The Love and Power Institute posits a few fundamental ideas about the crisis threatening our sustainability as a species today: that overpopulation and unprecedented technological capabilities have led us to destabilize and degrade the earth until very drastic measures will be needed to restore our balance with nature. Furthermore, the most economical and therefore useful priority for targeting cultural change needs to be those men who are motivated towards wealth and power. But instead of labeling this subset of men as antisocial or “toxic”, we want to improve everyone’s understanding of emotions and their management, so that the cultural norms for all people will support a more compassionate approach to our relations with people and all elements of nature.
We realize that there are more aspects of emotional management that need to change than just men’s motivation to seek success, wealth and power. For example, more women need to embrace the challenges of power because their leadership is needed to shift all governments, corporations and public attitudes away from exploiting the biosphere toward nurturance and sustainability. But at this point in our history we know more about the particular organization of male emotional management that needs change than about the emotional challenges women will face. And more men than women appear to be resistant to self-awareness and change. The limitations in men’s emotional awareness and flexible management are a partially biological but mostly cultural emotional strait-jacket.
Because of the great changes in both the technology and organization of work outside the home since World War II, the division of labor by gender has rendered obsolete both women’s specialization toward childbearing and nurturance and men’s focus on success and power. Men today need to make greater changes in attitudes and behavior than women and in a shorter period of time. But the rewards for humanity of replacing the predatory urges of some men with caregiving expertise for all people and nature will be profound. Thus for men to free themselves from their emotional strait-jacket may be unusually difficult. But if both sexes develop a similar facility with emotions their challenges of advancing egalitarian relations can be rewarded by ever increasing emotional intimacy.
It is with these ideas and intentions in mind that we will now describe the nature, history and some anthropology of the male emotional strait-jacket. By understanding the limits that American upbringing and culture have placed on male emotional abilities we can learn how to set ourselves free of those limits.