I used to love to read Westerns when I was a young man and I still do.
Now, I realize that part of the reason is that there is a representation of life, purpose, right and wrong, and especially masculinity that is simple (meaning “not unnecessarily complex” rather than “foolish”) and straightforward. Not a lot of things are presented that way anymore; more’s the shame.
In one of these old Westerns, I once read a distinction about masculinity that has been very helpful over the years. I cannot remember if the author was Louis L’amour or Zane Grey (it might have been Riders of the Purple Sage)… but the distinction went something like this:
There are essentially two types of men. The first are the kind of men that women fear, but no real man does. These are the abusers, intemperate children in men’s bodies. The second are those that no women would ever need fear, but that every man must take into account… the Western equivalent of respect.
There are plenty of men out there that I would be certain would never intentionally hurt a woman – especially not in anger, but that I would feel the need to take into account before I acted, especially if it were in a foolish or immoral way.
I am not talking about the freaky extreme situation that might be possible, but that the vast majority of us will never come anywhere near – some kind of dramatic violence posed against a child or something, I guess…
I will periodically ask a man in my counseling what the ugliest expression of his anger has ever been. It is amazing to me how many often there has been slapping or pushing… or at least physical intimidation (cornering, yelling in her face, gripping her arms)… or even just calling her foul names.
This is sad but intriguing to me.
Why would a man dishonor himself this way?
Virtually all of the men who I hear this from know this is not ok. In fact, I will often ask them “what would you do if another man spoke to your wife this way, or treated her this way.” The answer I expect (and kind of hope for) is some version of “those would be fighting words.”
Men, I would recommend you don’t say or do anything in anger to your wife that you would want to kill another man for saying or doing. This seems like a simple and obvious place to start, at least, doesn’t it?
It is beneath you as a man.
In fact, we have to acknowledge and accept the power that we have in the lives of the people around us. There is more about that concept in the article about being *heroes and I will write more in a follow up article on meekness * (http://phalanxmen.wordpress.com/2010/08/13/phalanx-introduction-2/)
Leave it at this for now – be the kind of man that other men would respect (or had at least better take you into account), but that women would always know that your physical power and presence would be used in for them… but they would not need to fear it, or you.