Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bruce Jenner, Aydian Dowling, and America's Transgender Awakening

PHOTO: Bruce Jenner sat down for a far-ranging exclusive interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a special edition of “20/20.”

There are two big stories involving transgender people in the news this week. The first one is Bruce Jenner's television interview with Diane Sawyer in which he comes out as a woman. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have at least heard about the interview if not seen it.

Here is just a snip of his comments:
“For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman,” Jenner told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an exclusive interview that aired Friday in a special two-hour edition of ABC News’ “20/20.” 

“People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything that I do in life -- it is part of me,” Jenner, 65, said. “That female side is part of me. That’s who I am.”
CNN has proposed that "2015 may be remembered as the year the term "transgender" fully entered mainstream consciousness." Here is more evidence they site (correctly) that suggests America is having a transgender awakening:
In January, President Obama condemned the persecution of "people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," becoming the first president to utter the word in a State of the Union address.

"Transparent," about an aging father who begins living as a woman, won two top awards at the Golden Globes, while transgender actress Laverne Cox of "Orange is the New Black" -- who made the cover of Time magazine last year -- was just cast in a new CBS drama

The May issue of Vogue has a photo spread with transgender model Andreja Pejic, who said on Instagram this week that she "was told by various people many times over that the chances of me ending up on these pages were slim to none." A transgender character had a recurring storyline on the just-wrapped final season of "Glee," while transgender activist and YouTube star Jazz Jennings will star in a reality show debuting on TLC this summer.

transgender model Andreja Pejic

The second big news story, which is a far second to the Bruce Jenner story, a (wo)man once considered the best athlete on the planet after he won the 1976 Olympic gold medal in the Decathlon, is that a trans man, Aydian Dowling, is the leading vote-getter to appear on the cover of Men's Health Magazine.


As USA Today notes, he is not assured of being on the cover simply by winning the reader's vote:
While Dowling is clearly in the lead with reader votes (he's ahead by more than 30,000) it doesn't necessarily mean his image will grace the cover.

Judges for the annual contest, now in its second year, select a winner from entries based on a number of criteria including fitness, professional success, healthy lifestyle and how much they give back to their community. The public votes make up 10% of the final ranking, according to the contest rules.
Still, it would be a huge step for transgender acceptance and equality if he were given the cover, and no matter what less welcoming readers of Men's Health might think, this would likely be one of the best selling issues of all time. That may be all it takes to get Aydian Dowling on the cover.

These two stories, plus the trans model in Vogue (even if her image reinforces the dominant image of female beauty, and does not represent the majority of trans women), the success of Transparent on Amazon Prime, and the success of transgender actress Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black, all signify a transgender awakening in America.

It's time. 

For more, see CNN's America's Transgender Moment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Average Penis Size, According to Science

Men worry an awful lot about the size and/or shape of their penises. Size is (wrongly) associated with virility and masculinity. Most men worry needlessly about this issue. So here is science coming to the rescue. This article originally appeared at Salon.

Here is the average penis length, according to science

Researchers polled over 15,000 men on the length and girth of their manhood, and the results are...surprising


Here is the average penis length, according to science  

The results of that age-old question are in: We know the length of the average human penis, and it is smaller than you’d probably expect it to be. Researchers have compiled all the existing data on penis size in what’s purported to be the most comprehensive analysis yet, with over 15,000 “data points” from men in the U.S., Europe, Africa and Asia helping them determine what is “normal.” 

I’ll cut to the chase: According to the study, published this week in BJU International, the average penis is 5.16 inches long and 4.6 inches around when erect, and 3.6 inches long and 3.7 inches around when flaccid. The 15,521 participants in the 20 compiled studies ranged in age from 17 to 91, and exhibited quite a range in size. Only about 2.28 percent had abnormally small penises, which the researchers classified as being two standard deviations below the mean; the same percentage of men had abnormally large penises, two standard deviations above the mean. 

The paper’s title — “Am I normal? A systematic review and construction of nomograms for flaccid and erect penis length and circumference in up to 15 521 men” — sort of gets to the heart of what the researchers hope to achieve with the findings. “We believe these graphs will help doctors reassure the large majority of men that the size of their penis is in the normal range,” lead author David Veale said. “We will also use the graphs to examine the discrepancy between what a man believes to be their position on the graph and their actual position or what they think they should be.”

While the study finds no evidence to suggest that penis size varies by race, the sample is still limited to a majority of European and Middle Eastern men; additional research could draw different conclusions. The researchers also note that the results could have been influenced by their volunteers’ own perceptions of themselves: Men who felt more confident in their penis size might have been more likely to participate in the study. Regardless, this is still the most comprehensive research so far.

