Reimaging you

A Challenge to Male Roles In U. S. Since 1937

Another Conversation on Masculinity, Society, and Change. by  Calvin Harris H.W., M.

 

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“Rationalization was much easier than recognizing the gravity of what was lost: an innocent, healthy childhood and an introduction to sexuality on my terms” - Concepción de León

This is a powerful quote from New York Times writer, Concepción de León.

I have spoken before about the necessity of sexuality, and  gender preference be defined by the individual, coming from their innate self, expressed outwardly decided by the  person in their own terms.   

I have mention before how this innate process has been derailed through  children’s storybooks, affecting  children’s gender and sexual behaviors from centuries past. So, today I would like us to look at a tenacious  twentieth century  American comic strip, that has speed seemed to act as an equalizer of bad behaviors (if for only one day), a chance for the young female adults of the last era to enact behaviors befitting their male counterparts. and  how this American folktale may have the underpinning for new sexual roles and yet again poor marks regarding Males and Masculinity in the twenty first century and beyond.

The Sadie Hawkins Day Race

The Sadie Hawkins Day Race

The Comic Strip was created by cartoonist Al Capp and called Li'l Abner. The Encyclopaedia Britannica reported that Li’l Abner, ran in American newspaper from 1934 until 1977, chronicling the absurdities of daily life in the fictional Appalachian town of Dogpatch.

The comic strip abounded in stereotypes of Appalachia. Its title character, Abner Yokum, was a handsome, muscle-bound hillbilly, as lazy as he was dull witted. Like Abner, most of the men of Dogpatch were cast as essentially useless to society; all the real work was done by the “wimmenfolk.” One such woman was the curvaceous and beautiful yet hard-working Daisy Mae Scragg, who was hopelessly in love with Abner and pursued him fruitlessly for years before they finally married in 1952; they produced a child, Honest Abe, in 1953. Another was Abner’s mother, Mammy [who to me looked like Popeye the Sailor], She was the unofficial mayor of Dogpatch, who smoked a corncob pipe and kept the Yokum household running while her lazy, illiterate husband, Pappy, did little more than lie about.

Capp used Li’l Abner to comment satirically on American life and politics, spoofing ruthless capitalists in the early years before turning his wit on hippies and antiwar activists as his views grew more conservative later in life. He retired his creation in 1977, two years before his death. Since then, Li’l Abner has been reprinted at various times.”

In its wake, this comic strip has had a profound influence on the way the world viewed the American South, Men’s  & Women’s roles. and a notable celebration in Dogpatch called, Sadie Hawkins Day, on which the women of the town were allowed to marry any bachelor they could chase down and capture; annual on that  day of role reversal. Females asked males to dances, have sex, or marry. The enormous popularity of the Sadie Hawkins Day  had Capp obligingly  making it a comic strip tradition every November, lasting four decades. The Sadie Hawkins Day phenomena went from being  a pseudo-holiday  November 15, 1937 to gaining in popularity in 1939, two years after its inauguration, the celebration warranted a two-page spread in Life Magazine, who reported that on “Sadie Hawkins Day, Girls Chase Boys in 201 Colleges." By the early 1940s the comic strip event had swept the nation's imagination and acquired a life of its own. By 1952, the event was reportedly celebrated in various venues around the world. It became a woman-empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, long before the modern feminist movement gained prominence.

 

The practical side of Sadie Hawkins day was simply one of gender role-reversal. Women and girls take the initiative, make decisions in preparation to go out with their  invite  man or boy of choice — almost unheard of before 1937.

 

Yet the Male paradigm, the persona of the male counterpoint in Dogpatch  depicts a protagonist, “who is handsome, muscle-bound and as lazy as he was dull witted. A character essentially useless to himself, to his family and to society.  

A character, that we can only hope will not take hold in the American male psyche, as the roles of men and women begin to balance each other out, no longer  men vs women but equal in opportunity.

 

Book Unspeakable by Daum

Book Unspeakable by Daum

Meghan Daum, author of “The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion”,  an occasional, Los Angeles Times oped columnist. www.meghandaum.com

 

On a topic of women vs men causes and movements,  Meghan said [these movements] “will live or die by the degree to which it’s willing to let people in. Until it makes room for examinations not just of toxic masculinity but also toxic femininity—and, even better, dispatch with these meaningless terms—it will continue to tell only half the story. Until it admits that women can be as manipulative and creepy and generally awful as men, the movement will continue to send a message that we’re not really whole people.”

 

I’m wary of any language that defines people ‘only’ based on what was done to them, as opposed to an identity they chose.  I would not want people’s life story to be overshadowed by notions of popular culture.

Yet so many men have felt isolated and unresponsive by what was misread as to how they should act and be by their culture. Decisions in life and sexually counter to their nature, that they just freeze up, or succumb to that which can only be described as trauma.

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Dr. van der Kolk a psychiatrist specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder, working with  veterans to sexual assault survivors, wrote a book called: “The Body Keeps the Score”  which hinges on his idea that trauma is stored in the body and that, for therapy to be effective, it needs to take into account the physiological changes that occur. He says, “Many people also experience dissociation, which can manifest as literal desensitization in parts of the body or the inability to describe physical sensations.”

 

Men’s identities must change to be able to let go of painful isolation.  Let go of fragmented storylines,  images, sounds and emotion that must be processed as belonging to the past.

The Re-Imaging of Masculinity in the 21st Century and it’s role model for the coming youth, must be vigorously overhauled and fiercely optimistic of a person’s place in the world, for example:

Masculine youth needs to learn to be rigorously honest about what he knows and what he needs to know, and what he feels. To express constructive emotions that exposes the past and lets it go. He knows how to rage without hurting others. He knows how to fear and keep moving. He knows joy, and shares gratitude. He seeks self-mastery.

The 21st Century and beyond male youth has to learn to let go of childish shame. Feeling guilty when they have done nothing  wrong. He is kind to men, kind to women, kind to children. He teaches others how to be kind.

He stopped blaming women or his parents or men for his pain. He creates intimacy and trust with his actions. He stopped letting his defenses ruin his relationships. He stopped letting his libido run his life. He has learned self-respect comes from telling the truth. He has men who he trusts and turns to for support.

He confronts his limitations. He knows how to take conscious chances makes things happen. He knows how to learn from his mistakes and roll with it. When he falls, he gets back up. He practices compassion, for himself and others.  He is disciplined when he needs to be. He is flexible when he needs to be. He has high expectations for himself and those he connects with and finally He knows how to listen from the core of his being.

S. F. Pride 1986 Snake Man

S. F. Pride 1986 Snake Man

He knows he is an animal and part of nature. Yet he knows his spirit and the connection to something greater. As a whole person, he looks for ways to serve others. He knows he has a higher purpose. He loves with fierceness. He laughs with abandonment because he lives fully.

 

These are some descriptions of the Re-Imagined Masculinity, a reality that means a revolution/evolution of the holders of the future, that means a change in you, A call for a rethink of the stories you tell about yourself, a rethink of expectations of yourself and others, and a focus on tomorrow.

 

If these words speak to your heart, learn more  

mentoring and training that offers powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life.

Calvin has been facilitating men’s work for over a decade.

A credo for the new masculine. a New Conversation with Men,

Reclaiming Male Role Models,

The (missed) Perceptions that Leads to Penis Envy in Men By Calvin Harris, H.W.,M.

It seems that sooner or later that within a conversation about masculinity the subject of the Penis will pop up and rear its head. Since all things Masculine has been a subject of conversations, reading, and writing with me lately I am not surprise the subject of Penis came up. Since this is a difficult subject to discuss, some levity has been added in this post as "puns" disguised as  "Freudian Slips." We learn through humor as much as through struggle. 

Neptunes Penis bologa, Italy

Neptunes Penis bologa, Italy


I am not new to the subject of men and their relationships to their penis, but in this context, of Penis envy, two situation occurred that tip the balance and moved me to write. One situation is a repeating occurrence that happens, and the second situation occurred in a relax few friends at lunch gathering. I was taken aback by the rise of emotion and  in heat of the conversation over the despair at the lost of foreskin and the possible pleasure missed as a result of that. At the time, I felt pieces were missing to the dialogue presented at the lunch conversation and needed to be put in a larger context along with Health, Love, Sexuality, Sensuality, and Relationship.  

I am not surprised with the notion about the penis and its importance in receiving pleasure in some men's lives (it is the most interesting thing they do), yet I am surprise as to the absence of any mention of other components to pleasuring oneself such as through other erogenous zones about the body, or to healthy relationships either with the self or anyone else? Well back to my story.

The latest instance for me in the Penis envy scenario occurred three weeks back at this pub, when an associate I don't know well, turns to me and says: “How" lucky I was to be born African American!, with that look of envy on his glassy eyed face, and you know that he didn't mean I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. As I looked at him, you could just picture, in his minds eye, him in that 1974 scene as the Monster with Madeline Kahn, from the  Young Frankenstein Movie – He sees himself toting an enormous schwanzstucker. You can hear Marty Feldman saying to him - “You are going to be very Popular.”  Unfortunately, I am looking at him and thinking maybe, He should sober up before meeting his date, that sexual encounter he describes he wants with such vigor ( upturn  shot glass after shot) and yet his fear of self prophecy of being dissipated, failing  his date, by being a rudely inebriated mess that has repeatedly fallen asleep mid coitus.  Personally I am thinking she declines sex with him, and considering an android companion that talks, learns and satisfies sexual desires on que.

Sizing each other up

Sizing each other up

The second instance of professed envy came during a lunch meet up of several friends, when  the discussion turned to an article by Van Barrett, an author and blog writer. He had written a blog on the envy of the uncircumcised penises.  One of the men felt a strong need to defend Barrett's  position, for it turn out, that he too longed for and desired foreskin.  A wish not to have been circumcised.

Van Barrett blog had come about due to one of his fictional book. his feeling  was so prevalent in the book that a reader wrote to question his sexual gender. The article he wrote in  response is found at the end of this blog. 

As to Mr. Barrett and the Lunch partner,  bemoaning lost of foreskin - It sounded like "the grass is always greener." To give the other side of the coin, we turn to - Hayley MacMillen, who did an article on the problems that Uncircumcised men face in the U. S. in her article in Cosmopolitan Magazine, Oct 5, 2016. The magazine titled - 9 Things Uncircumcised Guys Want You to Know.
Cosmopolitan quoted one interviewee, named only as Henry, as saying: “that while he’s open about not being circumcised with his partners, it’s a different story with his guy friends. "I never talk about it with other guys," he says, and even though "guys talk about their dicks all the time ... fear is absolutely a factor because being different is stigmatized."

 

What is key here is  'Perception' - "What are men focusing on when it comes to  pleasurable sex?"

Most times Male banter is about  “getting off,” not about having an experience that is a satisfying sensual-sexual experience.  This maybe due to Porn, or the speed of living life, or the unwillingness of men to make time for themselves to create an environment for true sexual pleasure. There is a large majority of men that  have concluded that all sexual pleasure is encapsulated in the manipulation of the skin that surrounds their penis, and they want to work it until, in the jargon of the day, you bust a nut - i.e. get off.

Given how much symbolic baggage this body part carries, it’s no wonder the misconceptions about it. To enlarge this conversation, as difficult as it is, it is  yet worthwhile.  Beginning with the misperception that your penis is '"The" Sex Organ', if you think that is so, you have completely missed out on your Biggest Sex Organ experience, which is the Skin that covers your entire body coupled with the creativity  of the Consciousness of the Mind …. roll that around for a while, you may find that statement to be correct. Now that being said, think then how much sense- satiable pleasure you have missed out on, if you are not activating your whole-body/mind experience? 

Dr. Debby Herbenick, a sex researcher, educator, and author as wells as the Co-Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington & the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.  From her research findings, she states: “Often when people think about the pleasures of sex, they think about genital arousal (e.g., erections or vaginal warmth or lubrication) or orgasm. While I certainly wouldn’t argue these, I would add that one of the most pleasurable parts of sexual intimacy is the experience of touching and being touched all over.

Decades of research have shown that humans.... need touch…. not only to survive, but to thrive. Touch can have a biological effect that releases oxytocin (which has often been referred to as the “Cuddle Effect”) Touch can have psychological effects of helping people to feel loved, happy, accepted, calm or reassured.

In sex, we have the uncommon opportunity to touch and be touched all over our bodies. ... press bodies against each other in a hug or, while kissing or in one of many possible sexual positions, they get to experience an enormous amount of skin closeness. They may touch cheeks, lips, chests, legs, and feel... hand along their back, thighs, or stomach. There is, after all, something qualitatively... intimate in the experience of being exposed – physically, and often emotionally.” [sexual dilation].

From that point of view then the almighty penis becomes just another body part, vital but still one among many body parts in a mind body- somatic sexual dilation.  I’d like you to entertain the notion of making time for the sex experience (or putting sex on maximum drive).  Think of sex as something you gift to yourself be it alone or with a partner. Permit yourself to be mindful of being naked, of touching all over as much you can. To relax into an exploration that promotes sensual enjoyment, an inner awareness of intimacy and dilation.  Have an experience of sexuality that does not start nor stop (uncircumcised or circumcised) with those few centimeters of skin that extends over an Erect Penile Length and Circumference but engages a full mind-body (somatic) experience.  Then and only then can the identity of Sexuality be disengaged from the notion that it is a control of genitals. You can begin then to stop comparing or lamenting about genitalia, what you have or do not have and start enjoying the mind-body (somatic) wholeness that you truly are.

I recommend the following four books, they can be helpful in your striving for control and perception of a healthier, loving, and more pleasurably experience during sex. 
 

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The Penis Book: A Doctor's Complete Guide to the Penis―From Size to Function and Everything in Between” by Aaron Spitz MD


Manhood: The Rise and Fall of the Penis” by Mels van Driel, Paul Vincent (Translator)


 Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered—For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex” by Dr. Debby Herbenick.


Anal Pleasuring (A Good in Bed Guide)” by Dr. Debby Herbenick.
 

 

Now here is the article that created weeks of discussion, debate and finally my blog.  I would be interested on your take on this,  so jot me a note. 

Van Barrett, Are You Really A Man?

 An article by Van Barrett  July 28, 2016 vanbarrett.com

I had an e-mail recently from a reader of my book Seven Nights who was quite convinced that I am secretly a female, hiding behind a male pen name — and they were not too happy about it, either!

I must be a female, they wrote to me, because I write about men with circumcised cocks and men with uncut cocks — therefore, it’s a given that I’m writing about something I can’t possibly know or have firsthand experience of. Right? From there, it’s surely a small leap of logic to assume that I actually know nothing about what it is to have a cock, how they work and what they feel like, because I’m just a woman making crap up as I go. Insert eye roll here.

So? What say you, Van Barrett?

I’ll give you the answer to this burning question in a moment! But first I wanna share a personal anecdote.

I was in the seventh grade when I first had to take a ‘lifestyle’ class. I forget the exact name of it — something like “health and lifestyle” — but whatever, you get the gist. It’s the sort of course where you learn about balancing a checkbook and how to eat healthy and oh, oh gosh, (*cheeks blush*) human anatomy and sexuality. So that was the first time, age 13, that I’d had any sort of formal sex education.

And here’s where I should point out that some form of sex-ed probably should’ve come a lot sooner, as I remember riding the school bus home in the 4th grade with my best friend. Curious about sex, we looked up the word ‘sperm’ in the dictionary. We’d both heard this term, this magical sperm before, and we knew that it was related in some way to sex. When we read the definition, we looked at each other with puzzled expressions. Embarrassingly, I concluded that a sperm must be the head of your cock, and it detached from the shaft when the moment was right. Cough. We had trouble wrapping our brains around how there could possibly be some ~100 million more cock-head sperms just waiting around in our nuts to be ejaculated. Fun image, right? Clearly, something didn’t add up, and we still had no idea what a sperm was.

… Anyhow, I digress.

It was because of this lifestyle class in 7th grade that I first learned of the concept of circumcision. I’d never heard it before. I think we glanced over it and class and I didn’t give it much thought. It wasn’t until a couple days later, when I was hanging with a friend of mine, that it came up again.

My friend was uncircumcised. He gloated about being intact, he bragged about how uncut men statistically are said to have better orgasms and better sex and their partners report being more pleased. He asked me if I was uncircumcised. I had no idea! Again, I’d never heard this word before our class and even then, it didn’t seem like it applied to me. My penis seemed to work fine, and it didn’t look cut up, so why bother, right? But based on all the stats he told me, I sure hoped I hadn’t been cut!

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But I wasn’t sure. I asked my friend to describe what a circumcision looked like. There were no suitable pictures or illustrations in our textbook for me to get the idea. He kept saying something along the lines of, “c’mon, this isn’t hard — it either looks like a bell or like it has a turtleneck that can cover the whole thing up! Which one is it?”

