Masculine, Feminine or Human?

In a guest lecture about masculinity to a college class, I ask the students to generate two lists that might help clarify the concept.

For the first, I tell them to imagine themselves as parents whose 12-year-old son asks, “Mommy/daddy, what does it mean to be a man?” The list I write on the board as they respond is not hard to predict: To be a man is to be strong, responsible, loving. Men provide for those around them and care for others. A man weathers tough times and doesn’t give up.

When that list is complete, I ask the women to observe while the men answer a second question: When you are in all-male spaces, such as the locker room or a night out with the guys, what do you say to each other about what it means to be a man? How do you define masculinity when there are no women present?

The students, both men and women, laugh nervously, knowing the second list will be different from the first. The men fumble a bit at first, as it becomes clear that one common way men define masculinity in practice is not through affirmative statements but negative ones — it’s about what a man isn’t, and what a real man isn’t is a woman or gay. In the vernacular: Don’t be a girl, a sissy, a fag. To be a man is to not be too much like a woman or to be gay, which is in large part about being too much like a woman.

From there, the second list expands to other descriptions: To be a man is to be a player, a guy who can attract women and get sex; someone who doesn’t take shit from people, who can stand down another guy if challenged, who doesn’t let anyone else get in his face. Some of the men say they have other ideas about masculinity but acknowledge that in most all-male spaces it’s difficult to discuss them.

When that process is over, I step back and ask the class to consider the meaning of the two lists. On the first list of the culturally endorsed definitions of masculinity, how many of those traits are unique to men? Are women ever strong? Should women be strong? Can women be just as responsible as men? Should women provide and care for others? I ask the students if anyone wants to make the argument that women are incapable of these things, or less capable than men. There are no takers.

I point out the obvious: The list of traits that we claim to associate with being a man — the things we would feel comfortable telling a child to strive for — are in fact not distinctive characteristics of men but traits of human beings that we value, what we want all people to be. The list of understandings of masculinity that men routinely impose on each other is quite different. Here, being a man means not being a woman or gay, seeing relationships as fundamentally a contest for control, and viewing sex as the acquisition of pleasure from a woman. Of course that’s not all men are, but it sums up the dominant, and very toxic, conception of masculinity with which most men are raised in the contemporary United States. It’s not an assertion about all men or all possible ideas about masculinity, but a description of a pattern.

I ask the class: If the positive definitions of masculinity are not really about being a man but simply about being a person, and if the definitions of masculinity within which men routinely operate are negative, why are we holding onto the concept so tightly? Why are we so committed to the notion that there are intellectual, emotional, and moral differences that are inherent, that come as a result of biological sex differences?

From there, I ask them also to think about what a similar exercise around femininity might reveal? How might the patterns be similar or different? If masculinity is a suspect category, it would seem so is femininity.

I have repeated this discussion in several classes over the past year, each time with the same result: Students are uncomfortable. That’s not surprising, given the reflexive way the culture accepts the idea that masculinity and femininity are crucial and coherent categories. People may define the ideal characteristics of masculinity and femininity differently, but most people accept the categories. What if that’s misguided? What if the positive attributes ascribed to “men” are simply positive human characteristics distributed without regard to gender, and the negative ones are the product of toxic patriarchal socialization?

Because the questions flow from their own observations and were not imposed by me, the discomfort is intensified. It’s difficult to shrug this off as just one more irrelevant exercise in abstract theory by a pontificating professor. Whatever the conclusion the students reach, the question is on the table in a way that’s difficult to dismiss.

It’s obvious that there are differences in the male and female human body, most obviously in reproductive organs and hormones. It is possible those differences are significant outside of reproduction, in terms of broader patterns concerning intellectual, emotional, and moral development. But given our limited knowledge about such complex questions, there isn’t much we can say about those differences. In the absence of definitive answers, I prefer to be cautious. After thousands of years of patriarchy in which men have defined themselves as superior to women in most aspects of life, leading to a claim that male dominance is natural and inevitable, we should be skeptical about claims about these allegedly inherent differences between men and women.

Human biology is pretty clear: People are born male or female, with a small percentage born intersexed. But how we should make sense of those differences outside reproduction is not clear. And if we are to make sense of it in a fashion that is consistent with justice — that is, in a feminist context — then we would benefit from a critical evaluation of the categories themselves, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. His latest book is We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (Monkey Wrench Books). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online. He can be reached at: rjensen@austin.utexas.edu. Twitter: @jensenrobertw. Read other articles by Robert, or visit Robert's website.

