Monday, October 31, 2011

Full R.E.M. Concert from 1985 - On Music and Manliness

In 1985 I turned 18, graduated from high school, flunked out of college, and never told any of my friends that I liked R.E.M. or Joy Division or The Cure - after all, I was a guy and this was not manly music in redneck Southern Oregon. We listened to Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest (how ironic), Motley Crue, and Metallica, now that was manly music. [cough]

It's funny now, 25+ years later, to look back at how desperate I was (and probably most of my male friends were) to be seen as manly. What a load of crap, and yet so many young men still deal with those issues in one way or another - they have to be athletes, or weight lifters, or outdoors men, or whatever the stereotype is that region of America.

In honor of the scared kid I was, here is a full R.E.M. concert filmed in Germany, from 1985's Fables of the Reconstruction tour. In the two encores they play some excellent covers, including The Rolling Stone's "Paint It Black" and Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic" (those two songs could pass as manly tunes in my neck of the woods, just for the record).

Thanks to Open Culture for posting this first. Brought back good memories.

Set List:

Feeling Gravitys Pull
Sitting Still
Maps And Legends
Fall On Me (original lyrics)
Green Grow The Rushes
Driver 8
So. Central Rain
Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
Can't Get There From Here
King Of The Road
Seven Chinese Brothers
Auctioneer (Another Engine)
Old Man Kensey
Little America
Pretty Persuasion

Encore 1:

Theme From Two Steps Onward
Toys In The Attic
See No Evil
Second Guessing

Encore 2:

Ghost Riders In The Sky
(Don't Go Back to) Rockville
We Walk-Falling In Love Again-Behind Closed Doors
Paint It, Black

The Art of Manliness - The 3 Characteristics of an Educated Man

Cool but simple article from The Art of Manliness on the three traits of an educated man - I agree with all three, although I suspect there could be at least seven more. But they are a riffing on a quote from someone else, so they might also more than just these three qualities.

I've included the introduction and the three characteristics - but you'll need to go to their site to read the whole article.

The 3 Characteristics of an Educated Man

by Brett and Kate McKay on October 30, 2011

What defines an educated man? The number of degrees he has? The size of his vocabulary? How many books he’s read?

The qualities that constitute an educated man can be argued over and debated. But I was really taken with the description I found in the book How to Live the Good Life by Commander Edward Whitehead (the Schweppes guy!). He said:
“An educated man has been defined as one who can entertain himself, one who can entertain another, and one who can entertain a new idea.”
Let’s take a look at each of these characteristics.

Can Entertain Himself

“Only those who want everything done for them are bored.” –Billy Graham

* * * *

Can Entertain a Friend

* * * *

Can Entertain a New Idea

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Women Experience Premature Orgasm, too

It's one of the things some men fear more than anything else - premature ejaculation. About 30% of men regularly experience this sexual dysfunction, which is generally defined not to much by the time it takes to reach orgasm as by the perceived dissatisfaction for both partners in the duration of intercourse.

Most men tend to think that if a woman orgasms quickly, then it's cool - less pressure to perform, and since women can often have multiple orgasms, then no worries, right?

Not so much - women feel badly about finishing too soon just as men do.

This comes from the United Academics blog.
Women peak too soon during sex

By Bendert Katier
Thursday October 27, 2011

Most people believe the premature orgasm to be a typical male problem. Women on the other hand are often expected to have difficulties reaching their peak. However, a new study shows that women too can come too fast, sometimes even as often as men. The study was conducted by researcher Serafim Carvalho and his colleagues at the Hospital Magalhães Lemos in Portugal.

Carvalho and his team found 510 Portuguese women between the ages of 18 and 45 years willing to participate. As it turned out, 40 percent sometimes came too fast, 14 percent experienced it on a regular basis and 3.3 percent noted to experience ‘dysfunctions’ as a result of premature orgasms.

The researchers, who published their study in the journal Sexologies, stated that some women who took part in the study thought they could control their orgasms completely, while others claimed to have a total lack of control. Not surprisingly, the second group was more likely to come prematurely, which could lead to discomfort and friction within the relationship.

