Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thoughts Toward a Developmental Model of Masculine Identity, Part One

[This is Part One, an introduction to some stage models of racial identity development. Part Two will present some preliminary ideas on a model of masculine identity development. Part Three will introduce a new model.]

I am currently in a multicultural psychology course. One of the things we discussed in class last week was the variety of developmental models for racial identity. William E. Cross, Jr. developed the first black identity model in the sixties, and nearly all of the models that have been developed since then use his model as a guide.

While feminists have built models of feminine identity development (and here, just for starters), to my knowledge there has been no such model for masculine identity (we have Freudian, role theory, and social relations models, but nothing very comprehensive).

One might object to this idea on the premise that most of Western psychology is a model based on men, and you would have a point. But there really is not a healthy model for how men can develop to become mature individuals - devoted specifically to masculine identity. I hope to present some ideas in that direction in these two posts.

Here is a summary of Cross's Nigrescence model (1), and its subsequent revision.
Cross’s (1971; Hall, Freedle, & Cross, 1972) original nigrescence theory, articulated in the 1970s, described the development of African American identity from a pro-White assimilationist position to a pro-Black internalized stance. Since its conception, Cross’s nigrescence model has been revised (Cross, 1991, 1995) and expanded (see Cross & Vandiver, 2001; Vandiver, Cross, Worrell, & Fhagen-Smith, 2002; Vandiver & Worrell, 2001). The expanded nigrescence theory (NT-E) differs from the original and revised theories in several ways. Perhaps most important is the change from a developmental-stage theory to one that focuses on attitudes or social identities (Cross & Vandiver, 2001; Vandiver, 2001; Vandiver et al., 2002; Worrell, Cross, & Vandiver, 2001), which focus on recurring psychological themes in the social history of Black people (Cross et al., 1998). The theory highlights how Black attitudes are socialized across the life span (Cross & Fhagen-Smith, 2001) and conceptualizes the multiple ways that Black identities are transacted or enacted in everyday life (Cross, Smith, & Payne, 2002; Cross & Strauss, 1998). As such, racial identity attitudes are not developmental in the traditional sense—that is, an invariant sequence of qualitatively different stages—although they are influenced and changed by events and contexts across the life span.

NT-E also maintains the distinction between personal identity and reference-group orientation (Cross, 1991). In this conceptualization, it is possible to divide self-concept into two domains: a general personality, or personal identity domain, and a group identity, social identity, or reference group orientation domain (Cross, 1985; Spencer, 1982). NT-E focuses on reference-group orientation because it views each variant of Black identity as a form of group identity (Cross & Vandiver, 2001) rather than as a variable representing general personality characteristics.

NT-E groups racial identity attitudes into three thematic categories: preencounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization (Cross & Vandiver, 2001; Worrell et al., 2001). Preencounter themes refer to identities that accord low or even negative salience to race and Black culture. Consequently, in the face of a racial epiphany or encounter, these attitudes may be the focus of identity change. Preencounter attitudes include assimilation, which reflects low race salience, as well as miseducation and self-hatred, both forms of negative race salience.

Immersion-emersion themes indicate a state of limbo representing identity volatility and flux. The immersion-emersion attitudes—anti-White and intense Black involvement—connote intense pro-Black or anti-White fixations (immersing), or it can reflect a state of emersing when a person is moving from myopic attitudes to more nuanced views of the Black and White community. Internalization themes indicate a sense of reconciliation with being Black in a multicultural world, and all identities falling within this category accord moderate to high importance to race and Black cultural issues. Afrocentric, bicultural, and multicultural identities are the attitudes under internalization, and are symbolic of the types of identity attitudes where positive feelings about being Black do not preclude acknowledging other salient identities in self or others.

These multiple identity attitudes underscore a central theme of NT-E—that there is no one type of Black identity; rather, there are multiple Black identity attitudes (Cross & Vandiver, 2001), and individuals can manifest differing levels of the various attitudes at the same time, although one attitude or a particular theme (e.g., preencounter) may be more salient. The Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS; Vandiver, Cross, Fhagen-Smith, Worrell, Swim, & Caldwell, 2000; Worrell, Vandiver, & Cross, 2004) is a six-factor scale based on NT-E. Racial identity attitudes measured on the CRIS include preencounter assimilation, preencounter miseducation, preencounter self-hatred, immersion-emersion anti-White, internalization Afrocentric, and internalization multiculturalist inclusive (Vandiver & Worrell, 2001; Vandiver et al., 2002).
Here is a very basic summary of the model from Wikipedia:

Cross developed a 5 phase developmental theory of acquisition of Black identification. He called this theory Nigrescence, which is translated as: “the process of becoming Black." The five stages progress as follows:

  1. Pre-encounter
  2. Encounter
  3. Immersion
  4. Emersion
  5. Internalization

The first stage refers to the time in one’s life when he/she are unaware of his/her race or racial implications.

The second stage refers to the first occurrence of racial awareness. This stage takes place earlier in life among racial minorities than for the racial majority or the advantaged group (in terms of the definition of racism: the “superior” group). This is often the moment that a child remembers as the first time he/she was treated differently because of the color of his/her skin.

The third stage is a time when a person (often in response to racial encounter) takes on all the identifying elements of his/her race. One becomes very much involved in being a member of his/her group and embracing all the behaviors, characteristics and features that are associated with being a member of that race. From a social stand point, one will spend time with those in his/her own race to the exclusion of members of other races.

The fourth stage is the counterpart to the third stage. In the fourth stage one comes out of the absolute immersion and comes to find different behaviors, characteristics and features that they may want to take on from another race. Socially one begins to become more comfortable with and value relationships with members of other races.

The final stage is the reaching of a balance. The balance involves the summation of choices and experiences one has throughout his/her identification process. A successful attainment of this process and the arrival at this final stage could be described as a level of comfort with one’s own race as well as the race of those around them.

Throughout one’s life one may revisit different stages and repeat steps of this process and reformulate their racial identity and opinions. Repeating stages is not a regression but often a part of greater process of integrating new information and reevaluating ideas from a more mature standpoint.
Various models have been created for other ethnic groups. But one of the more interesting adaptations comes in the models of white identity development - mostly because one would not think that the dominant culture would need to worry about identity. However, the models of Janet Helms and Rita Hardiman seek to create models of healthy, non-racist white identity which, if you have done any work in this realm, is harder than it might sound.

Of the two models, the Helms model has been tested and verified more extensively, but I like the Hardiman model for its simpler identification of the stages and struggles of creating a healthy white racial identity.

The following is a long passage from my textbook (2) that summarizes the Hardiman model, but I want to post this whole model so that readers can get a sense of the complexity and challenges of the process.
The Hardiman White Racial Identity Development Model

One of the earliest integrative attempts at formulating a White racial identity development model is that of Rita Hardiman (1982). Intrigued with why certain White individuals exhibit a much more nonracist identity than do other White Americans, Hardiman studied the autobiographies of individuals who had attained a high level of racial consciousness. This led her to identify five White developmental stages: (1) naïveté—lack of social consciousness, (2) acceptance, (3) resistance, (4) redefinition, and (5) internalization.

