SUMMA GENDERRATICA: The Anatomy of the Gender System

Author’s Note: This is a summary of my entire theory of how our society’s gender system operates and how it originated. It is intended to be a ‘road map’ of society’s norms about masculinity and femininity. I believe that it can explain all gender norms in our society. The MHRM requires an integrated, consistent theory about gender in order to successfully compete with Radical Second Wave and Third Wave Feminism – this theory is an attempt at providing one.

The following does not mention every single aspect of our society’s gender system, but I believe that any unmentioned aspects of the gender norms can be successfully explained by this theory (feel free to propose “Explain This Norm As A Product Of The Gender System” challenges in the comments).

Note that whilst I called this post “Summa Genderratica” I do not wish to imply that the theory below is accepted (in its entirety) by anyone other than myself. I am only illustrating my theory here, and it isn’t meant to be taken as the “official philosophy” of GendErratic as a whole. The reason for the title is because I am a pretentious douche and as such I enjoy the self-important connotation/reference towards the works of Aquinas.

Onto the theory!

PART 1
The First Premise: The Purpose of Social Norms
Why do social norms arise?

This theory will take it as axiomatic that social norms arise for survivability and practicality reasons. Social norms arise as responses to the challenges of physical existence.

The Challenge
The gender system arose in the early days of our species. During these days, food and resources were scarce, accumulating them was a difficult and failure-prone task, and it was manual labor which performed these tasks; physical labor was the primary source of improvements to survivability and the standard of living (unlike today, where technological capital and knowledge work provide this (it is telling that the first challenges to the gender system only arose with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution… periods during which the economy became less labor-dependent and more capital-dependent owing to technological advances. It is also telling that challenges to the gender system arose first amongst materially well-off groups in society)).

Because physical labor was the primary means of production, importance was placed on the means of producing physical labor, i.e. reproducing and growing the population. However, only a minority of children survived to reach adulthood, and as such much higher birth rates were required to grow the overall population size.

But only one half of the population could bear children.

The Response
Biology combined with the necessity of aggressive breeding essentially forced women to “specialize” and devote large amounts of their time to being knocked up and producing children (and when pregnant they are less mobile and thus more vulnerable).

Since males could not perform this important task, they provided protection and resource-provision (in essence, all the ‘rest’).

Social norms arose to push people towards their sex-mandated tasks. The “good female” and the “good male” were the female and male who contributed to their society by fulfilling their assigned role; the “good female” was the fertile mother, the “good male” was the strong warrior and productive hunter. These social norms were reflected in all of society’s institutions, including religion (see the warrior gods and the mother goddesses for more).

Summary 1
1. Social Norms arise as responses to the challenges of living and thriving
2. Low technology societies are dependent on physical labor to survive
3. Very high birth rates were required to increase the supply of labor
4. Only one half of the human population could give birth
5. Gender Roles emerged to encourage specialization on the basis of sex

PART 2
Maturity and Gender
As stated before, the “good female” and the “good male” were understood in terms of those who contributed to society by fulfilling their sex-assigned tasks. However, children of either sex are physically unable to do this.

A woman needs to be post-pubertal in order to bear a child. Young males are on average significantly less physically developed and thus generally lack the necessary strength to even have a chance at successfully performing their sex-assigned task.

As such, there is an association between maturity and gender-compliance. A female needs to undergo a process of biological maturation in order to perform the feminine contribution to society, however this process is essentially automatic and is basically assumed to occur over time, with mensturation serving as a clear biological indicator of fitness to perform the task.

With males, things are more tenuous. Proficiency or even ability to perform the male function, let alone perform it well, is not biologically guaranteed. Additionally, there is no single clear “he’s ready” indicator delivered by male biology.

Whilst females “grow into” being women, males do not automatically grow into being “real men.”

Aristotelian Femininity, Platonic Masculinity, and the Subject-Object Dichotomy
A young female just becomes a woman automatically, due to the innate properties of her biology. Her mensturation evidences her maturation. Her womanhood simply is. She is assumed to be gender-compliant and thus socially contributive by default.

A young male has to demonstrate, through action, the ability to perform masculine tasks successfully. A young male must prove he has “grown up” and become a “real man.” Males are not assumed to be gender-compliant (and thus socially contributive) by default; by himself he is just another mouth to be fed by the work of “real men.” A man must validate his manhood by action, otherwise he is not a real man but rather a “boy” (i.e. immature, not-an-adult male).

As such, one can correctly understand traditional gender roles as premised on epistemological essentialism, however different kinds of epistemological essentialism underpin each role. Femininity is mostly understood as innate to female biology, as an immanent essence, whilst masculinity is mostly understood as an ideal to aspire to, a “form” which one “participates in” in order to gain an identity.

It is a particular quirk of human psychology that we tend to perceive moral agency (the capacity to do things) and moral patiency (the capacity to have stuff done to you) dichotomously, even though human beings are in fact both. As such, the association of agency with manhood combined with the innatist understanding of womanhood (as well as, perhaps, the fact that pregnancy does render a woman less mobile and more resource-dependent) led to the association of womanhood with moral patiency. Men are seen as actors, and women are seen as acted upon. This is the traditional subject-object dichotomy.

The Disposable-Cherishable Dichotomy
A gender-compliant person of either sex is seen as valuable to society (since they are acting in ways which conform to survivability-oriented norms). However, females are assumed to either be (or will be) gender-compliant; naturally infertile women are the exception rather than the rule and thus the assumption is that any given female is (or will be) capable of bearing children due to their biology.

As such, females are ascribed an innate value simply for being female. Females are seen as inherently cherishable because they are the incubators of the future.

Males lack this. Their gender-compliance is not seen as an inevitable feature of their biological maturation but rather an ideal to live up to. Males neither are nor will become “real men” by default. As such, they have no innate value. The value of a man is exclusively contingent on the consequences of his agency and by himself, he is ultimately disposable.

Because men are valued not for properties of their biology but the outcomes of their actions, the death of one man is ceteris paribus a smaller tragedy to society than the death of one woman. After all, when tragedies happen, the death counts typically specify the toll taken by women and children (i.e. the future).

Our society may lionize its male heroes who go and die so that others may live, but as stated before, social norms arise to push individuals to perform socially beneficial tasks; the worship of heroic male self-sacrifice is a way to encourage men to see their deaths for noble causes as a worthy contribution to society, and thus to make men more willing to die for others.

The Gender Norms In A Nutshell
As a consequence of all of the above, males are innately disposable subjects, females are innately cherishable objects.

All gender norms ultimately are reducible to this.

Summary 2
1. Maturity, for each sex, is conceptualized as gender-compliance
2. Female maturity is seen as a natural result of biological development
3. Male maturity is not seen as guaranteed, but rather something proven/earned
4. Men do, women are, because manhood is about doing and womanhood just “is”
5. Because gender-compliance is seen as valuable and women are seen as innately gender-compliant, women are seen as innately valuable
6. Because men are NOT seen as innately gender-compliant, men are seen as innately expendable
7. Ergo, the subject-object dichotomy is overlaid by the disposable-cherishable dichotomy, casting males as innately disposable subjects and females as innately cherishable objects

PART 3 – Some Advanced Implications
Agency and Feminine Power
Everyone derives a sense of power – used here to mean efficacy or competence – when they successfully perform a task which has the end result of providing for their needs. This makes evolutionary sense – if survival-enhancing things did not give pleasure and survival-diminishing things did not cause pain, an organism would be significantly less likely to survive.

But the performance of tasks was typically assigned to males; femininity was not associated with agency and due to the innate reproductive utility of women, women were kept safe and away from potential danger where possible (which in turn generated a self-reinforcing (and perhaps somewhat self-fulfilling) presumption of diminished female competence – a presumption which was somewhat true during pregnancy (and may be somewhat true on average with tasks that require very high upper body strength) but clearly got exaggerated and overgeneralized).

However, every human being has material needs for survival, and these material needs must be satisfied through action (food must be acquired, shelter must be found). So how would a woman, someone culturally perceived as and encouraged towards remaining deficient in agency, acquire these needs?