And still I was truly stumped. But more than that, I was a little frazzled. This idea that I might have been altered as a baby … without my knowledge or consent … that resulted in a less fulfilling sex life?

“No way,” I protested. “It looks fine. It’s totally natural. It doesn’t look like it was hurt.”

He wanted to see it: he said he’d tell me if it was or not. A shy kid in my youth, I said no way. So we opted to look at my newborn baby pictures instead.

“Dude,” he laughed. “You’re circumcised, alright. See that? That’s the head of your dick and it’s not covered. That’s a circumcision, Van.”

So it was. The realization set in immediately: I had a circumcised penis.

Was I crushed? Was I disappointed?

I’m sure I was — on some level. But not a consciously-available level. That would probably require more self-awareness than a 13-year-old possessed. Instead, I adopted a psychological tool more fitting for a teen: indignant anger.

“Yeah, well, everyone says a circumcised penis looks better!” I gloated right back at him. “And it’s cleaner, too!”

Then we’d argue back and forth about who had the better and the best pleasure-giving penis. It got pretty heated — and we even wrestled and threw punches over the debate. Yeah … 13 year olds … what can you really say?

Okay, to give some perspective as to why I’m sharing this story with you — it took years for me to process the emotions I’ve had over the fact that I was circumcised. As I aged and became an adult, I thankfully dropped that self-defense mechanism of “nah nah nah boo boo, my cock is better than yours!” and I started to think of it differently.

It was kinda fucked up, after all, that I’d been robbed of some level of sensitivity down there to the tune of 20,000 nerve endings! I’d never asked for it and I probably wouldn’t have, if given the chance. I also began to see uncut cocks in a different light. Hell, they started to look kinda pretty — and that foreskin sure looked fun to play with. I was sad, angry, and depressed over what had been taken from me.

*Lifts needle from the record*

I just want to stop here and say that I don’t want to make any parents out there feel bad — that’s not my goal at all! I understand why my parents did it, and I don’t begrudge them for it at all. There’s just so much information out there, and societal customs and so on — it’s hard to make any sense of it sometimes.

But future parents, please do educate yourself about this topic before you make the decision! And if you still choose to circumcise your kids, that’s fine, that’s your choice and I wouldn’t give anyone a hard time for it. But just educate yourself because there’s a lot to learn and it’s one hell of an interesting area to research. E.g., did you know that John Harvey Kellogg, the doctor who pushed for circumcisions in the US [and yes, the cereal man], also wanted females to be circumcised? Yup — he wanted to pour carbolic acid on the clitorises of newborn girls. Lucky for all you ladies, that one didn’t catch on.

Thankfully, this story isn’t all sadness and depression. So, it was back in 2010 when I discovered that a man can actually restore his foreskin. It’s not a surgical procedure — it’s done through applied tension to the skin over a long period of time (2-5 years). It can be as simple as using your hands to tug and stretch the skin. Stretched to its physical limit, cellular mitosis takes over and the skin cells begin to duplicate. It takes a while, but you can absolutely grow your foreskin back.

Okay, so you’ll never be exactly the way you were prior to getting cut, of course. Some nerves endings are permanently lost. But it’s a big improvement, with a fuller spectrum of pleasures and sensations that simply weren’t available before.

So, yes, I write characters with cut and uncut dicks, because I’ve personally been both. I know what it’s like to be cut — the contrived sense of superiority over what is actually our natural form, the repressed anger, the jealousy, etc. I also know what it’s like to have a foreskin now — and it’s made me so much more sensitive. I also know how this topic is taboo, and a lot of people don’t like to think or talk about it at all. I’ve been called names just for going on this journey of restoring. Clearly, there’s a lot of emotional trauma swirling around this topic. It’s not an easy one for people to deal with. I get that.

So you’ve probably figured by now that in my book Seven Nights, Austin’s ‘jealousy’ and fawning over Cedar’s uncut cock comes from a deeply personal place for me. (Let’s just add an unofficial line to the epilogue: Austin, inspired by Cedar, began the journey of restoring his foreskin. Yay!)

If anyone wants more information about this, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an e-mail. Obviously, it’s something I’m personally invested in and passionate about, and believe me, I have a lot more to say.

For any guys out there, who want to get started on the journey of restoring, I’d recommend starting with the Foreskin Restoration forum on reddit. I say journey because it takes time — and it will require you to be dedicated and patient. But it’s worth it, in my experience.

Sooo, to answer the original question that prompted this blog post — yes, I’m actually a man. Shocking plot twist, eh?

SiteofContact can be reached for comments, information, or appointments at calvin2talk@gmail.com

Masculinity Is It The Problem or A Programed Expectation?

Samson by Ernst Fuchs sharded by William Floyd

Samson by Ernst Fuchs sharded by William Floyd

This blog came about due to conversations and comments sent to me about my March 2018 blog post, which was titled ‘A Conversation on Masculinity, Society, and Change” located in the Male on Man section of SiteOfContact. I thank my faithful readers for their comments, responses, and interest in the subject.  This article also takes on its particular tone of delivery, due to a deep probing conversation with a client over an article written by David de las Morena’s from his Website called: “How to Beast,” his blog titled - “ How to Increase Masculine Energy and Rebuild Self-Esteem.” (At the end of this piece you will find the link to David’s blog article

I really don't want to get into a critique of Mr. Morena's concepts especially his concept of 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'  other than to say it was the touchstone for my client and myself to engage in a deeper conversation on 'Masculinity and Gender.' David de las Morena ’s comments. per se. have more to do with self-respect and self-worth, rather than perhaps a focus on a root cause of gender (mis)label. Personally, I must warn you that some may find David's manner of expression distasteful and rude, yet beyond his style as a 'straight heterosexual,' he does make one or two valid suggestions to gain self-respect and self-worth.   But again that is not my central theme. I am wanting to address  the early social conditioning that gets associated with expected behavior or expected gender patterns coming to us as early as our  nursery days, and in the stories we are told which we then (mis)label as "masculine."  

