Mythologies of the men’s rights and feminist movements


  
Have you ever thought of Men’s Rights and feminism as competing mythologies? In what follows I will do just that, while paying special attention to the fact that the feminist myth has triumphed in capturing global imagination. By ‘mythology’ I mean those guiding stories that provide meaning and direction to the lives of all who follow them, including the men’s rights story, and the feminist story. While myth may or may not be scientifically true, it is true in the sense that people actively believe in myths and act them out in their daily lives.

In his 4-volume work1 surveying the history of world mythologies, Joseph Campbell gives a snapshot of the evolving history of mythology from the earliest days of ‘Master Bear god’ painted on cave walls, until the present day.

Campbell demonstrates that, over and over, dominant mythologies get replaced or absorbed by newer mythologies, and such changeability appears to be the only constant in the long sweep of history. There were periods of mythological stability in all cultures, but without exception every traditional mythology was modified or replaced as forces within the culture reached critical mass.

Catalysts for myth revisions are numerous, with examples being foreign invaders who overrun a traditional culture and implant their own mythology, or alternatively it may happen that a new mythology lurking in the back waters of a culture begins to gain grassroots appreciation, leading eventually to its ascendancy and a concomitant decline of the previous mythological setup.  By yet another route the change in mythology may be instituted by a ruler who adopts a new religious belief and then mandates it as the official belief of the masses, examples being;

  • Indian King Ashoka promoted Buddhist mythology across ancient Asia;
  • Emperor Constantine promoted the Christian story as religion of the Roman Empire;
  • Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter crafted the mythos of romantic love and chivalry which was disseminated throughout Europe and the world.

In some situations the dominant myths did not give way to a revision for a considerable time, usually because there wasn’t a compelling mythology jostling to replace it. Even when the prevailing mythology has become somewhat stale and uninspiring, the human mind will not reject it in favor of a story vacuum: to be without some kind of guiding mythology leads the human mind into an existential paralysis, and for the most part nature refuses to tolerate such a void.

Now lets consider all of this in the light of feminism, a movement crafted from florid imaginings of the mythic imagination. To get to the heart of this myth we need to start at the medieval beginnings of those accreted layers of story that constitute the end product we know as modern feminism.

In his volume Creative Mythology,2 Campbell documents how stories of chivalry and romantic love during the Middle Ages formed a new mythology that not only competed with the Christian religion for social legitimacy, but eventually surpassed it. Today romantic love saturates popular media, song, cinema, dance and the arts, and is the number one selling genre of literature, outselling the books of traditional religion, ie., the Qu’ran, Bible, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Tipiṭaka, Tao Te Ching and so on. Romantic love is, as Campbell states, the world’s current leading mythos.

So what does all this have to do with men’s rights and feminism?

Well, everything.

Feminists freely admit that chivalry and romantic love form ground zero of the feminist enterprise, constituting something of a Genesis Story of women’s improved social position, pedestalization and ongoing increases in power. As told by feminist Dr. Elizabeth Reid Boyd of the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan University, romance writings can be called the “first form of feminism”:

“I muse upon arguments that romance is a form of feminism. Going back to its history in the Middle Ages and its invention by noblewomen who created the notion of courtly love, examining its contemporary popular explosion and the concurrent rise of popular romance studies in the academy that has emerged in the wake of women’s studies, and positing an empowering female future for the genre, I propose that reading and writing romantic fiction is not only personal escapism, but also political activism.

Romance has a feminist past that belies its ostensible frivolity. Romance, as most true romantics know, began in medieval times… Love songs and stories, like those of Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, were soon on the lips of troubadours and minstrels all over Europe. Romance spread rapidly. It has been called the first form of feminism.”3

Reid Boyd, like so many other feminists before her, makes clear that romantic-love mythology provides bedrock for the development of feminism. Faced with that fantastical adversary, men’s advocates can argue they have excellent data demonstrating a growing narcissism among women and a neglect of men, facts that should lead right-thinking people away from the grip of feminism. However, those facts are only in the beginning stages of being woven into a story, one that might, in time, become an epic like the Bible or Mahābhārata.

