There is no war on women.  There really never has been, and considering that women control the fate of the species through the vehicle of their wombs, never will be.  But at least since the advent of the industrial revolution, a war on men has raged relentlessly.  Junior Seau is one of its latest victims.

At age 43, Junior Seau committed suicide last week. 

Seau played professional football for nearly two decades in the NFL.  He made 12 Pro Bowl appearances, playing on the defensive side of the ball, at linebacker, with an unrivaled ferocity and passion.   He was a man amongst men on the playing fields, one of the best in a collection of some of the world’s greatest athletes.

But he became a warrior without a battlefield when age and injuries forced his retirement in 2010.

Football allows perhaps the closest expression of attributes that, until the dawn of industrialization about fifteen or twenty generations ago, or at least until the dawn of civilization roughly ten thousand years ago, determined reproductive fitness and success among men.  Football is a game of mock hand to hand combat, and for all but the last few hundred, or perhaps thousands, of years of man’s several million years of evolution, the ability to succeed in hand to hand combat often determined whether a man would survive and have a chance at reproduction.  If the example of our closest cousin, the chimpanzee, is apt, it must be imagined that the most dangerous animal that roving clans of human hunter/gatherers ever encountered were other men.   If a man proved his mettle, saving the clan from extinction when encountering another, the spoils of victory undoubtedly included priority mating rights, both within his own clan, and within the vanquished. 

Had Junior Seau been alive ten thousand years ago, his athletic ability and mental fortitude would surely have afforded him exalted status among his clan.  Had he lived two thousand years ago, he might, like Maximin in the 2nd century, who was described as a giant among men and possessed of legendary strength and speed, have risen the ranks to become Emperor of the Roman Empire.  Instead, when his playing days were through, when age robbed him of his strength, speed, stamina and agility, when he was finally bested by the younger, more vital lions of the savannah, he was pushed aside, and left to wander aimlessly, tortured by memories of better days.   Some few of the football playing fraternity manage to find a post-playing purpose through second careers in broadcasting or coaching or in regular “civilian” occupations.  Seau enjoyed some success with a restaurant and even had a clothing line.  But there was nothing he could have done that would have matched the visceral thrill of slobber-knocking some quarterback to the ground, because no such thing exists. 

Though I only played football for nine years—from fourth grade through high school—I can attest that nothing matches the thrill of laying down a good block, or clobbering some guy to the ground on a tackle.  Even after flying helicopters in the Army, law school, marriage and two kids, there still has been nothing to rival the joy I felt the night I pancaked a defender down near the goal line that opened a hole for our running back to prance through to the endzone, securing victory over our hated arch-rivals for the first time in ten years.  Football is the only thing I’ve ever done that seemed to perfectly align my actions with my instincts.  Everything else has been a compromise.  It is little wonder to me that guys like Junior Seau don’t last long after their playing careers are over.  Seau played the same game as I did, but for well over twice the time, both as an absolute matter and as a percent of his lifetime, and earned several multiples of adulation, honor, and of course, dollars in the process.  Yet I felt a deep despondency when it finally sunk in that my football playing days were through.  Though I still had my whole life ahead of me, it seemed nothing could ever match the joy of playing (and I was right, but learned to live without it).  Seau’s life was mostly behind him, and there was no way he’d rival off the field what he had done on it.  Not in his eyes, nor in the eyes of society. 

Like hand to hand combat, football rewards strength, skill, stamina, agility (mental and physical), size, and a certain ruthless viciousness and blood lust (if you think the New Orleans Saints bounty program was isolated in tenor, if not practice, you are just naive about the game of football).  These are attributes carried deep within the male genome, honed and sharpened by eons of evolution, whose expression is now almost never welcome, except on the football playing fields and ice hockey rinks and (occasionally) basketball courts.  Not even actual combat has much of anything to do with athletic ability of the sort required for hand to hand combat.  Not even a Navy Seal team dispatched to assassinate a foreign leader depends much on the athletic abilities of its members.  To be sure, killing another human requires a certain ruthless viciousness and blood lust, but pulling a trigger does not require the physical skills used in hand to hand combat that natural selection has sharpened to a razor’s edge in the male portion of the species.  With a genome that mutates only very slowly, if substantively at all, over the course of ten thousand years, mankind has created a civilization for which a great many men (but rare few women) are innately ill-suited.  If men are waging a war on women, they are doing so rather poorly. 