35 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 6th, 2008 at 5:46am #

    Right on, Robert Jensen. If only the distribution of this information and perspective were not so fragmented, not to say rendom, in the USA.

  2. hp said on June 6th, 2008 at 8:55am #

    Where does the propensity to kill fit into this?

  3. Arch Stanton said on June 6th, 2008 at 12:28pm #

    “In a thousand years, there will be no men and women, just wankers, and that’s fine by me.”

    –Mark Renton

  4. joed said on June 6th, 2008 at 3:40pm #

    hp;
    Where does the propensity to kill fit into this?

    Why do you ask that question hp? and if by “propensity” you mean “predilection” , then what evidence do you have that this “propensity” exists. where does the propensity to “confuse the issue ” fit into this?

  5. ashley said on June 6th, 2008 at 7:27pm #

    Robert,

    I think a lot more is known than is currently acknowledged in our materialist pseudo-scientific age.

    The problem is indeed in the worship of so-called ‘objective truth’ or ‘fact’. When you approach the notion of ‘man’ or ‘woman’ as an isolated, free-standing object of inquiry, you will get nowhere.

    Instead, I offer two simple ideas to help spark further contemplation:

    1. Spark of life principle.
    2. Relativity or ‘Relationality’.

    The first idea is how the life principle involves positive and negative charges on all sorts of levels. Form and space, yin and yang, inner and outer, heaven and earth, night and day, light and dark and so on. When a man and woman ‘come’ together, a new life is made. Powerful stuff. Basic force of nature, creation and so forth. Whether or not we can explain this all in scientific jargon, clearly it is so nevertheless.

    2: So it is not so much what a man is versus what a woman is but what happens when man and woman relate. The one is designed to relate with the other and of course this is far more than simply in the genital zone since that zone itself inter-relates with all the others all the time. But anyway, that’s that simple point that man is a man in relation to woman and vice versa. I’m not saying this is the only way to view it, but it is one helpful aspect or dynamic in contemplating the topic.

    Cultures that ignore the essential difference between the masculine and feminine lose their spark of life. Such differences are not static, objective, permanent, categorical. It is simply that the one is relating to the other, there is a friction, a dance, an exchange. It is about process, or dynamic, not definition.

    A role exists only in relation to others, not in and of itself. So with masculinity and femininity. Sophisticated, or sane, cultures understand this and play with it in all sorts of ways, some very rigid, some quite artfully. The proper relations between men and women are the fire stick that brings to life the flame of any human culture – and there is flame in both heaven and hell. Such relations are inevitable; how artfully they are cultivated in society determines the upliftedness, decency, sanity and sophistication of that culture.

    The Chinese philosphers of yore, especially the daoist adepts, did a lot of studies on this stuff, actually. Little has been translated, unfortunately. But there are living encyclopedias of such knowledge all over the place in traditional cultures – just about every time a joke about a spouse is cracked it glimmers through (the right sort of jokes of course!).

  6. hp said on June 6th, 2008 at 7:28pm #

    Joed, the article does deal with observations of differences between American men and women; psychologically, biologically and culturally.
    It also adresses “patterns concerning intellectual, emotional and moral development.”
    Lastly, the article suggests “we should be skeptical about claims about these allegedly inherent differences between men and women.”
    I’m offering another aspect of an inherent difference between men and women that ain’t so alleged, but proven.
    And yes I mean propensity, as in an inclination, a tendency, a habit of killing which starts at a very young age and for boys, though never seems to start at all for girls.
    Perhaps Mr. Jensen could introduce a bee or a mouse into the classroom and see what happens with who.
    After all, killing is the ultimate expression of superority, is it not?

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 6th, 2008 at 7:56pm #

    I vote for academic “respectability” compared to ashley’s soft analysis and hp’s mice and bees. You have to deal with students, right? I can’t imagine a more effective way to introduce thought about hyper-sexuality to college level idiots than Robert Jensen’s.

    May be I misunderstand hp, but the females of many species are highly aggressive (you know, eat their mates after mating, in the case of praying mantises), but the step from animals to humans is a large and incommensurable one. I think Francis Crick gave up on making substantial progress on the human brain. And computers are still toys.

    Oh yeah. joed’s dingling us with trying to distinguish “predeliction” from “propensity.” The meaning of a word is in its use? They’re used interchangeably.

