To be Male Today, goals, love and women, family and society

Interview to the Association “Men of the Wilderness”, by a women, M.V, as she is reaching her last-year student degree on the subject of “the Male Matter” in Intercultural Communication for Cooperation and Companies (January 2009).

Dear “Men of the Wilderness”, which characteristics can you attribute to the nowadays male and which role does he have in society?

From our point of view, today’s male (but the process has started quite a few decades ago) has ended up in a position that is not adequate to the anthropological and symbolic meaning of “manhood/manliness/virility”.

From the anthropologic point of view, he has accepted the deceit/blackmail of a society asking to dedicate time exclusively to money, profit and personal interest, to the immediate satisfaction of need and empty hedonism. He has therefore neglected what all traditional societies have always valued in the male, teaching and asking him with precise initiation rituals: the faculty of donating himself, of taking care of his family and community with dedication and sacrifice, of defending with carefulness and responsibility the life he has generated.

Expressing the above symbolically: today’s men have forgotten to honour what deeply and in the sacred makes their psyche and biology belong to males and inscribed as an archetype in their psyche: the Phallus, symbol of donation, of motivation for change, for a transforming action that inaugurates novelty and life. This fact determines a strong uncomfortable feeling to the male and to the community he lives in, caged in a deprived static situation since the driving force for change and donation is missing.

As said by Ezra Pound (which has dedicated to the Phallus incisive verses): “With Usura hath no man a house of good stone/ each block cut smooth and well fitting/ that delight might cover their face/ With Usura hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall/ harpes et luthes or where virgin receiveth message and halo projects from incision/ With Usura seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines/ no picture is made to endure nor to live with but it is made to sell and sell quickly/ with usura, sin against nature, is thy bread ever more of stale rags is thy bread dry as paper/ with no mountain wheat, no strong flour/ with usura the line grows thick, with usura is no clear demarcation and no man can find site for his dwelling/ Stone cutter is kept from his stone/
weaver is kept from his loom.”
Fortunately instead, some men, for example, the Men of the Wilderness, have started over a few years, a process of renovation of their life, founded more deeply on the authentity of their being “males”, pushing besides our same society and other males in the direction suggested by Pound: “Shall the heart be righteous/ the Phallus perceive its scope”

Which are the aims of nowadays men?

Recapture, in the deepness of the psyche, the aspects that connote the authentic male identity, full and serene: the capability to love his women and children, his community; the responsibility in regards to the life that he has given a start to with the mother; the passion for the custody and protection of his family and children, participating with attention to their growing up both for sentiment and education. But not only this: also the consciousness of their desires, of their strength to realize them, of the happiness that comes from the donation to others of their own existence for a larger, more human goodness, humbly recognizing the presence of a Father you can trust in and whom advise and warnings deserve attention.

Which are the main differences between the “nowadays man” and the one of the past decades?

The loss, or anyhow the deep modification of male identity, is a process that has started quite earlier than the last decades and coincides with the decadence of the concept of paternity. The aim for a wider overview of this is not the exact object of this discussion, we suggest in this regard all the work has already been done by Claudio Risè (Il maschio selvatico, Red Ediz., Como – The Man of the Wilderness; Essere uomini, Red Ed., Como – To be Men; Il padre l’assente inaccettabile, San Paolo Ed. – The Unacceptable Absence of the Father); but also of Dieter Lenzen (Alla ricerca del padre, Laterza Ed. – Searching for the Father), of A. Mitscherlich (Verso una società senza padre – Towards a Society without the Father) and of one of the members of our association, Paolo Ferliga (Il Segno del padre, Moretti & Vitali, www.paoloferliga.itThe Father’s Sign).

In the last decades, the long process that has seen men relegate themselves in the business world renouncing to their prerogatives within the family nucleus, for example for the education of children and the transmission of “male knowledge”, leaving them to the women or to the State, has only seen a strong acceleration till is logic ending.

Anyhow, the difference is that at the time, although with the relevant limits, the lacks or even the deformities of a power that didn’t find anymore acceptance, the male kept the ancestral memory of the past and especially still had the consciousness, even if partial or distorted, to play an important role in society and within the family. Today this is not anymore.

The big rebellion against the father that was the young movement of 1968 has not corrected, in order to recuperate the integrity of the paternal figure, those lacks and distortions mentioned above – as maybe those young people hoped for and for which a great example can be taken in Kafka’s Letter to a Father.

It has, instead, swept away the concept of paternity and its symbolic meanings (besides also in actuality) on which all the societies of the past were founded. The results, along with the advance of economic/social processes that have accentuated the distance between work location for men and the family, have been a disaster from two points of view strongly related: male consciousness of men has been disintegrated, and with it, the consciousness of the necessity for each male generation to transmits models, examples, knowledge, without which no gender identity is founded.

