Friday, August 29, 2008

Return to Manliness - The Cheapest, Hardest, Baddest, Most Manly Exercise Nobody Ever Does

A cool post on fitness from The Art of Manliness.
The Cheapest, Hardest, Baddest, Most Manly Exercise Nobody Ever Does

There are hundreds (no, thousands) of posts and websites talking about how to lose weight and get in shape. They all say the same thing - eat a sensible diet, workout regularly and do these exercises.

For most men, though, it never happens. Not enough time; not enough money; not enough energy; boredom sets in; and then, before you know it, you are working out once a week and your diet has gone to the crapper. The weight is not coming off - matter of fact, the numbers keep growing!

Where things break down with today’s experts is there is a different exercise for every muscle in your body. They want you to “isolate” the muscle for maximum workout. They want you to alternate between muscle groups on different days and workout every single day.

Who has time for that? We need exercises that are going to work muscles and get us tired - at the same time. We need an exercise that is going to work out several, dozens even, of muscles. We need an exercise we can do quick, fast, cheap, and does the job so well we come back wanting more.

We need the burpee!

The burpee is the most perfect exercise known to mankind and let me tell you why - it works out every single aspect of your body; you will be out of breath after only a couple; you don’t need a single piece of equipment to perform it; it can be done in a very confined space; and finally, every elite military force in the world couldn’t be wrong.

From prisoners to prisoners of war to elite fighting forces to elite athletes - ask them about the burpee and they know its secret powers. They know this one exercise, combined with a few others, is all one needs to accomplish your fitness needs.

How to perform a burpee

The excellent folks over at provided this amazing information for us to learn about the burpee. Ross Enamait explains in great detail how to perform a burpee and different variations to make it more challenging (as if it needs it). However, here is a summary of the process:

  1. Begin in a squat position with hands on the floor in front of you
  2. Kick your feet back to a push up position
  3. Immediately return your feet to the squat position
  4. Leap up as high as possible from the squat position
  5. Repeat, moving as fast as possible

You should maintain a fast pace for this exercise. Strive for maximum height with each jump. Most athletes will average between 12 and 15 repetitions per 30 seconds.

Ross’s different variations are not for the faint of heart. I have been doing these exercises for two weeks now and have yet to be able to get past 2 sets of 10. However, I am combining this exercise with a few others which probably makes it harder for me to advance, but the burpee does not require much alteration to be completely effective.

For those who want to display their true burpee manliness, follow Ross’s link to his Ultimate Burpee section. Excellent if you want to blow chunks as part of your workout routine. I am not there yet, but I like the idea of working out so hard, I hurl.

Here is a video that shows the entire motion in sequence.

Other exercises to round out the perfect, fast workout are as follows.

Remember, the criteria to be included in this list is fast, cheap, does the job quickly, works out several muscle groups, and has staying power.

This is the best cardio exercise in the world. Next time you are around someone that’s served our country, ask them about boot camp and getting into shape. Ask them if they did any running while getting in shape. They first will laugh and say, “oh yeah” and then tell you they got in some of the best shape of their lives while doing it. AND, there is nothing that will get you in shape faster.

If running is not your thing, then walking does the trick. I have seen studies where they say walking is actually better for you than running. It might be better on the joints and back, but I am not sure how you could burn more calories.

Push ups
Same deal with running. Ask that soldier if they had to do any push ups. Push ups are the answer to whole upper body workout. If done correctly, they will blow up your arms (biceps and triceps), explode your chest, and work every muscle in your upper body. Many variations help with joint protection, but if you do the push up, and do a lot of them, you get AMAZING results…fast…

Sit ups
That’s right. I said it. Sit ups. Not crunches. Not some wheelie thingie. Not some palates move that isolates. Sit ups. These things have been around for decades and the full sit up (along with variations) work out all kinds of muscles in the abdominal area. When you get to the top of the sit up and work your way back down to the ground, you are using balancing muscles as well as all your abdominal muscles to control the entire movement. Nice.

Squats ranked this is the number one exercise for calisthenics. This works so many muscles in your legs, you will be shocked to feel how crappy you feel afterwards (crappy in a good way, though). The biggest surprise for me was the amount of pressure these put on my hamstrings. I know they are working out the quads (front of your legs) but the backside as well? These are very good for several muscle groups. I have heard of guys (pro athletes) doing 1000 squats a day during training camps. Now that is amazing.

There are some other moves and activities that do just as well as the ones mentioned, but they cost more or need some kind of apparatus to perform. Exercises like the pull up, lunge, riding a bike, bench press, dips, and running stairs all fit the mold of working out several muscle groups while wanting to make your hurl in the process.

There is no excuse not to do the exercises laid out above other than laziness or injury. These exercises are natural; their fast; their effective; their ever changing with your ability to run variations off them; and most of all, they are as manly as heck!

If you don’t have time for all of them, then start out with The Cheapest, Hardest, Baddest, Most Manly Exercise Nobody Ever Does - the burpee.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Men Mastering Relationship - The Masculine Path: Men’s Success Group

A support group for men exploring ideas of masculinity and success in a chaotic world.

The Masculine Path: Men’s Success Group

Cultivating True Success in Life, Work and Relationships

As human beings with a masculine core, men have special gifts to offer the world. Unfortunately, there is generally little support for men to develop to their truest potential. Many men have unknowingly twisted or disowned their true masculine nature in order to survive in confusing times.

The Masculine Path uncovers these inherent gifts and cultivates the positive masculine qualities in each of us so that we can take greater Leadership in our lives, relationships, organizations and beyond. This men’s group provides challenge, encouragement and accountability on our individual paths of masculine integrity and excellence.

The group is facilitated by Professional Coach, Relationship Mentor and Certified Hakomi Therapist, Justice Schanfarber. This group is not therapy. It is based on principles of Gender Synergy, personal responsibility and developing an integrated, masculine-centred approach to Life, Work and Relationship Success.

The Masculine Path is for Men who:

  • Have a Masculine Core (regardless of sexual orientation)
  • Are willing to develop a deep Honesty with themselves and others
  • Have Goals, Vision or Longing for a Truly Meaningful, Healthy and Successful Life
  • Are ready to improve their Relationships, Marriage and Family Life
  • Enjoy being Challenged and held Accountable by Conscious, Trustworthy Men
  • Will commit to showing up Real and pushing their Edge
  • Value Integrity and Personal Response-Ability
  • Want to discover their true Masculine Gifts and become a better Man - Husband/Lover/Father/Friend

“This is not simply a discussion group. We will be learning and applying new skills in our life, work and relationships to bring real change and true success to the parts of our lives that need it the most. In short, we create results. The men in the group will keep each other honest, accountable and supported on our path. As facilitator, I will provide focus, leadership and laser coaching in the moment. I place huge value on your time and efforts and I promise to be in deep service to your success.” ~ Coach Justice

We will meet evenings, by telephone, for an hour and a half, 3 times per month.