“The same as men”

“I probably feel the same about climaxing prematurely as men do, there is no difference” said one woman who participated in the study. “I tend to come very quickly, even before my boyfriend has the chance and I find that very annoying. If I continue with sex after I’ve had an orgasm,I find that discomforting, my mood drops and my boyfriend stops making love to me. That makes me feel bad.”

S. Carvalho, A. Moreira, M. Rosado, D. Correia, D. Maia, & P. Pimentel (2011). Female premature orgasm: Does this exist? Sexologies.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Todd Kashdan - Explained: Why Men Have a Harder Time Making Friends

One of the issues many of the men I have talked to and worked with have is the challenge of making male friends - even for some of the younger guys, male friendship feels awkward and uncomfortable. I think this is partly because so many men are growing up without fathers or male role models in the absence of a father.

Of course, this is not true across the board. And in this article from Huffington Post, Todd Kashdan looks at why men have a harder time making friends.

Explained: Why Men Have a Harder Time Making Friends

Todd Kashdan - Professor of psychology, George Mason University

In my college course on the science of well-being, I devote at least three classes to what psychologists have learned about nourishing healthy relationships. Ask school children who their friends are and many list last names close to them in the alphabet. Why? Because most friendships are determined by seating charts. Schools shove future friends in your face. During the innocence of youth, proximity alone is grounds for liking someone. But things change dramatically as we get older, especially for men. Open-mindedness takes a hit. What other people think of us and where we stand in the social hierarchy is of epic importance. But there's something else that makes it hard to make friends, something insidious that few people talk about.

When men hit their 30s, many cling to their high school and college friends. And if these don't last, men have a hard time forming new friendships. I'm not talking about work-out partners and neighbors you pound a few beers with while ribs are grilling, I'm talking about confidants. People who you are willing to share your innermost self to because you feel it will be valued and accepted (regardless of what evils lurk there). Women are fantastic at cultivating these relationships. Women spend substantial time and energy to creating intimate relationships, safe havens and people that care about the good things that happen to them. Men? Not so much. With one exception: Men who get married. With wives in charge of their social life, men get a free pass to a rich social life.

Now is the time to be skeptical. After all, most gender differences are miniscule. Differences between men and women in talent for science, math, engineering and technology? Miniscule. Research on this topic shows its about motivation, not ability. Differences between men and women in empathy, compassion and love? Miniscule. Ends up being more about how these interpersonal emotions are expressed, not about gender differences in what is felt. So why should you believe that as we get older, men tend to feel lonelier with less confidants compared to women and their abundance of meaningful relationships?
Read the whole article.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Robert Augustus Masters - Eros Undressed: Into the Heart of Sex

Over at Integral Life, Robert Augsutus Masters has offered a new article in his monthly column - "Eros Undressed: Into the Heart of Sex." He presents, as usual, some very clear insights on the perspectives from which we see our sexuality:
And there is so much that we expect sex to do for us! More often than we might like to admit, we assign it to stress release, security enhancement, spousal pacification, egoic gratification, pleasure production, and other such tasks. We may use it as a super sleeping pill, a rapid-action pick-me-up, an agent of consolation, a haven or hideout, a control tactic, a proof that we’re not that old or cold. We may also employ it as a psychological garbage disposal, a handy somatic terminal for discharging the energies of various unwanted states, like loneliness or rage or desperation. Mostly, though, we just tend to want sex to make us feel better, and we use it accordingly, whether in mundane, dark, or spiritual contexts.
He argues that we will never have any freedom around sexuality and sexual intimacy until we can release it from our needs for it to make us feel better.

Here is the beginning of the article.

Eros Undressed: Into the Heart of Sex

Read the whole article.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Introduction To Voice Dialogue

Voice Dialogue was created by Hal and Sidra Stone back in the 1970s from an amalgam of Jungian and Gestalt (among others) therapeutic perspectives. While most people in the integral community know about Big Mind/Big Heart, the pseudo-spiritual method of dis-identification created by former Zen teacher Dennis Merzel, many fewer people know that what he teaches is essentially little more than Voice Dialogue, minus the safeguards that a therapeutic environment includes.