The answer is that women are encouraged to rely upon men, and not merely in the passive sense, but to actively enlist the agency of males to provide for their survival. Masculine power is thus equated with anything which enhances successful/competent agency (e.g. big muscles), and feminine power is equated with anything that enhances enlisting successful/competent agents. Masculine power is that which augments agency, feminine power is that which augments the acquisition and preservation of agency by proxy.

The gender system, therefore, always contained a form of feminine power – i.e. ways in which women could act to service their material needs. Whilst it reserved direct acquisition through agency to men, the system also reserved agency by proxy for women.

Male Hierarchy
Society’s understanding of manhood as a Platonic ideal to aspire towards explains the fact how there can be “better men” and “worse men” (as men), as well as how biological males can be “not real men” – the use of “real” to mean “ideal” is telling.

Because manhood is demonstrated by performing certain tasks, men are ranked in accordance with how well they perform these tasks. Men are ranked by other men and by women – their gender identity is heavily subject to social validation and revocation. This means “real manhood” is an earned social status which is collective-dependent, hierarchical and competitive, and men can be socially emasculated at any time. Male identity is made contingent on competing with each other to prove oneself a “better man.”

As stated above, maturity is linked with “real manhood” but male maturity is again socially validated due to the fact that masculine task-performance isn’t biologically guaranteed – this means male elders (particularly fathers) are placed in a position of evaluator where they judge prospective males to separate the “boys” from the “men.”

The male hierarchy can be effectively divided into three basic categories (from lowest social status to highest social status)

1) Males who are “not real men.” The socially emasculated. “Boys.” Omega males.
2) Males who are “real men” but who aren’t able to revoke another male’s “real man” status. Beta males.
3) Males who are “real men” with the ability to revoke another male’s “real man” status. Alpha males.

The division between statuses 2 and 3 is contextual and often dependent on other institutional arrangements as well as the surrounding males – someone can in fact be Alpha in one hierarchy and Omega relative to another.

This setup ironically enough compels that a Beta be submissive to his Alpha so as to avoid being rendered an Omega. In other words the male gender role isn’t entirely about dominance but rather demands submission to “better” men.

Social Genders
Typically, “gender” is taken as a binary – as a reference to masculinity or femininity. However, this is hard to reconcile with the above situation – males who aren’t “real men” aren’t regarded as possessing manhood (i.e. they do not contribute masculine value). They are “boys” rather than men, according to the gender system.

They do not receive many aspects of ‘male privilege’ because much ‘male privilege’ is in fact ‘real-man’ privilege. And whilst they are socially emasculated they receive no female privilege either, because due to their biology they cannot perform the essential feminine task of bearing children.

In short, socially emasculated men are not seen as masculine or feminine but rather they are perceived, treated and categorized as a third gender. They are neither a man nor a woman (socially speaking rather than biologically speaking).

PART 4: Challenges
There are several classic problems in gender studies which any prospective examination of the gender system needs to explain. Below, I take several of these phenomena and reconcile them with the theory proposed above.

The Promiscuity Double Standard
The Promiscuity Double Standard (henceforth PDS) of our culture is well-known; a man is seen as a worthy and virile stud for sleeping around, but a woman is seen as a degraded and self-cheapening slut for doing the same thing.

Typically, the PDS is treated as a unitary construct – as if the PDS’s gendered imperatives arose from the same source. This is counter-intuitive because the imperatives of the PDS are in conflict – men are encouraged to sleep around and women are discouraged from doing so, thus meaning men cannot comply with the system without women failing to comply with it (and vice-versa). The PDS certainly isn’t in the interests of men, since it encourages women to prevent men from being studs (through the withholding of sexual access).

Typical feminist analysis sees the PDS as a male construct invented to control female sexuality. The fact that men’s interests are not served by encouraging female chastity complicates this explanation, but it is further complicated by the empirical fact that most slut-shaming is perpetrated by women against each other. If men created and enforced the PDS, one would expect men to be the primary shamers of sluts.

As such, it may be more accurate to see the Promiscuity Double Standard not as a single construct, but two different constructs, proposed and enforced by different parties for different purposes.

An interesting thing about the concept of “slut” is that women who are sluts are seen as “cheapening themselves” or “debasing themselves” – they are seen as giving sexual access far too easily (i.e. giving away a good without getting enough in return). Let’s look at the transactional framing here: a market exists, women are the suppliers of sexual access and men are the demand side of the equation. Women are encouraged to not give away sex “too easily,” i.e. they are encouraged to receive something in return for sex. It is mostly women who shame other women for giving sex away.

From an economic perspective, we are seeing cartel behavior; sellers colluding amongst themselves to raise the price of sex by restricting the quantity of sexual access that is immediately avaliable.

So what is the ‘price’ of sex? As explained above, women are encouraged to enlist male agency in their service, since the gender system discourages them from developing their own. Thus, the ‘price’ of sex is male agency, typically framed as a committed relationship. When women are sluts and thus ‘put out too easy,’ competitive pressure lowers the price of sex and thus damages (traditionally-understood) female interests.

The implications here are quite depressing; because women are encouraged to experience power through enlisting male agency, “sluthood” is opposed to traditional feminine power by eroding women’s bargaining position. Women are encouraged by the traditional gender system to experience their sexuality as being defeated and being conquered, rather than getting something they desire (i.e. sexual satisfaction). Women are also encouraged to see men as adversaries, and to see male advocacy of female sexual liberation as threats to their material security (i.e. “they just want cheaper sex, the cads!”).

In conclusion, the PDS wasn’t invented “by men” – at least half of the PDS is a mostly female-maintained standard intended to sustain traditional feminine power through preserving the value of sex and thus maximizing the agency women can enlist in return for granting sexual access. The imperatives of the PDS conflict with each other, and the PDS’s implicit sexual transactionalism sets up an adversarial situation that sabotages sexual fulfillment for both sexes.

The Childhood Gender Conformity Double Standard
A common double standard in our society is one relating to gender conformity amongst children. Look at the ease with which our society accepts female children going through a “tomboy phase.” Compare this against the worry and concern that accompanies any male child that may want to play with dolls. It is “normal, she’ll grow out of it in a few years” for a young girl to want to play with the boys, but if a boy confesses liking pink he’s immediately suspected of being homosexual or a gender failure.

This is an obvious consequence of the fact that female biological maturation (and thus gender compliance) is seen as an automatic process which “simply happens.” Because womanhood is seen as biologically innate, a woman’s actions are not seen as the primary source of the value she can contribute to society.

Male biological maturation, on the other hand, is not a guarantee of being able to perform the socially-mandated male tasks. Being a “real man” (i.e. able to contribute masculine value to society) is not biologically guaranteed. Since a male’s gender compliance is evaluated not on what he is but rather what he does, a male’s actions place his entire social value at risk.

Many gender theorists argue that society worries more about males because our society allegedly values masculine traits above feminine traits; this conflicts with the fact that feminine traits are praised when they are exhibited by women (it also conflicts with the fact that historically, societies have sacrificed men to protect women; societies don’t sacrifice higher-valued members for lower-valued members). Biology means that a man who acts feminine cannot perform the socially-mandated “core” feminine task (bearing children), and thus for him to be feminine represents wasted potential (but when a woman acts feminine it isn’t a threat). Thus, a man who acts feminine isn’t perceived as a social woman, but rather a social neuter (an Omega Male).

However, since both men and women are (in fact) agents and masculine value is dependent not on what someone is but rather what someone does, females can in fact contribute masculine value to at least some degree (and the feminist movement has influenced people to accept the reality of female agency, and even to celebrate when women transgress gender roles). As such, women can “value-add” through gender nonconformity, whilst men cannot; females can be socially androgynous whilst men (due to their inability to perform the core feminine task under the gender system) can only be social neuters.

Thus, it is the Subject-Object Dichotomy (and not any alleged valuation of masculinity as superior to femininity) which forms the basis for the Childhood Gender Conformity Double Standard.

The Madonna-Whore Complex and Gendered Evaluations of Moral Character
Our gender system has influenced the ethical standards which are placed on both sexes. In the case of this problem, whilst men are subject to normal ethical standards, women are not; questions about a woman’s character are entirely centered around whether or not she is chaste.

