The One Good Man sees in Woman what men lack. Woman is bright and charming and good. Men are dark and sinister and bad.
To maintain the image of Woman as bright and charming and good, the One Good Man swallows Her darkness. Her rages, Her excesses, Her cruelties are his responsibility, not Hers. All Her goodness is not chosen because She is helpless in Her goodness—as She is helpless in Her femininity. But because it is not chosen, it is not goodness and it feeds nothing in the One Good Man.
Without shadow there is no depth.
He craves dimension and he receives only bright, charming images as thin as a whisper. To compensate he tries to capture as many as he can, but they flit through his fingers like sunlight and his hunger grows.
He needs a Harem.
The politician signs into law one-sided advocacy that ignores the pain of men to help women: Domestic Violence, Rape, Sexual Harrassment, it doesn’t matter. He sees it all as an avenue to destroy his competitors and win an adoring harem, even if it’s only the myth of himself in his own mind. He is the One Good Man, good because of his influence, which he uses to advance women.
The family judge eviscerates his rival—a father and husband—and in the woman’s approval he sees another adoring harem member. He knows that her husband has failed her otherwise why would she be here before him? But he won’t fail her. He is the One Good Man, good because of his power, which he uses to benefit women.
The priest condemns the imperfect morality of his flock’s husbands and in their admiration he sees a harem. He knows the church women are there to hear his words and uses them to throw petty sins of their husbands into high relief. He won’t fail them. He is the One Good Man, good because of his morality, which he uses to lionize women.
The petty bully brutalizes a smaller boy, cheered on by girls. The girls have a grievance; the boy presumed to ask one of them out, or maybe he was staring at her breasts too long? He won’t fail them. He is the One Good Man, good because of his strength, which he uses to avenge women.
The One Good Man sees all other men as feckless, immoral, weak, beneath him. The One Good Man is good because he knows he is the only good man. He is special. He regales of stories of his goodness, all with the same refrain: “I have used my strengths to woman’s service, I have crushed men so that women may walk upon them.” And thus he is deserving of the admiration and approval of many women. He has a Harem. But that is not enough.
The One Good Man has enemies.
The One Good Man hates the Hungry Man because they are the same man. The Hungry Man hungers for women’s bodies; The One Good Man hungers for their approval. The Hungry Man says, “women’s only use is their sex.” And the One Good Man disagrees because a woman’s only use is their approval. That’s why the One Good Man cannot allow himself to see Woman’s shadow; because if he did, she might not approve.
Hungry Man and One Good Man are the same man, but they will never admit it. Hungry Man says he does not care for women’s approval, yet he needs it to access her sex; One Good Man says he does not care for a woman’s sex, but it’s her sex that makes her approval worth so much.
Both the Hungry Man and the One Good Man fear the Bad Man, perhaps better called the Broken Man, for he is the Hungry Man having fed too little and the One Good Man having swallowed too much.
The Bad Man says “look, Woman has a shadow! A shadow that She casts, not me! Every shadow is Hers!”
The One Good Man hates the Bad Man’s words; he points to an obvious flaw: “Some of those shadows are cast by you!” and dismisses the greater truth.
The One Good Man has a final enemy; and this one is most insidious of all because he is part of the One Good Man, the Hungry Man and the Bad Man.
He is just a man. Not a bad man, not a good man, not a “real man” or a fake man, not a strong man or a powerful man or an aggressive man or a useful man or a useless man. Just a man. A man who sees that words like good, strong, bad, real, fake, powerful, useless and useful are just words the One Good Man uses to divide himself from other men, to make himself special and thus worthy of his Harem.
The man, just a man, sees a woman as just a woman. She is made of light, and shadow in equal measure to the light, and so she has depth and form and substance. When she hurts him he says “you have hurt me. You take responsibility for it. I will not take responsibility for having been hurt.” And if she does, he stays, because she feeds him.
With shadow, there is depth.
He does not need a Harem. And so he does not need to hate or hurt other men to have a Harem.
He is not the One Good Man. The Bad Man or the Hungry Man.
He is a man, just a man.
Originally published on A Voice For Men March 16, 2011
Note: This article is also available in Portuguese.
- What will Dior’s decision regarding Johnny Depp mean for male survivors? - August 10, 2022
- Chauvin Released, Teen bullied for supporting trump, False accuser forced to apologize| HBR News 277.5 - October 13, 2020
- What Jordan Peterson checking into Rehab can teach us all - October 26, 2019