Axiom: ONLY STORY CAN DISPLACE OR ABSORB OTHER STORIES.

Facts be damned.

Until a new mythology rises to challenge the hegemony of feminist myth, non-gynocentric men are destined to wander the planet like lost souls in search of a place to call home.  For many men, the dominant mythology of our time has erased our story, and with it our existence in the world. Campbell talks to this problem when he declared “Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths,” concluding that when your personal understanding of life doesn’t align with the dominant public myth, your path in life will be painful:

“If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got a long adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.”4

While that sums up the experience of red-pill men today, all is not lost. A growing number of voices have declared the mythology of feminism overripe for change, that it is rotting to the core as a guide to civilization, and there are in fact compelling stories poised to replace it. Before we look at alternative stories that have potential to help men and women live more harmoniously, lets first survey how the feminist mythos coincides with other mythological traditions.

As with the great civilization-building and sustaining mythologies of the past, feminism has narrated; 1. an Eden story of how ancient men and women co-existed and organized their society; 2. a fall from grace, 3. a set of laws to guide humans away from their fallen ways, and 4. liberation and future utopia.

Each of these four elements, which could be expanded to dozens more, appear in feminist mythology as follows:

  1. Once upon a time, much of European society was matriarchal, peace-loving, agrarian, and Goddess worshiping, with men serving as the labor force.5,6
  2. Patriarchal tribes from the North invaded and suppressed this idyllic Eden, supplanting it with a hierarchical, patriarchal, and woman-oppressing culture.5,6
  3. Proto-feminists of the Middle Ages, followed by modern feminists, rebelled and challenged the grip of ‘the patriarchy’ and its institutions to allow women out of the wilderness and into the center of society. They created romantic love, and instituted laws, one by one, that would not only give women equal power to men, but would “compensate” women for previous losses of power.
  4. Women would once again rule, as a female aristocracy, with men learning to be obedient, loving and dutiful servants, inaugurating a golden age.7

While these beliefs sound fanciful to the rational mind, they are documented and widely believed myths underpinning the feminist movement. With the enormous currency of feminist mythology in modern society, it constitutes ‘the story’ that we are all, to some extent, ‘in.’

Indeed there’s no outside of mythological perspectives — culturally we are all living inside them in one way or another. Those of us with a bent for factual accuracy prefer to align with stories that are truer to science, with narratives that are compatible with the facts without departing from them as myths often do. But whether we enjoy them, or rail against them as childish fantasies, the fact is that mythologies full of kooky flat-earth ideas have guided civilizations for millennia without being based on facts at all, and yet the societies they governed continued to flourish regardless.

Mythologies clearly don’t need to be factually correct to guide societies. They need only provide a shared operating system that glues people’s otherwise separate minds into one harmonious whole.

Those of us with a penchant for scientific fact can hope that a new mythology incorporates more factual data than the flat-earth science of the current gynocentric mythos — one eminently more suited to the scientific age in which we live, and one that many more people could believe in.

To prepare ourselves for inevitable new mythologies, it helps to first become aware of the dominant myths already governing our society. And as Gianni Vattimo once advised, the post-modern paradox of social-mythology is to wake up and realize that we have been dreaming, and yet continue dreaming anyway;7 ie. we realize we still need stories to live by but we can consciously choose the guiding narratives we wish to align with instead of going along with them unconsciously.