This is an obvious product of the subject-object dichotomy, which casts women as moral patients. As women are not seen as moral agents, they are not treated as subject to moral standards or as possessing capacity for great moral virtue (or vice).

Slut-shaming under the gender system is explained above, however it is obvious that religious norms have influenced the Madonna-Whore Complex (look at the name!). Religion is a separate system to the gender system (although the two clearly interact), and Abrahamic monotheistic religions condemn promiscuity in both sexes (not just women). Women, however, are slut-shamed under both traditional gender norms and religious norms, whereas men are shamed for sleeping around under one set of norms but praised for doing so under the other.

This confluence of gender norms and religious norms, coupled with the objectification of women under the gender system, explains why chastity/sluthood is so heavily emphasized in discussions of women’s character: women are typically left off the hook with standards relating to other issues (minimizing both their virtue and vice), so the Madonna-Whore standard fills the vaccum.

PART 5: Conclusion
The above is a summary of my entire theory of gender as expressed in all my previous articles. I believe it to be a superior explanation of the gender system, for both sexes, than the status quo theories accepted in most gender studies departments. Feedback, commentary, suggestions and critiques are encouraged.

Reddit Repost: “The Literal Patriarchy, Men And Masculinity”

This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for /r/Masculism and posted here: http://www.reddit.com/r/masculism/comments/1csoi7/the_literal_patriarchy_men_and_masculinity/

“Patriarchy” is typically used in gender studies to refer to one of two things; either a gender system which is masculosexist and femmephobic (Third Wave definition), or a gender system which is systematically constructed as a tool of class oppression by men to oppress women (Radical Second Wave definition).

But the literal meaning of “Patriarchy” isn’t synonymous with “Androcracy.” The literal meaning of “Patriarchy” is the rule of the father.

In this essay, I will be looking at a feature of the gender system which disproportionately oppresses males, particularly young ones – the Literal Patriarchy.

Part 2: A Quick Recap of the Gender System
The social norms around gender evolved in an environment where many, even most, children did not reach adulthood, and humans lived at subsistence level or close to it (this is why the first substantial challenges to the gender system did not emerge until the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution – for the vast majority of human history, the gender norms were a survival necessity). Because of the low level of technological development, human survival was predicated on a consistently expanding supply of labor, i.e. consistent population growth. We needed more protector/providers and we needed more producers of protector/providers. Sexual dimorphism provided the template for the basic division of labor between the sexes.

As such, the social norms were established to reward men that were good protector/providers, and reward women that were good (i.e. fertile) mothers.

Society demanded that women serve the function of bearing children (a risky, high-maintenance process which renders a woman less mobile and more resource-consuming during pregnancy), whilst men serve the function of protecting the women and children and sustaining them. Individuals of both sexes were judged on the basis of how well they served these socially mandated functions (or gender roles)… “proper” femininity was the mother, “proper” masculinity was the warrior/hunter.

But females would, almost inevitably, end up capable of bearing children due to natural biological maturation. “Girls” would just become “women” due to the onset of puberty (with a small number of exceptions due to natural infertility). A woman’s “proper” femininity (i.e. value to society in serving the female function) was thus socially conceptualized as an innate property of women.

Males, on the other hand, did not have the biological assuredness of becoming a satisfactory protector/provider. These tasks required proving oneself in dangerous, strenuous physical activity. Not only that but they required the demonstration of a reliable track record (consistency) in results. Not all male individuals managed to do this, and those that did still varied in the level of skill they displayed. Whilst “girls” managed to just “become” “proper” women, “boys” were not guaranteed “real manhood.” They needed to prove themselves to their peers and elders. “Real manhood” (i.e. value to society in serving the male function) was thus socially conceptualized as an ideal to aspire to for males.

As a result, there are two kinds of Epistemological Essentialism which underpin our gender system. Femininity is understood through the lens of Aristotelian (or Immanent) Essentialism. Masculinity is understood through the lens of Platonic (or Transcendent) Essentialism.

This is ultimately the underpinning of the basic gender role in our society; the subject-object dichotomy. Men are seen as subjects, i.e. actors and agents, beings with the capacity to choose a goal and strive to achieve it. Women are seen as objects, since action is not a necessary component of femininity. Men do, women are. Men have to act, women do not. Men are actors, women are acted upon.

But there is a twist here – as stated before, the gender system ascribes value to the fulfillment of both the male function and the female function. Since females are (assumed to be) automatically capable of fulfilling this female function, they possess an innate value. Males do not have this assumption on their side – they must prove their capability to serve the male function, and thus they possess no innate value. Women are innately valuable objects and men are innately valueless subjects (with the capacity to acquire some value).

This system arose to incentivize population growth during a time when most children did not survive to reach puberty, let alone to reproduce. Thankfully, the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution made the prosperity of the modern world possible, but as such our gender system has been rendered obsolete. The system needs to be examined, critiqued, and rejected or modified where necessary.

Part 3: Maturity and Manhood
As alluded to above, the gender system’s mandated roles are connected to biological maturation. Women cannot serve their mandated function until their body is sufficiently developed (i.e. they start mensturating). In the case of female maturation, the onset of mensturation provides a clear biological sign of a woman’s ability to bear children.

A man, however, is biologically incapable of serving this function – he can only serve the mandated male functions of protector/provider (protecting women, particularly pregnant women, and providing for them and his children). But there is no single biological “he’s ready” indicator. Not only that, but merely reaching puberty doesn’t guarantee capability or competence at physical tasks. As such, various social institutions (such as initiation rites into manhood) evolved to fill this function – these rites typically consist of testing the man’s ability and, should he succeed, granting him the social status of “real man.”

But in both cases, the gender system’s mandated roles are based on notions of maturity. After all, a male that is not a “real man” is considered a “boy” and socially emasculated. “Boy” just means “young male” but the way the term is used contemptuously as a form of verbal emasculation is quite telling (“girl” isn’t used the same way (or at least not nearly as commonly), because a female’s ability to serve the mandated female function is treated as innate). So to be a “real man” is to not be a “boy” is to “grow up” and be “mature.”

As stated before, however, male biological maturation is only part of the picture. Since there is no simple biological indicator of “he’s ready to go out and be a hunter/gatherer,” various social institutions took that role, and these social institutions were typically administered by elder men (those men that had earned “real manhood” in society’s eyes). The elder males became one of the judges of manhood (particularly the judges of the manhood of younger males), and also one of the conferrers of manhood. This status is not exclusive to the elders – the gender system creates many other judges and conferrers of manhood (peer groups and women particularly), but the point is that there is an intersectionality effect between ageism and masculosexism.

So who is the first elder male that most male children know? Who is the first elder male in a position to judge the child’s maturity, capability and competence?

Part 4: The Literal Patriarchy
Whatever one’s stance on feminist Patriarchy Theory (in either its Radical Second Wave or Third Wave variants) is, it is hard to deny that a huge number of males are psychologically “ruled” (so to speak) by their fathers. This “rule” is based on the fact that our gender system sees fathers as possessing the ability to legitimately confer or revoke their sons’ status as a “real man.” Your father automatically possesses Alpha Male status over you (in my article Separating The ‘Boys’ From The ‘Men’: Male Heirarchy And The Oppression Of Men I define an “Alpha Male” as a male with the ability to revoke another man’s “real man” status, and thus to reduce them to a “boy”).

As I have emphasized, this is an extremely effective form of psychological control – it makes a fact of one’s nature (one’s gender identity) socially contingent on validation granted by others (in this case, one’s father). If by “power” one means the ability to live one’s own life on one’s own terms, then this Literal Patriarchy is very destructive to the power of male individuals.

The cultural prevalence of so-called “Daddy Issues” in countless amounts of male-targeted art and fiction – even the classical “Hero’s Journey” monomyth has an “atonement with the father” component as well as the Wise Old Man that blesses/endorses the hero – goes without saying. Now, whilst there are a few exceptions, “Daddy Issues” in fiction typically is of the “I wish I pleased you, Dad” variety. Why would this fictional trope be so prevalent if it weren’t a trope which vast numbers of males relate to?

