One reviewer of Rogue put it very simply that a problem with my novel was that it was an example of toxic masculinity. Not that he thought that was a bad thing, but that it would be viewed as such by a woke media and publishing industry. That’s why I wrote it.
I view Rogue as an explanation of how men operate. I don’t mean the sissified men of today (not that all are, of course). There’s was a touchy-feeliness introduced into the school system as far back as when I was a teenager that I rebelled against; I wrote the novel Rebel to explain to the current generations why ours was different, that a lot of the toxic feminism was invading the male space even then.
It started with subjects like Oral Communications, which, by the very title is nonsensical. Oral communications, as I explained to my principle back then, is this: If I talk and you understand me and you talk and I understand you, that’s oral communications. Now, one might improve upon that by being more eloquent or organized in their preparation, or by creating different subjects like, Oral Manipulation, perhaps, or Oral Domination, but not communication.
Oral Communications, in essence, Speech, as a class, was easily identified as groupthink. Because I have always been outside of the group, most often by choice, but also by exclusion, I don’t think like the group. When they tried to force me to think like the group, I rebelled, because it was a form of mind control. At sixteen I figured this out. My father worked hard all of his life and did not venture these paths, so it was not from instruction, other than to recognize the ability and willingness of others to manipulate and to guard against that.
My rebellion was organic, because I was raised with the frame of mind that the individual was supreme, that it was important to let others feel as they did, think as they did, do as they did, but that in no way obligated me to do the same. Rather, I was taught to be an individual, jealous of my right to do all of the things I wanted so long as they didn’t hurt anyone else or damage their property. I didn’t know if I was right or wrong, just that I expected the same latitude that I offered to others, without comment or condemnation. When I didn’t receive that same latitude, I took it as a personal affront to my individuality.
Rogue is an attempt to describe the conditions that make violence not only necessary, but a virtue. This came along at a time when the state was beginning to take one’s response to threats as a crime. If I’m defending myself, there is no crime in my actions. That’s a completely new theory put forth by the communists who’ve taken over every level of government, i.e., that there is a state interest that goes beyond my interest in defending myself from harm or death. This is the theory put forth in the seat belt issue that I rejected when it became law, because as a law it placed the state foremost in my decision making. It violated the very fundamental concept that I have dominion over my body and can take risks with it as I choose and defend it as I choose.
Yes, Rogue does harken back to an America that no longer exists, not in reality and not even in theory. That America has been blotted out by the re-writers of history. That America made the strong, those capable and willing to defend themselves and their families, supreme before the law, but it made the weak feel bad, so the idea was not to make the weak strong, but the strong weak. We have not benefitted from that exchange, not individually and not as a nation.
I titled it Rogue, because the main character does slip off that beam of legitimate and necessary violence to deter violence. But that lapse causes great distress and guides his future behavior, not necessarily for the better.
I don’t know if it’s still true, but at one time, in Wyoming, if a couple of guys decided they’d had enough of each other, they could go outside and settle it. It was called “mutual combat” and unless a deadly weapon was used, there was no crime committed. The idea being that the loser entered the arena voluntarily and having lost had no other recourse than to go home, mend his face and consider his actions that led to the damage. Calling out some random person might not be the best way to deal with personal rejection or troubles at home.
In the modern vernacular I recognize toxic masculinity as a negative attribution, but intellectually I reject the concept of masculinity, by itself, being toxic. Masculinity and strength can be used for any number of purposes, some appropriate and some not. More time should be spent defining those uses and discouraging one without discouraging another.
We’re going to need masculinity soon, as we still need femininity, but we don’t need one to be the other. We need each to play their role in society and to do so they have to be pure and delineated. I don’t know how the modern teenager even talks to the opposite sex, much less gets down to some sort of relationship, the identities seem to be so perverse and skewed toward the vague and irrational I’m not sure how they form sentences.
You're right, T.L, we will most definitely need masculinity soon, in whatever form it may take. I feel compelled to share a quote, one I've always felt played a significant role in my perspective of what it means to be a man. It also touches on the many aspects and/or virtues you have written about.
“Is not ours an age of mis-lived lives, of un-manned men? Why?
Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely, they are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away, for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men. I do believe: there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society.
Do what you will: only from God you will get men.”
~ Cardinal Louis-Édouard-François-Desiré Pie ~ Christmas Homily (1871)
Masculinity was more important when there were fewer people, and less government oversight -- and protection. Now that we have grown the population enough that people are physically unable to be left alone, the weaker members sought help from government, and those in power were glad to oblige. Seatbelt laws were one of many insults against masculinity, driven by the economics of government caretaking. They're just reminders that we have subordinated masculinity and self reliance to government maternalism.
That maternalism is losing its control, despite desperate attempts to retain it, and masculine traits will become much more important very soon. Those who have forgotten will have a rough time.
We can't live in the past, but we must remember it.