As they say, “There is always a flip side to every coin.” I have already written about how it is the elite, within any culture, that forms, frames, and defines that culture. The Patriarchy defined woman, but also defined man in that process. It goes, without saying, that it is a hard act to follow.
Seeing as all of these posts are aimed at a discussion of a series of “Feminine” myths, I thought it appropriate to write about the main male myth, here. It is called the Mono-myth, because it is Universal, known, in one form or another, world-wide, and some version of it may be found in most cultures. The Mono-myth is the story of the Hero’s Journey. It isn’t just one story, but comes in many different shapes, formed by the traditions of whatever society created it.
Joseph Campbell, the leading Mythologist of the past century, broke down the Hero’s Journey into 18 stages, or parts. Each stage requires some sort of challenge or test that must be completed before the next stage is entered. Can you see where this is going?
I am not about to outline those entire 18 stages, but will give you a brief synopsis, only.
It all begins in a Common World, where the would be Hero lives an everyday existence. But, there is some sort of problem in that World, a problem that needs to be healed. The young, would be Hero, is called upon, or shanghaied, into going in search of the magic elixir that will help his world. He meets all kinds of people, some are friends, companions on his quest, others are guides or mentors, and of course there are those who will be his sworn enemies. He enters a whole new realm of existence, where he must learn new rules, and earn his own place within that new world. He must face and overcome ordeals, but eventually gets the opportunity to gain possession of the elixir he seeks. To do that, he must fight to acknowledge, accept, and heal his own flawed character. He is, after all, only human, which means he is imperfect. After all of that, having obtained whatever elixir he seeks, he must decide to either continue his questing, or return to his Common World. If he continues the quest, he will meet and must overcome even more obstacles. If he returns home, he must learn that because he has been altered by his experience, home can never really be the same as it once was.
That’s my nutshell version of the Mono-myth. But, you get the idea. Life is a constant battle that must be faced and the individual must pass all these tests, or never become a Hero. Think of King Arthur, Lancelot, and Percival, and the search for the Grail. These were the tales handed down from one generation to the next, that defined what a real man should, or could become.
But, again, we must look at the fact that the elite within any society comprises less than one third of that society. And very few of that small number, ever attain that hallowed definition. Most simply rely on the past, the blood, or name, of some long distant descendant who somehow managed to gain a foothold into those upper echelons. The fact that blood, and fame, is thinned over time, doesn’t seem to enter that reality. Most often, the upper class sees its position as one of privilege, rather than responsibility.
What then, of the common man, the head of the household? That one who will never be a part of that ‘higher’ class? He is still held to that same definition. He never really gets to rest, does he? He must go out and work to provide for his family, but then come home and still be in a constant leadership position. Yes, he may have a wife, but he has also discovered that she might have a mind of her own. He works under the authority of others the majority of the time, but then must take on the mantle of authority in the one place he should be able to find rest. His “partner”, as defined by society, is just another responsibility. How does he find peace, let alone the time and energy it takes to explore his own identity, find his soul, and let that soul speak to him? How does he find worth in his own person? He has been put in a no-win situation. Should it really be a surprise that there is so much anger, violence, and abuse occurring on a daily basis? Constantly needing to prove oneself has its own high level of frustration. Talk about being fitted with an iron belt that has no key.
The problem becomes huge when men are taught to see women as less than, weaker, needing to be taught their place, and to be somehow ‘controlled’ (think of the word submissive). What actually happens here is a constant battle for some sort of control. Some semblance of value and viability. Two partners who have never been taught equal partnership, involved in a constant undefined struggle, underneath the ongoing, sometimes all consuming desire to just find meaning.
Here’s another quote to fuel this discussion: