Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rachel Rabbit White - Measuring Up: How Our Culture's Obsession With Porn-Sized Penises Hurts Men

This article from Rachel Rabbit White, who blogs at a site bearing her own name, was picked up by AlterNet (or written for?) and given a much wider and much deserved readership. Somehow I missed this, I think, when it first was published.

Oh yeah, it's from 2011, and it was written partly in the aftermath of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s "dick-pic scandal." Around that time, the prevailing commentary online was that “wangs are ugly” or "look angry."

Rachel clears up a few things and she exposes how this "size matters" stuff hurts a lot of men.

American culture sends men and boys harmful messages about the penis, which can lead to terribly skewed -- and harmful -- expectations.
In 2008,  New York  Magazine reported on a small group of men sitting in a bleak room on 13th street, commiserating, offering support, and trying to come up with something other than “small penis” to describe their "affliction": 

"We’ve been throwing around other names,” says John Miller, a stocky man with a therapeutic manner. “People have suggested firecracker or sparkplug as words with positive connotations."

While New York Magazine ostensibly covered this “Small Penis Support Group” as an esoteric joke, the sentiment behind the group isn’t so rare. A small penis support forum, Measuerection.com, boasts over 10,000 members. A user named “Nubdick” sums up the movement: “I’ve been ridiculed and made fun of by women so much that I've pretty much given up. It doesn't help that the media is constantly barraging us with 'Size DOES matter' -- from music to TV shows and movies, even advertising.”

Then there's a porn-world where every man is over 8 inches. In the phenomenon of monster-cock porn, in which guys (wearing realistic sheaths) give the illusion that a penis can rest on your heart. And let's not forget the e-mail spam that tells my vacant hotmail account, “Rachel, she knows you aren’t big enough.” Or the rigid male gender roles that prize stoicism, that discourage talk of emotions or inadequacies.

In small penis support groups, there are a number of men who aren’t actually small but just feel like they are. And time and time again on the forums, standard sized men say they are going under the knife for penis enlargement surgery--a practice that is described as “experimental at best” by the American Urology Association. A study by researchers at St. Peter’s Andrology Center and Institute of Urology in London followed 42 men undergoing this procedure. Researchers found that most of them had “normal” sized penises--and after the procedure, only 35 percent were satisfied with the results.

American culture sends a message about the penis that is confused, at best. In the wake of Rep. Anthony Weiner’s dick-pic scandal, the theme that “wangs are ugly” spattered the Internet, the media (wrongly) assuming that’s just how most women feel. The Washington Post even ran a sweeping op-ed in which writer Monica Hesse mused, all too predictably: “How about a picture of you, sweaty, cleaning out the storm drain? So sexy!” And before all this, the first big laugh in this summer’s blockbuster Bridesmaids comes from the two main characters joking that penises are ugly and look angry. 

So it seems like in American mainstream culture, “wangs are ugly,” but unlike the Greeks who dealt with penis anxiety by preferring petite genitals, we want ours super-sized anyway. Last year, a “kiss and tell all” account of how Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino had a “small penis” was passed around the Internet with zeal. Penis shaming, it seems, is culturally acceptable. Our mash-up mantra seems to be: wangs are ugly but we, as the '90s club-hit chimes, “don’t want no short dick man."

What we know about the average penis size in America, adds up to--sorry--dick. The size statistics we’ve been relying on--those of Kinsey or a widely used Lifestyle survey--asked men to measure themselves and self report their size, which unsurprisingly seems to only leave room for flubbing upward in inches. There is also the question of where to measure from, and erect or non-erect? Stretching the penis? All this considered, the most widely reported stats confirm average penis size falling somewhere between 5-6 inches.

Along with the pressure to be “well endowed” is more policing of Western male beauty in general. The Calvin Klein ad staring down on men on the bus conveys the message that desirable men are hairless with perfectly formed abs, a great haircut, and a bulge in the pants. Not to mention he has to spend $40 on underwear. 
Read the whole article.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Military Men Twice as Likely to Be Transgender as Civilians

I found this article on Queerty. According to their post, it seems that military men are twice as likely as civilian men to report transgender identification. They found the article at Courthouse News Service and summarized its main points. However, they neglected to mention that the new results are as yet unpublished (pending presentation at a conference, according to the author).

Still, the researcher involved, George R. Brown, M.D., Capt. USAF, contends that the new research supports his prior study (1988), Transsexuals in the Military: Flight Into Hypermasculinity (available online).

Here are some comments from that paper:
Intuitively, one would assume that the prevalence of severe gender dysphoria and, specifically transsexualism, would be low in the military - certainly lower than in the civilian population. Surely, a male who is gender dysphoric and engages in cross-gender activities and possibly sexual activity with other males would not voluntarily submit himself to a system known for its staunch intolerance of deviancy in any form, whether it be homosexuality, long hair, or wrinkled uniforms.

* * * *
The transsexual "flight into femininity" is well-described by Steiner et al. (1978) as a possible phase observed in middle adulthood applicants for sex reassignment surgery. It is clear that in the cases above, and in others I am aware of anecdotally (e.g., 6 transsexual fighter pilots; Lothstein, personal communication, 1986), a diametrically opposed phenomenon may be occurring: a "flight into hypermasculinity." For some, the mere act of enlisting was not enough. In the first case described above the patient deliberately chose the path of greatest danger while in the service: He elected to leave the relative safety of his laboratory technician job and apply for combat helicopter pilot training at the peak of the Viet Nam war, when this was an extremely high-mortality position. Another patient in this sample graduated second in his class at Officer's Candidate School. He volunteered for Special Warfare School, became a Green Beret, and saw extensive combat in Viet Nam and Thailand, completing 4 years of active duty in the Army. In addition to these cases, the military experiences of several well-known transsexual individuals are well-documented in their autobiographies (Cowell, 1954; Jorgensen, 1967; Morris, 1974; Richards, 1983).
He posits that men who are beginning to sense their "gender dysphoria" would seek out hypermasculine identities as a way to prove to themselves - and to others - that they are "real" men. There is no better place to do that than in the military - and even more so if one volunteers for the more dangerous assignments.

It's sad to me that anyone would feel so threatened by their gender identity that they might risk death to prove themselves "normal," whatever the hell that is.

You can also read the Report of the APA Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance.

Here is some of the Courthouse News Service article:

Transgenderism More Likely in Military, Study Finds

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

(CN) - Biologically male U.S. veterans were twice as likely as their civilian counterparts to identify as female, a former military psychologist told Courthouse News, discussing a soon-to-be-published study of more than 5 million service members.

No information has been released indicating whether the subjects of the study sought sex-reassignment surgery, or more generally disassociate with the sex of their birth.

The study by psychologist George Brown follows up on his 1988 paper, "Transsexuals in the Military: Flight Into Hypermasculinity," which relied on interviews with 11 service members who identify as male-to-female transgender, meaning that they were born as biological males but identify as female. Many prefer the umbrella term transgender over the more narrow descriptor transsexual, which usually implies surgical alteration.

"A striking similarity was noted in the histories of nearly all of the military gender dysphorics," the 1988 study states. "They joined the service, in their words, 'to become a real man.'"

"Flight into Hypermasculinity" speculated that enlistment statistics could bear out the theory that male-to-female transsexuals might enlist as a way of "purging the feminine self."

"Current military policies, in association with the proposed hypermasculine phase of transsexual development, may actually result in a higher prevalence of transsexualism in the military than in the civilian population," the 1988 study theorized.

Brown, a veteran himself with 12 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and 13 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs, now says that his new research backs his 24-year-old hypothesis.

"I have data from a study I did in VA that demonstrates a prevalence double that in the nonmilitary population," Brown told Courthouse News in an email. "It is unpublished data, pending presentation in San Francisco in the fall. It totally supports my 1988 work. The denominator in the study is over 5 million veterans. So, I am now confident that my early theory was correct."

