Gender roles and more importantly our confusion about gender roles have many serious ramifications in relationships. I bring this up because while on Facebook I read a few interpretations to the phrase:”Let a man be a man”. Some women interpreted this to mean:
- keep lying to a man to let him believe he is in control,
- to not object to the tyranny of a man controlling the relationship.
- Simply allowing a man to ‘walk over’ you and do what ever he feels like doing?
Suffice it to say that all interpretations were negative. While reading through I was waiting for someone to post Beyonce’s All the Single Ladies Video. One question no one asked was: What does it mean to be a man? Without a clear understanding of what it means to be a man, or of masculinity there are only arguments based on conjecture that never address the core issue. In case you are not aware of the core issue let me recapitulate:
“Increasingly today , men and women are struggling to live in a twilight world of gender confusion. Anxiously they wonder what, if anything, constitutes their own unique sexual identity. Have we become interchangeable parts, androgynous to the core. Some teach us to feel ashamed of our sex-specific differences. Supporters of radical androgyny go so far as to discourage research into the dissimilarities in the brain structure or in chemical, hormonal or instinctual configurations that may influence some culturally exaggerated scripts. Some theorist offer stereotyped ideals of “feminine” psychological characteristics, now alone deemed fully human. Boy are said to be developmentally inferior to girls. Men are held to be biologically and emotionally inferior to women. Some radical feminists asserts women would be better without men entirely – or that male children should be genetically or socially engineered to eliminate “masculine aggressiveness.”
– Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine (4) – The Lover Within: Accessing the Lover in the Male Psyche – Robert L. Moore, Douglas Gillette (Author)
This is the core issue and our not addressing it affects how we related to each other in a relationship. The author assert that: Probably the most accurate argument is that men are more “hard-wired” for some psychological tendencies and women for others (pg 26). I am of the opinion that a man is equal to a women but we are not the same. It’s a subtle point, each group has different psychological processes, different brain wiring, and a different sociological history that affects how they respectively interact with the world around them.
Patriarchy and It’s Abuses
Patriarchy as many feminists have critiques does institutionalize a particular kind of masculinity, prone to exploitation and oppressing other human beings, species and destroying the environment. However this patriarchy does not represent a mature expression of masculinity and as a result it denies many young boys the opportunity to grow into young men.This patriarchy is a form of an infantile or boyish masculinity.
First we need to take very seriously the disappearance of ritual processes for initiating boys into manhood. In traditional societies there are standard definitions of what makes up what we call Boy Psychology and Man Psychology. There are rituals for helping the boys of the tribe make the transition to manhood. Over the centuries of civilization in the West, almost all of these ritual processes have been abandoned or have been diverted into narrower and less energized channels– into phenomena we can call pseudo-initiations.
Along with the breakdown of meaningful ritual process for masculine initiation, a second factor seems to be contributing to the dissolution of mature masculine identity. This factor, shown to us by one strain of feminist critique, is called patriarchy. Patriarchy is the social and cultural organization that has ruled our Western world, and much of the rest of the globe, from at least the second millennium BCE to the present. In our view, patriarchy is not the expression of deep and rooted masculinity, for truly deep and rooted masculinity is not abusive. Patriarchy is the expression of the immature masculine. It is the expression of Boy psychology, and in part, the shadow– or crazy– side of masculinity. It expresses the stunted masculine, fixated at immature levels.
With that Said
I want to be clear in my intentions with this post. I think it is important to note that around 2-300 years ago when people started marrying for love, that the Industrial Revolution came into effect and it destroyed not only the familial structures and values it had then but it was also a last blow against ritualistic social practices aimed at helping the then youth become mature functioning men and women in their society. I do feel that there is a lot more to be said about gender and the role it plays in relationships. However before I went and poked fun at some things I thought it would be useful to share with you, at least those of you that care, the fact that there is much scholarship we can use to talk about this subject from a multiplicity of angles, instead of letting generalization and pop songs have the final word.