Top Quotes: “The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love” — bell hooks

Introduction

“As a young woman in my 20s who hadn’t yet found her own powers, I often wished the men in my life would die. My longing for my father’s death began in childhood. It was the way I responded to his rage, his violence. I used to dream him gone, dead and gone.

Death was the way out of the fear evoked by the proclamation ‘Wait until your father comes home.’ The threat of punishment was so intense, his power over us so real. Lying in my girlhood bed waiting to hear the hard anger in his voice, the invasive sound of his commands, I used to think, ‘If only he would die, we could live.’ Later as a grown woman waiting for the man in my life to come home, the man who was more often than not a caring partner but who sometimes erupted into violent fits of rage, I used to think, ‘Maybe he will have an accident and die, maybe he will not come home, and I will be free and able to live.’ Women and children all over the world want men to die so that they can live. This is the most painful truth of male domination, that men wield patriarchal power in daily life in ways that are awesomely life-threatening, that women and children cower in fear and various states of powerlessness, believing that the only way out of their suffering, their only hope is for men to die, for the patriarchal father not to come home. Women and female and male children, dominated by men, have wanted them dead because they believe that these men aren’t willing to change. They believe that men who aren’t dominators won’t protect them. They believe that men are hopeless.”

“It’s not true that men are unwilling to change. It’s true that many men are afraid to change. It’s true that masses of men haven’t even begun to look at the ways that patriarchy keeps them from knowing themselves, from being in touch with their feelings, from loving. To know love, men must be able to let go of the will to dominate. They must be able to choose life over death. They must be willing to change.”

“Barbara Denting hinted at the truth [about men and love]:

I think the reason that men are so very violent is that they know, deep in themselves, that they’re acting out a lie, and they’re furious at being caught up in the lie. But they don’t know how to break it…They’re in a rage because they’re acting out a lie — which means that in some deep part of themselves they want to be delivered from it, are homesick for the truth.

The truth we do not tell is that men are longing for love.”

“Many woman cannot hear male pain about love because it sounds like an indictment of female failure. Since sexist norms have taught us that loving is our task whether in our role as mothers or lovers or friends, if men say they aren’t loved, then we’re at fault; we are to blame.”

“Life has shown me that any time a single male dares to transgress patriarchal boundaries in order to love, the lives of women, men, and children are fundamentally changed for the better.”

In patriarchal culture males aren’t allowed simply to be who they are and to glory in their unique identity. Their value is always determined by what they do. In an antipatriarchal culture males don’t have to prove their value and worth. They know from birth that simply being gives them value, the right to be cherished and loved.

I write about men and love as a declaration of profound gratitude to the males in my life with whom I do the work of love. Much of my thinking about maleness began in childhood when I witnessed the differences in the ways my brother and I were treated. The standards used to judge his behavior were much harsher. No male successfully measures up to patriarchal standards without engaging in an ongoing practice of self-betrayal. In his boyhood my brother, like so many boys, just longed to express himself. He didn’t want to conform to a rigid script of appropriate maleness. As a consequence he was scorned and ridiculed by our patriarchal dad. In his younger years our brother was a loving presence in our household, capable of expressing emotions of wonder and delight. As patriarchal thinking and action claimed him in adolescence, he learned to mask his loving feelings. He entered that space of alienation and anti-social behavior deemed ‘natural’ for adolescent boys. His 6 sisters witnessed the change in him and mourned the loss of our connection. The damage done to his self-esteem in boyhood has lingered throughout his life, for he continues to grapple with the issue of whether he will define himself or allow himself to be defined by patriarchal standards.”

“When that real man is repeatedly cruel, when he responds to care and kindness with contempt and brutal disregard, the woman in his life begins to see him differently. She may begin to interrogate her own allegiance to patriarchal thinking. She may wake up and recognize that she’s wedded to abuse, that she’s not loved. That moment of awakening is the moment of heartbreak. Heartbroken women in loving marriages or partnerships rarely leave their men. They learn to make an identity out of their suffering, their complaint, their bitterness.”