As stated before, there are other avenues besides paternal endorsement by which one can gain “real man” status – peer endorsement and female endorsement being two common alternatives. A male denied paternal endorsement may choose to pursue one of the other two avenues in order to achieve their validation, or they may decide to employ paternal substitution in order to do it (or some combination of the aforementioned avenues).

Paternal substitution is possible because of the ageism-masculosexism intersection effect; because our gender system implicitly casts the “real man” in terms of maturity, a male that believes the gender system is true will see elder males in general as embodying “real manhood” more than he does. If a young male does not receive paternal endorsement from his biological father (or perhaps suffers a sufficient trauma from his father so as to nullify the father’s credibility) yet still believes in the gender system, he will revoke the power his father has over him but then grant it to some other elder man.

This younger man will voluntarily take a subordinate role, as a “lesser man,” to that elder. This younger man has made the elder into his Alpha, possessing the power to confer or revoke his “real manhood.” The younger man then attempts to earn the elder man’s approval so as to finally have his real manhood conferred upon him. A young man can in fact disperse this power amongst multiple different “father figures,” and perhaps even invest that power within certain heirarchical institutions (the military, or a street gang, serve good examples). In each case, the dynamic is fundamentally the same.

Part 5: Empowering Men, Depowering The Father Figure
Masculism, or Men’s Rights, seeks to do for men what first-wave and early-second-wave feminism sought (at least nominally) to do for women: guarantee legal equality of the sexes and to attack popular stereotypes, prejudices, obligations and expectations assigned on the basis of sex. In short, the objective is to empower men to live their own life on their own terms (assuming they respect the right of others to do the same), irrespective of the demands of traditional gender norms.

Doing this requires that we destroy the power that the Father Figure has over us.

Just to clarify, I am protesting not fathers, but rather traditional masculinity. I am simply pointing out that traditional gender roles are entangled with notions of maturity in such a way as to place elder men into a position which can grant them (within the gender system) the ability to pass judgment on a younger male’s masculinity/maturity. I also argue that plenty of male-targeted culture reinforces this (and the foundational attitudes for it). This does not mean fathers are bad – it simply means that the gender system burdens males with having to “earn” social recognition of their gender identity, and one of the ways this is done is through proving oneself to one’s Father Figure/s (who can be one’s biological or adoptive father, or not).

This is a change which must begin in men themselves. We must reject the gender system, in particular the Platonic Essentialist idea of “real manhood.” We must reject attempts by anyone (especially our elders) to gender-police us. We must ruthlessly question the “wisdom of the fathers” and acknowledge the fallibility of our Father Figures. We must attack the idea that a “real man” is a servant of others. We must refuse to let our sex impose a list of arbitrary duties upon us. And most critically of all, we must not live to make our Father Figures proud of us. We can desire that he/they be proud of us, but if we are willing to alter ourselves in order to win his/their approval, then we have lost and the gender system has won.

Part 6: Conclusion
The gender system of our society evolved to incentivize consistent reproduction; sexual dimorphism meant that the most “efficient” (from the perspective of population growth) course of action was for women to be mothers and men to be protector/providers. This formed the basis for our society’s concepts of masculinity and femininity. However, females were more-or-less biologically assured of being capable of serving their socially-mandated function and males had to prove their capability at performing tasks with far less certain outcomes. This led to femininity being seen as an innate property of women, but “real manhood” being cast as something a male must “earn” (which in turn underlies the men-as-actors, women-as-acted-upon distinction in our culture).

Both femininity and masculinity were connected with maturity, yet a male’s ability to serve his socially-mandated function was not biologically evidenced in the same way that a female’s ability was. As such, various social institutions developed to separate the “men” (those capable of serving the male social function) from the “boys” (those incapable of doing such). This resulted in a situation where elder males held the ability to extend or revoke “real manhood” to younger men. Thus, becoming a “real man” was, at least in part, about proving oneself to elder men. The father-son relationship, at least as traditionally cast, seems to be the archetypal and obvious example of this pattern.

Since males, to earn their “real manhood,” are incentivized to please their father (or substitute), the gender system can be described as perpetuating a Literal Patriarchy (so to speak) amongst males. Since this damages the psychological self-sovereignty of males, it is a bad thing and we should oppose it.

Discussion and feedback is appreciated.

Reddit Repost: “Beyond The Binary Gender Structure: Biological Maleness vs. Social Masculinity”

This is a repost of an article I originally wrote for /r/Masculism and posted here: http://www.reddit.com/r/masculism/comments/16t9fa/beyond_the_binary_gender_structure_biological/

Upon a second reading, I notice one error or piece of sloppy reasoning: with respect to the “prison bitch” issue, I did not take into account that in some cases, the “prison bitch” is in fact treated “like a woman” to some extent. This makes sense as the relationship being pseudo-heterosexualized due to the fact that some of these relationships are the product of situational sexuality practiced by heterosexual men who obviously wish to maintain the ‘illusion’ that they are having sex with a female. In spite of this fact, there is also a strong number of “prison bitch” relationships which follow the template I describe in this article. This subtext seems validated by reports on the phenomenon of prison rape, for instance “No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons.” I could cite other examples of phenomena which are consistent with my analysis, however.

In addition, this post uses a significant amount of technological terminology relating to Philosophical Methodology. I do not wish to sound patronizing, but I’ll provide a definition for these terms in advance (my thanks to Chris Sciabarra at NYU for these concepts).
Monism: Everything is understood as being “the same thing” or epiphenomena (products) of that one thing.
Dualism: Everything is understood as fitting into one of two mutually exclusive and exhaustive categories.
Dialectical: A relationship between things in which these things are defined/understood in terms of their relationship to each other. Understanding X in terms of comparing-and-contrasting it with Y.
Dialectical Pseudo-Monism: A monism which ‘masquerades’ as a dualism by outwardly establishing two categories (X and Y), yet it understands/comprehends Y exclusively in terms of its relationship with X. Y is not treated as an entity of its own, but ultimately as an epiphenomena of or response to X.

PART 1
In my article Separating The ‘Boys’ From The ‘Men’, I argued that traditional gender roles, whilst both premised on Gender Essentialism, were based on different types of Epistemological Essentialism. Traditional femininity was (and probably still is) seen as innate to female biology (probably due to the fact that a female can serve her socially-mandated function, i.e. reproduction, simply by virtue of her biological maturity (barring infertility)), in the tradition of Aristotelian Essentialism (a.k.a. Immanent Essentialism or Moderate Essentialism).

Traditional masculinity, on the other hand, has always been based on Platonic Essentialism. Men, by virtue of their innate biology or biological maturation alone, do not serve their socially-mandated functions (hunting, protecting, the extremely dangerous tasks). Rather, they must act to prove they not only can perform these functions but to show how they can perform these functions better than other males. Thus, biological males have to “earn” their “manhood” by proving they can serve society in specific ways, and the better they are at doing this the “more man” they are.

As a consequence of this Platonic concept of masculinity, not all males end up achieving the social status of manhood. There are the “real men” and there are the “not-real-men,” or as we might put it, there are “the men” and “the boys.”

I believe that this fact has been sorely missed in the vast majority of traditional gender analysis. I believe that this fact also has particularly radical implications which need to be drawn out.

PART 2
In traditional (and, with very few exceptions, feminist-conducted) gender analysis, there is a methdological dualism between masculinity and femininity – all gender classifications are seen as falling into masculine or feminine. Even feminists that aren’t of the radical-second/third-wave type have usually subscribed to this model. Even relentlessly politically incorrect feminists such as Camille Paglia have. This model is fundamentally gynocentric (or perhaps femmecentric would be a better term). It sees the masculine as based on the disownership of and revolt against the feminine (technically speaking this makes the model pseudo-monistic with masculinity defined dialectically (i.e. the not feminine, masculinity is defined in relation to the feminine) but that’s a whole different issue and for simplicity’s sake we’ll describe this as a methodological dualism). It sees the feminine as the “default” from which the masculine acts in order to differentiate itself (to be fair, this argument has some biological basis – fetuses are female until they are exposed to androgens in the womb, which masculinizes the fetus over the course of development. This leads to the situation of some feminists trying to use a biological argument to defend gynocentric analysis; a situation that strikes many as hypocritical).

