As a child, I can remember hiding behind the sofa as the nefarious Daleks sought universal domination in what seem now rather quaint episodes of Dr Who. As an adult, Ridley Scott’s Alien is the only film that truly scared me.
I never knew why—until recently.
Referencing the Rolling Stones song ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, in “Pleased to meet you, don’t you know my name?” It’s the right to victimize, I wrote how the basic tenet of patriarchy—which we all unconsciously accept—is that life is a dance between victimization and victimhood:
“Generally thought of as the dominion of men over women, patriarchy is more accurately the dominion of the (masculine) victimizer over the (feminine) victim.”
I went on to briefly describe how the history of civilization is actually the history of victimization—right up to today. Regardless of gender, whenever we try to enforce or coerce to achieve our wants, our victimizer energy is in play.
The lower masculine victimizer
This impulse to victimization might be termed the ‘lower masculine victimizer’. I use the word ‘lower’ because the masculine qualities of strength, intelligence and anger can all be expressed in a ‘higher’, protective manner. Here they are used to mitigate lack at the expense of others—and to express primal pain.
The penis is the physical embodiment of the lower masculine victimizer.
The Alien is the perfect embodiment of the lower masculine victimizer. It wants what it wants and will commit any brutality to achieve its ends. You can’t kill the fucker, it has acid in its veins, it drools and doesn’t clean up after itself.
There’s a telling scene—the subject of argument with film censors—where the Alien kills a female crewmember by thrusting its tail spike up between her legs. There it is: the simultaneous slaking of the lower masculine appetites for sex and death. What is recorded history, other than this? In The Politics of Experience, R.D. Laing writes, “we are all murderers and prostitutes.”
After several millennia of physical and sexual violence, the lower masculine victimizer lives on in the dregs of the collective unconscious. It’s down there for the simple reason that no one has ever cleared it out.
Yet few are aware of it—consciously at least. That comes down to sensitivity. In The Highly Sensitive Person, Elaine N. Aron writes that 20% of the population are “extremely or quite sensitive” (compared with 42% who aren’t sensitive at all and the remainder, who felt some sensitivity).
With hindsight, I now know that I became unconsciously aware of the lower masculine victimizer when I had my first experience of porn at age 10. It scared me so much that it plunged me into an emotional shutdown through my teen years. I now see how that same sense of shutdown, of natural emotional and sexual maturation processes stalled by fear, affects many men.
The purpose of my shutdown was to ensure that I never expressed the lower masculine victimizer. In The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Wilhelm Reich writes: “…the more he resisted his sexuality, the more imperative his desires became. Hence, his moralistic and mystical inhibitions had to be applied more rigidly.” I became—note the word—alienated.
In 1979 I saw Alien on first release. What scared me about the Alien wasn’t that I was looking at a monster. I was looking at a monster within myself. At times that monster affected my behaviour, and I’m deeply sorry. It’s taken 40 years to get into the escape module of the Nostromo, up close and personal with the Alien, and eject it into space.
To escape from patriarchy, we’re all going to have to face the Alien inside us.