What is the biggest insult, the nastiest put-down that a boy can suffer? What is the most shameful indignity, the most humiliating comment that a man must endure? It is to be referred to as a woman! It is to be called a name that compares one to a woman or to a part of a woman's body. Why is this feminine reference or comparison the biggest insult? Because, beginning in childhood, boys are not just taught, but conditioned to live up to the prevailing male standards of their place and time. If the once-innocent child falters or fails in any way to exhibit masculine qualities, then he is often picked-on, left out, shamed, scorned, scapegoated, or beat-up by other boys. In some cases, he may be degraded or beaten by his own father. So, for most men, the biggest insult is really their greatest fear!
The cost of failing to maintain their fabricated masculine identity is frightening to men at a core level. They feel compelled to continually reassert and prove themselves as a man. In order to both appease the demands of the "Masculine Ideal" (which is perpetuated by the "Patriarchal Society") and create as much distance as possible from the feminine, boys attempt to attain "ultramasculine" qualities. They aspire to be the strongest, toughest, bravest, coolest, baddest, wealthiest male. They try to acquire the hottest car, truck, or motorcycle, the biggest house, best office, most fascinating toys, prettiest women, most sexual conquests, or one could say, the biggest penis!
It is the ultramasculine male who is most admired by both boys and men. Ultramasculinity mandates that males act with aggression, competition, authority and domination. It mandates that men control and triumph over the women in their lives.
Violence is both a tool and the ultimate confirmation of identity for the ultramasculine male. It is logical to conclude that fear of the feminine fuels men to strive for ultramasculinity, value aggression over emotionality and use "power" to control the women in their lives. The acceptance and integration of the fear of the feminine represents the ultimate liberation from the trap of masculinity and the confines of having to oppress women! It also represents an enlightened and promising path out of the oppressive confines of domestic violence!
Michael Levittan, Ph.D., is an Expert Witness, Psychotherapist, Media Consultant, and Professor at UCLA Extension and California Graduate Institute. Dr. Levittan has been retained as an expert on numerous cases involving domestic and school violence, child abuse, post-traumatic stress, and child custody. He is director of a certified Domestic Violence and Anger Management program and has numerous articles published on violence and abuse.
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