“‘Something missing within’ was a self-description I heard from many men as I went around our nation talking about love. Again and again a man would tell me about early childhood feelings of emotional exuberance, of unrepressed joy, of feeling connected to life and to other people, and then a rupture happened, a disconnect, and that feeling of being loved, of being embraced, was gone. Somehow the test of manhood, men told me, was the willingness to accept this loss, to not speak it even in private grief. Sadly, tragically, these men in great numbers were remembering a primal moment of heartbreak and heartache: the moment that they were compelled to give up their right to feel, to love, in order to take their place as patriarchal men.”

Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.

“The contemporary presence of female-headed households has led many people to assume that children in these households aren’t learning patriarchal values because no male is present. They assume that men are the sole teachers of patriarchal thinking. Yet many female-headed households endorse and promote patriarchal thinking with far greater passion than two-parent households. Because they don’t have an experiential reality to challenge false fantasies of gender roles, women in such households are far more likely to idealize the patriarchal male role and patriarchal men than are women who live with patriarchal men every day. We need to highlight the role women play in perpetuating and sustaining patriarchal culture so that we’ll recognize patriarchy as a system women and men support equally, even if men receive more rewards from that system. Dismantling and challenging patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.”

“Keeping males and females from telling the truth about what happens to them in families is one way patriarchal culture is maintained. A great majority of individuals enforce an unspoken rule in the culture as a whole that demands we keep the secrets of patriarchy, thereby protecting the rule of the father. This rule of silence is upheld when the culture refuses everyone easy access even to the word ‘patriarchy.’ Most children don’t learn what to call this system of institutionalized gender roles, so rarely do we name it in everyday speech. This silence promotes denial. And how can we organize to challenge and change a system that cannot be named?

It’s no accident that feminists began to use the word ‘patriarchy’ to replace the more commonly used ‘male chauvinism’ and ‘sexism.’ These courageous voices wanted men and women to become more aware of the way patriarchy affects us all.”

“In the early years of our relationship, he was extremely critical of male domination of women and children. Although he didn’t use the word ‘patriarchy,’ he understood its meaning and he opposed it. His gentle, quiet manner often led folks to ignore him, counting him among the weak and powerless. By age 30 he began to assume a more macho persona, embracing the dominator model that he’d once critiqued. Donning the mantle of patriarch, he gained greater respect and visibility. More women were drawn to him. He was noticed more in public spaces. His criticism of male domination ceased. And indeed he began to mouth patriarchal rhetoric, saying the kind of sexist stuff that would have appalled him in the past.

These changes in his thinking and behavior were triggered by his desire to be accepted and affirmed in a patriarchal workplace and rationalized by his desire to get ahead. His story isn’t unusual. Boys brutalized and victimized by patriarchy more often than not become patriarchal, embodying the abusive patriarchal masculinity that they once clearly recognized as evil. Few men brutally abused as boys in the name of patriarchal maleness courageously resist the brainwashing and remain true to themselves. Most males conform to patriarchy in one way or another.”

“Patriarchy as a system has denied males access to full emotional well-being, which isn’t the same as feeling rewarded, successful or powerful because of one’s capacity to assert control over others. To truly address male pain and crisis we must as a nation be willing to expose the harsh reality that patriarchy has damaged men in the past and continues to damage them in the present. If patriarchy were truly rewarding to men, the violence and addiction in family life that is so all-pervasive wouldn’t exist. This violence wasn’t created by feminism. If patriarchy were rewarding, the overwhelming dissatisfaction most men feel in their work lives wouldn’t exist.”

“Psychological patriarchy is the dynamic between those qualities deemed ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ in which half of our human traits are exalted while the other half is devalued. Both men and women participate in this tortured value system. Psychological patriarchy is a ‘dance of contempt,’ a perverse form of connection that replaces true intimacy with complex, covert layers of dominance and submission, collusion and manipulation. It’s the unacknowledged paradigm of relationships that has suffused Western civilization generation after generation, deforming both sexes and destroying the passionate bond between them.

