What Jon Snow Knows About Male Guilt

Credit: HBO

“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

That may have been Ygritte’s favorite taunt, but as revealed a few episodes back on this season’s Game of Thrones, Jon Snow knows a great deal about male guilt, and how to reject the manipulations of those who would use it against us.

When Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen first meet, they circle each other warily, each wanting the other’s help, but unwilling to surrender their competing claims to sovereignty.

Daenerys tries to entrap Jon by reminding him that his Stark kinsmen had pledged to serve her family in perpetuity… and that on that basis, he was duty-bound to bend the knee.

To which Jon disarms her with the unexpected reply:

“I am not beholden to my ancestor’s vows.”

You, too, stand before a queen, or rather, a countless number.

And, just like the Queen of Dragons, womankind seeks to break you by reminding you of despicable acts committed by other men…

…to remind you of the subjugation, the raping, the outright enslavement of women. In a word, the sins of the First Way Man.

At that moment of confrontation, most men sink to their knees, remorseful and crushed… willingly, penitently taking the sins of the father upon their own shoulders, dragging themselves gasping and pitiful to the Second Way.

But just as Jon Snow is not beholden to the obligations of his ancestors, you are not beholden to the GUILT of yours.

And as much as woman may think cowing you will somehow heal her own wounds… your shouldering of underserved guilt just adds impotence to shame.

It’s not that you don’t care about the wrongs done to women: it’s that castrating your future power over someone else’ abuses serves no one.

We cannot castigate ourselves and remain at force.

So for the sake of your wife, daughters, and all women you love…

For the sake of the women who would be robbed of your strength and vitality should you poison the wellspring of your power and agency in some misguided symbolic gesture…

Fuck the shame.

Fuck the remorse.

Fuck the guilt by private part.

Carry your OWN sins and glories, and let other men carry theirs.

Stand before her, proud and unashamed…

Full of power and love alike, in equal measure…

Uncowed, unbroken…

Third Way Man


Bryan Ward is the founder of Third Way Man and author of the LIT Black Paper

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