1. The naïveté stage (lack of social consciousness) is characteristic of early childhood, when we are born into this world innocent, open, and unaware of racism and the importance of race. Curiosity and spontaneity in relating to race and racial differences tend to be the norm. A young White child who has almost no personal contact with African Americans, for example, may see a Black man in a supermarket and loudly comment on the darkness of his skin. Other than the embarrassment and apprehensions of adults around the child, there is little discomfort associated with this behavior for the youngster. In general, awareness and the meaning of race, racial differences, bias, and prejudice are either absent or minimal. Such an orientation becomes less characteristic of the child as the socialization process progresses. The negative reactions of parents, relatives, friends, and peers toward issues of race, however, begin to convey mixed signals to the child. This is reinforced by the educational system and mass media, which instill racial biases in the child and propel him or her into the acceptance stage.

2. The acceptance stage is marked by a conscious belief in the democratic ideal—that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in a free society and that those who fail must bear the responsibility for their failure. White Euro-Americans become the social reference group, and the socialization process consistently instills messages of White superiority and 266 Identity Development in Multicultural Counseling and Therapy minority inferiority into the child. The underemployment, unemployment, and undereducation of marginalized groups in our society are seen as support that non-White groups are lesser than Whites. Because everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed, the lack of success of minority groups is seen as evidence of some negative personal or group characteristic (low intelligence, inadequate motivation, or biological/cultural deficits). Victim blaming is strong as the existence of oppression, discrimination, and racism is denied. Hardiman believes that while the naïveté stage is brief in duration, the acceptance stage can last a lifetime.

3. Over time, the individual begins to challenge assumptions of White superiority and the denial of racism and discrimination. Moving from the acceptance stage to the resistance stage can prove to be a painful, conflicting, and uncomfortable transition. The White person’s denial system begins to crumble because of a monumental event or a series of events that not only challenge but also shatter the individual’s denial system. A White person may, for example, make friends with a minority coworker and discover that the images he or she has of “these
people” are untrue. They may have witnessed clear incidents of unfair discrimination toward persons of color and may now begin to question assumptions regarding racial inferiority. In any case, the racial realities of life in the United States can no longer be denied. The change from one stage to another might take considerable time, but once completed, the person becomes conscious of being White, is aware that he or she harbors racist attitudes, and begins to see the pervasiveness of oppression in our society. Feelings of anger, pain, hurt, rage, and frustration are present. In many cases, the White person may develop a negative reaction toward his or her own group or culture. While they may romanticize people of color, they cannot interact confidently with them because they fear that they will make racist mistakes. This discomfort is best exemplified in a passage by Sara Winter (1977, p. 1):

We avoid Black people because their presence brings painful questions to mind. Is it OK to talk about watermelons or mention “black coffee”? Should we use Black slang and tell racial jokes? How about talking about our experiences in Harlem, or mentioning our Black lovers? Should we conceal the fact that our mother still employs a Black cleaning lady? . . . We’re embarrassedly aware of trying to do our best but to “act natural” at the same time. No wonder we’re more comfortable in all-White situations where these dilemmas don’t arise.

According to Hardiman (1982), the discomfort in realizing that one is White and that one’s group has engaged in oppression of racial/ethnic minorities may propel the person into the next stage.

4. Asking the painful question of who one is in relation to one’s racial heritage, honestly confronting one’s biases and prejudices, and accepting responsibility for one’s Whiteness are the culminating marks of the redefinition stage. New ways of defining one’s social group and one’s membership in that group become important. The intense soul searching is most evident in Winter’s personal journey as she writes,

In this sense we Whites are the victims of racism. Our victimization is different from that of Blacks, but it is real. We have been programmed into the oppressor roles we play, without our informed consent in the process. Our unawareness is part of the programming: None of us could tolerate the oppressor position, if we lived with a day-to-day emotional awareness of the pain inflicted on other humans through the instrument of our behavior. . . . We Whites benefit in concrete ways, year in and year out, from the present racial arrangements. All my life in White neighborhoods, White schools, White jobs and dealing with White police (to name only a few), I have experienced advantages that are systematically not available to Black people. It does not make sense for me to blame myself for the advantages that have come my way by virtue of my Whiteness. But absolving myself from guilt does not imply forgetting about racial injustice or taking it lightly (as my guilt pushes me to do). (Winter, 1977, p. 2)

There is realization that Whiteness has been defined in opposition to people of color—namely, by standards of White supremacy. By being able to step out of this racist paradigm and redefine what her Whiteness meant to her, Winter is able to add meaning to developing a nonracist identity. The extremes of good/bad or positive/negative attachments to “White” and “people of color” begin to become more realistic. The person no longer denies being White, honestly confronts one’s racism, understands the concept of White privilege, and feels increased comfort in relating to persons of color.

5. The internalization stage is the result of forming a new social and personal identity. With the greater comfort in understanding oneself and the development of a nonracist White identity comes a commitment to social action as well. The individual accepts responsibility for effecting personal and social change without always relying on persons of color to lead the way. As Winter explains,

To end racism, Whites have to pay attention to it and continue to pay attention. Since avoidance is such a basic dynamic of racism, paying attention will not happen naturally. We Whites must learn how to hold racism realities in our attention. We must learn to take responsibility for this process ourselves, without waiting for Blacks’ actions to remind us that the problem exists, and without depending on Black people to reassure us and forgive us for our racist sins. In my 268 Identity Development in Multicultural Counseling and Therapy experience, the process is painful but it is a relief to shed the fears, stereotypes, immobilizing guilt we didn’t want in the first place. (1977, p. 2)

The racist-free identity, however, must be nurtured, validated, and supported in order to be sustained in a hostile environment. Such an individual is constantly bombarded by attempts to be resocialized into the oppressive society.

There are several potential limitations to the Hardiman (1982) model: (1) The select and limited sample that she uses to derive the stages and enumerate the characteristics makes potential generalization suspect; (2) the autobiographies of White Americans are not truly representative, and their experiences with racism may be bound by the era of the times; (3) the stages are tied to existing social identity development theories, and the model proposes a naïveté stage that for all practical purposes exists only in children ages 3 to 4 years (it appears tangential in her model and might better be conceptualized as part of the acceptance stage of socialization); and (4) there have been no direct empirical or other postmodern methods of exploration concerning the model to date. Despite these cautions and potential limitations, Hardiman has contributed greatly to our understanding of White identity development by focusing attention on racism as a central force in the socialization of White Americans. (p. 266-269)
The Helms model is slightly different - it has six stages, divided into two stages [emphasis added]:
[D]eveloping a healthy White identity requires movement through two phases: (1) abandonment of racism and (2) defining a nonracist White identity. Six specific racial identity statuses are distributed equally in the two phases: contact, disintegration, reintegration, pseudoindependence, immersion/emersion, and autonomy. (p. 269)
I want to combine the simpler stages of Hardiman and with the two-stage aspect of Helms to create a preliminary model of masculine identity development.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this project.