Because we meet by telephone, this group is accessible to men everywhere.

Go to the site for more information -- new group begins on September 1st.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Psychology Today - Emotional Ignorance

A quick post from Psychology Today:
Emotional Ignorance

Emotional intelligence is often mistakenly thought of as gut instinct. But emotional intelligence may actually be a skill you can learn.

By: Camille Chatterjee

Emotional intelligence (EI) first became a hot household phrase in 1995, thanks to a book on the topic by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D. But since then, it's been woefully misinterpreted.

Catherine Daus, Ph.D., a psychologist at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, noticed that "experts," books and workshops often refer to EI as a gut instinct or an innate sense about what others are feeling. But the original EI researchers Jack Mayer, Ph.D., and Peter Salovey, Ph.D., state that EI comprises four cognitive abilities: identifying, using, understanding and managing emotions.

To see whether EI is intuitive or learnable, Daus asked 102 students to take Mayer and Salovey's EI survey and to take a computer test in which they had to define a word shown on screen. All students in the study, presented at a meeting of the American Psychological Association, were asked whether they had used intuition to determine their answers. The more subjects reported using their intuition, the worse they performed on the EI tests. "Emotional intelligence is inversely related with use of intuition," writes Daus. If you are skilled at identifying emotion, she notes, you don't need to go with your gut.

Psychology Today Magazine, Nov/Dec 2000
EI is a skill one can learn. Without doubt. And many men are in need of doing so. Being EI does not mean we are less masculine, only that one of the major domains of human experience (body, emotion, intellect, soul, spirit) is no longer a mystery to us.

Plus, it will improve all of our relationships. What could be better?

The Hindu - Changing Men

An interesting article from The Hindu, India's national newspaper (so it claims). It's good to see other cultures are also exploring the possibilities of what masculinity can mean.
THE OTHER HALF - Changing men


They are drops in an ocean of dominant norms, but some men also do question the roles thrust on them by society.

Men are considered weak and ineffectual if they cannot demonstrate male “strengths”.

Photo: R.V. Moorthy

Rethinking gender roles: Men are beginning to come out of patriarchal moulds.

This has been a season of medals — gold, silver and bronze. Men and women, strong and beautiful, have competed as never before. And for a brief moment, the problems around us have evaporated as all of us, regardless of nationality, have basked in the reflected glory of this international bunch of achievers — from tiny Jamaica to the mighty United States of America and China.

The dust will soon settle, the stadia will fall silent, and the achievers and the voyeurs will return to their daily lives. Has something changed in all of us through such an effort? Or are the basics of life and our attitudes untouched by progress on the sporting field, or in the economy or elsewhere?

Incremental change

I would like to believe that there is change. That we should celebrate every little effort at changing entrenched customs and attitudes. And that in the end all this will add up to something.

Last week a friend got married. It was a Hindu wedding. But the person conducting it was a woman. So was her assistant. The ceremony was simple, dignified and participatory. For many of us it was the first time we had witnessed such a ceremony conducted by women. The women priests told me that they and their kin had been conducting religious ceremonies for over two decades now, in Pune and some other parts of Maharashtra. When they began there was opposition. Today, no one questions.

This is only one of several instances we know of where women have broken through stereotypes and roles set for them. Recently, there was a news item in a Bangalore newspaper about women being a part of a Brahmin “thread ceremony” that had remained an exclusive male domain. Not long ago, the Army agreed that women had the right to join the forces as equals. There are scores more of such examples of change. Two or three decades back, none of this would have been considered possible in this country. Yet, it is happening.

We can be cynical and dismiss all this as exceptions that do not reflect the reality of the majority of Indian women. Absolutely true. They do not. Being a woman in India, particularly if you are poor and belong to a lower caste, is not a happy prospect. Despite this depressing reality, however, we can look on these and other developments as small, perhaps faltering, steps towards change.

Yet, while women are breaking new ground almost every day, we hear little about men who are breaking out of moulds. If women feel that they are forced into stereotypes, what about men? Are they not expected always to be strong, hard-working, aggressive, earn money for the family etc? These are roles forced on men by society and any man wanting to break away from these expectations faces ostracism and is considered less than a man. As a result, many men suppress parts of their personalities, often the more creative parts, because they feel they must conform.

I was encouraged, therefore, to come across a book Breaking the Moulds: Indian Men Look at Patriarchy Looking at Men. Published last year by Books for Change, Breaking the Moulds, by Ravindra R.P., Harish Sadani, Geetali V.M. and Mukund S.N., contains a series of articles, interviews and essays mainly by men. Most of them are translations from a Marathi publication that is published each year around Diwali by an organisation in Pune called Purush Uvach (Men Speak) and Mumbai-based MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse).

Simple and honest

The book has articles by men who have been the caregivers for women in their families, fathers who write about the joys of bringing up a daughter, men who speak of the challenge of coming to terms with their sexuality. Many of the stories are simply written without complex theorising. In their words, the book is attempting to break the “myth of masculinity as a monolithic construct and brings out the diversity, complexity, pain and richness of experiences of men who are attempting to break out of patriarchal moulds.” Above all, what comes through is the earnestness of the writers as also their genuine desire not to conform to any stereotype laid down for what is acceptable and correct male behaviour. It is rare to come across a book like this in India.

One of the organisations responsible for this book is MAVA. I can recall when MAVA came into being more than a decade back. Not many took it seriously. It seemed maverick. A few “gendered” men trying to break the norms laid down by society for men. Men who believed that change in them would go a long way in checking the abuse and violence that women have to suffer in our society. Men who stated that their vision was to have “a gender-just society — where men and women live in harmony and with self-respect, by providing spaces for mutual growth and well-being”.

Burden of expectations

Look at this against the background of the overwhelming media images of the strong, aggressive, macho male — although there was a brief period when the feminine side of men was acknowledged and even celebrated in some advertising. But the dominant image remains the same. Men are considered weak and ineffectual if they cannot demonstrate male “strengths”. And even though much has changed in terms of women’s status, these overwhelming expectations continue to burden the men who want to be different. Often, men face as lonely a battle at breaking away from stereotypes as do women.

