The text below is from a previous version of the Maniphesto 10 Principles, where our focus was on “Sexual mastery”. We have now updated the principle to focus on “Marriage”. We will be updating this text soon, but in the meantime, you can still see our previous principle here, which lays out our thinking on how we move from sexuality to marriage.
Maniphesto’s Principle on Sexual Mastery states:
We support men in establishing a lifelong commitment to one woman as a container for personal growth.
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The sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s as well as widespread birth control has initiated massive changes in our culture and understanding of sexuality, which are still moving and which our society is increasingly struggling to integrate.
The media is full of scandals such as the continuing #metoo campaign, often from real sexual violations, often hysterical reactions. The “incel” phenomenon is growing in the manosphere where young men “take the black pill” and collapse into hate and in the worst case violence.
At the same time, large portions of the population of young men are failing to launch their lives. Addicted to pornography and languishing in a lack of direction, purpose and energy despite all opportunity and resources available, an increasingly large proportion of men in the West are in a state of slavery to the most dysfunctional aspects of their sexuality.
To lift men, we urgently need a pragmatic, strong, and broad approach to gaining sexual mastery.
What is Sexual Mastery?
Sexual mastery entails becoming the master of one’s sexuality rather than its slave.
Opinions are varied on how to attain sexual mastery. On the one hand, some advocate complete abandonment of all cultural norms and values as well as deconditioning of all socialisation – complete freedom to follow emotional impulses is seen as the path forward. On the other hand, others advocate for a return to strict traditional norms and structures, regulated and sanctioned by the state – only through controlling sexuality and reducing freedom can we control the sexual dragon.
In this approach, we want to transcend typical oppositions and understand how men can take control of their sexuality to move from a state of slavery to one of integrated and embodied mastery.
The idea of sexual mastery entails the perfection of one’s control of channeling sexual, creative energy through one’s being and actions. Obviously this is a high state to strive after – and thus a worthy life goal.
Given the dangerous and chaotic nature of sexual energy as well as the many potential pitfalls, all of us tend to have patterns of behavior and instances where we misdirect our sexual energy. This does not make us bad people. It just makes us human. What we consider to be important is to maintain the vision of sexual mastery as a worthwhile goal to strive towards, while accepting who and where we are. Knowing ourselves, our strengths and having an appropriate awareness of and humility concerning our shortcomings is important, as is moving our life towards a higher ideal.
The goal of sexual mastery is not about “tips and tricks” or techniques to give or experience sexual pleasure. While these can have value for some men, the focus is rather on higher level goals of long term human flourishing.
The role of community
An essential element in attaining sexual mastery is having open, honest and supportive relationships to other men who help us to strive and struggle together, while escaping the traps of toxic shame or false pride. Preferably these relationships should be nested within a concrete in-person community which provides hierarchical mentor-mentee relationships as well as flat brotherly relationships.
In order to understand sexual mastery, we will discuss the following 10 principles:
Desire (1) , Eros (2) and Creation (3) as fundamental concepts in the direction of sexual energy (4). The character of how we relate to women (5) in order to integrate their personhood (6) and the role of sexual intercourse (7) in that. The role of sexuality in relating to women (8), and especially the aspects of marriage (9), and children (10).
- Desire. In its essence, desire is good. Sex is good. Having sex is healthy and will lead to a happier, healthier life. Many men are disconnected from their desires, are shameful about them, and do not think that they deserve to get what they desire. Contrary to this, the pursuit of desire, including the sexual urge, when it is accepted, coupled with a clear understanding of reality and taking responsibility, is a powerful force for good in a man’s life.
- Eros. The root of sexual desire is Eros. Eros is a Greek word for “love” which expresses the untamed, wild and all-consuming aspects of love. Our culture tends to reduce this to eroticism, but this is only a weak caricature of confused and misguided eros, directed towards the objectification of another person or even towards a lifeless object, instead of a real person themself. A powerful force indeed, if eros is directed at something good and natural such as another person or God, then it will lead to unlimited growth. If eros is aimed at lower or self-indulgent goals, such as pornography, money or personal power, then it will lead to destruction.
- Creation. At its most basic, sexual desire is to create new life in the world in one’s own image – to become the father of a new creation. The ultimate expression of this is the fathering of biological children through sexual intercourse with a woman, but it can also be legitimately and productively directed towards fathering ideas, communities, initiatives, projects and physical creations.
