THE HUMAN MALE

A few years ago, some of the leaders in the Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) movement realized that not only are men mistreated (as all people in current societies are), but that men are also specifically oppressed as men.

A considerable amount of thought and discussion has since taken place within RC about the nature of men’s oppression and actions to be taken about it.[1] Until now, however, there has been no comprehensive program for the liberation of men.[2] This document is intended to serve as a basis for a discussion of the world-wide situation for men, an introduction to the processes of discharge and re-evaluation for those men who are not already acquainted with them, and a framework for a men’s liberation movement.[3]

SOCIETAL AND INSTITUTIONALIZED OPPRESSIONS

The one surviving species of human beings seems superficially to have solved its problems of survival in that the planet is currently supporting a very large number of its members (six billion and growing). A closer look, however, makes it plain that the very “success” of our massive reproduction rate is threatening disaster for ourselves and the rest of the marvelous planet on which we have arisen.

The size of the human population in itself is not the source of the problem, however. The basic problem is that our species has not been able to deal with the fact that we function in two completely different modes: In the first mode, we rely on the use of our flexible, creative intelligence. In the second mode, we behave unintelligently, because our intelligence has been interfered with by an accumulation of rigid distress patterns which have been left upon us from individual experiences of being hurt.[4] This non-intelligent mode has led to the development of class societies[5] and other oppressive structures, which are dominated by and promote patterns of selfish, greedy exploitation. The oppressive societies, in their turn, install, maintain, and enforce unintelligent rigid behaviors on each new generation of humans.

It is crucial that as many of us as possible make the move to functioning on the basis of our intelligence rather than on the basis of distress recordings.[6] We need to begin to think about our total environment with as much care and devotion and effort as we have ever in the past turned on any beloved individual. Defense of our environment is crucial for the very survival and existence of life in general.

One of the basic discoveries of Re-evaluation Counseling (RC) is that the rigid, unintelligent patterns with which we have become infested can be eliminated. The key element in the recovery process is the discharge of physical and emotional distresses and subsequent re-evaluation, leading to recovery of intelligent, flexible functioning. This discovery is of crucial importance to the project of ensuring that intelligence determines the future of our species and our planet.

All groups of humans in our present societies tend to be conditioned against the discharge and re-evaluation process, but this conditioning[7] falls with special intensity upon males, with the result that men are particularly set up to be agents for the continuation of class societies and all other oppressions.

Some of the verbal conditionings which have been put upon men, such as “big boys don’t cry,” “don’t be a scaredy cat,” “be a man,” “it’s a man’s job to die for his country,” begin in the very first moments of men’s lives. These patterns not only begin to ruin the lives of males immediately, but also set them up to unintelligently accept and perpetrate the oppressions of all people. In most societies, the process of growing from boyhood to manhood is beset by a deliberate discouragement and suppression of men’s abilities to feel their own emotions and to discharge the distressed ones. Fear, grief, loneliness, and uncertainty are often covered over with a pretense of “confidence.” For many men, the isolation that results from early violence, threats of violence, and harsh expectations of “what it is to be a man” leaves them literally unable to recognize, admit, and feel their feelings. This conditioning is one of the elements that forces men to play the often inhuman roles they are expected to play in our oppressive societies, be it in relation to women, to themselves, to children, or to society as a whole. (This is because undischarged distress creates a compulsion to replay the original hurt, sometimes in the victim role—as in the original incident—but often in the perpetrator role.) For all men to recover the ability and freedom to “feel their feelings” and not only “feel” but discharge their distressed feelings, and so recover their intelligence, is a key survival process that needs support from all men, and from all humans.

All humans claiming intelligence and goodwill need to make a frontal attack on the intensively organized suppression of little boys’ natural ability to discharge. We need to say clearly and dramatically to parents and teachers that any small child (female as well as male) can, with persistent, informed support, be protected to emerge as an outstanding individual, universally celebrated for his or her brilliant qualities. We need to call for and launch organizational efforts to see to it that parents, schools, and religious institutions are informed and organized to stop the damage to males at the little-boy stage and to continue to protect them as they grow older so that they can be boldly and powerfully intelligent, kind, and effective.

Men, like all human beings, are inherently good, caring, gentle, and warm. Their excellent real nature is obscured and apparently distorted by the heavy conditioning society puts upon them, but it remains undestroyed and recoverable. Men’s inherent attitude, as men, is to oppose and prevent any enforced inequalities with regard to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to support all efforts toward liberation from oppression. As human males, they inherently strive to achieve and provide universal access to information and to the basic resources needed by all living things. It is an honor to be a man and, as such, to be able to lend resource, leadership, strength, information, and nurture to every person’s struggle against enforced inequality, regardless of age, gender, background, or previous experience. The abundant examples of men acting in these ways in all eras and places are not exceptions, but show men’s true inherent nature.

