I’d gladly lose me to find you
I’d gladly give up all I got
To catch you I’m gonna run and never stop
I’d pay any price just to win you
Surrender my good life for bad
To find you I’m gonna drown an unsung man
I’d call that a bargain
The best I ever had
– The Who
Elliot Roger, a deeply disturbed young man, was obsessed with his rejection by women. He hated them for that rejection as surely as he hated men who found the acceptance he could not gain. 53 year old Norman Rousseau, with troubled health, shot himself just days before he and his wife were scheduled to be evicted from their home by the bank. Peter Denyer was facing similar circumstances when he shot his wife and two children, then himself. Darcell Coleman murdered the ex-boyfriend of the woman he was dating over a reported insult to her honor. Tao Hsiao jumped to his death after arguing with his girlfriend who would not quit shopping after a five hour spree in the mall.
All of these stories involved men going past the brink in one way or another. All of them ended horribly.
These tragedies regularly sit like bloody crowns of thorn atop the headlines in our news media. Much more importantly, each of these stories represents incalculable personal misery on those who are left behind, bearing only their grief and unanswered questions.
Media pundits, politicians, mental health professionals and gender ideologues step up to express canned outrage when cameras are on. Sanctimonious demands for gun control, better mental health services or a change in the nature of masculinity are the talking points that follow each tragic loss. The carnage, however, is deaf to all the armchair advice and rolls on unabated. What put these already vulnerable men over the edge has yet to have an honest examination in this society.
If you are looking for science here, an empirical answer, it won’t be provided by this lone voice in the wilderness. What seems apparent though is that there is a common denominator here running like a bloodstained thread through each and every one of these human tragedies. It even has a name.
Since I regard it as only an opinion I will state it in much plainer terms. It is men’s determinatiion to find their worth in the acquisition of love and approval through protection of and provision for women that often puts them over the edge.
This is exactly what we socialize men to do. Whether you are a traditionalist father admonishing your son to “man up” and take care of your woman, or a feminist ideologue admonishing all men to man up and dedicate themselves to taking care of all women, the message is the same. Just shut up and get the job done. No excuses, no exceptions. If you don’t you will quickly find yourself at the lowest rung on the ladder of social approval. And if you are like a lot of men you will find yourself in a state of pain and deep shame. If you already have serious emotional or mental problems it might lead you to end it with a bullet or in a five story fall to a hard floor.
You might even be so anguished that you surrender to the compulsion to take yourself out and all those you love with you. It has happened countless times.
This is a problem that won’t be solved with gun control. Nor will the solution be found by media talking heads, whose main interest in the discourse is small scale celebrity and book sales. It certainly won’t be found by feminists, who disingenuously talk about ending gender roles even as they relentlessly demand that men, even complete strangers, take care of them.
The feminist rhetoric is partially correct. There is indeed some benefit to be found in an objective and healthy examination and rethinking of the male gender role. But as is already clear their ideas are just hollow rhetoric. When pinned down on it the most commonly parroted idea of what would benefit men is more pressure to take care of women. #HeforShe is the real agenda here. Same as it ever was.
When it comes to feminist overtures at examining the male gender role we have to ask the question, “That for the sake of which?” – For re-narration and revolution in the male role, or to pinpoint aspects of that role to be exploited as soft-spots to shame men into being even more gynocentric?
What if we took a true and serious look at the alleged feminist ideal? What if we really examined what was good for men? What conclusions would we draw?
Well, imagine an Elliot Roger who cared less whether women accepted him. Is it possible he would not have killed? Norman Rousseau, too, may have fared much better had his worth and identity not hinged simply on what he could produce for his wife. Peter Denyer, and his wife and children might still be alive had he not viewed poverty as a stain on his manhood and evidence of his uselessness. Darcell Coleman might not be in prison had he allowed his girlfriend to fight her own fights and defend her own “honor.”
Tao Hsiao may not have plummeted to his death if he had had the self-respect and boundaries to leave his girlfriend at the mall after an hour, or by not going at all — refusing to indulge her childish whims. He would have been much more equipped to do that if he were not struggling so pathetically to please her. What if Tao Hsiao was someone who would not be bothered with a woman who would spend 5 hours in a mall?