As an analytical consequence of this model, anything which “falls short” of “real manhood” is classified as feminine. Thus, the bullying of men for being insufficiently macho is classified as an epiphenomenon of misogyny (see my article Primal Misogyny and Ozy’s Law over on /r/GenderEgalitarian for more). Prison rape of smaller, weaker men by larger, stronger men is seen as an epiphenomenon of male-on-female rape. The oppression of socially emasculated males is seen as no more than a consequence of the oppression of females. This attitude, which I call “Primal Misogyny,” is one of the greatest reasons why so many men involved in the gender conversation have come to the conclusion that feminism does not care about men’s issues; most of the time feminism has argued men’s issues are just repackagings of women’s issues (which, ironically enough, compounds the social emasculation of “not-real-men” by turning them into “honorary women” for the purposes of analysis).

So what are the alternative models? If we are to stick with a bigendered model, there are two alternatives; an androcentric (or masculocentric) model (the flaws of which have been admirably critiqued by plenty of feminists, and thus would be fallacious to adopt), or a true methodological dualism which doesn’t center on either side.

PART 3
But this leaves us with a problem; where would the ‘socially-emasculated’ men, the ‘not-real-men’, or the ‘boys’ fit in such a model? They’re clearly male-bodied individuals, yet socially they aren’t considered “real men.” “Real men” do not identify with them; rather, they usually hold them in contempt and often outright bully them. Nor do the “boys” receive any of the chivalry/benevolent sexism/female privilege that women can have some expectation of receiving; “don’t hit a girl” certainly doesn’t apply to “not real men” (indeed, the opposite is true).

Many feminists would argue in favor of the methodological dualism which reduces the insufficiently-masculine to the feminine by pointing at the insults thrown around various school playgrounds at less “jockish” males. They’d suggest “pussy” and “sissy” and “girl” back up their methodological presumptions, and in that they have a point. However, plenty of other insults and teases applied to the same victims are not gendered; “wimp,” “shrimp,” “loser” (especially indicative since athletic competitions are typically held between members of the same sex), “weakling,” “nerd” (which typically has male connotations) etcetera. And then, we come to a more telling set of insults; “grow a pair!” “Man up!” “You have no balls!”

This last set of insults focuses not on being traditionally feminine but rather on lacking traditional masculinity. According to the typical model, to lack masculinity is to be feminine, however if one uses these specific insults to argue for the traditional methodological dualism, one is making a circular argument. But is it possible to lack traditional masculinity without gaining traditional femininity?

The gender psychologist and androgyny scholar Sandra Bem has argued so. Bem developed a personality measure (the Bem Sex Role Inventory) which was based on the presumption that masculinity and femininity are in fact independent variables. One can be high on both, low on both, or high on one and low on the other. The result is four categories – traditionally masculine, traditionally feminine, androgynous (exhibiting both strongly masculine and strongly feminine traits) and undifferentiated (exhibiting neither strongly masculine nor strongly feminine traits). Insults which revoke masculinity without arguing for an increase in femininity (i.e. “you have no balls” isn’t necessarily saying “you have a pussy”) suddenly make a lot more sense. Insults which degender (emasculate or defeminize) aren’t to be seen as ascribing the traits of the opposite gender but rather as subtracting the traits of the current gender.

The other concept I find illuminating in this regard, apart from Bem’s androgyny model, is the concept of “Apexuality” developed by Typhon Blue. Blue begins by noting that, due to the hierarchical nature of traditional masculinity, men often lack a common social identity with each other – “real men” holding “not-real-men” in contempt, for example. The notion of “men as a class” comes apart at the seams, because many males do not perceive many other males as fundamentally like themselves.

PART 4
The above two notions lead me to make a radical suggestion. It is not enough to “try harder” at avoiding slipping into gynocentrism or androcentrism; the basic methodological reduction down to two genders is the problem.

Think about it; is a “prison bitch” (clear case of a man who, in his context, is at the (pun intended) bottom of the social hierarchy, socially emasculated and seen as something other than a “man”) treated as a woman? In the western world, most of the time women aren’t shamed if they get raped and an outcry is rightly raised if anyone suggests a rape victim deserved it; the “prison bitch” unfortunately faces a culture which lacks such sensitivities, and indeed rationalizes his rape as something he secretly wanted/deserved on account of his alleged lack of masculinity. Does the prison bitch receive any chivalry or white knighting? Can the prison bitch invoke damselling? Of course not; that would be used as more evidence that his natural place is getting raped. The prison bitch faces all the demands of traditional masculinity (as defined in prison) – his failure to meet these demands is what demotes him to an inferior status. The prison bitch incurs several of the demands of traditional feminity (having to sexually satisfy his protector/provider if he’s “claimed” by a larger/stronger inmate, for instance). Yet the prison bitch cannot access the benefits of either masculinity or femininity. Can we really claim that the prison bitch is socially considered to be of the same “gender” as either females, or the rapists of the prison bitch?

The socially-emasculated men, the ‘boys,’ the ‘failed males,’ the omega males, call them what you will but to lump them into the same analytical category as the socially-approved “real men” when they are (in real life) categorized and treated differently is a fallacy. To lump them into the same analytical category as “women” when they are (in real life) categorized and treated differently is a fallacy.

It seems to me that gender discussion needs to abandon a bigendered model. Members of the male sex do not necessarily become “real men” (socially speaking). It is time that gender analysis adopts models of gender relations which truly separate the “real men” from the “boys” – whilst they are both of the same biological sex, they aren’t socially treated as having the same gender.

To clarify, I am not suggesting there are only three legitimate analytic categories (i.e. “man,” “woman” and “failed man/boy”). What I am suggesting is that there are at least three legitimate analytic categories, and the reduction of “failed men/boys/omega males/whatever” down to “honorary women” (or to “real men” for that matter) is a mistake. Nor am I alleging anything about gender-atypical females; as a male I have more experience with the male side of the equation and I am simply limiting my comments to the field I have more experience with. Certainly the hypothesis proposed in this piece is extremely radical and controversial and thus this piece should be read as a tentative exploration of a future potential angle for the exploration of men’s issues. Nevertheless, it is submitted for your consideration.

CONCLUSION
Traditional gender analysis often sets up a gynocentric (or femmecentric) situation where the masculine is seen as the rejection and inversion of the feminine default. A consequence of this is the attitude of Primal Misogyny – seeing all disdain for insufficient-machoness as an epiphenomenon of a disdain for the feminine. This attitude marginalizes men’s issues. However, as Sandra Bem’s androgyny model as well as Typhon Blue’s concept of “Apexuality” indicate, it may prove fruitful to move beyond a bi-gendered model of gender relations by embracing a model which differentiates between those males who are socially considered “real men” and those males who are socially emasculated. This could greatly improve the discourse surrounding the experiences of men who experience persecution and prejudice due to being socially considered “not real men.”

Reddit Repost: “Separating the ‘Boys’ from the ‘Men’ – Male Hierarchy and the Oppression of Men”

This is an article originally published here on Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/masculism/comments/11w04k/separating_the_boys_from_the_men_male_heirarchy/

As this piece was published at /r/Masculism it tends to take a less vehement tone than the ‘typical’ pro-men’s-rights piece. Upon re-reading I couldn’t find any substantially objectionable material within it and as such I wish to preserve it here.

Part 1: Introduction
In my article on /r/GenderEgalitarian/ A Few Thoughts On Some Feminist Concepts, I pointed out an interesting quirk of language use:

“It is interesting to note how the phrase “real men” is used in a way that contradicts what people typically mean by “real.” You are probably reading this article on a computer or similar electronic device; this device exists and is therefore real. Yet the minute we shift to “real men” we start talking not about men that exist, but men who embody a specific ideal of correct manliness (also called the Hegemonic Masculinity). The word “real” is used to mean “ideal.”"

