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Crossing into Manhood: A Men’s Studies Curriculum By Christopher P. Mason ...

Chapter 1:  Introduction
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Crossing into Manhood:

Chapter One


Background of the Problem

The Greek playwright Aristophanes (448–330 B.C.) tells of a prehistorical period in which large round, roly-poly beings that had two faces, four hands, and four feet existed. Each being possessed both masculine and feminine genitalia and lived together peacefully in an idyllic world. However, hubris brought the wrath of the gods, and Zeus split humanity into two entities. Since then, humans have been engaged in a search for the missing half (Plato, Symposium). What man is searching for is a sense of the mirror self to complete the whole in a connection to another. This myth explains the beginning of the search for identity and provides the mythological background for the millennia-old struggle of attaining gender identity. It is a story prefigured in the psychological explanations of masculine development by Freud and Jung, and it is the untold theme of gender history.

For more than three thousand years, patriarchy has been the predominant social and relational paradigm of Western culture. At one level, patriarchy meant the authority a father had over the members of his own family, but at another level, it has come to signify the rule of men over society as well as male control of the economic, power, and decision-making structures of society.