Male Virtue -What it Really Means to Many Men
Dearest readers, you would have noticed that yikici was closed yesterday in order to make a protest against SOPA & PIPA; eventhough we are not based in the States, we felt we needed make a stand and hence the silence was observed until 11:11 GMT today; we hope our endevours are listened and taken seriously. Now, let’s get back to todays post; Patrick Tulley is back with another engaging article; therefore, I will stop my chatter here and let you enjoy the article as it should be.
Thursday’s Topical Tête-à-Tête: Male Virtue and What it Really Means to Many Men
I blogged recently on a subject regarding male power. In that blog I briefly explained some of my feelings around the subject, but I promised to return when I felt I had made some better philosophical conclusions. I’ve done a lot of rethinking on this subject since then and felt it was a good opportunity to share them with you. This will be the first part of two blogs on this topic.
An interesting aside story from the BBC came from the recent sinking of the Costa Concordia off Italian waters regarding the rules of disembarking a sinking ship. They discussed how relevant it was these days that women and children should go first when escaping a sinking ship. It was clear that a number of passengers, notably men themselves that were shocked by the apparent ignorance by certain men of such a mandate, as they rushed to get off the ship. Which raises an interesting question how important is it. Are men of lesser value than that of women and children? Perhaps they are, let’s explore the reasoning behind this. Before we do, I think I’m going to drop the children part for now. Simply because children are not at a cognitive stage to necessarily help themselves and require adults, whether they be men or women to help them in an emergency.
Something I always grew up with as a boy into a man, was that women were more fragile than men. That as boys we should always be more sensitive to a girls needs. If I ever questioned this thought I frankly don’t recall, since I generally just accepted it. I recall a love letter that was snatched off me by a girl in my class and subsequently handed to my teacher. My teacher was then to hand in my missive to the girls teacher as a means to personally delivering it to her when she returned to school. Of course, before this was agreed, it was felt necessary to read out my short message in front of her whole class, with many of my own class in tow behind my own teacher. I of course remained in my seat back in my own classroom alone, feeling distinctly humiliated and looking back now fairly angry too. I was later then forced to deliver a register to the same class. An experience I don’t recall much pleasure with at all. The teacher was to tell the girls in the class that they were to avoid boys like me, because boys say a lot in a letter but often delivered less in person. I look back on that incidence when I was 12 with complete horror now, but realise that for the most part this is a very real experience for most men and boys. Being humiliated for expressing feelings and desires is quite the norm in our society. I often wonder whether it had been that girls letter written for me, whether she would have got the same treatment. Perhaps so, in this particular situation, but who knows? What is clear is that my teacher’s intent was to humiliate me. The message to me was very clear, keep your feelings inside, don’t ever show them to anyone. In fact not only that, but those feelings you have are overly dramatic, so they don’t count as real feelings at all.
So it’s from here on in that the boy grows into a man and accepts this explanation for his tainted emotions. He is lambasted for almost all the feelings he has including the most powerful one, that of sex. Oh boy, when puberty comes, does it come (scuse pun). This was only a subject that boys could ever discuss amongst themselves under hollowed whispers in a noisy playground. We learnt only too quickly that our natural urges were in fact something we had to protect women from. That to discuss them openly was to be deviant by our own male natures. This was further exacerbated when we would then be accused later as men by some of the worst feminist lobbies of being rapists by default or at least one in waiting. All this just confused our place as men and so often didn’t really know how we were meant to act around women. Often leaving many young men entirely petrified of a woman’s presence.
So what of virtue then? Well in past ages of course we all lived in small tribes scratching a living from the earth around us, constantly in danger of predators, dying of tooth decay. In this scenario it was understandable that women came first. Since losing a woman meant losing a future child bearer. In this situation men were less important of course. Since if you lost all your child bearing women left a distinct possibility of extinction of the tribe. So in evolutionary terms women coming first made a lot of sense. However, now there are six billion of us now, the fear of extinction is farcical and no longer a risk whatsoever. Both men and women are abundant throughout the world.
So when as a man I put a woman before myself, which I have done most of my life. I have done so because I considered it a virtuous act. That my subservience as a man to a woman was a good thing. That indeed her needs were far greater than my own. This is clearly nonsense and only dawned on me recently. The virtue attached to this belief is in many senses the ‘pay off’ that men get for doing it. We get to feel good about ourselves by rejecting our own needs in favour to that of a woman’s. People admire us as heroic or un-self serving. This is why I still struggle convincing many men of this themselves. They are so convinced by the virtue that they rarely see it as a cultural artefact. They are by far the harder to convince at times. They will even get angry and upset at the very idea. The only theory I have for this and I think it’s a good one too. The moment you strip men of this duty to women, is the moment you strip them of all their virtue. Men have been so well trained to forget their own needs and desires that they will defend their subservience to the bitter end. We have been so long told that our desires and feeling are either bad or irrelevant that we have believed them. So to strip a man of this one virtue is to leave many men stranded psychologically.
I will leave you with an interesting video by the lady that actually enlightened me to this false male virtue. Although she actually doesn’t really mention virtue itself, but I think you will start to understand where I picked up this idea from what she does say. Anyway, I want to discuss this topic a little further in future, since I find it a simply fascinating subject and one that philosophy has a lot to say about I’m quite sure.
Copyright © Patrick Tulley 2011-2012. All Rights Reserved.
Patrick, thank you for another thought-provoking article; it is interesting to disect this particular topic from this angle; I am certain readers will have views on this matter. I do too; but I will use the comment box below to express my views.
As you already know, thoughts and comments are encouraged as always -even if it is just a word -as ‘all good discussions start with just one word‘.
If there is a topic you would like me to look into and explore in my own yikici-kind-of-way then please feel free to leave a suggestion in the comment box below or for those of you who are a wee bit shy drop me a line via my contact page or email me at admin[at]yikici[dot]co[dot]uk
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yikici will be back on Sunday with a ROW80 update; until then have a glorious few days…
About the author: I am primarily a philosopher and an amateur writer but also have been a painter and sculptor in the past. Since philosophy is my preferred interest, it is always something I rigorously apply to all my thinking and writing. Philosophy has been a wonderful and fulfilling part of my life; it’s often been a very misunderstood subject -which I hope to discuss in future posts. Read more from this author