1 Worrell, FC, Vandiver, BJ, Schaefer, BA, Cross Jr., WE & Fhagen-Smith, PE. (2006) Generalizing Nigrescence Profiles: Cluster Analyses of Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS) Scores in Three Independent Samples. The Counseling Psychologist. Vol. 34 No. 4, July 2006 519-547. DOI: 10.1177/0011000005278281

2 Sue & Sue (2008). Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice (5th Ed.) Wiley & Sons: New York.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The New Man Podcast - Why Focusing on the Orgasm Makes You Lousy in Bed

Well, duh. Maybe this one is for the young guys . . . . You really want rock your woman's world? Be present. Doesn't matter if you are having a wild quicky or deep, slow love making - BE PRESENT.

Why Focusing on the Orgasm Makes You Lousy in Bed

25 February 2010


On the topic of orgasms, Tripp was recently interviewed as a “sex-pert” on the very popular show Everything is Energy. Along with Sera Beak, Ray Brejcha and Celeste Hirschman, New Man host Tripp Lanier explores why so many guys who focus primarily on the orgasm — whether it’s their partner’s or their own — end up being lousy in the sack.

Crazy, huh?

Click here to listen now.

Questions also covered:

  • Is sexiness what you do or how you are?
  • What makes someone truly sexy?
  • Is it more important to have a bag of tricks or to cultivate what you want?
  • What are some practical tips for guys who want to be better in bed?
  • How is it possible that a guy with good “skills” is still a crappy lover?

Click here to listen now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

No Gain - Relationships won't solve our problems, but they can help us grow

Nice article, and you need not be a Buddhist to appreciate the wisdom. When we have attachments, wants, expectations, we cease to be present in our relationships, and we cease to appreciate the other person just as s/he is - but we need not live this way.

No Gain

Relationships won't solve our problems, but they can help us grow.

By Barry Magid

MY TEACHER Charlotte Joko Beck pretty much sums up her attitude toward relationships when she says, “Relationships don’t work.” Rather than talk about everything we normally think that we gain from relationships, like love, companionship, security, and family life, she looks at relationships from the perspective of no gain. She focuses on all the ways relationships go awry when people enter into them with particular sorts of gaining ideas and expect relationships to function as an antidote to their problems. Antidotes are all versions of “If only...” If only she were more understanding; if only he were more interested in sex; if only she would stop drinking. For Joko, that kind of thinking about relationships means always externalizing the problem, always assuming that the one thing that’s going to change your life is outside yourself and in the other person. If only the other person would get his or her act together, then my life would go the way I want it to.

Joko tries to bring people back to their own fears and insecurities. These problems are ours to practice with, and we can’t ask anyone else, including a teacher, to do that work for us. To be in a real relationship, a loving relationship, is simply to be willing to respond and be there for the other person without always calculating what we are going to get out of it.

Many people come to me and say, “I’ve been in lots of relationships where I give and give and give.” But for them it wasn’t enlightenment; it was masochism! What they are missing from Joko’s original account is a description of what relationships are actually for—what the good part is. In addition to being aware of the pitfalls that Joko warns us about, we should also look at all the ways in which relationships provide the enabling conditions for our growth and development. That’s particularly obvious with children. We would all agree that children need a certain kind of care and love in order to grow and develop. Nobody would say to a five-year-old, “What do you need Mommy for? Deal with your fear on your own!” The thing is that most of us are still struggling with remnants of that child’s neediness and fear in the midst of a seemingly adult life. Relationships aren’t just crutches that allow us to avoid those fears; they also provide conditions that enable us to develop our capacities so we can handle them in a more mature way.

It’s not just a parent-child relationship or a relationship with a partner that does that. The relationship of a student with a teacher, between members of a sangha, between friends, and among community members—all help us to develop in ways we couldn’t on our own. Some aspects of ourselves don’t develop except under the right circumstances.

Aristotle stressed the importance of community and friendship as necessary ingredients for character development and happiness. He is the real origin of the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child. However, you don’t find much in Aristotle about the necessity of romantic love in order to develop. His emphasis was on friendship.

Aristotle said that in order for people to become virtuous, we need role models—others who have developed their capacities for courage, self-control, wisdom, and justice. We may emphasize different sets of virtues or ideas about what makes a proper role model, but Buddhism also asserts that, as we are all connected and interdependent, none of us can do it all on our own.

Acknowledging this dependency is the first step of real emotional work within relationships. Our ambivalence about our own needs and dependency gets stirred up in all kinds of relationships. We cannot escape our feelings and needs and desires if we are going to be in relationships with others. To be in relationships is to feel our vulnerability in relation to other people who are unpredictable, and in circumstances that are intrinsically uncontrollable and unreliable.

We bump up against the fact of change and impermanence as soon as we acknowledge our feelings or needs for others. Basically, we all tend to go in one of two directions as a strategy for coping with that vulnerability. We either go in the direction of control or of autonomy. If we go for control, we may be saying: “If only I can get the other person or my friends or family to treat me the way I want, then I’ll be able to feel safe and secure. If only I had a guarantee that they’ll give me what I need, then I wouldn’t have to face uncertainty.” With this strategy, we get invested in the control and manipulation of others and in trying to use people as antidotes to our own anxiety.

With the strategy (or curative fantasy) of autonomy, we go in the opposite direction and try to imagine that we don’t need anyone. But that strategy inevitably entails repression or dissociation, a denial of feeling. We may imagine that through spiritual practice we will get to a place where we won’t feel need, sexuality, anger, or dependency. Then, we imagine, we won’t be so tied into the vicissitudes of relationships. We try to squelch our feelings in order not to be vulnerable anymore, and we rationalize that dissociation under the lofty and spiritual-sounding word “detachment,” which ends up carrying a great deal of unacknowledged emotional baggage alongside its original, simpler meaning as the acceptance of impermanence.

We have to get to know and be honest about our particular strategies for dealing with vulnerability, and learn to use our practice to allow ourselves to experience more of that vulnerability rather than less of it. To open yourself up to need, longing, dependency, and reliance on others means opening yourself to the truth that none of us can do this on our own. We really do need each other, just as we need parents and teachers. We need all those people in our lives who make us feel so uncertain. Our practice is not about finally getting to a place where we are going to escape all that but about creating a container that allows us to be more and more human, to feel more and more.

If we let ourselves feel more and more, paradoxically, we get less controlling and less reactive. As long as we think we shouldn’t feel something, as long as we are afraid of feeling vulnerable, our defenses will kick in to try to get life under control, to manipulate ourselves or other people. But instead of either controlling or sequestering our feelings, we can learn to both contain and feel them fully. That containment allows us to feel vulnerable or hurt without immediately erupting into anger; it allows us to feel neediness without clinging to the other person. We acknowledge our dependency.

