When we talk about the harms of patriarchy, more often than not we couch it in terms of the impact on women’s lives. But the damage to men’s lives is also quite profound and something that needs to be deeply examined. In her four volume From Eve To Dawn: A History of Women in the World, Marilyn French writes,
The masculine mystique is precisely the same (as Friedan’s feminine mystique referring to the “discrepancy between the reality of women’s lives and their image of a proper woman’s life”): the image of men as motivated by a drive for power more important to them than life itself. to live by a mystique is to live in bad faith, to live a false life. For both sexes, trying to live out an image makes life miserable.
Reality is inconsequential to gender rules, which is why they are so rigid. The male myth promises men transendence of human vulnerabilities through domination…If a man has enough power, he is freed from the vulnerabilities and fears that haunt lesser men…It makes the fateful assumption that power is a good, ignoring the isolation, fear, and paranoia that follow in its wake. The masculine mystique transforms ends into means: people, relationships, pursuits, and abilities become mere objects to control. Even worthy enterprises are infected by the use to which they are put. Without other ends, satisfaction is impossible.
Volume 2, p. 99
Wise context for the harms that seem to be spiraling out of control all around us.
[…] Cross-posted from my new blog, Reclaiming Medusa. […]
Marilyn French’s work is seriously underrated. It’s great to see these extracts that make you want to run out and buy another copy of her book/s from the nearest bookstore.