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Shame Men Enough, and There Will Be Hell to Pay
What marriage counselors can teach us about fear and shame
Yesterday, we talked about Ted Kaczynski’s theory of oversocialization from the first in a series of Ben Bartee articles examining the Unibomber Manifesto. It turns out that developmental psychology agrees with Kaczynski.
To summarize, society has so narrowed the path of acceptable behavior, speech, and thought that no one can stay on the path. No one. it’s impossible because the thread-thin path is constantly shifting.
In Kaczynski’s view, this leads people, especially men, to feel extreme shame. They come to believe they are defective, and that’s exactly what society wants—people who feel ashamed of themselves and unworthy of making their own decisions.
Bartee points out that almost all mass shootings are perpetrated by young white men. This outcome is predictable according to both Ted Kaczynski and solid psychological studies.
According to psychologists, men and women are different. Men and boys are more subject to hyperarousal than women and girls. Anyone who’s raised both sons and daughters knows this. Boys get wound up and stay wound up more than girls.
Counselors Patricia Love, Ed.D., and Steven Stosny, Ph.D., describe hyperarousal as an evolutionary advantage for males. Being significantly stronger and larger than women, males’ hyperarousal allows them to respond quickly to threats. Moreover, studies have shown that males feel pain less intensely than women and are less fearful than women. That’s why men and boys do dangerous things for fun. (Women do, too, but if you took 1,000 men and 1,000 women and watched them for a year, the men would be about four times as likely to receive injuries from their own recklessness.) Men are more likely to engage in thrill-seeking activities than women.
Fear of injury and isolation drive women, while avoidance of shame (or failure) drives men.
From their book How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, the pair writes:
So how does the male propensity for hyperarousal translate into hypersensitivity to shame? First of all, boys and girls both experience shame, which is a stop-and-hide response. The root meaning of the word shame is “to cover or conceal.” When you're embarrassed you want to crawl into a hole, and a child feeling shame wants to cover his face because he can't bear to look at you. If you are playing with a boy or girl infant and you suddenly break eye contact and turn away, he or she will experience the physical displays of shame: reddened face, contorted facial expressions, writhing muscles, and other signs of more general distress, especially if he/she was interested in or enjoying the eye contact. . . . Males who experience this over and over develop a hypersensitivity to shame.1
Interesting that our knee-jerk reaction to shame is to cover our faces, is it not? (The more you read, the more you see the psychology behind the pandemic response.)
Love and Stony write about marital relationships, not mass murder or tyrannical government. But people are people. The male tendency to avoid shame more than physical injury transcends categories. Men avoid shame in all situations, which is why they do risky things. Backing down from a challenge to try to jump across a chasm would bring shame—so men jump. We rationalize that we’d rather fall to our death than be known as a coward. A woman given the same challenge would respond, “No. That’s stupid.”
(If, however, the woman faced with jumping or being left alone, she’d likely jump. Isolation is to the woman what shame is to the man.)
Let’s unpack this paragraph on the source of many troubled male-female relationships:
What women have an even harder time understanding is this: For the average male, relationships are not a reliable source of comfort. A man's greatest pain comes from shame, due to the inadequacy he feels in relationships; therefore, going to the relationship for comfort is like seeking solace from the enemy. Talking about the relationship, which is guaranteed to remind him of his inadequacy, is the last method he would use for comfort, in the same category as choosing a bed of nails for a good night's sleep. This is why he often goes to a fight-or-flight response to ease his distress and not to a heart-to-heart talk with the woman in his life. Fight or flight is the male equivalent of tend and befriend.2
And what happens when the woman continues to demand he talk about their relationship? Eventually, anger and aggression.
The male fight-or-flight response is seen most commonly in acts of aggression and competitiveness. You have, no doubt, watched boys act out these behaviors in the neighborhood, on the school playground, and in your living room. To appreciate the relationship of aggression to shame, you have to understand only what these powerful emotional states do to your mind and body. With heavy doses of cortisol, shame hurts like hell and drains off all available energy—all you want to do is crawl into a hole. Its message is that something is producing rejection or failure—stop it and cover it up! Anger comes to the rescue with its analgesic and amphetaminelike effects that numb the pain and give a surge of energy. (This is why wounded animals are so ferocious and athletes can break a bone in a game and not even know it.) 3
How does this lead to teenage boys shooting up a movie a theatre or Ted Kaczynski sending exploding letters to college professors?
Anger and aggression ward off shame by numbing its pain and filling the void of energy it depletes. All you have to do to make a man verbally or physically aggressive is threaten him with shame: “You're a wimp, a loser, a dud, and you have a small penis!” As they used to say in the Westerns that men love so much, “Them's fightin' words!”4
Men in America in 2022 are struck by fighting words every moment of every day. The war on men began, in earnest, in the 1970s when men, especially fathers, were portrayed as idiots, misogynists, and racists in television, books, movies, and commercials.
In other words, our culture has bombarded three generations of boys and men with “You’re a wimp, a loser, a dud, and you have a small penis!” Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This message comes from teachers, mothers, girlfriends, priests, Hollywood action stars, pop music, politicians, and the evening news.
Yet, we’re surprised when the occasional male grabs a machete and tears through a suburban mall.
This is not to excuse murder and mayhem. It’s to point out that violence is the predictable result of a society bent on shaming men into submission. A percentage of men will absolutely revolt and relieve their pain with the analgesic of anger and aggression. Chances are, more women would commit heinous crimes if society put similar energy into socially isolating them and bombarding them with fear messaging.
You can probably see where this is going.
The official response to the Covid epidemic has come down to two constant messages:
This was not a mistake or an accident. Doctors Love and Stosny are not gnostics who alone know the secret of men and women and what drives them. Though the “experts” will publicly deny there is any fundamental differences between men and women, they quietly exploit the known biological differences to drive both into submission.
Fear for women; shame for men.
In the perfect dosages, fear and shame work like mass hypnosis. Hundreds of millions of people do exactly what you want.
But when the fear and shame become intolerable—when the authoritarians go too far—men and women alike will fight back against it. That’s when things go sideway. That’s when large numbers of people decide they are no longer willing (or able) to coexist with their society. That’s when empires crumble.
Ted Kaczynski was right. Oversocialization—over-use of fear and shame—drives certain individuals to lash out at the source. It’s taken 30 years, but society is finally approaching the apex of this conflict between human nature and authoritarian messaging. The dam is about to break.
In Canada, we see police brutalizing reporters who are trying to expose police brutality of protesters. In America, we see a cabal of government, medicine, and technology attempting to outlaw dissent. In San Francisco, parents united to kick out school board members in a recall election. And, from California a caravan of big rigs is rolling out to shut down the nation’s capital. Most ominously, Joe Biden secretly made the national state of emergency permanent.
The authoritarians of the New World Order frightened and shamed us for two years. For two years, we cowered in fear and covered our faces in shame. But the fear and shame didn’t go away—they got more intense.
At some point, we would rather die fighting than live another day in such unrelenting fear and shame. When that day comes, our fear and shame transfers to them. Woe to Dr. Fauci when that day comes.
And that day is coming.
Stosny Ph.D., Steven ; Love Ed.D., Patricia . How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It (pp. 17-19). Harmony/Rodale. Kindle Edition.
ibid. (p. 21)
ibid. (p. 22)