Why Exclude ? A Brother Asks: Why Is Excluding Women Legitimate?
There was an interesting exchange on Bro. “Coach” Nagy’s blog this afternoon and I thought I’d share it with you. The Brother asking the question about this topic is nothing new but maybe some have not heard this detailed of an explanation. In order to explain the reason thereof Bro. Nagy first must question the asker to get them in the correct frame of mind. Its a great read and only a few minutes. I’d love to hear feed back on the discussion that follows.
A Brother Asks: Is there any legitimate reason why women aren’t allowed to be Freemasons, or does it just stem from the acting troupe rules of the 16th century?
Coach: Before I respond to your question, let me point out the not so obvious.
Brother: Okay. Go ahead.
Coach: Females are allowed to be Freemasons; just not “male” Freemasons. And the reason why they are not allowed to be “male” Freemasons is that they are not male.
Brother: Okay. Yes. I’ve heard of Co-Freemasonry, and women’s lodges and the like.
Coach: Okay, and you believe they are not Freemasonic?
Brother: I am talking about the rules governing all “regular” lodges.
Coach: And these female Freemasons and their lodges are Regular my Brother.
Brother: They can’t be!
Coach: I disagree. They sure can.
Brother: Okay, how so?
Coach: Regularity is set by the governing Grand Lodge of a jurisdiction.
Coach: Since these Female centric Lodges are deemed Regular by their Female centric Grand Lodge, they are indeed Regular to it. They are simply not considered Regular to Male centric Freemasonry.
Brother: Well, yes. That’s not what I meant.
Coach: Then what did you mean?
Brother: I meant to say they’re not Recognized Freemasons and Freemasonic Lodges.
Finalizing the Question
Coach: Yes. Thanks. They are not Recognized by Male centric Lodges. They are Recognized within their own network of lodges though.
Brother: Okay, I’m trying to get to a point. I’m having a difficult time finding the right words.
Coach: Finding the right words is important.
Brother: Agreed. What do you think I’m trying to ask?
Coach: I think you’re asking the following… Why can’t male freemasonry admit and accept females into their organization?
Brother: Yes. That’s it! That’s the question!
Coach: Okay. Thanks. I believe you’ll find that every last response that you get from anyone trying to answer this question will be either made up or offered as an excuse. It won’t be the obvious one that provides the underlying reason.
Brother: What’s that obvious reason?
Coach: The male members want it this way and so do their significant others.
Brother: Yes! Ok, that’s what I was getting at. There is no legitimate reason as to why women are not part of our male centric organization. Nothing in our ritual and organization indicates that is taboo for women to be part of it.
Coach: But male members wanting it that way is a legitimate reason. Why would you believe that this reason would not be legitimate?
Brother: Okay, it is, to a point. It’s about as legitimate as the “Little Rascals” telling Darla she can’t be a part of their gang, ‘cause it’s boys only.
Coach: You’re diminishing the legitimacy, so let me get clarity. Do you mean legitimate, as in “conforming to the law or to rules” or “able to be defended with logic or justification”?
Brother: The latter. The former is already written out in our ritual, digest and traditions. I want it justified!
Coach: Then I disagree with you that it is not justified and not defendable.
Brother: Okay. I’m piqued by your response. Let me have your argument please.
Coach: I’ll not argue with you. I’ll discuss it civilly with you though.
Brother: Please discuss it with me then.
Coach: Good. It’s legitimate not because the members say it is. It’s legitimate because there are times when males legitimately need to be with males and away from females. This organization supports this legitimate need; much like ongoing religious retreats do for its patrons, only without all the religion in tow.
Brother: Okay. I understand. Males need to have “male bonding” time and just to get out of the house. It’s the same reason most men don’t take their wives fishing with them.
Coach: Yes. Any other offered objection is just a mask to cover up what I just shared. These objections might seem legitimate, but only on the surface.
Brother: So, if that’s the legitimate need, I understand it. However, it doesn’t seem like there is anything “secret” that needs to be kept from women.
Coach: I agree, no secrets whatsoever. However, having secrets, no matter how petty and insignificant they may be, is an important skill that needs to be developed within males to help bring them into maturity.
Brother: Well, yes, there’s that.
Coach: I hope though that you see immediately that keeping secrets has nothing to do with women not being included.
Brother: Yes. I can’t help coming back to it though. I’m bouncing what you’ve shared back and forth, and kept coming to the same conclusion. There really is no organizational reason. It’s just men being men and needing to be just with other males.
The Underlying Reason
Coach: There is an underlying reason, and it has nothing to do with what our obligations say, or what the Male centric Lodges claim to be a requirement for entry.
Brother: An underlying reason behind the reason already stated?
Brother: You’re going to take me down another rabbit hole aren’t you?
Coach: Only if you want to go.
Brother: I do! Let’s go.
Coach: I highly recommend you address for yourself the question behind the question.
