Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tom Matlock - Is It Fair to Believe Men Can Be Summed Up By Our Desire to Drink, F*** and Swear?

This is a nice article from Tom Matlock at the Good Men Project on the ways that cultural stereotypes about men reduce us to one-dimensional stick-figure human beings. He rightly argues that men are more complex and have greater depth than the stereotypes allow - but we must be willing to look past the surface.

Is It Fair to Believe Men Can Be Summed Up By Our Desire to Drink, F*** and Swear?

Here is an excerpt from the much longer article - be sure to go read the whole thing.
As much as I have tried over the last four years to stick to first person narrative to speak the truth about manhood (if such a thing exists), I have gotten sucked into the broader discussion about men and gender.

At first I was honestly baffled by the idea that men can be summed up by our desire to drink, fuck and swear (not that I don’t have a strong interest in all three). Although I’ve described men as simple, because I understand other men more easily than I do women, this distillation of men struck me as not just wrong, but offensive. Having heard so many men spill their guts, this image of men just didn’t square with the yearning and internal turmoil I have witnessed. Over time, this image made me angry.


One of my friends has a neurological problem whereby his vision is roughly equivalent to being on a constant acid trip. The condition was caused by a freak brain tumor when he was a kid. The tumor was removed, but the condition is degenerative. He also suffers from acute obsessive-compulsive disorder and alcoholism. (He’s been sober for over a decade.)

To meet him you would probably never guess any of that is going on. He’s a good-looking guy in his thirties, loud and gregarious with an infectious laugh. He has a good job, beautiful wife, and two kids. He lives to play golf, watch football, and listen to rap.

But I know better. There’s the guy that the world might dismiss as some kind of skin deep moron and there is the guy with a soul as deep as any I have encountered, striving to overcome a heap of problems not of his own making. He doesn’t necessarily want to go on the “Today” show to talk about it but if you ask him he will tell you how hard—how complicated—his effort to be a good man is.

Every guy I know has his own version of this story. The difference between the stereotype and my friend is like the difference between a two dimensional line drawing of a man and the three dimensional flesh and blood and guts of a real, individual man. Not even close.


But I can’t speak for any other guy. When I watch a commercial or read another in the endless stream of mischaracterizations of manhood—as sexed-crazed dogs or slackers or just stupid—I certainly get upset because of all the men I know and have interviewed. But I also get offended on a personal level.

What do all these portrayals say about my struggles and successes as a father and husband? About my passion for seeking out men’s stories? About, in the end, my commitment to telling the deepest truth I can about myself and in so doing, inspiring others to face themselves?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Johnny Cash Sings “Man in Black” for the First Time, 1971

From Open Culture, this is a gem of a find - the first ever performance of one of Johnny Cash's most famous songs, Man in Black, a title which became his trademark. As he mentions in the introduction to the song, it's still so new to him that he needs cue cards to remember his most recent rewrites (from that morning).

Johnny Cash Sings “Man in Black” for the First Time, 1971

November 26th, 2012

Recently we featured a video of Neil Young performing on The Johnny Cash Show in 1971. Today we bring you another extraordinary moment from the very same episode: Johnny Cash introducing his now-classic song, “Man in Black.”

It’s from a special called “Johnny Cash on Campus” which aired on February 17, 1971. The performance was taped in front of an all-student audience at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. A few days earlier Cash had traveled across town to visit students on the campus of Vanderbilt University and, as he explains here in the introduction, an idea began brewing.

1971 was a time of widespread student protests over the Vietnam War and other issues. The Kent State shootings had happened the year before. As a protest song, “Man in Black” shows Cash’s ability to reach across generations and appeal to audiences much wider than those usually afforded to country music.

When Cash first played the song at Ryman Auditorium it was so new he needed cue cards to follow the words. The video offers a rare glimpse of an artist trying out a major work when the paint was still wet.

Related content from Open Culture:

Rick Belden - I Am a Highly Sensitive Man

This article by Rick Belden comes from The Good Men Project.
Rick Belden is the author of Iron Man Family Outing: Poems about Transition into a More Conscious Manhood. His book is widely used in the United States and internationally by therapists, counselors, and men’s groups as an aid in the exploration of masculine psychology and men’s issues, and as a resource for men who grew up in dysfunctional, abusive, or neglectful family systems. His second book, Scapegoat’s Cross: Poems about Finding and Reclaiming the Lost Man Within, is currently awaiting publication. He lives in Austin, Texas.

More information, including excerpts from Rick’s books, is available at his website. His first book, "Iron Man Family Outing," is available here. You can follow Rick Belden on Facebook.
As an HSP (highly sensitive person), this article resonates with me. Women who are highly sensitive are not ostracized or ridiculed for it. But men who are highly sensitive are teased as boys, and they learn to stuff their feelings and pretend to be tough - at least that was my experience.

I Am a Highly Sensitive Man

Although being a highly sensitive person is equally common among women and men, being a sensitive man remains misunderstood. 

Editor’s Note: Research tells us that high sensitivity, discerned from a pattern of observation before action, affects 15-20% of individuals of many species, including humans, and male and female in equal numbers. Rick Belden, a poet, writes about the experience of being a highly sensitive person. 

A few years ago, I was attempting to get closer with a woman I liked. We’d been working together for several years and knew one another solely on that basis, but I wanted something more personal with her. I’d been feeling a powerful sexual and romantic attraction to her for a long time, but given our relationship as peers in a work environment, I was being very deliberate in my attempts to gauge her interest in me and careful in my efforts to move things forward. When I’m attracted to someone, I tend to move slowly and gradually anyway; in this case, having lived through my share of work-related romantic entanglements, rejections, and disasters, I was eager to avoid any situation that might turn awkward for either of us.

I remained haunted by the same dilemma that had plagued me since childhood: How can I be as sensitive as I am and still be a man?
Things seemed to be progressing in the direction I desired, albeit slowly and with frequent yellow flags, but nevertheless, I finally felt confident enough to share something more personal with her than our daily chitchat about our lives in and out of work. She knew I was a writer and that I’d had a book of poetry published because I’d spoken about it during our many visits. I decided to offer it to her and find out if she was interested enough in me to read it. I asked her if she might like to see the book, and she said she would, so I brought a copy to work and gave it to her.

I didn’t want to appear too eager or overly invested in her opinion of the book, so I didn’t bring it up again after giving it to her. One day, while we were outside walking during a break, she mentioned she’d finished reading it. Doing my best to appear as cool as possible and not betray the anxiety that had been building ever since I’d first offered her the book, I said, “Great. What did you think?” And she said:
“I think you’re abnormally sensitive for a man.”
Obviously, this was not the sort of response I was hoping to hear. It’s not the sort of response any man ever wants to hear, any time, from anyone, most certainly not from a woman to whom he’s attracted and with whom he’s just taken the supreme risk of showing his vulnerable side.