It is hard to know the answer to that because Tao Hsiao, and all the other men mentioned here clearly lived a life according to a gynocentric narrative; a life narrative that may have had some utility at one time in human evolution but which is now a wrecking ball in the lives of well-meaning men and a relentless infantilizing force in the lives of women.
In Texas the suicide rate in men rises and falls with the economy. It has no measurable effects on the lives of women. It is the same everywhere with the already lopsided male suicide rate in divorce. The body count doubles for men, while women pass through that gateway without so much as a statistical hiccup.
The message here is clear. Men are much more psychologically and emotionally dependent on women than the reverse.
This society teaches boys what they need to do to attract women when it should be teaching them how to reject selfish, unreasonable women without guilt or compunction. We teach boys, and ultimately men, that their real worth is in their labor and its efficacy in attracting and subsidizing women, just as surely as we teach women they are entitled to, even owed such special treatment.
As you look out across the landscape of men’s lives, it’s easy to see that so much wreckage — from suicide victims to concussions and torn ACLs on high school football fields — have their roots in the pursuit of women’s approval and love.
You see it all across the culture. In every road crew (save the ones just holding up signs) you find men willing to put their bodies and lives at hardship and risk, most often to either attract a woman or to take care of one. You see it especially in poor men who work the worst of jobs, even fight in our wars, trying to measure up and qualify to be loved; qualify to be men.
Many of them in America have recently paid the ultimate price, calling out to their wives or mothers as they bled out in the desert sand. Or they come back home and suicide after finding out that the scars their wounds, external and internal, are too much inconvenience for the women who claimed to love them.
This is the price of gynocentrism, and it is time we started teaching our boys and men that it is too steep. And our girls and women that they are not worth it. No one is.
We cannot ever fully end gynocentrism because we cannot end sexual competition. What we can do in the life of the average man is substantial, though.
We can offer, to any man willing and conscious enough to choose it, a path back to his personal dignity, a safe house for his resources and an escape from his dysfunctional conditioning. And we can offer, with good, conscious parenting, a much more healthy set of life options for our children. And we may just start to vacate our prisons in the process.
This is not, as some critics may allege, a mirroring of feminism which has only managed to estrange men and women while allowing women to still hang on to the resources men produce. That feminism is just another expression of gynocentrism. It is gynocentrism on crack.
Love and acceptance cannot be purchased with the mindless sacrifice of the unconscious, gullible white knight. That bargain usually earns the opposite in the form of abuse and parasitism. That ill-fated quest, the search for self-worth at the mercy of women’s caprice, is the driving force behind the Elliot Rogers’ of the world. What most men endure with a simple loss of self, other less stable men translate to blood in the streets.
If that is to change then more realistic alternatives for men must be present in a substantially different life narrative.
When I co-wrote “Authoring Your Own Life,” with Peter Wright, our intent was to start a dialogue along these lines. Indeed, that is ultimately the goal of our version, our vision, of the men’s movement. It is not life without women. It is life without gynocentrism. And it is attainable with a different way for men to measure their own worth; with a different narrative about their lives.
As we move into a new era of men finally starting to redefine themselves, for themselves, let’s teach them from early on to reject, or at least to consciously manage, the gynocentrism on which far too much of the world depends and that sometimes drives men over the edge, leading them to destruction instead of the love they seek.
We can’t do this by simply rejecting the gynocentric narrative, although that is where it must start. We must provide men and especially our boys with a new blueprint based on self-acceptance, self-worth and self-respect, none of which are even remotely dependent on a woman’s approval.
We must provide men the opportunity to author their own lives, to eschew the pressures placed on them to surrender that authorship to others.
For some men, the results of that work will come not a minute too soon.
Paul Elam provides confidential, fee-for-service consultation services to assist men working through a full spectrum of life issues via telephone or Skype. His practice is focused on positive, measurable, realistic goals and direct support for attaining them.
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