Now that women have finally, and officially, been approved for combat roles in the USA, the Winnowing of Modern Man is now complete — and the dissolution of that manly myth is long overdue. The harsh and prosecutorial role of men in the history of the world has been to control and temper the overwhelming power of the female form using religion, laws and politics as cudgels for behavior correction. The forever stain on humankind is the trans-vaginal wand, “clean” women, and forced separation during menses because a woman is considered too filthy to share a bed with her husband as she bleeds.
All of these efforts to bind our women have failed, or are bound to fail, because they are inhuman punishments for contexts that are not choices, but mandates. The Inhuman Test is a simple one: Just spin around the test to the opposite sex and see if the result is ridiculous and outrageous.
No man would accept any wand near his prostate to check for the forced viability of his sperm.
No man would want to be banned from the marital bed for a nocturnal emission.
No man would accept being barred from the field of combat because of his DNA.
Now we are left with facing the hauntings of our past. How can we begin to explain to those who come after us why we refused to let women vote or divorce or own their decisions that regulated their bodies? Women tend to leave women alone when it comes to life choices, but men tend to want to control men and, especially, another man’s woman.
That need to control is born of anger and fear. Forget penis envy. Men have birth envy. The power to create another person is incredibly impressive, and as science rises and religious dogma declines, one day women will not need a man just to have a baby, and when that happens, the gender power shift will be complete.
Women will own the world because they are the more compassionate and comprehensive gender. Women can do it all, because they have no choice but to do it all. I hate to admit it, but men are, and pretty much always have been, convenient, but not necessary, appendages to successful living — and that’s why so many men tend to cling to their mothers while silently suffering in fear of their wives. Manliness is, perhaps, just an easy label for passive-aggressiveness.
I read something a while ago that tried to explain the family dynamic in clear and unsettling terms. A daughter’s parents stick with her forever, and her children become their children, while a son’s parents only see his wife as itinerant, replaceable, and unnecessary. If there are children to be had in the marriage, their welfare ultimately falls to their son’s wife because he can always remarry and have many more children with many other women. Daughters have a half-life for childbirth while sons can procreate for decades. The limited window for a daughter to create children is what binds her harder to her family than her husband’s to his.
Of course, there are variations on that argument, but in its widest, and most general scape, there is probably some truth in that unconfessed, but intentional, reality. I once had a female student who argued in class that when a man and woman marry, it is the husband who must leave his mother and — “like an egg” — become one with his new wife’s family. The young male students in the class appeared horrified by that hard reality waiting to hit them in the future.