By highlighting psychological patriarchy, we see that everyone is implicated and we’re freed from the misconception that men are the enemy. To end patriarchy we must challenge both its psychological and its concrete manifestations in daily life. There are folks who are able to critique patriarchy but unable to act in an antipatriarchal manner.

To end male pain, to respond effectively to male crisis, we have to name the problem. We have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end it. Terrence Real offers this valuable insight: ‘The reclamation of wholeness is a process even more fraught for men than it has been for women, more difficult and more profoundly threatening to the culture at large.’ If men are to reclaim the essential goodness of male being, if they’re to regain the space of openheartedness and emotional expressiveness that is the foundation of well-being, we must envision alternatives to patriarchal masculinity. We must all change.”

“Sexist thinking at its worst leads many parents to let male infants cry without a comforting touch because they fear that holding baby boys too much, comforting them too much, might cause them to grow up wimpy.”

“Later on he wanted to paint his nails with fingernail polish and wear it to school. Again the boys let him know that boys don’t use nail polish. His mom and sister gathered all the ‘cool’ adult guys they knew to come to school and show that males can use nail polish.”

Teenage Boys

“Boys are encouraged by patriarchal thinking to claim rage as the easiest path to manliness. It should come as no surprise, then, that beneath the surface there’s a seething anger in boys, a rage waiting for the moment to be heard.

Much of the anger boys express is itself a response to the demand that they not show any other emotions. Anger feels better than numbness because it often leads to more instrumental action. Anger can be, and usually is, the hiding place for fear and pain.”

“Sustaining relationships with others requires a good relationship to ourselves. Healthy self-esteem is an internal sense of worth, that pulls one neither into ‘better than’ grandiosity nor ‘less than’ shame…Contempt is why so many men have such trouble staying connecting. Since healthy self-esteem — being neither one up nor down — is not yet a real option, and since riding in the one-down position elicits disdain, in oneself and in others, most men learn to hide the chronic shame that dogs them…running from their own humanity and from closeness to anyone else along with it.

This flight from closeness is most intense in the lives of adolescent boys because in that liminal zone between childhood and young adulthood they’re experiencing a range of emotions that leave them feeling out of control, fearful that they won’t measure up to the standards of patriarchal masculinity. Suppressed rage is the perfect hiding place for all these fears.”

“The crisis of this longing seems most deeply felt by boys with absent fathers. Without a positive connection to a real adult man, they’re far more likely to invest in a hyper-masculine patriarchal ideal. Fear of not being able to attain the right degree of manliness is often translated into rage. Many teen boys are angry because the fantasy emotional connection between father and son, the love that they imagine will be there, is never realized. In its place there is just a space of empty longing. Even when it becomes evident that the fantasy won’t be fulfilled, that the ‘father wound’ will not be healed, boys hold on the longing. It may give them a sense of quest and purpose to feel that they will someday find the father or, through having children, become the father they dream about.

Frustrated in their quest for father bonding, boys often feel tremendous sorrow and depression. They can mask these feelings because they’re allowed to isolate themselves, to turn away from the world and escape into music, TV, video games, etc. There’s no emotional outlet for the grief of the disappointed teen boy. Being able to mourn the loss of emotional connection with his dad would be a healthy way to cope with disappointment. But boys have no space to mourn.”

“Teens are often the most unloved group in our nation. Teens are often feared precisely because they’re often exposing the hypocrisy of parents and of the world around them. And no group of teens is more feared than a pack of teen boys. Emotionally abandoned by parents and by society as a whole, many boys are angry, but no one really cares about this anger unless it leads to violent behavior. If boys take their rage and sit in front of a computer all day, never speaking, never relating, no one cares. In Lost Boys therapist James Garbarino testifies that when it comes to boys, ‘neglect is more common than abuse: more kids are emotionally abandoned than are directly attacked, physically or emotionally.’ Emotional neglect lays the groundwork for the emotional numbing that helps boys feel better about being cut off. Eruptions of rage in boys are most often deemed normal, explained by the age-old justification for adolescent patriarchal mis-behavior, ‘Boys will be boys.’ Patriarchy both creates the rage in boys and then contains it for later use, making it a resource to exploit later on as boys become men. As a national product, this rage can be garnered to further imperialism, hatred, and oppression of women and men globally. This rage is needed if boys are to become men willing to travel around the world to fight wars without ever demanding that other ways of solving conflict be found.”