It was a painful experience for me, to be sure, but not the first. I’ve heard variations on this theme all my life:
  • “Don’t be so sensitive.”
  • “You’re too sensitive.”
  • “You need to stop being so sensitive.”
Shy. Thin-skinned. Wimp. Pussy. Queer. Faggot. Whiner. I’ve heard all of these and more for as long as I can remember, and the message is always crystal clear: “There’s something wrong with you and you need to change it.” As if I haven’t tried. As if I could.

Sensitive boys and men are all too often treated as pariahs in a tough guy culture. Sensitive boys in particular are easy prey for bullies, whether they’re peers, older kids, or adults in positions of power and authority like parents, teachers, and coaches. I was humiliated countless times as a boy for my sensitivity, by both adults and other children. I learned to regard it as my enemy, as something that only brought me shame and scorn, and as something to keep hidden away, not only from others, but from myself.

It was simply too dangerous to my well-being to allow my sensitivity out into the open any more than I had to, so I tried to harden myself up. I got fairly good at it over time, good enough to survive through adolescence and into young adulthood, but I felt lost most of the time, and I was. That’s the inevitable price of denying any core element of who we are.

I continued to maintain an uneasy relationship with my natural sensitivity through my twenties and thirties. During that time, I was gradually transitioning into feeling a bit more comfortable with it because I’d learned that trying to deny it completely only made me sick and miserable. But I still carried the shame and the stigma of feeling and being seen as somehow “defective” as a man because of it, and I was still disowning a large part of myself and my experience as a result. I was also still being reminded by others that I was not okay the way I was and needed to change, as in this statement from a close friend after I’d confided in him regarding a problem I was having:
“You need to stop being so sensitive. I’m not judging you, but sometimes I just want to shake you and tell you to get over it.”
Same old message: You’re wrong. You’re defective. You’re weak. You’re inadequate. You need to change. You need to get over it. At least he didn’t actually shake me to help me do that. Prior experience with that sort of “help” from others tells me it doesn’t work at all.
That incident was a pretty good example of the state of my relationship with my own sensitivity as I moved into my early forties. I’d made a lot of progress toward reconciling with the softer, vulnerable, more tender parts of myself, and I was even beginning to feel more confident in giving them a voice, but I was also reminded on a regular basis that I was still just as likely to be scorned and shamed for my sensitivity as I was to be accepted and supported. Deep inside, I still felt like an outcast and a freak in a culture that defines and characterizes tenderness, compassion, and sensitivity as primarily feminine qualities. And I remained haunted by the same dilemma that had plagued me since childhood: How can I be as sensitive as I am and still be a man?

It was during that time that, quite by accident, I stumbled across some material that profoundly changed the way I saw myself and what I’d come to regard as my “curse” of sensitivity. I was in a bookstore looking for something (I don’t even remember what) when a title caught my eye: The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. I’d never heard of this book or seen anything like it, but when I began to page through it, I knew I had to have it because this book was about me.

Most men are not highly sensitive, but many men are far more sensitive than they want anyone else to know.
For the first time, someone was describing my inherent sensitivity as a positive trait rather than some sort of shameful aberration to be corrected. Furthermore, the author, Elaine Aron, described the experience of what she called a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) as the natural, inevitable result of having a nervous system that is, as she has put it, “uncommonly sensitive.” In other words, the sensitivity with which I’d been struggling throughout my life wasn’t all in my head, it wasn’t a weakness, and it wasn’t a choice. It was rooted in my physiology.

There was something else, too, something equally big, as summarized by Peter Messerschmidt in his blog post “The Challenges of the Highly Sensitive Man”:
Dr. Elaine Aron, along with other researchers studying the trait of high sensitivity, often cites the statistic that approximately 15-20% of the population fits the definition of a “highly sensitive person.” Furthermore, the indications are that equal numbers of men and women are highly sensitive.
This was more than an eye-opener for me. It was a game-changer. For the first time, someone was telling me that I could be not just merely sensitive, but highly sensitive, and still be a man. This was a possibility that had never been presented to me before, not in person and certainly not in the culture at large, and it was the first step in beginning to own my sensitivity, not just as a valuable element but a defining element of my masculine identity.

The path is still not easy. It’s an ongoing challenge to see my sensitivity as an asset rather than a weakness to be feared and hidden from others. Men and boys are already living in a no-win, double bind situation around vulnerability; it is amplified for highly sensitive men and boys. If most men lead lives of quiet desperation, they also know that society and most of the people around them prefer they keep it that way. A man or boy who shows sensitivity and expresses vulnerability is always taking a risk. Shame and scorn, whether from other males or from females, remain some of the most powerful tools for keeping men and boys “in line.” Most men are not highly sensitive, but many men are far more sensitive than they want anyone else to know.

For men like me who are highly sensitive, being who we are in the world, in our relationships, and even with ourselves is often a work in progress. We tend to need more down time than others. We have deep experiences that we need to process and understand. We need to make time and space for feelings that we may have never learned to experience and express because we were never allowed to do so. We receive and process more sensory input than most others do; consequently, we can sometimes find ourselves feeling overwhelmed in contexts that others find routine. We tend to proceed carefully, to get a sense and an understanding of the whole situation, before diving in.

These behaviors and qualities are all assets, but they frequently run counter to the values and practices of an overstimulated, Type A, 24/7 culture that wants more and more, faster and faster, all the time. This is a fundamental conflict that has a profound and often severely negative impact on all HSPs, whether male or female, and results in a lot of pain, confusion, and even physical illness. I’ve learned the hard way, as many others have, that pushing yourself “like everyone else does” when you’re a Highly Sensitive Person is like pounding nails with a microscope.

In another blog post titled “Highly Sensitive Men: The ‘Hidden’ HSPs?”, Peter Messerschmidt writes, “Society has an alarming ability to ‘steal the souls’ of Highly Sensitive Men, leaving them feeling sad and confused.” This is an experience and an ongoing struggle I know all too well. I still want to hide my sensitivity a lot of the time, and I still do. Sometimes that’s because of old fears and conditioning; sometimes it’s simple pragmatism. I know I can still be deeply wounded if I’m not careful and therefore I try to choose my opportunities accordingly. Sometimes I still get hurt when I’m open with others about who I am and what I feel (as with the female coworker I liked and the friend in whom I confided). Sometimes my feelings are so deep and acute that I can hardly bear them in private. I probably struggle as much with my feelings in private as I do when I’m with anyone else. The shame and the scorn I’ve experienced throughout my life in response to my sensitivity has been internalized deep within. I don’t need anyone else to criticize and belittle me for it now; those voices are already right here inside me.