  8. hp said on June 6th, 2008 at 9:37pm #

    Indubitably.

  9. Brian Koontz said on June 6th, 2008 at 9:38pm #

    The point of “male locker room talk” has nothing to do with truth, but rather with militarizing the culture. It increases the brutality of the culture as a whole. I wonder how many murders, rapes, and alienation in general results largely or partially from such conversations.

    Capitalism fuels not just patriarchy but brutality, on both the male and female side. When humans compete for resources it’s a zero-sum game, and anything goes. So any psychological, physical, economic or social form of aggression “within the law” is considered not just acceptable but desirable. “Male locker room talk”, which furthers this aggression, is a very good idea within a capitalist system. Dominating others, controlling others, results in profit and gain, as any honest member of the ruling class will tell you. Nowadays the preferred term is “managing” others.

    So you can try whatever “reforms” or “education” you wish, but nothing positive will happen until the structural causes of brutality are destroyed. There are some curious contradictions for a professor whose bourgeois paycheck is based on the capitalist system of brutality itself. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a raise when some “male locker room” monster successfully (further) exploits the Middle East, resulting in more capital to be passed along to the directly-state-funded class of humans whose role is to articulate and control truths created by society while pretending that they are the ones who create them.

    There are many forms of exploitation, and many links between the “good” people of the world and the monsters who accumulate and control wealth. Until we destroy the monsters and their system and structures, none of us can truly be good.

  10. Rosana said on June 7th, 2008 at 3:43am #

    That\’s the only reason why people don\’t talk about it.

  11. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 8th, 2008 at 6:09am #

    Thank you for this “pure Marxist” contribution, Brian. Methinks academia is most attuned to, and consequently receptive to this form of radical analysis of the present.

  12. Brian Koontz said on June 8th, 2008 at 7:44am #

    We have Chomsky as well as 9/11 to thank for opening up the left to vibrancy and criticism. I lived through the nihilistic distraught hellhole of the 1990s in America where seemingly the left had vanished entirely, or became ineffectual parodies of human beings. I’m told this is because of the fall of the Soviet Union, which seems pretty ridiculous since the vast majority of the left never supported totalitarian communism. Perhaps I’m told this by the articulate class who saw in authoritarianism their own hopes and dreams of dominance reflected, just dominance in the cause of “good” (communism) instead of “evil” (capitalism). This class completely ignored the populist masses who always have supported socialism and anarchism.

    Thus this “shift to the left” we talk about is more accurately described as a shift to the popular left, and away from the bourgeois left, otherwise known as “progressives”, who during the 1990s were shown for the feeble lovers of authoritarianism that they still are. Yet professors, who have the time and resources to hone their articulations to a razor-sharp edge, always manage to get their two cents in, while the masses are still oppressed and held down.

    If this continues, we’ll see more professors “discovering anarchism”. We should be skeptical of such discoveries of the bourgeois.

  13. Anonymous said on June 8th, 2008 at 10:03am #

    I have this to say too all people who claim to be for social justice and equality:

    A quote from Thus Spake Zarathustra – “You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue… Mistrust all who talk of their justice… And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be Pharisees, if only they had power.”

    … but what can you do? It’s in our nature to either be the dominant or the dominated… regardless of gender. How is that for equality?

    “A Man with a gun can control 100 without one.” – Vladimir Lenin

    I like people like these… People that aren’t afraid to acknowledge the cold brutality and barbarism of mankind. People that have no delusions.

  14. Kevan Giffen said on June 8th, 2008 at 10:10am #

    I have this to say too all people who claim to be for social justice and equality:

    A quote from Thus Spake Zarathustra – “You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue… Mistrust all who talk of their justice… And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be Pharisees, if only they had power.”

    … but what can you do? It’s in our nature to either be the dominant or the dominated… regardless of gender. How is that for equality?

    “A Man with a gun can control 100 without one.” – Vladimir Lenin

    I like people like these… People that aren’t afraid to acknowledge the cold brutality and barbarism of mankind. People that have no delusions.

    - Kevan J Giffen

  15. hp said on June 8th, 2008 at 10:12am #

    The “left” is a very comfortable, fashionably righteous and intellectually correct place to be, that is, when the good times are rolling.

