Masculinity: A Way Forward

By Robert Jensen

Published in Voice Male Magazine · February, 2018

Men have long claimed to own, control, or have the right to exploit women’s reproductive power and sexuality. Those claims are deeply embedded in contemporary culture—so deeply that the resulting practices are routinely taken to be “just the way things are”—but the practices also are inconsistent with widely shared moral values of liberty, equality, and solidarity.

What should we men do? What should we do if we want to be decent men? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Identify the system of institutionalized male dominance (patriarchy) that gives men unearned privilege and power.
  • Challenge that system by joining the intellectual and political movement (radical feminism) that offers the most compelling analysis of patriarchy and resistance to its routine abusive practices (such as men’s violence and the sexual-exploitation industries of prostitution, pornography, and stripping).
  • Recognize other systems that also give select people unearned privilege and power (capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy) and join movements to analyze and resist those systems as well.
  • Reject the dominant definition of masculinity as asserting control and seeking conquest through aggression.
  • Acknowledge that these analyses and actions are not only consistent with the moral values we claim to hold, but also in our own self-interest if we seek a richer, more fulfilling, and meaningful life.

In short: Stop worrying about “how to be a man” and start struggling to be a decent human being.