Rebalancing the Wounded Masculine
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Because we currently live in a culture that is dominated by the archetypal Masculine – commonly referred to as patriarchy – our imbalance tends toward what I refer to as the Wounded Masculine. Despite the evolution of the feminist worldview, and attendant opportunities for the advancement of women within society, ours is still largely a world dominated by the Masculine dimensions of the psyche. To the extent that the Masculine is wounded – separated from the more-than-human community by a sense of superiority, and from other humans by the hierarchical systems it creates to maintain its advantage – then the world in which we all live will be compromised accordingly.
The Wounded Masculine learns early in life to suppress pain and deny that it is wounded. Instead, it project its wounds into the world onto some external enemy, fighting endless wars rooted in religious intolerance, racism, and other forms of inequality. It uses intellect and brute force to dominate and control. It measures its worth in monetary terms and power over others. The Wounded Masculine always has a point to prove and it will go to extraordinary lengths to prove it – up to and including the death and destruction of everything it holds dear.
The Wounded Masculine is narcissistic by nature – since to succeed in a patriarchal system, one must put oneself first, and consider the wellbeing of tribe, if at all, only as an afterthought. The Wounded Masculine is aggressive in pursuing its own narrow agenda, highly competitive, and determined to succeed in achieving its goal, regardless of the cost to others or to the wellbeing of the tribe. In pursuing its agenda, it values the skillful exercise of cold, hard intellect, while ignoring emotion, and dismissing the less tangible dimensions of the mythopoetic imagination or the metaphysical underpinnings of reality.
The world that is dominated by the Wounded Masculine becomes a hard, fast, and superficial place, and living in such a place wounds us all. Both men and women compelled to function in a Wounded Masculine world tend to express themselves in terms of the Wounded Masculine, whether they intend to or not. Women succeeding in such a world can be every bit as ruthless, uncaring toward others, and oblivious to the consequences of their actions as men. Indeed, regardless of gender, few succeed in a patriarchal system without playing the game as it is dictated by standards rooted in the Wounded Masculine, and both men and women are wounded by the system.
The antidote to a Wounded Masculine world is to consciously and intentionally introduce more of the archetypal Feminine into all that we do. It is important to note that the archetypal Masculine itself is not inherently bad; it is in fact as necessary to Sacred Balance as the archetypal Feminine. Without the archetypal Feminine to balance it, however, the archetypal Masculine can and will tend toward its wounded expression.
The opposite will also be true. Without the archetypal Masculine to balance it, the archetypal Feminine will likewise tend toward its wounded expression. A Wounded Masculine expression tends to be met by a Wounded Feminine response, and vice versa, and this is often the mechanism by which vicious cycles of imbalance are created.
The archetypal Masculine is naturally oriented toward the cultivation of an authentic individual self. The archetypal Feminine is naturally oriented toward relationship. A balanced individual is one that seeks to live in what the Buddhists refer to as “right relationship” with all that is – other people, other beings in the more-than-human world, the community, culture and the ecosystem as a whole – from a place of authenticity, integrity and individual commitment to personal excellence.
When this quest for right relationship – an allegiance to the wellbeing of the tribe – is missing, the Wounded Masculine becomes narcissistic, proud, arrogant, and dominating.
On the other hand, if an individual has a strong sense of belonging to a tribe, but no sense of individuality, the Wounded Feminine can manifest as a blind sense of patriotism, a xenophobic mistrust of strangers, and the kind of mob mentality that results in discrimination, senseless killing, and what German political theorist Hannah Arendt called the “banality of evil.”
Both a sense of authenticity (archetypal Masculine) and an awareness of right relationship (archetypal Feminine) are necessary to Sacred Balance. When either is missing in men or women, we have a state of imbalance that in turn can contribute to the perpetuation of a wounded world.
The next post in this series is Balancing the Archetypal Masculine and Feminine.
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