In his article “Healing the Highly Sensitive Male”, Ted Zeff, author of The Strong, Sensitive Boy, has written, “By disowning their sensitive side, many males become half a person.” Having spent most of my life living that way, I know it’s true. I also know that, whether I allow or disallow my natural sensitivity, there’s a cost to be paid, and likely some very real pain to be felt either way, and I often stumble in the face of that choice. I still frequently feel angry when I’m actually sad because it feels safer, more manly. I still frequently pull away from others and shut down when what I really want is to connect and feel close, because I don’t have the courage or the stomach to risk the sting of being rejected or misunderstood. I still pull away from myself, most of all, because of the stigma and the fear that’s been conditioned into me, and the absence of skills never learned for being with everything I perceive, sense, and feel.

No one likes pain, and I’m no exception, but I’ve slowly come around to the belief that the pain of feeling is preferable to the pain of not feeling, and that the pain of being who I am is preferable to the pain of being what I’m not. As author Seth Mullins has written, “Sensitivity—even when it comes at the cost of great suffering – may be all that renders worth to existence in the end.” I think one of the important points he makes with that statement is that sensitivity is not the absence of toughness, but is, in many ways, the very embodiment of toughness. It takes a great deal of inner strength and resiliency to maintain your sensitivity in a world that seems to go out of its way to beat it out of you, often literally. If that’s not a demonstration of strength, courage, and resolve consistent with any reasonable definition of masculinity, I don’t know what is.

So yes, I’ll say it: I am a Highly Sensitive Man. I’m not abnormal. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m not a weakling, a wimp, or a pussy. I’m strong, passionate, and courageous. I’ll fight for what’s important to me. And I’m just as tough as any other man. I have to be, just to be who I am in a world that wants me to be something else.

And I am not alone. There are many of us. As many as one in five men, if the numbers are correct. Think about that. You know many of us. You may be one of us. Some of us are hiding. Some of us are hurting. Many of us, young and old, boys and men, are still trying to find our place in a world that is often openly hostile to our very natures. But look at that world, and try to imagine what it would be like without us. We may be scorned, shamed, invisible, and undervalued, but we are here and we are needed.

I am a Highly Sensitive Man and this world needs me, just as it needs all of its highly sensitive men and boys. Every one of us. No exceptions!

I am a Highly Sensitive Man by Rick Belden, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Read more:

Image credit: WarmSleepy/Flickr

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Glimpse of the Day - Our True Nature

Whatever our lives are like, our buddha nature is always there. And it is always perfect. We say that not even the buddhas can improve it in their infinite wisdom, nor can sentient beings spoil it in their seemingly infinite confusion.

Our true nature could be compared to the sky, and the confusion of the ordinary mind to clouds. Some days the sky is completely obscured by clouds. When we are down on the ground, looking up, it is very difficult to believe that there is anything else there but clouds. Yet we have only to fly in a plane to discover above the clouds a limitless expanse of clear blue sky. From up there, the clouds we assumed were everything seem so small and so far away down below.

We should always try to remember: The clouds are not the sky and do not “belong” to it. They only hang there and pass by in their slightly ridiculous and nondependent fashion. And they can never stain or mark the sky in any way.
~ Sogyal Rinpoche

Monday, November 26, 2012

Celebrate Boys’ Boyness – And Work With It

This is a cool article on allowing - even celebrating - the boyness of our boys rather than medicating it away with drugs or squashing it by prohibiting rough and tumble play. And of course, it comes from Canada not from the U.S.

As a 45-year-old man, I can't imagine what it must be like to grow up male in a culture that despises masculinity. There were hints of that when I was young - on shows like Donahue or shows like Three's Company - but the major cultural icons were "manly men" - Joe Namath, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, and even John Wayne still held a place as an image of ideal masculinity.

Young men do not have healthy male role models now (not that the guys I mentioned were good role models, but they represented an appreciation for masculinity in the culture).

If you have sons now, who would you want them to look up to (besides you) in this culture?

Celebrate boys’ boyness – and work with it

The Globe and Mail
They long to be part of something bigger than themselves, but a lot of them aren’t finding it (Anthony Jenkins /The Globe and Mail)
Everyone knows the girls are clobbering the boys in school. They get higher marks and graduate at higher rates. Women have stormed the gates of medicine and law. They’ve all but taken over pharmacy and veterinary work. They are focused, purposeful and diligent. Their brothers, meanwhile, are in the basement playing video games.

How lopsided have things become? In the most prestigious programs at some of our leading universities, the gender ratio has reached 70:30. Men still dominate the hard sciences and maths, but, on the rest of the campus, they seem to be headed toward extinction.

Whatever it is that boys need to achieve success, a lot of them aren’t getting it. But what do they need? I sat down with several people who think about this question every day – Jim Power, the principal of Upper Canada College; his colleagues Scott Cowie and Mary Gauthier; and Brad Adams, executive director of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition.

“Part of the boys’ crisis is that the culture doesn’t like them,” Mr. Adams says. Our culture is deeply uncertain about the value of masculinity, and even less sure about how to preserve and protect its positive elements while also encouraging boys to adopt more fluid gender roles.

And despite the new gender fluidity, the differences between what boys need and what girls need are often vast. One example: In order to do well, it’s much more important for a boy to have a good relationship with the teacher. Another: Boys will only stay engaged as long as the work interests them; they’re much quicker to tune out.

Boys’ existential issues are different from girls’. For a boy, the two most important life questions are: Will I find work that’s significant? And will I be worthy of my parents? When boys themselves are asked what they need, they say: I need purpose. I need to make a difference. I need to know I measure up. I need challenge. Above all, I need a meaningful vocation.

No wonder so many boys are so miserable. The modern world of extended years in school and delayed adulthood cuts them off from what they need most. As Adam Cox, a clinical psychologist who interviewed hundreds of boys across the English-speaking world, writes: “The primary missing ingredient in [their] lives – the opportunity that separates them from a sense of personal accomplishment, maturity, and resilience – is purposeful work.”

Boys long to be part of something bigger than themselves. And the bigger and more challenging the task, the happier they are. “If you tell 10 boys you need volunteers to go downtown and work all night on a big, dirty, tough job, and you still expect them to show up at school the next day, they’ll all jump up and volunteer,” says Ms. Gauthier.

Boys also need to imagine themselves in heroic situations. When girls are asked about Vimy Ridge, they say, “Whew, it must have been horrific.” When boys are asked, they imagine what they would have done if they’d been there. “Our most powerful assembly is on Remembrance Day,” says Mr. Power. “Every boy is thinking to himself: How would I have measured up?”

Boys love rituals, trophies and tradition. Those also make them feel part of something bigger than themselves.

But, in the modern world, boys are often treated as a problem. The dominant narrative around difficult boys – at least in the public school system – is that they’re unteachable, unreachable, disruptive and threatening. Many commentators – men as well as women – blame male culture itself for the problems with boys. In their view, what we need to do is destroy the death star of masculinity and all the evil that goes with it. What we need to do is put boys in touch with their emotions and teach them to behave more like girls.

This argument might make some sense – if you’re someone who believes that masculinity is nothing but a social construct. But people who care about real boys know that’s not true. They know you have to celebrate boys’ boyness – and work with it. Many boys’ schools are trying to do just that.

Several public school systems have launched all-boys’ schools for failing boys. In New York, the Eagle Academy for Young Men is achieving impressive results for minority boys in a tough neighbourhood. These schools demand a lot. Their ethos is: We’ll help you succeed, but we’ll be tough on you, and you must claim responsibility. (By contrast, the attitude of Ontario’s public schools toward difficult boys is: We’ll let you pass if you leave us alone.)

If boys are failing schools and schools are failing boys, it’s really not too hard to see some of the reasons why. They really are fish out of water. Before the Industrial Revolution, boys spent their time with fathers and uncles, often engaged in strenuous physical activity. Now they spend their time in the world of women, sitting behind desks. If schools threw out the desks, they’d probably be a lot happier.

But schools can’t give them everything they need. Boys also need the company of men – men who will guide, instruct, esteem, respect and understand them. When asked about the happiest experience of their lives, boys often say it was the time they made something with their fathers. Their mothers matter, too – but, sometimes, there’s no substitute for Dad.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Real" Men Eat Meat Because that Is What Manly Men Do

This story was meant to lead into the Thanksgiving holiday, a day when many men in the country will experience the "meat sweats" due to an over-consumption of turkey or ham (Joey on Friends coined the term "meat sweats" for the rise in metabolism that occurs as a result of massive protein intake).

It's past Thanksgiving now, but this is still an interesting article in that there is actual research (published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity, a journal of the American Psychological Association) showing that men eat meat because they associate meat with masculinity.

One caveat, the researcher in this article states that meat eating is associated with increased risk of cancer - which is only partially true. The way the meat is cooked and the type of meat makes all the difference. For example, beef is very unhealthy when cooked over a flame or in a frying pan, but not so when cooked in an oven. Furthermore, meat includes chicken, fish, and turkey, as well as ham, bison, elk, and any other protein source that once had eyes.

Why real men eat meat: It makes them feel manly

NBC News
updated 11/21/2012

As red-blooded Americans dig into their Thanksgiving meals this week, it’s safe to say most are eating turkey. It’s also likely there will be some manly activities – watching football, maybe even playing some football. 

The two aren’t unrelated, says Hank Rothgerber of Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. In fact, some research he’s done suggests that eating meat is deeply intertwined with American perceptions of masculinity.

“There is a group of manly men who swear off what they call chick food, and they seek a double whopper to declare their manhood,” Rothgerber told NBCNews.

“It makes them feel like real men,” he writes in a study published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

“Meat consumption is a symbol of patriarchy resulting from its long-held alliance with manhood, power, and virility.”

And Thanksgiving, with its celebration of deep-fried turkeys, Turduckens and other symbols of cooked-flesh overload, might just be the pinnacle of this manly display.

“When men consume meat in this way, especially when it’s public and it’s celebrated, they are validating their manhood and feeling good about what they are,” Rothgerber says.

Rothberger, who teaches psychology, has been trying to understand why so many Americans cling so desperately to their meat-eating habits despite a growing body of research that eating a lot of meat is not only bad for our bodies, but for the environment.

“Meat-eating contributes more to global warming than even auto emissions,” says Rothgerber. He cites a 266 report by the United Nations and a 2008 report by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production  that concluded that farmed animals contribute 40 percent more to global warming than all transport combined.

“A 2008 German study concluded that meat eaters contribute seven times as much greenhouse gas emissions as vegans,” he writes in his report.

Heavy meat-eaters have a higher risk of cancer, heart disease and other ills than people who eat little or no meat. 

“There’s a growing awareness that it’s not great to eat meat, but still, people are doing it,” Rothgerber said in a telephone interview.

So he conducted two studies to find out why. He surveyed 125 undergraduate psychology students for one study, and 89 for the second.

“Men expressed more favorable attitudes toward eating meat, denied animal suffering, believed that animals were lower in a hierarchy than humans, provided religious and health justifications for consuming animals, and believed that it was human destiny to eat meat,” he found. “These are direct, unapologetic strategies that embrace eating meat and justify the practice.”

The men said animals "just taste too good to not eat them,” he said. “Females -- they are more likely to take what I consider to be indirect and apologetic attitudes.”

Rothgerber is the first to admit his study is limited – the students he surveyed were mostly white and middle-class and they were in their late teens and early 20s. But he thinks if anything, this group would under-represent the effects of masculinity and meat-eating in our culture.

“It’s possible that in certain ethnic groups there could be even more pressure to prove manhood by eating more meat,” he said.

The idea that people think eating meat is manly is hardly revolutionary, but there have been very few studies done on it. Most have been done in Europe.

In the United States, where surveys suggest just over 3 percent of the population admits to being vegetarian or vegan, most research has been done by groups seeking to promote meat-eating, such as the National Pork Board, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Last March, a team including Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania and Brian Wansink of Cornell University showed consumers link meat with masculinity. "To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, all-American food," they wrote in the Journal of Consumer Research.

So what does a vegetarian like Rothgerber do on Thanksgiving? 

"I do feel personally that my manhood is a little more under scrutiny, especially because Thanksgiving is all about the turkey,” he says. “I think I really don’t need to validate my manhood.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Scientific American - Why Men Like Petraeus Risk It All to Cheat

The idea that men cheat because of an evolutionary drive to reproduce is a pile of shite created to avoid dealing with the real issues - self-absorption, lust, lack of empathy, relationship issues, lack of integrity, loneliness, and on and on. But it is NOT about reproduction.

Why Men Like Petraeus Risk It All to Cheat

The risk of destroying a career is nothing compared with the evolutionary drive to reproduce
Image: U.S. Army

An admitted affair has crumbled the career of CIA Director David Petraeus, prompting the evergreen question: Why do people with so much to lose risk it all for sex?

In the last few years alone, several public figures, from former Rep. Anthony Weiner to action star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, have admitted to straying from their marital vows. In Petraeus' case, a miscalculation of risk may have contributed to the decision to cheat, psychologists say.

"People tend to underestimate how quickly small risks mount up" because of repeated exposure to those risks, said Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of social and decision science at Carnegie Mellon University. "You do something once and you get away with it — certain things you're probably going to get away with — but you keep doing them often enough, eventually the risk gets pretty high."

Even so, men can become blind to risk at the sight of an attractive woman, and from an evolutionary perspective, cheating can be a positive mechanism for ensuring gene survival, regardless of risk, scientists say.
Military affairs
Petraeus, a retired four-star general, resigned his post as CIA Director on Friday (Nov. 9), admitting to an affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. Twenty years the general's junior, Broadwell had close access to Petraeus for several years, but their affair reportedly did not start until after he left the military in 2011.

A West Point graduate, Broadwell is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. She reportedly bonded with Petraeus over physical activity, going on runs with him and remaining a close confidant after Petraeus' military career ended.

That time together likely contributed to the intimacy between Petraeus and Broadwell, said Frank Farley, a Temple University psychologist, just as many people begin affairs after getting close in the workplace.

Petraeus is not the first high-ranking military man to have an affair, said Farley, who is also a past president of the American Psychological Association. Famously gruff World War II general George Patton had an affair with his wife's step-niece. General Douglas MacArthur had a mistress named Isabel Rosario Cooper, whom he met in the Philippines.

And General Dwight D. Eisenhower, later president, may have had an affair with his World War II chauffer, Kay Summersby, according to the woman's memoirs and some suggestive letters left behind after both parties died.

"The nation should not be surprised at Petraeus having an affair," Farley told LiveScience.
Leaders like Petraeus tend to be bold risk-takers, Farley said, a personality trait that is very helpful when leading soldiers into battle. The same trait may make these leaders more likely to take risks in their personal lives, as well. [10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction]

Broadwell may have some of the same risk-taking traits as the former director. In a January interview with The Charlotte Observer, Broadwell, who is also married, called herself and her husband "adventure junkies."
Risk versus reward
Still, Petraeus' 38-year marriage and his career were at stake in his decision to pursue an affair. Extramarital liaisons are especially risky for CIA employees with access to classified information, because an affair can leave the person open to blackmail.
There are also concerns that Broadwell could have gotten classified information from Petraeus. For example, in a speech in Denver in October, Broadwell brought up details about the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi that may not have been public knowledge, according to The Daily Beast.

With risks like that on the line, could an extramarital affair be worth it? As it turns out, men may become blind to risk when an attractive woman enters the picture. One 2008 study found that men who played blackjack after seeing beautiful female faces took more risks than men who played the game after seeing unattractive faces.

This was true if the men were highly motivated in seeking new sexual partners. The blackjack risks seemed calculated to impress potential mates, study researcher Michael Baker, now a professor at Eastern Carolina University, told LiveScience. [The Sex Quiz: Myths, Taboos & Bizarre Facts]

More germane to high-profile affairs, Baker said, the risk of losing one's career or reputation is nothing compared with the evolutionary drive to reproduce. In that sense, while embarking on an affair may seem dumb, it actually shows something called "mating intelligence."

"These individuals have these very high-status, high-power positions, and the whole idea behind why people might be motivated to get these positions is because it gives them better access to resources that could be used to increase their reproductive success and attract more mates," Baker said.

Until the last few decades, extramarital affairs wouldn't have put a crimp in the careers of high-profile men, Baker said. It's only recently that men have been subject to the consequences of infidelity. And, of course, monogamy is often a lofty ideal.

"The human race has had thousands of years of problems with monogamy," Farley said. "The problems have not been resolved."

Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ajahn Sumedho - The Gift of Gratitude

From the Tricycle archives, this is a nice reminder that gratitude is a gift.

The Gift of Gratitude

Ajahn Sumedho recounts the joyful unfolding of a deep appreciation for his teacher and parents.

Ajahn Sumedho

First Time, Kimberly Austin, 2003

Even if one should carry about one’s mother on one shoulder and one’s father on the other, and so doing should live a hundred years . . . moreover, if one should set them up as supreme rulers, having absolute rule over the wide earth abounding in the seven treasures—not even by this could one repay one’s parents. And why! Bhikkhus, parents do a lot for their children: they bring them up, provide them with food, introduce them to the world.

Yet, bhikkhus, whoever encourages their faithless parents, and settles and establishes them in faith; or whoever encourages their immoral parents and settles and establishes them in morality, or whoever encourages their stingy parents, and settles and establishes them in generosity, or whoever encourages their foolish parents, and settles and establishes them in wisdom—such a person, in this way repays, more than repays, what is due to their parents.
—the Buddha, Anguttara-nikaya 2.32

My father died about six years ago. He was then ninety years old, and he had never shown love or positive feelings toward me. So from early childhood I had this feeling that he did not like me. I carried this feeling through most of my life. I never had any kind of love, any kind of warm relationship with my father. It was always a perfunctory “Hello son, good to see you.” And he seemed to feel threatened by me. I remember whenever I came home as a Buddhist monk he would say, “Remember, this is my house, you’ve got to do as I say.” This was his greeting—and I was almost fifty years old at the time! I don’t know what he thought I was going to do.

My father was an aspiring artist before the Depression. Then in ’29 the crash came and he and my mother lost everything, so he had to take a job selling shoes to support us. Then the Second World War started, but my father was too old to enlist in the military. He wanted to support the war effort, so he became a ship fitter in Seattle. He didn’t like that job, but it was the best way he could help in the war. After the war he went back to his shoe business and became a manager of a retail store. He never really liked that work either, but he felt he was too old to find another profession. He had sacrificed his own preferences to support my mother, my sister, and me.

When I was at university in the 1950s, it was fashionable to study psychology. At that time the trend was to blame your mother for everything that went wrong in your life. The focus was on mothers and what they had done to cause us to suffer now. I didn’t realize then that suffering was natural. Of course my mother was not perfect, so naturally there were things she could have done better. But generally speaking, the dedication, commitment, love, and care were all there—and directed mainly to making the lives of my father, my sister, and me as good and as happy as could be. She asked very little for herself, and when I think back like this, katannu, Pali for gratitude, arises in my mind for my mother and father.

The Buddha encouraged us to think of the good things done for us by our parents, by our teachers, friends, whomever; and to do this intentionally, to cultivate it, rather than just letting it happen accidentally.

My students who have a lot of anger toward their parents ask me how they can develop gratitude toward them. Teaching lovingkindness, or metta, on too sentimental a basis can actually increase anger. I remember a woman on one of our retreats who, whenever it came to spreading metta to her parents, would go into a rage. Then she felt very guilty about it. Every time she thought about her mother, she felt only rage. This was because she used only her intellect; she wanted to do this practice of metta, but emotionally felt anything but lovingkindness.

It’s important to see this conflict between the intellectual and the emotional life. We know in our mind that we should be able to forgive our enemies and love our parents, but in the heart we feel “I can never forgive them for what they’ve done.” So then we either feel anger and resentment, or we begin to rationalize: “Because my parents were so bad, so unloving, so unkind, they made me suffer so much that I can’t forgive or forget.” Or: “There’s something wrong with me. I’m a terrible person because I can’t forgive.” When this happens, I’ve found it helpful to have metta for my own feelings. If we feel that our parents were unkind and unloving, we can have metta toward the feeling we have in our hearts; without judgment, we can see that this is how it feels, and to accept that feeling with patience.

Once I began to accept my negativity about my father rather than suppress it, I could resolve it. When we resolve something with mindfulness, we can let it go and free ourselves from its power. The resolution of such a conflict leads us to contemplate what life is about.

