Aggrieved Entitlement and Evolved Masculinity
Let’s face it, together.
Aggrieved Entitlement is a term I picked up from Michael Kimmel. It is the existential state of fear about having my ‘rightful place’ as a man questioned … challenged … deconstructed. Aggrieved entitlement is being told ‘No’ when the prevailing mythos of the culture has taught that I have a ‘right’ to something because of my birth (as male, as white, straight, educated, able-bodied … the list goes on).
Because men are not programmed to allow fear or to process grief, sometimes we compress it … this loss of meaning and power … into rage, violence, aggression, demonization of ‘other.’ The compression will find an outlet. It seems beyond ‘phobia’ or ‘ism,’ though it will often be tagged as such. We must face as a society that we PROGRAM men to be this way. Toxic masculine codes, deeply embedded in the soul of our nation, are breaking us.
And as Steven Barnes reminded me recently, not just masculinity. The [imposed] duality of gender, masculine and feminine, are two sides of the same complex coin. The repression of femininity into its toxic shadow also hurts us in profound ways: materiality turned to objectification and self-loathing, sensuality & self expression turned to manipulation, power compressed into toxic shaming, fear of violent masculinity turned to the repression of emotional expression. The inability of our society to alchemize the complexity of gender leads us to where we are right now, standing on a fault line that is sending wave after wave of fracturing energy through our culture.
For men, constant behavioral reinforcement of the masculine mask of invulnerability inevitably leads to what we see … mass killing. Mass killing of LGBTQ people. Mass killing of brown skinned people. Of women and children. Mass killing through suicide, drug addiction, eating and drinking ourselves to death.
Mass killing through our nihilistic urge to extinction.
100%. This is NOT about MEN. I love men. I have dedicated my life to working with men. This is about the cultural and systemic construct called Masculinity. Toxic shadows of once sacred gifts that have long been infused into masculinity are intimately, economically, and politically tied to systemic oppression, violence, and destruction. In the past there was no movement or population large enough to say ‘No’ to the terror inflicted.
Today, the urge to peace and equity has created a critical mass. The violating power of masculinity is now being deconstructed. And those of us that feel this pressure have many choices we can make. Some men explode, some implode. Either way, they do great harm. Some men will disappear, their flame extinguished. I see them every day, hollow men trapped in a trance of transactions marching toward the grave. I do not expect that this will change soon. And yet progress toward a more just future will continue.
In this evolutionary time, many men will rise to the challenge. Many men are rising right now, even as I write. The crucible of this shift will reveal the strongest and most passionately nurturing men this planet has ever seen. There are so many beautiful and good and strong characteristics to be honed and burnished in men – so much potential for fulfilling a new role as partners in the creation of a new culture.
I follow a longing, an urge to beauty and connection, wildness and order.
The good news is that WE have the power to change the culture. Men – come stand with me and so many others. Come enter the dark path to your soul. What blinding brilliance you will find in that dark cave … I could try and tell you, but my words would fail.