We learn to keep our relationships and support systems in good repair because we admit to ourselves how much we need them. We take care of others for our own sake as well as theirs. We begin to see that all our relationships are part of a broad spectrum of interconnectedness, and we respect not only the most intimate or most longed-for of our relationships but also all the relationships we have—from the most personal to the most public—which together are always defining who we are and what we need in order to become fully ourselves.

Relationships work to open us up to ourselves. But first we have to admit how much we don’t want that to happen, because that means opening ourselves to vulnerability. Only then will we begin the true practice of letting ourselves experience all those feelings of vulnerability that we first came to practice to escape.

From Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide, © Barry Magid 2008. Reprinted with permission of Wisdom Publications,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Revolutionary Man - Love Letter To Men From One Brave Woman (guest post)


Wait . . . . No. Awesome. Thank you Nomali.

Love Letter To Men From One Brave Woman (guest post)

Thu, Feb 18, 2010

Women To Men

The other day I sent out a call for feedback for men everywhere (Stay tuned…). My request was for one sentence from anyone and everyone. Interesting that several women completely disregarded the “one sentence” rule and just went for it.

Here is one poignant example from my friend Nomali who wrote to us men exquisitely. She came up with her own introduction to it. I have not edited a thing and have received her permission to post it. I was deeply inspired upon reading her note and feel as though it may serve you. Thank you Nomali!

Notice yourself as you read this. Are you skeptical? Do you allow her words to penetrate you? Do you contract because of you are afraid to let her in? Does the spiritual tone sound too much for you? Or are you grateful for a woman that shares her vulnerability with you? What would it feel like for a woman to actually speak to you in this manner?

If you are a man hungry for more in intimacy and relationship, let this be a love letter beckoning you to show up and go deeper.

Painting My Lover: Men – Women – Me – You – Who?

by Nomali Perera

Crazy-ass long mad thing I suddenly found myself writing after I saw a posting by Jayson Gaddis of “Revolutionary Man” (What Is Your Constructive Feedback For MEN? – This is waaaaay too long for what Jayson Gaddis is looking for. I mostly just found myself writing more about myself than men and so, this is just my note. And please know that this is MY letter. I am not speaking for other women. I am also not directing this at any one man. And sometimes I am guilty of what I complain about. I know it and am honest about it. Why did I really have all this gushing out of me? I have no idea. Maybe just because I am a woman. And sometimes, I just shamelessly gush.


Dear You, My Man,

You are Beloved. You are God. To my tender and yet strong feminine heart, you are, whether you like it or not, a powerful path–sometimes the only path–to finding myself utterly exposed and surrendered to God. Help me do that. To touch God so fully is to surrender to my every joy, fear and shame. I cannot do this alone. I, by nature, yearn to reach God through communion, through you, with you.

To touch God so fully means I have to let myself die – die completely to my story, open to and embrace fully my shadow, both disturbingly dark, as well as brightly golden. This is the most scariest thing I need to do in my life, and I know that you can help me. If you are willing to do the same, YOU will become my rock. Own and claim your Highest masculine essence and expose your FULL self to me. I am strong. I am a big girl. I can handle your shadow…both disturbingly dark, as well as brightly golden. This is the most priceless gift you can give to me, to life. I am just as much under pressure as you are to “show up.” Please love me, guide me, see me, open me, receive me and compassionately challenge me in all my brilliance and flaws to get that much closer to God – to You. You are One. With you, WE can be One.

As a woman, I appreciate your strength and courage when you go to “do the work” at wonderful Mens’ Groups. I can see such change in you. I can see how you are guided and lovingly challenged to BE your Highest Self. I admire men who are willing to put themselves through the lion’s den of learning and growing. Let me share some tangible and more subtle changes in you that I notice and appreciate, and, well, things that I don’t really like too much, or downright despise.

I love it when you walk so upright and confident. I have noticed this in men who join good Mens’ Groups. They seem to inhabit their bodies much better. You are so handsome when you have a strong back. A strong back is, to me, a sign of an open heart. Trungpa Rinpoche said that too…

I love it when you take care of your body by eating well and working-out as is appropriate for you. I love it when you KNOW and FEEL your body. That lets me know that you will KNOW and FEEL my body.

I love it when you look me straight in my eyes, unafraid to look and be seen.

I love the “little things” you do for me like picking up flowers, a silly magazine or a Hallmark card…whatever YOU think I will enjoy. I love this because it lets me get a little glimpse of the sweet and crazy ways in which you might be seeing me. I also really like it when you ask me what might I like.

I love the clarity you bring. Its OK that sometimes it isn’t there yet. But if you are aware of whatever IS there–confusion, sadness, tension, aggression or simple joy–you’re already a step ahead.

I love it when you see the chaos that I am yet not get angry or shame me. I promise to do the same for you.

I love it when you take a little time to clean up, shave and dress well. You don’t need expensive clothes, but when you take the time to be presentable, it makes me feel you care about how you are seen and that you are mindful. Just like how you look at sexy, beautiful women and tell them how gorgeous they look, or how good they smell, remember that I like that in you too. Please don’t be shy about looking and smelling hot! Own and adorn your beautiful body with handsome clothes and perfumes and lotions and man-bags (if you need one). You too are God’s temple.

I love it when you look into my eyes when you are with me. I love the sparkle in your naughty eyes. I love it that you can be gentlemanly but also not too prissy or monk-ish when it comes to letting me know what you desire, admire and adore – and what you cannot stand!

I really don’t like it if you are not present even for one moment when you are making love to me. When we make love, remember that it is the most vulnerable place I can go to: to let you into my body, my heart, my soul, my Spirit so intimately. Please respect this sacredness and be present. But please don’t let this request make you afraid. Trust the moment and trust me. I will let you know gently if I feel you drifting away. Will you promise not to think of that as me criticizing you?

As much as I assume that Men’s Groups guide men into being strong men, sometimes, I also notice this showing up as arrogance. I don’t like that. I own it that I may be projecting – but sometimes, maybe I’m not. The teaching to be tough and rock-solid are all good. But don’t let it get too much into your head, because then you look so self-consumed with the “good work you are doing” that you look and feel inaccessible and unapproachable. It would be sad if all that good work does not also help you practice humility.

Please don’t ever hide me, lie to me or lie about me. If you are afraid to be seen in public with me, if you are too embarrassed or shy to proudly walk holding hands with me and introduce me to your friends, just leave me. And don’t come back. As a woman, I yearn to be seen, not hidden in just your/our private world. When you hide me from your world which I long to proudly be a part of, you can hurt my self-esteem in pretty brutal ways. And it will take a long time before I can feel worthy again. If I am losing my self in a lie, I admit that it is my fault and I cannot and won’t blame you. However, if you have a truth you need to live without me, help me live mine by not delaying yours. You are NOT responsible for my life. But i am sincerely asking for your help.

Truly, you can and need to trust me that I can take care of myself. If you are just not that into me and if I am just not good enough for you, or there is someone else, just let me know. Don’t worry about hurting me. Hurt me. Be a man. I will get over it and get on much quicker and with much more joy if you are honest.

