I want to start with an exercise, one that is going to put a slightly different spin on reality. It’s a very small investment of effort and time. There’s no need here to meditate in an Indian ashram, or guzzle some psychedelic brew in the Amazonian rainforest. It takes five minutes, and you can do it at home for free. We’re going to look through the looking glass, quite literally.
Go and find a mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror closely for a full five minutes. Look first into your eyes, notice their color and pattern. See the imperfections in your skin, the asymmetry to some parts of your face. Twitch your nose, and have a think about how that thought signal reaches your nose, and that your intention to twitch seems almost unrelated to the act itself. Contemplate the idea that it is the person in the mirror who moves through the world and that everyone sees and interacts with, not you. Notice that there is an increasingly large disconnect between who you feel you are and the person in the mirror, a distance between the two yous that is difficult to articulate in words. Now imagine that gap between the mirror and every man in the world alive right now. That’s a lot of gaps, right? Now imagine that gap for every man who has ever lived. That’s a lot of disconnect, a vast space between men and the men in the mirror. This is the space we’re going to navigate in this book. It’s in this space of disconnect that we can locate the Masculinity Conspiracy. But what exactly is the Masculinity Conspiracy? A brief definition of terms is in order.