  16. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 8th, 2008 at 5:11pm #

    Well, Brian. Chomsky is a self-described anarchist of a sort, and he wrote an enormous amount before 1990. But where we really differ is in your explanation for the left’s failures since the “nihilistic distraught hellhole of the 1990s.”

    Although the left was not even radical then, it was grasping at the same straws as it had been hoping would “ignite” the masses at least since Watergate. This hope, combined with a

  17. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 8th, 2008 at 5:19pm #

    Well, Brian. Chomsky is a self-described anarchist-of-a-sort, and he wrote an enormous amount before 1990. But where we really differ is in your explanation for the left’s failures bigning with and since the “nihilistic distraught hellhole of the 1990s.”

    Although the left was not even radical in the 1990′s, it was grasping at the same straws as it had been hoping would “ignite” the masses at least since Watergate. This hope, combined with a not-totally unjustified fear that real radicalism — a la Malcolm X and the Black Panthers — would subject them to the same treatment (as well as set back if not end their imagined progress with middle Americans), largely explains their contribution to the nihilistic nineties.

    Or didn’t you, Brian my man, stand in amazed and thankful wonder when Bill Clinton beat George Bush?

  18. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 8th, 2008 at 5:25pm #

    Thanks for adding your name, Kevan. There evidently are still a lot of people out there who believe, “The message is the thing, and the name of it’s author is irrelevant.”

  19. Brian Koontz said on June 9th, 2008 at 6:06am #

    In reply to Lloyd Rowsey:

    To answer your last question – I was nearly apolitical prior to 2002

    “Although the left was not even radical in the 1990’s, it was grasping at the same straws as it had been hoping would “ignite” the masses at least since Watergate. This hope, combined with a not-totally unjustified fear that real radicalism — a la Malcolm X and the Black Panthers — would subject them to the same treatment (as well as set back if not end their imagined progress with middle Americans), largely explains their contribution to the nihilistic nineties.”

    Both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were moving toward global socialism. Malcolm X made that explicit during his trips to Africa near the end of his life while Martin Luther King, Jr. made a less impressive display of such in his April 4, 1967 speech at Riverside. That is what the bourgeois left feared and still fear – the loss of their economic, political, and military dominance over the world. Your argument about “subjected to the same treatment” is a red herring, formulated by the bourgeois itself to justify their own monstrosity. What they don’t want to be subjected to is the sharing of their criminally-gained wealth with the exploited masses of the world.

    The bourgeois left is racist and fully believes in Western Supremacy. This is why global socialism is not on the table for them, and why they support (while claiming to oppose) the assassination of any figure who emerges as a strong proponent of global socialism. This is also why they are feeble or nonexistent in their denunciations of the Class of Civilizations argument for Western expropriation of the Middle East.

    “I like people like these… People that aren’t afraid to acknowledge the cold brutality and barbarism of mankind. People that have no delusions.”

    What have people like these ever done for the world, other than justify and rationalize brutality under the name of “human nature”? These are the people who provide the articulated framework for mass murderers. Nietzsche may have had his good moments, but he was abusive and corrupt. Nietzsche’s bad conscience accurately reflected his inner morality or lack thereof.

    It’s necessary to acknowledge brutality, but take care that the light shined upon such never glorifies or normalizes it.

  20. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 9th, 2008 at 6:14am #

    I’ll read more of this “rebuttal” later. But re Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, where do you get your info? From the movies? Wake up and smell the militancy in history, man.

  21. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 9th, 2008 at 6:16am #

    Otherwise, with regard to me, you’re just repeating what you posted before. TRY to deal with my arguments, Brian.

  22. Kevan Giffen said on June 9th, 2008 at 11:15am #

    Brian,
    What has Nietzsche done for the world? He was the original existentialist and was a major inspiration for the movement. He gave us a new way of thinking about the world, and it only appears to be an “immoral” or “corrupt” vision to people who really don’t understand his writings. People like his sister.
    Vladimir Lenin was brutal? He was, but people are all too fond of focusing on the negative in people… Just look at celebrity tabloids. He transformed Russia into a truly modern state with equality and industrialization. In fact, Russia gave women equal rights before it was even a thought in the United States. Thanks to Vladimir Lenin, of course.
    -Kevan J Giffen

  23. Kevan Giffen said on June 9th, 2008 at 11:23am #

    Brian,

    …and please do not tell me that you are so naive as to believe that brutality is not normal and perfectly commonplace? Humans are animals with delusions of grandeur. Don’t believe me? Pick up a history book.