Please take care of your surroundings. Really, I mean REALLY, why are some men such slobs? Your room, your table, your car, your office is so dirty and messy that I don’t want to come anywhere near that. Your messy outer space is very telling of you inner space. Do Mens’ Groups ever bring this up?

I love it that you are doing your work, and maybe you might see me being lazy or not doing my own development. However frustrating this might make you feel, please don’t belittle me. I am probably doing the best I can no matter how little or clumsy it might seem. Just continue to embody to me YOUR Highest Self or you can also choose to leave. I will learn in my own time and capacity.

By the way, I hate to say this, but I really don’t like it if you have bad breath and if you don’t tell me if I have bad breath. We are human and human bodies can smell…so its only natural. But please can we find a way to tactfully let each other know if we don’t like how we smell (or look or feel)?

I love it that we are quirky unique beings. And we each have our own ways of kissing. Kissing is a big thing. I love kissing! And yet, if the kissing just isn’t going right, can we somehow find a way to bring that up? Tenderly, without hurting feelings?

I may at times look ready and willing and wild and playful. And yet, that does not mean that I am not shy. Please don’t get frustrated with me if I am needing more time. Please don’t take it personally if I am not opening to you as quickly as you might like. Please understand that I maybe very self conscious of the extra fold around my waist, the slight lopsidedness of my right breast, my crooked nose that I hate so much, the darkness of my skin that sometimes brings up all sorts of cultural anxieties, and how ugly I sometimes think I am. Its just how I have grown up seeing myself and you need to be patient with my neuroses.

Patiently and softly invite me to love my flesh and my nudity, my blush and my dignity.

Unabashedly and unashamedly bring on your strong and genuine masculinity to me and to all areas of your life, while also transcending and including your very own feminine sensitivity. When you do so, you leave me crazy hot and bothered. I need not say no more. And help me bring out my own masculinity too. I need to foster structure, direction and focus in my life. And sometimes when you find me in that place, please don’t hurt me by calling me “too masculine!”

It is a lot of hard work to always have to “radiate divine light!” And I cannot always do that. Sometimes you might see me as too closed. But don’t be too quick to make that judgment. There are three fingers pointing right back at you. Maybe you are closed too.

When there is a “charge,” let’s just talk about it, OK? It just doesn’t serve anyone or anything to let it suddenly be an elephant in the room and six months have gone by! Let’s just roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. Bring on the muddy madness. We can work it out and in; I promise you.

You are a gorgeous, gorgeous embodiment of Passion, Spirit, Emptiness and God. Thank you for letting me feel your heart wide open and broken. I trust the strength in your arms with which you will move a mountain for me. I trust the vastness of your Being that will witness me fully as I dance around you like a wild woman and cry like a little girl. I trust the depth of your soul that is willing to challenge lovingly my shallowness. And because I trust you like that, I will fall to my knees before you and worship you. When you see me looking up to you and into your eyes, know that I am profoundly proud to be your Devadasi, the Servant of my God, my You.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review: Manly Traditions: The Folk Roots of American Masculinities

This is an interesting, though brief, book review from Western Folklore, by Goodwin, Joseph P.

From the publisher's promotion:

Take this test. You think today's sensitive, caring man is: (a) a myth, (b) an oxymoron, or (c) a moron. No matter whether you laugh at this bit of folk humor, its wide circulation bespeaks a modern predicament for American men.

Men's "manly" traditions have been shaken in an age of "sensitivity." Some observers have even referred to a crisis of masculinity for a new generation of boys. In Manly Traditions, established scholars in the fields of folklore, men's studies, and gender studies identify the folkloric roots of what it means to be a man in America. In a lively volume they examine the traditions men inherit and adapt for their own purposes in contemporary life.
That first part is interesting for what it does say about our culture concerning men - not much has changed since the 2005 publication of the book. We are still often stereotyped into these limited categories.

This was the first book to look at male folklore, so in that sense it is very important in the slow but continuous effort to build a tradition of masculinity studies.

Manly Traditions: The Folk Roots of American Masculinities

Western Folklore, Winter 2009 by Goodwin, Joseph P

Manly Traditions: The Folk Roots of American Masculinities. Edited by Simon J. Bronner. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. Pp. xxv 383, acknowledgments, introduction, photographs, illustrations, notes, bibliographies, afterword by Alan Dundes, index. $24.95 paper)

Traditionally, folklore studies treated men's culture as unmarked, while women's culture was subsumed under men's. In the 1970s, however, feminist folklorists began studying women's folklore on its own terms (Mills 1993). In 1983 Ronald Baker chaired an American Folklore Society panel called "Men and Manliness," and later called for studies of men's folklore on its own terms. The present collection of essays, Manly Traditions, has now been assembled by Simon Bronner in honor of Baker's many years as a folklore scholar. (Disclosure: I was to have been a contributor to this volume, but for personal reasons withdrew from the project.) In keeping with Baker's call, Bronner and his contributors examine men's folklore on its own terms rather than as generic and unmarked. The first part of the book focuses on typically public "enactments of manliness," while the second half features "more private rhetoric of folkloric communication" (xix) . This approach could make Manly Traditions useful as a text in (for example) courses on masculinity, courses on men's folklore, or courses that compare men's and women's folk traditions.

The editor's introduction situates the book within folklore scholarship, and his essay "Menfolk" examines "what . . . constitutes a masculine text and setting" (26), tying the discussion into points made by other contributors to the anthology. In both of these essays Bronner suggests that folklore plays a significant role in the construction of masculinity. Gary Alan Fine asks whether men's or women's folklore changes when women join traditionally male workplaces. Tom Mould explores how the differences between men's and women's "'stepping' staged performances of dance and march routines" - are used to distinguish masculine from feminine presentations of self (xix) . Norma E. Canni examines the role of folklore in masculine identity formation along the Texas-Mexico border. Taiko, a style of energetic performance on gigantic drums, is designed to counter stereotypes of Japanese American men as effeminate, according to Hideyo Konagaya. Anthony P. Avery presents androgyny at raves as masculine, but different from traditional notions of masculinity, while Mickey Weems writes about the circuit, in which DJs drive dancers to ecstatic performance. Both of these "alternative masculinities" explicitly reject violence, and it is interesting to contrast the de-emphasis of the body at raves with the hypermasculine physicality of the circuit. Jay Mechling uses feminist theory to explore the anxieties, misogyny, and other themes common in men's culture and to explain why so much of men's humor is focused on the penis. Greg Kelley also discusses anxieties in his study of men's stories of squandered wishes.

W. F. H. Nicolaisen examines positive and negative depictions of men in texts from Jan Harold Brunvand's legend collections. The late W. K. McNeil shows ways in which mountain men play with others' stereotypes of them. Bronner argues that traditional toys that men carve with enormous penises "confront the impotence and infirmity of their aging set against the public association of manliness with youthful sexual prowess" (xxii) . The final essay, jointly written by Bronner and Baker, considers relationships among three recitations and their role in proving the reciter's masculinity to other males. The volume concludes with an afterword by the late Alan Dundes, calling for studies of masculinities in other cultures and presenting a bibliographic review to guide future scholars. Dundes also offers an analysis of cockfighting leading up to the question of the value of studying the folklore of masculinity. The conclusion is classic Dundes.