Organisations like MAVA and Purush Uvach are drops in this large ocean of dominant norms. But just as women have chipped away at all-male domains and opened up for themselves and future generations of women greater opportunities and altered some gender stereotypes, men too are beginning to question accepted societal norms for male behaviour and roles. They are taking a chance at being different. And they are acknowledging that in the long-term, there can be no lasting change for women if men also don’t change.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Men Defy Stereotypes in Defining Masculinity

Interesting results from an international study about how men feel about masculinity.

Men defy stereotypes in defining masculinity

Nude male, photographer unknown, c. 1925, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
Click here for more information.

Contrary to stereotypes about sexual performance and masculinity, men interviewed in a large international study reported that being seen as honorable, self-reliant and respected was more important to their idea of masculinity than being seen as attractive, sexually active or successful with women.

The study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine included interviews with more than 27,000 randomly selected men from eight countries (Germany, U.S., U.K., Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and France), with about 16 percent of the men reporting erectile problems.

Regardless of age or nationality, the men more frequently ranked good health, harmonious family life and good relationships with their wife or partner as more important to their quality of life than material, self-fulfilling or purely sexual concerns. There was no significant difference in rankings of masculinity and quality of life characteristics between men who experienced erectile dysfunction and those who did not.

The study, part of the Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) project, aimed to determine characteristics of masculinity and quality of life in men with and without self-reported erectile dysfunction, and how those ideas of masculinity might affect seeking help and treatment.

"Many meanings, positive and negative, are attached to the term, 'masculinity,'" said Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and an author of this study. "To ask a large sample of men what comprises their own sense of masculinity is very useful for both the media and for research. These results suggest we should pay attention and ask rather than presume we know."

For a copy of the study, visit the site. Findings include:

  • Overall, being seen as honorable was considered the most important quality in the construct of masculinity.
  • Compared to men without erectile dysfunction, the experience of erectile dysfunction neither increased nor decreased the importance men placed on having an active sex life or having success with women, although men with erectile dysfunction reported less satisfaction with their sex lives.
  • Men who seek treatment for erectile dysfunction do not differ in their views of masculinity from those who do not seek help.
  • "Being seen as a man of honor" was cited as the most important attribute of masculine identity in Spain, Brazil, Mexico, United States and France, while "being in control of your own life" was the most important in Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.
  • The findings emphasize that men across cultures and ages value couple relationships over purely sexual pleasure and indicate that men are particularly concerned about their partnered relationships, whether or not they report erectile dysfunction.

Co-authors include lead author Michael S. Sand, Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharma. Inc., Ridgefield, Conn.; William Fisher, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; Raymond Rosen, New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Mass.; and Ian Eardley, M.D., St. James's University Hospital, Leeds, United Kingdom.

To speak with Sand, contact :

To speak with Heiman, contact Jennifer Bass at 812-855-7686 or

Dysfunction and Constructs of Masculinity and Quality of Life in the Multinational Men's Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality (MALES) Study. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5 (3): 583-594

Rob McNamara - Strength, Your Reservoir for Love

I found this posted at the Christ Community Church, another great piece by Rob McNamara. In some ways, the Christian community is doing more to explore masculinity than other groups. Of course, not all of it is progressive, but this article certainly is.
Strength, Your Reservoir for Love

By Rob McNamara
Did you know that Strength Training has much more to do with the very Heart of your Being than your physical muscles? This might seem like an odd question given our cultures relationship to “lifting weights.” Culturally, we love to compartmentalize and strength training is no exception. People exercise for their bodies, people lift weights for their muscles.
People often don’t bring themselves fully into their fitness activities. As a result, they lose the most precious gifts in life. Reducing strength training (or any “fitness” activity) to movement that’s just for the body isn’t just horribly uninformed, it’s a crime committed upon the seat of your soul. To detach that which is the very heart and center of who you are from what you’re doing is to allow something precious to die in each moment this compromise is committed.
Strength training impacts your brain plasticity as much as it does your muscles. It strengthens your immune system just as it does your bone density. It increases your cardiovascular fitness just as it releases the impacts of stress. While strength training works wonders on your body’s physiology as it makes you biologically younger with every workout it’s hidden dimensions develops your mind, evolves your soul and walks you toward a liberation and fullness in life never glimpsed without this rich practice.
To yield the benefits to your mind, heart and soul requires you to bring yourself fully to this practice. You cannot compartmentalize yourself in this activity. Bringing the fullness of who you are always starts with a clear intention. I suggest three to get you started.
My intention is to not re-create past experiences or manufacture future expectations.
My intention is to be fully with what’s already here.
My intention is to bring the fullness of who I am into each movement.
With weights in hand, intentions clear it’s time to explore the some of the depths of strength training. Many people veil themselves from the true vulnerability of this practice by focusing on “getting stronger,’ which is certainly a by-product; however, the very heart of the process of strength training is to explore what it’s like to be weak. It’s through diving deeply into our weakness in which our greatest heartfelt humility is born. So with each set of exercises, push yourself until you’re so weak that you can’t lift the weight even one more time.
Dive into each set with an open heart and the clear intention to be with this process fully without an agenda. Allow your conditioning to avoid pain and attach to pleasure to fall aside in the face of your soul’s unconditioned presence to witness the full dance of your life and your heart’s complete engagement with the weights.
Strength Training is inherently painful if you’re doing it right. The agenda to avoid pain is however one of the best ways to perpetuate more and more suffering in your life. With each set you have the opportunity to cultivate a new conscious relationship with yourself as each set of weights is lifted. As your mind refines in its ability to focus, each repetition will become more intense. As each set explores more intensity and discomfort, you can turn toward these sensations, face them with a welcoming heart and in the process transform our relationship to how you face suffering.
In the process of bringing the fullness of who you are into the simple activity of lifting weights, I guarantee you’ll learn much more about life, love, joy and suffering than the person next to you just “going through the motions”. You’ll grow both your hearts ability to hold both pain and joy in addition to increasing your bone density. You’ll find yourself not only getting stronger muscles, but you’ll also find that the process of being weak awakens your soul’s love and kindness both for yourself and the world.
While you’re busy pioneering Christianity, you might as well cut a new groove for your wellness with an integrated approach to strength training. I think you’ll find the intersection quite fruitful. Don’t leave the fullness of your heart at home when you head to the gym to pick up some weights.

Rob McNamara received a Bachelor of Arts from Susquehanna University as well as a Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. Rob applies his training into 3 major areas: Education, Integral Practice and Business.

