Beliefnet
A Pagan's Blog

There has been a lot of  good stuff written about the Goddess,
Goddesses, and the Divine Feminine,. 
The Wiccan Goddess is first among equals in traditional Wiccan circles.,
and in my view, should be.  Certainly
She has been the most important influence in my own life.  I have even recently completed a book
manuscript dealing with some of these themes.

 


By comparison, there has been
little attention paid to the Divine Masculine, the God, or male Gods as
male.  There are two good reasons
for this lack, but while they are good reasons why the Goddess has received the
most attention until now, I think it s time to give more attention to the
Divine Masculine.  The discussions
over Robert Bly, the men’s movement, sweat lodges and “muscular” spirituality
in some comments appearing in the preceding post have tipped me into entering
these perilous waters.

Speaking as a man who is pretty
non-sexist, the images of masculinity that women author/priestesses have put
usually forward in their writings have been pretty unappealing.  They are OK, but nothing to get excited
about.  I think most men would
agree.

More troubling, little distinction
seems to be made between men with traditionally one sided views of their
maleness, and the dominator types who see all relationships in terms of who is
on top.  There are many of the
former who are not only dominated, they honor the feminine and family responsibilities,
but look to those qualities in their wives and partners far more than in
themselves.  They do not denigrate
the feminine.

Our society is developing an
attractive image of strong creative and loving women. It is not developing an
attractive image of men strong enough not to be threatened by such women, but
who are still men rather than some unisex vision that does not appeal to many
women or men.

Into this void step the
pathological characters who define their ‘manhood’ by its NOT being feminine in
any sense.  These usually right
wing folks, some religious who worship a god whom rese,bles an abusive and
murderous husband, or secularists who fantasize that they will lead great wars
to make us an empire.  These guys
are exposed as pathological when we look at the men who serve as their role
models: Ronald Reagan (the Gipper), Fred Thompson, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson,
John Wayne, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator).  All are distinguished by playing pretend heroes, never hearing a shot fired that might hurt
them (Wayne was the only male star of his generation who did NOT serve his
country and risk his life) and entering every ‘fight’ knowing they were going
to win, and get handsomely paid while doing so.  They are honored for the roles they played as actors.

Reagan and Schwarzenegger achieved
a lot as individuals, rising from poverty and obscurity to become politically
powerful leaders.  But they are
honored as much or more for the pretend characters they played than the real
accomplishments they achieved on the way up.  It’s weird until you realize that the right wing image of
manhood is a fantasy modeled in part on a brutal deity and for the rest on a
rejection of the feminine.  Thus
most Republican legislators do not think military contractors should be
penalized for aiding gang rape among their employees, and so vote against
punishing rape
in a company that condones it.

Thus major ‘conservative’ figures such as John
Derbyshire of National Review can
wistfully imagine a world where women cannot vote as better than today’s.  Thus these pathetic people’s eagerness
for
other people to fight wars
all over the place.

Against this degeneration stands
the sensitive male always careful of others’ feelings, always careful to know
his place. Yuck.

For many years I myself wondered
just what was so wonderful about maleness other than our contribution to
reproduction.  There was no very
available positive image of strong masculinity available in our society.  Happily for me, a powerful experience
with Cernnunos ended my confusion, though I am still striving to live closer to
what he showed me.  But in doing so
hHe made more obvious the severe lack of a vision of healthy maleness that
could attract a great many men.

These are complex issues, and even a series of blog posts
cannot do it justice, but let me leave this musing with two thoughts.  On balance a woman knows her most
common and very valuable role in the world is deeply connected to its
biological rhythms, especially to giving birth.  In traditional societies a girl becomes a woman,  and is honored for it, with her first
menses.

Little boys become men by
undergoing long and often complex and painful initiations.  Even here, many men will say their time
in the military “made a man out of me.” 
I doubt if any woman in the Service ever said it made a woman out of
her.  I am reminded of Medea’s
words in Euripides: “I had rather stand my ground three times among

the shields than face a childbirth once.”     

I will return to this Euripides’
point, but the point of this musing is that men’s identity must be more earned
in their own and society’s eyes than a woman’s must in hers and in
society’s.  This means it is more
insecure, and much flows from that. 
I think this is one issue that fantasies of politically correct unisexuality 
so popular on the left will never be able to address.

That’s the first thought.

The second is to quote from Harvey
Mansfield, a modern pathological male writing on “Manliness” and then recount a
conversation I had with a Crow Indian, whom I first met when he returned home
from an elk hunt and laid his rifle down on the table in front of where I was
sitting.  I think he would be
qualified to be called “manly.”

Mansfied’s book Manliness   is rife with put downs on women as inferior to manly
men.  As he put it, a manly man
must be able to “look a woman in the eye and tell her that she is inferior in
important respects.”  His chivalry
observes the mask of equality and respect, but as he puts it, this is ” the
sort of equality that might result from being superior at home if inferior at
work.”  Having rea the entire
book, it is even worse than this, but not worth the pixels to explain farther
here
.

My young Crow acquaintance had
danced, and continues to dance, the Sun Dance. He does it in the traditional way, with skewers pushed through the skin of his
chest, attached to ropes that are tied to a pole at the lodge’s center.  Other – I do not know whether he has
done so – drag a buffalo skull behind them as the dance.  The skull is attached to the dancer’s
back, again by a rope and skewer. 
This would qualify as a “muscular” form of spirituality if anything
can.  He told me “We do this to give of our bodies and
pain to serve our community the way women do in child birth.” He did not look
down on women’s work, although he distinguished it from his own.

The pathological masculinity of those praising ‘manliness’ today
is as far from the real thing as the gelded masculinity so often praised in
politically correct circles.  And
because so many men are turned off by the gelded image, they are left with the
infantile ramblings and incoherent puffings of right wingers to give them a
sense of their value as men.  It is
tragic.

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