As men’s rights advocates, that raises questions about our own ‘mythologies.’ What are they? Have we sufficiently developed and articulated them? In light of the four elements of religious mythology listed above, lets list a rudimentary, rough sketch of the MR story to date. Before I do that, I hasten to add that this sketch is not prescriptive and may be at odds with narratives already held by devout Christian, Muslim, or XYZ-believing MRAs. However this mythological sequence focuses solely on the gender relations problem as it has been articulated by many MRAs today:

  1. A strong candidate for an MR ‘Genesis story’ is the story of human evolution, a compelling mythology about our remote past and how we clawed our way out of the jungle to build the wonders of modern science and civilization. That story comes with scientific observations and anecdotes about human biology in action – how early men and women displayed different sexual and survival strategies, and how human offspring were protected due to biological imperatives. Its a story of cooperation between men and women as they dreamed the human adventure forward.
  2. The ‘fall’ took place as that delicate equilibrium between men and women was unraveled by the arrival of the new gender relations mythology called romantic chivalry, AKA gynocentrism. This period marked the moment of enslavement to a sexual relations model designed to tilt maximum power to women, with men slaving as Moses did for the Egyptians, and it presided over the destruction of the delicate family unit.
  3. Over the centuries men (and women) of iron will and good conscience mounted a resistance to gynocentrism and a desire for Exodus – to wanting to walk away from gynocentric-feminism as free men;
  4. Finally, men and women began to live the GOOD NEWS of the MR Testament: liberty, equality of opportunity, compassion and multi-options for all – this time including men.

These four sub-narratives form a larger corpus that we might call a mythology, one that would improve on the current toxic mythos of feminism. As mentioned it is given for illustrative purposes only and is not prescriptive; any new mythology will arise organically like a nighttime dream and flourish within the culture, and like dreams we never know when it will arrive or exactly what shape it will take. But the dream, the myth, will arrive…. of that we can be sure.

If we continue to expand this collection of stories, elaborating them in greater depth, continuing to tell them, and telling them again, more compelling with each recitation, then just maybe our society will have a necessary stone to jump to.

References:

[1] Joseph Campbell, Masks of God (4 volume series) (1959 – 1968)
[2] Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology, volume 4 of Masks of God series (1968)
Occidental Mythology, volume 3 of Masks of God series (1959)
Transformations of Myth Through Time, (1988)
[3] Elizabeth Reid Boyd, Romancing feminism: From women’s studies to women’s fiction (2014)
[4] Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth (1988)
[5] Cynthia Eller, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future, (2001)
[6] Lucy Goodison, Ancient Goddesses, (1999)
[7] Peter Wright, A new Aristocracy, published at gynocentrism.com, (2018)
[8] Richard Kearney, Poetics of Imagining: Modern to Post-modern (1998)

4 thoughts on “Mythologies of the men’s rights and feminist movements

  1. “In this article I will look at men’s rights and feminism as competing mythologies, …”

    MRAs are simply feminists frustrated that equality doesn’t apply to men, unless it advantages women.

    Feminism is not gynocentrism. Feminism (a poor name) is a socialist ideology that women and men are indistinguishable and interchangeable. It seeks to pry women from their homes and personal interests to place their labor at the disposal of the community.

    Patriarchy on the other hand is gynocentric.

    • “MRAs are simply feminists … Feminism (a poor name) is a socialist ideology…”

      While feminism is clearly a Marxist ideology, I find little credence in the concept that men’s rights activists (MRAs) are also following the same Marxist ideology. The number of global MRAs who are Marxists that I am aware of, after two decades of associating with them, number easily on one hand. One might almost say that men’s rights activism, which include children and family, diametrically opposes to Marxism, including its insidious forms, Cultural Marxism and feminism. It doesn’t quite, for some aspects of Marxism can obviously be found in any human rights movement.

  2. Campbell’s notion of “myth” is different from yours. For him, myths are not simply narratives that guide people on how to live or that explains how the world was really created. It’s a lot more profound than that. Read “A Hero With A Thousand Faces”.

    So careful when quoting him, or you’ll make mistakes.

    • Thanks, but you are wrong in fact. I’ve read all of Campbell’s books – including Hero With a Thousand Faces which I’ve read more than 50 times over three decades, and I wrote a book distilling his ideas. What I’ve presented in the article is faithful to his ideas.. Don’t pretend to be an expert on something you know little about. Just saying.

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