The Gentlemen Adventurer on Men – Pt 6

Posted on April 6, 2010 by

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In which we return to our regularly scheduled broadcasts, and the Gentleman Adventurer uses the word milquetoast.

Raising the Barbarian

So religion and the family are essential for the socialization of men, and thus, for the very existence of civilization. But even given the existence of both of these institutions, there is still a whole mountain of difficulties to be surmounted. A boy is a barbarian, yes, but he must learn to be a man – man in the sense of matured masculinity. Throughout the history of the human race, there has always been a sense that this masculinity had to be imparted to a boy by someone else. The idea of a coming of age ritual for boys is nearly universal. From the bar-mitzvah to the Spartan krypteia, most societies have some kind of ceremonial engine for symbolically handing down the rite of manhood to the next generation.

It is no accident that these ceremonies are always presided over by the boy’s father, or by another male authority figure. Masculinity can only be bestowed by other masculinity. Understanding this truth is of critical importance if we are to raise our own Barbarians.

As a boy grows, he has a conscious or unconscious need to have his masculinity affirmed or imparted to him from someone. The male tendency is to affiliate upwards – that is why we “kiss up” to our bosses – and so the first place he will seek this affirmation is from his father. If his father is absent, distant, or himself unmanly, the boy has to look elsewhere.

Getting affirmation from his father is ideal and it is the way that thing were intended to be. If he can find another male authority figure who will invest in him, it is almost as good. Psychologists have determined that men who grow up under strict – even controlling – disciplinarians tend to be the most assertive, emotionally-balanced adults. This is because they understand the meaning of responsibility and the laws of cause and effect. Every action has a consequence, and no one – not your parents, not society – is obliged to pay for the mistakes that you make.

In essence this is what it means for a male to have his masculinity affirmed. It means that someone has placed their confidence in him. He has been considered responsible and worthy of someone’s trust. He can handle it. He can be Kipling’s “thousandth man.”  But as hinted at before, it won’t do for this affirmation to come from just anybody. Masculinity can only truly be bestowed by other masculinity.

Keep in mind, though that the masculinization of a male is necessary to, but separate from his socialization (taming). It is quite possible for a male to be manly and assertive in all the worst areas. On the other hand, a milquetoast or coward can never be appropriately socialized because he will always be terrified of the responsibility that it entails.

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Posted in: food for thought