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A Reply to Stephen Marche's NYT Op-Ed

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) November 26, 2017: The Canadian commentator Stephen Marche (born in 1976), the author of the book The Unmade Bed: The Messy Truth about Men and Women in the 21st Century (2017), has published a provocative op-ed in the New York Times online titled "The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido" (dated Nov. 25, 2017).

As you may have guessed by now, Marche's op-ed commentary was prompted by the tsunami of reports about prominent and powerful American men being accused of various kinds of sexual misconduct -- from groping to rape. I suspect that reports of new allegations about prominent and powerful American men will not stop anytime soon. So let's review some of the points that Marche makes.

Marche says, "Sigmund Freud recognized the id, and knew it as 'a chaos, a caldron full of seething excitations.'" So their ids made certain prominent and powerful American men do it -- whatever it was that they allegedly did.

But Marche also notes that "we are returning to shame as our primary social form of sexual control." Yes, in the court of public opinion, shame is a commonly used weapon of choice.

Next, Marche sums up his concerns in a series of questions: "How can healthy sexuality ever occur in conditions in which men and women are not equal [as in the conditions of the workplace in which certain prominent and powerful American men have allegedly abused their power]? How are we supposed to create an equal world [in the workplace?] when male mechanisms of desire [erections?] are inherently brutal? We cannot answer these questions unless we face them."

I have to admit that I have not exactly figured out why erections "are inherently brutal." I wish that Marche had explained why this is the case. After all, men typically experience erections when they are asleep. So are their sleeping erections also "inherently brutal"? Or are men "inherently brutal"?

Next, Marche turns to discussing how Tucker Max somehow went from celebrating "casual, unthinking misogyny" to "undert[aking] a substantial course of classic Freudian analysis in an attempt to become a decent man."

Now, certain prominent and powerful American men who have been accused of sexual misconduct have entered rehab programs for sex addicts. It remains to be seen is rehab programs for sex addicts can help them become decent men.

In his concluding paragraph, Marche says that we American men collectively need to "start with a basic understanding that masculinity is a subject worth thinking about." But then he speaks of "accepting our monstrosity, reckoning with it -- that can save us. If anything can." Our monstrosity as men presumably refers to our ids -- and to our acting out our id impulses at times in ways that do not make us decent men.

For my present purposes, I am going to skip over the fact that women also have ids.

Pete Walker's Account of Complex PTSD

Recently I published an OEN review essay on November 4, 2017, about Pete Walker's account of complex PTSD in his book Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving (2013).


Briefly, Pete Walker discusses our fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses -- and certain hybrid response patterns. For example, he claims that the fight-fawn hybrid response pattern type is susceptible to sex addiction. It is probably safe to assume that the prominent and powerful American men against whom sexual allegations have been made publicly are fight-fawn hybrid types as Pete Walker delineates this hybrid type, who have succumbed to being sex addicts.

As I note in passing in my OEN review essay, St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Jesuit order, was a sex addict before his famous conversion experience. Consequently, we can assume that he was a fight-fawn hybrid type before his famous conversion experience.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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