Brown, who has 118 scientific papers and abstracts under his belt, added that professional ethics prevent him from describing the study's data in further detail before its public presentation.

Read the whole article.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why Do Men Still Feel an Aversion to Therapy?

There is a lot of validity to the information in this article (from Pacific Standard magazine), which is why I am sharing it in full. However, my experience as a therapist is a bit different.

I see a lot of men, and I see them in a place that only works with survivors of sexual trauma (rape, incest, sexual abuse, and so on). The fact that I see as many men as I do is indicative (to me) of the decreasing stigma associated with men seeking therapy. More importantly, it also suggests that men are not as unwilling to admit that they are survivors of abuse, rape, or incest. 

As this article suggests, there are still a lot of men who cannot or will not enter therapy, no matter how much emotional pain they experience. I'm not sure how to change that, other than to create more public and cultural awareness that men can benefit from talking about their feelings, or even just seeking better coping skills for the challenges that life brings.

And maybe, as this article suggests, we need to market therapy for more traditional men in a different way. We must do something. Even though many more women than men are diagnosed with depression and attempt suicide, 8 in 10 successful suicides are by men.

There is another issue, however, that I am sure factors into whether or not men seek counseling.

I am 45 years old, 6' 1" tall and weigh about 190 lbs, with around 8 percent body fat; my blood pressure hovers around 100 over 60, my cholesterol is about 135, with a higher HDL (70) than LDL (65); I do not drink, smoke, or use drugs, and I work out at least 4 times each week.

Despite being in the 99.9 percentile for general health, I cannot get a preferred rate on my health insurance because I carry a diagnosis for social anxiety disorder. So I pay more. Any man with a family and facing a similar issue may choose to tough out his emotional pain rather than take the financial hit on his health insurance. This is wrong in more ways than I can count. The man who seeks out therapy is likely to cost less in the long term because he will not suffer from the various healths issues related to mental health issues, such as heart disease, cancers, and other stress-related illnesses. The system needs to change.

Aversion to Therapy: Why Won’t Men Get Help?

Psychologists worry about the Great Recession’s toll on men who define their self worth through work. In every corner of the globe, more men commit suicide than women. Research shows that men benefit from talk therapy just as much, if not more, than women. Yet most men still won’t go.
Twenty years ago, Bob Smith’s wife questioned his commitment as a father. She demanded he see a psychiatrist. Smith (not his real name) grudgingly obliged. He went. Once.

“The idea of paying some guy $300 an hour to massage your issues,” says Smith, a Los Angeles-area attorney in his early 60s, “is ridiculous.”

In fact, the psychiatrist Smith talked to found plenty of issues to massage. His 45-minute assessment suggested that Smith was toting a veritable luggage store full of psychological baggage that needed unpacking. He recommended twice-weekly counseling sessions.

Smith was having none of it. Like millions of other American men, he simply couldn’t see paying good money for spilling his guts.

Fast-forward a couple of decades. Last year, Smith was diagnosed with a particularly virulent strain of prostate cancer that required immediate surgery, then radiation treatment. Still, he was disinclined to consider confiding in a professional all that he was enduring emotionally.

“I’m pissing in my pants and I can’t ejaculate and I want to talk to somebody else about that?” the Harvard Law School grad explains. “It’s a misapprehension that talking with a psychiatrist or a psychologist is going to move the ball forward. Some things … are what they are. The sooner you deal with them objectively, the better off you are.”

Smith is convinced. But increasingly, studies show that men like him who equate seeking assistance with weakness, or the appearance of not being able to handle their own problems, experience more soured relationships with their significant others, higher rates of debilitating illnesses, and earlier death.

The cathartic benefits of reaching out for help are hardly a secret. As scientists have come to better understand the inner workings of the brain, they have documented the potentially catastrophic consequences for individuals, particularly men, who go it alone when confronted by profound emotional challenges. Some men have started to take heed. Yet they remain a small minority. In 1998, about 1.47 of every 100 men in the United States sought outpatient help for depression; by 2007 it was 2.12 men per 100, according to a study sponsored by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

 Should therapists be turning to football and jokes to reach a wider audience of men in need?

Often, that help has come in the form of “magic bullet” pharmaceuticals instead of traditional “talk therapy.” In 1998, the study shows, 56.2 percent of men who chose treatment for depression did so by sitting down and discussing their issues with a therapist. By 2007, only 42.5 percent of men interested in treatment chose therapy. Meanwhile, those who popped prescription pills in an attempt to tackle their emotional issues increased from 68.8 percent in 1998 to 73.3 percent in 2007.

While clinicians and academicians may haggle over the pros and cons of treatment approaches—many advocate a combination of psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals—there is no denying the toxic consequences of untreated depression at its most feared extreme. Distraught men are dying by their own hand in ever-greater numbers.

Suicide overtook blood poisoning to become the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2009. Meanwhile, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have continued to escalate every year since 2008, the beginning of the so-called Great Recession. That year, calls to the help line soared a staggering 36 percent.

Men account for nearly 8-in-10 suicides in the U.S. today, even though women are diagnosed more often with depression and make far more suicide attempts. Such numbers are hardly exclusive to U.S. males. Men perish by their own hand in greater frequency in virtually every other corner of the globe. Nowhere, in fact, do female suicides appear to outnumber those of males. Researchers the world over have struggled to explain why. More than a few believe that socialization, not biology, lies at the root of the deadly disparity.

University College Dublin sociologist Anne Cleary published a study in the journal Social Science and Medicine this year that found a common theme among 52 young Irish men who survived suicide attempts: all expressed reluctance to disclose to anyone the “significant, long-lasting” emotional pain that had threatened to overwhelm them.

They “used alcohol and drugs to cope—which exacerbated and prolonged their distress,” Cleary wrote. “Over time this led to a situation where they felt their options had narrowed, and suicidal action represented a way out of their difficulties. … They opted for suicide rather than disclose distress and seek help.”

Frank Ferrante, 60, knows the feeling.

Now a professional speaker living in San Francisco, Ferrante spent a turbulent childhood in the “very gritty, very volatile, very, very pessimistic” Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn that Martin Scorsese brought to life in Goodfellas.

From his passionate but mercurial father, a Merchant Marine born in Sicily, Ferrante began to formulate what he now sees as a “really corrupt notion of what it was to be a man.” John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and the larger-than-life wiseguys who lived down the block just reinforced the definition: “A man is someone who can endure as much pain as possible without letting anyone know.

“As an 11-year-old watching a gigantic black-and-white TV, I wanted to be a poet. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a flamenco dancer,” he recalls.

None of which were acceptable—antithetical to masculinity, in his mind, as were the vulnerability, anxiety, and depression he struggled to hide from everyone. “What I was, was a chameleon. I guess I was good at it. But one could say, my ego smelled a rat.

“I escaped into the construction world. I did it for the next 30 years,” he says, pausing for a long moment before muttering, “Jesus Christ. ”

Even before he dropped out of high school, drugs silenced Ferrante’s doubts, reassuringly blurred his memories. He looked at narcotics as “curative”—the perfect self-medication.

It came crashing down along a twisted, violent road that included a corrosive marriage, arrests, and what he vaguely calls “more subtle things: not being present, not being available in my relationships.”

At the worst point, Ferrante, stoned, jumped onto the tracks where he hoped a subway train would provide a solution. But he misread the light he thought meant a train was approaching. Someone pulled him to safety, for the moment.

Eventually, he found his way to therapy (after getting into a 12-step program) where he explored his past, his regrets, and the very structure of his beliefs.

“It’s been a slow and arduous process of clearing stuff up,” he says. (In 2010, three San Francisco filmmakers produced a documentary, May I Be Frank, about Ferrante’s experiences. See the trailer below.)

SUICIDE RATES AMONG MEN AGES 40 TO 49 have been rising for the past quarter century, and rates among men ages 50 to 59 sharply increased between 1999 and 2005, according to the most recent government statistics available. Though the numbers are not yet in for the years since, experts say that this grim trend may well have been exacerbated by the nation’s ongoing economic malaise, in which twice as many men as women lost their jobs.