You can check out their reading room here. The book above, Embracing Our Selves, is considered the Voice Dialogue Manual.

They also have a YouTube Channel with a handful of short videos, of which this is the Introduction.

Introduction To Voice Dialogue

I think there is much of value in their approach that can help men in their personal growth - as we become of aware of our various roles in life - father, son, brother, husband, friend, employee - we can then become more aware of our parts or subpersonalities.

The Daily Om on Making Our Lives Our Own

Some simple and good advice that is much harder to do than it might seem. However, I am not a fan of all the "musts" in the final paragraph - making growth and taking different perspectives into a requirement just breeds resistance.

Further, while I like the idea of seeing the world through the eyes of a child - taking Beginner's Mind - we also need to filter that through our discerning higher stages of development. To do otherwise is to live in a pre-rational worldview.

Making Life Yours

A simple shift in attitude can help us recognize the hidden potential for fulfillment in every event.

There is no secret recipe for happiness and contentment. The individuals who move through life joyously have not necessarily been blessed with lives of abundance, love, success, and prosperity. Such people have, however, been blessed with the ability to take the circumstances they’ve been handed and make them into something great. Our individual realities are colored by perception—delight and despair come from within rather than without. Situations we regard as fortuitous please us while situations we judge inauspicious cause us no end of grief. Yet if we can look at all we have accomplished without dwelling on our perceived misfortune and make each new circumstance our own, the world as a whole becomes a brighter place. A simple shift in attitude can help us recognize and unearth the hidden potential for personal and outer world fulfillment in every event, every relationship, every duty, and every setback.

The universe is often an unpredictable and chaotic place, and the human tendency is to focus on the negative and assume the positive will care for itself. But life can be no more or no less than what you make of it. If you are working in a job you dislike, you can concentrate on the positive aspects of the position and approach your work with gusto. What can you do with this job that can turn it around so you do love it. When faced with the prospect of undertaking a task you fear, you can view it as an opportunity to discover what you are truly capable of doing. Similarly, unexpected events, when viewed as surprises, can add flavor to your existence. By choosing to love life no matter what crosses your path, you can create an atmosphere of jubilance that is wonderfully infectious. A change in perspective is all it takes to change your world, but you must be willing to adopt an optimistic, hopeful mind-set.

To make a conscious decision to be happy is not enough. You must learn to observe life’s complexities through the eyes of a child seeing everything for the first time. You must furthermore divest yourself of preconceived notions of what is good and what is bad so that you can appreciate the rich insights concealed in each stage of your life’s journey. And you must strive to discover the dual joys of wanting what you have. As you gradually shift your perspective, your existence will be imbued with happiness and contentment that will remain with you forever.

What do you think?
Discuss this article and share your opinion

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it true that boys find it harder to learn to read than girls?

Interesting article from Julia Eccleshare in the Guardian UK on the current state of research around male and female reading skills and development. I'm not sure I agree with her assessment in whole (it's too brief to know for sure), but I do suspect it has less to do with gender and more to do with how children are taught.

That said, when I was a wee lad learning to read, I didn't. The girls were learning by the time we were in Kindergarten but the boys were seeing who could run faster, who could swing higher (and then jump), or who could hit the tetherball the hardest.

Is it true that boys find it harder to learn to read than girls?

There is no scientific proof of gender differences in reading, but more boys than girls become either 'can but don't' or 'can't and don't' readers

Julia Eccleshare, Monday 24 October 2011

Hidden code? ... primary one children learning to read at Menstrie Primary school, Scotland. Photograph: Murdo Macleod

There is no scientific proof of gender differences in reading and lots of boys do learn to read easily and do enjoy it. But what is known is that, once in the classroom and certainly under test conditions, more boys than girls become either "can but don't" or "can't and don't" readers. Often-cited reasons for this are sociological ones such as boys having fewer reading role models or boys being more interested in more active pursuits. 