The jargon in a couple of the essays could prove difficult for undergraduate students (and possibly lay readers as well). A few other quibbles: Bronner suggests that social fraternities developed in the early twentieth century (9) , when they actually date back to 1825. He writes of the concept of the "metrosexual" as developed in the 1990s, one attribute of which he says is the wearing of earrings by men who previously would not have done so for fear of appearing gay (37-38). Yet fraternity men in the Midwest were already wearing earrings in the early 1980s. A couple of passages in the essays by Canto and Nicolaisen seem to be jumbled or to have lost parts of their text (128, first full paragraph; 257, last full paragraph, last sentence). Minor points - but factual inaccuracies and uneven copyediting can threaten the credibility of an essay, as when Mechling writes, "the king's castration might be considered disastrous only from a heterocentric perspective, for the joke incorporates presumably the deepest fantasy of male homosexuality - father-son incest" (235-36). Many male homosexuals would contest this "deepest fantasy" and would ask who may be presuming it. Mechling may have made this claim in reference to Freud, but if so, he (or the editor) ought to have framed it as such. Given the significance of this collection of essays, though, such complaints are trivial. As the first book on the folklore of masculinity, Manly Traditions has already assumed an important place.


Mills, Margaret. 1993. Feminist Theory and the Study of Folklore: A Twenty-Year Trajectory toward Theory. Western Folklore 52:173-92.

Joseph P. Goodwin, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana

Copyright California Folklore Society Winter 2009
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mark Brady - The Myth of the Emotionally Unavailable Male

Nice article from Mark Brady, who blogs at The Committed Parent: Translating social neuroscience to help parents raise kids we can. It's a nice statement about the reality of men's feelings.

The Myth of the Emotionally Unavailable Male

February 21, 2010 by Mark Brady

Recently I was angrily accused by someone important to me of being “yet another emotionally unavailable male.” They might be surprised to know I had a lot of feelings about that – shock and surprise, for starters. But before I go into what was going on in my body and in my heart, because I’m a typical guy, I want to back up and work down from my head.

In graduate school I had a psychology professor who looked around the room one day and declared: “There’s not a man in here who would stick around if the Gestapo showed up at our classroom door.” Well, duh. While at the time I thought this was a personal indictment of me and the two other men in the class, I later realized that as the lone family survivor of the Holocaust, this professor was essentially expressing anger, pain and resentment at a horribly traumatic event that took a collection of nations and a few atomic bombs to bring to an end. Still, this unskillful expression of ungrieved loss did not feel like a warm fuzzy invitation for me to vulnerably express myself, thank you.

Snipping and Sniping

I had another graduate professor, Kathy Speeth, later make what I thought was a very valid point in response: “Ladies,” she said, “if you want your partners to be emotionally available to you, you can’t cut their balls off every time they show some vulnerability.” To me, this is the crux of the matter. (For alternative relationships, where emotional availability can also be an issue, “balls” can be used metaphorically).

Growing up male in a patriarchal culture brings certain emotional limitations with it. Just as there’s “no crying in baseball,” additionally, there’s no crying in basketball, stock trading or house building – all things that I’ve spent a large portion of my life engaged in. The outward expression of feelings – anger often exempted, of course – is not socially acceptable for men in 2010 America. It’s not acceptable to other men, and it’s not acceptable to women, either. Nor has it ever been. In my experience, emotionally vulnerable men might be an intellectually bonne ideé, but the reality is many women want a Georges St-Pierre or a Hans Marrero when the rubber meets the road. They want a Worthy Contender, someone who can send the Gestapo packing … when he’s done crying during chick flicks. Such men go a long way towards keeping women’s limbic systems from being easily hijacked by threatening life events, in other words, someone who can consistently answer the Big Brain Question, “Yes.”

Feelings versus Emotions

Nevertheless, so that we’re all on the same page, let’s be clear now about the difference between feelings and emotions. Researchers of these topics identify emotions as outwardly directed and public, whereas feelings are inwardly directed and private. One reason this distinction is important is that just because a man doesn’t express his feelings, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any. (Unless, of course, he has the clinical condition known as alexithymia, thought to be caused by the left brain not know what the right brain is feeling).

Additionally, not only are men culturally conditioned not to express the vulnerable things they feel, but they are neurologically handicapped as well – recall that women are fortunate in that they have roughly three times as many speech and language neurons available to enable them to use words to express emotion. So, if it’s emotional availability we’re looking for, a balanced context for safe expression needs to be co-created – women need to practice toning down the verbal expression and men need to practice stepping it up.

Only the Emotionally Repressed Die Young

The average lifespan for women is five years longer than for men the world over. While lots of research is offered to explain this difference, I’m pretty convinced that Secret Saying 70 in the Gnostic Gospels lies its heart: “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Dr. Gabor Mate, author of When the Body Says No, would very likely argue that men need to structure their lives and relationships in ways that allow for them to bring forth what they have long been conditioned to keep within. And they can undoubtedly use more than a little help from women, like Eve Ensler who encourages men and women to bring forth and embrace our Inner Girl. (And vice versa, of course. Relationships are extremely complex entities).

If I was the father of a young boy these days I would do three things to help in this regard. First, I would do my best to encourage him to learn where feelings live in the heart, mind and body, and what they actually feel like. And then I would make it safe for him to use words to express the emotions generated from those feelings. Next, I would also do my best to model that process. Finally, I would enroll him in the most rigorous martial arts class I could find, and I would support every inclination he might have to perfecting his ability to assertively defend himself whenever life required it. In other words, I would teach him how to skillfully act and make his feelings freely known and authentically available for the whole world to see and hear.

101 Sex Positions That Won't Spice Up Your Sex Life

This is a cool article from AlterNet. There is a lot more to intimacy, which is the key to good sex, than putting Tab A into Slot A. Too many men tend to think that sex and intimacy is about intercourse (blame porn and teen boys for that issue), when the reality is so far from that - especially for the more than 50-75% of women who can not have an orgasm from intercourse alone (and NO, guys, that does not mean you suck in bed, unless, or course, you think you need to get your partner off with penetration alone).

If your relationship sucks and you don't communicate with your sexual partner, the Double Reverse Astronaut is unlikely to help your sex life.

By Greta Christina
February 19, 2010

If you’ve been around the sex world much, you’ve probably seen these sorts of sex advice books a lot: 101 Sex Positions for Intrepid Couples; 50 Peppery Positions for a Spicy Sex Life; (X) Number of Incendiary Positions to Heat Up the Bedroom.