Harry Potter

“While feminism may ignore boys and young males, capitalist patriarchal men do not. It was adult, white, wealthy males in this country who first read and fell in love with Harry Potter. Though written by a female, initially described by the rich white American men who ‘discovered’ her as a working-class single mom, Harry Potter books are clever modern reworkings of the English schoolboy novel. Harry as our modern-day hero is the supersmart white boy genius (a mini patriarch) who ‘rules’ over the equally smart kids, including an occasional girl and occasional male of color. But these books also glorify war, depicted as killing on behalf of the ‘good.’

The Harry Potter movies glorify the use of violence to maintain control over others. In The Chamber of Secrets violence when used by the acceptable groups is deemed positive. Sexism and racist thinking in Harry Potter books are rarely critiqued. Had the ruler been a ruling-class white male, feminist thinkers might’ve been more active in challenging the imperialism, racism, and sexism of Rowling’s books.

Again and again I hear parents, particularly antipatriarchal parents, express concern about the contents of these books while praising them for drawing more boys to reading. Of course American children were bombarded with an ad blitz telling them they should read these books. Harry Potter began as national news sanctioned by mass media. Books that don’t reinscribe patriarchal masculinity don’t get the approval Harry Potter has received. And children rarely have an opportunity to know any books exist which offer an alternative to patriarchal masculinist visions. The phenomenal financial success of Harry Potter means that boys will henceforth have an array of literary clones to choose from.’

Boyhood

“Whether in single-parent or 2-parent households, boys who are allowed to assume the role of ‘mini patriarch’ are often violent toward their mothers. They hit and kick when their wishes aren’t satisfied. Obviously, as small boys they don’t have the strength to overpower their moms, but it’s clear that they see the use of violence to get their needs met as acceptable. And while moms of boys who hit them may feel that hitting is wrong, they may simultaneously feel that it’s their job to meet the needs of any male, especially one who’s coercive.

Many teen boys have violent contempt and rage for a patriarchal mom because they understand that in the world outside the home, sexism renders her powerless; he’s pissed that she has power over him at home. He doesn’t see her autocratic rule in the home as legitimate power. As a consequence, he may be enraged at his mom for using the tactics of psychological terrorism to whip him into shape and yet respond with admiration toward the male peer or authority figure who deploys similar tactics. In patriarchal culture boys learn early that the authority of the mother is limited, that her power comes solely from being a caretaker of patriarchy.”

“‘While most of us want to be loved, controllers are willing to forego love if that is what it takes to be the boss.’ Being the boss doesn’t require any man to be emotionally healthy, able to give and receive love.”

Males, whether gay or straight, learn early on life that one of the primary rewards offered to them for obedience to patriarchal thought and practice is the right to dominate females sexually. And if no female is around, they have the right to place a weaker male in the ‘female’ position. In Victims No Longer, men who’ve been victimized by stronger boys, brothers and other male peers share how the logic of patriarchal thinking about the right of the strong to do as they wish with those whom they deem weak was presented to them by their abusers. This same logic has usually shaped the thinking about sexuality embraced by adult abusers. Ed writes of his older brother’s sexual abuse of him: ‘I learned about sex whn I was 9. I was giving blow jobs at 10. While other kids were out playing with guns, I was learning how to ‘please’ a man. I was taught how to be a ‘woman.’ My brother liked to act out fantasies in which he was the ‘man’ and I was the ‘woman.’’ This older brother married and took with him into marriage the notion that it was his right to have sex with anyone he desired, whether they wanted to or not. His need to dominate was the salient feature in all his sexual relationships.