The wealth of funny books such as Andy Stanton's Mr Gum titles, Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants, Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry or Jeremy Strong's The Hundred-Mile-an-Hour Dog are all perfectly pitched to encourage boys to read. Additionally, the current vibrant climate for authors and readers to meet has been beneficial as boys relish meeting their favourite authors and are likely to become keener readers in the process.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Consuming Internet Porn Inhibits Male Performance and Rewires the Brain

Transsexual model Karis

New research suggests that men who consume internet porn perform poorly when with a real flesh-and-feelings woman. This seems to especially be a problem for guys under 25 years of age - they have grown up with internet porn the ways guys in my generation grew up with Playboy. The problem for them is that the internet does different things to the brain when sex is concerned.
Lots of guys, 20s or so, can't get it up anymore with a real girl, and they all relate having a serious porn/masturbation habit. Guys will never openly discuss this with friends or co-workers, for fear of getting laughed out of town. But when someone tells their story on a health forum, and there are 50-100 replies from other guys who struggle with the same thing. This is for real.
According to the new study:
[E]rectile dysfunction due to excessive Web porn begins for many men in their teens. 70 percent of those young men who came to seek help for performance issues said they were Web porn habitues.

The weary and wise might offer that this problem must be psychological. Yet the researchers declare: "Hold on there, big brains."

For their belief is that Web porn simply numbs men's pleasure receptacles, desensitizing responses to the neurochemical dopamine. This is a chemical associated with reward and, in young men, researchers believe that gorging on Internet porn simply shuts down the physiological sense of reward from sex.
But it goes in a much different direction from here.

Men who look at a lot of internet porn find themselves becoming habituated, just like a cocaine user who needs more and more to get the familiar high that they crave. In the world of porn, this is reflected in men who start with pictures of of young women and then, from there, it escalates in directions they would never have imagined before they began consuming porn.

One young man said:
Anthony: I started looking at porn, on a regular basis, about five years ago. First there were the beautiful women, then the hardcore porn, then the weird insertions, then the transvestites, then critters, then the hermaphrodites, then the teen porn, then the younger models and now prison (soon to go). As the years passed I became less and less interested in masturbating and more and more interested in "novelty" searching. Looking back, I just don't see how I failed to recognize that I had a problem.
One of the best explanations for this phenomenon comes from Norman Doidge's The Brain that Rewires Itself. In this Psychology Today article, they quote his book:
What if the porn to which you once happily fapped no longer does the job? Could this be why viewers who would never harm others are viewing violent porn? Why gay porn viewers are feeling baffled by their tastes for straight rape porn or lesbian porn? Why straight men are bewildered by their tastes for transsexual or gay porn?

Psychiatrist Norman Doidge explained in The Brain That Changes Itself:
The content of what [patients] found exciting changed as the Web sites introduced themes and scripts that altered their brains without their awareness. Because plasticity is competitive, the brain maps for new, exciting images increased at the expense of what had previously attracted them. (p.109)
Do a viewer's most recent porn tastes reveal his "deepest urges and most uninhibited thoughts," as Ogas and Gaddam claim? Does his sexual orientation change along with what he views? Or does cyberporn manufacture superficial tastes, sometimes unrelated to sexual orientation? Most likely, the latter.
I am not so sure about the claim at the end of that paragraph. In the sex addicts I have seen, there is more fluidity in their sexual preference than in non-addicts who use porn to self-medicate (for escape, to relieve stress, etc.).

One of the outcomes of these brain changes is desensitization:
Over time, a user's brain can physically change. Signs of fundamental brain alterations (as contrasted with short-lived habituation) may include: chronic weakened impulse control, craving spikes in response to cues he associates with porn use, and decreased sexual responsiveness. He's no longer registering pleasure normally; his desensitized brain is desperate for the dopamine hits from stimulation. To climax, he needs to watch for longer or move to new genres of porn.
One of the outcomes of this is that straight men start looking at gay porn, or violent porn, and eventually transsexual porn (the operator of one site claims in that Psychology Today article that ALL of the visitors to his site are straight guys).

