Book Review: Men Who Run with the Sheep, by Milton Shepherd, New York, NY, Sheepskin Books
Book Review By M. Harburg
Editor's note: We have been unable to locate either the book or the publisher. It appears that they are on the lam. We suspect that the reviewer is full of sheep, and is attempting to pull the wool over our eyes. Could it have anything to do with Clarissa Pinkola Estes' 1992 book, Women Who Run with the Wolves?
A Bold Book About Man's Innate "Sheep-Like" Qualities
1993 Seattle, WA - This valuable book can help men rediscover, through the power of myth, a long-lost heritage. In Men Who Run with the Sheep, author Milton Shepherd has uncovered a treasure trove of ancient stories and legends that speak of man's innate "sheep-like" qualities of meekness, cooperativeness, and dependency -- qualities that have been lost in today's modern world. Taking his cue from these informative and eye-opening myths, Mr. Shepherd breaks new ground in understanding today's modern male.
And he makes some startling assertions. The author contends that from their earliest experiences in life, men are subjected to pressures to disinherit this peace-loving, cooperative aspect of themselves; they are expected to be aggressive, confrontive, and competitive.
Furthermore, the main force behind this pervasive repression of man's inherent passive nature is, not surprisingly, women. (Who else is there?) Using a combination of long-buried myths and modern sociological analysis, the author makes a persuasive case that it is none other than the so-called "gentle sex" who are mainly responsible for molding men into the aggressive, competitive creatures they are today.
Women Have Molded Men
At the beginning, Mr. Shepherd recounts a powerful and insightful myth that relates how, long ago, the gods and goddesses were fighting to determine who would be granted the power of "the final say" in sexual congress, man or woman. Eventually the goddesses won, and invested women with exclusive decision-making authority over the consummation of the sexual act. Concomitantly, in a brutal twist of fate, the gods burdened men with an implacable sex drive, a need to seek sexual fulfillment that could well be described as intractably compelling. Obviously, this myth speaks to us today, in this modern society, where women still control the reins in the sexual sphere, and men are held in thrall to it by their severe biological needs. And indeed, all over the world we find, whether in primitive or modern societies, it is woman who wields the power of "Yea or Nay." It is by this "sexual matriarchy," as the author calls it, that women have molded men into what they desire them to be.
A bold postulation, but Shepherd makes a strong case.
In high school, with the emergence of the hormonal sex drive, all boys are subjected to great pressure to succeed with women. Remember the quiet, meek, nerdy math whiz kid? How many girls did he have hanging on his skinny elbows? Contrast this to the aggressive, macho, swaggering football jock, who always had women hanging from his bulging biceps. What is a boy to think? The author asks rhetorically. Only one thing: to succeed with women, he must learn to be aggressive. To the aggressive go the prizes. Thus the tender youth, even as he is groping to form his identity, is forced to repress his naturally cooperative, meek persona.
If You're Rich, I'm Single
Another strong message that men receive in countless ways all through life is summarized succinctly in the bumper sticker, "If you're rich, I'm single." This message is inculcated into all men in a thousand subtle ways. From earliest adolescence men see that women are attracted to the man with money; if you have the gold, you get your choice of sexual partner. Man is thus forced early on into the savage job market, where he must become strong to survive. If he had any meek, interdependent qualities left in him, he soon finds himself shunning, repressing, and crushing those aspects of his identity because they only hinder him. He must make money -- and lots of it -- to project himself in the relentless competition for women; no wonder men become competitive! To make money he has to become thick-skinned and aggressive, whether he wants to or not.
Not only do women wield the power over sexual union, but they continue to keep the reins of the decision of life itself in their own hands. In another telling myth, it is told that the gods and goddesses sent down the sacred power of birth control to both man and woman equally, but then woman found a way to hoard it for herself. And in our modern society we find a reflection of this legend: there are several sophisticated and convenient contraceptives designed exclusively for the woman, but only one option for the poor man: the primitive and ungainly condom. Thanks a lot for sharing!
Rebel Against the Woman!
There is an important chapter on the many ways that women reinforce and build upon their power over men, including several revealing legends describing how women can control men by the power of their physical appearance. And indeed, today we find men subject to an unceasing onslaught of sexual messages: A man can hardly even buy food (a basic need) without having to stare down dozens of cover photos of sensuous, alluring women at the checkout stand, many of whom have their bosoms half exposed. In this ongoing barrage of salaciousness, women are perpetrating what the author calls "the conspiracy," constantly appealing to man's prurient instincts, to his baser half -- the better to hold power over him
At one point the author says, "Men, let's take responsibility for who we are by being totally honest: Women have made us this way through the power of sexual matriarchy." He urges men to escape this "sexual matriarchy" and try to reclaim their sheep-like qualities. For example, Shepherd says that the next time your wife wakes you in the middle of the night asking you to investigate some burglar-like sounds, you should say, "Sorry honey, but I'm afraid. I'd rather you check it out. After all, you heard it."
In the last chapter, Shepherd gives some fine examples of innovative men who have sought to escape this female-controlled prison of sexual oppression in order to recapture their sheep-ness; through myth he tells of men who have managed to somehow alleviate their sexual needs while still retaining that meek, gentle part of themselves, and in an interesting twist on the title, in some of these stories "men who run with the sheep" takes on a rather different kind of meaning ... Baaaa?
Reprinted from the November 1993 issue of M.E.N. magazine, of the Seattle Men's Evolvement Network.