Recently I’ve really become acutely aware of the effects of the dominant patriarchal structures in society on both women and men. Now before you decide that this is an angry feminist rant touting all men as the enemy, please hear me out.
My intention is to highlight the effects of toxic masculinity so that people can become aware of how it may play out in their own lives, and how this may be remedied. I am a firm believer that awareness is key, and an essential stepping stone to real sustainable positive change. As we all contain both masculine and feminine energy regardless of our biological gender, this applies to both men and women. A woman is capable of embodying toxic masculine energy as much as a man and vice versa.
As I mentioned in my previous article, Transform the Distorted, the wounded masculine plays out in a plethora of ways. (Please note that I only use “he” purely for convenience. As noted above, this can apply to both a biological man or woman).
The wounded masculine has a distinct air of righteousness. He constructs emotional walls and withdraws when feeling threatened or challenged. He is stoic, uncommunicative, overpowering, physically aggressive and avoidant. He feels a deep inner sense of insecurity and unworthiness. The wounded masculine is emotionally vacant and refrains from expressing vulnerability.
Unfortunately the wounded masculine archetype is still at large in our modern world, the embodiment of which is particularly evident in the dating scene, the workplace and male/female relationships. This dynamic appears to be reflected in TV shows, particularly over the last twenty years.
The infamous Showtime series Dexter is a prime example of this. He is undoubtedly secretive in most of his relationships, frequently uncommunicative and refrains from expressing vulnerability for the most part. We see that he’s basically a cold hearted killer who revels in luring his victims to a plastic wrapped bloody demise. Despite all of this, he’s also a massive softie, and has a great fondness for the women in his life, most notably his beloved sister Deb.
It is through his relationship with her, the feminine energy, that his softer and more compassionate side seeps through despite his frequent bloodlust. Some may argue that his relationship with Deb is codependent and therefore unhealthy. While this may be true, it may also be his saving grace, keeping him connected to his divine feminine energy of kindness and compassion.
Another more recent example of the embodied wounded masculine is the recent Netflix original series You, which explores a book shop owner’s obsession with Beck, a young aspiring writer, and the lengths he is willing to go to in order to win her affections, including murder. In this example, the protagonist Joe embodies distorted masculine qualities like control where he attempts to exert his own will over Beck by feverishly stalking her every move both physically and online in order to become the ‘perfect boyfriend,’ and fulfil some kind of distorted rescue fantasy.
Similar to Dexter, Joe is very secretive and lives a double life – devoted and loving boyfriend by day, murderous vigilante by night. He goes to great lengths to keep this shadow aspect from his beloved feminine by means of hiding the belongings or ‘trophies’ of his victims in a shoebox in the ceiling above the toilet in his apartment. He also uses the locked glass enclosure which houses rare books in the basement of his book store to imprison his prey before killing them.
You explores spiritual concepts such as the law of attraction and the dark night of the soul. This is evident when Joe recieves a beating from his alcoholic wife beating neighbour Ron as karma for murdering Beck’s best friend Peach, whom he deemed to be standing in the way of his beloved. We also see how Beck is pushed to her limit which forces her to shed the false sense of self she has been operating under, and stand strong in her own truth. This is expressed through the writing and publication of her first novel.
Beck uses her distorted feminine wiles to convince Joe to let her free with the false promise of her unconditional love. We can see clearly through this example that the distorted masculine energy erodes away at the feminine until she becomes so angry and enraged at his control and deception that she fights back and becomes vile and manipulative in retaliation. We see that the patriarchy keeps the masculine and feminine in separation, locked in a toxic dance of illusion. Ultimately, the patriarchy completely destroys the feminine, and we see this in a very literal example where Joe kills his beloved in order to protect himself.
You is about real genuine unconditional love versus codependent love based on patriarchal control. Both Joe and Beck approach their relationship from a place of scarcity and poor self esteem. In their own ways, they try to get what they want from the other rather than loving them for exactly who they are. In the end, it is the patriarchal structure that interferes with the core of unconditional love that exists between the masculine and the feminine.
There are various schools of thought which address the problem of the patriarchy and how to overcome the negativity that arises from it. While some of these approaches are inherently unbalanced, there are others that just seem to make a lot of sense. In my opinion, the work of Regena Thomashauser in her book, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts holds the key.
Thomashauser or ‘Mama Gena’ as she affectionately calls herself argues that women are the greatest untapped resource in the world, and that if everyone can embrace the essence of the feminine in it’s greatest form, then we can obliterate patriarchy and the world will be a much better place.
She further notes that when a woman is happy, joyful and content, she radiates this energy out to the world affecting everyone around her in a myriad of positive ways. Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts teaches women to find the joy and passion in their lives regardless of their external circumstances and live from a place of pleasure rather than lack and misery.
This is certainly not to say that the feminine is superior to the masculine or anything like that. It is just highlighting that feminine energy can be intensely powerful and positive when utilised, valued and respected. In our current patriarchal system, we do not value the feminine in this way which has lead a host of issues, some of which have been highlighted in this article.
When it is truly embraced, the love of a good woman, the feminine goddess has the capacity to uplift humanity and create a safe space of healing for us all.