The consequences for the next generations are very clear to see, starting from today: identity uncertainty and disorientation on one side, and on the other, obsessive accentuation of some male specific characters that reach “show off machismo” forms, evidently the other side of the deep insecurity lived by nowadays men. The tendency is to considerate the new leading role of the feminist movement as one of the causes of males’ insecurity. On the contrary, we think that a strong and wholesome male identity perception would not have had difficulties in accepting the feminist movement as addressed to women and not against men. The rancorous and anti-male aspects of the feminist movement were able to catch on since they were faced by males already severely sick and weakened, that quickly abandoned the pitch, except for legislating against themselves (in particular with the law for abortion that excludes the male/father even if only to understand his opinion regarding the birth of his child, as quite well explained in the “Documento per il Padre, for the Father, and also commented from Antonello Vanni in “Il padre e la vita nascente, Nastro Ed. 2004,, The Father and the Budding Life), and/or uselessly and from far away inveighing against the situation and all, rigorously in private.

However, we are able, today, to catch a glimpse of well grounded clues that change is starting. We are thinking of the numerous groups and male associations that passionately discuss these issues and to all the books dedicated to “the male issue”, but especially to the new paternity consciousness and how its value cannot be renounced anymore. Even if in this current confusion, while we are thinking of many males so mother dependent, in young males is starting to rise the idea that manhood is only achievable with the revaluation of the role and function of the father. We’ll see in the future.

Are you nostalgic of some model or not? If yes, how would you think to go back to the position that men had in the past?

So: no nostalgia for a model that already has been deeply disintegrated; it is necessary, for this, to make an important clarification. It is interesting to notice that one of the most current frequent female laments is the famous and fatidic “the virile males we had don’t exist anymore”. Now, since its unthinkable that what is here referred to is the male as “lord and master” (if ever existed), and even facing the contradiction of who is actually lamenting the disappearance of something significant against which was worthwhile battling, this lament shows that the old manhood virtues are also strongly missed by women. What we are driving at, if we wish to give a sense to the word nostalgia as above, is exactly nostalgia for those virtues; we suggest, for this, to read with attention what is on our “men of the wilderness” site and blog In this sense, therefore, the nostalgia question is not correctly put, as well as the part related to “how” the old positions can be regained. Men don’t have to think of recapturing the past positions; men have to think of recapturing themselves and their deep identity. The rest, if the case, will be a consequence, and definitely not an imposition. The future of men depends from themselves and only by them. We only ask one thing to the current society: to stop “shooting to male figures” in various forms, from tv shows to adds, to stop attacking the paternal figure; too much information is unilaterally directed and often altered in respect to the actual facts and in the ways of putting the news so that it can more easily touch emotions.

Women and Men of the Wilderness. What do you think of women and their role in society?

Considering as a premise the fact that each person shall be free to follow his personal life project, the subject issue needs to be considered starting from the recognition of the concept of sexual differentiation. Males and females, even though participate to the same human nature thus with the same dignity, are anyhow different.

Diversity is inscribed in the first place in the body and this diversity originates important psychological differences that imply a different perception of the world, different inclinations, passions, attitudes, intelligences. We think these differences must be emphasized or anyhow left free to express themselves in a complementary context of genders, instead of being interpreted as a result of male cultural build-up oriented to oppress women, which is the tendency that nowadays has found affirmation in the modern west culture.

In facts, we believe that women, in their praiseworthy effort to undertake roles and functions more and more important in social life, should not do it distorting themselves and trying to assume male models – which are, besides, quite arguable also for men after what has happened these last decades, and that, applied to women, finish always to generate wrong copies of the original, keeping the relevant defects and not conserving, instead, the good points.

As per the axioms of the dominating culture of west modernity, instead, the differences are unilaterally read as a product of cultural stereotypes, therefore ill-omened, and what is proposed is an impersonal single model “male/female” in terms of role and social function. To obtain this goal, as documented by Alessandra Nucci in “La donna a una dimensione (Cortina Editore) – The one dimension women”, two ways are chosen.
On the male side, devaluation in men of manhood; on the female side, motivation instead for having the former characters, pushing contemporaneously in the degradation of those traditionally of the feminine without besides, impossible feat, being able to reach identity between the two genders but instead producing schizophrenic situations. For women, the first and most important consequence is the less sacred value attributed to the body and its natural functions.

Maternity, for example, is considered on the one hand a wearisome accident or anyhow and obstacle to career and emancipation, while on the other, it is seen as an absolute right for women as much as to allow invading techniques of artificial insemination (that we prefer instead to define “artificial fabrication of life”), along considering, sometimes, women as the only repositories of the right to life or death of children.

But not only this. We also are thinking, for example, to the medicine that stops menstruations and to the futurist artificial uterus, to all that, in sum, ends up with continuous body healing, inducing to perceive it as sick as for itself, and, together, to having to heal life itself. The result of these contradictory messages for women is an continuous oscillation between omnipotence and chronic depression, and at the end, solitude for all, females and males.
We therefore think necessary a big reflection effort that involves female gender (and naturally also the male gender for what is concerned), orientated as to rethink the nature and sense of the cultural hegemony of the last decades, including of course feminism in its different declinations that have at the end become an ally and together instrument, of the current economic/political/finance power. This, even though still practically exerted primarily by males, corresponds to what Claudio Risè defines as the dominion of the Great Mother archetype, characters of which it is now here impossible to describe, but that, in the substance, are psychologically regressive towards a state of continuous adolescence and is both anti-masculine and anti-feminine.

[16 November 2009]