Rob has lectured on Integral Psychology and Human Development at Naropa University in the Transpersonal and Contemplative Psychology programs. His work with Integral Practice has included contributions to the operations, content and seminars for Ken Wilber's think tank, Integral Institute. Rob specializes in Integral Practice and Integral Strength Training.

In the business sector Rob presently leverages integrated business strategies and is developing next-level strength training modalities as the Senior Integral Consultant and Human Performance Specialist for Phillips Performance Nutrition.

Connect with Rob and check out these great resources
Contact Rob McNamara by visiting
Nutrition for Wellness:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Masculinity in America

Interesting, from The Point: Masculinity in America (part 1).

Here is a key passage from what is a very astute post:
The most infuriating thing about men who act from their ego is the shaky self assurance that they are MEN. I have always thought that misogynistic or chauvinistic cultures are actually cultures filled with disempowered men. Because if a man was truly in his own power, why would he have to belittle or be afraid of women? What purpose does it serve except to reinforce the ego? Feeding the desire for domination and power which is essentially unfulfilling and unending in both its destructiveness and its uselessness. I have learned that whenever I see inequality, to look to the leader of the power dynamic, and see the true weakness masquerading in the trappings of power. Because true power is subtle until it is called upon.

As far as I can tell, the ego’s desire for domination comes from insecurity. One thing about true power, is that it bestows upon its wielder a security and a confidence that do not need to show off. I define true power as serving the whole self; physically, mentally, spiritually. There are many ways to convince the ego that it is powerful, to only fuel the ego, and these can be intoxicating, though unfulfilling. If one does not know their true power however, ego-power will seemingly be enough.

“When the ego has become split off or separate from other parts of the personality, we do not experience the world correctly. We become selfish and untrusting, have difficulty in relating to others-and often cannot accept anything except our own viewpoint. The proper balance necessary between the inner and the outer, between logic and intuition, or reason and imagination means that the ego must be brought under control, although it can never be given up altogether.” (P.Ball, 1996)

Another key quote:

After all this preamble, here is my thesis: (white) Men in America have no definition of masculinity, have no image to compare themselves to as men, and so give themselves over to ego power, nihilism, or depression.

Yep. Read the whole post.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Definition differences between men and women

A wee bit of humor for a Sunday night, from Amber Moon.

Definition differences between men and women - funny…

August 24, 2008

Definitions By Gender
THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Female: Any part under a car’s hood. Male: The strap fastener on a woman’s bra.

VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Female: Fully opening up one’s self emotionally to another.
Male: Playing football without a helmet.

COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Female: The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one’s partner.
Male: Scratching out a note before suddenly taking off for a weekend with the boys.

BUTT (but) n
Female: The body part that every item of clothing manufactured makes “look bigger.”
Male: What you slap when someone’s scored a touchdown, homerun, or goal. Also good for mooning.

COMMITMENT (ko-mit-ment) n.
Female: A desire to get married and raise a family.
Male: Not trying to pick up other women while out with one’s girlfriend.

ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Female: A good movie, concert, play or book.
Male: Anything that can be done while drinking.

FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Female: An embarrassing by-product of digestion.
Male: An endless source of entertainment, self-expression and male bonding.

MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Female: The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Male: Call it whatever you want just as long as we end up in bed.

REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Female: A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Male: A device for scanning through all 75 channels every 2&1/2 min.

TC Luoma - Defining the T-Man

Over at Testosterone Nation, one of my favorite sites for nearly ten years now, they aren't just about lifting weights and being strong. No, they actually have a philosophy, one that isn't incompatible with my intentions here. In fact, considering their main audience, they are positively enlightened.

This is from the new Atomic Dog column by TC Luoma, managing editor.
T-Man Defined, 2008

All of us who come to this place lift weights for some purpose, whether it be for sport, the artistic pursuit of an esthetic body, to gain strength, or to look better naked so that bedding women is a little less daunting. But there are other places you can go to gather info about lifting weights and eating better and turning yourself into a badass mofo. Granted, I don't think any of them come close to us in quality and depth, but that may a biased opinion.

None that I've seen have an underlying life philosophy. Most have the intellectual depth of a toilet seat. They have function, but no life lessons to teach or share. They are as soulless as the Tupperware site.

Likewise, those who visit remind me pretty much of a group of wandering village idiots who gathered around a dim light bulb because they couldn't figure out how to build a fire. While they feature the occasional quality article, their core members generally represent every meathead stereotype that makes most of us want to lie about the fact we lift weights.

But I think we're different. We not only want to build your body, but we want to build your mind, and at the risk of sounding pretty lofty and presumptuous, we want to make you (along with ourselves) better all-around men, too. Of course, we have our own fairly unique idea of what the modern man is and is not.

Maybe you've heard the term "T-Man" bandied about on the site. It doesn't just refer to the members of the site. Instead, it refers to men who've adopted the T-man philosophy.

And get this straight: just having muscles or just being a bad ass doesn't automatically make you a card-carrying member. You have to be equally committed to building your mind — spending as much time building it as you do your body — and you've got to have integrity.

And I'm certainly not talking about being an oversized Boy Scout who scolds people who curse and who helps old ladies cross the street. Oh, we might help ladies cross the street, but we might do a double take at the lovely little lady lumps, in the back and in the front, of the short-skirted thing that passed us going the other way.

And while we're on the sweet subject, women are hugely respected by T-men. Equal pay, equal rights, equal everything, and when they say "no" it carries the same weight as when the 300-pound bouncer says "no" when you ask him if you can get your under-age cousin Stuey into the club.

That doesn't mean we're not picturing you women naked, doing unspeakable things to you, every time we look at you. That doesn't mean we don't want to make soup out of your panties and grow strong from the nurturing broth. As we often say, we make no apology for our biology.

And screw that gender-neutral stuff that by law permeates practically every institution. The worst thing that ever happened to American business was the death or, more accurately, the denial of sexuality in the workplace.

Hell, I'll go one step beyond that: I think all progress has come from the innate desire to show off for the opposite sex. Neuter us and we all go back to the caves.

And here is another cool passage:

And just to be clear, the brains and integrity part are even more important to the notion of a T-man than the physical part because with brains, you can build brawn, and that's what this company has invested heavily in.

But I sure can't diminish the iron. We all come to T-Nation because of a mutual love of iron. Maybe we all share in common a specific genomic sequence on some lonely chromosome. I've read that most of the world's population can be traced back to any one of probably five or six conquerors throughout history, so it's possible we're all related to Genghis Khan's weightlifting cousin, Manny "Big Guns" Khan.

