How do people from different walks of life, diverse experiences, and varied points of view live together peacefully within a civil society? What is the main ingredient necessary for democracy to thrive? It can be boiled down to one word: trust. Civil society is built on relationships, friendships, and associations that foster confidence in one’s fellow man or woman.
Freedom and community flourish in a culture of trust, and we’re losing it. This has been happening for some time. We see it across the American landscape in varying degrees. The poor don’t trust the rich. Blacks don’t trust whites. Populists don’t trust the elites. Voters don’t trust politicians. Teachers don’t trust parents. Citizens don’t trust the media. Democrats don’t trust Republicans—and vice versa.
We experience so much distrust that we’re numb to it; we even expect it, and often we thoughtlessly feed it. After all, we don’t think the distrust being bred “out there” in politics and social media affects us in our daily lives. But it does, and it’s increasing, expanding. Like a disease, it’s now infecting our most foundational relationship as a people, the building block of a free, civil society—the relationship between men and women.
Demonizing Men Undermines Both Sexes
The breakdown of trust between the sexes is the tragic legacy of the modern feminist movement, but it has taken on a new fervor with the #MeToo campaign and the growing accusation that masculinity is vile, toxic, and inherently predatorial. Fear of men is legitimized, as accusation is treated as fact. Men are seen as “the enemy,” an embodied deviance that must be remolded into the image of a woman. Their sexuality is assumed to be naturally brutal, a threat to be controlled and reduced for the individual man to be considered “safe.”
While women’s willingness to hold men accountable for criminal sexual behavior is to be applauded, the scorched-earth approach we are seeing today is destructive because it undermines trust. When anything from a naive touch during a photo shoot to an innocent attempt at a kiss is compared to rape and sexual abuse, we are not healing society but infecting relationships with the poison of distrust.
Whether it’s in the workplace, church, or home, the interaction between a man and a woman is unique and primary to all other relationships. When a breakdown of trust happens there, when fear of the other sex becomes generalized, society simply can’t thrive.
Essential to the relationship between men and women is the sexual dynamic. For trust to flourish, this reality can’t denied, and it must be handled with respect, care, and honesty. It can’t be shut down. It can’t be abused, and one part of the polarity—whether it’s masculine or feminine—cannot be labeled toxic, brutal, or evil (as was done in the past by certain totalitarian religions regarding feminine sexuality). Once that label sticks, distrust is generated to the detriment of all.
If women believe that all men with their masculine sexuality intact are dangerous, there can be no trust between the sexes. Men are not going to become eunuchs, change and become like women, abandoning their natural masculinity just because women are afraid of it. It’s impossible, because this is their identity—it’s their nature and it can’t be expunged without destroying who they are as free individuals, as men.
The sexual tension between men and women will always exist, and if women assume a man’s sexuality is a threat instead of a powerful complement to their own sexuality, they will always be on guard. In this environment of suspicion, there can be no privacy between a man and a woman. If there is any kind of interaction or discourse, even if it’s not sexual, the man can’t trust that the woman won’t use it against him—so communication is silenced. Fear is generated on both sides, and fear is the death of trust. It is also the death of love.