Somehow I missed this post by Bonald over at Throne and Alter back in January. In a surprise me (at least to me), Bonald was able to take My Little Pony and create an effective social observation and argument from it. Mind you, with the great name for the title, he had better have.
I encourage everyone to read the whole thing, if only to make sense of the parts I am about to quote:
In the season 2 episode “Dragon Quest”, Spike, finding his alienation from his nature unbearable, sets out to join the Great Dragon Migration and learn “what it means to be a dragon”. He meets up with a gang of unsupervised male teenage dragons at a volcano. The gang tease Spike and subject him to a number of difficult and embarrassing tests to prove his worth. Three of Spike’s pony friends, watching in disguised, are shocked to find Spike responding with enthusiasm. What’s brilliant about this episode is that it’s shown from the perspective of these girl ponies who can’t understand the psychological forces at play. Probably most of the little girls watching don’t understand it either. Spike is getting his first taste of male companionship and camaraderie. Having to prove himself is important to him, although he is frightened and probably doesn’t understand it himself. What the ponies don’t recognize, but adult viewers will, is that although the teenage dragons are acting tough with Spike, they’re actually showing quite a bit of restraint and accommodation to this baby. Belly flopping into lava is not actually impressive, but it lets them give him the sense of having earned membership. Men being the ritualistic sex, Spike is them put through an initiation ritual, followed by a night of revelry with his new companions. Again, the ponies are horrified. How can Spike want to stay with these awful dragons?
It is a disturbing ending, at least to those who understand the episode fully and realize the magnitude of the tragedy. There is nothing wrong per se with the moral principles the ponies have given Spike. What the ponies haven’t given him, because they cannot give it to him, is a way to relate these abstract moral imperatives to his own nature, a way to see his own abilities and inclinations in their light. So it is as well with boys in today’s world, deprived of natural law and traditional culture.
What we are seeing in our society right now is an ongoing process to defang dragons- that is, men. To strip them of their masculinity, with special care and attention given to the male capacity for violence. Which just happens to be the subject for today.
I’ve written about men and violence before, including in this Masculine Monday series. Today’s post is a chance to discuss the subject again, as it has been some time. Back in July of 2013 I wrote The Latent Threat: Male Dominance and the Capacity for Violence. In that post I examined, among other things, the latent male potential for violence and how it intersects with sexual attractiveness. One section of that post:
It is easy for men to forget how much more powerful we are than women. We just take our strength for granted. But because they are the weaker vessel women must approach the world in a very different way. Sometimes they express this consciously, but most of the time subconsciously. Women are fearful because they must be fearful, they can’t defend themselves like a man can. How do women compensate for this?
Well, they act as a herd with other women, for one. You ever notice how oftentimes women will all go to the restroom together? As a group? Myself, I see it all the time. What I’ve never seen is men do the same thing. I suspect the reason for this behavior is because women subconsciously know that when you are relieving yourself you are even more vulnerable than normal, and so for protection women will group up, counting on numbers to protect them. Men, who can both relieve themselves more easily and are more capable of defending themselves, experience no such compulsion.
But the most important way that women compensate for their weakness is by associating with men. But not just men in general. Or any man. No, the Man. The Alpha Male. The big, strong man who can defend her, and her children, from harm. The Man who makes her feel Safe. This is where a man’s capacity for violence is important, even essential. Because a man who has a strong capacity for violence is a man who can keep his woman safe. Of course, sometimes this violence is directed at the woman herself, a perfect example of unintended consequences. Yet even those women who suffer at the hands of their man will often go back to him, perhaps driven by the subconscious belief that while may hurt her, he can also protect her from greater harms at the same time.
In my 13th Masculine Monday post I examined violence in a more limited context:
I suspect that I were to try and create a list of different traits that men “need,” that it would generate a lot of debate. Some would say I am missing traits, while others would argue that I am including some unnecessarily. There is one trait, however, that I would wager very few would disagree with if it were included in such a list.
That trait? A capacity for focused, disciplined and effective violence.
Note that I say a capacity for violence, not a propensity for violence. Those are two very different things.
There is a time and place for all things, including violence and refraining from violence. But I would argue that a man who is incapable of exercising violence when needed isn’t much of a man at all.
Looking at those posts again, and Bonald’s most recent posts, it reaffirms for me again that violence and masculinity are inextricably linked. Any attempt to separate a capacity for violence from men is to separate them from, and deny, their basic masculinity. And as I think on it, it really isn’t just a capacity for violence. There just is a certain amount of violence that is natural to masculine behavior. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Something which our society tries vehemently to deny, of course. Violence is wrong. It is EVIL. Period. End of sentence.
But we men know better, or at least, we should. Force and the exertion of force -violence- is part and parcel of being a man. In my opinion, we need to start standing up for that. We need to defend the truth that “boys will be boys” and rough-house each other. And everything else about men which is inherently forceful and turbulent.
And no, I am not defending violence for the sake of violence. There is good violence, and bad violence. But good violence exists, and not only has a right to exist, it needs to exist.
The alternative is a bunch of dragons raised to be ponies.