 

What is Masculinity? How is it measured? What are its demands? And how is that person meant to look, think, act, and feel? and should that be according to the mores of society?

 

We have a lot of opinions about being a “Man” or more to the point having “Masculinity “.  Now to surprise you, you could say Masculinity is not, gender-specific, I say this because I have known some masculine women, including my Mom (not to look at her), but that woman had balls.  This is all to say, what are we focusing on?  The word, or is it behaviors that get labeled as Masculinity?

Masculinity comes up a lot lately and unfortunately, you can expect it to be related to trauma in an experience. Or sometimes in ‘How’ to integrate the Masculine aspect of oneself into a more positive and holistic lifestyle

This piece of writing is not to diminish any circumstance where trauma has occurred, we can all see how under various circumstances the word masculinity has been misrepresented by men caught in stereotypes, causing the word to lose luster, respect, and aliveness. We could say Masculinity is lost due to diminished meaning.

 

I could see how some people can be caught up in the illusion that to be masculine only meant to be aligned with bathroom bullies; politicized pulpits; with privilege; overt racism or sexism; or with bigotry toward groups of people. That kind of action portrayed by a few men is not a true representation of Masculinity, and yes if that is a view of the word, it needs to be tanked in the toilet.

.

 

I have seen, in my work as a life coach, the effect of the above description of what masculinity misrepresented can do to some men, for example, the issues of self-worth become diminished. Abandonment and loss of manhood become issues. Male childhood developmental trauma, which can color men’s interactions with other men and women. The clue to the problem is "early childhood trauma." 

 

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This is not the first time in history were maleness appeared to be vilified. I can recollect in my own history, in the 1950’ s, being taunted by a younger sister who loved to recite repeatedly, a portion of an old nursery rhyme called “What are folks made of?” by Robert Southey writen in 1842.  The segments of the rhyme my sister loved to taunt me with was the portion called - "What are little boys made of?"  and “what are girls made of?”

What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
And what are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And all things nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

This was a common nursery rhyme of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This rhyme deserves our attention in part, due to its negative descriptors of the male gender, described as slugs, snails, snips, and frogs depending on where in the world the rhyme was told.

 

The rhyme by Southey in two additional verses goes on to say:

What are young men made of, made of? 
          What are young men made of? 
Sighs and leers and crocodile tears; 
          That's what young men are made of.
What are young women made of, made of?  
What are young women made of? 
           Rings and jings and other fine things
     Sugar and spice and all things nice; 
          That's what young women are made of.   
 

I think you get the jest of it...

         

Old Nursery Rhymes.jpg

Nursery Rhymes play key roles in how we explain to children our cultural attitudes about themselves and gender behavior. Reciting Nursery Rhymes to children is one of a series of first steps to providing children's education about self-esteem and what is expected of them.

 

It can implant gender shame and things not good in the youngest minds of our society before (arguably) they have the critical function to question such assumptions and provides children with ideas of masculinity and femininity to which they may well not conform (thank heavens) yet creating a pressure towards adopting gender stereotypes which, frankly, toddling tots could have done without.  Here is a place to start, with a new vision, stories, and Nursery Rhymes.

 

These new stories, to be made then in part for the cultural socialization process,  would not expect transgressions of young males but does expect exploration, and do not dismiss and expect ‘boys to be bad, and then require them to do more 'to prove themselves otherwise.' While shaping young girls into passive restrained toys that need do nothing but be pretty for worry not you can do nothing wrong attitudes, that does not prepare them for a life of diverse opportunity that may not always need sweetness and passivity. These  kinds of stories had fallacy, any conscious mother of children of both sexes could debunk and tell you that, 'it was a  pile of the well-known stuff.'   

The bad behavior displayed in teen males may come from early unconscious childhood expectations. Expectations that come from the nursery. A more positive model is needed to be created and employed.  Nursery rhymes that re-imagine, re-envision, and ground masculinity in a self-affirming way.

Tom Tom.jpg

 

Often a male child, if traumatized by his childhood environment is then expected to, on his own, “get over it, “to “outgrow” it, or somehow zap it away.  Yet it is that very trauma that will freeze him into isolation, into not seeking help, into not allowing himself to talk about it.  because he feels it is expected of him to bear up especially if viewed by other males. Yet, there are some things that happen to men that they never “get over,” and must reach out to their culture and other men to correct the concept.

 

So, to refocus this discussion for the conscious adults amongst us, I ask, that Masculinity not be looked at as the Problem, but perhaps as your Expectation?

If it is the Expectation, then where did that expectation come from? A change of the approach, to re-envision Masculinity is needed.  We must begin by realizing that both males and females are comprised of Male and Female components or as Carl Jung called it Anima and Animus. We are both Masculine and Feminine in attributes, some of us more of one than the other and by God, we should not all try and fit a cookie cutter visions of what that is going to manifest as. It is not one definition fits all.

