Twas yesterday night. We were done working and about to go home. “Dom,” a female colleague urged me, “there’s a group of guys outside on our premises. Tell them to go away. Those stairs are private property. I’ve already told them earlier, but we need your backup.” So I went outside and said, “Hey, do you all know that this is private property? You have to leave.”
There were six men, ranging from about 25 to 40 years old, drinking beer at the top of the stairs where they had found shelter from the heavy rain outside. “I don’t see no sign that says ‘private’, so fuck off,” the oldest one of the group beefed. I retorted, “There doesn’t have to be a sign, but it’s a private area, property of company X, so you have to leave.”—”I’m not going out into that rain!”
At that point, three female coworkers had joined me outside. After a few minutes of heated back-and-forth, a part of the group, who probably just didn’t want to deal with this shit, took their beers and turned away in an attempt to leave. Two did not.
One of the two became really aggressive and started yelling with a loud, overweight, beer-soaked voice. I knew how I wanted to respond. So I did. “DON’T YOU FUCKING YELL AT ME!!” I yelled harshly, surpassing his volume threefold and pointing my finger in his face. I had chosen to escalate the situation, though not with an impulsive will.
I saw an intimidated startle reflex in his face, but he was too drunk to back off. He took a few steps toward me in an indirect half-circle and cursed, “I’ll mangle you, you fucking … [Austrian swear names]!” I puffed up pompously in front of him, tilted my head back, expanded my arms, and pushed out my chest: “Yea, we’ll see about that.” As he handed his jacket to his friend, two of my coworkers, who were standing behind me, tried to pull me back gently, but the fight was on.
Right before the first punch, his friend, after looking at me, interfered and dragged the middle-aged drunk away. Now the whole group was leaving. Among them, a cursing maniac, who spit into my direction as he was out of fighting distance. I didn’t care. I was observing my victory. I had won. I was the alpha. King of the steps.
Yet there was more to it.
The situation had been a breath away from escalating into a street fight with probable injury, potential conviction, and me losing my job. If just one more of them had been less compliant, I’d have been in real trouble. Still, I deliberately chose the aggression, for I saw it as my mission and responsibility to protect the women who had asked for my backup.
As my protective instincts kicked in, I understood that while nonviolent communication worked with five of the guys, the sixth one was too drunk to succumb. I also wanted to prove that I could assert my dominance in this primordial situation: a fight for territory. I wanted to prove to myself that I could still be an aggressive alpha male at will. I wanted to prove my manhood once again.*
I didn’t see calm communication as a real alternative also because I had no good arguments on my side, and I certainly didn’t want to mention the law and police to make my case. In fact, I didn’t understand why those men had to leave in the first place. Private property? It was just a little platform at the top of a few stairs!
Who cares if someone’s standing there? They were bothering no one, and there was nothing they could steal or vandalize. They were just sheltering from the rain. Usually, I’d have greeted them and walked home. There was no legitimate reason to tell them to go away. I was simply being an asshole.
I was aggressive without anger, though. My aggression was an act, my mind was cool, and I knew what I was doing. I actually respected the drunk guy for standing up against me enforcing a stupid principle. Although I shouted at him, I wasn’t angry. I was grateful for his will and aggression, and one can’t be emotional while being grateful—that’s the law of mindcoolness.
After the event, I had mixed feelings. My heart was filled both with the pride of an alpha chimp and with the guilt of a rational human. I felt like a painfully enlightened warrior—fighting for my team whilst being aware that the greater cause was petty and corrupt. I felt like a soldier in war fighting for his platoon, his brothers, even though he understands that the politics aren’t in line with his values.
In my case, I was defending women from my team for a principle I didn’t agree with. My True Will was split in tribal versus moral values. If I could turn back time, I’d do it again. After all, it was a reassuring learning experience for me, no matter that the outcome could’ve been disastrous. In the future, however, I won’t do it again. It just demonstrates poor social skills and a foolish ego.
Once the six men were out of sight, I smiled, cheerfully wished the women a good evening, and walked away. They giggled. Sexual attraction was flaming in their eyes. But this wasn’t why I’d acted all aggressive: I wouldn’t want to bang any of them. It’s just interesting to see how women instinctively react to an aggressive display of masculine power.
That’s also, by the way, the danger of dating extremely feminine women. Nothing turns them on like irrational aggression. I haven’t worked out this problem for myself yet. Do I want a girl who motivates me to become the manliest or the most virtuous version of myself?
I know, many people would argue that there’s no real conflict here: “Aggressiveness isn’t a mature masculine trait anyway.” Yet I suspect that the civilized, nonviolent notion of masculinity, although perhaps useful, is a lie—especially since not all aggression is anger-fueled. Aggressive behavior can also be well-considered, mind-cool, and controlled—an expression of freedom.
* On the one hand, the need to prove something (e.g., one’s courage or manliness) signals insecurity:
Because when you are ready to fight at every moment, you are a coward. Fight is a cover-up. You want to prove that you are a brave man. The very wanting, the very desire to prove, means that you are not. (Osho, When the Shoe Fits)
On the other hand, if you never prove anything, you never know whether you are who you think you are or whether you are just bullshitting yourself.
- Is Toxic Masculinity Real? (An Analytical Approach)
- Does Catharsis of Aggression Work? The Truth about Anger Release
- The Truth about Testosterone: Aggression, Sex, and Social Status
- Do You Choose Anger Because You Lack Confidence?
- On the Hypermasculine Will
- Is It a Weakness to Turn the Other Cheek?