There's just something about the iron, maybe it's the feel of the bar, or maybe the sound; talk about the music of the spheres, what sounds better than 45-pound plates jangling against one another? Maybe it's the feel of hoisting something overhead that most people can't budge. Maybe it's the ache that indicates a workout well done, or maybe it's the looks of muscle and sinew that's synonymous with some ancient and fleeting definition of heroism.

That trait might not be essential in defining a man, but it's sure a hell essential in defining a T-Man.

Then there's the question of demeanor. Gone, hopefully, are the days of swaggering around in cut-off shirtsleeves. Have you ever seen a well-pedigreed pit bull walk down the street? The other dogs bark or yap ceaselessly, but the pit bull is generally indifferent. It knows its power and is confident in it.


Similarly, a "well-pedigreed" T-Man displays the same type of quiet confidence. Unprovoked displays of machismo or violence aren't cool and only denote weak character.

Of course there are times when you need to use the muscles you've cultivated. Sometimes there isn't a way out; sometimes somebody needs help. That's when you cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

T-Man is Batman, not Superman. He didn't just show up with powers, he had to train his brain and his body and his skills. He gets dirty along the way. His character might be a little less sunny but it's bulletproof.

It's a funny thing, being a man. Women are born women, but men have to be made. Blame it on culture, biology, or endocrinology, but a man is expected to be much more than his anatomy. There are, or at least there used to be, great expectations placed on the brow of a male. These are the things I'm writing about; the old, maybe antiquated notions of maleness.

I don't know why I care if men aspire to these same ideals, but I do. I don't know why I want to improve myself in every way, but I do. It's probably pretty sad that I even have to talk about such things, but these masculine ideals sure as hell seem to be in decline.

Maybe this whole column comes off as cornball to some, but I hope not too many. I need to think that this mindset is shared or appreciated by at least a few; I need it for my sanity.

You can read the whole column at the site -- but beware, what I posted here is tame compared to some of what I didn't post.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Masculinity and Suicide

This cool post is from Sammi at One Woman's Thoughts -- suicide is more common in men, even though more women attempt it. In general, men are serious when they decide to get out (guns and other success-rate choices), while women tend to use pills or cutting that is more of cry for help.

I've lost several people close to me by suicide -- a teen boy who succeeded on the first try, a woman who tried at least once a year for 15 years before getting her hands on a gun and making the final shot. There have been others, as well.

Having lost these friends. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a son to suicide. BUT, I do have some idea what it's like to lose a father to suicide -- my dad's heart attack came after he quit taking his medications, which is a form of suicide if you ask me. So I know the pain a son feels when his father gives up on life.

Boys and men need to know that there are other options (unless there is a terminal illness involved, which to me is not suicide). Whatever emotional pain there is, it can be healed.

Masculinity and suicide

I’ve been a bit behind on reading some of the longer posts on my blogroll, but had a look today. This feature is just awesome. We really need more mothers who are willing to let their sons do what they want, however “feminine” that might be. I seriously recommend you take a look.

Penni (the author of the feature) has implied a really important point, too: given that society teaches that “masculinity” (whatever that is) is more valuable, any boy or man who displays any feminine characteristics is going to be looked down upon. The patriarchy hurts everyone: men and women are expected to live up to certain gender roles, which is, quite simply, limiting. And it is true, I believe, most definitely, that men are expected not to express emotions, or whatever. Obviously there are certain times and places where this isn’t the case - but these are far more limited than those times and places for women, who are, let’s face it, walking balls of hormones.

However, there is an often quoted statistic that men are worse off than women, which is shown by the often quoted fact that men are more likely to commit suicide than women. I think a lot of the time this is used to dismiss the claim of feminists that women have it bad! Penni didn’t suggest this one bit, but she did say the following:

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that it is teenage boys who have the highest suicide rate. They’re conditioned to believe that they can’t ask for help because it is ‘unmanly’.

I’ve said above that I totally agree with the second sentence of this quote. However I’d like to offer an alternative explanation for the fact that more young men (and in fact men in general) commit suicide: quite simply, men are more likely to succeed. More young men commit suicide, but more young women attempt it. This is not only true for young people, but at all age groups. There are a number of explanations for this. Firstly, men tend to use more violent methods. A woman is more likely to take an overdose or similar, which is actually incredibly ineffective. This might well be due to the fact that men are conditioned to be more violent.

There are other considerations, of course. It’s possible that a woman might take an overdose as a “cry for help,” whereas you’re a lot less likely to shoot yourself, or hang yourself for that purpose. And of course, that does tie in with Penni’s comment that I quoted above: men can’t ask for help. Although, I would like to make this point. The first time I took an overdose, I wasn’t certain I would die, I wasn’t even certain that I wanted to - but I thought it was a possibility, and I thought that it would definitely cause problems. I really did not understand how ineffective overdoses were.

Penni’s post deals with a really important issue. As I said above, the patriarchy hurts everyone. I can’t emphasise that enough! But the issue of suicide is often oversimplified.

I hesitate to blame patriarchy -- it's much more complicated than that. But certainly there is much in the way we raise our sons that contributes to the male belief that certain things (such as emotions, same-sex attraction, and so on) are taboo. That sucks.

But we definitely need to change the way we teach boys how to deal with their feelings -- like, that it's OK to have and express emotions, even sadness and fear.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bisexuality Passed on by 'Hyper-Heterosexuals'

Since I am also looking at gender studies issues here, I figured I'd post this here instead of at IOC.

This article looks at bisexuality in men, and seems to suggest that bisexual men are born to women who dig sex. More importantly, however, it tacitly confirms the existence of bisexuality in men, which has been doubted in the past.

Key quote: Dean Hamer: "the same gene that causes men to like men also causes women to like men, and as a result to have more children."

Bisexuality passed on by 'hyper-heterosexuals'

  • 15:45 15 August 2008
  • news service
  • Tamsin Osborne
Bisexual men might have their "hyper-heterosexual" female relatives to thank for their orientation.

Previous work has suggested that genes influencing sexual orientation in men also make women more likely to reproduce. Andrea Camperio Ciani and colleagues at the University of Padua, Italy, showed that the female relatives of homosexual men tend to have more children, suggesting that genes on the X chromosome are responsible. Now the team have shown that the same is true for bisexuality.

"It helps to answer a perplexing question - how can there be 'gay genes' given that gay sex doesn't lead to procreation?" says Dean Hamer of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the work. "The answer is remarkably simple: the same gene that causes men to like men also causes women to like men, and as a result to have more children."