They’re generally illustrated with erotic but tasteful, just-short-of-explicit photographs of well-groomed couples displaying the positions in question. The books are pretty much interchangeable, and the gist of all of them seems to be the same: If you’re a couple whose sex life has become monotonous and routine, variety is the way to bring back the spark. And the way to bring variety into a sex life is to have sex in a wide assortment of different positions.

Now. I have a whole passel of problems with these books. For starters, I hate how obsessed they are with penile-vaginal intercourse. The authors seem to think that introducing variety into a sex life means finding 101 different ways to position male and female bodies together to make their genitals interlock. You’ll get a couple/few oral positions thrown in there; maybe a little anal if it’s one of the freakier books. But there’s little recognition of the wide world of sexual possibility that exists outside Man-Part Goes Inside Woman-Part. And there’s virtually no recognition of the fact that intercourse by itself isn’t enough to get most women off.

Which brings me to my next critique: I hate the way these books equate “sexual variety” with “physical variety.” Of course I agree that variety is an essential key to keeping a sex life happy and satisfying over the long haul. Almost every sex writer on the face of the planet agrees with that. I have yet to read a sex writer who says, “In order to keep the spark alive in your sex life, be sure to have sex in exactly the same way — the same place, the same position, the same time of day, the same day of the week — for the rest of your lives.”

But sexual variety can mean so much more than rotating your bodies in different configurations before inserting Prong A into Slot B. These books seem blind to these possibilities. They hardly ever talk about erogenous zones outside the obvious ones. They hardly ever talk about dirty talk, dirty outfits, foreplay (or, as we dykes like to call it, “sex”), sex toys, slowing things down, speeding things up, role-playing...all that good stuff.

And they almost entirely ignore the crux of any good relationship, sexual or otherwise: communication. Talking about desires, talking about fantasies, talking about the outfits and the toys and the dirty talk and the slowing things down, not to mention actual communication skills — how to ask, how to listen, how to negotiate, how to set limits, how to move forward together with experiments — little or none of this is included in discussions of how to bring variety into your sex life.

Even when they do talk about this stuff, it’s no more than a cursory, “get it out of the way” mention before getting on to the important business of describing and demonstrating the Double Reverse Astronaut position. These books might as well be titled, 101 Ways to Have the Exact Same Sex You’ve Been Having, But With Your Bodies Arranged Somewhat Differently.

And that — especially the part about communication — leads me to my final and most important critique of these "101 Ways to Have Penile-Vaginal Intercourse" books: If you don’t already have a happy sex life, new sex positions by themselves are unlikely to make things better.

I was inspired to write this piece (or reminded that I wanted to write it) by a piece on Dr. Marty Klein’s excellent blog, Sexual Intelligence. In this piece, Klein described a couple who had been seeing him for sex therapy. They had an unhappy life together — mistrustful, resentful, insecure, unforgiving, uncommunicative, hostile — and their sex life was a predictable misery as a result. But they didn’t want to talk about their basic relationship problems. To quote Klein’s description of the sessions, “I didn’t seem that interested in talking about sex — I seemed overly focused on feelings, power dynamics, letting go of the past, and communication.” And they didn’t want to deal with any of that. They just wanted their sex life fixed. That’s what you go to a sex therapist for — right?

Okay. That’s a pretty obvious problem. As Klein said, “I have no idea what kind of sex they imagine they would have if they somehow desired each other — while disliking, mistrusting, and resenting each other. Whatever kind of sex that is, I don’t want to help people have it.” But what does it have to do with the “101 Positions To Spice Up Your Boring Sex Life” books?

Just this, yet again:

If you don’t already have a happy sex life, new sex positions by themselves are unlikely to make things better.

If you already have a good sex life — if you’re already mixing it up, if you’re already talking about what you like and what you might like to try next — there’s probably no harm in these books. You might even get a couple of good ideas. Then again, if you already have variety and experimentation and good communication in your sexual relationship, these books probably won’t be that much use. If you have all that, you can probably figure out most of these positions on your own.

But if what you have on your hands is an okay/mediocre sex life that’s getting into a rut, I think these books can actually be harmful. They give a completely misleading idea of what it takes to introduce variety into a long-term sex life. They make it seem as if the heart of sexual variety lies, not in imagination and experimentation and honest loving communication, but in arranging your bodies at different intersecting angles. If couples try this, and it doesn’t invigorate their sex lives — as it very likely won't — it seems to me that it’d be more discouraging than anything else.

And if what you have is a sexual relationship like that of Dr. Klein’s couple — a toxic waste dump loaded with mistrust, insecurity and resentment, inside the bedroom and out — then trying the Sideways Triple Bypass isn’t going to help.

No matter how tastefully erotic the photos in the book are.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tiger Woods' Apology = Lame With a Side of FAIL

Tiger Woods finally made his long-awaited public statement about his affairs and did little to address the real issues - performance enhancing drug use allegations/rumors (he denied it, but did not address the issue of the doctor) and how he plans to make amends to the golf community and to his family (I accept that some things are between him and his wife - but he need to come clean on his rehab).

Having watched the carefully scripted apology, I was unconvinced. Apparently, I am not alone (see the article below, and the links to other coverage at the end).

He said all the right things - and he didn't blame the disease (sex addiction) for which he is in treatment (which is great - to do so is to dodge responsibility) - but there was no authenticity in his words. He felt to me like a bad actor simply reading from the script.

So here is my take - a real man, a mature man, would not have refused to answer questions from the press. As much as it would suck to do so, he should have taken every question anyone wanted to ask. That said, he should have refused to give specifics about his affairs, and he should have maintained as much privacy as possible for his wife - but EVERY other question should have been addressed.

[More below]

Tiger Woods' 12-step classic

Whether you believed him or not, the golfer's apology was what rehabbers might call one hell of a qualification Video

AP/Eric Gay
Tiger Woods during a news conference in, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

This morning at 11 a.m., Tiger Woods emerged from his self-imposed sex rehab exile to make his first official public statement since his world went kablooey back in November. He did not saunter up to the podium with a Hooters girl on either arm and announce his desire to pursue a Dionysian life of erotic excess. He did not weepily declare, "I have sinned." He didn't rip open his shirt to reveal an A seared into his chest.

He did exactly what everybody assumed he was there to do: He apologized. "I want to say simply and directly I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior," he declared to a room of very carefully selected press, friends, colleagues (like PGA president Jim Remy) and family. He called his actions a "disappointment," and he said he had "let you down."

For those of you watching along – and if you were anywhere near a television this morning, chances are you were – it was a familiar script, one we've seen in the mea culpas of Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer, and even David Letterman. So eye-rollingly predictable have these televised walks of shame become that prior to his press conference, Twitter was trending with "tigershouldsay" suggestions.

But then, after tossing around several cryptic references to how "embarrassed" he was by his "behavior," at the six-minute mark, Woods finally made this public confession his own. "I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated," he announced. "What I did was not acceptable … I convinced myself that normal rules did not apply. I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that married people should live by. I thought I deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled ... I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me."