The so-called “man-cession” sent overall male unemployment rates into double digits by 2009. It hit men in the prime of their work years especially hard, with nearly one in five men ages 25 to 54 left jobless. The pallid jobs recovery of 2011-12 has favored males over females, yet about one in 13 U.S. men remained unemployed as of April 2012. That figure contains ominous subcategories, including almost 3 million men unemployed for more than 27 weeks (three times as many long-term unemployed as in the last 40 years of record-keeping), and a million unemployed veterans (many carrying the wounds of war along with the burden of being without a job). Not counted at all are the nearly 35 million American men who have simply exited the workforce.

Many psychologists worry particularly about the recession’s ultimate toll on men who once may have defined their self-worth through their roles as breadwinners, only to lose those roles amid corporate downsizing and layoffs. How have men coped? Some, evidently, by drowning their sorrows. Alcohol sales rose every year during the recession, including a 9 percent rise in 2010.

In 2003, the federal National Institutes of Mental Health began posting online public-service spots in a “Real Men. Real Depression” campaign aimed at assuring those in the throes of depression that, “It takes courage to ask for help.” The campaign uses a firefighter, a police officer, and other men who’ve struggled with depression to illustrate that there is light at the proverbial end of the emotional tunnel—but only if they first muster the strength to ask for it.

Retired Air Force First Sergeant Patrick McCathern, among those who appear online in the NIMH spots, says he’d drink to “numb my head” to the depression that tormented him. CBut then you wake up the next day and it’s still there. … You have to deal with it,” McCathern warns.

It’s a cliché, but sometimes it’s true: many men would rather be lost in the wilderness than ask for directions; and they don’t like asking for help.

“We’re self-reliant. We want to do it ourselves,” asserts Fordham University psychology professor Jay Wade, president of the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity.

Oh sure, one guy might ask another to help him move a fridge if he absolutely can’t do it himself, Wade says. He may bend his bloody knuckles around the phone to call a plumber when the faucet’s still leaking after six trips to the hardware store. But when men at the highest rungs of the masculinity scale are faced with profound emotional pain, “they suck it up, move on, bury it, repress it,” according to Wade. “It doesn’t go away, obviously.”

Consider “Gary” a former big-city newspaper reporter and avid private pilot who was assigned to cover a midair collision between a small plane and a commercial airliner in Southern California in which everyone was killed, including several people on the ground. He arrived minutes after the crash. Homes were on fire. Body parts were strewn everywhere.

“You block it all out,” Gary says. “You tell yourself that detached head laying under that little tree can’t possibly be what you think it is, and do your job.”

Officials later that day released a list of names, people who had been aboard the stricken airliner, including a handful who were merely identified as “lap children.” Gary had two young children of his own. The thought, he says, of what it must’ve been like for the children and their parents as the jet fell out of the sky left him shaken.

When he got back to his newsroom, Gary says, his editor asked if he was okay. He assured him he was. To admit otherwise, he says, would’ve sent a message that he was incapable of handling tough assignments—professional suicide in the news business.

Though haunted by what he saw that day, Gary never sought counseling and says he eventually got over it. It would take him more than 10 years before he could will himself to pilot a small plane again.

“Would I have gotten back into flying sooner had I gone to see somebody? Probably,” he says. “But I just didn’t feel like talking about it, especially to a stranger.”

Statistics show that men are far less willing to visit a doctor of any kind, even when they’re having chest pain or experiencing other life-threatening symptoms, despite the fact that men die in greater numbers from 12 of the 15 most common causes of death. (Remember, women outlive men by an average of five to seven years.)

A study published last year by Rutgers University sociologists Kristen W. Springer and Dawne M. Mouzon found that health-care avoidance is most pronounced among “macho men,” those most invested in the belief that a “real” man is self-reliant and strong to the point of physical invulnerability. In their study of about 1,000 65-year-old men, those least likely to follow preventive health-care recommendations were more likely to favor traditional sex-role beliefs, measured by their endorsement of statements like, “A man should always try to project an air of confidence even if he really doesn’t feel confident inside” and, “When a man is feeling pain, he shouldn’t let it show.” Not surprisingly, those men were also less healthy.

If traditional men refrain from exposing their physical vulnerabilities in a doctor’s office, it stands to reason that they’d be unwilling to expose their emotional vulnerabilities in a counselor’s office, and that’s exactly what the evidence shows, according to Wade, the professor who heads up the masculinity division at the American Psychological Association.

To be sure, not every man needs to see a psychologist or psychiatrist, Wade and others are quick to point out. Many people adjust well on their own even in the face of catastrophic trauma, drawing on inner resources, resiliency, and guidance from family and trusted friends. But it doesn’t take a social scientist to realize that, sometimes, a genetic predisposition to depression or anxiety—perhaps exacerbated by the stresses of ordinary life—can add up to the kind of angst that threatens to overwhelm an individual’s coping mechanisms. Some individuals may initially try to “numb themselves out” by throwing themselves into their work as a distraction. As evidenced by the Irish study, alcohol and drug use are also common avenues of escape.

For many a manly man, a police DUI checkpoint and court-mandated counseling mark the first stops on the path to the therapist’s office. Often as not, it’s a wife or girlfriend who finally says, “Go see somebody or I’m leaving you.” But forcing men to sit through counseling sessions, mental health experts say, can itself be a minefield. Some men become resentful and even more noncommunicative if they are essentially sentenced to talk, even if the disempowering decision was ostensibly “for their own good.”

Where does it all begin, the foundation that in many men becomes a nearly impenetrable wall of stoicism?

It turns out, guys aren’t born as strong, silent types, just as girls aren’t emotive yakkers in the nursery. “The general public thinks masculinity comes with a Y chromosome,” says Ronald Levant, a professor of psychology at the University of Akron and the editor of the academic journal Psychology of Men & Masculinity. “In truth, decades of research show that sex differences between men and women and girls and boys are very small.”

A reluctance to share feelings is hardly exclusively a “man thing.” Many women also shun any form of help that might expose their emotional vulnerabilities. The real difference is the way most boys are socialized to act tough—and suffer social consequences when they don’t, says Levant, whose own traditional upbringing during the 1950s in hardscrabble South Central Los Angeles, where “all the fathers worked at Firestone or General Motors,” was a ready-made laboratory for his future academic studies.

Studies show, perhaps surprisingly, that most male babies actually start out more emotionally expressive than females. It’s not long, however, before they pick up on clear messages from those around them, especially parents and grandparents, that boys are strong, that they don’t cry and never complain no matter what. Sure enough, by age 2, boys are less verbally expressive than girls.

Consider, Levant says, what happens when a boy scrapes his knee while learning to ride a bicycle or playing sports. If the boy cries, his dad or coach will demand he walk it off. By ages 4 to 6, boys are less likely to register their emotions on their faces. As early as fourth grade, Levant says, boys are more reluctant to ask for help in resolving conflicts with peers. These behavioral patterns extend into adulthood.

While it may not seem obvious in these days of macho yoga and stay-at-home fatherhood, the truth is that many American men hold to traditional values: real men are embodied by the archetypal “strong, silent type” characters played by Clint Eastwood or Chuck Norris. Psychologists like Levant even have a term for it: “normative male alexithymia,” which literally translates as “without words for emotions.”

Swept up in the counterculture environment of Berkeley in the 1960s, Levant says his exposure to feminism, civil rights, and sexual freedom made him begin to question his conformity to male “rules.” But it wasn’t until years later, as a single father, that it dawned on him that he was not alone in questioning the emotionally repressed models of masculine behavior from his youth.

In 1995, he helped to create a division within the American Psychological Association dedicated to men and masculinity. The group explores, scientifically, the consequences of and alternatives to rigid social expectations of masculine behavior as a means of “enhancing men’s capacity to experience their full human potential.”

It might sound like so much psychobabble, but a critical component of his mission, Levant says, is to help men learn to be more in touch with their own feelings, to the extent that they can at least recognize when those feelings are symptomatic of a real problem—the psychological equivalent of chest pain.

As Tony Soprano learned when he finally sought help for his panic attacks, psychotherapists today, likely as not, wear lipstick. Nearly three in every four licensed psychologists who hold doctorate degrees are female, as are almost 80 percent of master’s-level students in psychology-related fields of study. This disproportion, experienced counselors say, can pose both an advantage and a disadvantage for male patients.

On the one hand, men who are interested but hesitant to sit down with any psychotherapist may regard a woman as more nurturing, empathetic, and less threatening. The patient may ultimately be more willing to open up. On the other hand, female psychotherapists who tend by their training and their own socialization to be emotive, run the risk of alienating men by trying to counsel them, however subtly, to be like them.

Instead, psychologists like Jay Wade start their counseling sessions by commending reluctant male clients for the courage it took just to show up. Then they strive to cultivate the image of therapist-as-partner. The approach is less like a sensitivity trainer beseeching, “How do you feel?” and more like a golf pro paid to help refine your swing.

Bob Diddlebock, 59, a clinically depressed freelance writer in Denver, says he tried counseling but found sessions with the female psychologist he was referred to, to be distracting.

“All I wanted to do was [have sex with] her,” Diddlebock says.

His brother-in-law at the time, a “cool guy” whom Diddlebock admired, suggested a male psychologist he was seeing. That was in 1995. Diddlebock’s been going to that psychologist ever since, as often as three times a week.

“That guy has basically thrown me a lifesaver,” Diddlebock says. “There have been times I’ve crawled in on my knees. And I’ve been able to walk out.”

That he and the therapist are contemporaries helped, Diddlebock says. So did the fact that the therapist was “very intuitive and insightful, both in a clinical and real-world way. He can go real deep on what [stuff] means, and how it reflects on my thinking. He doesn’t repeat himself.”

Diddlebock, who also takes antidepressants prescribed by a physician, figures he’s paid upwards of $30,000 over the years for services rendered. It’s been money well spent, he says. Still, Diddlebock’s younger brother, a building contractor who lives in Idaho’s Teton Mountains and enjoys elk hunting on horseback, called him a “wimp” for seeking psychological help. The brothers haven’t spoken in years.

The most optimistic psychotherapists envision a day when even the most macho of macho men will sit down with skilled counselors to off-load the emotional burdens of dysfunctional relationships and traumatic events. But old biases die hard: sessions, they predict, will likely be called “skills training” or “weekend solution workshops.” Anything but “psychotherapy.”

East of Los Angeles, at the University of Redlands college counseling center where Fredric E. Rabinowitz has practiced psychotherapy for three decades, change is already afoot. The 3-females-to-1-male ratio of students seeking therapy on campus has hardly budged over the years, Rabinowitz says, but the stigma of therapy among young men has. “They’re less judgmental about guys that go for counseling,” Rabinowitz says. “I believe that 9/11 was a big turning point for this generation. Men were seen crying in reaction to the carnage in New York.”

Depressed college men continue to find benefit in the “feel bad, take a pill” simplicity of antidepressants, Rabinowitz says, but the frequently experienced sexual side effects of these SSRIs often drive them in exasperation to his office.

“Once guys have made it into counseling, they like it,” says Rabinowitz, co-author of Deepening Psychotherapy With Men. “Once it is reframed as a sign of strength to seek help … most men find talking and processing their experience therapeutic.”

Most, maybe, but certainly not all.

Lawyer Bob Smith remains skeptical that he could ever possibly benefit in any measure from psychotherapy aimed at getting to the roots of what he concedes are anger issues and less-than-ideal relationships with others. He says he is comfortable with who he is, angst and all.

“As soon as you get in the hands of one of these guys, you suddenly have a whole panoply of problems you have to ‘work through,’” Smith says cynically. “They want you to set up meetings twice a week. I’m an attorney. I know how the game is played.”


But experts warn that for men like Smith, the go-it-alone mind-set may exact its own grave price.
About Betsy Bates Freed and David Freed
Clinical psychologist Betsy Bates Freed blogs on psychological issues for The Oncology Report and is a frequent contributor to Clinical Psychiatric News. David Freed, a screenwriter and former investigative reporter for Los Angeles Times, is the author of the new mystery novel Flat Spin.

New Journal - New Male Studies: An International Journal

I found the announcement for this new journal at the National Coalition for Men site - the longest standing men's rights group in the country. Their agenda is centered on ending sexual discrimination against men - and how that plays out often looks like bashing all forms of feminism and, by extension, women in general.

The editor is Dr. Miles Groth, one of the leaders of the new male studies movement (an effort to reject the tradition of men's studies on the grounds that it grew out of the women's studies departments at most colleges and is therefore tainted with feminist beliefs and agendas). The advisory board includes Warren Farrell (of course) and Pelle Billing.

Maybe they will avoid the misogynistic tone that so often seems to be a part of the men's rights movement, with which this journal is indirectly affiliated, and present truly useful material for understanding the plight of men and boys in the 21st century. The first two issues are linked to below.

New Male Studies: An International Journal

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012

New Male Studies: An International Journal (NMS) is an open access online interdisciplinary forum for research and discussion of issues facing boys and men worldwide.


In response to a now well-documented decline in the overall well-being of males in postmodern culture, a group of Australian, Canadian, European and American scholars have gathered to work together to publish research essays, opinion pieces, and book reviews on all aspects of the male experience.

Main Foci

Several broad areas of fundamental interest and concern have been identified:

(1) the experience and outcomes of education for boys and young men, (2) challenges and difficulties of developmental transition for males – especially adolescents, (3) significant disparities in health outcomes for men compared with women, (4) the vital role of fathering, (5) the inordinate number of males in the penal system, (6) the characterisations of men and boys cultivated within popular culture, academe, and many social institutions, and (7) how men experience and are affected by the kinds of occupational, familial, and social roles that are culturally required of them.

Tri-annual Publication

New Male Studies will three times annually publish invited manuscripts by experts in their fields as well as contributions by young scholars and others submitted for peer review.

Website design and web hosting provided by the Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies.

Editorial Stance

The journal’s editorial and advisory board members envision the new male studies as providing an academic, non-polemical, and proactive forum for the clarification of issues and the promotion of fresh approaches to understanding and addressing challenges boys and men currently face.

Quantitative and qualitative research, opinion pieces, essays, and relevant book reviews are welcome, as are reflections of a personal nature of interest to those who have had similar experiences.

Scholars will be published who work in areas as diverse as: law, economics, psychology, biology, genetics, medicine, anthropology, literature, education, forensics, public policy, demography, history, sociology, and other related disciplines.

The journal will play a pivotal role as a forum for discussion, and a clearinghouse of work being carried on in academe, government, and at the grassroots level. The work of all academics including independent scholars is especially welcome.

NMS Position Statement

Discussion of gender in the last half century has often been characterised by a polarisation of the sexes; making it very difficult to engage with issues of vital importance to healthy interpersonal and social relationships. Gender ideology - and reactions against it - all too often have not only curtailed possibilities of reasoned dialogue, but have sidelined crucial informative evidence and silenced individuals with unpopular views.

NMS recognises the need to pursue a different approach to understanding gender issues and the contemporary experience and roles of males in society; an approach that is:
· open to constructive academic dialogue guided by available evidence of a range of different academic disciplines, consideration of both men’s and women’s particular cultural experience and circumstances, and the indispensable contribution both sexes make to the quality and viability of family and community life;

· guided by principles of equity, intellectual integrity, and a view of human experience, society, and ethics that is inseparable from biological, psychological, cultural, economic realities

· careful to avoid intellectual reductionism, political partisanship, ideological advocacy and defensiveness, while instead openly pursuing enquiring and dynamic multidisciplinary scholarship
Download Issue 1.1 (2012) pp. 1-120 as a PDF

Download NMS Volume 1 Issue 2 as a PDF

Friday, July 27, 2012

Our Brains See Men as People and Women as Body Parts

This is a strange and troubling bit of research. Our brains perceive images of men with global processing centers of the brain, but we perceive images of women with local processing centers. What this comes down to is that we see men as people, but we perceive women in the same way we process objects. This study reveals for the first time how sexual objectification theory functions.

