Soulful Sundays: War on Masculinity (Act II)

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." -Mark Twain

"God will not have his work made manifest by cowards." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week we began an exploration into the modern war that is being waged against masculinity. I realize that I run the risk of being misunderstood and criticized for some of the perspectives I brought up, but I stand behind them and believe that they need to be said. Freedom of speech is, after all, the pathway to furthering understanding so I would encourage anyone with constructive comments to mention them below so we can discuss this topic as a village. In this post, I will attempt to clarify some of the points that I posited last week and also introduce the twin topic of the war on femininity, which is the natural consequence of tearing down traditional masculine values.

Let's begin with talking about the aforementioned war on femininity. I touched on it last week when I said that men and women are a binary system and that whatever affects one, invariably affects the other. Just like our men are trapped in the negative cultural loop of simultaneous judgment for their entitlement and the expectation to be more tolerant of the very people who are attacking them, so too are women trapped in a loop. Women today are stuck between the pressures of being mothers and also the expectations to be economically more productive. Which is correct? Can women have their career cake and eat with their children too?

An excellent case study on gender is occurring in Sweden, one of the most equal opportunity countries for minorities. The Swedish government places a high priority on family and has created financial buffers for new parents (men and women) that emphasize the benefits of raising children directly, not via third-party entities as is the case in the much of US. Most Swedish children don't experience a non-related caregiver until well after they enter primary school. Women in Sweden have the freedom to choose comfortably between a family or a career, and the majority are choosing family. In fact, the differences between the sexes in Sweden have grown greater, not less, due to the increased power of choice. Families are staying together, marriages are lasting, and men and women are not arguing as much as their US counterparts. Many have called this the Swedish Gender Paradox, but it applies to other (mainly Scandanavian countries) that have emphasized family cohesion over forced equality.

In order to make more sense of the Swedish Paradox, we need to understand what attributes men and women find attractive and what qualities mesh well to make stable families. Now you might be thinking that not all women are attracted to men and vice versa. But even in same-sexed relationships, one partner will exhibit more masculine traits while the other will be more feminine. Look at any same-sexed couple and try to find a counterargument. A polarity will always exist because it is this polarity that creates the magic of attraction and also sustains a functioning relationship. When this polarity becomes neutralized so too does the health of the pair. This gets back to the balance of yin and yang. Life thrives in the interchange of the two, not in their homogenization.

Men preferentially seek women based on their physical attractiveness. Fullstop. Sorry to burst everyone's bubble Biologically, physical appearance is an indication of fertility and good genetic pairing. Because of this, men statistically marry younger women. Conversely, women are attracted to (usually older) men of higher status, which is a proxy for their assertiveness, skills in making allies, and ability to provide. All of these are desirable traits for mates and future fathers. For these reasons, women typically desire powerful males, and males avoid more powerful females. It is only recently that this paradigm has begun to shift as women have chosen to enter the workforce in higher numbers and resources have become more equally distributed. But there is a catch - a wholesale destabilization of families, marriages, and social institutions.

When the traditional male-female dynamic flips one of two things can occur. Option one is a feminization of the male (as he usually takes a more domestic role in the family) and the equal and opposite increase of masculine energy in the female (as she takes on more work). This functions well in a select group of relationship types usually because they consciously choose this arrangement and their specific personalities and delegation of responsibilities are conducive to its working. But they are the exception, not the rule. Option two is a power struggle within the family unit. Males are under extreme pressure to achieve and advance. When a man is uncertain of his position in the power hierarchy, he will act aggressively or often not act at all. Incidentally, a woman who feels threatened or unsafe in a relationship will exert more dominance and can grow resentful of the ever-increasing demands