    -Kevan J Giffen

  24. Brian Koontz said on June 9th, 2008 at 6:32pm #

    “But re Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, where do you get your info? From the movies? Wake up and smell the militancy in history, man.”

    Your argument is that blacks (or non-whites in general), once they attain power, will do something varying from small-militant violence against (like lynch mobs) to genocide of whites. This is nothing other than the justification for bourgeois and elite whites to perpetually maintain capitalist brutality which terrorizes and enslaves the world. In effect this argument says – if we take blacks off their leash, they’ll kill us. Therefore we must maintain the leash. This is the fear of the criminal – if I stop committing the oppressive crime, the victim will kill me.

    Your argument that race revenge will be carried out has no basis in fact. Global socialism is by nature a peaceful project, which has nothing to do with “nonviolent resistance”. Also, any effective form of socialism is highly likely to incorporate white support, which means assuring them that revenge will not be enacted. Also, the capitalist system is a set of structures, not a set of DNA. Certainly some humans will die as part of the structural destruction of capitalism, and to quote a popular military phrase that will be “collateral damage”. It will be a minor part of the process.

    Both King and Malcolm X, to the extent that they advocated violence at all merely advocated it in self-defense.

    Bourgeois whites always project what *they* would do to what others would do. They love their revenge so they assume everyone else does as well.

    “…and please do not tell me that you are so naive as to believe that brutality is not normal and perfectly commonplace? Humans are animals with delusions of grandeur. Don’t believe me? Pick up a history book.”

    That’s wrong. Recent history (the past couple thousands of years) has been terrible, due primarily to concentrations of power (it’s monarchs and ruling elite who go to war). Prior to this Age of Centralized Power human life was not particularly brutal, no more so than that of other species.

    The reason Indigenous Americans didn’t have much brutality wasn’t their DNA or their culture – it was their decentralized political system.

    The only people with “delusions of grandeur” are those with the possibility of fulfilling those monstrosities. Hence the solution is to create and maintain a system of decentralized power, and whatever humans exist who would have “delusions of grandeur” would simply not be able to realize them. A few Hitlers running around aren’t a big problem. A few Hitlers running around who control vast armies are.

    “He gave us a new way of thinking about the world, and it only appears to be an “immoral” or “corrupt” vision to people who really don’t understand his writings.”

    According to this argument there can be no criticism of Nietzsche, because any such criticism merely implies a lack of understanding. Defenders of Nietzsche almost always use this argument.

    Nietzsche is contradictory, and the reason for that is that Nietzsche is corrupt. To put it in Marxian terms, Nietzsche was both bourgeois and proletarian. In Christian terms, Nietzsche was both good and evil. One day Nietzsche worshiped the warrior and the next day he worshiped Jesus. Throughout this whole process Nietzsche merely claimed to be “exploring” the world of ideas. For Nietzsche everything was allowed – everything was permitted. He self-exulted this process as being a form of intellectual bravery – he was the most masturbatory of all philosophers. Most of his philosophy, including the concept of the inner war between opposites, that of the eternal return, that of the will to power, that of having “no regrets”, were done to make himself feel better about himself. He was always doing a form of self-therapy. The time is soon coming when Nietzsche will be seen for what he is. That is not to say that good things cannot be extracted from Nietzsche, just as good things can always be extracted from the corrupt.

  25. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 10th, 2008 at 6:31am #

    I said nothing and implied nothing about “race revenge”, Brian. I don’t know where the hell you get your ludicrous misreadings of my words. And THIS reply. I’ll try to STUDY it later, but presently see little chance that ANY forum will prove productive for your and my “communications.”

    Howsoever, you may email me at moc.liamgnull@yesworlg….but don’t expect a reply, soon if ever.

  26. Kevan Giffen said on June 10th, 2008 at 1:25pm #

    It’s impossible to have an objective debate with a self-righteous Marxist…

    Brian,

    Native American tribes were not perfectly peaceful, they got into conflicts just like any other civilization. This is because humanity thrives on conflict and struggle as do all living things, without it we would stagnate. Look at how many technological advancements came from WWII…

    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche ;)

    … and critics of Nietzsche almost always claim he is a corrupt psychopath. This is because they approach his philosophy with enough moral biased and idealistic bigotry to fill a vacuum. Nietzsche was a hedonist. I hardly think there is anything wrong with that… Unless, of course, you are a Christian Fundamentalist.