Fortunately, it seems that this bias can be overturned pretty simply.

Sum of the parts? How our brains see men as people and women as body parts

Posted On: July 25, 2012

When casting our eyes upon an object, our brains either perceive it in its entirety or as a collection of its parts. Consider, for instance, photo mosaics consisting of hundreds of tiny pictures that when arranged a certain way form a larger overall image: In fact, it takes two separate mental functions to see the mosaic from both perspectives.

A new study suggests that these two distinct cognitive processes also are in play with our basic physical perceptions of men and women -- and, importantly, provides clues as to why women are often the targets of sexual objectification.

The research, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, found in a series of experiments that participants processed images of men and women in very different ways. When presented with images of men, perceivers tended to rely more on "global" cognitive processing, the mental method in which a person is perceived as a whole. Meanwhile, images of women were more often the subject of "local" cognitive processing, or the objectifying perception of something as an assemblage of its various parts.

The study is the first to link such cognitive processes to objectification theory, said Sarah Gervais, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the study's lead author.

"Local processing underlies the way we think about objects: houses, cars and so on. But global processing should prevent us from that when it comes to people," Gervais said. "We don't break people down to their parts – except when it comes to women, which is really striking. Women were perceived in the same ways that objects are viewed."

In the study, participants were randomly presented with dozens of images of fully clothed, average-looking men and women. Each person was shown from head to knee, standing, with eyes focused on the camera.

After a brief pause, participants then saw two new images on their screen: One was unmodified and contained the original image, while the other was a slightly modified version of the original image that comprised a sexual body part. Participants then quickly indicated which of the two images they had previously seen.

(Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

In a new study that examined our cognitive process in how we perceive men and women, participants saw a fully clothed person from head to knee. After a brief pause, they then saw two new images on their screen: One that was unmodified and contained the original image, the other a slightly modified version of the original image with a sexual body part changed. Participants then quickly indicated which of the two images they had previously seen. They made decisions about entire bodies in some trials and body parts in other trials.

The results were consistent: Women's sexual body parts were more easily recognized when presented in isolation than when they were presented in the context of their entire bodies. But men's sexual body parts were recognized better when presented in the context of their entire bodies than they were in isolation.

"We always hear that women are reduced to their sexual body parts; you hear about examples in the media all the time. This research takes it a step further and finds that this perception spills over to everyday women, too," Gervais said. "The subjects in the study's images were everyday, ordinary men and women … the fact that people are looking at ordinary men and women and remembering women's body parts better than their entire bodies was very interesting."

Also notable is that the gender of participants doing the observing had no effect on the outcome. The participant pool was evenly divided between men and women, who processed each gender's bodies similarly: Regardless of their gender, perceivers saw men more "globally" and women more "locally."

"We can't just pin this on the men. Women are perceiving women this way, too," Gervais said. "It could be related to different motives. Men might be doing it because they're interested in potential mates, while women may do it as more of a comparison with themselves. But what we do know is that they're both doing it."

Would there be an antidote to a perceiver's basic cognitive processes that lead women to be reduced and objectified? Researchers said some of the study's results suggested so. When the experiment was adjusted to create a condition where it was easier for participants to employ "global" processing, the sexual body part recognition bias appeared to be alleviated. Women were more easily recognizable in the context of their whole bodies instead of their various sexual body parts.

Because the research presents the first direct evidence of the basic "global" vs. "local" framework, the authors said it could provide a theoretical path forward for more specific objectification work.

"Our findings suggest people fundamentally process women and men differently, but we are also showing that a very simple manipulation counteracts this effect, and perceivers can be prompted to see women globally, just as they do men," Gervais said. "Based on these findings, there are several new avenues to explore."

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Documentary - Working Man's Death

This interesting documentary series was created by Al Jazeera English - In four segments they look at the disposability of men in many cultures through the dangerous and often deadly work that they do.

Working Man's Death
In today's technological age, is heavy manual labour disappearing or is it just becoming invisible? From the exhausted mine shafts of Ukraine to the bloody slaughterhouses of Nigeria, this series offers an unflinching portrait of physical labour in the 21st century, talking to the people engaged in this dreary, demanding and, often, dangerous work.

1. Heroes
An unflinching portrait of physical work in the 21st century. 'Heroes' looks at freelance miners in Ukraine who spend long days crawling through cramped shafts of exhausted coal mines to dig out a living for themselves.

2. Ghosts
In this episode we visit east Java in Indonesia -- where men climb steep paths amid pungent vapours to bring back lumps of sulphur from the mouth of a volcano.

3. Lions
We take a glimpse inside the bloody and frenetic activity of the Port Harcourt meat market in Nigeria.

4. Brothers
Pakistani men use little more than their bare hands to dismantle an abandoned oil tanker for scrap metal.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All of the Nation's Mass Killings Committed by Males

Another mass killing, another male suspect. All of the nation's mass killings, going back at least to the 1966 UT Austin clock tower, have been committed by males. Erika Christakis, writing at Time Magazine, is probably going to catch a lot of flack as a man-hater for writer an article about this uncomfortable fact, but that does not make it less true.

On the other hand, three men died protecting the women they had come to the theater with that night. It's far more likely for men to die protecting women and children (and other men) than it is for men to become mass killers. We must not lose sight of this simple fact.

The first issue, that all mass killers have been men, says nothing in particular about men, at least in my opinion, although it bears examination. It seems that men are more likely to kill than are women (and we usually kill each other) - and we are more prone to violence in general. When it comes to acts of violence, whether against self (suicide) or others (murder), men are more likely to choose guns than are women, which makes our violence more lethal.

These extremely violent killings, however, are so isolated that we cannot seriously predict them or the men who will commit them - not in the same way that we can predict which kids will become gang bangers or drug users. Despite the opinion of Christakis, I don't think maleness is necessarily the issue - the issue is the biopsychosocial context of the men who become mass killers, the personal and environmental triggers that push a potential suicide to become a mass killer.

The second issue is more understandable - men are protectors and we always have been. Warren Farrell has argued this point (and its Siamese twin, that only men serve in combat) incessantly over the past couple of decades. But it's true, and as a matter of biological necessity, it makes perfect sense on an evolutionary scale (men are bigger and stronger and more likely to fight off a hyena or another predator than are women).

And while there is a biological element to the protector role, now it is more of a cultural expectation than a survival need. Women can own and shoot guns and don't men to protect them, but many men are still trained to see protecting women as their role (I was raised to protect my sister and stand up for any female who is being harassed, intimidated, or abused by a man). For the three women who are alive because a man shielded them and took the bullets in Aurora, I'm guessing that they are feeling fortunate (and traumatized) that these men behaved that way [NOTE: Thanks to Arthur for correcting my original wrong-wording in this sentence].

I don't know why the mass killers are always male - and I am sure the reasons are complex and irreducible to a single soundbite, even a single magazine column.

But I do know that there are many, many more men who would never raise a weapon at anyone, who would give their own lives to protect others (men and women), and who are just as baffled as am I as to what makes these depressed, damaged, and angry young men decided to kill people they have never met.

The Overwhelming Maleness of Mass Homicide

Why aren't we talking about the one thing mass murderers have in common?
Accused movie theater shooter James Holmes
RJ Sangosti / Getty Images - Accused movie-theater shooter James Holmes makes his first court appearance at the Arapahoe County courthouse on July 23, 2012 in Centennial, Colo.

