There is something which I call the “male panic”. I believe I have referred to this theme before but I feel like talking about it again as the theme keeps appearing.
‘Male panic’ is one of the strange effects created by the cold war and the threat of nuclear annihilation. It has had tragic and damaging effects. It is primarily based on silly and erroneous notions of the male and what the male is. As a result, it is actually a myth, a condition that does not exist. Because of this it has a very bizarre and off-the-wall quality to it. Also keep in mind that this is one of many attitudes and perspectives that the cold war created.
THE COMING OF THE NUCLEAR AGE: THE ‘NUCLEAR PANIC’ TO THE ‘IMAGINED PANIC’
The coming of the nuclear age has caused a great fear in the world, particularly in the West. This has come about because of the extreme damage that nuclear weapons can cause. The knowledge that this can happen at any time has created something of a ‘panic’. As a result, I call this the ‘nuclear panic’.
The ‘nuclear panic’ is a unique form of fear. It is actually a fear of what could be . . . not what is imminent. In other words, it is a fear of “imagination”, of what we could imagine as happening. This gives it a very unique quality. Normally, fear is based on what is imminent or what we are confronting. During the cold war, there was no apparent imminent threat, only what we imagined to be a threat, which ended up causing all these weird illusions and imaginary threats, which continue even down to today.
The ‘haziness’ created by the imagined threat seemed to create an area that was uncertain. No one knew what would happen or why or how. In that sense the imagined threat created something like a big void . . . a void that had to be filled. As a result, there was a tendency for people “fill in” the void with various ideas and beliefs. Most of these beliefs were not based on anything but the ‘whimsical fancy’ of people. This made it so that the ‘nuclear panic’ became a medium for peoples imagined fears and not what was truly in the reality. As a result, the ‘nuclear panic’ turned into the ‘imagined panic’.
THE NEW ‘IMAGINED PANIC’: THE MALE/WAR ASSOCIATION AND THE ‘WAR-MONGERING MALE IMAGE’
One of the new ‘imagined panic’ was a result of the association of the male with war. This association is not new and has a long history in its development. It has many origins:
- The influence of war in history. The male, almost exclusively, was associated with these wars.
- The tradition of knights. This was particularly seen in the Victorian era, where the knight, or warrior, was often glorified and worshiped.
- The fact that male images of authority were making decisions. This made it so that all the important, and often tragic decisions, were made “by the male”.
These all set a strong male/war association that continues down to today. In some ways it created the equation:
Male = War
As the wars got more tragic, and catastrophic, causing much strife and conflict in the population, it was only natural that it was the male image that everyone looked at. As people felt more helpless, and the horror of the new warfare became more apparent, it was the male image that was blamed: the male soldier, the male general, the male politician. The “male” became the unifying element of all this blame.
Over time a new line of thought began to develop: that it was the “male” who caused war and all the problems of war. He was to blame. This is the ‘war-mongering male image’. Generally, he was perceived as having traits such as these:
- He was a war-monger who wanted war.
- He was heartless and didn’t care about the welfare of anyone.
- He was violent and loved to kill.
- He was an angry person.
- He was filled with hate.
- He loved destruction and destroying things.
- He was aggressive and forced his way onto people.
- He was tyrannical and loved power.
These were often perceived, in this line of thought, as something innate in the male, almost as if he “couldn’t help it”.
THE ‘WAR-MONGERING MALE’ TURNED TO ‘MALE PANIC’
In my life I’ve heard the ‘war-monger male image’ many times. I can still recall people telling me that this was how males were “innately”. I’ve even heard this line of thought even recently. Its no surprise that in the era of the cold war, the threat of nuclear annihilation turned to a fear of nuclear war which, in turn, turned into a ‘male panic’.
In an extreme version of ‘male panic’ I’ve heard of a line of thought where they said all males should be castrated to cut off their testosterone so that they would not be ‘war-like’ and, therefore, guarantee world peace. Here we can see the association of male with testosterone with war. By taking away testosterone we take away the ‘war-like’ qualities in the male. I’ve heard it said that this is the ONLY way to ensure world peace.
This is a good example of how much ALL MALES became associated with war. It also shows the tendency of how we are all blamed for the crisis. From that line of thought all males were blamed for the nuclear threat. As a result, there became a point of view where all males needed to be changed . . . to ensure world peace.
ENSURING PEACE: THE EMASCULATION OF THE MALE
Because all males were blamed for the nuclear threat there developed a point of view that all males should, in a way, “cease to be male” so they will not be war-like. The castration example above is the extreme version, but there became lesser, more subtle versions of this, many of which have been implemented. Some of these include:
- Not allowing males to do male things. I know people, and schools even, who won’t allow males to play with guns, play army, or rough-house.
- The degradation of male authority images.
- The portraying of the male as an idiot or incompetent.
- Trying to make the male femalish in some way.
- Teaching the male to be ‘loving’ and ‘in touch with his feelings’.
- Showing contempt for male things.
- Showing bias where the male is at fault for all violent things.
- Making male things a crime.
What these have done is create an emasculated male. In short, its caused a general degradation of the male in this country.
THE NEW POST COLD WAR EMASCULATED MALE
All these attitudes and acts have, in the post cold war world, created an emasculated male. The male has become a ‘nothing’ with no power or influence in society. In fact, in many ways, the male has been destroyed. He has, in a sense, lost everything.
And so we can see how the imaginary threat of nuclear war seeped down and ended up destroying a group of innocent people who have nothing whatsoever to do with nuclear war, based on bias and stupid notions.
This new emasculated male has caused great alienation in the male and is one of the ways the male has been dehumanized. It’s also begun a great campaign of discrimination against the male.
THE MYTH THAT THE FEMALE WILL BRING PEACE: THE ‘PEACE-BRINGING FEMALE IMAGE’
Because the male is ‘war-like’ there are thoughts that the ‘loving female’ is the solution. I’ve heard many people state that the female will ‘bring peace’ over the years. A good example of this is the idea of “flower power” which was common in the 1970’s. There, of course, is no proof of this, even down to today. This, then, makes this part of the myths of the ‘nuclear panic’. It seems to of originated in response to the idea of the ‘war-mongering male image’. As a result, I call this the ‘peace-bringing female image’. This image seems to of been created from a number of elements:
- As opposed to the ‘war-mongering male image’.
- As a result of the Victorian image of the female as a loving saint.
- As a result of feministic points of view.
In other words, these are all reactions to the situations which have no basis in reality. In fact, the female has done nothing to show that she is the ‘bringer of peace’ that I can determine.
ON HOW ITS A SOCIAL ATTITUDE
Though I’ve seen many feminists, and many females, take the credit for the movement against war and the male, this whole attitude is a general attitude within the society. It reflects general attitudes and perspectives created by a situation that caused great fear and panic. Some people, of course, have created more extreme points of view to this attitude, to the point of insanity (such as the castration of the male) but, overall, it is a sense felt in almost all levels of the society.
In actuality, males (particularly those who were living during the cold war) have greatly helped in the creation of this situation. I’ve seen quite a few males actually endorse the emasculation of the male, of trying to make them femalish and the removal of male qualities . . . females weren’t the only ones.
In many ways, the ‘male panic’ seems to be an attempt at bringing a fear we cannot relate to, because its imaginary, into the “human sphere”. By blaming the male we give it a ‘human face’, so to speak, and an image we can relate to. It shows how we need to perceive things in a human way. But, the reality is that, even with this, people are as far away from the nuclear fear as they were in the beginning. In that sense, it has failed.
But the ‘male panic’ is still among us, eating away and destroying the male.