- Direction of sexual energy. Sexual energy can be directed “upwards” towards higher goals in a productive manner, or “downwards” in a destructive and self-sabotaging manner. A general principle is that sexual energy directed upwards in a productive manner will have the result of creating more good and sustainable life. Sexual energy directed downwards will generally have the function of supporting distraction from pain and discomfort or towards instant gratification of pleasure. Additionally, sexual energy directed downwards can become perverted in a way that it creates and perpetuates twisted, destructive life. Sexual mastery on the other hand entails learning to direct more of one’s sexual energy in a productive direction. This is the equivalent of saying that one can become the master of one’s sexuality, or the slave of it.
- Masculine men, feminine women. In all living species, we see differentiation and specialisation between male and female abilities and roles. These differences play a vital role in attraction, relationship bonding and mating. Men and women are fundamentally equal and similar in that they are both human. Masculinity is a word which defines the set of human traits which both men and women have found valuable and desirable in men – typically related to their ability to protect and provide for women and families. Femininity describes the set of traits that are most attractive in women. The differences between the masculine and feminine are what creates powerful, often irresistible polarity and sexual attraction. Ultimately, a feminine woman will be attracted to and receptive to a man who is able to master his sexual, creative powers and direct it in productive ways.
- Integration with women. Men’s work entails creating some separation between men and women. It is important to note that this separation is not a goal in itself, but rather a step towards the goal of deeper integration with women. Thus Maniphesto creates temporary male-only desexualised spaces in order to better equip men to integrate with the feminine and ultimately with a woman. The only way to integrate with women is to acknowledge their full personhood. If we see and relate to women as sexual objects only, through the lens of our own sexual needs, then we will never be able to integrate with them. Encountering a woman in her full personhood with the aim of sexual union entails approaching one of life’s greatest mysteries. True integration with a woman entails learning the mediation and mastery of the fundamental oppositions of reality.
- Sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is the most intimate and sacred act that one can perform with another person. It maintains its most sacred and intimate nature when it is considered private, precious, even “holy”. This enables it also to be raised from a base physical penetration and friction with one’s genitals, which will always remain fundamentally unfulfilling, to being a physical, mental and spiritual penetration with the entire being, incorporating the full personhood of man and woman. An unfortunate result of the sexual revolution is the explosion of sexuality from the private into the public and the “pornofication” of sexuality in especially young men’s and women’s minds, resulting in a cheapening or profaning of sexuality and thus an unclear understanding of the depth and mystery of sexual realities.
- Sexual relationships to women. Sexual attraction constitutes an incredibly powerful attractive force between men and women. That attractive force causes men and women to create bonds of commitment to each other, despite the inherent difficulties. When men and women are intimate, they drop their masks and show themselves to each other – and also get to experience themselves as they truly are. By physical as well as psychic, emotional and even transcendent penetration and union, they see and feel deeper into each other than is otherwise possible, creating an experience of depth, intimacy and transcendence, opening up the possibility of reaching parts of the psyche which are normally inaccessible and thereby potential learning and growth as a human being.
- Marriage. When attraction with a woman leads to a strong mutual and exclusive commitment, then the couple are bound together in what is universally recognised as an ancient and powerful rite that forms the most basic building block of human society. The mystery of this union can be seen as a death of two individual(ist) selves and the formation of a new configuration which simultaneously enables the full realisation of individual personhood as well as the transcendence of separation. Life long marriage is the best possible container and vehicle for personal growth in that personal shortcomings and failures cannot be escaped and must be taken responsibility for and dealt with. It is also the best possible container for parenting children.
- Children. The natural function, essence and result of sexual activity is creating children. The sexual revolution has obscured this with unfortunate results – not least drastically falling birth rates and a generation of unprepared and immature parents reliant on state support. Taking responsibility for and parenting children is the most where a couple learn how to take responsibility, what love is, and thereby how to find a meaningful and flourishing life. Marriage, children and the resulting family, when integrated into a larger family and societal context, is the foundation and cornerstone of a healthy society.
We can thus conclude by saying: The journey towards sexual mastery entails directing desire towards meaningful creation. A lifelong commitment to one woman is the most challenging, creative and growth-enabling form of relationship to support a man embodying his purpose, leadership and masculine character.