It took me weeks before I felt ready to write a review of The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. I had to think it through. You see, I am no stranger to writing about masculinity. In the nineties I worked as a group counsellor for men who were violent in their relationship. I wrote the agency’s counsellor’s manual. You can be sure it was politically correct, both well-informed and limited by its feminist perspective. One of the reasons I left that job was that after four years I felt a part of me was lying. Overall I think women benefited from the counselling given to their men. I am not so sure about the fate of the men. In the decades since, I have watched young women make wonderful advances in equality and power in society. I have witnessed young men flounder, fearing the violent legacy, lacking an alternative vision. Masculinity needs a reboot. Still, there is reason to be cautious.
Deida makes his most valuable point right up front. Masculinity and femininity are not locked to body parts. The yin and yang of gender play out in many complex ways in straight and gay relationships. There is no right configuration. More often than not, though, males assume the masculine identity, and females the feminine. He acknowledges that some couples have a more balanced relationship, something he calls “neutralized”, almost holding his nose. He is right that sexual polarity is a source of energy. Put another way, polarized sex roles are an incompleteness, a drama, an illusion, energetic, but only sustainable for period, finally demanding resolution and truth. I prefer truth over drama.
A happily married man for decades, I learned a couple of relationship truths I should have learned sooner. The feminine tests the masculine. Call it nagging if you must, it only challenges sloppy masculinity. Learn to love her for it, she will not change. Men need to rise to it. She looks to you for leadership, and can relax into the feminine more easily when you provide it.
The feminine is a source of energy for men. We are taught to feel ashamed of our attraction to women. Enjoy the energy, with all women. In truth, that yin polarity is available in everything, a constant source of energy.
It is important for men to define their current mission — something outside the comfort zone, and something realistic. Stop making excuses. Men should challenge each other’s mediocrity. It is through a mission that the masculine finds expression and satisfaction.
I am rounding the edges of some of Deida’s language. He is more titillating. “Press your belly into her. Smile. Scream and then her lick her face. Do whatever it takes to crack the shell of her closure ….” Okay. There are some places he goes I just cannot follow. He talks about ravishing her. He says not to take her “no” seriously. He tries to distinguish this from loveless pornography and rape but I am not convinced. As I read the book, the vicious rape stories in India were surfacing on the news. I also read a story reporting a rape a minute right here in North America. Sorry Deida, no means no.
I do not write reviews of books I do not like. Deida has important things to say. I look forward to discovering more and better books, reinventing masculinity energetically and respectfully for men and women.