A life without gratitude is a joyless life. If life is just a continuous complaint about the injustices and unfairness we have received and we don’t remember anything good ever done to us, we fall into depression—not an uncommon problem these days. It is impossible to imagine ever being happy again: we think this misery is forever.

When I became a Buddhist monk in Thailand, I was very fortunate to meet a teacher, Luang Por Chah, known widely as Ajahn Chah, who became the catalyst for the gratitude in my life. At that time I was thirty-three or thirty-four years old, and I must say gratitude was not yet a part of my life’s experience. I was still very much obsessed with myself, what I wanted, what I thought. However, after training as a Buddhist monk for some years, in about the sixth year of monastic life, I had a heart-opening experience that was very much the experience of katannu katavedita, or gratitude to one’s parents.

I had been a Buddhist for many years before I met Ajahn Chah. I had tremendous interest and faith in Buddhism, as well as an eagerness to study and practice it. But it was still coming from the sense of my doing it, my studying it, my trying to practice it. When I became a monk, there was still this tendency: “I want to get rid of suffering. I want to be enlightened.” I was not much concerned about other people, about my parents, or even about Ajahn Chah, with whom I was living at the time. I thought that it was very nice that he was helpful to me, but I did not feel a deep gratitude.

I had the idea that life owed all this to me—an unpleasant kind of conceit. When we are brought up in middle-class comfort as I had been, we take so much for granted. My parents worked hard to make my life comfortable, but I thought that they should have worked harder, and that I deserved more than what they gave me. Even though this was not a conscious thought, there was the underlying attitude that I deserved all I had: people should give me these things; my parents should make my life as good as possible, as I wanted it to be. So from that viewpoint, it was Ajahn Chah’s duty to teach and guide me!

In Thailand, I practiced with diligence and was determined in my monastic life. After participation in five rainy season retreats (vassas), a monk is no longer considered a novice and is free to leave the monastery. I felt that being with a teacher was fine, but I wanted to go away on my own. I left for central Thailand from the northeast. After the vassa I went on a pilgrimage to India. This was in about 1974, and I decided to go as a tudong-bhikkhu, wandering from place to place as part of an austere form of monastic practice. Somebody provided me with a ticket from Bangkok to Calcutta, and I found myself in Calcutta with my alms bowl, my robe, and, abiding by the rules of monkhood, no money. In Thailand it had been easy, but in India the prospect of wandering around with nothing more than an alms bowl seemed quite frightening at first. As it happened, the five months I spent in India were quite an adventure, and I have very pleasant memories of that time. The life of a mendicant worked in India. Of all countries, it should work there, where the Buddha lived and taught.

I began to think of Ajahn Chah and to recognize the kindness he had extended to me. He had accepted me as his disciple, looked after me, given me the teachings, and helped me in almost every way. And there was his own example. If you wanted to be a monk, you wanted to be like him. He was a full human being, a man who inspired me, someone I wanted to emulate—and I must say there weren’t so many men that I had had that feeling toward. In the States, the role models for men were not very attractive to me—John Wayne or President Eisenhower or Richard Nixon were not my role models. Film stars and athletes were given great importance, but none of them inspired me.

But then in Thailand, I’d found this monk. He was very small; I towered above him. When we were together sometimes that surprised me, because he had such an enormous presence. There was this feeling about him that attracted people. So I found myself going over to see him in his hut in the evenings, or whenever it was possible; I wanted to take every opportunity I had to hang around. I asked him once what it was in him that drew people to him, and he said, “I call it my magnet.” He used his magnet to attract people so that he could teach them the dhamma. This is how he used the charismatic quality he had: not in the service of his ego, but to help people.

The Lord Buddha, after his enlightenment, at first thought that the dhamma was too subtle, that no one would understand it, so there was no point in teaching it. Then, according to the legend, one of the gods came forth and said, “Please Lord, for the welfare of those who have little dust in their eyes, teach the dhamma.” The Buddha then contemplated with his powerful mind who might understand the dhamma teaching. He remembered his early teachers but through his powers realized that both of them had died. Then he remembered his five friends who had been practicing with him before, and who had deserted him. Out of compassion he went off to find these five friends, and expounded his brilliant teaching on the Four Noble Truths. This makes me feel katannu katavedita to the Lord Buddha. It’s marvelous: here I am—this guy, here, in this century—having an opportunity to listen to the dhamma, and to have this pure teaching still available.

Just having a living teacher like Ajahn Chah was not like worshiping a prophet who lived twenty-five hundred years ago, it was actually inheriting the lineage of the Lord Buddha himself. Perhaps because of visiting the Buddhist holy places, my gratitude began to become very strong. Then, thinking of Ajahn Chah in Thailand, I remembered how I had thought: “I’ve done my five years, now I’m going to leave. I’m going to have a few adventures, do what I want to do, be out from under the eye of the old man.” I realized then that I had actually run away.

When I felt this gratitude, all I wanted to do was get back to Thailand and offer myself to Ajahn Chah. How can you repay a teacher like that? I did not have any money, and that was not what he was interested in anyway. Then I thought that the only way I could make him happy was to be a good Buddhist monk and to go back and help him out. Whatever he wanted me to do, I would do it. With that intention, I went back after five months in India and gave myself to the teacher. It was a joyful offering, not a begrudging one, because it came out of this katannu, this gratitude for the good things I had received.

From that time on, I found that my meditation practice began to improve. That hard selfishness cracked in me: my trying to get something, my desire for harmony, my desire to practice and have a peaceful life, free of responsibility. When I gave up all that, things seemed to fall into place. What used to be difficult, like concentrating the mind, became easier, and I found that life had become joyful to me.

The last time I went to see my father, I decided that I would try to get some kind of warmth going between us before he died. In the last decade of my father’s life he was quite miserable and became very resentful. He had terrible arthritis and was in constant pain, and he had Parkinson’s disease. Eventually he had to be put in a nursing home. He was completely paralyzed. He could move his eyes and talk, but the rest of his body was rigid. He was resentful of what had happened to him because before he had been a strong, independent man.

When I saw him, his body needed to be stimulated, so I said, “Let me massage your leg.” “No, no, you don’t need to do that,” he said. “You’ll get bedsores, because you really have to have your skin massaged. I would really like to do it.” He still refused, but I could tell he was considering it. “I think it’ll be a good thing,” I told him. “So you’d really like to do it?” he asked me. “Yes.”

I started massaging his feet, his legs, his neck, shoulders, hands, and face; he really enjoyed the physical contact. It was the first time he had been touched like that. Physical contact is quite meaningful, it’s an expression of feeling. And I began to realize that my father really loved me, but didn’t know how to say it. I had this great sense of relief and immense gratitude.

Ajahn Sumedho is the Abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Centre in England and the most senior Western disciple of the late Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah.