For a lot of people whose minds were already made up about the guy, nothing he said before or after mattered. Woods had barely left the podium when a news commentator on Hulu (where it was being livestreamed) piped up that he didn't buy it. Commentors on the Washington Post were in agreement, calling him a "bad actor" and a "fake."

But whether or not you believe that sex addiction is real, or that the richest athlete in the world has been struggling with it, what Tiger did today was what anyone familiar with 12-step programs would call one hell of a qualification.

He didn't lay any of the responsibility on "the disease." He owned up to his actions and the considerable damage they've caused. Did he list the people he'd harmed by his actions? Step 8. Did he state directly "It's now up to me to make amends"? Step 9. Did he spend considerable time talking about his Buddhism, how it "teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search"? Step 2, Higher Power, come on down (and thanks but no thanks, Brit Hume). Did he express gratitude for the support he's received, and his intention "someday to return that support to others who are seeking help"? That's Step 12! All of which, by the way, take humility and guts.

Maybe he's blowing smoke up our collective butts. Maybe next week he'll be in Vegas with a pancake waitress on his lap. But it's not hard to imagine someone who has won 95 professional tournaments applying the same discipline and rigor to his emotional life as he does to his game, assuming the motivation is there.

And motivation is something Woods doesn't lack for. The profoundly private athlete may have looked deeply uncomfortable at the dais this morning, and he may have stumbled over his carefully crafted words several times, but every time he spoke of his wife and children, he took on the steely, "Don't even think about messing with me" attitude of a ferocious, world-class boss man. "I understand people have questions," he said. "Every one of these questions and answers are between Elin and me. These are issues between a husband and wife." And he was even less ambiguous on the subject of the rumors that have swirled around since that fateful post-Thanksgiving fender bender. He stated firmly, "Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throught this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame." He also asserted that the press "said I used performance-enhancing drugs. That is completely and utterly false." And after emphasizing, "My behavior does not make it right for the media to follow my 2 1/2 year-old-daughter to school and report the school's location," he pleaded through gritted teeth, "For the sake of my family, please, leave my wife and kids alone."

After announcing that he's returning to treatment and doesn't know when he'll come back to golf, Woods left the stand and hugged his mom in what looked like a tearful embrace. (It came as a relief that his wife, Elin, wasn't in the crowd. It would have been unbearable to have a camera locked on her face, all the better to scrutinize her every expression.)

All told, Woods apologized so many times that it prompted a fellow Salon staffer to call it "stomach churning." But jeez, if he'd held back, he easily could have been criticized for lack of contrition. And even if you're the king of the world, it's still got to suck to stand before that world – and perhaps even more excruciatingly, your mom – and admit you've screwed up your life. All the money and girl-on-girl action in the world doesn't make you any less a person – a husband, a father, a son.

Does his statement today let Woods off the hook for his epic marital fail? Well, you and I were never the ones to grant absolution in the first place. That's up to the people he truly has let down, the ones on his amends list. As he said, "My real apology will not come in the form of words. It will come from my behavior over time." Perhaps he'll get there, perhaps he won't. It looks like he's making the attempt, one step at a time.

Here is some other coverage from the web:
Washington Post
No one has defined that arrogance more clearly over the past 14 years than Tiger Woods, who has dominated golf since he turned pro in 1996. ...

Los Angeles Times
Not everyone was riveted by the deflated-looking Tiger Woods, who apologized in that closely controlled speech this morning. One of Tiger's mistresses is ...

USA Today
A deeply apologetic Tiger Woods today added to his lengthy litany of sins, regrets and promises of repentance that he needs to return to Buddhist traditions ...
Interestingly, he talked publicly about his Buddhism for the first time that I can recall. He said he has drifted away from his practice and will rededicate himself to his Buddhist practice.

The One City Blog had some nice observations about this part of his speech today:
As part of his statement, he specifically referred to having been raised as a Buddhist and sees Buddhism as part of his path, towards becoming a "better person."

"I have a lot of work to do, and I intend to dedicate myself to doing it. Part of following this path for me is Buddhism, which my mother taught me at a young age. People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."

So what is this craving he's talking about, and why is it important?

Regular readers of this blog probably know something about dukkha, which is a Pali word that is often translated as "suffering." I've heard many modern Buddhist teachers translate it in other ways, as "unsatisfactoriness," "stress," "unease," or "dissatisfaction." The First Noble Truth, which was the first thing the historical Buddha taught after his enlightenment, is about the pervasive nature of suffering in life; the Dalai Lama has called it "The Truth of Suffering." There are many different types of suffering, and suffering itself, on the surface, has a number of causes (suffering's origin is the Second Noble Truth, for those of you who are counting), but Tiger Woods specifically referred to one of the big ones: craving.

Craving can be seen very simply as wanting what we don't have. Think about it: We see a car on a billboard, and suddenly the car we're driving isn't quite as satisfactory. We want that car. Our home isn't quite as nice as our neighbor's, so we have to have a bigger one. And until we get the new house, our current house just won't cut it. The iPhone 3G isn't good enough; we need a 3GS. We might crave sex, or food, an upgrade to first class, or a better golf handicap, thinking that somehow it'll bring us the happiness we desire.

But after we get it, craving arises again very quickly, for something else.

It's not just about material things: we wish for things to be other than the way they actually are. We crave eternal youth but we get old, we crave health but we get sick, we crave fame and recognition and even when we get them, they're not enough. We crave approval, and when we get it, we need more. We crave relationships, and we want them to be the way we imagine they should be.

Woods referred to an "unhappy and pointless search for security." One of the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism is impermanence, which refers to the fact that everything is changing, all the time. It seems obvious--people age and die, flowers wilt and turn to compost, buildings crumble--but suffering comes when we wish for things that are impermanent (that is, everything) to be permanent. We have money, and we don't want to lose it. We have status, and we're worried that it'll fade. We have privacy, but paparazzi are around every corner. We might even have fame and unparalleled golf skills, but someplace in the backs of our minds we know that it just won't last.

If we are unwilling to accept reality, then, we're also unable to enjoy the miracle of this very moment that is available to us right now. By understanding impermanence we may be more inclined to find peace and joy in this very moment with things as they already are. That doesn't mean remaining still and complacent, but it does mean recognizing the gifts present in our daily lives.
I want to believe that Woods really gets this, at a visceral level - and maybe he does - but that is not the feeling I had in watching him speak. If he does really get this, and if he does show his contrition through his actions in the future, I will gladly admit to being wrong about him, and I'll be glad to be wrong.

Maybe I am being too rough - but I have grown very weary of watching extremely public figures (nearly always men) make a mess of their lives and the lives of their families, then give these lame-ass public apologies.

How does anyone at that level not learn the lessons of Bill Clinton, Kobe Bryant, Isiah Thomas, and any number of politicians? How does anyone think they can get away with these things in a world where everything is for sale, especially lurid stories of sex and deceit?

Epic fail on his part. And his fail contributes the terrible image men carry in the public mind: We are all dogs, we will all cheat given the chance, none of us can be trusted.