    It’s pretty obvious to me that you have not read his work, and if you have it was something translated 50 years ago. (You have to remember that most of his works were corrupted by his sister for the Nazis and that only now are people actually beginning to understand with new unbiased translations, etc.)

  27. Kevan Giffen said on June 10th, 2008 at 1:39pm #

    Brian,

    I love how you say: “Certainly some humans will die as part of the structural destruction of capitalism, and to quote a popular military phrase that will be “collateral damage”. It will be a minor part of the process.”

    …and then go on to criticize Nietzschean morality. I think you are the one that is “contradictory” and “corrupt”

    Not that I have any problem with violent resistance to capitalism… Morality is relative in my book… I just felt like calling you out on that…

  28. hp said on June 10th, 2008 at 6:29pm #

    “I could become the Buddha of Europe.”
    Nietzsche

  29. Brian Koontz said on June 11th, 2008 at 5:28am #

    “Although the left was not even radical in the 1990’s, it was grasping at the same straws as it had been hoping would “ignite” the masses at least since Watergate. This hope, combined with a not-totally unjustified fear that real radicalism — a la Malcolm X and the Black Panthers — would subject them to the same treatment (as well as set back if not end their imagined progress with middle Americans), largely explains their contribution to the nihilistic nineties.”

    You’re getting self-righteous, Lloyd. I’m addressing your use of “not-totally unjustified”. You are supporting the notion of race revenge. It seems extremely unlikely that this is a misreading, but if it is go ahead and explain the meaning of your words.

    “Not that I have any problem with violent resistance to capitalism… Morality is relative in my book… I just felt like calling you out on that…”

    Whatever. Capitalists will recognize the structural decay and become more repressive, and there will be a moment(s) of great tension and great violence. This is a matter of self-defense as the State terrorizes innocents in the name of maintaining the status quo or in their terminology, “stopping terrorists”. Successful self-defense against the State is in fact, revolutionary, as the Black Panthers understood. Shifts away from capitalism always include corporeal deaths, as Venezuela and Bolivia are only the latest examples of. And despite the celebratory attitude of the left, those are fairly minor shifts away from capitalism, still fundamentally supporting the global capitalist system. A major shift would be far more violent. Another transition to examine is the one from communism to capitalism that the Soviet Union underwent in the ’90s.

    You should worry less about the possibly upcoming short-lived “violent resistance to capitalism” and worry more about the second-by-second perpetual violence OF capitalism.

    “Native American tribes were not perfectly peaceful, they got into conflicts just like any other civilization. This is because humanity thrives on conflict and struggle as do all living things, without it we would stagnate. Look at how many technological advancements came from WWII…”

    You mean like nuclear weapons, “advances” in biology that can lead to a holocaust of man-made plagues, greater industrialization that has increased the rate of global warming, or various handheld or home-based devices that have desocialized and atomized whole societies? Please, tell me all about these “technological advancements from WWII”.

    Humanity doesn’t thrive on conflict, but conflict is a necessary part of life in a world of varied desires and limited resources. That doesn’t mean that conflict should be glorified or put on a pedestal, as your corrupt “heroes”, including Mr. Nietzsche, too often do.

    “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche ;)

    The words of every sado-masochist, spoken with more articulation. Reality is far different, as pretty much anyone can tell you, including disabled victims of the wars you glorify as “tremendous examples of the conflict that we thrive on”.

    How about you ask Iraqis about Nietzsche’s phrase, and get back to me on the answer. Or are you going to use the handmaiden of the masochist with the phrase “survival of the fittest”?

    What’s the matter, scared to ask Iraqis that question? Oh, but you’re surely not worried, right, because “what does not kill you only makes you stronger” and if that doesn’t work, it’s “survival of the fittest”.

    Nietzsche and Darwin – they justify pain, violence, and death at every turn. It’s no wonder they are two of the major heroes of Western Imperialism. Where would the 20th century have been without such luminaries?

  30. Kevan Giffen said on June 11th, 2008 at 9:34am #

    Brian,

    I’ll say it again…

    “You preachers of equality, the tyrannomania of impotence clamors thus out of you for equality: your most secret ambitions to be tyrants thus shroud themselves in words of virtue… Mistrust all who talk of their justice… And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be Pharisees, if only they had power.” – Zarathustra

    You continue to advocate violence and oppression in the name of social justice. You want to trade one oppression (the oppression of the proletariat) for another oppression (the oppression of the bourgeoisie). How charmingly despotic…

    Technological advancements of WWII? Nuclear Power would probably be the most obvious and greatest achievement of the war. It provides power to the masses of China because purchasing oil would be too expensive (due to how incredibly over populated China is) and would destroy their progressive economy.

