Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Dealing with Alpha Males

Continuing on with my exploration of ways we can deal with aggressive males--human males in this case--short of poisoning them all.  (See the end of my last post, Baboons and Culture Change, for an explanation of this this statement.)

My question is whether we can channel this aggressive male energy so that it can be used for something other than domination.  Like the baboons in my last post, can we create a culture that supports a less hierarchical way of being?

In his novel, Island, Aldous Huxley talks about how his utopian paradise deals with what he calls “Muscle Men”; “...why don’t they turn into Stalins… or at the least into domestic tyrants?  First of all, our social arrangements offer them very few opportunities for bullying their families, and our political arrangements make it practically impossible to domineer on any larger scale.  Second, we train the Muscle Men to be aware and sensitive, we teach them to enjoy the commonplaces of everyday existence.  That means they have an alternative--innumerable alternatives--to the pleasure of being the boss.  And finally, we work directly with this love of power and domination that goes with this kind of physique in almost all its variations.  We canalize this love of power and we deflect it--turn it away from people and onto things.  We give them all kinds of difficult tasks to perform--strenuous and violent tasks that exercise their muscles and satisfy their cravings for domination--but satisfy it at nobody’s expense and in ways that are harmless or positively useful.”

One important thing to remember (at least for me) is that this kind of strength and power is useful, if used in good ways.  I think we should train the more aggressive males (sometimes referred to as Alpha Males) to use their strengths to support a more egalitarian and cooperative culture, rather than for domination.  We should praise and support those men who use their power and privilege for constructive purposes.

For example, I’d say that my colleague and comrade, Paxus, is pretty much an alpha male.  He was raised in an upper middle class culture and groomed to climb the corporate hierarchy.  Yet he turned his back on it.  Still, he doesn’t farm or meditate or act quiet or shy.  He can be quite charismatic if he wants to be.  What he does is to use his strength and skills to help support social change and create community.  He could be in a position of dominance, but instead he is using his power against the very system that gave it to him.

I want to be part of creating a society that has a place for everybody.  And I think we should support the ‘alpha males’ in supporting an alternative culture.  Rather than poisoning them, we should value them--while encouraging them to use their strength for change. (Personal note: I am a cis-man, but hardly what anyone would call an alpha male.  I was a victim of male aggression as a kid.)

Quote of the Day: “Macho doesn't prove mucho.” - Zsa Zsa Gabor


vera said...

re last para: How? And what if they'd rather bully?

MoonRaven said...

I think it's a matter of how they are raised (see my quote from Huxley). Unfortunately, I don't think you can do this with the current crop of alpha males. We need to get the young, aggressive males and channel that aggression. We need to create a culture that supports this way of being. As the baboon experience in my last post showed, a changed culture can persist.

The older males will die out naturally. We need to focus on preventing new bullies from emerging.

vera said...

New bullies always emerge, if the culture favors them. I think we need to focus on us, and how we ongoingly enable a culture that favors them. We don't have control over anyone else; esp. bullies... but we have control over ourselves.

I guess my recipe is:
1) change ourselves
2) provide aid to those bullies who want to change


vera said...

So... um... are we in synch on this, or still not?

Actually, my prescription is three-parted:
1) change ourselves (and in so doing, change the culture one person at a time)
2) offer help to those being bullied
3) offer help to bullies who want to change

MoonRaven said...

Sounds good to me.

I would just add: raise young aggressive males to channel their energy into constructive cooperative projects. (ie, reach them before they become bullies, when possible.)

vera said...