This sudden shift in the definition of “real,” from “something that exists” to “exemplar of an ideal,” is a process I call a Platonic Inversion (because it is an instance of underlying residual Platonism in people’s thought processes – Plato after all believed that the “ideal” was “more real” than physical stuff).

In the mainstream of our culture, this Platonic Inversion with respect to “men” is nearly unquestioned. When we talk about a real DVD player, using the term to mean a “far better DVD player,” we all know that the term “real” is being used metaphorically.

But, on the other hand, being a “real man” is not a matter of metaphor. It is a matter of personal pride. It is a big deal (socially speaking), not a simple case of a metaphorical invocation of Platonism.

Why?

The reason for this is that, according to the cultural mainstream, being a “real man” is an earned social status rather than something innate in physically real men. “Real manhood” must be repeatedly demonstrated, proven, confirmed and defended. Psychological studies have backed this point up.

How did this situation come to pass?

A common theory, one which I think has significant explanatory power, is that women’s signs of biological maturity were relatively obvious; they had their menstural cycle, grew breasts, and (most importantly in societies which were fed through the manual labor of a growing population) bear children. “Girls” simply became “Women” (with the exceptions of infertile females), at which point they could fulfil their expected social role of bearing children.

Men, on the other hand, had less physically obvious signs of biological maturation. This was coupled with the fact that early human societies had reproductive pressures that incentivized protection of the females, as well as the fact that pregnant females were less able to perform hard labor/hunt/fish/farm/etc. The social role of women was something that the vast majority of women would grow into being capable of performing just by the nature of female biology.

The social role performed by men was not as biologically assured. Men had to be protectors and providers; tasks which were physically strenuous, dangerous, and could be performed with different levels of success and/or failure (i.e. men could be “good men” or “bad men” in the sense of being more or less competent at fulfilling their assigned roles; women of course had something similar (infertile women being seen as “bad women” or “barren”) but as a matter of degree the pressure wasn’t as strong since any given man was more likely to be a bad warrior/hunter than any given women was likely to be infertile, and then we have to introduce the matter of levels of skill at performing warrior/hunter tasks relative to breeding tasks (women do have different levels of fertility, but how wide is that scope vs. the scope of competence at warrior/hunter tasks?)).

As such, “proper” femaleness was seen as innate, but “proper” maleness required actions which produced specific outcomes. Barring infertility, a female would always become a “real woman,” but a man would have to continually fulfill his social functions in order to be seen as a “real man.”

It should come as no surprise that this formed our society’s most basic gender role; a role that I’d generally say Feminists and Masculists and Gender Egalitarians of all stripes basically accept as the foundation of our society’s gender system. This is the Subject-Object distinction, often phrased as “men do, women are.” Men are actors, women are acted upon.

Feminists, Gender Egalitarians, and MRA’s have consistently traced out the misogynistic and misandric implications and outcomes of this role system.

So, the above is a brief sketch of how our society came to its basic gender system. During early human history, this system probably had significant utility – human survival was predicated on manual labor, and a steadily-growing supply of manual labor was premised on consistent reproduction (ergo women having to have children and men having to protect/feed the family).

When the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution ushered in modern civilization as we know it, things changed. Manual labor stopped being the engine of human survival and prosperity; a progressively automated, capital-and-enterprise-dependent economy took its place. It is no coincidence that modern gender discourse, kicked off by Classical Liberal Feminism, was a product of the Enlightenment era. Fundamentally, gender discourse is a product of the fact that our technology has developed far more quickly than our received cultural wisdom; now, the “received wisdom” about masculinity and femininity is clearly obsolete.

From this point onward, I wish to focus on masculinity, or more correctly our society’s understanding of “correct” masculinity, and how it has constructed a system which oppresses men

Part 2: The Machismo Economy
So how does our society’s “masculinity system” (whatever you want to call it) operate?

As stated above, the casual acceptance of “real men” to be used to refer to men who meet some ideal standard gives us an important clue; under this system, not all physically real men are “real men.” Manhood (in the “real man” sense) is a socially-earned status. It is conferred. Because it can be conferred, it can also be revoked.

This means that the system has a binary component, where a man either is a “real man” or is not a “real man.” They either “pass” or “fail.” They are “real men” or they are socially emasculated.

This binary component is one of “separating the men from the boys.” Degrees do not exist within this component of the system. Note the use of “boys” here; the implication being that insufficiently masculine (by social standards) men are not fully mature (i.e. they are child males rather than adult males). This further validates the hypothesis expressed in Part 1; “real manhood” is a socially-earned status because a man’s full maturity isn’t as biologically obvious as a woman’s, and that the male social role wasn’t as connected to innate biological capabilities as the female’s.

It is often noted that various institutions mediate the conferral of social manhood; sports teams, the military, fraternities, etc. Again, the need for institutional validation of social manhood seems to back up the hypothesis that the relative understatedness of male biological maturation is an important reason for the nature of the current gender system (also note how real-world tribal societies frequently have rituals which initiate “boys” into “manhood”).

Thus, within the “manhood” system developed by our society, you will typically find an underclass of “not real men.” Call them “boys,” “beta males” or “omega males,” “the socially emasculated” or whatever; if being a “real man” is like being in a nightclub, these men are outside of the club.

But then we move into the second component of the “manhood” system; inter-male heirarchialism. Once someone has been admitted into the category of “real man” there is competition amongst the men inside to establish an order of rank. As explained earlier, there are differences in degree of how well men can fulfill the social role of “real man,” and whilst there is the aforementioned binary distinction between “those that can’t” (“boys”) and “those that can” (“real men”), some “real men” can do it better than others.

This is the familiar battle for “Alpha Maleness.” With it comes power over one’s underlings and, crucially, the ability to socially emasculate them (kick them out of the “real man” club and reduce them to a “boy”). The battle for Alpha status is not pleasant, it is endless and must be repeatedly fought, yet the alternative to being “one of the real men” is social emasculation.

In brief, you could say the social system of “real manhood” operates with three basic “tiers.” At the top, the Alpha who can bestow or revoke “real man” status. In the middle, those “real men” who are attempting to continually acquire more “real man” status and outcompete their opponents. At the very bottom, the “boys” or “not real men,” the socially emasculated, the outcasts.

We might describe these tiers with the labels “Alpha,” “Beta” and “Omega” but those would just be shorthand, plus I wouldn’t want to get the above confused with PUA terminology (PUA terminology refers to frequency of sexual success, which is related to but certainly not the same thing as status amongst fellow males).

Part 3: Some Effects Of This System
1) GENDER POLICING: A simple truth of economics is that people respond to incentives – if conduct X confers a benefit, and conduct Y bears a cost, then ceteris paribus people will be more likely to engage in X and less likely to engage in Y.

The “real manhood” system operates in such a way as to incentivize gender policing; by outperforming another man at a specific masculine-coded task, one gains more “real man” credit whilst at the same time diminishing the social masculinity of the outperformed men. The incentive isn’t to be good or competent at these specific tasks, but rather to be better than others at these specific tasks. Thus, men are motivated not to view other men’s strengths as good, but as threats. Men are motivated to view other men’s weaknesses as opportunities to be exploited.

Let’s put aside the strange moral inversion (resenting the admired, wishing to see more of the disdained) that this system implies for now; the obvious effect is gender policing. Make one slip and your “fellow men” will be right there to tear you apart and degrade you for it; it is the only way for them to increase their own status.

Obviously, this makes authentic self-expression and pursuit of one’s own happiness into a minefield for men, particularly those with some preferences that fall outside of traditional gender boundaries (in fact it is fair to say that almost all men have at least one interest which transgresses gender boundaries). Even those that, to their knowledge, have purely gender-typical interests, are socially penalized by this gender policing to some degree; they are discouraged from exploring things which may end up potentially enhancing their lives.

2) HERD CONFORMITY/GROUP IDENTITY: Significant neurological evidence exists to indicate that one’s gender identity (innate feeling of being male or female) is a result of neuroanatomy (for instance, transgender persons have been shown to have neuroanatomy of the opposite sex to the anatomy of the rest of their bodies; transgender conditions are arguably the neurological version of intersex conditions). When one’s gender identity is attacked or questioned, it can be distressing.

