Being a man requires a psychology based on entitlement, emotional numbness, and a dichotomy of self and other.
Masculinity is essential to any militarized culture, because those are the psychological traits necessary in soldiers. One can only kill on command if the human impulse to care for one another has been subdued or eradicated. The constant need to turn others into Others is one result: the re¬jected, “soft” parts of the self are projected outward so they can be destroyed.4 This is a project that will likely never end as humans do have hearts and souls, and those can never be excised, try as men might. The Viet Nam vets who suffered the worst post-traumatic stress weren’t the ones who survived atrocities, but those who com¬mitted atrocities.5
Masculinity requires what psychologists call a negative reference group, which is a group of people “that an individual … uses as a standard representing opinions, attitudes, or behaviour patterns to avoid.” Boys in patriarchal cultures create negative reference groups as a matter of course. Boys’ first despised Other is, of course, girls. No insult is worse than some version of “girl,” usually a part of female anatomy warped into hate speech. But once the psychological process is in place, the category “female” can easily be filled in by any group that a hierarchical society needs dominated or eradicated.