“It’s like you have no penis.”
This is what my female friend says to me, explicitly stating that it is not meant in an emasculating fashion. She means only to convey that our friendship transcends gender roles, that I can be held to the same confidence as a “girlfriend” because I am rightly, honorable, and do not allow out mutual heterosexuality to get in the way of our emotional and spiritual bond.
It is also entirely emasculating.
Men, by and large, are being domesticated the way one would a cat: we are expected to retain our primal, man-like nature, but within the confines of the living room. Catch the mouse, don’t attack my foot. Curl up in my lap, but do not get caught underfoot. Eat this food, don’t kill that bird, try not to vomit on the good carpet.
I do not vomit on the carpet. Nor is my caloric intake a dietary nightmare, nor do I hunt for sport. Were the world to end, I would likely become a vegetarian out of squeamishness.
I respect women. I control my sexual urges and view gender as an outward performance secondary to intrinsic worth, irrelevant to all but the most labor-intensive and gonad-specific activities. I am the Emotional Man.
And yet I am not the Evolved Man. I lack aggression in most forms, preferring planning to immediate action. I am slow to react, markedly from my feelings. Like a zoo-born, these natural traits have been bread out of me as “undesirable,” leaving me defined, as Elaine Showalter would say, as a lack.
I am non-chauvinistic, non-predatory, non-offensive. I am not a meathead, burly lumberjack, or swarthy swashbuckler. I am a man, and my job is to be helpful and supportive when you need it. I will never take advantage of that position, and I will always be there when you need it.
Being a lack is not empowering. I do not enjoy being defined as unmasculine, feeling as though it is my duty to, by example, dissuade women everywhere from viewing all men as vile, rapacious, mongers.
Showalter argued that the error of Feminism was to self-identify as everything that men were not: soft, not hard; civilized, not crass; gentle, not brutal. All this does is establish a dichotomy of roles that legitimizes previous bad behavior by men, and assert that women and men are fundamentally different, an unbridgeable divide between the two. To assert that is to deny a part of one’s self, the shared human experience Showalter called, in literary criticism, the Wilderness.
Wilderness is the realm of the Evolved Man.
Not a brute, but an Alpha, a creature comfortable and proud of his own nature, his respect of others bourn of a priori equality, not some Pavlovian fear response. He is not afraid to be a man because it might upset others. He is simply a man, and this has no bearing whatsoever on who he is as a person or how he treats others.
His animal nature is earnest and unobtrusive. His confidence, the great quality women and men alike respond to on the most basic social levels, comes easily. Respect and an assertion of will mark him as the Evolved Man, socially, sexually, and academically appealing in The Wild, a creature to be admired for its natural grace and speed, its power.
I have been raised in captivity, a behavioral castrate, reactionary.
But recently I find myself becoming more aware of the confines of my cage. The fences no longer seem as high as they once did, no longer a leap beyond my innate abilities, my keepers something less than omnipotent, and I’ve begun hearing what might be a call from The Wild. I feel the desire to Evolve.