In a world of cut and thrust I was always taught to trust
–Neil Peart, “BU2B”
Deti, among the king-commenters of the Manosphere, said this over at Sunshine Mary’s blog [emphasis mine]:
Men are different. From a very early age, we learn that when we get right down to it, we’re basically alone. We’ll have to make our own way in the world, stand alone, be alone, and get to where we want to go alone. We can’t rely on a herd; we have to do it all ourselves. If we fail, we don’t have a support system to help us. We will have to pull ourselves out, alone.
The part that’s not in bold is typical of Deti’s penetrating insight. Men have to make our own way in the world. There’s no sympathy for us if we fail, no prince in shining armor prances along to save us. That’s for girls.
But I disagree somewhat with the part in bold. As I’ve alluded to here, we’re not necessarily taught these things. Instead, we’re often led to believe the opposite.
A boy today is simultaneously cut down in two related but distinct ways.
First, he is implicitly shown throughout his childhood and adolescence that the male way is the wrong way. Competition fosters disharmony. Excessive energy demonstrates mental illness. Having an independent spirit means you’re antisocial. If girls don’t want you around, that’s their right, but if you want to go off with other boys, you’re a budding chauvinist. It’s more important to go along with the crowd than to take a stand. If a bully attacks you, the right thing to do is to tell on him.
And when he sees other males succeeding who reject these views, either on the playing field or with women, he’s told some variation of “”this is just high school, the real world’s not like that.” As Free Northerner so accurately puts it:
The young bully will get his. God, the market, and the state will punish him in time. Someday our young beta will be his bully’s boss. He’ll have the nice house and pretty wife, while the bully is working at McDonald’s.
“Reject your masculine nature, young man.” That’s how they take away his sword.
At the same time, he’s often coddled like a girl. He can’t play with his friends without adult supervision. If he sucks at T-ball, they won’t keep score so he doesn’t have to feel the pain of defeat. (Do they even pick teams like they used to? Heaven forbid some kid gets picked last.) Grade inflation ensures that he’ll pass all of his classes (often with A’s) through very little effort on his part. He gets all the new video games he wants to keep his aggressive instincts satiated.
He’s coddled, protected, nurtured, continually told he’s special. The world is a soft and cushy pillow that will guide him to safety so long as he doesn’t rock the boat by acting like a man. You’re safe, sweetie. “You’ll get your reward” if you behave.
And there goes his shield.
Instead of being shown that “he’s basically alone”, he has a mother that has cared for him and solved nearly all of his problems for him. He wasn’t taught that he’ll “have to make his own way in the world” because he was educated with “cooperative learning”, able to sponge off the smart kids if he has a hard time. If he tries to “stand alone” or “be alone” he’s told he’s not an adequate team player and brought back into the safety of the herd, the herd where women learn to thrive.
Unfortunately, as men “[w]e’ll have to make our own way in the world” without the cushions and safety on which we’ve been taught to depend. By the time we literally “have to do it all ourselves” many of us have never accomplished anything on our own.
“We have to pull ourselves out, alone.” But the only way to do that is as a man, and we’re training the man out of our boys before they’ve even reached puberty. We’re expecting them to build lives for themselves when they’ve never so much as built their own science fair project.
He spends his free time playing video games. He occasionally has fanciful ideas about starting his own business, but he doesn’t know how. He has no idea how to start. No one ever taught him and everybody had always told him to pursue a stable corporate job.
And he gets screwed over at his “stable corporate job” by the guys who skipped all the lessons he so dutifully learned, the men who didn’t have to wear knee-pads when they rode their bikes around the block. Somehow somebody else always gets credit for his ideas. He cooperates with the salesman when he buys a car and pays $1,500 more than he would have had to if he weren’t so against our archaic win/lose economy. He treats people right, believing that “everything will work out for the best” so long as he ignores that competitive urge that still lingers in the back of his mind.
…he is promised that if he does good , he will get a good job, have lots of money, marry a loving wife, and have kids of his own; he looks forward to that.
Only it never happens. He went to this battle we call “life” armed with good intentions instead of a killer instinct, his training manual I’m Okay, You’re Okay instead of The Art of War.
But unlike the girls who were brought up the same way, nobody feels sorry for him if he fails. Nobody rescues him or offers him oodles of government cash. Instead he’s a waste, a deadbeat, not any sort of victim. He’s just a loser who was unable to capitalize on his advantageous status as a WHAM (white heterosexual able-bodied male).
“We will have to pull ourselves out, alone.”
Indeed we will, and just about all of us will someday know it, even if it’s when we’re forty-two living in a studio apartment alone with a crappy job.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what we were taught.