On the subject of the former - while eating lunch I was watching an episode of a old T.V. show "The Rifleman" on YouTube. Part nostalgia (watched it when I was a kid) part mindless distraction; it was interesting to consider the divergent values portrayed, I suppose both through the lens of the story which takes place in the 1800's (post American revolution) and the consciousness present at the time of it's filming (the first show apparently aired September 30, 1958 - slightly under a year before I was born) versus life in the 21st century.
It might also be curious to some how I as someone that considers himself an evolving "man" (which to me includes a very comprehensive ongoing evaluation of how I personally define that and/or how important - or not, it is that "man" be a necessary tile in the mosaic of how I go about identifying myself) what could I possible "see" in a late 1950's "shoot 'em up" western??
Oh no question the glorification of the "old west," and many a tired male-stereotype is rehashed ad nauseam. You might guess by the title that the entire financing of the production might as well been bank-rolled by the NRA (I'm not saying it was, nor do I feel compelled to verify one way or the other). Of course throughout there is endless scenarios that unfold which are supposed to delineate when the "right time" to use the rifle was and when it is senseless killing or cold-blooded murder.
The episode I happened to be watching - unfolded the story of a widower and his son buying the property adjacent to the Rifleman (and his son's) "spread" (as the story goes he also lost his wife). The new "neighbour" it turns out is anything but (cantankerous and opening declaring he wants to be "left alone..") The two boys connect out on the open range where the Rifleman's son learns that the other boys mother died while in medical care, they lost their farm in the ensuing circumstances and the father didn't want anything more to do with doctors or people. This of course gives us a little back-story upon which to frame some understanding for his hostile exterior demeanour.
Determined to keep to himself and others to themselves he proceeds to fence of his property with no less "barbed" wire. No sooner does the Rifle begin to try and make a point about how dangerous that wire is to people or livestock when the guys son is thrown from his horse and fall through and upon said fence.
Granted this is like a 30 min. drama show - so no plot-line has time for much sophistication and as I indicated earlier it represents values etc. of a "by-gone" era. But is it all so?
I was struck by the presence of pain and suffering the new neighbour was experiencing. Through this pain he was prepared to deny is son attending public school and to keep the two of them isolated on his property away from everyone. His behaviour was not the only visible appearance of his defences - he was choosing to keep everyone and everything "out" using barbed-wire (a very dangerous strategy which threatened the well-being of those on the one side and he and his son who would be imprisoned ("Protected") inside.
I know that pain & I no of the prison I created with life strategies that did ensure my survival at one place and time - but they most certainly set up a myriad of life limiting factors later in life.
The neighbour's son was seriously injured - still he was adamant there would be no medical intervention. Lucas McCain (the Rifleman) took matters into his own hands (because that's what he pretty much always does) and beat up the father (they scrapped and he was knocked unconscious) and took the son to the doctor. Now I'm not advocating conflict resolution through violence. Over-stepping the decisions and choices of others - and exerted your own will.. Personal space & boundaries count for something. This was a life over limb set of circumstances and maybe sometimes right action doesn't look "text book" perfect, must be implemented expediently and sure as fuck, might not be all P.C.
The father came to the doctor's office with his gun prepared to take his son home - naturally the Rifleman stood ground in between (yes of course, with his rifle). Oh there has been references previous to the "good book" and McCain in his no nonsense way - shared the truth of the loss of his own wife, pointed out they both had only their sons that meant the world to them both and what would be proved if they both shot each other and one or both dies. Then what becomes of the boys?
You are not the only one that has gone through this - and you don't need to keep going through it alone.
Come on, he implores, "be a father to your son!!!!"
The father sees McCains son kneeling at the bedside and realizes he is praying for his son (which brings about the necessary epiphany all within the requisite timeframe of when this would have been a episode aired on T.V. with, commercial interruptions.
Melodrama and social mores that don't represent current day consciousness (though the influence continues to unfold through inter-generational dynamics, trauma etc.) to me there, is still some aspects of what represent a "healthy masculinity" upheld in this old show. For sure there is also a glut of toxic, violence-glorifying, patriarchal, racial, sexist facets of humanity portrayed.
That line "be a father to your son," cut deep within me - it brought tears to my eyes. I don't even know who my actual father is. I was sad to realize I didn't have that un-compromised mentoring and guidance. And now that I'm left to be both father and mother, I'm saying, there are some masculine qualities, that are nothing short of divine, that I need to foster and bring more fully into being (will that be at the expense of the feminine within me? Absolutely not). I am stepping toward being done with any self-talk or implication from outside myself that masculinity is a pathology.
And while we live in a world that is outing the ways in which a hobbled masculinity is limiting life all over the planet and well it needs to (and that would include that which exists within those that "identify" as gender female) - don't kid yourself for a minute, thinking climbing the corporate ladder as a women, makes behaving in oppressive, demeaning, controlling, power-hungry etc. ways, any different or better (i.e. this is me breaking my shackles of oppression) - if you're abusive and demeaning in the world, then that is who you are in the world, it doesn't matter the gender i.d. There are some no nonsense masculine - get it the fuck done, energies that have their place. (I'm not talking about, at someone else's expense) - I'm talking about, taking action and getting it done. Not to be so driven that one self-destructs and creates collateral damage everywhere along the way. But some decisiveness. some fortitude, some commitment, some personal integrity.
My sense is the more I live from those places within me, the less there would be cause to consider it necessary to surround myself in barbed wire.