Illustration: «Limited Exposure», Moiret Allegiere, 2019
There is, I think, a distinction needed to be made between being childish and being child-like. Childish behaviour in an adult, be that adult male or female, is not a good thing. Throwing tantrums when one does not get ones way is not an admirable trait in someone who is, supposedly, an adult human being. This goes for tantrums thrown when someone is merely disagreeing with a point of view, or offering some contradictory perspective as well. Good examples of this is, as one would expect, feminist and social justice warrior protesters, activists and their ilk. You can video evidence of this behaviour just about everywhere on YouTube – petulant and whiny six years old children trapped within the body of an adult. Male or female. It does not matter.
Children are sociopaths, you know. They need to be taught, they need to learn, how to empathize properly, how to see and consider something from someone else’s point of view. How to view other people as human beings of equal worth – and thusly – equally entitled to their opinion, to voice their opinion and to disagree where ever they may disagree. This is not to say that all opinions are of equal merit. Everyone should, no matter their opinion, have the undeniable right to voice their opinion. Without being assaulted for it, or denied the ability to speak.
Not accepting and understanding that other people have differing opinions, throwing temper-tantrums more befitting a child and calling for banishment to the land of ghosts and shadows all who have opinions different to ones own is childish and narcissistic behaviour. The behaviours of the supposedly woke tribe is like watching a kindergarten full of spoilt children whose parents have not done their job properly fighting over who gets to use the most popular toy during playtime. These kindergarten fights can get messy.
I used to work in a kindergarten, once upon a time. And though I never did see any fights breaking out between the entirety of the children there, there were quite a few fights breaking out between small groups of children, all reaching for the same toy, and all completely incapable of understanding that the other children also had needs and wants. Usually, this is something they learned quickly, as children are known to do, given proper guidance. When not given proper guidance, but being treated as though their shit don’t stink and subjected to doting, overprotective parents who are incapable of understanding themselves that their child can do wrong, the child never learns. And so, the child does not grow up. Not as such. And when the child does not grow up in temperament, the grown up acts like a spoiled child when his or hers needs are not immediately met.
This, I would dare say, is being childish.
And this behaviour is being celebrated as some sort of strength and virtue by mainstream media; these whiny children put upon a pedestal for all to marvel and gawk at their supposed strength in supposedly speaking truth to power. Here come the age of selfish, spoilt and childish entitlement from grown-ups who should, by all reason and logic, know better and act better.
Then there is being child-like. Keeping in touch with the inner child, being able to gaze at and marvel at the wonders of the world still; keeping an inquisitive nature alive and well, seeking answers to myriad questions. Being playful, joking, whimsical and witty, spontaneous and bursting with life.
By and large, it seems very clear to me that men as a whole tend to never lose touch with the child within. This is not acting like a child by any means, but keeping that sense of wonder, of curiosity and of playful exploration an integral part of ones life for the entirety of ones life.
I think it is safe to suggest that this could easily explain – at least in part – the fascination for, and love of, model trains and cars and planes and things of that nature exhibited by so many men. The same could easily be used to explain playing video games as well, by and large a very male-dominated hobby. It should be stated that this is just speculation on my part. What would you expect, from something that is merely the ramblings of a basement-dwelling, neckbearded, fedora wearing fringe lunatic such as myself?
The importance of keeping in touch with this inner child is something that can not be underestimated. There is a spark and lust for life found in that inner child so beautiful and magnificent that I would almost dare call it magical. It is a fantastic dance, where the child within is given free reign and is allowed to come out and play when it wishes to do so. This “playtime” of the inner child could potentially manifest in myriad practical and theoretical ways. It is not limited to model trains, cars, video games and things of that nature. The creation of art, for instance. Or philosophical musings on the nature of life, the universe and everything. There is a harvesting done of that inner child in the minds and hearts of great artists and of scientists alike; the exploration and adventure of the world done by the actions of an adult through the guiding hand of an inquisitive child, wondering what will happen if this object is taken apart and put back together again. Time and again. It is the quaint and curious, adventurous and exploratory nature of childhood potential focused by an adult mind through adult discipline into astonishing works of art and literature, into perplexing discoveries regarding the nature of humanity and the world at large.