Oh, and a final interesting tidbit: The study finds no correlation between a man’s foot size and penis length. 
Jenny Kutner
Jenny Kutner is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sex, gender and feminism. 
Follow @jennykutner or email

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kali Holloway - Identifying Dudes: From Bros to Douchebags and Beyond

From Alternet, Kali Holloway sardonically breaks down the Dude branch of the male species. Yes, these are cliche categories with somewhat offensive labels, but there is some truth to all of her categories of dude.

If you are easily offended by things not politically correct, please move along.

Dudes are a specific kind of guy, but knowing their subgroups requires even more nuanced information.

This being the Internet and all, we thought it would be a good idea to start the proceedings by stating, unequivocally, that there are plenty of great, wonderful, smart, kind, giving, loveable guys. And many fantastic and endearing kinds of guys. So many, we couldn’t make a list of them all because that list would be so long, we would all grow old and die reading it. To be clear: We’re not saying, in any way, shape or form, that there aren’t amazing, incredible, terrific guys out there (although someone will definitely say in the comments that we did).

What we are saying is that there are also a lot of different kind of dudes out and about. And we mean very specifically dudes – not guys, not boys, not men – but dudes. This is important. Dudes – and again, dudes are a particular variety of male – are out there, like, being dudes. But not all dudes are the same, and lumping them all together creates a kind of chaos and confusion that can and should totally be avoided. So, to more distinctly identify each type of dude from their brethren, here is a list that makes clear where the boundaries for one dude end and another dude begin. Below is a detailed report on the unique traits that identify douchebags, bros, dicks, assholes, scumbags and tools.

Douchebags. Semi-awful. Definitely the most wealth-obsessed of all the categories of dudes. Complete lack of self awareness means he constantly refers to other dudes as “douches” and – on his most terrible days (i.e., every day) – “d-bags.” Brings coke to parties but doesn’t share with anyone except for the woman he’s trying to sleep with, who he’s actually vaguely aggressive with about snorting it. (If she doesn’t have sex with him, definitely decides she’s “a lesbian.” Also: Isn’t totally sure how words work.) Finally got hip to the AXE Body Spray / douchebag connection and instead started wearing TAG Body Spray. Broke up with a girl once because he thought her ankles were a little fat. Not cankles fat, but fat enough. Definitely fucked that one waitress in Cabo. If he’s trying to pick up a girl and her phone goes off, says cheesy stuff like, “You’re blowing up!” Mentions he has a six-pack hoping you’ll ask to touch it. (When you don’t, calls you “a lesbian.”) Wants to live in a world with only Kanye, Diplo, Scott Disick and Evan Spiegel. Says he loves music but really only listens to shitty EDM.

Bros. More innocuous and sweetly earnest than douchebags. Really enjoys chilling – probably has some of his frat bros coming over this weekend to, you know, chill. Spends the entire summer in flip flops, even – no, especially – at inappropriate events. (For this reason, should never be allowed to choose dress-up party attire for himself.) Still thinks Williamsburg is “artsy” and “kinda weird.” Misquotes Fight Club and Dylan lyrics, but really is trying. Benches 120, flexes in the mirror, thinks: “Fuck yeah.” Earnestly believes he has something insightful and deep to contribute to the conversation, which is adorably wrong. It should be mentioned that this category now includes a hipster-bro hybrid who wears ‘50s style white t-shirts with skinny jeans and is into artisanal pizza, suspenders, bespoke drinks and high-end shaving kits. Though it’s been said a million times and is obvious to the point of absurdity, Matthew McConaughey remains the Alpha and Omega of Bro. (If they were manufactured in a factory, bros would be made out of a super common material called McConaughite.) Is best friends with one bro exactly like Owen Wilson and another bro exactly like Ryan Lochte. Says he loves music but only listens to shitty EDM and Bob Marley’s “Legend.”

Dicks. Full-on awful. Is endlessly arrogant to cover up the deep well of insecurity he still carries from being picked last for kickball so many times as a kid. Is technically quite smart, but so insecure he can’t help but constantly prove it in super obnoxious ways. Pretends not to get your references. Creates uncomfortable silences in conversation on purpose. If you tell a joke, says something rude or cutting afterward to prove that, oh, he got it, he just didn’t think it was funny. Enjoys being “politically incorrect” and then playing dumb when challenged on it. Actually lies to his therapist, making the whole exercise a tremendous waste of money. Spends the first five minutes after meeting you trying to figure out your points of emotional vulnerability. Secretly cries after masturbating. Hates himself, and deep inside knows there is a hole that can never be filled. Role models include Vincent Gallo and Andy Dick (ironically). Says he loves music but mostly just enjoys collecting music facts so he can tell people they’re wrong about songs they love.