 

Okay, we have Men,  beyond the age of nursery rhymes, that have the pressures to refashion a new sense of them-self, of self-being.  Let's be bold here and strip everything away and start with an identity as individuation of consciousness, with emotional intelligence. This concept is of course for the person who wants to have dominion over their own life, then he can start by  re-inhabiting his maleness even in the face of disturbing experiences, as he then weaves a more "integrated" narrative of his life for himself.  Re-authoring the sacred story of ‘who am I’ and calling forth a new future for himself not yet known

Trusting the worth and validity of his expression of masculinity, and in that expression a self-love, that will be able to soften the callus wounds of the body, mind and the heart, embracing a fully realized masculinity by his design a vision of masculinity, designed for him by him, so it becomes alive within his being as a force for good. This allows for a profound empowerment, that for anyone is revolutionary, if lucky enough even contain bits of humor, and sometimes bold in its persona. These skills will be needed to then start writing and telling  the New nursery stories for those yet unborn.

Hawaiian Dancer.jpg

 

The goal then is not some fixed, “cured” state where we have successfully purged masculinity which is an aspect of our self-experience from what we are, as if it were some wretched foreign substance, but rather to find a larger home for it within our concept of the self. Slowly, we can allow what has become frozen and solidified to thaw and become flexible. To make the masculine force rightly seen within us and children to come, as a valued and balanced energy.  A refocus of our attention and thoughts, to break out of that cycle of trauma, blame, and shame. To move towards a balanced identity, that has a stable, and positive context for humans with masculinity, who are given an expectation to be a force for life-sustaining good.

David de las Morena’s Blog post - https://www.howtobeast.com/how-to-reclaim-your-manhood-and-rapidly-cultivate-masculine-energy/

A Conversation On Masculinity, Society, and Change Neither is Static

THE KEYS TO WORRY-FREE CHANGING NOTION OF GENDER, MASCULINITY, & SOCIETY -  THE EDGE COMES FROM KNOWING 'What’s Behind the Curtin'. By Calvin Harris H.W., M.

The Life and Age of Man: The Stages of Man's Life from Cradle to ... FAMSF Explore the Art - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Life and Age of Man: The Stages of Man's Life from Cradle to ...
FAMSF Explore the Art - Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

 

This post is written to give a ‘Breathing space’ or a broader view to men when issues come up in the matter of Gender identification, the notions of your sexuality vs gender or in the matter of having to defend or change in a time of Societal change. I will start with the comment that if changes are demanded of you and you did not instigate the change, then make note someone else has an agenda or profit to be gained by it.  

The impetus for writing this post began with a call. I got this phone call about an article that was to appear in the March 1st or 2nd, 2018, edition of TheNation.Com, in its SOCIETY Blog Column. A post titled: "Do We Need to Redefine Masculinity—or Get Rid of It?", written by one Collier Meyerson, a Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute, where she focuses on reporting about race and politics, as well as an investigative fellow at Reveal. Even before the articles came out a call came to me to be on the lookout for it and a request for my reaction to the article. Since its release, I have had a barrage of calls with hot opinions about it, more than any article (to date) generated from any posts that I had written myself. (Well, it is my own fault for encouraging you all to read more, and then to dig deep for understanding.)

I feel, to meet a storm successfully you will need an edge, that is, a preparation and / or history of the behaviors of the storms and how they behaved in the past: that is where the edge to success is found. So for all of you who are ready to Take Action one way or another, let me play devil's advocate here and let’s start with the meaningful action of an investigation. This investigation may seem a bit around the bend but hold fast, for the future is at stake.

Be pre-warned this article, may have intellectual and emotional undercurrents for some; those of you that take the time to digest and discern what is being offered will find it well worth the read. I welcome your comments and for those of you having regular scheduled session with me, I welcome your phone calls regarding personal issues brought up by this post.  

Also, contain at the end of this article is a link to Ms. Meyerson's article for your perusal and consideration.

I am a believer in having a shameless array of ‘Conscious’ emotions, considered in this conversation when the goal is to lead to a compassionate solution. Yes, even the emotion Anger, if that anger is self-possessed within an idea. The goal then, as Thanissara Mary Weinberg expresses it, is to have - “Anger . . . traditionally thought of to be close to wisdom. [To be used], When not projected outward onto others or inward toward the self, it gives us the necessary energy and clarity to understand what needs to be done.”
Now, I, in fact, was happy to see an article on masculinity in a publication like ‘The Nation,’ in light of my post last year in SOC on 30, June 2017, titled “A Man Is Expected - New Pathways of Being.” Yet, I was surprised by the title implications to Redefine Masculinity or get rid of it. Let’s face it, there are not too many women nor men that really want to get rid of Masculinity. So let us knock off the nonsense of getting rid of it and try to reason to the core of the matter.

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It's clear when you look out into society that masculinity is a tough subject to approach for many people, regardless of gender, but it seems it is popping up in one form or another and therefore it wants to be addressed.

 I'm afraid beliefs about male and female, that is humans and their rights are being turned upside down and that some of the discussions of the new masculinity reflect more theory first than any real consideration of human progress or history on the subject. I don't think it's the wisest move to redefine what it means to be anything beyond Conscious Beings right now. Radicals could easily turn beliefs about humans and unalienable rights they possess upside down especially in a climate demanding change. 

It may surprise some to know in a very short number of years it will be a moot point.  The rage and outcry in the courts, will be about abuse in the use of Robots and Inanimate Objects and there again the consideration for redefinition.  This time for Robots being Sentient Beings, that means beings with consciousness, or in some contexts life itself. Sentient beings for the longest time where considered primary a state belonging only to Humans.  To be Sentient you needed to possess five aggregates: matter, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. As technology and science progressed as rapidly as it has identification of sentient beings have been extended to animals and plant life and will in time move to our machines. At some point, regulated behavior in the use or misuse of Robots and inanimate objects as Sex objects will prevail. 


