“Mother May I?” Masculinity

Post image for “Mother May I?” Masculinity

by Jack Donovan on January 6, 2010

Modern women balk at any suggestion that men should be able to tell women how to behave. Many believe that a woman should be able to do whatever she likes without worrying “what women are supposed to do.”

When feminists talk to men, they pretend to offer the same sort of freedom from social expectations attached to one’s sex. But this talk of freedom is always a lie. This new, “free” model of manhood approved by feminists must, after all, serve the interests of feminism. Many traditionally masculine behaviors and ideas are clearly “off limits.” So, while the new woman does whatever she wants and explores her world unfettered, the feminist male is carefully restricted and monitored for signs of disobedience or treachery.

He’s a rhinestone collared lapdog with a humiliating barrette in his hair, free to run in a yard bordered by an electric fence.

At best, he’s allowed the manly privileges of opening jars and taking out the garbage.

The pro-feminist male is a wretched, guilt-ridden creature who must at every turn make certain he is not impeding the progress of women in any way. He willingly accepts guilt for crimes against women he never committed, perpetrated by men he has never met. He must question any interest he has in sports or any admiration he might have for traditional male role models—for fear that he is perpetuating cultures of honor or patriarchy that could somehow result in the oppression of or violence against women. He must be careful to include women in every activity, even if he would prefer not to.  He must avoid pornography.  He must “Try hard to understand how [his] own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.” He must never collude with men to work for the interests of men—unless those interests have been certified as completely harmless to the interests of women.  He is encouraged to work with women to support their interests with little or no regard for how those interests might have a negative impact on men. He must “create systems of accountability to women in [his] community.” He must reject any advantages he receives that seem to be tied to “systems of male privilege” but he must support and defend programs that help or give advantages to women based on their sex alone.

The only “freedom” that feminism offers men is the freedom to do exactly what women want him to do.  The freedom to serve.

Moderate feminists sometimes make the argument that feminism is truly “humanism” and that the interests of men and women are essentially the same. This is a debatable belief—not a fact—and we must respect it, as H.L. Mencken wrote, “only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” Men and women do share some key interests—especially when they are not in competition with one another.  But so long as men and women remain physically different and demonstrate different psychological and political tendencies, some conflicts of interest between them will naturally continue.

No woman is expected to burden herself with concerns about how her words or actions might have a negative impact on men. The idea that women should serve the interests of men is explicitly anti-feminist, but the same is not true of men serving the interests of women. Serving the interests of women—possibly at the expense of your own—is required of men who support feminism.

What kind of a man must ask women “what kind of man may I be?”

Not a man, but a boy—a mere child picking flowers for a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the head.

Any assertion of his manhood hinges on the question “Mother, may I?”

If men are not supposed to tell women how women must behave, what right do women have to demand that men cater to their interests? Who are they to tell men what manhood means? Why should men accept their authority? What the Hell do women know about what it means to be a man?

A woman’s commentary on the masculine experience is warped and distorted by her own interests, and should never be regarded as authoritative. If, as feminists have said, the personal is political, it is foolish to trust any woman not to filter her thoughts on men through her own experience and interests as a woman. The pose and the language of unbiased thought do not guarantee it.

These new, independent women should have no need to exploit a man’s vestigial sense of chivalry. If they are truly suited to compete with men, they should be able to do so without special rules, privileges and protections. Men should not have to curb their behavior so that women can achieve. If “equality” were truly desired, men would never have to ask, “Mother, may I?”

Now, within any relationship or friendship between two people, compromise is inevitable and healthy. Every relationship is different, and a man and a woman should be able to make their private arrangements as best serves them both.

It is also true that some compromise at the public level is necessary to maintain even the most rudimentary civilization. But to ask men to radically alter their behavior to facilitate the success of complete strangers with whom they may well be in direct or indirect competition is absurd. That’s not “equality” any more than asking a boxer to fight with one hand tied behind his back is a “fair fight.”

And yet this is exactly what feminists ask of men.

“Hobble yourselves so that we can crawl over your backs.”

Men need to reject this.

In the UK, there was recently some controversy over the formation of what looks like the most benignly pro-feminist men’s therapy and health education group you could possibly imagine. But it was too much for some women to entertain the possibility that men might have any valid concerns or complaints of their own, or that they should have access to the same kinds of sex-specific support networks that now abound for women. The group’s leader fell all over himself trying to justify his existence to female critics, trying to prove that he was “one of the good ones” and that his focus on masculinity wasn’t a threat to women or gays or the transgendered. Perhaps this appeased his masters.

Men are doing this everywhere.  They’re apologizing and appeasing and asking for permission, cowering and begging and finding out that it will never, ever be enough.

Maybe some men believe that unless they hold their tongues and surrender to the never-ending demands of women, they’ll never get laid again. Maybe they’re afraid of being alone, unloved or scorned by women. Maybe they’re afraid that if they really look into the abyss and see the situation for what it is, they’ll be consumed by anger and hatred and they’ll no longer be able to smile and nod their way through the crowd of oblivious and obedient consumers who are their friends, families, employers and clients. Buckin’ the system ain’t great for business. So men lie to themselves and pretend everything is fine to keep things on an even keel.

Damage control.

It’s a little too easy for me, having little use for women and few reasons to compromise with them, to tell other men what I think they should do. So I’ll just ask:

“How’s that working out for ya, fellas?”

Change will begin when men stop working from willingly handicapped, defensive positions.

Men need to stop apologizing for being men.

And most of all, they need to stop asking for permission to be men.

Previous post:

Next post: