SOCIALIZATION FOR SLAVERY Scars as male eligibility
Women’s scars and rituals involved beauty (piercing ears and noses, binding feet, and wearing corsets); men’s involved protecting women. In cultures in which physical strength is still the best way to protea women, as among the Dodos in Uganda, each time a man kills a man, he is awarded a ritual scar; the more scars, the more be is considered eligible20 In the Old South, the more duels a man won, the more he was considered eligible. The single ladies spoke of a single man’s viaories just as the single men spoke of the single woman’s beauty.21
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in many European countries, to be called a gentleman, a man had to don a sword. Agentlermn would use his sword to defend a woman’s honor, to prove himself worthy of a woman, or to defend his own reputation. Gentleman was a term of the highest honor.
Why was a man with a sword called a gentleman? Because the sword was to be used only against men… to women he was to be gentle.
Think of the implications: calling a man gentle is he wore something with which to kill. Imagine requiring a woman to wear a sword before we called her a lady’. Imagine expeaing her to kill any woman who insulted a man. How many women would we have left?
This tradition – of men killing a man who insults a woman – is still with us in places like Sicily, and the verbal remnants of it are with us in men’s hesitancy to talk behind women’s backs, even in an era when calling men jerks behind their backs is virtually institutionalized.*
Scars, men s teeth being knocked out. and circumcisions were all symbolic wounds – symbols of the necessity for a boy to endure pain in subordination to his male role as warrior and protector.22 In societies in which circumcision is commonplace, it is usually a prerequisite to marriage. (The prayer at the end of the bris, the Jewish circumcision ceremony which takes place on the eighth day of a boy’s life, goes, "As he has been initiated into the covenant, so may he enter into matrimony. . .,,2i)
Today, scars that reflea a risking of life in sports still bring a man love when he is young, but when he is older, only if they translate into money. Thus, a high school dropout like Mike Tyson could find love with a beautiful Sarah Lawrence graduate like Robin Givens only if his scars translated into money.
Engagement rings as scars
An engagement ring is one modern equivalent of a ritual scar: the scar symbolized the physical risk taken only by the man to briny, physical security to the woman. the engagement ring symbolizes the financial risk taken only by the man to bring fiscal security to the uoman. Both symbolize the man’s willingness to protea a woman. The bigger the diamond, like the bigger the scar, the greater the proteaion.
The officer and the gentleman: modem versions of the duel
Today, when a man makes money killing and proteaing, we still call him. well. . . An Officer and a Gentleman. The officer was, after all, a trained killer, but, as Richard Gere swept Deborah Winger off her feet, he Ьесгте a gentleman. And in the theater in which 1 saw the film, the women burst into applause. We still call the trained killer a gentleman if he uses his money from killing to protea a woman.