There’s a predictable cycle of mourning and recrimination that follows a massacre like the shootings last week in Aurora, Colo. First come the calls for unity and flags flown at half-mast. Then the national fissures appear: the gun lobby stiffens its spine as gun-control advocates make their case. Psychologists parse the shooter’s background, looking for signs of mental illness or family disarray. Politicians point fingers about “society run amok” and “cultures of despair.”

We’ve been down this path so many times, yet we keep missing the elephant in the room: How many of the worst mass murderers in American history were women? None. This is not to suggest that women are never violent, and there are even the rare cases of female serial killers. But why aren’t we talking about the glaring reality that acts of mass murder (and, indeed, every single kind of violence) are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men? Pointing out that fact may seem politically incorrect or irrelevant, but our silence about the huge gender disparity of such violence may be costing lives.

Imagine for a moment if a deadly disease disproportionately affected men. Not a disease like prostate cancer that can only affect men, but a condition prevalent in the general population that was vastly more likely to strike men. Violence is such a condition: men are nine to 10 times more likely to commit homicide and more likely to be its victims. The numbers are sobering when we look at young men. In the U.S., for example, young white males (between ages 14 and 24) represent only 6% of the population, yet commit almost 17% of the murders. For young black males, the numbers are even more alarming (1.2% of the population accounting for 27% of all homicides). Together, these two groups of young men make up just 7% of the population and 45% of the homicides. And, overall, 90% of all violent offenders are male, as are nearly 80% of the victims.

We shouldn’t need Steven Pinker, one of the world’s leading psychologists and the author of the book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, to tell us the obvious: “Though the exact ratios vary, in every society, it is the males more than the females who play-fight, bully, fight for real, kill for real, rape, start wars and fight in wars.” The silence around the gendering of violence is as inexplicable as it is indefensible. Sex differences in other medical and social conditions — such as anorexia nervosa, lupus, migraines, depression and learning disabilities — are routinely analyzed along these lines.

For millennia, human society has struggled with what to do with young men’s violent tendencies. Many cultures stage elaborate initiation ceremonies, presided over by older men, which help channel youthful aggression into productive social roles. But in contemporary society, we have trouble talking about the obvious: the transition from boy to man is a risky endeavor, and there can be a lot of collateral damage.

Skeptics will claim that the perpetrators of horrific acts like the Aurora shootings are such aberrations that we can hardly build public policy around their evil behavior. But it’s a mistake to view mass murderers as incomprehensible freaks of nature. For example, we know that the young men who go on murderous rampages are not always sociopathic monsters but, rather, sometimes more or less “regular” men who suffered from crushing depression and suicidal ideation.

No reasonable person can imagine how despair could possibly lead to premeditated mass homicide. However, the fact that depression is so frequently accompanied by violent rage in young men — a rage usually, but not solely, directed at themselves — is something we need to acknowledge and understand.

Our refusal to talk about violence as a public-health problem with known (or knowable) risk factors keeps us from helping the young men who are at most risk and, of course, their potential victims. When we view terrible events as random, we lose the ability to identify and treat potential problems, for example by finding better ways to intervene with young men during their vulnerable years. There is so much more we need to learn about how to prevent violence, but we could start with the sex difference that is staring us in the face.

Christakis, M.P.H., M.Ed., is a Harvard College administrator who blogs at ErikaChristakis.com. The views expressed are solely her own.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marta Pinyol Davi - Crazy Stupid Masculinity Norms

This article - Crazy Stupid Masculinity Norms - appeared on Marta Pinyol Davi's eponymous blog about Interpersonal & Gender Communication back in May, but I never got around the sharing it. The post offers an astute analysis of the masculine gender issues embedded in the relationship of Jacob (Ryan Gosling) and Carl (Steve Carell) in the movie Crazy Stupid Love.  
Carl is a sensitive middle-aged man who loves his wife and spending time with his kids. One day his wife asks him for a divorce after cheating on him. He is completely depressed until he meets Jacob, who offers to help him rediscover his manhood by teaching him the basic rules of being a “real man.” These rules include being independent, assertive, and getting with many women. As a result of their friendship, Carl starts to embody all these manhood rules, while Jacob learns that there are other important things in life such as real love.

As the movie progresses, each man changes to become more like the other, reflecting a cultural drift toward men being expected to embody traditional masculine values while also embracing the new sensitive, softer version of manhood seen in stay-at-home dads and the like. 

Here is how Davi sees it:
Contradictory Expectations
Wood explains that today’s definition of masculinity involves a sixth trait: “Embody and transcend traditional views of masculinty.” This trait refers to the fact that contemporary men are expected to embrace traditional masculine practices and non-traditional masculine practices at the same time. In my opinion, the end of Crazy Stupid Love is a good example of this value. Jacob has been portrayed throughout the movie as the traditional “real man” and Carl embodies the modern man who is emotional and spends time at home playing with his kids. As a result of their friendship both change their practices and values towards the opposite of how they were which makes them argue and breaks their friendship. However, at the end of the movie, both characters understand each other motives to change their identities and end up solving their problems. I think that the end of the movie shows how modern men suffer inconsistent pressures from society that sometimes confuses them about their identities and roles.
It 's worth a few minutes of your time to go read the whole article.

I like the conclusion's recognition of the conflicting and contradictory expectations men face these days - and how challenging it can be for men to navigate the mine field of expectations. Allowing that there is not one right way to be a man would be a huge step toward easing the pressures on men to figure it all out yesterday (because, you know, one of the expectations for traditional men is always knowing who they are and how to be, as if we are given a manual at birth).

Of course, there is a whole other side to this issue that concerns me - I am seeing a lot of open, sensitive, egalitarian young men who are comfortable with their emotions and not in the least sexist or homophobic, AND they lack motivation, direction, and have probably never spent a day of their lives working with a shovel or an ax. It's the sensitive new age guy (SNAG) of the 1980s all over again. But that is another post.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Penn State Fined $60 Million, Four-Year Bowl Ban, Forfeits All Wins from 1998-2011

The NCAA has levied the harshest punishment imaginable without simply terminating the Penn State football program (the "death penalty"), and deservedly so. Jerry Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was found guilty in June on 45 counts of sexually abusing young boys, several times in Penn facilities, for which there were witnesses who reported what they saw, only to have their reports ignored or covered up.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigated the case, at the request of the school, and released his report on July 12, finding that Joe Paterno, who died in January, former Penn State President Graham Spanier ,and athletic director Tim Curley, were among several top officials at Penn State who helped cover-up, failed to report, or lied under oath about their knowledge of  the accusations against Sandusky.

Yesterday, the statue of Joe Paterno was removed from outside of Beaver Stadium on the Penn State campus.

Penn State Punishments:

Penn State and those named officials still face criminal and civil lawsuits that could bring more fines for the individuals and pay-outs by the University for compensation to the victims.

In reality, there is nothing that can compensate the survivors for what they have been through. No amount of money removes those scars or stops those nightmares.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sprints Can Cut Fat in Men - Better Results, Less Time

If you want to cut body fat, and long hours on the cardio machines seem more like torture than exercise, then sprints may be the answer to your needs. Apparently, this research was based on a very specific program called LifeSprints. Here is some information from their site:
LifeSprints exercise has been developed from research conducted in the Medical Faculty at the University of New South Wales. This research has shown that a 20-minute workout consisting of 8 seconds of sprint exercise, followed by 12 seconds of easy cycling, resulted in much more fat loss than 40 minutes of steady state cycling (three times a week for 15 weeks).

LifeSprints also resulted in big increases in aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Subjects showed significant decreases in fasting insulin and also increased leg and abdomen muscle mass. This form of exercise gives a more complete muscle fibre workout and the brief 20 minute sprint session makes it easier to fit into busy, modern lifestyles.
This is an easy way to begin doing interval training. When 8/12 gets easy, you can go to 10/15, then 15/25, and so on - the longer the sprint portion, the better the results. As the sprint portion gets larger, the recovery portion will need to expand - for example, my sprint program aims for 30/60.

