Previous section: “Feelings of Disappointment“
Today’s section from Descending into War, Descending into Contempt, pp. 14-17:
Feelings of Emasculation
Relationships require validation of all the participants. The relationships, whether between two people or many nations, establish frameworks in which people can create their lives. Validation comes from feeling secure in the relationships.
The feeling of security is very important to men and women. It enables them to work towards common goals—goals that fulfill expectations and aspirations. When security is lacking in relationships, people experience conflict. They can also experience instability, fear, and abandonment. Insecurity in relationships, no matter the size of the relationships—in a marriage, in a business partnership, or in negotiations with comparably situated people (negotiations between businesses, organizations, or nations)—affects feelings particular to men.
Men who feel powerful in negotiations in which the other side(s) feels powerless, temporarily feel satisfied, but experience insecurity due to recognition that the “winning” brings with it the mistrust of the other side(s). For the “powerful”, the sense of domination creates an atmosphere of neverending control that must be maintained; otherwise, winning will be lost, and this responsibility to be powerful emasculates them through self-inflicted castigation. Winning appears to be the goal, but in actuality, winning places the powerful in a prison of neverending doubts and posturing.
Men who feel powerless in negotiations develop protective shells around themselves that allow them to acquiesce or rationalize their inability to prevail. These shells are helpful in handling loss, but they don’t alleviate feelings of emasculation. The feelings of emasculation can cause withdrawal, depression, and desire for revenge.
Powerlessness in negotiations destabilizes society, because all those affected are surrounded by its effects on the men. Whether the powerlessness produces withdrawal, depression, or desire for revenge, these feelings simmer inside and influence actions. Powerlessness can create large reprisals when men who desire revenge group together and allow the revenge rallying call to determine their actions. The need for revenge is strong for men.
Men who feel rejected, whether by society or by individual society members, react. Their reactions are self-critical, or incite self-examination, or inspire hatred, or distance them from others. The reactions to self-criticism because of rejection can differ from rejection to rejection, depending on the frequency of rejections and the support network of the man being rejected.
When the reactions to rejection are bewilderment and hurt, the reactions can intimidate some men and cause them to reduce connections to the hurtful sources of rejection. Bewilderment and hurt can also cause some men to examine social interactions, reassess the rejections, and use the rejections as lessons in life. Learning from rejection restores confident participation in relationships.
When the reactions to rejection are retreat and blame, men and women suffer. Men suffer more if they feel emasculated by the rejection. Feelings of reduced dignity or feelings of wronging one’s honor impact men differently, depending on character strength, past abuse from others, and feelings of superiority. The influences of societal expectations, judgment-altering catalysts (drugs [legal or illegal], alcohol, or overwhelming experiences of belittlement), or scruples sway a man towards—or away from—negative actions that trespass on others.
The sway towards harming others, be they people, animals, property or family, pushes actions that damage the others. The force of the sway towards harming others is strong, and it engulfs a man and takes over his reasoning capabilities. The strength of the force governs thoughts and overwhelms bodily weakness or intervention. The emasculated sense of self that has allowed the strength of the force towards negative action to take control over thoughts and justifies the feelings of emasculation, enables men to rape, over-damage, abuse, and ruin others.
The nature of men is NOT to do these things; the nature of destroyed sense of self creates the fantasy that men do these things. Men, no matter their testosterone, are NOT meant to harm; they are meant to create. Creating and building and exploring and challenging the body and mind are natural outlets for testosterone-driven men. Pillaging and abusing and oppressing and grandiosizing are the fantasies of men with destroyed sense of self.
The mix of rejection with feelings of superiority and disappointment is a powerful mix for contempt. Comfort in connections prevents emasculated thinking. Insecurity in relationships brings it forth.
Next section: “The Equation of Conflict”