When that inner child dies, or is killed through some unforeseen event, the man himself dies a slow death of a thousand cuts. He may not be dead on the outside, but he is sure as hell dead on the inside. The inquisitiveness, the playfulness, the adventurous and spontaneous nature at his core is stripped away, leaving nothing but a grumpy old man in its wake. A grumpy old man who has forgotten how to live, and as a result, how to love. Be that to love himself, or to love someone else. When all that is left is the serious, the material, the drudgery of work and monotony of everyday life; when that spark of childlike wonder and whimsy is stripped away from his being, life becomes not life, but merely existence. And there is nothing more hopeless and desperate than someone who is not living, someone who is merely existing in their own little segregated bubble of time dubbed “life”, wading to and fro at someone else’s beck and call and living someone else’s wishes for lack of their own fulfilment.
That death of the inner child may come as a result of both internal and external pressures and happenings. Tragedy is inflicted either way, no matter the cause and the reason for it. Strip away, or neglect, the inner child and all you have left is a lump of flesh acting on automation; mechanical, synthetic, going through the motions and not feeling much of anything but a slow dissatisfaction eating at a man bit by bit, day by day, minute by minute.
And therein is the crux of the issue: there is this expectation that, whenever a man settles down to raise a family, he is expected to give up anything he ever enjoyed in order to focus solely and squarely on his family and their needs. That all hobbies must be ended and all child-like glee over this or that be robbed from him for he now needs to grow up, take responsibility, and that is all he needs to do. Go from point A to point B – go to work, protect, provide, and that is that.
Now, I absolutely think it is important that children and the whole of the family must take priority in the life of any parent, be that a mother or a father, if the decision is there to raise a family. There is little doubt about this. This should not then translate into the man giving up everything that ever gave the man joy in his spare time. There is less time for it, this is true and obvious. But to give it up completely seems a harsh punishment for raising a family.
I belong to the generation where video games became a de facto norm. Growing up, every single boy I knew played video games. Most of them grew up to be men who still play video games, as did I. Over the course of time, I can not help but notice a trend in relationships of this generation, where the woman demands the man quit his hobby of video games for the simple reason that “grown men have better things to do than play video games.” This quote is verbatim something I saw written on a Facebook post by a woman who gloated over the fact that she finally made her fiancée sell his gaming consoles. There was much cheers and applause from the inhabitants of social media at this display of coercive control within the relationship. Were it a man gloating over something similar, in a similar manner, you can bet your colonoscopy-bag and wrinkled scrotum that there would not be much cheering and applauding. Quite the contrary.
According to her, he had better things to do with his life and his time. I assume those better things were focusing all his attention on her and her alone. It is, one must understand, absolutely horrid that a grown man should have any hobby outside of a relationship that does not revolve around her. It is also absolutely incredible that women are so bold-faced as to assert to know better than men what men should do with their own free time. Men don’t get to decide what they do with their time. Women get to decide that. That is fair and equal in a relationship, dont’cha know.
Anecdotal as it may very well be, I also have stories of men having to sell their much loved hi-fi system because the woman in the relationship felt that it took up too much space and were too ugly to have in the living room of his house which she moved into. The same goes for collection of records, cassette-tapes, and all and any manner of small bits and bobs that tend to make up men’s hobbies or interests, object-focused as men tend to be.
Enough of this happening results in the inevitable death of the child within, by a thousand small cuts. Every man is expected to drop everything if his woman demands it. And this is not considered coercive. This is not considered controlling. This is not considered abusive. It is cheered on and celebrated as some sort of strength exhibited by the woman. Men must grow up, and in growing up men must drop anything and everything that used to give them joy, to focus their attention on her and her alone. Under the pretence that it is focusing on their relationship and their relationship only. Clearly, I am speaking in general terms. Not all women act like this. Society, by and large, do celebrate and condone this kind of behaviour from women, to such an extent that is not only taken for granted, but also expected, that a man shall give so she shall receive whatever she may wish. Even when it results in the death of his inner child – that is, his playful nature, his essence and his core.
