today, when we talk so much about ‘toxic masculinity’ from men in power, our prisons and lunatic asylums are overflowing with men.
Certainly men have the potential to be dangerous—how terrible it would be if they didn’t. But only a tiny percentage of men are really vampires — and this has always been the case (of course there are monstrous female archetypes as well). Surely there is a place for men’s vitality (and virility) and even genius. We don’t want to merely to tame, chastise, and socialise (read: castrate) men. The monster ‘libido’ can also be a force for the good in service of the good. Feminists, who make war against the erect penis, who say the phallus is only about domination and power, are tragic victims of their own mono-perspective.
The first couple waves of feminism have been good for both men and women all in all, but the third (and now apparently there is a fourth wave) less so. Separatative movements are always destructive, especially if you divide man and women. Maybe we need a fifth wave of feminism that acknowledges biological and spiritual differences between men and women along with equalities — that is based on complimentary between man and women rather than sameness. In any case, let the fifth wave of feminism not be another war against male pathology.
One gets tired of all the gender bashing, on both sides. Our image of men needs to be balanced — not necessarily by another men’s movements or cheesy conservative polarisation — but by actually cherishing men more. ‘Real men’ are not really interested in mere power domination and sexual conquest — they are more interested in being noble and self-sacrificing, fundamentally. Actually, ‘real men’ don’t give a shit about power, unless it’s the power of creativity and transformation and intelligence. And ‘real women’ too.
Certainly, lots of women vote for notorious and perverse monsters of power. But it seems to me that these men are boys, rather than fully developed men. Despite worldly power and accomplishments the pussy grabbers are not really free men, but those driven by compulsion — they are men who are not fully grown up in a psycho/sexual sense. It seems that so many men (but women ‘supporters’ too) seem to be arrested at an adolescent level of emotional/sexual development.
Men and women don’t need to be further estranged: they need to meet each other in as deep a way as possible. Meeting the other in his/her otherness is the way to go beyond immature states and become an integrated human being. Certainly this can be a dangerous game, and there are no safe spaces really. The ‘flowery war’ as the Taoist called is requires humility and courage, and people get hurt in love and nature. Of course, when people do truly horrific things, there is punishment, but punishment is not usually the real cure for the illness.
Sexuality brings out the monsters, truly—but the mating dance is also a natural integral part of existence which can never be fully civilised. We need to be conscious of those monstrous energies within us, rather than just let them run amok or condemn them morally. The erotic is a more complex issue than we think. Love takes many forms but fundamentally about entering a new world that we don’t understand, that is wild and dangerous. We are too blasé about sex and yet at the same time weirdly puritanical.
Love and eros is not really about ‘power games’ but complementarity: a dance of light and shadow. Complementarity is at the root of all positive transformation, it is the ‘Thou’ instead of the It — to use Martin Buber’s term. Lover need to meet each other, not as meat-objects but as as sacred beings, to honer the primary religious impulse, which is to bring together the archetypal king and queen, in ecstatic recognition.
When we speak about emancipation from the patriarchy, people get pretty excited. Surely if women ruled the world, we would all go all back to living in the garden of Eden? But if sheer ‘power’ is the goal then wouldn’t we still remain in the same one-dimensional dynamic of domination, the same ugly and sadistic dominatrix, just upside-down. When the ‘evil patriarchy’ is finally overthrown — the goal of so many people — what will be put in its place?
We tend to think that evolution is about our progressive emancipation from the tyrannical demigods, the men of power. But then the question becomes: what will we do when we have rid the world of all the psychopathic men of power? What comes next? We love stories of emancipation and the downfall of a tyrant, but are much less attracted to stories about ‘the morning after’ — but that’s when all the real work begins. The problem is that emancipation is only half the story, the second half is less dramatic. It is about responsibility and complementarity, I would argue. Not just about ‘rights’.
Nietzsche may have been wrong when he said we have ‘killed God’, perhaps we have just anaesthetised him. It’s not a good thing to repress or destroy the good patriarch archetype (or the good matriarch archetype for that matter). Without the good patriarch a lot of unconscious, unmanly, ‘pussy grabbing’ men ascend to places of power and there are a lot of lost angry women. Instead of trying to overthrow the Patriarch, how about unifying the patriarch and the matriarch, on a spiritual level. Isn’t that the thrust of eros, rather than one-sided destruction.
I propose that the 5th wave of feminism be characterised by women adoring men again—and also men adoring women too. (And other forms of adorations are welcome as well, which goes without saying in my book). It is actually already the case that this what we like to do the best: adore. Let’s evolve beyond ideology, which destroys any kind of nuanced view of relationship. Feminism should be about deepening the feminine sphere, which cannot be separated from the masculine one, without tearing the world in two. If the polarities are crushed in a suffocating sameness, then there is no dance.
‘Smashing the patriarchy’ will not liberate women, unfortunately. In this ‘revolutionary’ logic, the oppressed becomes the oppressor, a closed loop of infinite regress. We do not want, for instance, the male tyrant to be replaced by the ‘big nurse’ or the oedipal mother, who tries to control reality by creating endless ‘safe spaces’ for grown-up children. We need to find ways to negotiate and live with each other.
Yes 5th wave feminists should be Amazons at times and refuse to play the games of men who denigrate them or treat them like meat puppets. But they could also celebrate good and powerful men (powerful in the sense of intelligence and yes creative virility). The fact is: women benefit most by adoring men and men by adoring women. That is how the ‘child’ of creativity is born.