Sexual attraction

The researchers asked 239 men to fill out questionnaires about their families and their past sexual experiences. On the basis of their answers, the men were classified as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual. The results showed that the maternal aunts, grandmothers and mothers of both bisexual men and homosexuals had more children than those of heterosexual men.

Camperio Ciani emphasises that, rather than being a "gay gene", this unidentified genetic factor is likely to promote sexual attraction to men in both men and women. This would influence a woman's attitude rather than actually increasing her fertility, making her likely to have more children.

Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist and writer based in West Hollywood, California, describes this as a sort of "hyper-heterosexuality" and explains how it would help to ensure that homosexual behaviour was passed on through the generations. "The positive effect of an X-linked gene on female fecundity tends to outweigh the negative effect of the gene on male fecundity."

According to Camperio Ciani and colleagues, the same genetic factor appearing to be present in both bisexual and homosexual men provides further support for the idea that sexuality is determined by a complex mix of genes and experience.

"We understand that the genetic component has to interact with something to produce different phenotypes," says Camperio Ciani.

"Genetics is not determining the sexual orientation, it's only influencing it."

Journal reference: The Journal of Sexual Medicine (DOI:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00944.x)

A Manly Workout Post, from Angie

Gotta love Crossfit -- here is today's challenge. This looks like a kick-ass workout, posted by Angie.
Friday 080822


For time:
100 Pull-ups
100 Push-ups
100 Sit-ups
100 Squats

Post time to comments.

Compare to 080708.


Enlarge image

CrossFit Training Center & Blauer Tactical

"Meet Henk - CrossFit Certification Seminar" - video [wmv] [mov]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Trek Magazine - Manorexia

This article appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of Trek Magazine (U of British Columbia) -- a compelling explanation of male anorexia. [Thanks to Paul posting at Isabella's Change Therapy for the link.] This is an important and useful article.

This appears at the end, but wanted to move it up to the top.
If you are interested in participating in a research focus group, please contact Jane Harbottle, Research Coordinator, 604.682.2344 ext: 62524. If you’d like to receive more information about treatment through the Eating Disorders Program at St. Paul’s Hospital, go to ¤
Other help can be found here:
Issue #18: Summer 2007


by Vanessa Clarke

“The bottom line is I am 5' 9" and feel fat, despite weighing only 75 pounds. Just for the record, I am white, American Jewish, and 25 years old. What sets me aside from most other anorexics is that I am male.”

So writes Michael Krasnow in the introduction to his 1996 book, My Life as a Male Anorexic. It describes in frank terms the friendless years he spent consulting specialists, suffering depression, being hospitalized, running away in a bid to starve himself to death, devising intricate tricks to sidestep intervention and feeling guilty about the massive toll wreaked on his family by all this. Despite diagnosis and treatment, Michael Krasnow died the year after his book was published.

Depending on their age, people thinking of eating disorders might recall singer Karen Carpenter, whose death from heart failure associated with anorexia nervosa in the early ’80s brought that disease to mainstream consciousness in the West, or Princess Dianna, whose famous 1993 speech on the subject was made “on very good authority.” (Her own, we guessed.) Or to the fashion industry, with its seeming predilection for size zero female models and heroin chic.

Although the majority of individuals with eating disorders are female, research suggests that males account for an increasing proportion of cases. The idea that disorders like anorexia are female illnesses, however, persists. Another common misperception is that eating disorders are just a product of modern society and its ubiquitous images of unrepresentative beauty and unattainable body-types. But eating disorders aren’t new and neither are eating disorders in males a recent phenomenon. English physician, Richard Morton is generally credited with the first medical description of anorexia nervosa in the late 1600s (although the term itself was not coined until the 1800s). One of Dr. Morton’s first documented cases was that of a 16 year old boy.

Despite these centuries of recorded history, it was only a little over a decade ago that Michael Krasnow wrote: “Although concern about anorexia is growing, there is still a large unawareness, especially about male anorexia, and this is the major purpose of my story: so that other men with this problem will realize they are not alone. My parents and I could not pick up a book and read about male anorexics. For all we knew, I was the only man in the world with anorexia. My parents did not know how to deal with me or even what to think. We had no one to whom we could turn.”

Today, the level of awareness about eating disorders in men has increased, somewhat, with celebrities like Elton John and Dennis Quaid going public with their private battles. But some experts, such as Paul Gallant, mhk’95, feel that current stats on the number of men with eating disorders are probably conservative – in part due to a reluctance in males to come forward – and that current methods for diagnosis and treatment tend be skewed towards women.

Gallant is operations leader for Mental Health Provincial Programs at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, where he has been based (originally as a recreation therapist) for more than 15 years. Latterly, his attention has been focused on the Eating Disorders program, which he now co-leads. He noticed a gender-based discrepancy in reporting patterns. “I didn’t know why we didn’t see more males at the clinic,” he says. “I expected to see at least one in ten going by the stats. So I decided to look into it further.”

Gallant is now a Human Kinetics PhD candidate at UBC, exploring coping mechanisms and access to treatment in men with eating disorders. His dual role as researcher and leader means he is able to put theory into practice and is conducting a series of focus groups with male subjects who have reported or been diagnosed with an eating disorder. He hopes this will help inform new approaches for identifying males with eating disorders and provide them with the most appropriate treatments. So far, his project has been small scale because so few men have come forward. He is now looking for 20 more men with eating disorders to help him continue his research.

He suspects that common misperceptions play a large part in discouraging men from seeking help. Straight men with an eating disorder might be put off seeking treatment not only because eating disorders are commonly associated with women, but also because there is a perception that if males are susceptible to eating disorders it is because they are gay.

“If you did a study across the country, most people would guess more gay men had eating disorders per capita than straight men,” says Gallant. “But it’s important to stress that the majority of men with eating disorders – about two thirds – are straight. It’s important to explain the statistics and their implications. We want to encourage as many men as possible to disclose and come for treatment and not feel stigmatized.”

Left without diagnosis and treatment, eating disorders can have alarming consequences. Many people who develop them can also develop very serious physical repercussions, such as osteoporosis, types of arthritis, or internal system failures. At 10-20 per cent, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of mental illnesses, and although there are no figures on comparative mortality based on gender, men face specific risk factors based on their body types.

“More attention is paid to eating disorders now because of the deaths related to them,” says Gallant. “We don’t know if the mortality rate is higher for men or women, but we do know that men with anorexia, for example, have a tighter timeline in terms of getting treatment. If you’re a male with an eating disorder at a severe level, there’s a finer line between changes in Body Mass Index and when there could be consequences to your health, because men are already leaner.” And because they are naturally leaner, weight loss may be less noticeable in males.