My own inner child was killed some years back. Not by external forces, but by internal forces caused by an absolutely horrible psychotic break from reality that saw my very being ripped apart. I spent more than a year in this horrible state of complete complex confusion, suffering an inability to find joy in anything. Even things that used to bring me great joy brought me nothing. All there was that used to be me was an empty, hollow shell that saw absolutely nothing but the inevitable end of the line when gazing at life. There was nothing to be gained from the future but death, so why bother? Had it not been for my art slowly, but surely, resurrecting that inner child, I fear that I should still be lost in that horrible witching hour, that gloomy, dreadful, horrendous state of being where there were nothing but being, but existing, widdling away the time and the days until life finally left me and I died physically, not only metaphysically.
That state of being is not something I would wish on anyone – so hollow, so empty, so devoid of absolutely anything that nihilism, in comparison, would be the most fantastic set of complex beliefs.
Now, the child within is awakening yet again, to such an extent that I find myself perplexed by the beauty of the potted plants growing on my balcony. I can stand looking at the flowers for quite some time, marvelling at the stunning display of colours, how it grows from seed to flower, and all that romantic jazz.
In these strangely corroded societies which we inhabit, where all things generally thought to be masculine is, somehow, considered to be of lesser worth – if not straight up dangerous – when compared to things generally thought to be feminine, it is not uncommon to see and hear and feel the winds blowing around our broken bodies and mangled flesh.
The voices on the wind whispering, in soft tongues tainted with spite and bile, that men who partake in video games, who find joy in things that are – by popular decree – considered childish, immature, silly or stupid…
…that men who play around, who joke, who are spontaneous and find joy in the present moment, marvelling at some small and – perhaps – insignificant happening in the world immediately around them…
…that men who do not hide, who do not shame and chide and beat the child within to within an inch of its life, are somehow immature, are somehow doing nothing but shirking and avoiding the responsibilities that come with adult life. The thought that it is, not only possible, but maybe necessary, to balance the child within, the gleeful wondering, wide-eyed and marvelling child within, with the responsibilities and duties of adult life seems to be too far-fetched to grasp for those who are not in touch with the inner child.
There is a constant current of shame where men and the interests and hobbies of men are concerned running through the crack-house-streets of our societies. All things, interests and hobbies considered masculine must be shamed, or at the very least looked down at, if begrudgingly accepted. It is interesting to note also, of course, that if a woman should find interest in these things and hobbies traditionally masculine, she is often given media-coverage and praised to high heavens, for some reason. It is not unusual to stumble upon an interview or twelve with women that chose to spend time and money on a male-dominated hobby. A hobby that adult men are usually shamed for partaking in. Take this for what it is. I will absolutely admit that this might be a case of confirmation bias on my part.
To me, at any rate, no matter the howling of the winds and the whispers, the screeches, the careless glee exhibited in shaming the so-called immature hobbies of men, the petulant piss-take claiming men just wanting to shave away responsibilities and obligations of adulthood… it should not matter.
When masculinity is constantly shamed and merely being a man is enough to not be allowed to partake in certain discussions by the frantic forces of infantile mobs claiming justice and equality, it should not matter.
No matter the winds and tides and currents and ever-evolving psychosis of cultural decay and destruction.
No matter the shame and the blame and the nonsensical demands to give up this and to give up that.
No matter the forces pushing for dissolution and eradication of masculinity; the forces wanting to keep men browbeaten and subservient, shamed and silenced for the crime of being men.
The child within is still present, self-contained enough to not give a flying fuck, self-aware enough to not stop marvelling and gazing at the pure bliss of the present moment, of the never-ending playtime of the soul.
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– Moiret Allegiere, 08.06.2019
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