THE MASCULINITY CONSPIRACY

03: Sexuality cont’d

with 6 comments

But of course it would be rather unreasonable of me to have The Problem section simply say, “go identify the problems for yourself,” even if that is ultimately the best thing to do. I need to give you The-Problem-According-to-Gelfer, right? Well, here it is: the fundamental problem with both Lawlor and Deida is their insistence on reality being defined by polar opposites. This is another one of those arguments along the lines of “look, here’s something I’ve identified that has been going on for a very long time, therefore it is true.”

Polar thinking has been going on for so long that it has become highly naturalized and “intuitive”: light/dark, positive/negative, up/down, man/woman. But because polarity is a “fact” of nature in some circumstances, it does not mean it is a fact of nature in all circumstances. Magnetism is a nice example of what’s going on here. A magnet has a north and a south pole and, depending on circumstance, will either repel or attract. Magnetism as a metaphor has historically been applied to sexual attraction, but somewhere along the line its metaphorical truth has been confused with its literal truth (this is just one among countless types of polar thinking).

So, via this metaphorical-literal shift we then take it as fact that men (one pole) are attracted to women (another pole), or that a fiery person (one pole) is attracted to a cool person (another pole), and so on. But I would argue the anecdotal “evidence” for this simply speaks to our conditioning in the conspiracy, not any natural “truth.” Once the conspiracy is exposed, all people are open to sexual relations with all people to varying degrees (men and women alike, of all characteristics): some of these sexual relations will be acted upon, others will only ever be contemplated, depending on the practical requirements of any given situation. I’ll unpack this further in The Solutions section.

This polar thinking is not just about the types of people who are attracted to each other (via permutations of men/women, gay/straight, fiery/cool, or whatever), but the values and characteristics that are assigned to “masculine” and “feminine.” Remember, Lawlor lists a whole bunch of these characteristics, following on from the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Deida does something similar with his construction of what defines masculine and feminine “energies.” But again, there is no real evidence for any of this: it is largely down to an arbitrary allocation of values into polar camps. Honestly, tell me with a straight face: why are the values suggested by the words “time/history, intellectual, explicit, analytic, linear, sequential, focal, logical, causal, argument and perfection” masculine? Not only that, why are feminine values the polar opposite? Because polar opposites are natural? And the moon is eating the sun… There are two important things to keep in mind as we consider this issue: complementarity, and how we go about maintaining those values in an appropriate way.

CONTINUE >>

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Written by Joseph Gelfer

August 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I am not familiar with Lawlor but have read Deida and others in the men’s movement talking on this subject. It is striking though how Lawlor misappropriates Australian aboriginal culture not understanding their metaphorical and catagorical language systems that construct a particular way of seeing “masculine” and “feminine” just as David Dieda misappropriates Tantric Hindu metaphors with out much of an understanding of the sociological functions of male and female roles in that culture either. Their use of an “other” culture is at once a Romantic device believing “otherness” has the missing link that Western man has lost. But also it creates a sort irrefutable tendency, because most of the men reading these book would be “western” they will see these things as “facts”, and not argue with it. Deida does not exactly write and cite in a scholarly fashion. It is indeed odd that if Lawlor and Deida believe that the analytic and the intellect are “masculine” why do they exhibit such poor analytic and intellectual skills?

    Matt

    November 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm

  2. My question is why does he think that men invented the alphabet? It can be equally as plausible to say that men have controlled literacy like they went on to control agriculture, which is almost universally recognized to have its roots in women’s horticultural inventions. Women may have invented it and then lost control over it and early writings. Or, it may have arisen by a collaborative effort with people of different sexes.

    I would recommend watching Gwyn Dyer’s film “God’s Of Our Father’s” for an interesting take on power and patriarchy.

    prairienymph

    November 9, 2010 at 4:17 am

  3. I am with you so far but I would encourage you to look at Leonard Shlain and his two (seminal, in my mind) books on gender – “The Alphabet vs. The Goddess” and “Sex, Time, and Power”.

    In the former he makes an impressive case that alphabetic literacy lowers the status of women in the cultures where it arises and “feminine” values fall out of favor.

    In the latter he raises the question about human females being chronic in their lack of capacity to keep iron in their bodies – menstruation, breastfeeding, menopause etc. No other animal has such a feature. Why would this disadvantageous trait stay around? Is there some hidden benefit? Shlain makes the case that menstruation aligned with lunar cycles gave women a unique knowledge about time, death and other factors making some qualities “feminine”. He also makes some interesting insights into “masculine” qualities.

    Shlain is a very unique thinker and I think offers some depth of insight here. I’m not done with this chapter but I think Deida is far superior to Lawlor though hardly the final word on the subject. That said I feel that he has much to offer. But I’m still reading!

    matthew

    August 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm


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