Culturalism

The False Stoic Man

As a child, I had the tendency to become very emotional over certain matters. I never fully understood this assembly of feelings, but quickly learned it must be kept under guard. After all, men should be strong and silent. So I started tightening up, refused to showcase what I felt, and started being typecast as “stoic.” Not much was improved, but the word had a distinct comfort to it. Gone were the moments of frustration or embarrassment, in their place the unquestioning image forged by one who could simply absorb what he experienced and let the river pass without becoming too much involved. Peace, I suppose.

If only. What society likes to describe as the male stoic ideal remains far from those actual principles ingrained within classical philosophical texts like Meditations. Our present model is merely a way to force men into distracting themselves, both from any underlying nature, and their own capacity to develop emotionally.

While there is little benefit to mucking about in tears all day, binding up feelings within a sack to save face merely creates issues that flare out in other regards. Some have tried to explain away the predominance of the stoic concept in human cultures by arguing it can be a check on male propensity for violence. Of course suppression hardly helps the situation; guys are more inclined to “snap” rather than channel that drive in combat sports or just warfare. In addition, males who crack down on what they feel in response to the loss of a loved one or experiencing a tragedy are only leaving countless sensations unexplained and worsening their mental state.

Even public expressions of speech by men must be carefully curdled. We like to mock male leaders from the 1930s for shrill orations in front of mesmerized throngs, because they demonstrate a lack of control and balance. The preference is for the liberal professor stereotype of Barack Obama, or perhaps some old clown who isn’t aware of the current year. Consequence of deviation from the norm means the Howard Dean Effect, where becoming emotional and hoarse means the end of a national campaign.

Our regimented defense of this cordon sanitaire against male emotion can hardly be seen as a success. Scholars usually conclude women have a higher emotional intelligence and are better-adapted to the modern service economy precisely due to their ease with human expression. There is comparatively little social insistence on females to hide what they feel, hence the apparent advantage, because they grow up better understanding the sentiments of others. Furthermore, browbeating boys to shelter what they have inside cringes in the shadow of an extremely high suicide rate. Are the two connected? Can they somehow not be?

No other hill should be the start of a movement for social change. If we are to continue embracing modernity and techno-futurism, the archaic treatment of male emotions must cease. Lives do indeed depend upon it.  

Culturalism · Self-Improvement

A New Year’s Mission

In real life, which is sometimes less believable than the internet, I tend to dispense with formalities and grandiose declarations. If I have a goal, it gets written on a scrap of paper, which will ultimately be shredded or burnt, because the vehicle itself is unimportant. What matters is my personal drive to complete the requisite objective, not how ceremoniously it was announced. This may be the fault of seeing far too many people over the years making bombastic commitments about changing their lives, only to abandon the cause after life gets in the way. Nevertheless, it works.

Except this year is different. No, I still refuse to outline some progressive scheme of self-betterment which can hopefully satisfy the local bar’s social circle long enough to sound relevant. The thought of such a process remains toxic to my senses. Instead, I am determined to continue forging a path based more on empathy for others. It is almost certain that the word elicits a clichéd eye roll from readers, yet I advise taking a pause. What I mean by empathy is challenging oneself to sincerely understand the position and life experiences of others, as opposed to either dismissing outright or mindlessly groveling before their interests.

The mere prospect of this path does not come easy to me. As a child, I concluded early on that the world had no respect for exhibitions of emotion or vulnerability, particularly from a man. Even the souls who claimed to have sympathy for such expressions would be quick to document and use them against others, typically in pursuit of personal aggrandizement. Tearing up as a boy was social suicide, just like recognizing the innate injustice of a system made you a pathetic victim. A superior approach meant being unmoved, resolute, and condescending, all traits of the “real” man.

Satisfying as these proclivities might be in the short-term, they are immensely destructive when applied across the span of life, and even more so in society. Resorting to hazing and mockery of others serves to mask genuine corruption infecting a system, whether between individuals or behind an organization’s doors. Complaining about a serious problem like manipulation or even abuse becomes the basis for a counterattack which labels the honest observer as a poisonous barnacle likely to destroy the ship. “Shut up and do what you’re told” begins to prevail, and anything else tastes of crime.

On a macro level, the mentality of refusing to comprehend other outlooks produces disastrous outcomes in national policy. Some years back, I would have giddily jumped on the bandwagon to condemn welfare users without even considering their individual status or backgrounds, which are less disdainful than many would believe. I did so because to defend them would indicate weakness or laziness, both threats to the meritocratic order we all subconsciously adhere to. Providing those people were a blurry monolith of greed offered up by shock jocks and politicians, they were incredibly easy to write-off as entirely worthless from a social standpoint.

We can see a similar dynamic inherent to issues like migration. Liberals clamor for acceptance of higher numbers in the name of human rights or decency, while seldom stopping to seriously consider how their own consumerist habits and social polices destroy traditional communities once operating on subsistence practices, if with less progressiveness than the leftist desires. Conservatives on the opposite agitate for walls and moratoriums, while also ignoring the unpleasant facts of U.S. involvement in destabilizing southern countries through the drug war and anti-leftist warfare. Unfortunately, the way we go about swiftly cordoning and demonizing rational analysis of any situation allows these illogical placeholders to not only remain, but grow stronger than before. Fighting back requires an open mind, something hardly valued in the days of now.  

Much as I may not have control over the world, nothing prevents me from demanding higher personal standards in this regard. Thus my continuing mission for 2021 will be to examine more of what I disagree with, and strive to at least know where and why others have formulated their own biases or grievances, even if my initial reaction would normally be to wave them off. It stands to be a fascinating adventure.

Will you join?