Though males, like all humans, are by nature cooperative and caring, there is a widespread belief in most human cultures at present that boys and men are by nature violent or aggressive. This belief leaves boys alone with many struggles and paves the road for later, increased violence and aggression. When boys act violently, it must never be assumed that “all is normal.” Boys are never violent or aggressive except as a result of having been brutalized.

Some other mistaken notions widespread in present cultures are that boys “don’t need” to be held and nurtured in the same way that girls do, or that there’s a goodness and innocence present in women that is absent in men, or that it’s good for boys to hurt and suffer the hurts alone in order to “harden” them in preparation for manhood. Some other widely believed nonsense is that men don’t feel pain as much as women do, or that men are inherently compulsive sexually. None of these are true, and all of these need to be exposed and eliminated.

Until recently, most discussion in our societies about men’s difficulties has been focused on concern about men’s tendency toward “criminal or anti-social behavior.” In recent years, some attention has been given to issues relating to men and health. As we reach for greater awareness in this area, we are forced to realize that men have fared and fare very badly. Men die younger than women. Men commit suicide more often than women almost everywhere in the world, up to nine times as often in some countries (and these numbers are increasing).[8] Men still make comparatively little use of medical services (and very little of the health information made public is aimed at men). Men have the highest rates of alcohol and other drug addictions, and of sexually-transmitted diseases.

With any other group, such figures would be taken as reliable indications that the group in question is oppressed.

Still, our society acts reluctant to recognize men as an oppressed group. The emphasis in the society is on men as agents of all oppressions. Yet thoughtful examination of the situation has led us in RC to conclude that men are indeed oppressed.

There is no designated group of people assigned by the oppressive society to carry out the oppression of males. (This is different from the situation with some other oppressions, in which a particular group is “trained and assigned” to be in the oppressive role relative to another group. For example, whites are “trained and assigned” to install and perpetuate racism—the oppression of people of color. Men are “trained and assigned” to install and perpetuate sexism—the oppression of females.)

In carrying out the oppression of men, the society as a whole plays the role of the oppressor. Nearly everyone in our societies plays some role in men’s oppression, and nearly everyone has rigid attitudes and “beliefs” that are oppressive to men. It will be essential in ending men’s oppression to change these widely held attitudes and beliefs. It helps in the task of clarifying the situation, and organizing to change it, if we identify particular institutions as the agents of men’s oppression.

THE INSTITUTIONS OF MEN’S OPPRESSION

There are several well-organized institutions that operate to install and perpetuate the oppression of men. These institutions’ functions are usually characterized as “social,” and some of them do indeed perform social functions in other ways, but even casual observation of their operation makes it plain that each of them plays a major role in constructing dehumanized versions of what a man is, and in disempowering and exploiting men.

Some of them are organized primarily to target males. This institutionalized concentration on oppressing men was often much plainer in past generations. In the name of “women’s liberation,” there has been some blurring of appearances in recent years, as the oppressing institutions have reached out to extend their contamination to females (often in the name of “fairness”). However, in this document we will focus on the impact of each of these institutions on males, and will propose actions to be taken to remedy these effects.

Before discussing in detail the institutions that oppress men, we need to look at the way the oppression of males is “internalized.”

INTERNALIZED OPPRESSION

One of the results of the external, institutional oppression is the creation of distress recordings. This means that the person who has been oppressed carries around recordings of feeling oppressed which, when restimulated,[9] act upon him or her to produce feelings as if fresh oppression was coming from outside, even if no new oppression is taking place. This is “internalized oppression,” and it operates so as to have the man believe the negative stereotypes of men. Past invalidations have the effect on the man as if they were still being received and currently invalidating him.

Internalized oppression is the most insidious difficulty facing any oppressed group, and men are no different in this regard. Most of the difficulties endured by men are caused by male internalized oppression. These recordings, when restimulated, leave the man on whom the recordings have been made feeling discouraged, isolated, guilty, depressed, angry, and vulnerable to interacting with other men’s negative recordings in mutual hostility, disappointment, etc.

The most effective means for contradicting men’s internalized oppression is to find ways for men to become intelligent parts of each other’s lives—to show their flexible, warm, mutually-appreciative selves to each other.[10]

To achieve this goes to the root of the isolation internalized by individual men, makes it impossible for internalized oppression to drive men to hurt each other, and rocks the foundations of institutionalized men’s oppression. For men to make close friends with other men is to enable them to become aware of the conditioning that has been put upon them and to want liberation from it. As men reach for friendship with men from different class backgrounds, different cultures, and so on, they will inevitably deepen and enrich their awareness of, and their intense desire for, liberation.

It may sometimes appear difficult to directly raise the issue of men’s oppression. The main reason for this apparent difficulty is that men’s stories have not been told—the “real” stories, that is, not just the “public” versions permitted by the oppression. When the real stories are told, then the real issues become clearer. Organizing men’s groups in which men “take turns listening” to each other is a basic necessity for men’s liberation.

