To be a man in the modern age of humanity is to be subject to the same impulses, desires, and limitations as even our distant ancestors, save with one clear difference: we have the power to override the vagaries of our hormones and are encouraged to do so. Encouraged, but at the end of the day, sadly lacking in motivation or courage. It takes conviction to decide that the old patriarchal norms are no longer of substantive value, and that we must place our mantle of societal leadership upon the ground and allow all to have the opportunity to partake of it. We act as if it diminishes us somehow, instead of what it actually does, which is marking us as advanced and enlightened beings. To loose our grip on power that has been ours for so long is not a renunciation of all that we have accomplished, but only a broadening of the scope of possibilities that will make humanity stronger.
Even so, it is not so simple, to merely cast aside what came before in favor of a new and necessary approach to building up our species. When surrounded by rules and laws and history and antiquity that tells us we are the ones to drive mankind forward, how then can it be that, given where we are at, to hand over the reins makes any sense? It is the same self-actualizing thought that tells the junkie or the eater or the alcoholic that they need this, in order to continue on, even when the path to destruction is so well-lit before them. A man, whether he holds power in actuality or within the realm of his own fantasy, is not so quick to simply give it up.
Nowhere is this attitude more prevalent than in sexual relations. Like the battlefield, men seek to dominate the bedroom, with lightning strikes, force of arms, and a display of irresistible power. They expect women to quiver before them, bathed in the radiant glow of their might, ready for subjugation and quest. To a “man,” a woman should be glad that he has given her permission to worship at the altar of his manhood. She should not question it, she should not resist it, she should not deny it; she must embrace it, in all its splendor. At least, that is what his own mind and the society he and his brethren and his ancestors constructed tells him. So it has been , so it always shall be.
Where a woman dares resist, where she decides that she will be the arbiter of delight and dalliance, the man balks, perhaps openly, perhaps secretly. Who is she to deny him? He makes his intention plain enough, and if she chooses to disengage, he chooses to enforce. The simple acts of human relations and sexual exchange become a nightmare of testosterone-fueled strength and devious intent, leading to a woman being shorn of security and integrity, either through simple whistles and catcalls, or through the rough-and-tumble of forced intercourse and eventual rape. Whatever level of power the man summons to display or coerce, he strips away a woman's composure, self-confidence, and trust. That man, any man, is now not just a person in the field of view but a potential aggressor. A whispered voice, an accidental brush, or an imposing bulk, these are no longer innocent occurrences but preludes to attack. A woman must now navigate a world seeming ready to set upon her when she lacks vigilance.
That even now, a man can so easily crush a woman, without even physical contact, is a level of barbarism that our modern society would do well to quash in every conceivable way. However, when men still hold sway and rule the roost, the woman cannot expect surcease. Not every man is so jingoistic, so animalistic, to treat a woman so, but how can she be sure? There is no sign, no sixth sense, no flag to be detected below the level of the ether that clearly marks a man as a potential threat. Even when not confronted by the horror of rape, a woman must still navigate as if the shark is there below the surface, awaiting her.
There is no reason women should fear men; as men, it is up to us to change this climate to something milder and more warming. To do so requires concerted effort, for our society is still overrun with the macho, the manly, and propelled by the ghosts of our hunter-gatherer past. Whereas strength of body and ability might have been necessary in the past, strength of purpose and strength of character are a necessity in this age. It is time to put aside the idea that men must lead and women must follow, that men only can lay the path forward. The barrier that lies in gender must fall, as surely as all those other walls between people have begun to crumble. We must free ourselves of the past, to move forward into the future, together as one.