What it means to be a man or a woman can be reduced to just saying  ‘Human.’ We have the capacity to think, feel, perceive or experience subjectively and with empathy.  When we go beyond that, then we start to get into trouble when like the Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to separate, distinguish as it were the ability to think from the ability to feel and maybe where we start some of the modern divisions of men and women. Humans are carbon-based communal societal creatures that have empathy and justice called Love within their somatic DNA and within their shared blood, they as for now, come with a knowledge of an expiration date.

Photo by Jason Beamguard

Photo by Jason Beamguard

 The Blade Runner movies and the book that they were adapted from,  “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968, explored issues of “what does it mean to be human.” The fallacy the book tried to point to was the belief that Androids, unlike humans, are said to possess no sense of empathy or compassion in the future, and the question did humans still contain humanity. I would start the conversation here because for some folks The concept of masculinity mis-seen is the belief that masculinity in the male gender has no empathy or compassion. And thus masculinity in the male gender is a mechanical apparatus that can be turned on or off at will. Rather than it being an evolutionary engineered process once geared to the benefit of family,  community or humanity and has historically been manipulated but yet is always evolving.

Man as Machine

Man as Machine

There is a book mention in Ms. Meyerson blog by Gail Bederman: her seminal book is on the issue, "Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917." Author Gail Bederman writes: “I don’t see manhood as either an intrinsic essence or a collection of traits, attributes, or sex roles. Manhood—or ‘masculinity,’ as it is commonly termed today—is a continual, dynamic process.” The first thing we need to do, according to Bederman, is stop arguing that masculinity has traits that are inherent. “Gender,” she writes, “is dynamic and always changing.”

Book Cover of Gail Bederman  Book

Book Cover of Gail Bederman  Book

Between 1820 and 1860, according to Bederman, more and more white men were beginning to identify as middle class: entrepreneurs, professionals, and managers. And with that distinction, there came about a new and important gender identification for men, one that centered around civility. As opposed to brutishness or violent tendencies, manliness during this period was focused on a civilized character, holding off on marriage to accrue wealth. And then a man should focus on providing a good life for his wife, his children, or his employees.

Between 1879 and 1910, the number of middle-class men who were self-employed dropped, from 67 percent to 37 percent, prompting another a shift. “Middle-class Victorian men were obsessed with manhood at the turn of the century,” writes Bederman. They became “obsessed” with cowboy novels, and hunting and fishing. At the same time new epithets, like “sissy,” “pussy-foot,” “cold feet” and “stuffed shirt, ” emerged, indicating “behavior which had once appeared self-possessed and manly but now seemed over-civilized and effeminate,” writes Bederman. Around 1890, a noun defined as “the essence of manhood” took hold for the first time—now, manhood was called “masculinity.”

The idea, Bederman says, was that being “manly” had a “moral dimension,” and was defined by a dictionary at the time as “possessing the proper characteristic of a man; independent in spirit or bearing; strong, brave, large-minded, etc.” But then, when the economy tanked between 1879 to 1896, and with it the whole middle-class white-male “civilized” identity, the concept of “manliness” shifted again. After that, Bederman says, when men wished to invoke a male power they used “masculine” and “masculinity” to describe it. “The adjective ‘masculine’ was used to refer to any characteristics, good or bad, that all men had,” she wrote. The element of morality had been left behind.

The shift in white middle-class American male identification at the turn of the 19th century was also a way to justify white supremacy. “Linking whiteness to male power,” Bederman wrote, “was nothing new.… during the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, American citizenship rights had been construed as ‘manhood’ rights which inhered to white males, only…Negro males, whether free or slave, were forbidden to exercise ‘manhood’ rights—forbidden to vote, hold electoral office, serve on juries, or join the military. The conclusion was implicit but widely understood: Negro males, unlike white males, were less than men.” But once “masculinity” came around at the end of the 19th century, and black men were fighting for “manhood rights,” a new idea had emerged. White middle-class men were starting to see themselves as maintaining a universal male quality: savagery. But the way they separated themselves from their black counterparts, was to articulate that they had evolved more. Bederman uses the example of National Geographic, which was first published in 1889 and gained popularity “by breathlessly depicting the heroic adventures of ‘civilized’ white male explorers among ‘primitive tribes in darkest Africa.” Similarly, she writes, “Anglo-Saxonist imperialists insisted that civilized white men had a racial genius for self-government which necessitated the conquest of more ‘primitive’ darker races.”

America’s new definition of masculinity was cemented during the 20th century. Though black men gained the right to vote, under Jim Crow laws, which last well into the mid-20th century, they continued to be subjugated by white men, who restrained black men’s economic possibilities and frequently portrayed them as uncontrollable rapists. From early westerns to the action films we watch today, white cis men overwhelmingly were cast as leads in the mass entertainment our culture consumes; guns became a rite and plaything of young white men in our country. And masculinity became a made-up excuse to dominate.

In his essay, Michael Ian Black. an American comedian, actor, writer, writes: “I believe in boys. I believe in my son. Sometimes, though, I see him, 16 years old, swallowing his frustration, burying his worry, stomping up the stairs without telling us what’s wrong, and I want to show him what it looks like to be vulnerable and open, but I can’t. Because I was a boy once, too.”

Black can’t show his son what vulnerability looks like not because he is biologically incapable of doing so. The block is one formed by habit, culture, and American history predicated on white male domination—which produced a masculinity predicated on white male domination. Who says we have to hold onto that? It is only with the understanding that gender identification is moveable, malleable, and worth undoing that we can begin to make the boys all right.

A change of Role

A change of Role

Tim Marshal & Son

Tim Marshal & Son

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Modifications to masculinity should be a personal and individual choice, to be made by the male or female in their own exploration of their life. Based on their journey to discover their innate self and to get their answer to the great question Who Am I. No one should decide but that individual themselves. They will need of course historic and scientific facts, to be able to look behind the curtain, as well as support both for their spirit and their bodies by their communities. To find that innate self and then to offer their unique contribution to family, community, society and the world.  