Brother: Okay. What’s that question?
Coach: Why is it so important to have a place where immature males are only with mature men?
Brother: Doesn’t it serve as an escape, where men can do manly stuff and not have to apologize for doing so right?
Coach: Maybe, but only superficially. Most men will tell you what you just said is the reason.
Brother: What are you getting at?
Coach: Most men don’t really know why they need this space to be male with other mature men only. But it is vital to them coming to manhood and for them to be successful in their old age.
Brother: Wait?! Isn’t that the whole reason behind the first three degrees?
Coach: Go on…
Brother: To bring Youth to Manhood and to prepare men for Age?
Brother: Okay. I get it. But I can’t think of a specific reason why men need to be with men only to do this.
Coach: Not men with men only. I was specific.
Brother: What did you say?
Coach: I said, “…males being with mature men only”.
Brother: Interesting. Why this distinction?
Coach: It comes from male basics, sort of male psychology 101.
Brother: What’s that?
Coach: Females can raise males, but it takes mature men to raise immature males to mature men.
Brother: Give me more on this please.
Coach: Societies since the beginning of humanity have recognized that raising males to manhood is best done away from the influence of females in total.
Brother: I think I’m following. It has to do with the raising of a Master Mason. Or at least it is supposed to… The proper instruction and influence of Entered Apprentices and Fellow Craftsmen.
Coach: Please try not to get lost in the metaphors my Brother. These are just masks. Take the masks off and look at what they are used for – a way to convey an important underlying theme.
Brother: What’s that theme?
Coach: We, as a lodge, are birthing men and doing so purposefully to better them and society.
Brother: WOW! Does that mean that the lodge room is no less than a modern initiatic man-cave for making men out of boys?
Coach: It is nothing less than that exact thing. This is why initiated tribal men come in the middle of the night to steal boys from their mothers (women who themselves go along with the façade) and bring these young males though a “cave experience” and then out into the jungle away from the tribe until these young males’ manhood comes into full bloom.
Brother: From “Youth to Manhood”?
Coach: Yes, and finally “to Age”…
Brother: Wait! Isn’t there a symbol somewhere that denotes a womb?
Coach: Yes. It is the circumpunct.
Brother: Isn’t that used within the Freemasonic Flanked Circumpunct?
Coach: Yes. It is and the flanking are your Brothers…
Brother: …birthing the candidate!
Coach: Yes, in principle.
Brother: You’re implying it’s not really done?
Coach: Not in practice. Many within the fraternity have no clue that this symbol denotes how they are supposed to bring our youths to manhood.
Brother: I bet many don’t recognize is as the stance they take during the candidate’s obligation.
Coach: You’d probably win that bet.
Men, Not Women
Brother: But it’s men who are doing this birthing, not women?
Coach: Yes. Females cannot do this for males. Only mature men can do this for a young male.
Brother: So, then what does this say about men who think themselves to be female?
Coach: What about them?
Brother: Isn’t this the wrong mentality from the beginning?
Coach: Not wrong; just different and such a mentality needs to be expressed and nurtured in a different environment.
Coach: It’s another reason why co-masonry and female craft miss the boat on this.
Brother: How’s that?
Coach: Freemasonry, by its very nature, is a male centric psychology and mythology.
Brother: Are you saying that it works best on the male psyche.
Coach: Yes, I am. It doesn’t mean that it can’t work otherwise. It just means it’s designed for a specific audience to have a specific affect upon that target market. Immature males need to go through specific things with mature men to get to manhood.
Brother: Sort of like, a mother’s coddling vs. a father’s discipline.
Coach: Not even a father’s discipline. In fact, it likely can’t be a father to a son either. If you go by what most generations of male raisers come to know, it has to be men and not any close family member.
Brother: Why is that?
Coach: Fathers are entirely too close and too often, because of this closeness, can’t raise boys to manhood. There’s too much of a relationship struggle. Uncles and friends can do this better; they are less likely to have any family dynamic that detrimentally affects what needs to take place for the boy to break away from boyhood.
Brother: Is this the reason why males who are ready tend to seek out other “craftsmen”.
Coach: Yes. I see it occurring all the time with young males. They are doing just that. However, no matter what a father offers or has to offer, it’ll likely never be good enough for what young males need to occur within them to break away from their childhood. Even though a father has a lot to offer, it can’t be accessed until they go away and come back transformed by that maturing experience.
Brother: WOW! Excuse me for a moment while I pick up my mind off the floor.
Answering the Call
Coach: Good! As an aside, all this comes from Joseph Campbell, Robert Bly, Carl Jung, Gillette and Moore and a whole host of others who made every effort to convey the importance of cultivating manhood — the mature masculine — in our culture. They present rock solid information and it’s indisputable.
Brother: Do we do this to get away from the family and into male societies, to break the boyhood cycle of behaviors?