Men need to reclaim an unshakable understanding of their own inherent goodness. At present most men struggle to even notice that they don’t know they are completely good. This is a major obstacle to their quest to find ways to discharge the internalized oppression.

Being seen as the “bad ones” in society leaves men little room for recovery from their hurts. We have learned that, in many ways, the young person whose distress leads him (or her) to harm another young person can suffer more from the act than the recipient of that act. The one who has been hit on the head with the toy truck can be crying and receiving attention, while the one who did the deed can be abandoned in feeling bad and guilty. The other people around are most often (even when they know and understand RC theory) confused about the goodness of the one who did the hitting. Under these conditions, it is very hard for someone who acts out a distress to discharge on it. When a boy shows by an “unacceptable” act how he has been hurt, and receives disapproval, punishment, violence, and the reproaches of others, he has been pounded into a tight corner—even more so if the disapproval is expressed as blame for “being a boy.” This is the situation for many men.

The liberation of women and of men go hand in hand. Because men have been used as the oppressor group toward women (through the systematic installation of sexist patterns, beginning very early in boys’ lives), they need to deal specifically with the damage done to women by sexism. While it is not men’s fault that they have been set up to be the oppressor group over women, men cannot afford any tolerance toward continuing to play that role. The slightest oppressive act is completely unworthy of men’s inherent excellence. Explicit renunciation of that role and the correction of it by eliminating any sexism anywhere in society falls logically to men. Not only can men throw off the oppressor role, they can also work to eliminate sexism from society and assist women to eliminate the women’s internalized sexism.[11]

In the present human population of approximately six billion people and in the probably huge emerging population of the next decades, support of the female gender as a whole is tremendously important to all humans. Large numbers of women world-wide still die in childbirth, lack adequate medical care and food during pregnancy, give birth to children who quickly become malnourished and ill, and receive little support from the men around them. This will change as present oppressions are ended, as modern science increases the possible choices before women, and as reproduction of the species becomes a question of free choice by individuals. But in all existing levels of society, a vital responsibility is still enforced upon women by their unavoidable role in the reproduction of the species. Currently, for simple survival of the species, ending the oppression of sexism is necessary. Assuming extra care and responsibility for support of women during reproduction and child rearing becomes a basic responsibility of men and, of course, of all humans.        

 


[1] Oppression is the systematic mistreatment of a group of people by the society and/or by another group of people who serve as agents of the society, with the mistreatment encouraged or enforced by the society and its culture.

[2] “Liberation” refers to the program and process of freeing one’s self and one’s group from oppression.

[3] “Discharge” is a term used to collectively describe the various complex physical processes which accompany the release of tension from distress recordings of hurtful experiences, including physical pain, discomfort, or emotional distress. These releasing processes are dependably indicated by the physical manifestations of yawning, stretching, or scratching; sobbing, crying, shedding tears; shaking, trembling, perspiration from a cold skin; perspiration from a warm skin; laughter; shouting, violent physical activity (stamping, pounding); interested talking; relaxed talking; reluctant, bored talking (particularly when accompanied by yawns); and “eager,” excited recounting of experiences. 

    “Re-evaluation” refers to the process, which occurs spontaneously after discharge, through which distress recordings are understood and turned into usable information.

[4] “Intelligence” as used here refers to the ability to create a new, successful, creative response to fit each new, present situation. “Distress pattern” refers to a rigid set of “thoughts,” behaviors, and feelings that is left by an undischarged experience (or experiences) of distress.

[5] “Class societies” refer to the structuring of society where one group of people oppresses (exploits) another and has greater access to the resources of that society with the rationalized argument of better organization for production. There are three kinds of class societies: slave societies, feudal societies, and capitalist societies.

[6] “Distress recording” refers to all the information (sights, smells, voice-tones, gestures, postures, feelings, etc.) that gets bound together in an unusable glob during a distress experience and then is played over and over (like a record) in an inappropriate response to a similar-enough new situation.

[7] “Conditioning” is the psychological term for interrupting the free thinking of an individual by imposing a pattern which leaves the individual inhibited from acting on his or her own thinking and under pressure to succumb to the demands of other individuals.

[8] World Health Organization statistics

[9] “Restimulation” refers to the “replaying” of a recording of a hurtful experience, which is brought on by a perceived similarity (sometimes insignificant or remote) in the current situation to the past hurtful situation.

[10] “Contradict” usually refers to “contradicting distress,” meaning helping the client to see that the distress recording is not present-time reality.

[11] “Oppressor role” refers to the role of agreeing to carry out oppression. The person in the oppressor role has always been oppressed first. No one is able to assume the oppressor role without having been extremely mistreated themselves as preparation.

 


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00