When I was 21, and living in Israel, my mother sent me a letter. She had taken my savings and invested in a town house.
“Now, you are a mensch,” she said.
What did she mean? How did owning a house make me “a man?” I wanted to be defined by character, not by real estate.
I came of age at a time when youth was “looking for identity” (the 1960’s). I was searching for it in Israel. Later, I became a Canadian nationalist. In each case, I didn’t find identity in “community.”
For centuries men have defined their identities in terms of masculinity. Why was I so clueless?
I had a strong patriarchal father who was an excellent role model. He built a successful career, and supported his family well.
“Work is the backbone of a man,” he would tell me. It is a man’s most important decision. A wife is the second.
But for some reason, his example didn’t register. Why not?
I was a feminist.
I grew up in an era that was sold the feminist lie that men and women are identical. In our culture, women are encouraged to do everything men do, and vice-versa. I believe in equal opportunity but feminists pretended equal means identical and this retarded my personal development by 25 years. I doubt if I am alone.
“Identical” made me look for myself in a mate. I was literally attracted to lithe young women with cropped boyish haircuts: my Jungian persona.
I sublimated my search for my identity in love for a woman. A woman had the key so I idealized her. Loving her would give me my soul. My love had a religious fervour. (Romantic “love” is the ersatz religion today.) Some women were immediately repelled. Others enjoyed the adulation for a while, but eventually lost respect.
What I needed was someone quite different from me, my feminine complement, a helpmate, not a soul mate.
It hasn’t hit us yet but eventually gender feminism will be recognized for what it is: a subversive, anti-feminine, anti-heterosexual ideology that makes men and women dysfunctional so they cannot bond permanently.Women have usurped the masculine identity, and in the process both sexes have lost their own. It diverts women into careers and promiscuity, and men like me into the dead end of idealization.
Unbelievably, the destruction of heterosexuality is the stated goal of many feminists who believe gender differences are not only unnatural but also the source of <>all injustice<>. The leading feminist thinkers, including Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir, were Communists, and many also were lesbians. But they wouldn’t have succeeded if they had been up front about their bizarre revolutionary goal, which is to destroy the heterosexual family.
If feminism were really about choice, it would not coerce women to enter the work force and become “independent.” It would not demonize men, heterosexuality and family.
Feminism is about power not choice. “No women should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children,” said Simone de Beauvoir. “Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one” (Saturday Review, June 14, 1975).
Feminism is essentially lesbian in the sense that lesbians have always have always hated the female role and coveted the male role. It is based on Marxist notions of “equality” and class conflict that have no relevance to a mystical reality such as love. It is a cheap swindle designed to deprive both women and men of family.
We do not find wholeness by trying to incorporate masculine and feminine in ourselves but by uniting with our complement. Heterosexual love is the attraction of opposites. Indeed, as heterosexuals we define ourselves in terms of these differences. If we are male, we are not female, and vice-versa, like darkness and light. Because I denied these differences, I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t understand women, and I didn’t know how to relate to them.
I was almost 50-years-old before I began to solve the riddle. A book The Flight from Woman (1964) by Karl Stern, a Canadian psychiatrist, confirmed what my instincts were telling me. My mother had been right all along. A man makes the house; the woman makes the home.
According to Stern, masculinity is defined by power. Men provide the physical, social and cultural context for the private world of family. Men are doers: adventurers and builders, protectors and providers.
Femininity is defined by “loving relationships.” Feminine psychology is based on nurturing husband and children, and thereby being needed and loved in return. Women circulate love in the family much like the heart in the body. Their self-sacrifice starts love on its circuit.
While men define themselves by deeds, women simply “are”: beauty, grace, faith and goodness. Men tend to be rational and objective, women subjective, intuitive and emotional.
The feminist gospel that traditional sex roles are “oppressive” is wrong. For many people, a flexible interpretation of traditional roles may be essential for happiness and fulfillment.
I extrapolated from Karl Stern’s distinctions.
If men want power and women want love, heterosexual love must be an exchange of the two.
A woman surrenders her power, in trust. This is how a woman expresses her love: by trusting. In this way, women actually empower men. If a man betrays this trust, he loses his power.
In return for accepting his leadership, a woman gets what she really wants: a man’s power expressed as intense, undivided love for her. He includes her in his sphere of self-interest. This is how two people become one. She is part of him. Her happiness is his happiness.
Women want masculine power, but in a man. A girlfriend said that without a man, she feels “like a rudderless boat.” Similarly, a man without a woman is a rudder without a boat.
Teaching women to challenge masculine power prevents them from getting the love they really seek.
A man cannot love a woman who is competing with him for power. Masculinity is defined by power; such a woman is challenging his identity.
Relationships between so-called “equals” are like mergers or roommates. Psychiatrist Irene Claremont de Castillejo calls them “brother-sister” marriages (Knowing Women: A Feminine Psychology, 1973). They cannot achieve the intimacy as when a woman surrenders her will to a man, and a man returns this trust with wholehearted love. Some psychiatrists say sexual satisfaction is also linked to this ability to trust and surrender power completely. (See my “The Power of Sexual Surrender”)
Feminine women are creatures of God. In love, they sacrifice their “selves” in return for love, which in many religions is the key to transcendence. Helen Deutsch described this masochist-narcissist syndrome in her classic The Psychology of Women: A Psychoanalytic Interpretation (1944). The majority of women achieve fulfillment by becoming wives and mothers. Of course, this is what nature intended.
Nor can women love men with whom they compete. Women are hypergamous. They seek men of higher status than themselves. Even the most ardent heterosexual feminist only can love someone more powerful than she. Needless to say the higher she rises, the slimmer the pickings.
The struggle for power is poisoning male-female relations. It is the death of love. Men cannot give up their defining characteristic and expect to be men. Women cannot criticize and challenge men and expect to be loved. When I finally comprehended this, I felt liberated. I established a healthy relationship with a woman who is my female complement, and married her.
The universal complaint is that men don’t know how to be men, and women how to be women. It helps to see heterosexual love as a mystical dance. In a dance, the male leads, the female follows. You can’t have a graceful dance without each partner playing his or her part.
The dance is love. The male is always considering his mate’s wishes because he loves her. As in a ballroom dance, who can say which role is more important? Both partners are of equal value. The dance requires both the dynamism of the male, and the beauty, grace and love of the female. In the dance of love, two people become one, and the fruit of this mystical union, is often a child.