Daily Archives: October 14th, 2013

QotD on male identity

But the boy remembers, he always remembers, that once he was a child, close to women in powerlessness, in potential or actual humiliation, in danger from male aggression. The boy must build up a male identity, a fortressed castle with an impenetrable moat, so that he is inaccessible, so that he is invulnerable to the memory of his origins, to the sorrowful or enraged calls of the women he left behind. The boy, whatever his chosen style, turns martial in his masculinity, fierce, stubborn, rigid, humorless. His fear of men turns into aggression against women. He keeps the distance between himself and women unbridgeable, transforms women into the dreaded She, or, as Simone de Beauvoir expresses it, “the Other.” He learns to be a man—poet man, gangster man, professional religious man, rapist man, any kind of man—and the first rule of masculinity is that whatever he is, women are not. He calls his cowardice heroism, and he keeps women out—out of humanity (fabled Mankind), out of his sphere of activity whatever it is, out of all that is valued, rewarded, credible, out of the diminishing realm of his own capacity to care. Women must be kept out because wherever there are women, there is one haunting, vivid memory with numberless smothering tentacles: he is that child, powerless against the adult male, afraid of him, humiliated by him.

Boys become men to escape being victims by definition. Girls would become men if girls could, because it would mean freedom from: freedom from rape most of the time; freedom from continuous petty insult and violent devaluation of self; freedom from debilitating economic and emotional dependence on someone else; freedom from the male aggression channeled against women in intimacy and throughout the culture.

But male aggression is rapacious. It spills over, not accidentally, but purposefully. There is war. Older men create wars. Older men kill boys by generating and financing wars. Boys fight wars. Boys die in wars. Older men hate boys because boys still have the smell of women on them. War purifies, washes off the female stink. The blood of death, so hallowed, so celebrated, overcomes the blood of life, so abhorred, so defamed. The ones who survive the bloodbath will never again risk the empathy with women they experienced as children for fear of being found out and punished for good: killed this time by the male gangs, found in all spheres of life, that enforce the male code. The child is dead. The boy has become a man.

Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women

Found at the Bewilderness