Sprints can cut fat: study

One hour of sprinting per week can significantly cut the visceral fat in the abdomen.

The University of New South Wales
Friday, 29 June 2012

Image: Berc/iStockphoto
Men can significantly cut the visceral fat in their abdomen with one hour of interval sprinting per week instead of relying on seven hours of jogging a week for a similar result, according to new Australian research.

Just 20-minutes of sprints on an exercise bike, three times a week, is all that’s required, the University of New South Wales researchers found.

“Sprints are a very time efficient form of exercise,” says Associate Professor Steve Boutcher, who led the UNSW Medicine research.

“The sprint program, LifeSprints, reduced visceral fat with seven times less exercise time and has a much greater impact on cardiovascular and metabolic health than reductions of subcutaneous fat stores in the legs and arms.”

Men who participated in the research lost two kilograms of body fat, 17 per cent of visceral fat, and put on 1.2 kilograms of muscle in their legs and trunk after the 12-week exercise bike sprints program.

“Other studies using aerobic exercise, such as continuous jogging, have found that the amount of exercise needed to produce a similar decrease in visceral fat was around seven hours per week for 14 weeks,” Professor Boutcher says.

The team of researchers has previously studied the impact of the sprinting program on women, which also showed a significant loss of body fat from stationary cycling for 20 minutes, three times a week.

LifeSprints were also good for those who wanted to boost muscle mass.

“Participation in regular aerobic exercise typically results in little or no gain in muscle mass, whereas moderately hard resistance exercise over months may increase muscle mass. The amount of LifeSprints exercise, however, needed to significantly increase muscle mass appears to be much less,” Professor Boutcher says.

The research was carried out by UNSW Medicine PhD candidate Mehrdad Heydari, with body composition assessment by Professor Judith Freund from St Vincent’s Hospital’s Nuclear Imaging Department. It was funded by Diabetes Australia and is published in the Journal of Obesity.
Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Post-Traditional Men Not Bothered When Partner Earns More Income


Most of the headlines for this study read something like, Macho Men Threatened When Women’s Income Higher - which is how Psych Central posted the study in their news feed. I'm getting tired of always seeing articles about men framed in the negative. By making the article about macho men, or traditional men (as many other sites phrased their headlines), we reinforce the idea that these men are the norm.

Maybe if we highlighted the fact that non-traditional or "post-traditional" men are not bothered - and are not afraid they are less of a man - if their wife/girlfriend earns more than they do, maybe then being a post-traditional man would be the norm (which, in reality, it may be already).

Speaking as one of those post-traditional men, I'm perfectly cool with Jami earning more than I do. Let's be realistic - she's very good at what she does, she's been in her professional longer than I have, she has better training than I do, and for good or ill, I have three professions (therapist, fitness & nutrition coach, and writer & editor).

And by the way, the study points out that guys like us, the ones who are not caught up in traditional ideas of what it means to be man, have better relationships with our higher earning partners because it does not threaten our masculinity or self-worth.

Macho Men Threatened When Women’s Income Higher

By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 18, 2012 
Macho Men Threatened When Womens Income Higher 

Macho men whose partners earn more than they do have worse romantic relationships, according to a new study.

The study, by Patrick Coughlin and Jay Wade from Fordham University, also found that men who are not as traditional don’t place as much importance on the difference in income and, as a result, appear to have better relationships with their female partner.

According to the researchers, the man as the breadwinner is still the accepted norm in marriage, supporting the husband’s power and authority in the family.

It follows that when a man earns less than his female partner, he will feel removed from this traditional role and feel a void because he does not fit the norm, the researchers said.

However, the reality is that marriages in which both partners work are becoming the rule rather than the exception, add the researchers, who note it is “increasingly possible for both partners to either earn equal amounts or for the female to earn more than the male.”

For the study, 47 men who had a female partner who had a higher income took part in the study. Through an online survey, the researchers assessed their beliefs about masculinity, the quality of their relationships, and the importance of the disparity in income between them and their partners.

The researchers found that the stronger a man’s endorsement of traditional masculinity ideology, the more likely he was to report a low-quality romantic relationship, and the more he perceived the difference in incomes as important.

However, the more a man endorsed non-traditional masculinity ideology, the more likely he was to have a high-quality relationship with his partner and not place too much importance on the income disparity.

“Our results demonstrate the importance of masculinity ideology in understanding how and why men with higher-earning partners will have low or high quality romantic relationships,” the researchers said in the study, which was published in the Springer journal Sex Roles.

“The findings are relevant to men who are married as well as non-married men in a romantic relationship.”

Source: Springer’s Sex Roles 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pat Jordan - The ­Realities of Aging Can Be Humbling

There are a few things I have noticed about aging (I am 45 now) that are humbling - recovery from workouts (of all types) is slower than it was even 10 years ago; hair grows less in the places it should and more in strange places (like ears) that it shouldn't; and many of the books I read are written by people younger than I am (and I have yet to write even one book).

I am not as old as the author of the article, but I find that I am willing to trade the few humbling things for the greater emotional depth, the perspective of some real life experience, and what I hope is some wisdom gained from that experience. If I had known my 40s would be this much better than my 20s, I would have willingly fast-forwarded through the awkwardness of my 30s.

This is an old article, but it's still relevant - and Men's Journal thought so, too, because they re-posted it.

You Get Old

For any man who has led a vibrant, robust life, the ­realities of aging can be humbling. But as the author has discovered, coming to terms with that is one of life's great empowerments.

You Get Old
John Loomis 
You get old, life gets small. Not meager, pinched, just small. You don't buy groceries for a week anymore – two hours in the Publix, drenched with purpose, a grocery list that unrolls like the Dead Sea scrolls.

You get old, you shop every day, your list written on the inside cover of a matchbook. Two pork chops, a can of La Sueur peas, four corns (two for tomorrow), two rolls of toilet paper.

You never buy mangoes, avocados, grapefruits, or key limes. You just go into your backyard and pick them off your tree. When you were young, your Uncle Ben retired to Sarasota and immediately sent you oranges from his tree. You thought, How sad. Now that you're old, you send mangoes, avocados, grapefruits, and key limes to your friends. You enclose a note, very serious, explaining that key limes are not ripe when they're green. "You must wait until they turn yellow!" you write. You get old, you become an expert on fruit.

You get old, people don't notice you. You sit at a bar, sipping your Jim Beam Black, neat now, no water, no ice, when a pretty woman in her 40s sits next to you. You smile at her, say hi. She looks at you and through you around the bar.

You get old, young guys don't get pissed off anymore that you're lifting heavier weight than they are on the preacher-curl bench. Now they say, "You sure that weight isn't too heavy for you, sir?" They used to call you Mack. When you were younger you would have said, "Mind your own goddamned business!" Now you say, "Thanks, guy, I think I can handle it."

You get old, you lose your anger. It takes too much energy to be angry when you're old. You have more important things to do with your waning energy, so you hoard it like a dwindling resource. 
You get old, it's not always about you. You no longer wait for an opening in a conversation to talk about yourself, your dreams, your accomplishments. It becomes second nature to draw other people into talking about their lives. You're no longer the life of the party, making people laugh. You no longer have that neurotic compulsion to be known. Why should you? You get old, you know yourself. 
You get old, you need less. Less food, less booze, less sex, less sleep. One Jim Beam Black after dinner, savored, so that it lasts until you fall asleep.

You get old, you wake at 4 a.m. as if to catch every moment of your fading days. You struggle out of bed, let the dogs out, make coffee, light a cigar, then go out the front door for your newspapers. You sit on the front steps, sipping your coffee, smoking your cigar in the darkness until Jean Pierre, the Haitian paper deliverer, as black as a purple plum, pulls up in his Toyota. He sees you and gets out of the car. "Sorry, cher, da be late today," he says, handing you the papers. "No problem, Jean Pierre." 
You get old, you eat dinner at 4 p.m., with your wife. You talk about the day, then save half of each of your pork chops, wrapped in Saran wrap, for tomorrow's dinner. Your refrigerator is stocked with leftovers. Susie wants to throw them out in a day or two, but you stop her, turn the wilting asparagus, the sautéed mushrooms, a few grape tomatoes into a lovely frittata for dinner. You get old, you hate to waste things.