But if a brain's wiring can be changed in this way, as Doidge illustrates, it can - fortunately - be changed back with time and some serious dedication to not viewing porn and not masturbating.
Unwiring plastic changes

As a porn user's addiction progresses, masturbation habits may tell him very little about his actual orientation. However, guys on our forum have discovered that if they (1) give their brains a rest from porn, porn fantasy (and ideally masturbation and orgasm), and (2) replace their former habits with socializing, exercise, meditation and other comforting activities, they can start to see changes in their sexual tastes surprisingly quickly. Here's Ryan's report after only a month:
I spent the last year of high school jacking off to Internet porn compulsively, and escalated to gay porn several months ago. I found it disturbing to watch; it fueled my OCD and subsequent depression.

Now I'm feeling almost like a new person. I've been through nearly 4 weeks of hell, and had to get my antidepressants adjusted. I've been biking daily and interacting with others at college. But I do not get aroused at gay porn anymore. It's like I have gotten rid of those circuits. The thought of lesbian porn is once again arousing. I am also slowly starting to get my libido back. It's not over yet, but I have conquered part of it.
You can read the whole Psychology Today article here.

Reflection in sunglasses of porn viewer

In another Psychology Today article from September, they reviewed the new definition of addiction (it's about the brain, not about behaviors) and show how sex and porn can produce addiction in compulsive users (the key word being compulsive).
If you view porn, are you an addict or merely a user?

This question used to be a silly one for most porn users. Prior to the Internet, porn use (if any) bore some relation to authentic libido. When one had had enough, the magazine went back under the mattress. Internet porn, however, has the power to override natural satiety mechanisms in many brains. This increases the risk of the addiction-related brain changes ASAM addressed.  

With respect to porn, it's not time spent viewing or what you're looking at that determines whether your brain has changed. Instead, watch for these signs:
Curious how these telltale symptoms might show up in today's porn users? We've culled the following questions from actual reports of self-identified porn addicts. Many users do not make the connection between their symptoms and their porn use until they abstain from porn for weeks, but these questions, and the remarks below them, may help you determine whether you need to seek help to reverse unwanted changes and restore your brain to balance.
  • Have you tried to stop using porn and failed? Did you noticewithdrawal symptoms?
  • Do you experience intense cravings when you have no access to porn for several days?
  • When you use again do you notice rapid escalation to more extreme material?
  • Have you noticed changes in your sexual tastes?
    • Have you explored new types of porn in order to attain earlier levels of excitement?
    • Are you viewing things that never turned you on?
    • Are you using porn that does not match your sexual orientation?
  • Is porn viewing the most exciting thing in your life? Does life seem dull otherwise?
  • Do you feel powerless to stop yourself from using porn if you see or experience something you associate with porn use, such as:
    • being alone in the house,
    • seeing a TV show with your favorite fetish hinted at or portrayed,
    • seeing news about a favorite porn star?
  • Do you see potential mates differently—more as body parts than as people?
  • Since using Internet porn, do you feel more tongue-tied, unsafe, awkward or anxious around other people—especially potential mates?
  • Is it harder to connect with others? Do you feel lonelier? Are you more worried about what others think about you?
  • Have you (or those who care about you) noticed you:
    • procrastinate more than before using, have lower motivation(don't care), chronic fatigue, brain-fog, or difficulty concentrating or remembering things?
    • have become more anxious, restless, impulsive, stressed, irritable, unhappy, pessimistic, emotionally numb, or depressed?
    • have become more secretive, or isolate more?
  • Have you noticed declines in your sexual function during sex: more rapid ejaculation (PE), inability to maintain an erection without self-stimulation, porn or porn fantasy (even if you can get rock-hard to porn), delayed ejaculation (or inability to orgasm), less satisfying orgasm, need the lights on during sex to get aroused, not turned on by attractive partner, no desire for sex?
  • Have you noticed declines in your sexual function duringmasturbation: unable to masturbate without porn or porn fantasy, need for more vigorous masturbation ("death grip," faster strokes), weaker (or rapidly fading) erections, climaxing with a semi-erection, more frequent urination?
  • Since using Internet porn, do you feel like you've lost your "mojo," or sex appeal? Do you doubt your attractiveness or feel more anxious about the dimensions/appearance of your genitals?
  • Does your voice feel more nervous, shallow, tight, or unnaturally high? Shallow breathing?
  • Have you masturbated to the point of abrasions or other physical damage?
  • Can you fall asleep without using porn? Do you have more troublesleeping soundly through the night?
  • When under stress do you use more porn?
  • Do you have intrusive porn flashbacks?
  • Are you risking your job, education or relationship to watch porn, or spending too much money on it?
  • Have you lost a relationship or job, or dropped out of school due to your porn use (or symptoms related to it)?
  • After climaxing, do you notice more intense mood swings (irritability,depression, anxiety)?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NPR - To 'Hell And Back,' With A Marine And His Wife

