· Vatican City ·

Certain masculinity which resists, despite Jesus...

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This month. Books

29 August 2020

The pressing emancipation of women is leading to their progressive liberation from roles of subjugation. As men find themselves deprived of the traditional identity categories that rely on submission, they are weakened and destabilized.

The call for a necessary rethink of the “obsolete” male model that has been transmitted from the past is the common thread running through Gesù, maschile singolare [Jesus, singular male] (EDB) by the theologian Simona Segoloni Ruta. Her research can best be described as agile, dynamic, and participatory, and which explores the recent reality of masculinity in a pioneering way.  As the author writes, “the questioning of the patriarchal system, the liberation of women and the redefinition of male identity go together”. Aware of the need to establish an authentic and equal relationship between men and women, Simona Segoloni identifies in the libido dominandi. This is best understood as a man’s desire to dominate others, a power which is actually leading him to ruin: “Men seem to have to chase their own identity in social constructs that in antiquity coincided with war, then move on to parental domination and today tend to express themselves in various ways, but still experience the need to assert themselves in different areas of human activity, demonstrating their capacity for power”. Today, however, this power is no longer able to assert itself on conscious, active, fulfilled women. As a consequence, a deep sense of frustration arises in men, and which is destined to lead to bewilderment and above all to violence; after all, “despising the feminine is functional to affirm one’s masculinity as a non-being-female”.  The challenge of this essay is not only to lucidly photograph reality, but above all to offer an alternative model, drawing from the Christian tradition of a humanizing and liberating vision of masculinity, directly questioning the masculine experience of Jesus himself “to let us be surprised and destabilized”.

An experience that has redesigned patriarchal masculinity and which is not a testament to power, but to care; not domination, but service; not greatness, but humility; not authoritarianism, but synodality. The hope is that the Church will prove capable of abandoning patriarchal positions, and be, as the author writes, “willing to recognize her own role, despite herself and against all intentions, in the global sexist system”, disposing herself “to new readings of the Gospel in view of the redefinition of masculinity and femininity, to build justice and peace”.

by Elena Buia Rutt