Nate (kungfutzu) wrote in mens_studies,

Men, self-concept and phalic metaphor

My personality tends toward commentary rather than taking the initiative to pick a topic and write about it, so I tend to lurk a bit. But, since posts on this forum seem rare and don't tend toward a lot of deconstruction or analysis of actual male culture - maybe if I want to read something that I would feel comfortable calling "male studies" I should write it myself.

There was an recent article which can be read here in which three Michigan State University professors concluded that hunting is a form of sexual violence. Their source material? "Traditional Bow Hunter."

Now though I may compliment their wonderful imaginations and their ability to connect disparate subjects via metaphoric construct (yes, in bow-hunting there is violent and unrequested penetration) that would be about as far into the subject as I can get without an uncontrollable eye-roll.

The points they make are interesting but since the article is less than complimentary perhaps they could be better defended by reading them first-hand than in an aggressive retelling. Rather than reiterate any of these points myself, as I find it of the topic I want to consider ... I would like to propose that they have missed a fundamentally intuitive part of the male experience.

Lets follow this metaphor in the way we've seen other, similar, instances followed through. So you have the gun or bow that shoots both forcibly and without consent penetrating the prey. And maybe we could consider side comments we often hear like "you know men like their big guns" or their "big pickup trucks." Or whatever other item is the current target of frightened sexual ire. There was even the Buffy episode in which Spike called Giles' new car "a midlife crisis car - fast shiny and shaped like a penis."

But the size of the gun, the size of the car, the shape of the Washington Monument, the cigar: they arn't really phallic metaphors ... or if they are, then they reference something that is itself referential. A guy "wanting to show how big his penis is" in a literal or figurative sense is not attempting to make a statement about the equipment.

The penis itself is a metaphor. The penis is the ego. A simple and ready form of finding self-worth. If smaller equipment pleased women more the bragging would be about what kind of magnifying glass I need for my piece vs. yours.

Size, performance, competition ... maybe even base sexuality itself (as opposed to committed love-oriented sexuality) has NOTHING to do with sex but with self-concept. It is the male construction of the validity and value of the human being and the means by which men come to know themselves.

If I am not capable I am not valuable. Bigger gun / bigger truck / bigger piece = more capable.

Now perhaps I can validate the part of what they were saying but not the somewhat silly projection of themselves onto the prey. (Though such projection, I believe, does tell you something about how these researchers may have an reflexive identification with victim-hood or the role of being "attacked by men.")

Though I've heard some describe hunting as a spiritual experience of finding their place in the natural order I do understand how it could also be viewed (and I'm sure in some cases is) a wanton expression of violence and power. Of capability ... of ego-enhancement.

I know there are some who might immediately have a tendency to consider "capability" as an inferior means of self-valuation when compared to a value-system that says "I am valuable because I am loved." I would warn that from my view both systems are likely to be neurotic if they are held too rigorously. In one the self disappears as the abilities unavoidably wane in the face of aging. (Thus the midlife crisis.) In the other one has no real power to determine one's own value as the self-concept must constantly be read from the eyes and subtle expression changes of others.

Now, here's where I'm likely to get in trouble with every feminist ever ... similarly to the hunting experience, I believe rape often has little to do with women and more with an ego so incapable of valuable action that it must prove itself capable ... essentially making the woman the audience not the object.

Please don't confuse an explanation with a justification but this is how I see it.

So guys, think about it for a bit and tell me if this doesn't strike you as the intuitive reality of your experience. Penis size doesn't matter, ego does.

Heh heh ... maybe this'll create some topic-oriented discussion. Thoughts?
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