A blunt assessment of what neither presently gets
This is an extract from 'Caligula's Horse' in this portfolio
Women need not just more support, but committed partners that lift at least half the burden off them. They can’t work in the paid workforce and deliver the old standard of nurturance on their own, despite heroic efforts to do so. Men seem to have continued with their old attitudes to themselves and to women, even if concessions have been made at the margins. Yet they have lost power and are finding that they cannot easily sustain their old prerogatives. Domestic resentment and conflict stalk them. Yet the discomfort of that does not prompt change so much as failure to engage, evasion and denial.
Much worse for them is that the particular business of constructing men as characters has fallen to pieces. Boys need much more disciplining than girls as they grow up. Girls find themselves saddled with a very onerous reproductive suite that is often as uncomfortable and painful as it is a nuisance. But it grounds them because everything about it is so consequential and fraught with risk. For boys, when the testosterone hits, aggressive instincts deepen and egos soar in ways only limited by their fantasies. They need firm boundaries that are vigorously enforced as soon as they are breached. If they don’t get that, they can easily lose control of themselves, and their sense of reality.
They lose their sense of place in the herd hierarchy and get into reckless aggressive behavior, because nothing is containing them. Or they get into undisciplined habits that turn them into feckless weaklings, because no one kicks them and tells them that it isn’t good enough when they lag and make excuses. No one absolutely insists that decency, honesty, good manners, consideration of others and a willingness to sacrifice for the common good are non negotiable training outcomes.
If one is never going to gestate, bear and suckle children, and live by necessity at the beck and call of others for possibly several protracted periods, it is much easier to lose sight of the common good and to believe that the world completely revolves around oneself.
Their sense of identity isn’t sufficiently contained, tested and tempered to a high enough standard to turn them into secure, disciplined, responsible and proud men who have something to be proud about; men who are not threatened by assertive females and do not become prey to insecure game playing, fantasy escapism, self-pretense and misogyny; men who efficiently pull their weight without counting the cost and expecting rewards just because they have done the right thing; men who as individuals would make some woman happy to be his wife for the long haul, despite the fact that they will inevitably clash and drive each other nuts from time to time, because that is what men and women do if they are honest with one another.
Right now nobody dares to confront the current crop of young bucks because they have ‘rights’. They can call any adult’s bluff because they are just paper tigers. And why shouldn’t they treat adults with contempt if they never stand up to them and knock them down to size.
Nobody is allowed to do that anymore and this perversely guts the very empowerment strategies that might help them to become real men (gay or otherwise). And then when they marry or whatever, their spouse finds that they living with a man-child instead of an adult, who just has to be added to their list of liabilities, especially when real children start to arrive.
And how many responsible gay men end up with partners who are intemperate sluts who simply cannot control themselves the moment they spot a pert little backside?
We cannot afford to just stand around and watch while a fifty percent chunk of reproducing the next generation is allowed to be marginalized out of the reproductive process. Men need to be an important and integral part of nurturing and bringing their offspring to mature fruition, not just because their labor is needed, but because they have something unique and important to offer their children.
Failure in this is already having all sorts of unforeseen and unpleasant long term consequences. Amongst other things, emotional disengagement and unconstrained egoism is a pre-condition for the making of sexual predators as well as a range of other unpleasant inconsequential behaviors, like a propensity for violence and bullying. And once the damage is done, it will take generations to fix and require an authoritarian rights-be-damned toughness to ensure that men meet the standard required to be proper reproductive partners again; no buts, no excuses and no escape!
Why should any of our daughters have to put up with male partners who are little better than children? Why do we tolerate this? There is just no excuse why every marriageable male can’t be up to speed as a man, who can properly meet his partnering and fatherly duties, and be sufficiently mature to emotionally engage and take on the reproductive politics that men and women have had to manage since time immemorial, as well as the new politics of equal domestic responsibility.
Failure to do this can also produce not just depression, but ugly behavior and an unpleasant disposition in women, as frustration, bitterness and anger get the better of them. And being far more emotionally sophisticated than men, they really know how to stick in the knives and cut up their spouses. This kind of abuse only makes whatever is wrong with the relationship worse and dooms it either to eventual violence and/or separation, in circumstances that will likely do enormous damage to everybody, including the wretched children of such a union.
I do not blame them for this. What is left of the system of social reproduction is putting them in this invidious position. It isn’t their fault. And while I do not underestimate their capacity to be perverse, on balance, we are very lucky to have them.