    Struggle and conflict give us problems to solve. Without problems to solve our society would stagnate. I’m not just talking about war… Women struggled for equal rights and our society progressed and made us stronger.

    “or various handheld or home-based devices that have desocialized and atomized whole societies?”

    Yes, Yes… let’s go back to sticks and stones in the name of gregariousness! I doubt even you in your profound fanaticism would be willing to do that…

    I never even brought up Darwin, but whatever… I’ll go with it…

    “Survival of the Fittest” is outdated. Now its more like “Survival of the economically fittest”. For example, look at the life expectancy of any third world country and compare it to that of a pro-western industrialized nation like Germany. Our take me for example, I don’t have health insurance and barely make enough money to pay my bills much less feed myself… I’ll probably die of some generic disease by the time I’m 30. Compare this to the life of Bill Gates. Survival of the economically fittest.

  31. Kevan Giffen said on June 11th, 2008 at 9:52am #

    “Nietzsche and Darwin – they justify pain, violence, and death at every turn. It’s no wonder they are two of the major heroes of Western Imperialism. Where would the 20th century have been without such luminaries?”

    Western Imperialism is extremely entangled in Zionism… I can totally see how a guy who was extremely opposed to the Church and went around saying “God is dead” would be their poster child…

  32. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said on June 11th, 2008 at 7:37pm #

    Great article. I really enjoyed reading and pondering!

  33. Pierre Mhanna said on June 17th, 2008 at 4:09am #

    Justify Pain.
    Pain is a fact of life, and it is one of the reasons that gives rise to the “absurd life”, Camus’ famous word. Our want of justice and understanding, and our inability to achieve that in our lives. The rift is thus created between our ideals, and the facts provided by life.

    Nothing comes easy, and it is all the more interesting because it doesn’t. It therefore takes a lot of work, determination to overcome what is thereby driven our way. It takes a lot of pondering and reading to grasp what is said and make up our ideas and thoughts.
    The harder the assignment, the stronger we will have to be, the more effort we will invest to overcome it, and in the process become wider and deeper ourselves.
    Closing our eyes and looking the other way, will not detract from this observation.

    Nietzsche as an imperialist!
    What about Marx as an imperialist: they cannot represent themselves, so they must be represented.
    I take Marx, Nietzsche and Freud to be the radicals of the Western Culture, and therefore closer to me, my thinking than other mainstream figures, by the fact that they are harsh critics of Western Culture in general.

  34. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 24th, 2008 at 10:49pm #

    Brian. I wrote (and I quote): Although the left was not even radical in the 1990’s, it was grasping at the same straws as it had been hoping would “ignite” the masses at least since Watergate. This hope, combined with a not-totally unjustified fear that real radicalism — a la Malcolm X and the Black Panthers — would subject them to the same treatment (as well as set back if not end their imagined progress with middle Americans), largely explains their contribution to the nihilistic nineties.

    You responded (and I quote): You’re getting self-righteous, Lloyd. I’m addressing your use of “not-totally unjustified”. You are supporting the notion of race revenge. It seems extremely unlikely that this is a misreading, but if it is go ahead and explain the meaning of your words.

    My words meant that white American radicals believed with some justification that the same white forces that terrorized Malcolm X and the Black Panthers would terrorize them, were they to continue to be as militant as they had been at the height of their identification of their problems with the problems which African American radicals were confronting.

    There is nothing self-rightous about my words, Brian, and they neither say nor imply anything about “race revenge.” And if they denigrate anyone, it is white radicals/militants having the presumption to believe their situation could be compared with the situation of black radical/militants, in America.

  35. Scott said on July 25th, 2008 at 10:58pm #

    As someone who is androgynous, I feel that my entire life I’ve been discriminated against because I did not fit our society’s definition of masculine. How do I begin to repair a self-image that has been ripped to shreds by such a seemingly small difference? I even feel that my bisexuality is a result of childhood taunts that made me more willing to explore having sex with other men if I were already convicted of these acts in the minds of my peers. I am intelligent, educated, and kind to other people, yet I feel that I have been prevented from most types of success by being viewed as a “sissy.”