You get old, you see your wife in her tight T-shirt with the words IT'S NOT EASY BEING PRETTY scripted across her breasts, and you get an idea. But it's only three o'clock in the afternoon, so you file it away for future reference. When you were young, you'd put that idea into action anytime, anyplace. Now you talk about it with her, make plans for sex. She puts on her silk negligee before she gets in bed. Then you both begin watching Ballykissangel, getting so caught up in it (will Father Peter leave the priesthood and marry Assumpta?) that the next thing you know you're waking up at 4 a.m.

You get old, your dogs get old too. It never dawned on you, when you got them, all six, one year after another, that they'd all get old, one year after another, and then die. Now they're between 10 and 16 years old. Their lives are bounded by food and sleep and all the pills they take, which are lined up on the kitchen counter with yours. Glucosamine and chondroitin for their arthritic joints. Carprofen for their dislocated knees. You see them limping and press their knees back into place. They glance back at you with gratitude. You give them phenobarbital to forestall their epileptic seizures. Ciproflaxacin for their rheumy coughs and sneezes. They wake in the morning with you and begin to wheeze, sneeze, cough, like old men, like you. They have their good days and bad days, like you. You just try to keep them alive for a few more months, then a few months after that. And when they begin to die before your eyes, you feed them water and baby food through a big plastic syringe at first, and then fluids subcutaneously with a needle before that final visit to the vet.

You get old, you set goals for yourself that seem meaningless to others. Not to you. They are proof that you're not that old. Your wife asks you to "call the man" to break up the old sidewalk in the backyard so she can plant liriope. You tell her you'll do it yourself. She says, "Don't be foolish." You get the sledgehammer and begin whacking at the sidewalk in the summer heat like Cool Hand Luke. Then you wheelbarrow the broken pieces of concrete out to the front swale for the garbageman. Two days later, you can't get out of bed.

You get old, your strength and stamina go. You mow the lawn, then lie down. Your wife comes home with 10 40-pound bags of mulch. You carry them into the backyard, then lie down. You get old, you can't do everything in one day – wash the car, mow the lawn, shop for groceries, go to the gym, get a haircut. So you plan out your day like Eisenhower planning D-day. Two things, maybe three, one day, then two more the next.

You get old, you become abstemious. You never buy clothes for yourself anymore. You wear your faded Hawaiian shirts until they're so threadbare they're like filmy curtains. You trim little threads with a scissors. One day your wife throws one out. You moan, "But that was my favorite shirt!" She says, "Hoarding is a sign of old age." You sulk like a child the rest of the day.

You get old, you get your hair cut at Supercuts, $12 for seniors, and then let it grow for two months until it's curling over your ears and you look like a French diplomat. You were young, you went to a fancy salon, where the pretty blonde massaged your shoulders while cutting your hair, for $65 and a $20 tip. You get old, your wife says, "You're not going out like that!" You say, "What?" You are wearing a ripped and paint-splattered University of Miami Hurricanes T-shirt, baggy shorts, and flip-flops. You haven't trimmed your beard in days. You look like Jeremiah Johnson, if he lived in South Florida.

You used to wear $200 Tommy Bahama island shirts and $2,000 ostrich-skin cowboy boots when you went out. Your wife wore spandex minidresses and six-inch pumps. You looked like a successful drug smuggler with a high-priced hooker. You get old, you sell your cowboy boots to a thrift shop for $50 and buy the dogs new collars. You get old, your looks go. You don't care.

You were handsome once, like a Greek god, with curly black locks and luxuriant chest hair. You still are, in your mind's eye, even if your hair is so white you look like a ghost in photographs. You look at that photograph of an old man, and say out loud, "Jeez, I look like an old man!" Your friends call back, "You are an old man." A young friend of your wife's, maybe 35, picks up a photograph of you when you were 38 off the fireplace mantel. "Wow," she says. "You were hot once." You resist the urge to tell her, "I still am."

You get old, small things give you pleasure that were once an annoyance. Throwing out the garbage, you meet a neighbor walking his dog. You pet his dog, pass the time. The mailman stops at your mailbox. He talks to you about his Brazilian girlfriend, then hands you the mail. Bills, a check, and – eureka! – four movies from Netflix.

You get old, you realize order is freedom. You do your job more professionally, no longer on the fly. You get a magazine assignment – go down 1,500 feet into a coal mine in Virginia, climb a mountain in Haiti – and you prepare for it. You do heavier squats the days before you leave. You fly out the night before your interview so that you will have time to settle yourself, prepare. You get old, you check into a no-tell motel close to the thruway ramp so you have easy access to anyplace you have to go. When you were young you stayed at the best hotels, with pissing Cupid fountains in the lobby and businesswomen on the make in the bar. The first thing you did after you checked in was change your clothes and hit the bar with your barroom smile. Now you go to Denny's for a snack. Then you go back to the hotel and put your clothes in the dresser drawers and lay out all your notes on the desk so you can review them the next morning before your interview.

You get old, you realize your job these past 40 years was God's gift. When you were young, you thought you were God's gift.

You get old, you forget things, not because your mind is going, but because your memory box is filled. A name comes up and you find yourself mentally flipping through all those thousands of slides, trying to place the name with a face or an event. You forget trivial things – where you put the car keys, your glasses – because your mind is filled with more important things. Is the gate in the backyard secured so the dogs won't get out into the street and get hit by a car? You never forget that.

You get old, you scream at your wife. Not in anger, but because your hearing's going. "What?" you scream. She looks exasperated. She says loudly, "I said…." You now see the world in a faint haze, like it's covered with a gauzy film. "Pollen," you say. Your wife says, "You need stronger glasses." You refuse to admit that. So you call the Comcast TV repairman once a week. He arrives, a young black kid. "The picture's blurry," you say. "And the sound, I have to jack it way up to hear." He fiddles with the remote, then says, "The picture's fine. The sound, too. Maybe you need glasses." You stop calling the Comcast repairman.

You get old, you sell your 1989 Taurus SHO with the five-speed, short-throw shifter, the Recaro racing seats, lowered suspension, rear spoiler, 19-inch mag wheels. You buy a Lincoln LS8, with leather, a wood-trimmed dash, automatic.

You get old, you read the obits. You call out to your wife, "Jeez, Isaac Hayes died! He was an old man, I guess." Your wife calls back, "About the same age as you."

You get old, your friends are old too. Old ladies, mostly. Why not? You're an old man. Betsy, 59, Ina, 65, Julia, 76, Helen, 78. You drive Helen to work when her ride is late. You drive Betsy to the airport at 7 a.m. for a flight to visit her sister. Later, your friend John, 58, knocks on your door. He's going to visit friends in Wisconsin. Will you feed his cats while he's gone? Sure, why not? 
You get old, your dreams constrict. You no longer expect fame and fortune, your face on the cover of Time. You no longer expect to write the Great American Novel, 859 pages. Your writing gets small. Fewer words. But cleaner, you hope. More nuance, less obvious. Subtle, you like to think. Like your life. Small essays about getting old. They please you just as much as if you wrote War and Peace.

You get old, you cry more. Not over your lost dreams, your sins, your old age, your impending death. You cry for others. You cry when Assumpta dies too young, at 30, in Ballykissangel. You cry at the sight of our soldiers in camouflage walking through airports on their way to Iraq. You cry at the sight of abused dogs and cats staring at you from the pages of newspapers. You cry when Betsy tells you she has inoperable cancer and she'll never see 60.

You cry for everyone but yourself because you have lived a wonderful life, and you wish that every person, every pet, could live such a life too. When you were young, you cried only for yourself.