This would mean no more expectations of a  cookie cutter assembly line version of masculinity, or of what it should look like or do. No more of a one version fits all.  More of a self-made version of what I call male on man(kind). In my work, I look for the essence in each person I interact with, people to engage their individual merit, on a person by person basis. I have found it seems to work better than applying labels - at least for me.

Freedom to be You

Freedom to be You

See the Nation article by Collier Meyerson

A hiki i kekahi manawa  =   Until next time
 

The Odd Way We Define Success

By Calvin Harris, H.W., M.

Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, and Gary Merrill in All About Eve (1950)

Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, and Gary Merrill in All About Eve (1950)

 

How often do we hear about successful people, then imagine we fall short by comparison?

In my coaching practice, when Clients ask me how they can become successful? I reach for one of several canned questions to create a dialogue to an answer:

  • Short and sweet: “Do you work for yourself?”
  • Ambitious: “If you did not have worries about obligations or money what would you do?”
  • Mysterious: “Is there a difference in focus in a man of success. Compared to becoming a person of value?” 
  • Awkward: "Your focus is it chasing the money or chasing the passion?"

If I’m lucky, the conversation moves the other person to return to their inner dialogue of themselves, to uncover more of the root cause for the question, and to help them frame an answer to their vague subjective question or at least see the underpinning or gauge to their unsatisfied state of being.

Tesla car

Tesla car

I half joking say to them, Oh I can understand your feeling, because on the one hand, I am a successful entrepreneurial mentor, life coach, writer, and more. But on the other hand, I’m none of them, if I used your gauge, because based on your gauge, then shouldn’t a writer have a large following of loyal fans? Shouldn’t a life coach have only high paying clients? Isn’t an entrepreneur supposed to make deals while whipping along in his Tesla through the fashionable sections of SoCal’s Coast Highway?

That’s success, right? And if not, why do you seem to think it is?

Here’s the thing. I’ve noticed that everyone I read, listen to, or follow on social media is unusually accomplished, if only in hype. This is bound to happen. The most prolific people, even if not talented, will get the most attention.

I mean, they’re the best at getting promotion. It’s no surprise they have a large following.

But what then happens to most of us? We hear about these promoted “successful” people, then imagine we fall short by comparison. I call this the Comparing Mind.

How do you respond to others' lives? Have you felt compelled to look over your shoulder and compare yourself to family members, best buds, classmates, neighbors, or someone you've read about, and believe that you have to equal whatever they did in their lives?

The first thing to understand is to know that to some degree the Comparing Mind switches on in all of us. Like it or not, our comparison software will always be running in the background. Now to mediate the absurdity of the Comparing Mind, we want to be mindful and with a lightness of humor, that our lives require a rigorous discernment of which voices to listen to: those coming from our own depths of purpose, or those which are received from the promotional blast of the world around us.

I recall a conversation that took place during a business meeting, that you might find interesting, it was said: In the business world, this phenomenon, of the Comparing Mind doesn’t care about the size of a raise. It only cares if it’s bigger than their co-worker’s raise. For instance, when a CEO’s pay was made public in 1992, it triggered the Comparing Mind in thousands of executives across America. “Wait, she’s making what??” As a result, CEO pay spiraled upwards like a whirlybird.

The takeaway is that the Comparing Mind thinks in terms of relative or equivalent achievement, not in significant or absolute achievement. In other words, if we are not conscious of the other person, we don’t even make the comparison.

Model Jimmy Flint-Smith Photo by Juan Coronado

Model Jimmy Flint-Smith Photo by Juan Coronado

The point is when confronted with Comparing Mind, it is helpful to put things in perspective. The Comparing Mind is blind. It’s blind to the fact that “successful people” are just people. Beneath all their outward success, they’re as flawed as the rest of us.

Tim Ferriss, for example, author of the “4-hour Workweek”: in 2016 his The Tim Ferriss Show was considered the #1 business podcast on all of iTunes and was ranked #1 out of 300,000+ podcasts, so when you talk about social media success, his name is one that would come to mind.  

Interestingly enough, Tim Ferriss, is purported to have written a revealing blog a few years ago. In the article, Ferriss purportedly wrote that he often struggles to get out of bed in the morning and that he was seeing a therapist. Therefore successful superstar or not, we don’t always have it easy. None of us have it easy all the time.

But, one thing we can do to keep down the stress, is to become conscious of when the Comparing Mind is in action and to develop a sense of examined mindfulness about it.

And when you catch the Comparing Mind doing its thing, remember to flip your focus, stop and check, is your attention on the relative or the significant efforts to your achievement success? It doesn’t matter what other people are doing. It does matter what you are doing, and how you feel about doing it.

Protection

PROTECTION

By: Elizabeth Holt

One story from a series of short pieces by the budding writer Holt, a member of the  Library Coffee House Writing Group, in Long Beach, CA.

Photo Model Abigail Cardenas

Photo Model Abigail Cardenas

The words are barbed, hurled across the room, falling like stones around her. Her eyes sting and she blinks, hard, stamping down her tears with a controlled sort of orcefulness

He's still talking--angrier, now, as she doesn't respond. But what could she say? He was the type to yell just to yell--to mask his meanness under the guise of a "debate. " except he really only ends up attacking her, and she really isn't built for that sort of thing.

So, she nods, agrees, absorbs everything he tells her with a stiff upper lip and burning eyes, and, as she stares at the top of his head, begins wondering how she could use this unpleasant interaction in one of her stories.

Things get a little easier after that.

.