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by Seth Joseph
This is part three of a series about the ways we as a society lie to young men about dating, women, and relationships.
“Women Are Oppressed by Men”
Let us focus this final segment on the biggest lie— one of the most insidious, divisive, toxic ideas to ever be elevated to a level of dogma by Western Civilization: the idea than women are now, and have always been getting the short end of the straw when it comes to gender relations.
I know. I know. You aren’t allowed to speak against this cherished fantasy. The immensity of this absolute fiction is eclipsed only by the vitriol you will experience when you question it in any way. Professors are fired, office workers outed, political careers dissolved by people simply not constantly paying homage to the veracity of this myth.
I guess we have to sympathize. After all, feminists think that the gender roles are “social constructs.” that they are arbitrary, that one day they just rained down from the sky with a little help from some natural male brutishness and swelling of ego. But for the truth, we need to pan out a little and look at our species in the way we have been for most of our history.
It all started long ago, when the world was a far more dangerous and brutal place. The genders, in the infancy of mankind, would have lived together under a sort of tacit agreement. It went something like this, and pretty much still does: the men would fight and die to protect the women of the tribe, they would hunt large, dangerous beasts to provide the tribe protein, and they would man the perimeter against the horrors of the outside world. And, in return for all of this protection, the women would defer to the men, support the men, and submit to the men’s leadership of the tribe. Most primates still live in this sort of dichotomy, though feminists love to throw out the matriarchal bonobo chimp as a counter example, one of the few exceptions in nature. They routinely forget to mention that the Bonobo developed in relative safety and isolation due to the formation of the Congo river (which could not be crossed by other, more aggressive primates), and are seriously close to extinction due to their timidity, inability to deal with or adapt to external threats, and their penchant for eating honey and laying around blowing each other all day. Not that bad of a life— but hey, if you are reading this on a computer then it should be obvious who won the evolutionary potato sack race.
But getting back to our species, to our “agreement” between the genders. This social contract between the sexes, in prehistory especially, would have been less than ideal. But then, so was the world. It was a huge power imbalance yes, because it was based on physical power in a world where physical power was what ruled the day. The strongest arm made the rules, but in doing so was also responsible for the safety and security of the mini-society as a whole. It sounds like a primitive relationship, but it is still around today. This very natural arrangement can even still be observed in certain geopolitical situations of modernity. For example, the way South Korea allows the United States to have huge influences over their government and trade systems, because such submission is necessary to keep the world’s most powerful army stationed on the border with the unstable and dangerous North Koreans.
People trade submission for protection, and have been doing so for all of human history. For most of the history of gender relations, the men have provided the protection and the women have submitted in return.
Unchecked, this was a pretty horrible way to live for both parties. As a man, your life was worth only what protection and protein you could supply to the tribe. History recounts millions upon millions of men who died horribly in defense of hearth, home and “homeland” (a modern euphemism for the women and children). As a man, your primary function was to literally be a shield of meat between the enemies and the physically weaker members of your tribe. Talk about objectification. It is this disposability, and not “toxic masculinity,” which is the primary reason men still don’t cry very often. It is because frankly, no one gives a shit when men cry.
But let’s be fair. Life like this was shitty for the women also, who were similarly objectified in their role as a precious and controlled object, sort of locked away in a drawer as one might do with an expensive and delicate piece of jewelry to protect it from thievery. Because they were so physically weak and vulnerable, while at the same time being so biologically valuable, women during these brutal times would have had a lot less freedom and control over their lives, as such was the cost of security in a hostile world. You were either inside the perimeter, controlled but safe, or free on the outside and shortly doomed to succumb to the dangers of an animal existence.
You can trace this whole attitude down the line and use it to counter nearly every feminist argument for oppression. What’s that? Women couldn’t vote a while back? Are you aware that a willingness to die for your country, and often actual military service, has almost always been a requirement to be a citizen and earn a vote throughout most of the history of democracy? I still, in 2016 America, have to sign up for the draft or I am a FELON. Felons can’t vote last I checked. Why didn’t the suffragettes first picket to join the draft then? You know, to take the responsibility ahead of the privilege. Instead of vice versa? Why, it is almost as if they have gotten to cherry pick nice things while rejecting the unpleasant or distasteful realities of life!
But men used to be able to beat their wives and get away with it! We conveniently forget to mention that at this same time in history, men were literally being forced, against their will, to attack other men with guns and knives and bombs. It neglects to mention that you can still beat a man, even today in 2016 America, and not face any legal repercussions whatsoever. I know because it has happened to me. Such violence against women in the past is a result of the violence that engulfed the whole world at the time. Women have no cause to claim some special or unique victimhood in a past that saw men being ripped apart by cannon fire. In other words. It sucked for all of us.
