I saw a play the other day called ARCHDUKE. I knew the play was about turn of the century Europe (early 1900s) and a real event. But I didn't know the play was a fictional story about entirely about real people involved in triggering World War I until the play was three-quarters of the way over.
The play starts off with a young man named Gavrilo Princip who has just found out he has a terminal disease, "consumption." The playwright goes to great lengths to show how kind and ordinary Princip is when he gets this diagnosis. And this man is so young that he's still a virgin.
Not long into the story, Princip meets other young men dying of consumption (tuberculosis) and they wind up being swept up by an older man who talks politics and manhood constantly. The older man is big, virile. The first thing he does is take off his shirt so the audience can see how muscular he is. This man, "the captain" talks to the boys about what real men should do about the political state of Austria-Hungary.
This captain soon reveals he has drawn Princip and the other man-children into an organization called THE BLACK HAND. The middle portion of the play is entirely about the older captain talking about how the boys will be remembered as heroes if they go on this suicide mission to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The boys are told they'll take poison immediately after they kill Ferdinand.
Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the play is about the older man convincing the younger men (with nothing to lose) to kill for glory and honor -- much like you would imagine young boys in ISIS and ISIL are convinced to murder-suicide their way to honor, glory, and unmistakable virility.
At the end of the play, there are three financially poor, terminally ill man-children enjoying themselves on a luxurious train heading toward the city where they are supposed to commit a murder-suicide.
Princip and his two friends spend their time on the train enjoying the train itself and the food they've had delivered while discussing the ideals they've been taught by the older man who's masculinity looks proven and assured.
As the train chugs on to it's destination, Princip and his friends seem like they are most of the way toward deciding to abandon their mission and go find a place where they can lose their virginity and get some sandwich they've only ever heard talked about.
At the end of the play, Ferdinand's car takes an alternate route and winds up going right past the place where Princip is eating. Princip raises the gun as if in a trance and kills Archduke Ferdinand and his wife.
This real life assassination (terrorist action?) sets off a chain of events that winds up starting WWI.
Before I knew ARCHDUKE was based firmly or loosely based on the life of Gavrilo Princip the problem I had with the play was the "short cut" taken at the beginning of the play.
Having the young men feel like they have nothing to lose by giving them a terminal disease right from the start (which didn't really happen) takes all responsibility away from the young men who chose the path they took.
That is, I wanted to see less of older male "Captain" and his Svengali type control over the young men and more of what renders a young man-child susceptible to being seduced by this vision of masculinity.
If art is to be a life lesson, then we need to understand what makes a young man open to extreme violence as a way of competing his way to masculinity.
In our culture, young boys are taunted by other young boys for being like girls ( a lower form of life) almost from kindergarten age. As boys get older they are told over and over again that they are not to reveal any emotions. Then they are told that they need to win some sort of competition with lowly females first and win competitions with other men later.
Men are told they need to be emotionless winners in order to be masculine.
BUSINESS (Getting Rich)
Most men are trapped by this approach to manhood. The ones on the winning side don't even realize it. However, it becoming obvious to more than just feminists that what we consider true manhood is deeply flawed
Trump being idolized as because of his ability to make money should tell us something is wrong with how masculinity is done in this country all by itself.
The idolization of Bill Cosby is another symbol of masculinity gone way wrong.
Cosby changed black images on television for the better (except for the colorism thing) But he probably wouldn't be a hero unless he was rich too. Men worship other men they have conquered. And being rich is proof of a man having conquered.
It appears that Cosby, like a lot of rich and famous men, don't feel like their successful manhood is complete unless they are screwing a lot of different women. For a lot of men, Cosby's behavior is okay or even good up to this point...for so long as they can deny rape is involved.
But how is this behavior okay, even without the rapes? Bill Cosby was betraying Camille Cosby like she was so much nothing...and for a lot of men Camille is nothing as compared to competing ones way to a higher form of masculinity.
Even so, I keep coming back to money as power and money as proof of having competed and won.