Assholes. A close cousin of the dick but not quite as sharp. When he agrees with something you’ve said, starts his response with, “No, but..” and then repeats exactly what you just said, exactly the way you just said it. Starts talking while you’re talking and then keeps talking louder and louder until you finally give up. Thinks women don’t get him but doesn’t understand the actual problem is that  they get him all too well. Blatantly steers the conversation back to his areas of knowledge when it starts to drift toward things he doesn’t know about, which is a lot. Feels most at home screaming at waitresses until they tear up and leaving lengthy notes on the backs of receipts explaining why he didn’t leave a tip. (tl; dr: Because he’s an asshole.) Is only semi-aware that every fuck has been a hate-fuck for him. Blissfully unaware of how awful he is. Likes the way Mike Love does business and still chuckles to himself remembering mean things Simon Cowell said. Thinks Biff from Back to the Future had his good points. Says he loves music but then argues with you about Every. Single. Band.

Scumbags. Here’s the thing about the scumbag: He is actual slime and kind of a sociopath, and by far the most dangerous dude on this list. Lies about weird stuff like what he had for breakfast this morning but is unfailingly honest about the disgusting and immoral way he treated some nice girl last week. Thinks telling people he’s about to have sex with that he has an STD “ruins the mood.” Constantly suggesting to women he’s just met that his “tongue never gets tired.” Currently dating a woman who doesn’t speak a word of his language because it’s “just easier.” Stands out in front, waiting to walk into a party until he can go in with another friend who actually brought a bottle of wine. If you resist his (inevitably gross) advances at a bar, keeps coming up every 15 minutes to ask, “Would you want to make out now?” If he’s in a band, secretly lives in the practice space. Learned just enough about feminism to get laid. Admires John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas and thinks Dov Charney of American Apparel got a raw deal. Not that it needs to be mentioned, but really looks up to Terry Richardson. Says he loves music and, actually, has pretty good taste.

Tools. Although the term feels a little outdated, it’s an an oldie but a goodie that still applies in a startlingly large number of cases. Thinks he’s projecting an image of roguishness and suave sophistication when, in fact, he is projecting the reality of a tragicomedy with legs. Women can smell the stench of desperation coming off him a mile away, but he mistakes their indifference as “playing coy.” In high school he was always “dating a model who lives in France.” As an adult, he frequently drops boastful, unsubtle hints about the number of women he’s slept with to distract anyone from guessing the actual number is two. Misuses hip-hop slang in a way that feels not just embarrassing but borderline offensive. Has a guy he hangs around with all the time who he doesn’t realize is making fun of him. When he finds himself in a conversation where he doesn’t quite get what’s going on, tries to look really deep in thought so people mistake his confusion for depth. Doesn’t get the David Brent character from The Office UK because it’s too much like looking in a mirror. See also: Piers Morgan. (Despite these examples, isn’t necessarily British. Tools have no home country.) Says he loves music, and will now prove it by making a scene with that guitar he found in the corner. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tami Simon Interviews Robert Augustus Masters: True Masculine Power

From Tami Simon's interview series, Insights at the Edge, this is an excellent interview with integral psychologist Robert Augustus Masters about his new book, To Be a Man: A Guide to True Masculine Power. This is another classic book from the author of Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters (2010).

Robert Augustus Masters: True Masculine Power

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You might also enjoy:

To Be a Man: A Guide to True Masculine Power

Emotional Intimacy: A Comprehensive Guide for Connecting with the Power of Your Emotions

Knowing Your Shadow: Becoming Intimate with All that You Are

Monday, December 29, 2014

Buddhism 101 with Rick Hanson, PhD: The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path

Rick Hanson, author of Buddha's Brain (2009), Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time (2011), Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence (2013), is a neuropsychologist, Senior Fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and a practicing Buddhist.

Dr. Hanson has been a trustee of Saybrook University and served on the board of Spirit Rock Meditation Center for nine years, where is a regular teacher. 

Over the last couple of months, Dr. Hanson posted a series of articles on the basic premises of Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths. These are those posts, along with an older article on the Noble Eightfold Path.

In essence, this is Buddhism 101, and if we could master just these principles, we would be very successful on our spiritual paths.

The First Noble Truth – The Noble Truth of Suffering

posted on: November 17th, 2014