I stumbled upon an interesting quote today which set me down multiple lines of thought. I haven’t yet decided which of those lines I will be writing about, but they all fascinated me to the extent that I felt the need to start writing right away and let that all sort itself out as I went. The quote:
It is, for men, at some terrible level the closest thing to what childbirth is for women: the initiation into the power of life and death. –William Broyles Jr., “Why Men Love War,” 1984
I haven’t read that actual piece yet, I don’t want my interpretation to be clouded by the reality of the authors intent or any context he may have provided… that would be so… limiting…
I have long stated that I would love to have a child, meaning, in this case, be pregnant and give birth to a child myself. From various women I have had a wide spectrum of responses to this ranging from thinking I was “cool sweet and sensitive” to being angry with me for wanting to step in their space and accusing me – as a man – of trying to take away the one thing women truly own (etc.).
The reality is, of course, somewhere in the middle. I am not the coolest things since sliced (refrigerated) bread, nor am I a some sort of misogynistic glory grabbing egoist. Rather, I’m a guy who is both curious about the experience and – to a much larger degree – envious of the ability to create life. I get that I, or some other man if we are not talking about my children, already am part of the process of creating life… but when I say that here, I mean being part of the incubation process; bringing what was simply a spark of life when I “left it” to a viable human being.
I can’t imagine what that must be like, but I know – given the chance – I’d want to find out. At times this desire, and the associated reality surrounding it, are a touch depressing. The hard cold facts are that, no matter how badly I want it, no matter what I do… this is something that I simply cannot make happen.
Which brings me back to this quote and the simple concept that, when faced with the inability to take part in the genesis portion of the circle of life, men – some men anyway- form a bond with team taketh-away (AKA death). Imagining this potential reality of cause and effect and manifesting it over thousands – let alone tens or hundreds of thousands – of years allows one – if one were so inclined – to draw some interesting conclusions (and ponders some interesting questions) about the general nature of men and women.
Are men typically more violent, prone to anger, etc. because of traditional societal roles, because of some genetic predisposition, or – perhaps – simply because they have been living for aeon’s with only one available option, if they want to be part of the truly big picture? In simpler terms, would the world be a more peaceful place if men were able to have babies?
Taking that quote at face value, granting (for the purposes of this exercise, I do not expect you to change your world view over this quote) that men embrace violence because it is the only path to experiencing “the initiation into the power of life and death” – and then making the mental journey’s associated with such acceptance, how different do you think the world would be if men (or both men and women) were able to carry a baby to term and deliver?
I’d say more, but honestly I really interested in what you might have to say. So, I’m going to go read the article now and come back and read your comments (I hope) later