The Stage II journey
We stan by questioning even the best of what was functional in Stage I. For example, the hero’s journey described so eloquently by Joseph Campbell was, nevertheless, a Stage I journey And its rituals were Stage I rituals. Both the journey and the rituals were the Stage I man’s boot camp for male disposability. The label "hero" was the bribe of appreciation given by the protected to get the protector to risk his life. Appreciation kept the slave a slave. Thus, as we saw, the very word "hero" derived from the words "servant", "slave" and "protector"
In Stage I, we needed rituals of structure to prepare for the rigid roles that were necessary for survival, in Stage II, we need rituals of choice to prepare for changing roles that are now necessary for survival. In Stage I, it was dysfunctional for men to be in touch with their feelings; in Stage II, it is dysfunctional for men to not be in touch with their feelings. In Stage 1, we claimed that men or women who made their own needs secondary to role expectations had high self-esteem, in Stage II, self-esteem involves knowing how to negotiate a balance between the needs of others and the needs of self. In Stage 1, superman detected the external earthquake and prevented it from destroying the life of the woman he loved; the Stage II superman detects the earthquake inside himself and uses his findings to communicate with the woman (or man) he loves In Stage I, sacrificing for survival was both a meaas and an end; in Stage II, sacrificing for survival is a means to a different end – the end that Joseph Campbell called "following one’s bliss."
Men have the next layer of work to do because, as we have seen, the process of succeeding enough so a woman had time to make her Stage II journey was exactly the process that kept men Stage I men. His income gave her the luxury to contemplate what she didn’t like about herself and him But he felt in a Catch-22: he feared that if he lost the success that freed her. she’d leave him; yet he also feared that if he stayed focused on being successful, she’d leave him.
The implication? Unless both sexes take the Stage II journey simultan eously, we will tend to produce Stage II individuals (usually women), but not Stage II relationships. We will suffer another lonely "me" generation. A Stage II woman and man, then, must first discover who they want to be, and then negotiate a transition with their family.
A Stage 11 journey cannot toss out survival skills with the bathwater. Instead it gives both sexes survival skills and self-actualization skills. Is the current men’s movement the beginning of men developing both sets of skills, as women have already begun to do?
Is the mythopoetic men’s movement making a positive contribution?
The men’s movement that has caught the public eye (the mythopoetic movement led by Robert Bly) has helped men enter the Stage 11 journey by discovering what men never gave themselves permission to have in Stage I: vulnerability, intimacy, self-determination and, therefore, real power. Beginning this exploration with drumming is appropriate because it helps men to emote. Beginning it in the woods is useful because men need to begin by looking within (not blaming) and in isolation from females, children, parents, work – all those to whose expectations men conformed before giving themselves permission to ask whom they really wanted to become and how they wanted to get there.
Men’s gatherings are an important conduit into Stage II because Stage I men never learned to share their fears with those who share their fears. Which is why men at these gatherings have developed rituals using a “talking stick” – a stick wrapped in a vine similar to the caduceus, the ancient medical symbol – to symbolize healing. Why? Talking about feelings is healing; and feeling heard heals even more.
The talking stick symbolizes men’s intuitive sense that for a man to ask women and children to listen to his doubts about being their wallets is like IBM expecting its employees to listen lovingly while it decides whether it should continue producing computers. Men are learning that putting all their emotional eggs in the basket of women and children helps neither women nor men.
Many women worry that when men get away for weekends by themselves, the men will gather together and blame women. Not to worry. Men were socialized to save women, not blame women. All-male sports did not teach a losing team to blame the other – or even to try to get the other team to change. To men, self-improvement and strength do not imply blaming men or women, but especially not blaming women.
The Stage II journey begins for men by appreciating the Stage I hero’s journey – how its structure, discipline, and ritual helped the man overcome obstacles, protea Women, and sustain survival. Calling the weekends Wild Man and Warrior is part of that acknowledgment.
Why is the acknowledgment necessary? Perhaps it isn’t, but humans tend lo stan the process of change by acknowledging themselves – thus blacks asserted black pride and black is beautiful; women declared "I am woman, I
am strong ’; men are saying "I am man. I am okay.” After a quarter of a century of male bashing, that’s not a bad start.
Why has the male sacrifice been more structured, disciplined, and ritualized? Since a social role is more optional than a biological role, male – socialization had to be especially strong to transform a self-centred male infant into a self-sacrificing male adult who would die so others could live. Stage II male socialization therefore requires an especially strong confrontation of men’s propensity to protea women – it requires confront ing the four incentives to protea women that are used in Stage I societies to get men to call it "glory’’ to die. The four incentives men must confront are:
1. The social reinforcement to men’s addiaion to female beauty and sex
2. Deprivation of the beautiful woman and sex with her until the man guarantees economic security in return
3. Status, praise, and other "bribes’’ in exchange for proteaing women, especially if he risks his life or dies doing it, and
4. The combination of ritual and religion (eg., circumcision) that desensitizes men to pain, and music and religion (eg., "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") to stimulate men to endure pain
How do we prepare the next generation to negotiate these changes? The top priority Is modeling these changes ourselves. But a second priority Is working with the school system. . .