Eating disorders are complex conditions with a variety of causes, and are often accompanied by other conditions such as depression or schizophrenia. “That can make them a lot more complex to treat and difficult to recognize,” says Gallant. Compounding this problem for male sufferers are some of the diagnostic criteria used by physicians. Gallant says these are sometimes geared towards the treatment of females, which could explain why men tend to be overrepresented in the EDNOS diagnostic category (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified). This is a sub-clinical diagnosis meaning that a patient meets most of the criteria for a diagnosis, for example bulimia, but don’t meet the full criteria as laid out in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (which includes a category about menstruation). It depends which criteria a doctor chooses to use. Gallant prefers the slightly different set offered by The World Health Organization. These include a category on endocrine function, for example, which covers erectile dysfunction – a potential consequence of eating disorders in males.

Eating disorders can be the product of many factors, including physiological. “Most people would agree there’s a certain biological predisposition to developing an eating disorder,” says Gallant. There is also a large psychological component. Common childhood experiences of sufferers including bullying at school, a critical adult, or worse forms of abuse. Feelings of guilt often go hand-in-hand with a disorder: “Eating disorders never only affect one person. They affect everyone around that individual,” he says. The traditional stiff-upper-lip stereotype of masculinity might mean men are less open about their emotions. “They are more prone to mask them with alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse probably is higher in men with eating disorders than women,” says Gallant.

Men may also have an easier time covering up their problem behaviour. “There’s some consensus that men may compensate with over-exercising, and may purge less. Men may be able to mask their disorder a little better through sports and athleticism,” says Gallant, who points to the world of professional sport as having a concentration of cases. “Ironically, you’d be surprised at how many people from elite sports suffer from eating disorders. Not a well publicized fact, especially if the athletes are stars. They may actually perform quite well for some time and then crash.” Gallant will be presenting a talk on eating disorders in males to Human Kinetics and Coaching Science faculty at UBC to sensitize them to the danger signs. He feels that an essential part of his team’s job is to raise awareness.

The Eating Disorder Program at St.Paul’s is the provincial leader for treatment and standards, and it has links to other agencies across the province such as Jessie’s Hope and the Eating Disorders Resources Centre. “We broadcast video- and tele-conferences to rural and remote communities where we have representatives. Our partners are interested in developing the expertise to treat men. We may be the provincial centre for excellence, but we also want to offer expertise in other communities helping to identify both males and females with eating disorders and offer help on how to work with them.”

Any man or any women can apply to the treatment program if they’ve first been seen in their own regional or community program. The demand for treatment services outweighs resources and there is a detailed case by case review process based on strict criteria. The in-patient program has a wait list of six months. There are also a number of day programs and a follow-up clinic for medical monitoring.

“We want to build from the ground up,” says Gallant. “We’re sending out a message that we’re open to men and want to learn more about how we can help them. According to the literature, needs and treatment modalities may be quite similar, but we’re trying to find out what it’s like from the male’s perspective and what sort of treatment they might want to access. They will realize they’re not the lone man in a treatment program full of women, as is often the case. As word gets out, we’re hoping enough men will come forward.”

Art of Manliness - Five Traits of True Leadership

A cool post from the Art of Manliness blog on Five Traits of True Leadership.

These are all good, positive traits, but they are essentially forms of agency, and cool as that might be in this culture, it's not the only form of leadership that exists.

Five Traits of True Leadership

officers Five Traits of True Leadership

We all lead at some point in our life. We serve as leaders in our jobs, in our communities, and in our families. For many, being a leader means having the power to control others. Those who take this view eventually find that the more they try to control people, the less influence they have over them. For others, leadership means being in a position of authority. Yet, a man can be a leader even if he’s on the bottom of the totem pole. When a man sees that something must be done, he won’t let his lack of position limit him from taking charge; he steps into the gap and assumes responsibility. True leadership is not about superiority, position, or prestige. It’s about revealing and releasing the potential of those around you. Leadership is not about the power of one, but facilitating the greatness of many.

Unfortunately, many men today are sloughing off leadership responsibilities either because of laziness or apathy. They would rather live a life of ignoble ease and have others shoulder the responsibility for them. But the world needs the leadership of virtuous men more than ever. When you’re called to serve as a leader, will you be ready to take on the challenge?

In 1950, the United States Military printed a small book for all armed forces officers on how to become better leaders and men. In it, five traits are set forth on what makes an effective leader. We’ve taken these traits and explored their meaning and application for every man whether an officer or a civilian.

1. Quiet resolution. An effective leader has the resolve to see every task through to the end. Resolve is easy to have in the quiet before the storm comes. Resolve is a breeze when one’s commitment has never been tested. It is when the fear, chaos, and stress of a crisis hits that true resolve is revealed. In any situation, there will be an opportunity for retreat, an escape hatch, the chance to shirk responsibility and choose safety and defeat over risk and greater reward. At that moment, the man with quiet resolve does not waffle, he does not doubt the choice that he knows is right. Without the terrible grip of indecision seizing him, he is cool and levelheaded, unflappable in the face of challenge. He is not loud, yelling and frenetically scurrying about in an attempt to cover his lack of grit with useless action. The man with quiet resolution is a man others can feel supremely confident in. While the world around him goes to pot, he knows what his mission is and he calmly fulfills it. He is the anchor in the storm.

How to become a leader with quiet resolution:

Do not wait for a crisis to emerge to make a decision. Inventory your values and goals, and set a plan for how you will react when certain crises arise and important decisions need to be made. DO NOT wait to make you choice until the heat of the moment, when you will be most tempted to surrender your values. Set a course for yourself, and when trials come, and you are sorely tested, you will not panic, you will not waver, you will simply remember your plan and follow it through.

2. The hardihood to take risks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Great achievements come to those who are willing to take risks. A leader who continually plays it safe will never put themselves or the people they lead in a position to experience success. A life without risks is surely alluring; its sweet lullaby of safety and comfort has lulled many a man into the trap of mediocrity and apathy. The weak man stands at the crossroads of decision, tempted by the possible reward and yet paralyzed by the fear of defeat. He is blinded to the fact that even failure brings its own rewards. Without failure a man never comes to know himself, his limits, his potential, and what he is truly capable of. A man who never dares greatly fails to see that he has taken the greatest risk of all: the risk that he will never progress, never refine his soul, never amount to anything worthwhile.