Coach: Yes, males who are called to do it do it. Those who are not called, remain in boyhood the rest of their lives.
Brother: You said “called”?
Coach: Yes. Called. You have to be called to manhood. You cannot be dragged into it without that call. Otherwise you’re just continuing with your adolescence.
Brother: So, you have to get the call, respond to it by getting out and getting away to transform?
Coach: Yes! You cannot do this stuck in a family or cultural system that demands you remain the same and that places pressures upon you to maintain the status quo of that family system.
Brother: Is this why in some cultures the boys are stolen from their mothers and taken away to mature?
Coach: Yes! They are put into maturing situation from that point on. Each situation kindles that call from within them to man up. These boys are supported in having this call come forth and they cannot fail to be compelled from within, the men surrounding them will not allow for it.
Brother: And you will remain stuck until you are compelled from within to mature!
Brother: Hence the reason for the male space that Freemasonry offers?
Brother: And why you have to ask by your own free will and accord to join?
Coach: Exactly! If you are not called to mature, compelled from the inside to take whatever steps are necessary to become a man, you’ll only go through the motions.
Brother: WOW! Does this account for the empty feeling some get when they finish the degrees and ask themselves, “why don’t I feel any different?”
Coach: Yes. They were not called. They just showed up and went through the motions not knowing they were supposed be doing this to grow out of their childhood and into manhood.
Brother: I’m following you with all this but I have to say, it’s not something I’ve ever heard from any of my Brothers or even thought of on my own.
Coach: Unfortunately, almost all the membership has not a clue as to the legitimate background behind all this. And in their defense, they don’t need to know. All they need to know is that it is there for them, should they need it.
Brother: Behavior changes are very difficult.
Coach: And revelations are even more difficult to come by.
Brother: I completely get this.
Brother: I have a related question.
Coach: What’s that?
Brother: Does this apply to women being around women as well?
Coach: Yes, but not in the same way. Females are forced by biology into womanhood. It’s an entirely different dynamic going on. That being said, they do need to get out on their own as well.
Brother: This makes sense.
Coach: I had hoped it would.
Coach: So, why haven’t you asked the what if question?
Brother: What what if question?
Coach: What happens if immature males don’t have a place to be nurtured by mature men to become men?
Brother: That’s a great question.
Coach: Thanks. You inspired it.
Brother: And I suspect you expect me to entertain it now.
Coach: But of course.
Brother: Lacking such places, I think boys would be less likely to go through what was necessary for them to become the men they could be.
Brother: They would be less likely to develop, cultivate and exhibit mature masculine traits with all those they encounter.
Coach: How would that impact society?
Brother: You’d eventually have boys raising boys. Immature males would be raising immature males because these males would never develop mature masculine traits.
Brother: The boys in this society would have no mature masculine role models to do the job of raising them. You would effectively emasculate the males in this society.
Going too Far
Coach: What if we went one step further.
Brother: What step would that be?
Coach: Cultivate a society that shames and guilts males from childhood for exhibiting any masculine trait whatsoever, mature or otherwise.
Brother: Wait a minute.
Coach: Oh, you’re just now catching on to where I’ve been going?
Brother: You’re describing what has been occurring since the 1960s.
Coach: Am I?
Brother: You sure are. And now I’m wondering to myself what the result of all these cultural influences employing male bashing has had upon our Fraternity.
Coach: That’s a important thought to wonder about. However, I don’t believe it’s as bad as we could project it to be.
Brother: How’s that?
Not Far Enough
Coach: The question I posed was about not having a place to go for males to be nurtured by men into manhood.
Brother: Yes. But you went further to indicate society norms external to our fraternity are influencing it by emasculating men in general.
Coach: Yes. There are elements of this going on. However, where I was going with this is as follows… If more men within our fraternity knew that they are there to birth and mature men, and not simply show up to go through the motions of putting on degrees, how much differently do you think they might go about raising men and helping males come to manhood with all the maturity that this should include?
Brother: I suspect knowing this, they might take extra steps to assure that who is before them develops, cultivates and exhibits manhood — the mature masculine — rather than just having each person become a good member of the lodge.
Coach: I agree. How different do you think it would be for the males coming through if they too expected this of those in charge of their raising?
Brother: It would definitely change a lodge’s dynamics.
Coach: How attractive do you think such a lodge would look to males wanting to become mature men?
Brother: Wow! I think it would attract any male called to mature.
The Take Aways
Coach: I agree. So, what have you concluded from all this?
Brother: There’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than is known to our typical member.
Brother: Freemasonry offers a lot more to its members than many have yet to begin to understand, much less take advantage of and support.
Coach: Anything else?
Brother: We men have an overwhelming responsibility to the next generation of males, whether they join the fraternity or not.
Coach: I agree! Anything more to add?
Brother: There are legitimate, no, valid reasons for having man-space available for males to mature into men.
Coach: I think we can leave it there.
Brother: I agree.