I’ve ranted about this before, and I’ll rant about it again. (And no, I’m not going through the archives to pull up and link the before. I’ve got something like 450+ posts after nearly two+ years. I get archive panic from myself now!)
I’m not sure why this is hitting my at the moment. Maybe it’s the exhaustion, the having to give up my job for health reasons, and the fact that my own personal experience in this matter has lead me to greater revelations about what it means to be a man. Maybe it’s the fact that I see a lot of injustice behind the shadows of life, that people either ignore, don’t see, or see and try to share but are ignored themselves.
Three things bring forth this little rant.
1) My dad has been there to help me out through all the bad things that have happened to me over the last few months. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, and there’s probably a number of people who would be in the ground if not for his helping me.*
2) Someone posted this video of Chris Rock on a thread that I nominally pay attention to. There’s some foul language, but some hard truths too.
3) This article by Fox News. And yes, I can already hear the outraged cries. Shut it. The fact that someone wrote it shows that there are people who believe it is true and act on it as truth. And I can verify that a lot of stuff it says is true. For those who don’t want to click the link, it’s called “Why Women Still Need Husbands.” It’s main points are as follows: A) women want balanced lives, to work but also to be home with their children, as well as have a social life and do other activities. B) Men define themselves as “bread winners” and their identity “Based off their paychecks.” Neither of which point is wrong. The conclusion it talks about many women reaching is a return to “leaning on one’s husband” to make the bread, while basically getting to have the cake of a profession (if only part-time) and eat it too (having time for family and a social life, while hubby works).
There’s a lot of people out there asking “Where the Real Men are at?” It’s all over TV, in books and magazines, the radio, internet, etc. For the longest time men were driven by a sense of duty, that it was a man’s job to provide for his family. In return his reward was that…he got a family. And in a good family, he “got the big piece of chicken.” But he never got thanked for it. Boys and girls aren’t taught that they should thank their dad for their home, the utilities, the tv, etc. Since we grow up with these things always in place for the most part, they’re as much a part of the environment as the sky and the air, and we take for granted. We do not give thanks. The closest we get is Father’s day, which with its socks and ties and cheap trinkets, is a pale shadow of Mother’s day with its breakfast in bed, jewelry, flowers, candy, and glorious presents.
I remember one argument I ended up having with my ex. I don’t remember what started it, probably that I was unhappy about something, but in the end she was tearing into me about what I wanted and I told her. It was simple. I just wanted to hear a thank you. Thank you for working hard to support us while I’m trying to find a job. Thank you for bringing me into your home and trying to make this work. Thank you for the money that buys us food and lights. I was angrily told that that was my “job” and people don’t get thanked for doing their job. It is a scene that I’ve seen and heard tell is all too common.
Is it any wonder then, that so many men look at the thankless existence and say fuck it? Especially in the face of a near 60+% divorce rate where you’ll keep having to do the duty, but loose what little you got in the way of rewards?
It’s a realization that sometimes leaves me desperate to show my dad how grateful I am for all that he does for me.
Of course, I’m sure people are wondering what this has to do with Paganism. Paganism is supposed to be about the balances of nature, to respect both the Masculine and the Feminine. All too often though, it seems we focus more on the Goddess rather than the God, at least across the board. Thankfully there are paths that strike a balance, but when you run into a generic Pagan gathering, or on the Pagan websites and Facebook groups, 70% of it is about the Goddess. 20% is about the Earth. 8% is coexistence.
Generalizing here, but 2% is about glorifying the Masculine, or more likely, working to just remind people that the Masculine should also be remembered. That’s how it seems, anyways. In Wicca, one of the biggest traditions in Paganism, the God and the Masculine plays second fiddle to the Goddess and the Feminine. The High Priestess is the one who runs everything and has the power, the High Priest, who should be her equal, is second in power to her. We allow and promote women sacred places, but when was the last time you heard about a male sacred place that actually glorified heterosexual males, which is the “traditional” definition of masculinity.** Indeed, in my own local area (as I have mentioned before) attempts were made to get more “masculine” energy into the covens and groups by pushing the men to be more manly. These initiatives had women leading the charge rather than men (unfortunate implications all around, namely that you can’t be a man without a woman saying so, or that men need permission to be manly), and occurred three times. All three times, the women got together and crushed the male group that they had started, when the men started acting dominant and powerful, taking charge and organizing things (embracing the sacred masculine traits that have allowed humanity to survive at the cost of blood for thousands of years).