Within a culture of domination struggles for power are enacted daily in human relationships, often assuming their worst forms in situations of intimacy. The patriarchal man who would never respond to demands from his boss with overt rage and abuse will respond with fury when intimates want him to change his behavior. Men who don’t daily lie and cheat at their jobs do so in their intimate bonds. This lying is usually connected to inappropriate sexual behavior or to discomfort about sexual behavior.”

Sex

“Sex is where many men act out because it’s the only social arena where the patriarchal promise of domination can be easily realized. Without these perks, masses of men might’ve rebelled against patriarchy long ago.”

Porn can sexualize that rage, and it can make sex look like revenge…Everywhere, men are in power, controlling virtually all the economic, political, and social institutions of society. Yet individual men don’t feel powerful — far from it. Most men feel powerless and often angry at women, whom they perceive as having sexual power over them: the power to arouse them and to give or withhold sex. This fuels both sexual fantasies and the desire for revenge.

Many men are angry at women, but more profoundly, women are the targets for displaced male rage at the failure of patriarchy to make good on its promise of fulfillment, especially endless sexual fulfillment.

Attention to the meaning of the central male slang term for sex — ‘fuck’ — is instructive. To fuck a woman is to have sex with her. To fuck someone in another context…means to hurt or cheat a person. And when hurled as a simple insult (‘fuck you’) the intent is denigration and the remark is often a prelude to violence or the threat of violence. Sex in patriarchy is fucking. That we live in a world in which people continue to use the same word for sex and violence, and then resist the notion that sex is routinely violent and claim to be outraged when sex becomes overtly violent, is testament to the power of patriarchy.

One might add that it’s a supreme testament to patriarchy’s power that it can convince men and women to pretend that sexual violence satisfies.

Much popular music from rock to rap shares this message. The truth of men’s lives is that patriarchal sexuality hasn’t satisfied. It has fueled the compulsive need to be more sexual, to be more violent in the hopes that there’s a way to be more satisfied. Patriarchal porn, no longer isolated but ever-present in popular mass media, has become so widespread because males brainwashed by the patriarchal mindset can’t find the courage to tell the truth. They can’t find the courage to say, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction.’ Patriarchal porn has become an inescapable part of everyday life because the need to create a pretend culture where male sexual desire is endlessly satisfied keeps males from exposing the patriarchal lie and seeking healthy sexual identities.”

“Now that patriarchal straight men have been compelled through mass media to face the fact that gay males aren’t ‘chicks with dicks,’ that they can and do embody patriarchal masculinity, straight male sexual dominance of females has intensified, for it’s really the only factor that distinguishes straight from gay. Currently, homophobia becomes amplified about straight men because its overt expression is useful as a way to identify, among apparently similar macho men, who’s gay and who’s straight.

“When feminist women told the world that patriarchy promotes woman-hating, the response was that feminists were being too extreme, exaggerating the problem. Yet when men who knew nothing about feminism claimed that feminists were man-hating, there was no response from the nonfeminist world saying they were being too extreme. No feminists have murdered and raped men. Feminists haven’t been jailed day after day for their violence against men. No feminists have been accused of ongoing sexual abuse of girls, including creating a world of child porn featuring little girls. Yet these are some of the acts of men that led some feminist women to identify men as woman-hating.”

Feminist Masculinity

“‘Until we’re willing to question many of the specifics of the male sex role, including most of the 7 norms and stereotypes that psychological Robert Levine names in a listing of its chief constituencies — ‘avoiding femininity, restrictive emotionality, seeking achievement and status, self-reliance, aggression, homophobia, and nonrelational attitudes toward sexuality’ — we are going to deny men their full humanity. Feminist masculinity would have as its chief constituents integrity, self-love, emotional awareness, assertiveness, and relational skill, including the capacity to be empathetic, autonomous, and connected.’ The core of feminist masculinity is a commitment to gender equality and mutuality as critical to interbeing and partnership in the creating and sustaining of life. Such a commitment always privileges nonviolent action over violence, peace over war, life over death.