(Image: First Time, Kimberly Austin, 2003, Van Dyke prints on watercolor paper and vellum mounted on wood, 2 panels, 11 x 8 inches each)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vanessa Fisher and Mark Forman - Revisioning Men's Worth: A Critical Exploration of the Challenges & Opportunities Facing Men and Masculinity in the New Millenium

As part of her on-going series Dialogue Series, Dancing in the Liminal: A Global, Border-Crossing Inquiry into Art, Activism, Spirituality and Leadership for the 21st Century, Vanessa Fisher recently interviewed psychologist and integral theorist Mark Forman on the topic of revisioning men's worth. This is god stuff.

Revisioning Men's Worth: A Critical Exploration of the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Men and Masculinity in the New Millenium

Posted by Vanessa Fisher on Tuesday, November 13, 2012
With Mark Forman

Download this Dialogue as an MP3

Mark Forman, PhD. is the fourteenth guest on my Dialogue Series, Dancing in the Liminal: A Global, Border-Crossing Inquiry into Art, Activism, Spirituality and Leadership for the 21st Century (see overview for this series here).

Mark is the Clinical Director of Life Design Centre, an innovative psychotherapy studio dedicated to changing the lives of individuals, couples, children, and families. He is also the Executive Director of MetaIntegral’s Psychotherapy Center and the Lead Organizer of their Integral Theory Conference, the world’s largest academic conference devoted to Integral theory and its application.

In this dialogue, I interview Mark on his views regarding the unique challenges and opportunities facing men and masculinity in the 21st Century.

We critically examine cultural discourses surrounding the shifting historical roles of masculinity and femininity, explore the impact of feminism on men over the last 50 years, and point towards new directions of inquiry for men's role in the future.

Mark is a long-term practitioner of both yoga and meditation, having studied intensively under several prominent teachers, including Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and Kenneth Folk.

His latest book, A Guide to Integral Psychotherapy: Complexity, Integration, and Spirituality in Practice was published in 2010 by SUNY Press. Mark is also currently co-editing, along with Michael Raffanti and Toni Gregory, the first ever text on Integral Diversity, entitled Integral Approaches to Diversity Dynamics: Exploring the Maturation of Diversity Theory and Practice.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Happy 2012 International Mens Day!

A while back I posted an announcement about the 2012 International Men's Day - Jason Thompson (the IMD coordinator for Australia) kindly alerted me to the fact that I had posted the wrong information:
the IMD site you quoted belongs to a man who has been disendorsed from the global IMD community due to fraudulent fundraising and other activity. Moreover, his yearly theme that you have promoted is not the one endorsed by IMD Founder Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh.
The real site is here.

Here is this year's theme:

In the run up to International Men's Day 2012 (Monday 19th November) we're asking supporters of the day to focus on five key challenges that will help us improve the health and wellbeing of men and boys all over the world. 

Some of the universal health issues that men and boys in all countries around the globe face include lower life expectancy, difficulty accessing mental health services, educational disadvantages, lack of male role models and tolerance of violence against men and boys. 

To help us focus our collective minds upon helping men and boys live longer, happier, healthier lives, the five key challenges that the International Men's Day team is inviting men and women all over the world to address are shown below.

Addressing each of these challenges will help us to help men and boys all over the world to live longer, happier, healthier lives, which is why we are inviting supporters of International Men's Day to join us in taking on one of more of these five key challenges in 2012.
  1. IMPROVING MEN'S LIFE EXPECTANCY From the moment a boy is born he can expect to live a shorter life than his female counterparts in all but four countries on the planet. There is also a huge gap in life expectancy between rich and poor countries with men in Mozambique reaching an average age of 38 while in Iceland, Israel and Switzerland men live twice as long until the age of 80. There are also huge gaps in life expectancy within countries, with men born in the poorest parts of the United Kingdom, for example, dying 10 years sooner than their fellow countrymen in the wealthiest parts of the capital city. Boys are not genetically programmed to die young so our first challenge this International Men's Day is to ask countries taking part to consider how we can help all men and boys live longer, happier, healthier lives – no matter how poor they are and no matter what country they are born in.
  2. HELPING MEN GET HELP Every year poor mental health drives over three quarters of a million people to commit suicide – and around two thirds of them are males. Men and boys all over the world can find it more difficult to access help for mental and emotional health problems and most prison populations include a significant number of men with mental health issues. This International Men's Day we are asking participating countries to consider how we can help more men and boys get the help and support they need and to take action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of men who will take their own lives this year.
  3. IMPROVING BOYS' EDUCATION: Poor education is linked to poor health outcomes later in life so improving boys' education will also help men and boys live longer, happier healthier lives. This International Men's Day we are asking people to explore why boys in richer countries are under performing girls and also less likely to be in education, and why tens of millions of boys in poorer countries are still not completing a primary education? How can we address truancy and poor literacy rates which leave boys prone to adult unemployment, substance abuse, obesity, depression and poverty? What action can we take to focus on boys' education in a way that closes the gap between girls and boys, addresses the gaps between rich boys and poor boys, and helps us to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of all men and boys.
  4. TACKLING TOLERANCE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN AND BOYS: Violence has a major impact on men's health all over the world. Every year over half a million people die from violence and 83% of them are men and boys. A similar proportion of the global burden of disease (ill-health, disability or early death) from violence is borne by boys and men. Yet while there are now a number of deserved global campaigns to tackle violence against women and girls, there are no such campaigns to help men and boys. Why are we so tolerant of violence and abuse against boys and men and why do we still tolerate a world where we send boys and young men to fight wars on behalf of the adults in power? This International Men's Day we are asking for actions we can take to help men and boys live in a less violent world and challenge our collective global tolerance of violence against men and boys.
  5. PROMOTING FATHERS AND MALE ROLE MODELS: Fathers and male role models play a vital role in helping boys make a healthy, happy and positive transition from boyhood to manhood. How can we give boys a right to family life that gives them an equal opportunity to know and experience both their father and mother and ensure that their role as a future father is equal to girls' role as future mothers? Giving boys a range of positive life choices in terms of family, work and leisure can help us reduce the number of boys whose choices are limited and end up poor, illiterate, unemployed, homeless, imprisoned and isolated. This International Men's Day we are asking what actions we can take to give all boys access to a variety of male role models and ensure their country's laws and practices give them an equal right to fatherhood, with all the support they need to be the best fathers they can be.

