More Tool Academy

Shaker RedSonja emails:
So I caught up on Tool Academy yesterday morning and am in utter agreement about how the patriarchy hurts men too. I really felt some empathy for these guys. KarateMonkey, however, is more in agreement with Amanda on this post, that they're emotionally abusive and the show is just the "honeymoon" phase of the abuse cycle. Which led us to a question—once a tool of the patriarchy, always a tool of the patriarchy? How could you tell if someone is genuinely changing their perspective as opposed to moving to the next behavior in the cycle? Just interested to hear what you (and other Shakers) think about this.
First, I don't think that the two notions are mutually exclusive; that the Tool Academics are both victims of the patriarchy and its jack-booted thugs at the same time is the nature of the creation of the Alpha Male, someone who has a vested interest in protecting, at all costs, the system from which he most benefits. Or thinks he most benefits: Even the average straight, white, middle class American man exchanges privilege for severe limitations on his personal expression and emotional life—and he is encouraged never to examine that devastating trade-off too closely, lest the veneer on the alleged bargain prove thin enough through which to see.

So, I don't know that agreeing with empathy or contempt is necessarily an either-or proposition. It's eminently possible to both acknowledge the Tool Academics are suffering because of their adherence to patriarchal standards and that they're abusive because of their adherence to patriarchal standards.

As to whether change is possible, well, if I didn't believe it were, I wouldn't be blogging—and I certainly wouldn't believe in teaspoons. It is my experience that both men and women are capable of unwinding, to varying degrees, their indoctrination into the system and regard themselves and others with the egalitarianism, autonomy, and dignity that the patriarchy seeks to deny.

Authentic change is, I think, indicated by a clear break in an established pattern—a willingness to communicate differently, a new ability to listen, the adoption of anger management techniques, etc.—and, more importantly, an evident change in how someone views him/herself. By which I don't mean someone who can say, "I can be a real asshole, baby," but someone who acknowledges what they've been doing isn't working, for themselves or their intimates, and is actively adopting strategies to change their thinking and associated behavior.

And now I open it up to the floor…

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