How to become a leader that takes risks:

The fear of taking risks can be very real. You cannot expect to have the courage to take a large risk when you have had no experience taking small ones. So find opportunities in your daily life to take little risks. It could be as small as approaching a stranger and striking up a conversation. Find an activity that frightens you, like public speaking and go for it. As you venture more risks, you develop the capacity to overcome your fear and gain the wisdom to know when a risk is worth taking. You will achieve the mettle to take the big risk when your leadership abilities are truly called upon.

3. The readiness to share in rewards with subordinates. A great leader, although supremely confident, humbly acknowledges that no success, no matter how large of a role he personally played in bringing it to fruition, is a wholly solo effort. He is deeply grateful for all those, even those with small roles, who played a part in the achievement. And he understands human nature. He understands that people love to be recognized for their contributions. When a group or organization succeeds, a true leader makes it a priority to recognize both in public and private the contributions of those he led. When a person sees that a leader is humble and will share in success, they’ll be more willing to follow that person.

How to become a leader that shares rewards with subordinates:

Sharing success with the people who follow you can be as easy as offering public recognition or increasing their compensation. A simple thank you card expressing your gratitude for an employee’s effort in completing a project can go a long ways in building loyalty to you and your organization. When offering thanks or giving praise, try to be as specific as possible. It shows the person you lead that you are keenly aware of what they do and makes the thanks or praise more personal and sincere.

4. An equal readiness to take the blame when things go adversely. It is when things go wrong that true leaders are separated from the pretenders. The weasel leader will gladly accept the accolades when he and his team succeeds, but will find another individual to take the fall when things get tough. When followers see this, it completely demolishes any confidence and allegiance to that leader. True leaders will take responsibility for all consequences of their decisions, even the bad ones. Even when the results were the fault of a subordinate, a true leader will still take all the blame. Perhaps the leader failed to communicate clearly what the subordinate’s duty was, or maybe the leader failed to match the right man with the right job. After taking responsibility for the results, an effective leader will immediately take action to correct the situation.

How to be a leader by taking the blame when things go adversely:

When taking the blame, you must do so sincerely. Your confession must spring from a genuine belief that you were at fault. To accept blame, but to do so grudgingly, makes you a boy, not a man. Never play the part of the martyr and seek glory for taking the fall. Likewise, don’t take the blame publically, but then tell your subordinates that the only reason you took responsibility was to save their asses. You’ll look like a phony and deteriorate their trust in you.

5. The nerve to survive storm and disappointment and to face each new day with the score sheet wiped clean; neither dwelling on one’s successes, nor accepting discouragement from one’s failures. All of history’s great leaders had moments of supreme success and moments of devastating defeat. Great leaders focus on the things they can change and influence, and the past is not one of those things. If you fail, learn from it and then immediately cease to dwell on it. Rehashing the past will not do anything for you. Moreover, the people a man leads will lose confidence in their leader if they continually brood over their failures.

When you succeed, celebrate with your followers, and move on. A leader who continually dwells on past success shows that he has not set his eye on greater things. Additionally, as we learn from the Greeks, a leader’s hubris can quickly become their downfall. Always stay humble and hungry.

How to become a leader by not living in the past:

Read biographies of great leaders from history. By reading about the lives of these great men, you’ll learn that even the best leaders faced enormous setbacks. You’ll gain perspective and come to see that one failure does not mean the death of a man’s capacity to lead. And the amazing feats of the great men of history will inspire you to believe in the powerful influence on history a true leader can wield.

All in all, good advice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Constructing the New Man: Thursday Call 8/14/08

From EnlightenNext, a project from Andrew Cohen and the people behind What Is Enlightenment?, soon to be known also as EnlightenNext, this cool conference call / podcast on Constructing the New Man.

Constructing the New Man: Thursday Call 8/14/08

Submitted by EnlightenNext on August 15, 2008 - 2:51pm.
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Be sure to check out the comments over at the site -- some are very interesting.

Non-Western Concepts of Male Sexuality

Found this interesting post over at Sexuality, Gender, and the Body, a blog I hadn't seen before but am enjoying. The author is using the blog to explore various concepts of sexuality, and defines himself as pansexual, a term I hadn't seen before, but quite like.

This recent post looks at non-Western concepts of male sexuality, an interesting topic for exploration in terms of how one wants to define masculinity.

When looking at articles online, I usually stumble across Wikipedia. This article caught my eye because living in what is considered the “West” (whatever that means), I am not subject to many other expressions of masculinities, other than the many subcultures that produce American masculinities across many types of sexualities, races, cultures, etc. There are many expressions of masculinity within the United States, though none can compare to other countries.

When I visited India, I saw something that astounded me and I begun to question, but then realized was nothing out of the ordinary. I saw men holding hands. I remember saying “how cute!” and I wanted to take a picture so I could show people I knew at home how “open” Indian people were. The thing is, men holding hands in India is nothing about openness (or maybe it is), but is normal. If two men in the United States were holding hands, their sexuality would be questioned unless it was a father and a son, an elderly person with a helper, etc. It intrigued me and when ever I saw men holding hands in India, I would smile. When in India, I wished I could bring it back to all of the men I knew, tell them immediately to become more comfortable with touching each other, then maybe America wouldn’t be such a prude, but you can’t change that so easily. Men holding hands in India isn’t just simply about being comfortable touching each other, but has a lot to do with culture, possibly tradition, and social phenomena that has been conditioned into people’s heads for decades. This is why I am interested in this article. I hope you are just as intrigued as I am.

What is a Non-Western Concept of Male Sexuality?

Non-westernized concepts of male sexuality may vary considerably from concepts of sexual orientation prevalent in Western culture[1][2] Recent scholarship has questioned the applicability of Western concepts of sexual orientation and identity in non-Western cultures.[3][4]

The Western concept of sexual orientation is relatively recent in origin, coming into being during the last 150 years. In Western (and perhaps other westernized) cultures, a male who experiences sexual attraction to other men may classified as bisexual or homosexual. (The use of such categories places him into the same classification as same-sex attracted men who cross-dress and engage flamboyantly in purportedly effeminate behavior.) In a number of other cultures, a male is defined by his (putatively internal) gender; in such a culture, a masculine gendered male might simply be labeled a man, and males putatively gendered as feminine (tranvestites of any sexual preference, flamboyantly effeminate homosexual males, and transsexuals) would be classified as members of what is sometimes called the third sex.”
Go read the rest of this post.

It's easy to forget that masculinity as defined in the West (specifically in America) is one possibility, and maybe not among the best definitions.

In regards to the blog quoted above, I find it interesting that it tends to be those who are marginalized who do the most exploration of what it means to be a part of the cultural standard. Some of the best material I have seen on masculinity comes from the non-straight community.