So I wonder if black men and black women would have held onto Cosby so tightly despite it being obvious that this man is sick, if he had lost his money in some bad investment long before he was exposed as having drugged and raped women.
In other words, I wonder if Cosby's successes in bringing positive black images (sans agonizing struggle) to America's television screens is nearly as important as Cosby himself being a symbol of a black man that has "made it."
Men seem to need heroes to look up to in a way that women do not. Or maybe it's just that women, even non-feminist women, recognize that older generations of women didn't have it so good in the past.
There's an anti-mammy movement that's not defined as such in the black female section of the black community. And I, for one, am glad to see it. Putting black male interests on a pedestal at the expense of our black female own has not worked out that well for anybody.
It should have been easier, would have been easier, to uplift the entire race is black men truly saw black women as equals....instead of trying to stand on our backs in the same way that white men stand on their women's backs.
If black men had seen black women as equals and refused to by into "I'm not a man unless I'm making the most money because making the most money makes me the boss" it would have been easier to use white male patriarchy against white men.
To be more specific, if black women did indeed have an easier time getting jobs (despite the sexism all men like to ignore) then that advantage should have been used.
Whichever person in the heterosexual household who can get the best job --the higher paying or the one with the most career advancement-- should have gone out and gotten the job while the other supported the household and/or found legal alternate economies to financially support the household.As I've said before, I don't think a true-masculinity-assured Barack Obama was bothered by Michelle Obama making 100K (200K?) more than he did per year. As a feminist man Barack Obama knew he was part of a team. A lot of black men aren't capable of being this kind of teammate. But som men can fake it if they are out front, making the most money, and being the boss because he's making the most money.
I actually know men who got divorced because their wives started making more money than they did.
The shame of not being a breadwinner has made men, including black men, leave their families or beat their families.
Some black men feel entitled to betray their women because they can get their sense of virility back through womanizing,a way of compensating for "the manhood lost" to white supremacy
The movie of August Wilson's play FENCES shows how black men think white supremacy is only affecting them and their manhood in great detail. I highly recommend watching it -- despite Viola Davis' snot-crying again.
If black men had used their knowledge of racism to inform themselves about sexism, all black people would be a lot better off.
Black women and black men needed to be a better team that white men and white women. But black men have been too busy trying to mimic white manhood to focus on the teamwork required. Furthermore, too many of the mammy-minded helped black men focus on white patriarchal manhood to the exclusion of all else -- thinking they were helping black men instead of undermining them.
Again, men are still most of the world leaders, most of the congresses and parliaments, most of the CEOs and most of the image makers as far as television, movies, and advertising go. They are in charge of the culture and in charge of the ways manhood is executed-- even when men are trying to impress women.
Women simply do not have the power to do most of the original shaping of the culture. Women can only echo the patriarchy--- and non-feminist women are excellent at this.
The contemporary presence of female-headed house holds has led many people to assume that children in these households are not learning patriarchal values because no male is present. They assume that men are the sole teachers of patriarchal thinking. Yet many female-headed households endorse and promote patriarchal thinking with far greater passion than two-parent households.
Because they do not have an experiential reality to challenge false fantasies of gender roles, women in such households are far more likely to idealize the patriarchal male role and patriarchal men than are women who live with patriarchal men every day.
Black and brown communities have higher rates of poverty. This means young boys will less often be able to prove their masculinity by getting a good job making lots of money within the capitalism and by supporting violent wars abroad like white boys do. Black and brown boys without access to the same jobs get their masculinity done by getting their money and violence from the street in our own neighborhoods.
When white boys are violent, people die a long distance from here. When black boys are violent, people die in their own communities.
This is why we have to get black and brown boys to embrace gender equality for their own sake. Patriarchy is deadly from without and deadly from within for women, children, families, and for men themselves in black and brown communities.
Dismantling and changing patriarchal culture is work that men and women must do together.
Black and brown boys should be taught that Barack Obama was powerful before he began his ascent to poltical power because he didn't have anything to prove about his masculinity. His ability to attract and hold a woman like Michelle Obama should be seen as proof of this.