Olga Silverstein rightly says that ‘what the world needs now is a different kind of man’ — she posits that we need a ‘good’ man — but this binary category automatically invests in a dominator model of either-or. What the world needs now is liberated men who have the qualities Silverstein cites, men who are ‘empathetic and strong, autonomous and connected, responsible to self, to family and friends, and to society, and capable of understanding how those responsibilities are, ultimately, inseparable.’ Men need feminist thinking. It’s the theory that supports their spiritual evolution and their shift away from the patriarchal model. Patriarchy is destroying the well-being of men, taking their lives daily.

When Silverstein does workshops focusing on changing sexist gender roles, it’s women who question her about whether a male with the qualities described above can survive. She responds to their fear by pointing out these truths:

Men aren’t surviving very well! We send them to war to kill and be killed. They’re lying down in the middle of highways to prove their manhood in imitation of a scene in a recent college football movie. They’re dying of heart attacks in early middle age, killing themselves with liver and lung disease via the manly pursuits of drinking and smoking, committing suicide at roughly 4x the rate of women, becoming victims of homicide (generally at the hands of other men) 3x as often as women, and therefore living about 8 years less than women.

And I’d add that many men striving to prove patriarchal masculinity through acts of brutal and unnecessary violence are imprisoned for life. Clearly, lots of of men survive leading happy, fulfilling lives because we don’t embrace an identity which weds us to violence; men must have the same choice.”

“Patriarchal masculinity insists that real men must prove their manhood by idealizing aloneness and disconnection. Feminist masculinity tells men that they become more real through the act of connecting with others, through building community. There’s no society in the world made up of 1 lone man. Even Thoreau in his solitary cabin wrote to his mother every day. When John Gray tells readers in Men Are From Mars that men will go into their cave — that is, that men will disassociate and disconnect — he’s accurately describing patriarchal masculinity. But he never suggests that men can be fulfilled living their lives in the cave. However, many men caught in patriarchy’s embrace are living in a wilderness of spirit where they’re utterly and always alone.”

“Psychological David Winter found that women living in countries or periods of extreme male domination tend to be very controlling of their sons, who are the only males it’s safe for them to vent against. Women in these circumstances are often subtly, or not so subtly, abusive of their sons. Many mothers in patriarchal cultures silence the wild spirit in their sons, the spirit of wonder and playful tenderness, for fear their sons will be weak, will not be prepared to be macho men, real men, men other men will envy and look up to.”

“Being ‘vulnerable’ is an emotional state many men seek to avoid. Some men spend a lifetime in a state of avoidance and therefore never experience intimacy. Sadly, we’ve all colluded with the patriarchy by faking it with men, pretending levels of intimacy and closeness we don’t feel. We tell men we love them when we feel we have absolutely no clue as to who they really are. We tell fathers we love them when we’re terrified to share our perceptions of them, our fear that if we disagree, we’ll be cast out, excommunicated. In this way we all collude with patriarchal culture to make men feel they can have it all, that they can embrace patriarchal manhood and still hold their loved ones dear. In reality, the more patriarchal a man is, the more disconnected he must be from feeling. If he cannot feel, he cannot connect. If he cannot connect, he cannot be intimate.”

Integrity

“Sexist roles restrict the identity formation of male and female children, but the process is far more damaging to boys because not only are the roles required of them more rigid and confining, but they’re much more likely to receive severe punishment when they deviate from those roles.

Contemporary feminist movement created a socially sanctioned space where girls can create a sense of self that’s distinct from sexist definitions; the same freedom hasn’t been extended to boys. No wonder then that boys in patriarchal culture continue the tradition of creating a false self, of being split. That split in boys and men is often characterized by the capacity to compartmentalize. It’s this division in the psyches and souls of males, fundamentally wounding, that’s the breeding ground for mental illness. When males are required to wear the mask of a false self, their capacity to live fully and freely is severely diminished. They cannot experience joy and they can never truly love.

Anyone who has a false self must be dishonest. People who learn to lie to themselves and others cannot love because they are crippled in their capacity to tell the truth and therefore unable to trust. This is the heart of psychological damage done to men in patriarchy. It’s a form of abuse that this culture continues to deny. Boys socialized to become patriarchs are being abused. As victims of child abuse via socialization in the direction of the patriarchal ideal, boys learn that they’re unlovable. According to Bradshaw they learn that ‘relationships are based on power, control, secrecy, fear, shame, isolation, and distance.’ These are the traits often admired in the patriarchal adult man.

Emotionally wounding boys is socially acceptable and even demanded in patriarchal culture. Denying them their right to be whole, to have integrity, is not only encouraged, it’s seen as the right way to do things.”

“‘Integrity means being whole, unbroken, undivided. It describes a person who has united the different parts of their personality, so that there’s no longer a split in the soul.’ Patriarchy encourages men to surrender their integrity and to live lives of denial. By learning the arts of compartmentalization, dissimulation, and diassociation, men are able to see themselves as acting with integrity in cases where they aren’t. Their learned state of psychological denial is severe. Adding to the definition of integrity, M. Scott Peck discusses the root meaning of the term ‘integrity,’ which is the verb ‘to integrate,’ emphasizing that this is the opposite of compartmentalization. ‘Individuals without integrity naturally compartmentalize And patriarchal masculinity normalizes male compartmentalization.’

Peck argues that compartmentalization is a way to avoid feeling pain: ‘We’re all familiar with the man who goes to church on Sunday, believing that he loves god and god’s creation and his fellow human beings, but who, on Monday has no trouble with his company’s policy of dumping toxic waste in the local stream. He can do this because he has religion in 1 compartment and his business in another.’ Since most men have been socialized to believe that compartmentalization is a positive practice, it feels right, it feels comfortable. To practice integrity, then, is difficult; it hurts. Peck makes the crucial point: ‘Integrity is painful. But without it there can be no wholeness.’ To be whole men must practice integrity.

Integrity is needed for healthy self-esteem. Most males have low self-esteem because they’re constantly lying and dissimulating (taking on false appearances) in order to perform the sexist male role.”

Conclusion

The male refusal to acknowledge loss is a key component of male rage:

Male models for grieving are few…Men in particular seem incapable of grieving and mourning on an individual basis. Perhaps that is why the blues are so popular with men. They serve a socially-sanctioned form of expression for this lost and unattainable process.”

Men will respond with rage and rejection if they’re perceived to be out of control or making a mistake:

I recall early in life when I asked my dad a question to which he didn’t know the answer, he became angry, as if to say, ‘Look I don’t know the answer to your question and because of that I should kick your ass!’ Of course, I realized this almost immediately and I stopped looking to my dad for answers. Perhaps if he’d taken the time to say to me, ‘Son, I don’t know the answer to that, let’s look it up together and find out.’”

“For both men and women, Good Men can be somewhat disturbing to be around because they usually don’t act in ways associated with typical men; they listen more than they talk; they self-reflect on their behavior and motives; they actively educate themselves about women’s reality by seeking out women’s culture and listening to women…They avoid using women for vicarious emotional expression…When they err — and they do err — they look to women for guidance, and receive criticism with gratitude. They practice enduring uncertainty while waiting for a new way of being to reveal previously unconsidered alternatives to controlling and abusive behavior. They intervene in other men’s misogynist behavior, even when women aren’t present, and they work hard to recognize and challenge their own. Perhaps most amazingly, Good Men perceive the value of a feminist practice for themselves, and they advocate it not because it’s politically correct, or because they want women to like them, or even because they want women to have equality, but because they understand that male privilege prevents them not only from becoming whole, authentic human beings but also from knowing the truth about the world…They offer proof that men can change.”

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