Here are some of the key issues men and boys face around the world.
Issues and Statistics 
Based on UK data

Death and suicide
From the moment they are born boys are more likely die before the age of one. By the time they reach 16 boys are two-and-half times more likely to die before they reach 25 years old. They are twice as likely to die before reaching retirement age. More than 95% of the 200 people killed in the workplace every year are men. More than 10 men a day kill themselves with men being 3 times more likely to commit suicide. Men are more likely to killed by strangers and killed by someone they know accounting for more than 71% of all murders. Boys who are excluded from school are 19 times more likely to commit suicide.
They are also more likely to be rejected by or removed from their families, being 25% more likely to be taken into care and 25% less likely to taken out of care by being adopted.
Education and employment
Boys are twice as likely to have a Special Educational Need and twice as likely to have literacy problems. They are four times more likely to be excluded from school. They are also more likely to experience youth unemployment, less likely to go to university and and those that do are 50% more likely to be unemployed when they graduate. Throughout life men are more likely to experience being unemployed and looking for work. Boys with literacy problems are two to three times more likely to end up being heavy smokers, drinkers and unemployed.
1.5 million boys are separated from their fathers and half a million have no contact with their dad. The lack of a father (and lack of male role models more generally) impacts boys in different ways to girls who have a wealth of female role models including the 85% of primary school teachers who are female. Boys who are fatherless, illiterate and end up in care are more likely to be excluded from school. Boys from fatherless families are nine times more likely to commit crime. Approx. 9 out of 10 fathers applying for contact or residence of their children (post family breakup) will fail to achieve it in the family courts, typically after 2 years 80% of fathers will no longer see their children.

Men are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime and are more likely to killed by strangers and killed by someone they know accounting for more than 71% of all murders. Boys who are fatherless, in care, excluded from school and have literacy problems are more likely to end up in prison. 95% of the country’s 100,000 prisoners male. If this were down to men naturally being disposed towards criminal activity, why then do we not see all classes of society equally represented in prison?

Social Exclusion 
Men are 4 times more likely to become an alcoholic, three times more likely to be dependent on cannabis and account for 9 out of 10 rough sleepers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Why Do Men Cheat? 26 Reasons Guys Cheat, According To Men

With the recent "cheating scandal" involving CIA Director David Petraeus in constant rotation on nearly every mainstream news source, the question arises (once again), Why do men cheat?

Why Do Men Cheat: 26 Reasons Guys Cheat, According To Men


The cheating scandal surrounding Gen. David Petraeus has nearly everyone trying to pinpoint why exactly men cheat -- including us.
But apparently, famed television evangelist Pat Robertson has it all figured out. On Monday's episode of "The 700 Club," Robertson gave the four-star general a free pass for the extramarital affair he had with biographer Paula Broadwell.

"The man's off in a foreign land and he's lonely and here's a good looking lady throwing herself at him," Robertson said. "I mean, he's a man."

Robertson's eyebrow-raising explanation got us wondering what other rationales people might offer up for why men cheat, so we went straight to the source and asked our our male followers on Facebook and Twitter. Click through the slideshow to find out what they had to say, then weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

Here are a couple of the answers men gave on Twitter and Facebook (to protect these guys, I did not include their identities). You can see all 26 answers at the Huffington Post site. By the way, none of the answers I saw can justify cheating . . . just sayin'.
  • It's either entitlement/insecurity @HuffPostDivorce Some feel owed, been there, some feel they will never get laid again, so they cash in
  • @HuffPostDivorce I read somewhere men can only stay attracted to the same partner for three years. Aren't most primates non monogamous?
  • @HuffPostDivorce bc it's just sex
  • @HuffPostDivorce Because every man is biologically programmed to sleep with as many women as possible. Some control it, others don't.
  • @HuffPostDivorce Not that I would do it. but probably because there's something missing but not enough to warrant a new relationship

Friday, November 16, 2012

Extinct, Passé? Did 'Metrosexual' Become the New Normal? Do You Care?

Stereotypes suck. Any time we can get rid of another label, another way to define people - men in this case - so that they cease to be fully complex human beings, it's a good day. It seems that the term metrosexual is falling out of use, in part because more men fit that category than don't, or so it appears. Good riddance.

Erynn Masi de Casanova, of the University of Cincinnati, presented her new research (although it is a very small sample) at the recent American Anthropological Association conference in San Francisco.

Extinct or Passé? New Research Examines the Term, 'Metrosexual'

November 13, 2012

Did the "metrosexual" male come into being and die out with the last decade, or has he become the new normal? Erynn Masi de Casanova, a UC assistant professor of sociology, presented truly irrelevant research about the label at the 111th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco.

Casanova's research consisted of interviews with men in three major metropolitan cities and the interviews led to the belief that men in general were taking more interest in a well-groomed appearance and that they felt the term, "metrosexual," was a stereotype that had run its course. Some men who were interviewed indicated that they preferred dressing up and looking sharp – especially on weekends – even though many American businesses now promote workplace casual dress codes. This was prominently reported in New York.

So was ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" sung by metrosexuals? Was Fred Astaire a metrosexual?

Casanova based her presentation, "Is the Metrosexual Extinct? Men, Dress and Looking Good in Corporate America," on interviews with 22 men in which the word, "metrosexual," came up in the conversation. The men were white-collar workers in three major U.S. cities: New York, San Francisco and Cincinnati - a midwestern liberal city bookended by coastal liberal cities.

"I was really interested in finding out how individual men think about social categories, such as metrosexual," says Casanova. "It's a word that's out there, but do men really think about it – does it mean anything to them?"

Probably not, it was just a marketing designation. Casanova rightly notes the label was coined by British journalist Mark Simpson to describe a single, young, heterosexual man with a high disposable income, who worked in the city.

"I found out that people had contradictory opinions about what being metrosexual was. Sometimes one person would reveal both negative and positive connotations about the word," says Casanova. She says the majority of the men referred to the aesthetic aspect of the stereotype – men who were well-dressed and well-groomed.

Most Americans think of metrosexuals as wearing black suits one size too small, though. Incredibly, the men in the surveys had heard the term despite it having its 15 minutes of fame in 2004, mostly to insult Presidential candidate John Kerry when he spoke French. The men also said that the term was being used less and less – that it was likely a buzz-word that was fizzling out, or that now it has just become a label, as more men pay more attention to their appearance. "One of the interviewees said it's just a new word for who used to be called a 'pretty boy,'" Casanova says.

Casanova's interviews also found that the metrosexual moniker opened up a way for heterosexual men to enjoy fashion without being stereotyped as gay, although others considered the term a more polite way of calling someone gay. Some men, says Casanova, saw the interest in fashion as a possible way to bridge gaps between gay and straight men. Some of the heterosexual men interviewed admitted taking fashion advice from gay men.

"As many men confirmed, this bridge seems to be a relatively new – and still somewhat tenuous – development," Casanova says.

Of the 22 men interviewed, half were from New York, 41 percent were from Cincinnati and nine percent were from San Francisco. The majority of the interviewees identified as white; three identified as African American; one as Indian and one as "Afro-Caribbean."

The men held a variety of positions in the corporate world, from sales/marketing to finance, recruitment and architecture/design. The average age of the men interviewed was 36. The youngest was 24 and the oldest was 58.

Funding for the current research project was provided by the University of Cincinnati Taft Research Center and Casanova says the research is part of a larger study that she plans to publish as a book.