I listened to this earlier in the week and thought it was very revealing about how so many of the soldiers coming back from Iraq and especially Afghanistan are struggling with life back home. Sounds like a good film that might be a little hard to watch.

The documentary Hell and Back Again follows U.S. Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris and his wife, Ashley, as the two grapple with the physical and emotional fallout of his injuries in Afghanistan.
The documentary Hell and Back Again follows U.S. Marine Sgt. Nathan Harris and his wife, Ashley, as the two grapple with the physical and emotional fallout of his injuries in Afghanistan.
October 18, 2011
One Marine had been killed. A dozen had collapsed from heat exhaustion. It was 130 degrees, and their supplies of water were running out.
"That's when Sgt. Nathan Harris handed me his last bottle of water," says Danfung Dennis, a filmmaker and acclaimed combat photographer. "We first met on Machine Gun Hill."
With two deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan under his belt, the 25-year-old Harris was "an exceptional leader," Dennis tells NPR's Renee Montagne — the Marine chosen to be first off the chopper in an assault on a Taliban stronghold that would become a brutal firefight. "'He was this courageous platoon leader who was at the tip of the spear of this entire battle."
Six months later, watching a contingent of returning Marines step off the buses in North Carolina for a reunion with their families, Dennis realized that Nathan Harris wasn't among them. He'd been hit two weeks before — shot in the hip by a Taliban machine-gun round. He had nearly bled to death.
"He was in extreme pain and distress," Dennis recalls, "and feeling very guilty for having left his men behind."
Harris' agonized struggle to transition back into a society that didn't much understand what he'd been through became the focus of Dennis' documentary Hell and Back Again, which won a World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Daily stresses that get under everyone's skin — paying bills, finding parking at a Walmart — proved overwhelmingly distracting for Harris.
"It makes me want to lose my frickin' mind," Harris says in the film. "It's just like, 'My God, I would rather be in Afghanistan, where it's simple.' When you come home, it's almost more difficult than doing that stuff."
Lingering pain from a gunshot wound to the hip is just one of the hurdles facing Harris as he tries to re-acclimate to life stateside.
EnlargeDanfung Dennis/Docurama Films
Lingering pain from a gunshot wound to the hip is just one of the hurdles facing Harris as he tries to re-acclimate to life stateside.
Simple? In a sense.
"Back in Afghanistan, it's simply walking, fighting and do it again the next day," Dennis explains.
But not uncomplicated. Embedded with Harris' unit, Dennis went through multiple combat engagements with the Marines. His camera captures the chaos of battle up close — dirt sprays the lens when a rocket-propelled grenade detonates nearby, and the day darkens when an IED explodes, enveloping the unit in dust and uncertainty.
"When you're exposed to that much violence and that much trauma, it's a very natural response for your body to go into this emotionally numb state," Dennis says. "You have to. When you get home, that's when it comes back — and so I'm trying to blend these two worlds, Afghanistan and North Carolina, and seamlessly create one experience to show that the fighting doesn't stop when you get back."
To create that "one experience," Dennis overlays footage from Harris' daily life in North Carolina with audio from battles the two went through in southern Afghanistan. In one scene, Harris' wife orders corn dogs and fries from a fast-food drive-through, as the roar of jet engines, the beat of helicopter blades and the chap-chap-chap of machine-gun fire slowly drowns her out.
Director Danfung Dennis (bottom left) shot Hell and Back Again in part while embedded with Harris' unit — Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
EnlargeJoe Raedle/via Docurama Films
Director Danfung Dennis (bottom left) shot Hell and Back Again in part while embedded with Harris' unit — Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
Those scenes aren't literal depictions of what was going through Harris' mind in those moments. They're more impressionistic.
"Sgt. Harris and I never sat down and looked at the footage I was shooting," Dennis says. "He just had to trust me to tell his story. And so I think I brought in a lot of my own personal experiences of what it was like to come home from war — of how that war stays with you, the things that you've seen stay with you. And they change you."
Much of the film is literal, though — a chronicle of how the war changed Harris. In a pharmacy, picking up her husband's powerful medications, Ashley Harris speaks of the stranger she sometimes sees behind Nathan's eyes.
"He gets so mad, he turns into a different person almost. ... It's like I don't even see my husband; it was almost like someone had taken over him," she says.
Wounded though he may be, Nathan Harris is still an active-duty Marine, part of the Wounded Warriors Regiment at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Dennis says he wants to go back to the battle — "he wants to be a leader of men."
It's unlikely to happen, and Harris eventually realizes that. "So Ashley, in one way, is relieved," Dennis says. "But at the same time, I think they both wonder, what is he going to do? Nothing really seems to have the same sort of purpose or meaning once you've been over there. And so he's sort of in this transition still, two years later, [discovering] what it means to come home from war where there isn't a clear spot for you to land."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jayson Gaddis - The Boy Code