But, as stated before, being a “real man” is a social status rather than something innate, and the mechanism for acquiring and reinforcing this status is interpersonal. Basically, it is conferred by group insociation.

As a result, males have a portion of their innate identity subject to social approval and validation.

Now, most readers of this piece would accept the proposition that there is a mind-independent reality, and that facts aren’t the same thing as group consensus. And yet, this is precisely what “real manhood” requires – subjective acceptance of someone as a “real man.” So not only does “real manhood” refer to a Platonic ideal rather than physical reality, it also refers to a socially subjective status, as if the World Of Forms and the Consensus Reality were one and the same.

Leaving aside the utterly crackbrained metaphysics and epistemology that seem to be entailed here, the psychological effects of such an attitude are pretty obvious; if a critical part of one’s identity is dependent on the group, then one is far less likely to be fully individuated. One is far less likely to go against the grain, to think for oneself, to live with authenticity and integrity, when critical components of one’s identity are heavily invested in a group membership that is granted by mass consensus.

This goes far beyond gender policing. The damage that can be caused is fundamentally cognitive; if someone’s primary reference point for facts of reality is social rather than empirical, then that someone has basically abandoned any pretense at rationality.

This group-granted, group-dependent “real man” identity does nothing less than encourage complete cognitive dependence in males, crush unorthodox thinking, and incentivize “fitting in” and being “one of the guys” over being one’s authentic self.

3) PARALLEL HIERARCHIES: As stated above, having one’s innate gender identity questioned or attacked is a distressing experience (as many transgender people will attest). And, as stated before, plenty of males are not granted the status of “real men,” rather they are seen as failed men, as “boys” or some other emasculated label. Thus, many real men (physically real men, not “real men”) unfortunately live in a state where they commonly are inflicted with the distress of having their innate gender identity socially denied.

Denial of an individual’s innate gender identity – in effect a claim that this individual doesn’t really know their own mind and that the denier knows that individual better than that individual knows themselves – is offensive. It is offensive when it happens to trans people, and it is offensive when it happens to cisgender people, including cisgender men.

Given how social sanction and reinforcement has always been a crucial component of “real manhood” (a component which, it can be plausibly argued, is more important to “real manhood” than “real womanhood”), social emasculation can cause a remarkable amount of distress to men.

So, how do those men that have had their “real man” status revoked react? Sure, there are some that simply reject the whole enterprise of proving themselves to others, but this reaction isn’t as common as we’d all like. Indeed, the more common reaction is to form a parallel institution – in this case to simply create a different kind of heirarchical masculinity with its own cultural standards of “real manhood.”

The pattern of traditional masculinity is taken; there’s an heirarchically-structured “in group” led by the person that most exemplifies the group’s standards, with subordinate members competing with each other in an attempt to outdo each other at compliance with the group’s standards; unsurprisingly there is also an “out-group” composed of those that are not considered the “in-group” and who’s masculinity is held as fundamentally deficient/failed.

Why would some of the socially emasculated react by reproducing a variant of the same system that humiliated them? The answer is simple – those that are socially emasculated and respond by forming a parallel masculinity do so out of a desire to be accepted by the “real man” group that rejected them, and create their own as a substitute. They don’t reject the underlying premises of the system, they simply alter the standards to ones more favorable to their own traits.

Those familiar with the theory of Hegemonic Masculinity should see the parallels here; there is a socially normative model of “real manhood,” but not all can practice it successfully. Those who are heavily dependent on such group validation for their gender identity, yet find themselves socially emasculated, will desire to have their “real manhood” reinstated through insociation. In order to cater to this need, they will seek out or set up a parallel institution more likely to accept them.

4) DESTRUCTION OF PEER BONDS AND TRUE BROTHERHOOD: And we finally come to the most ironic and arguably most pernicious effect that the traditional system of “real manhood” has inflicted upon actual men: the poisoning of male relationships.

The “real manhood” system is hierarchically structured and incentivizes competition with and subjugation of one’s fellow man. After all, if one begins a gender system by positing a Platonic ideal then the moral imperative is to refashion oneself into that ideal as much as possible; if one defines the process of moving closer to this ideal as defeating others, then defeating others becomes a duty.

A peer relationship, i.e. a relationship of equals, cannot exist in this framework. Benefit can only come from a violation of the peership. If one posits hierarchical behavior as a proper component of “real manhood,” then peer relationships become emasculated (hence accusations of “those two men are getting too friendly/buddyish, obviously they must be gay” etcetera).

And yet, is not true brotherhood inherently about an ultimate sense of peership? Is it not about admiring and respecting the competencies and virtues of another, rather than conspiring to defeat or lessen those competencies and virtues? Aristotle famously described a true friend as another self – does one attempt to diminish, demean, defeat, humiliate and subjugate oneself?

Human beings relate to those that are like themselves – birds of a feather flock together is more than just a saying. This is why women like their “girl’s nights out” and men like their “boy’s nights out.” Same-gender social bonding is normal and healthy; it is almost certainly a human need (arguably this is another reason for the phenomenon of Parallel Heirarchies discussed above). To make this bonding into an adversarial exercise and a threat to one’s gender identity is a cruel joke at the very least.

Part 4: Conclusion
Traditional concepts of gender were Gender Essentialist, but the type of Essentialism differed between men and women (due to the different roles men and women had to play in pre-modern societies and the differences in the obviousness of their physical maturation). Femininity was typically treated as innate, i.e. as an immanent essence (Aristotelian/Moderate Essentialism) which women possessed by virtue of birth.

Men, on the other hand, were saddled with a Platonic Essentialist concept of masculinity. As such, identity as a “real man” was always a less sure thing than identity as a “real woman.” Women were beings and men were doings. This basic Subject-Object separation ultimately underpins our society’s traditional gender roles, and provides both men and women with various different advantages and disadvantages relative to each other.

One specific disadvantage the traditional conception of the “proper” way to be a “real man” has is that, by virtue of its Platonic nature, it emasculates many men. It compels men to be unsure of their identity, to rely on social verification, to conform and be “one of the guys” at any cost. It encourages men to police other men’s gender expression, to capitalize on each other’s “weakness” and resent each other’s capabilities and skills. Ultimately, it generates a toxic hierarchical environment where even the basic human need of same-gender camaraderie becomes a veritable battleground.

If gender policing, sabotage of individuation and individuality, and the corruption of the process of fulfilling a natural human need, are correctly called “oppressive,” then the current sex/gender system is oppressive of men.

In my earlier article, A Few Thoughts On Some Feminist Concepts, I argued that “Platocracy” is a better term than “Patriarchy” to describe the traditional gender system. It is in traditional ideas of “real manhood” that we find the clearest evidence for the Platonic basis of this gender system.

MISANDRY – Male Resistance to the MRM

A Redditor named doch_doch has a new blog she has just started and it is definitely worth a look. (This is one of the cleverer screen names I have seen. It means “though, though” or “Oh but yes it is!” in German.)

She starts with:

“Imagine you’re a man in the US in the time prior to women’s right activism.”

And winds up with this, which I have never seen anywhere else:

“So where we the men’s rights activist in all this upheaval? Well, with a few exceptions, there just weren’t any. While things were changing for women, things were not changing as quickly for men. In fact, men deviating from the norm of being the sole financial provider were dismissed, mocked, and ostracized.”

As they still are. See Hanna Rosin and the End of Men, for starters.

She summarizes:

“In the world I live in right now, I know that the gender binary is still screwing everyone. But for women’s issues there is a dialogue, there is movement and change. There is support from churches, government agencies, and individuals for “women’s” issues. Not only doesn’t this exist for men, it isn’t allowed to exist. Men’s rights is a dirty word for most feminists, with people throwing around accusations of misogyny, sexism, racism.
I’m not going to allow feminists to define this movement for me. There are some very, very angry men involved, it’s true. Anger can be destructive, but it can also breed change. Many men have just had enough of being told they don’t matter unless they’re rich and white.
I get it. “

Indeed she does. You need to read the whole post to see how thoroughly she gets it. She called herself an MRA for a while until she got tired of the venom of so many in the movement – she understands where it comes from; she just doesn’t feel like subjecting herself to it.