Industrial and technological development has rendered size, speed and strength mostly irrelevant.   The feminized society resulting from the irrelevance of male physical advantages has rendered testosterone, which produces aggression, along with size and speed and strength, less than superfluous, operating now as an impediment, rather than enhancement, to success.  In a manty-wearing, murse-carrying world, men that still sport a ten to one advantage in testosterone levels relative to women, who also fail to completely suppress the impulses engendered thereby, usually end up in jail or dead, perhaps by their own hand, perhaps by the hand of another. 

St. Augustine spent the balance of the first book in his twenty-two book treatise, City of God, explaining why suicide is never acceptable for Christians.  City of God is Augustine’s defense of Christianity against pagan charges that the recent (relative to when he was writing) sack of Rome (in 410 ad), and the accelerating decline of the Western Roman Empire, was the fault of its adoption of Christianity in about 300 ad.  During and after the sack of Rome by the Visigoths, a great many Roman women decided on suicide after having suffered ravishment at the hands of barbarians, feeling themselves defiled and impure.   Augustine makes the point that they did nothing to cause their defilement, thus had not sacrificed their impurity and could not have sinned, nor even lost their virginity.  By killing themselves, they became as guilty as the defilers, by killing an innocent victim. 

In ancient times, chastity and purity were the highest-order virtues that a woman could possess.  For men, through all the ages, usefulness has reigned paramount.  Men were valuable according to their capacity for enhancing the prospects of survival and propagation, both for themselves and for whatever group—family, clan, tribe or nation—to which they belonged.  A man incapable of providing an enhancement to survival and propagation was/is considered a liability.  He has no womb to succor life.  What then is his point, if he can’t at least help to ensure that the life the womb produces is better able to survive? 

There is no way to know for sure why Junior Seau killed himself.  It may well be that he had suffered some brain damage due to his years delivering hits to quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, but pinning the cause on brain damage seems to me a bit trite.   We seem always to seek some efficient cause to the inexplicable, in order that we might categorize and catalog and thereby disregard the exceptional.  There are a great many people who suffer brain damage that don’t kill themselves.  It is only speculation, and perhaps a projection of my own experiences on his, but I think Seau despaired at never again being able to experience the joy of expressing, if only in a contrived way, the innate attributes which God had created in him for survival.  After having basked for over two decades in the glory and honor those exceptional attributes provided him, he simply could not adjust to a life where nothing of the visceral core of his being could be acceptably expressed anymore, not after having done it so long and so well and so profitably before. 

Seau was exceptional in his ability level, but his plight, among men these days, was quite ordinary.  The old saying that most men lead lives of quiet desperation is not a cliché for nothing.  But like the Roman matrons, Seau didn’t create the conditions that rendered him useless, and thereby, for a male, at best, a superfluity; at worst, a liability.   Seau’s post-playing societal irrelevance was no fault of his own.   There are a great many similarly situated men in the economically developed world today (particularly in the US).  But Augustine was right.  Suicide is not the answer.  It only compounds the error.   Besides, it would just serve to make the women happy, especially if they think they have a hand in it personally, not just generally by relegating male size, speed, strength, stamina and aggression to irrelevance by societal feminization.  Subtly forcing a man into suicide would seem the ultimate expression of the feminine ideal, as revealed by studies, that women are happiest when they know they can make their men miserable.

In the gender wars, former football players seem to be high-value targets.  They’ve basked in the glory of the near fullest expression of their hormonal impulses.  They’ve seen glimpses of how men were designed to behave. They must be eliminated.  Sadly enough, the NFL itself has jumped on the feminization bandwagon.  With the rules changes of the last two decades, neither quarterbacks nor wide receivers have much left to fear from players like Seau.  Perhaps the NFL’s embrace of social feminization will save future Junior Seau’s from self-destruction once their playing days are done.  Even were that true, it would rob a great many players from enjoying, ever so briefly, the freedom to do as nature had designed them.  A feminized society may be overall beneficial for the welfare of women and children.  But it is no place for young men.

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