AKA goes on in his post to say: “Ladies we are not perfect by any means ... but damn, we are crying out for your approval, your love and affection. Please can we RESET and go back to FAMILY VALUES?!”
Burkhalter explains this further: “By that I mean we are all born to women and, as Adam Phillips says, we all understand the power of the mother and only some of us get to have the power in return. Boys have to leave their mother and cut their infant strings. It is wrenching. We send them off quite quickly into the world. Masculinity is about getting over that hump — you man up!
“Men are trying to deal with the trauma from the disidentification — that is where they are most vulnerable. This is the root of a lot of gender-based violence and misogyny — patriarchy gets set up to deal with that problem. Patriarchy has been there as long as we can remember historically. You are trained as a man to get over it — not speak it. We are not raised to put up our hands to say I am feeling anxious. If you do, you are told you are a pussy boy, get a grip — get back in line. Men don’t talk about it, so all you can do is suffer through it or enact it.
“So the guy who wants to fight with you in the bar because you are looking at him funny, is because he is anxious. So then he hits you to tell you he is not anxious. Now you are anxious. Women and children bear the brunt of that — those that our power enables us to put something onto. Male initiation rituals, they are all about not flinching in the face of suffering. If I initiate you at boarding school you will be accepted by taking it. We are toughening you up. Don’t be so sensitive man. Don’t be a girlie boy. Being a man is about not being feminine, therefore not vulnerable.
“Masculinity can be a generative important thing, but the pathology of it — not wanting to say what the problem is or expressing that we are not OK — is identified with being effeminate. We are not OK with being vulnerable and that is destructive. Putin has just invaded the Ukraine — why did Russia go to war? They were feeling vulnerable — Russia is a very masculine place.”
He continues: “Layered on this masculinity, consider the position of black men in SA within the history of apartheid and subjugation — they were rendered powerless and exceedingly vulnerable — and you have a perfect storm. SA used to have a very high rate — as did the American south — of family suicide. Men who would take out their families and themselves to avoid shame, just like the policeman last month. It is all tied up in vulnerability with a masculine overload.”
AKA’s message: “Please can we start some sort of dialogue about MEN in this country because it’s our duty to protect you, to provide and care for you. We cannot make this thing work without each other. We are crying out for your help. This is so traumatic. Please, let’s not forget about us. We [are] not perfect by any means but damn ... Look at the stats, we are taking our own lives at record highs. Something has to change.
Dr Burkhalter concludes: “Nowadays we can’t really complain about the position of men at the risk of sounding like old, white reactionaries, or that we have a bad deal because the patriarchy is still on top of things. But the truth is that while patriarchy sets up men against women, it also sets up men against men. Can you measure up? You are only a man if you can measure up to that thing in relation to other men.”