Something that just occurred to me when the question came up of where the MRAs were in the 1800s, is that it would be interesting to compare the resistance from women that the women’s rights movement got, starting with the suffrage movement but not restricted to that, to the resistance the MRM is getting from men. People resist change because it threatens vested positions of power or security.

So let’s compare the two.

Male resistance to the MRM seems to fall into a few main categories:

MACHO THUMBHEADS: There are the macho thumbheads who dismiss any discussion of men’s issues as un-masculine whining. These are the idiots who shout down male victims of rape(1), and who dismiss women raping boys by saying the boys got lucky.

You do find women in feminist spaces talking like this too about male victims, but less and less, I think. I think the community is taking corrective action. Good for them. It’s patriarchal shit (to the extent Patriarchy is even a thing.)

WHITE KNIGHTS: Then there are the white knights They downplay men’s issues because women and only women are the deserving targets of concern. These people believe in empathy apartheid. Basically it’s more macho posturing. A subset of these white knights are the guys who fancy themselves the protectors of sacred womanhood against all those other men, brutes all of them, with nothing between these fragile women and the horrors……

Demonization: one very common form white knighting takes is demonization of other men. (When feminists do this, they are just feeding into the patriarchal damsel/white knight dynamic – the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Patriarchy). Commenter John Markley outlines this mechanism or dynamic in a discussion about Hugo Schwyzer, his misandry and his ex-communication from all the cool kid feminist spaces:

“elementary_watson,
I’ve long thought that Schwyzer’s misandry was in part his way of absolving himself of responsibility for his behavior- If ALL men are inherently rotten, his behavior 1. isn’t his fault, and 2.doesn’t make men who DON’T act that way any better than him. He’s like a more sexist version of Saint Augustine. (I believe Patrick Brown has made the same comparison, actually.)

 

About the Sarkozy molestation story:

Schwyzer didn’t just say the crime was less serious because of “male privilege”- he called the 11-year old predatory and painted his abuser as his helpless, pitiable victim. It was a step beyond victim blaming or rape apologism into… Hell, I don’t even know.”

Demonization serves as a mechanism to alienate the evil you see in yourself, to other it into an external entity that you can reject it.

COMPLACENCY: Then there are the complacent ones, who think things are fine the way they are. These are the guys who have yet to be sundered from their children by an ex-wife who the criminal and family court system privilege with every possible advantage. These are the guys who insist there can’t be anything wrong with circumcision because they were circumcised and they don’t know any better.
APEXUALITY: And then there are the guys who just benefit by keeping other men down. The word for that is kyriarchy.

Now let’s look at female resistance to the suffrage and larger women’s rights movements:
LADYLIKE THUMBHEADS: There were those who thought that all this agitation was unladylike. Real ladies didn’t want anything to do with politics, not even voting.
COMPLACENCY: Then there were the complacent ones, the ones who knew a good deal when they saw it. The country had gone through a devastating Civil War in which the war dead and maimed were overwhelmingly men and not women – women had almost completely been spared that. Further down the social scale men labored and died in mines and factories in unspeakable conditions – if you haven’t read the Jungle, this is the time to remedy that gap in your education – and their women knew that however hard their lot at home was, it was a damned sight safer and more comfortable than what their men went out to face. And that included politics. The politics of 19th century America make dogfighting look refined and genteel.
APEXUALITY: And then there were those women at the top, hiding behind their front men running the world, keeping the women down. This is where Sojourner Truth’s question “Ain’t I a woman?” fits in. Recall that she and her question got shot down.
And lookee here – there’s no female equivalent of WHITE KNIGHTS in the sense women doing down other women to aid men. The female equivalent of a white knight is a damsel, and no one damsels to help out men. I can’t think of even one instance of a woman opposing women’s suffrage or later on any feminist proposal on the grounds that it might harm men.

So there’s the comparison, and it yields some interesting parallels. Women’s opposition to women’s right movements were retrograde and reactionary, just as men’s opposition to men’s rights movements are.

1. It is worth your while to go read that whole sordid comment thread. A clear pattern emerges – most of the women support the male rape victim. Telling. And remember this was four years ago. Compare that with the state of the discussion on comment threads these days.

APEXUALITY – Women can do it too

Here’s an autobiographical article from a women who has succeeded in the advertising industry. What she is describing – women not helping women, not acting in solidarity with women, no longer feeling as if they are in the culture of women, is plain old apexuality. (HT:r/Mensrights) 

She starts off:

As a white, educated woman, I was more like the men than I was like anything else. I wanted to be part of something big, so I worked to fit in and get ahead. It was romantic and dramatic and exciting — in my 20s and 30s. Acceptance was the gold I dug. I didn’t sleep my way to the top. I smoked, drank, workaholic’d and off-color joked my way there. Talent and a good book weren’t enough. You had to have talent and be one of the boys.

No surprise there, and I hope it wasn’t to her. You have to adopt the group’s norms if you join and hope to benefit from belonging. And the group norms at that level of reward are piranha level competition and backbiting. She reports:

There are, of course, crudely sexist moments. Here are two special quotes from my career that never fail to materialize when I close my eyes to fall asleep in whatever far-flung hotel I’m sleeping in tonight. “I like that necklace, I could choke you with it while I fuck you from behind,” I was told. After a none-too-pleased response came the capper from this guy: “You’re not offended are you?! We only say those things because we forget you’re not one of us. It’s a compliment!” Really.

Eeeww.

But yes. They look for any vulnerability, and differentness they can exploit as a vulnerability – race, gender, minority religion, having gone to a less-connected school, whatever it might be.

She asks:

An issue that’s rarely addressed is how many women in advertising don’t help each other out. What is it that drives a select group of women to actively not support other women?

But then goes on to draw some questionable conclusions. She says:

But maybe it’s not the women who are at fault here. Maybe the fact that there are so few of us in the boardrooms leads us to assume there’s only room for a certain number. Or maybe the older ones among us resent what we gave up at home to get where we are at work, and, so, we’re bitter, drunken, hardened bitches. Or, as was the case in my last run in with a fucked-up, back-stabbing woman at work; nobody likes to fight for their daddy’s attention.

And she earns my respect with her refusal to whine and her insistence on owning it all:

Don’t get me wrong. There are no regrets. It’s a complicated story that’s more about complicity than it is about victimization. There’s no real hero. I’d do it all again. And I wouldn’t say these issues overtook the love I felt, and still feel, for my career.

 

 

Apexuality shows up most often in Anglosphere societies as male behavior, but it is really a function of the struggle for power. We see a woman apexual in the character of Rebecca Sharp, Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, in Vanity Fair. Note how she was shunned by other women, to the point that Thackeray discusses the dynamic at some length.

Apexuality is about the struggle for power, and gender only counts when one gender is shielded from the cutt-throat competition the struggle for power requires, and is allowed to stay aloof from it. When it comes right down to it, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the tactics of Qin Shi Huang1 or the Yongle emperor2 and that of Wu Zetian3 or Ci Xi4.

 

 

1. Qin Shi Huang is the cultural equivalent of Hitler in China. As the ruler of the state of Qin, he unified China into an empire and ended the Warring States period.

2. The Yongle emperor was the second son of the founder of the Ming dynasty. His nephew was preferred over him for the succession and the follwers of that nephew persecuted him to the point where he deposed his nephew. When he tasekd a courtier to write his inaugural adress, the courtier refused, which under the circumstances was an intolerable slur on his legitamcy. he exterminate nine generations of the courtiers male realtives and also the courtiers students and proteges, 864 people in all.

3. Wu Zetian beat out her main rival as imperial consort, which put her in position to become regent later, (allegedly) by having her daughter murdered and framing her rival for the crime.

4. Ci Xi was the enormously popular Dowager Empress at the end of the Qing dynasty. She contended with her daughter-in-law, who advocated for political reform and progress, for influence over the emperor, her son. Eventually she had her killed by being thrown down a well.