Conservative Christians get a lot of stuff wrong. But there’s at least a couple things they get right. One of those is that Family is Central to Faith. And while there can be single parent families, the model that has shown the best success over the course of human history is a two parent model. Children need a “Father” and a “Mother.”*** Without a balance of Masculine and Feminine, we spin out of control into sustainability. The Feminine teaches us compassion, to seek to give people a balance and softness to life, to “have our cake and eat it too” if you will. But the masculine has always been about the sacrifice required. The sacrifice of cutting down the forest to make the farm which grows the grains and sugars needed to make that cake. The sacrifice of violence to defend the home needed so that one can eat it without fear.
People like to believe that women have it harder. Either they stay home and have to deal with the kids and keeping up the house while the husband goes to work all day and doesn’t have to deal with the chaos. Or women have to balance work and home, and men have it so easy with just having to balance work. But I think this is a falsehood. Which is harder, to spend your day in your home, guiding your children, playing with them? Maybe working a part time job so you can say you have a career and a bit of extra money, then going home to be with your children? Or to spend 40, 50, 60+ hours a week fighting for every success, throwing everything into your job because if you don’t, there is no house, there is no lights, no hot water, no food. Burning yourself down in a castle of high stress, poor food, long hours, all to support a family you virtually never get to see, to come home to a wife that all too often will complain that you’re never there to help her, or show her that you love her, or listen when she wants to talk, all the while knowing that if you don’t spend time with your family, it is like a ticking time-bomb of your wife walking out, taking the kids, most of your paycheck, and possibly your house, car, possessions, and everything you’ve spent decades trying to build, just like you see happening over and over with your co-workers, yet knowing that if you ease up at work, if you slow down, you might miss that paycheck, that raise, that promotion, that lets your child play sports, get braces, go to college, etc.
I ask you, which is harder, to be with your family in the home…or to be denied your family so they have a home? Is it harder to deal with screaming children, or to miss your children growing up and looking at you like you’re a stranger, and know that in the event of a divorce they are likely to hate you because Mom is the one that was there for them, while you were always gone to work when they might have needed you?
Is it any wonder, then, that men aren’t signing up for the “big piece of chicken?”
But we Pagans and Heathens can deal with this in our community. We need not give up hope as either men or women. What we need to do is what the Pagans of old did, celebrate the Masculine. Recognize the sacrifice of Men. Ancient Pagans knew well the sacrifices that fathers made for their families and celebrated it. For every “Venus” statue that glorified the feminine, there was a statue of Freyr, or other Gods, with their massive erections. Romans used to hang Penii (I’m going with the Latin) up as symbols of good fortune and luck, because they understood that fortune and prosperity came at the sacrifice of men who instead of laying back and taking it easy, instead of spending all their time with their families, went out to hunt, farm, grow, and war to provide safety and prosperity.
WE NEED TO DO THIS AGAIN. We need to look at our ancient holy days and find the masculine in them and glorify it as much as we do the feminine. We need to set up holy days that glorify the masculine alone, just as we have holy days that glorify the feminine alone.
Because if we don’t, my generation of Pagan and Heathen men will not do what our Religion needs us to. We will not sacrifice ourselves for nothing, not even in the names of our Faiths, but rather we must be given gifts as we give our gifts. As we toil away in a world with shrinking hope and shrinking prospects, we need to know that all we suffer, all we sacrifice, will not be in vain. That those we trust to marry and have families with know what our sacrifice means, and will not turn their backs on us for personal gain when they might have to make a sacrifice, or uphold and honor us. Treat men as Gods, as you would have us treat women as Goddesses, and you shall find them to be mighty men. But treat them as less than the land from which you grow your food, give more glory to the planet that has its bounty than to the man that calls it up from the earth and places it on the table he has forged and under the hall he has erected, and you will find that there are no halls, no tables, and no bounties to be had.
I dedicate this rant to my male ancestors, and to my Father. For I know their sacrifice and honor it, hoping that someday I too may be honored if such sacrifices are called on for me to give.
*I abide by the social contract of society because it benefits me the most. I freely admit that if I could no longer abide within that social contract I would break every rule of it and then some, starting with eliminating the cause of the issue so that it didn’t threaten my kin.
**I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes here. But in Pagan circles heterosexual men are typically the ones most beaten up or called ill suited for the path or magical workings. I remember hearing about one male practitioner of flexible orientation who said that “any man who has not been penetrated (sexually) cannot act as a proper vessel for the divine.” Sadly, this attitude is all to common in my experience.
***As long as one parent is willing to take the role, this is not a difficulty in families based on same sex relationships.