A broken man, already void and empty inside, reaches out for love. Why, because it is all he can do to have some kind of presence. He feels like he needs it, if not to complete himself then just to exist as anything other than an isolated wraith, haunted by his own inferiority. When that love is denied, he is blasted off his feet as if by a thunderbolt, his heart races with anger and a well of black rage immediately starts to bubble. No matter where he may have been, he is taken back to that place of psychological hell, dragged there in an instant, a child abandoned, abused, battered, humiliated, again and again and again.
I have experienced the above for most of my adult life. When I write about broken masculinity it is not as a psychologist, not as an outsider, and not as some enabled bald prick in a suit on a panel show with a fake city-scape background. It is from the ground up, from within the shattered fragments of a wounded psyche, from experience and from the heart. I know what is fucking-men-up in society because I have to live with it almost every day. Having the intelligence to know the causes does not help, being aware of the source does not ease the wounds. Nonetheless, it has become an object of interest of recent, and maybe I can shed some kind of light on it, and promote some understanding.
Abuse, neglect and childhood trauma have caused my own emotional frailty and instability. This makes being turned down into rejection, and rejection into a total refusal of recognition, something that I have been desperately seeking to make up for the void. And this void is deeper than most, and darker than most.
Women must be empowered to make their own decisions, and men cannot feel entitled to women’s bodies. It must be the case that all sexuality is consensual and non-coercive, which in turn means that the dynamic of proposition > acceptance / refusal is a necessity. People have a right to say no, and they do not need a reason to do so.
This means men need to face the fact that rejection is a necessary part of a just social dynamic. But this is not just an intellectual exercise. It requires being able to cope with rejection, which broken masculinities cannot do so well. Not whilst they are unsupported, disenfranchised, humiliated. Not whilst we live in a patriarchal society, which we sadly still do.
The standards set by society are subconscious projections of what we should be, ideals cast out by an emergent conflux of minds over history. The lion glorifies its roar, the bird glorifies flight, the fish glorifies its reflexes – those who project most powerful society’s values are those who can succeed at them (in subconscious bias) Being expected to be able to form relationships for instance, requires a certain emotional grounding and stability. Those without deep wounding and mental illness can form relationships more easily, and cannot understand what all the fuss is about when people fall short.
These expectations and pressures cause one wound to multiply into two – the first wound is the initial neglect and abuse, the second wound is the inability to live up to societal expectations. As a man this is exceptionally humiliating, as we are socialized to be proud and powerful creatures, strong and capable, rational and in control of our emotions. Such ambitions defy reality, that men are animals like any other. Nonetheless, the charade continues, the broken are left humiliated and enraged.
I have seen panel shows discussing broken masculinities, where enabled, entitled men gave advice to the tune of: ‘go shower, brush your teeth and socialize more’. For five minutes or more they spewed cliché after cliché, celebrating their own success and putting down others, self-righteous middle-American wanktards. These banal panellists were clearly people without significant mental turmoil, without inferiority complexes, without the deep psychological suffering which comes from alienation, abuse and humiliation. This makes their lame jokes an abuse of some of the most afflicted members of society, a demonstration of patriarchy at its worst. Powerful and enabled men who do not see the privilege which sustains them, men who are protected by civil society from the rage they help to create.
Broken masculinity is a real problem. This is not just a reflection on the inability for men to be ‘breadwinners’, a fallen pride of old. This is much deeper. This is about society’s denial of the black pit, the dark hole in the cellar, the demons spawned by seemingly innocent expectations. We live in a society where abusers are protected, where familial morality is afraid to speak of the abuse, neglect and trauma which happens in the home. Justice is not done, abuse is not answered for. The afflicted have no escape valve, they are pressed down and do not understand why, they must live in the constant shadow of their own inferiority, compared to people constantly flaunting their ‘wealth, freedom and happiness’. As the powerful patriarchal humiliator is protected by civil society, the rage is randomly unleashed in violence against those perceived as lesser, or turned upon the self leading to depression and suicide. Violence is rife is society, it is just hidden, a deep taboo.
It is a powder keg waiting to go off.
When the deep psychological wounding and isolation of men meets the misogyny of our culture, things start to get dangerous. I believe however that most dangerous is the psychological abyss, and that ideology and politics alone cannot triumph. I need only look at myself for a reminder that no amount of progressive politics and ‘enlightenment’ can make up for the sheer chaos of trauma and mental unwellness. The void is deeper in me than most people that I know, from this darkness it does not look like there is a way out of it (maybe this is the depression talking, maybe it is a truth I have live with for the rest of my life). I know intellectually what is right and just, being that moral person is extremely hard, the emotional turbulence keeps leaving me fucked.
I am a ghost, I do not truly exist. People see through me, ignore me. I have no fundamental being, no grounding or stability. I have no history, no future and a harsh present. I hear all these people talking about ‘egolessness’ through meditation – do they know what they are talking about? Do they also want to be dust on the inside, waiting to collapse into a deeper nothingness? I think they are just trying to escape their lives for a bit, I don’t think they want to be ghosts. Unloved I am made unlovable, I must have but I do not feel worthy of being given. I want to give, but no one wants what is given in desperation; my love is worth nothing. Disenfranchised, irrelevant, unstable, voiceless, sub-human – there is no advocacy for broken men, no real equivalent of feminism or black civil rights. Can one be formed without devolving into hatred, misogyny and patriarchy? Unable to cope in the free competition of society, unable to enjoy the freedom of material liberty, sexual liberation, freedom to forge an identity, constantly told I need to, that it is there for me – FUCK OFF. Every day is a searching for consolation, until the final day comes, then at last I can find peace.
There are no villains when broken men do fucked-up things to others, violence and carnage and callous taking of life. It is a tragedy every time, the deeply hurt being abandoned by something even more callous; white, middle-class, capitalist, patriarchal society, with no recourse but the ultimate self-destruction. By the time he pulls the trigger there is nothing left of him.