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Masculinity is a Police-officer with a Pet Wolf



Imagine a police officer, an English bobby with a hat and cane just walking around the streets making sure everyone minds their business. Usually, police officers have companion dogs, mainly German shepherds, but I want you to imagine the police officer with a big direwolf. The kind that is almost as tall as the police officer, the size of a little horsey. The police officer is patrolling the streets with a cane and that big menacing direwolf who is just walking beside him without any leash.


That police officer along with his pet wolf is what I believe masculinity is.


Great thinkers have always divided our minds into two separate entities: Freud called it Id (Feeling mind) and Ego (Thinking Mind), Daniel Kahneman calls it the slow system (Thinking mind) and the fast system (feeling mind). I just call them Thinky and feely. [1]


These two minds are pulling us apart all the time. Feely or feeling mind is impulsive and instinctive. It lives in the moment without any sense of time. It takes stimulus from our environment, interprets through our body into emotions and feeds them into our thinking minds. Feely cannot speak, it can only communicate in the form of feelings, which are in the now. It is feely that makes you devour that big bowl of icecream knowing that you are putting all your weight loss effort down the drain. It is feely that makes you send these drunk texts at 2 am on a Saturday eve. It is feely that makes you impulsively check facebook for the 54th time in an hour. As much as we want to hate it, It is feely that dictates our actions, not our rational minds.


The other mind is the rational mind or Thinky. This mind is biologically located in a part of our brain called Pre-Frontal Cortex. Thinky knows about time [2]. The chatter that is always going on in your head? That's thinky. Always assessing the past and planning for the future [3].


Thinky has access to our longterm memories. But the problem is that thinky is slow. Ever been in a situation where you reacted almost instantly and later realized what the hell happened? That later realization is your thinking brain contemplating how it got hijacked for a moment by the thinking brain. It is thinking brain that constantly nags you when you try to do something irrational, because the thinking brain with its conception of time knows that doing this is not best for the future you. This slow, rational policeman is the other half of our mind. It can only suggest actions, it cannot act on them. Acting is what feely does.


But Manan, I didn't come here to know about your pet names for my brain, I came here to know how to become a man.


Glad you asked because here's the thing, when we characterize the thinking brain and feeling brain as masculine entities: Feely is the big direwolf and thinky is the policeman.


When properly trained and petted, the wolf is amazingly intuitive and receptive. It can read its environment, taste the air and feel emotions, without any dependence on words. It has blazingly fast reactions. It is that wolf that makes men compete at video games and drinking parties. It is this wolf that makes men have dad-reflexes. On the outside, this wolf might look menacing, but once properly trained, it is a pleasure to be with.


On the other hand, if the wolf is spoiled, all it would ever want to do would be to tear down people, shag a she-wolf before howling at the moon and then sleeping for 3 days straight.


Then we have the policeman, he is the one that upholds higher values. A person who is a custodian of truth and justice. A person who considers morality as a duty [4], not something you should do to feel good. He is selfless. Someone who would not hesitate to lay down his life for the purpose that he believes in. On the other hand, this policeman can get corrupt too if he starts to value selfish gains. If he starts to believe in impulsive pleasure without any regard for future consequences and let the wolf terrorize others.



This bond between a man and a beast is what masculinity is. It is what Nietzsche referred to when he said that a “Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman--a rope over an abyss". 


When both work as a team, helping each other then masculinity is a force that can shape reality to its will. It is this force of upholding values and tireless competing that has given us this modern life of comfort and freedom. It is this reckless desire to compete that made a man land on the moon and launched the space program. It is this spirit of competition combined with the noblest of values that have brought out legends like Roger Federer and Serena Williams and Simone Biles that makes us look in awe as they sculpt art with their bodies, pushing them to the very edge of human competence. [5]


When this relationship is in balance, it can be the most powerful force in the world. When it is imbalanced, it can degenerate and erode the very foundations of civilization.


There are two ways masculinity can be imbalanced.

 

First is you suppress your wolf, you don't accept what it is feeling. You don't accept your desires and you try to shut them down. This could be related to several things, maybe you were vulnerable some time ago and you got your heart stomped on by a heel. You then decided its best to not let your feelings out, better hide that wolf and become just a thinking machine. As I said before, it is feely that controls our actions, when we try to shy away from it, we are just paralyzed. Just like a car revving but without any gear. No matter how fast you run the engine, the car isn't moving an inch ahead. This results in what is commonly known as the 'nice-guy behavior' where a guy tries to bargain affection with women without explicitly stating his desires and without becoming vulnerable. This is a huge problem and I think that more or less every man has gone through that stage at least once. 


Second-way masculinity can be imbalanced is when you suppress the policeman or your thinking mind. You reject the values that guide you, opting for instant gratification and suppressing the future version of you. This would result in impulsive behavior where you are constantly chasing one high after another. This is you letting your wolf roam free without any leash terrorizing the village people. The trouble with letting your feelings have a free reign is that 'ordinary' becomes boring really really fast. Ask people who fall down the rabbit hole of pornography, at first its just ordinary vanilla sex, the more you let your feelings guide your highs the more it becomes boring, till eventually, you fall into the darkest corners of the web and FBI is knocking at your door. Just like a wolf which gets a taste of the domestic animals who are easy prey, it soon goes to eating people at night and then when eventually he becomes bold enough, he starts hunting in daylight, all while the policeman is drugged lying in a ditch somewhere. 


It is this kind of corruption that is commonly referred to as 'toxic' masculinity. [6]


This analogy also explains the murky issue of consent. Consent is (ideally) never verbalized, it is felt. If your pet wolf is well trained, you will always know and understand the underlying subtext that is going on in that situation. A slight shift in posture, the dilation of the pupils, the quickening of breath. Even if you have never known anything about body language you will feel the comfort (or discomfort) that the other person is feeling. That is why you can never teach men how to talk to women in isolation because all teachings are in the domain of the thinking mind. The feeling mind is trained by awareness, discipline, habits and order. 


Every woman wants a guy with a pet wolf, a wolf that can go all crazy but is always under the watchful eye of the policeman. That's what the male-female dance is about, it's about emotions and feelings. But also discipline and order. This is what makes every woman go starry eyes, a guy who can feel what they want rather than making them verbalize it [7]. And for a guy to do that he has to be in-tune with his pet wolf. He has to accept his darkest desires. He has to be best friends with that terrifying but loving beast.





Notes

  1. My introduction to the thinking and feeling mind came from Mark Manssons new book, read 'Everything is F*cked: A book about hope'

  2. Many scientists believe that it is this conception of time that resulted in humans having consciousness.

  3. Here's a cool little trick, observe the chatter in your head, you will see that it is always related to something about the future or the past, as soon as you observe something that is in the present, like your breath for an instant, the thinky shuts off. That is how mindfulness meditation works by the way

  4. Have to thank Kant for that, read 'The fundamental Principles of the metaphysics of morals'.

  5. Men can have feminine traits and women can have masculine traits in varying degrees.

  6. Personally, I don't like the term toxic masculinity. But I guess we are stuck with it for now.

  7. That is not to say that women cannot lie or cheat or be manipulative. But then again if you have your pet wolf well trained and your policeman isn't corrupt you will sense drama from a mile away.




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