Point is: the system of gendered responsibility we’ve long functioned under as a species is sub-par for both sexes, but because we’ve often inhabited a violent and sub-par world, such arrangements were and still are at times a necessary evil.
We’ve come a long way since then, and because the places and situations where brutality and danger await have grown more abstract and further away, most of us never come into contact with that real, gut-wrenching fear for our lives. That situation in which we would give up everything, all control for a few barrel-chested men standing at the mouth of our caves. But these men are still there— overseeing a staggeringly complex system of checks and balances backed up by the implied might of a male-powered army. In other words, we as a species still keep men on the front lines, but most of us living in first-world cities are so far removed from the reality of this that we don’t even need to consider it. It isn’t part of our lives and so we simply pretend it doesn’t exist.
In fact, we have grown so far removed from the brutal fact that masculinity is necessary, that certain factions in our society have actually begun to preach that the masculine contribution of safety and sacrifice was an unimportant part of the cultural history of gender relations. It is therefore quite simple for them to imagine that the gender roles are inherently imbalanced in favor of men. After all, these “social justice warriors” inhabit worlds no longer dangerous, and as such they fail to give credit to the men who made it safe in the first place. And so they blog from their New York lofts (built by men, some of whom may have died in its construction) on their laptops (designed by men and manufactured in male-dominated factories) under the protection of a government and constitution many men died to create. And from their safe cocoons have the audacity to say that men “oppress” women. They unironically blame the “patriarchy” for all gendered problems, without realizing that this patriarchy they are describing is the very civilization that has propelled them out of the Stone Age in the first place.
If you grew up in Western culture, you have likely been led to believe a very black and white fairy tale about this “oppression.” In this fiction, we are told that women have always been the innocent sufferers of a brutal subjugation, held down by the massive male ego, giving their subservience and support and getting nothing in return. Can you believe those horrible men that used women like slaves for most of history? Men must be, you know, inherently evil or something.
This is one of the biggest lies of our time: the idea that men have through all of history treated women like slaves, taking and taking and giving absolutely nothing back. If only those women could have been free from the men, the modern mind imagines from its position of relative safety and comfort, they could have been free and happy.
But that is not at all how the world really works. Women have traditionally put up with being controlled because they relied on men for survival, and men have fought, died, built, and created because those activities were necessary to protect, shelter, and insulate the people that they relied on for the continuation of life itself: namely, the women.
The point is, for centuries men have and still do give at least as much as they take. Men are not demon oppressors, but are just as victimized by the brutal reality of the world as anyone else who lives here. For time untold it has been the men who were being blown to bits, stampeded over, decapitated by spears— risking death and dismemberment for the benefit of their societies. It is the same reason that the draft, higher rates of suicide, work related deaths, and lower life expectancy in general are still male problems in 2016: problems that we are barely allowed to acknowledge because it runs counter to the male oppressor / female victim narrative that has been entrenched in our culture for the past fifty or so years.
How has this demonization come to pass? It is precisely because women do have so much social power (they always have, in fact) that a few tiny groups of radical feminists have been extremely successful in brainwashing us with this whitewashed view of history. So much so, in fact, that there is a lot of “male guilt” out there. Some men even feel the need to somehow make reparations for this misrepresented history of false oppression, and go about doing, saying and believing anything that women tell them to. Some men feel like they can’t even approach attractive women because they are afraid of being labeled a “creep.”
The point of this all is to tell the men out there that they have no reason to feel guilty for being men. It doesn’t seem like a revolutionary thought, but men as a gender have a greater need than ever to internalize these positive messages. Masculinity is not toxic. You are not privileged for being born with a penis. Your masculinity is not fragile. There is no “patriarchy” which promotes you at the expense of women. You are not creepy or shallow for being attracted to young, feminine, thin women. You are not part of the “rape culture” because you attempt to chat up a pretty woman on the subway. It is not “catcalling” to say hello to a woman on the street. You are not an oppressor who needs to make amends for some horrid set of past aggressions. You are allowed to be dominate, confident, and assertive as you are naturally geared towards behaving. Ignore the dumb sitcom husbands with the too-good-for-him wives. Ignore the people who try to write-off your success as something handed to you by your genitals.
Some people expect you to apologize for who you are; these people are simply probing you for weakness. Don’t give them the satisfaction.