Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Vanishing Ego

It is mans ego that enables him to rise to an occasion, to blaze his own trail, protect his territory, or conquer his own demons. It is the idea that he is the master of his domain that feeds his motivation and encourages his strength. It is a positive thing that a man has an ego that requires something of him, that demands it even. It is the man who has been stripped of his ego who flails and flounders, who floats and drifts through life broken, battered, and without resolve, like a rudderless raft at the mercy of a raging river. A man can be stripped of his ego quickly, or gradually by time and circumstances. He can be scarred, compromised or diminished by a parent, by drugs, alcohol, religion, social conditioning, a toxic spouse, or a combination of any of the above.

A disinterested parent can condition a boy to feel worthless, restricting development of his, otherwise, burgeoning ego. A domineering parent can crush his fragile ego like a soda can under the tires of a two-ton truck, delaying a healthy transition into adolescence, and adulthood. Drugs can cause a teen-ager, or a man, to turn inward to the point of losing himself within himself, leaving his ego lost in its own darkness, with only the remnants of a former motivation to cling to. Alcohol can drown a man’s ego like a crocodile drowns a water buffalo in an African river. Religion can strip the ego from a man like a raging bull steals the dignity from a matador as the man stumbles, wounded, compromised and disoriented, around the ring, vulnerable to moves of ferocious beauty, hooves of danger, and, ultimately, the horns of death.

Social conditioning can eventually cause a man to deny his own strength, and to doubt his own value. When he’s seen enough idiot males in enough idiot sit-coms being pummeled and emasculated by smart and domineering women, and when he’s seen enough ‘tough ladies’ beating up enough average men in enough crime dramas and action movies, he’s going to begin being compromised in the same way he was marginalized and invalidated by the women’s movement back in the 70’s. Only this new destruction of the male ego is being perpetrated upon a new generation of men, men who have already been raised to value, and appreciate women. Evidently, it is not enough; they must also be stripped of their egos, and of their dignity. And the cycle perpetuates itself.

A toxic relationship can poison a man’s ego, suffocating him slowly until his lungs collapse, until the only options he is left with are death or surrender. In such a relationship, when a man attempts to assert himself as a man, he is beaten down with words, or hostility, and denied access to love. The women’s movement of the 70’s practiced, either by coincidence or design, a scorched earth policy, leaving no male sympathizer un-bruised, the supporters, the boyfriends, and the husbands alike. They were all victimized by the insensitive and unsympathetic aggression of the budding feminist collective. The only men who were spared the damage were (big surprise) the actual male chauvinist pigs, the misogynists, if you will. Those guys didn’t care enough to be effected.

As an outgrowth of the movement, already considerate men began getting sensitivity training from increasingly insensitive women. They began learning how to become girlfriends, rather than husbands, to their wives. They began the accelerated process of losing their egos, of compromising their maleness, of subjugating themselves to a socio-political movement. As the men were becoming what the women were demanding them to be, the women began to lose respect for the men and turned to each other for love, for their primary relationships, and for companionship. The men, as they were now conditioned to do, followed their lead and also turned to one another for companionship, and sex. Both sexes realized ‘wow, this is a lot easier than trying to relate to the opposite sex’. And all of a sudden everybody was gay from birth. For the women, being gay enabled them to usurp, and adopt, the male egos that they had a hand in surgically extracting from the men; and for the men, now no longer a threat to the women, being gay enabled them to be ‘best friends’ with women, to be included in the private lives of females, while, at the same time, being able to indulge themselves in all the sex they wanted with other males, ‘any time, any place’ kind of thing. Worked for everybody.

What I find disconcerting is that, rather than doing the necessary psychological work to understand the reasons for the choices they were making, and to understand the implications of feeding a social movement that those coming up behind them will be influenced and affected by, so many choose acquiesce to the illusion of OK-ness rather than to embrace the reality of their own conflicted predicament. I’m not talking about a sexual identity conflict, but of a pain/anger/hostility/acceptance/forgiveness process, leading, ultimately, to a reconciliation with the past. In its absence, the next generation will be faced with the same agenda, only more advanced, and they will eventually have to do the hard work that their parents circumvented in their reluctance to look honestly at themselves.

Now, don’t everybody get your BVD’s (or panties) in a bunch over this commentary. It is not an accusation, it is not a judgment of you, and it is not a sociological doctrine to be taught to your children in the primary grades. It is my observation. I was there. It is what I saw. And much of it is what I see today. Although the angry feminism of the 70’s has now transformed itself into what I now call ‘spiritual feminism’, it is still the same feminism, but with a knowing kind of self-righteous smirk. It continues to emasculate men, and young men in particular, by leading them into the egoless realms, and domains, of ‘the new spirituality’. Yoga is at the forefront of this charade, with bogus psychobabble philosophies, compliance doctrines, dependence psychologies, and political correctness leading our young men along like lambs to the proverbial slaughter.

If you were there in the 70’s, maybe you saw something different. In which case, maybe you could write to me about that. And if you weren’t there, maybe you’ve at least read the studies that have reached different conclusions than mine, the ones that were done by those same women, now with P.H.D.’s, who, by the way, ended up living in close personal relationships with one another after they lost their husbands. Collateral damage. Choose your own conclusion.

A feminist, or feminist group, put out a bumper sticker many years ago that narcissistically proclaimed “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”. They later introduced the “Size DOES matter” theme as a means of further emasculating any man with an already fragile ego. That about sums it up.

After seeing the devastation that has been inflicted upon men over the years, I say
“Men without egos are like spiritual feminists without Oprah”. The difference is we can recover our egos by disassociating ourselves from the feminist agenda, but they will always need another Oprah, or a Suze Orman to tell them what to do, or even another, innocuous, Elizabeth Gilbert to tell them how to feel. A man with his ego intact does not need anybody to lead him around by the proverbial nose. He follows the beat of his own drum.

My assessment is not about any individual. I don’t make judgments about individuals, their personal choices, lifestyles, or preferences. I observe culture and mentally record my observations. I know what I see. It is when a cultural dynamic affects and influences people, and young people in particular, that I feel the need to define the dynamic for those same people flirting on and around its fringes. In describing any such dynamic, somebody’s feelings are going to be hurt. It is not now, nor is it ever my intention, for that to happen. Those men and women, many of whom I love, who are involved in perpetuating a movement I may give voice against, already know that it is possible to separate a person from a particular consciousness. They have, in fact, shown that themselves by their love for me. I hope they can regard my love for them as equally valid.

Each of us, as individuals, are adrift on the same current, but upon our own raft. It’s just that some have built into their rafts more consciously reliable rudders.