I’m going to offer a radical thought inspired by the previous thread on Mainstream Misandry.
Manhood itself is an archaic social system of shaming men in order to control them. That is what it is precisely designed to do; function as bit and bridle. Or, more accurately, as spur and whip.
What does the entire structure of manhood do but inflict pain(via shame) on men for not achieving it’s arbitrary and impossible standards(decided on by everyone but the man himself) while offering a fleeting relief when a man ‘does the right thing’ aka. swallows his own self-interest to provide for/be strong for/sacrifice for someone else?
Which means that men’s entire gender identity, as externally defined, amounts to violent extortion practiced on the male bodied by society. Every other system of male-specific shame builds from this one and is layered upon it.
Anyway, something to ponder.
**Update** And here’s an excellent post by Grapeban (she and I are usually are most often engaging in a fracas on /mr but credit where credit’s due):
I agree actually, as stunning as that may seem to some of you, perhaps most of all Typhonblue.
I mean, I feel that pretty much every kind of social role fits into this idea, but it is particularly relevant with men.
We have this state where we have this ULTIMATE STANDARD OF MANHOOD, which all men must abide to lest they be judged as sub-par. And it’s layered too, all onioney and shit. First you’ve got to have a male body, it is not enough to merely identify as male in your mind. Then you have to be straight. Then white. Then tall. Then strong. Then you must enjoy fighting. And sport. Lose your emotions. Dominate all around you. Done all that? Well done, you’re still not quite as manly as that other dude over there, SO BECOME MORE MANLY WIMP!
(Please note that my list of manliness characteristics aren’t really in order there, I just listed them, let’s not get all bogged down in all that oppression olympics stuff right now)
And then there are some men who actually come pretty close to fulfilling this nebulous requirement, and they just make the problem worse. If they don’t personally look down on “sub-par” men, then society will idolise them and use them as a standard to judge all others by.
I hate to make reference to a certain George Orwell essay, since it’s the second time I’ve done it on this subreddit I’m pretty sure, but there is a really good George Orwell essay that I thought of when I read this line:
arbitrary and impossible standards(decided on by everyone but the man himself)
In the essay (http://orwell.ru/library/articles/elephant/english/e_eleph), Orwell talks about the British Empire, and how the expectations placed upon it to dominate the natives of India and be a strong, iron fist are what turn the British Empire into a puppet of the natives. Because it is the natives who decide what a strong, iron fist actually is.
And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd — seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys. He becomes a sort of hollow, posing dummy, the conventionalized figure of a sahib. For it is the condition of his rule that he shall spend his life in trying to impress the ‘natives’, and so in every crisis he has got to do what the ‘natives’ expect of him. He wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it. I had got to shoot the elephant. I had committed myself to doing it when I sent for the rifle. A sahib has got to act like a sahib; he has got to appear resolute, to know his own mind and do definite things. To come all that way, rifle in hand, with two thousand people marching at my heels, and then to trail feebly away, having done nothing — no, that was impossible. The crowd would laugh at me. And my whole life, every white man’s life in the East, was one long struggle not to be laughed at.
When we hold THE ULTIMATE MAN as the literal greatest being one can be in society (look at praise for figures like Chuck Norris, Teddy Roosevelt, sure, a lot of it is campy jokes, but it’s based in this idea that manliness is prized above all else), we end up condemning men to attempting to fill this role of being manly, and what is and isn’t manly is decided by the observer, not the actor. And when men inevitably fail to fulfil this role, they are deemed less than perfect, and therefore irrevocably flawed. Like the Empire in Orwell’s essay, a man’s life in society is one long struggle not to be laughed at.
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