Jayson Gaddis has posted a section from his master's thesis on the boy code - on how men are trained to be emotionally shut down and disconnected from themselves. We are socialized that way from an early age, so it begins with parents, and it must include the schools to which we send our kids and the culture in which we raise our kids.

The Boy Code

Fri, Oct 21, 2011
My son finding a bug
My son finding a bug
I often have women come see me who consistently report that the men in their lives are stuck, unhappy, and unwilling to do anything about it. The only time I see those types of men is when their lives and relationships start to fall apart
Why is this?
Are men just lame? Clueless? Just guys? Do we really only care about sports, boobs, gadgets and cars? Or is there more to the story?
Men are falling dramatically behind women (here’s a study backing this up, and some other data here). And boys are falling dramatically behind girls in education (Somewhat conflicting info here with some reports saying it’s still a level playing field, and others saying the way schools are set up is more suited to girl learning styles and not really suited to handle the way boys learn).
Despite what these studies show, my own experience says this: Generally speaking, men are limping along while women are kicking ass.
Most of the research out there points to schooling. That boys simply learn differently than girls and that schools, by in large, support learning styles and environments that favor girls.
This is all great and I can get behind a lot of it. However, the “experts” are missing a critical element that starts from birth onward.
My theory?
The boy code:  Boys are trained out of their natural essence and expected to adhere to what William Pollack describes as the boy code. Michael Kimmel takes the idea further in his book Guyland and speaks about how men remain boys stuck in “guyland.”
Our entire culture supports boys to abandon themselves and their true essence.
We men have been conditioned to be the way we currently are. We were conditioned out of our intuition, emotions, felt sense, and our relational capacity. Believe it or not, men are as sensitive as women and as capable relationally.
Yet because of our culture and the stifling boy code, we have been trained not to be this way. I also understand part of this conversation is about nature (biology) and that men are VERY different from women in endless ways (which I celebrate), but I’m not going to talk about nature. Nurture is something I can do something about so that’s where my attention is.
My attention is on how men are trained to be emotionally shut down and disconnected from themselves.
Here is my master’s paper on the subject from 2005. This excerpt begins on page seven of my 40 page paper. (you might also want to read my post “Why many men are still boys and what can be done about it).
Read the whole post - Jayson looks at a variety of issues, including: 
  • Infancy, the beginning of disconnection
  • The Boy Code and further disconnection
  • The “Gender Straightjacket”
  • Relationship with Mother
  • Relationship with Father
  • Male Friendships and Homophobia
  • Toward Manhood
  • The need for initiation into Manhood