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Reply To: The Hero’s Journey in Contemporary Literature/Fantasy


So many masculine figures in positions of power today have been manifesting the Zeus archetype and indulging in bad behavior, most often in the form of sexual improprieties:

Hi Stephen,

Sorry for the long delay in my response. I haven’t had consistent internet access the last few weeks. But to respond to your post, I wouldn’t equate womanizing or sexual proclivity with “Honor Culture”. As far as my understanding of the subject goes, Honor Culture is more about not tolerating “insults”. Here’s a blurb from an Oxford site about it:

“Honor” means different things to different people at different times. In modern societies, honor refers primarily to a form of social status that attaches to integrity and sound character. But honor has an older meaning still found among some groups today—a form of social status founded on the willingness and ability to use force. Honor in this second sense can result in two types of violence. The first occurs predominately between men (indeed, honor is often equated with masculinity). An honorable man will not hesitate to use physical force to combat any assault, theft, insult, or other attempt at subordination of himself or his group (family, gang, or nation). For honor, unlike the more stable value of dignity, can be won or lost. Honor rises and falls when one man (or group) publicly challenges the willingness of another to physically defend himself, his intimates, or his property and hence his right to be treated as an equal. To uphold his honor a man need not beat his opponent, but he must display a willingness to fight him. Cultures of honor (those in which actors compete for status based on physical force) are far from uniform, but work by anthropologists, historians, sociologists, criminologists, social psychologists, and others reveals several shared characteristics. One is that honor is a central source of status, which largely explains the apparently trivial causes of many violent conflicts: the issue is not really the taking of a few cents of change but whether one can person disrespect another publicly and get away with it. Honor cultures too are typically antipathetic to law and legal officials: a man must stand up for himself and not rely on others to do so. Traditional honor cultures tend, also, to be highly patriarchal, subordinating women and treating their sexuality as family property. In such cultures, a second type of honor violence may be found—men beating or even killing their female relatives for loss of chastity or other conduct that threatens male rule. These acts of violence committed in the name of family honor likely have a long history in human societies. Today, they are concentrated in predominately Muslim nations and among their emigrants to Western countries. In short, all honor cultures have high rates of violence principally among men; some also have high rates of violence by men against their female relatives.

So yeah, there’s probably a correlation between male chauvinism, and perhaps female “conquests” (like you mentioned with Zeus), but I don’t think that’s the crux of Honor Culture – or it’s most significant elements and affects.

I think it’s more about showing their community how well they live up to a code. In a perverted expression, I’m sure it was used to show others how “tough” or “superior” one is. “Macho macho maaaan!” (Although, I would venture  a guess that there was an honor code for females in a lot of places too, but it was different and probably revolve around chastity and obedience). In a humbler and more sustainable form, my guess is that the honor codes were used to show integrity and promote communal cohesion by expressing adherence to a social order… and they varied from time-to-time and place-to-place.

So, back to my original argument… that we aren’t as into honor culture today. For evidence, I would site dueling (which happened in America up until around the Civil War). Two, “respectable” people fighting each other over a gesture or some words. Sure, that still happens. People get into fights and shoot each other in bars or parking lots, but it ain’t like the presidents are doing it anymore. There will always be thugs and brute violence – but it’s not accepted amongst suburban family men, or men in political power, or corporate executives and bankers. It’s socially taboo to do that… unless you are at the Oscars? IDK. LOL. Peace.