This Salon article offered a paragraph about my part in the conference and I found it highly inaccurate. I thought I would take some time here to voice my side of things. I have been interviewed by the mainstream media many times over the years including The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, CNN, and even the NFL Channel and ESPN. Each of these interviews was fair and accurate in their portrayal of the message I was trying to get across. The Salon article however fails in that regard and the writer seems to have a bone to pick with men and boys. Here’s the paragraph in question:
If one of the primary messages of the conferences was “feminists are bad,” the other was “men’s rights activists are good.” In the talk “Men’s Unique Way of Healing,” social worker Tom Golden covered every inch of the stage with his energetic pacing and pantomiming, opening the talk by holding his hands in the air and chanting, “Men are GOOD!” “How many of you have been told that you don’t know how to talk about your feelings?” Golden asked the crowd. His explanation: Men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally. They sit in a fishing boat all day without saying a word and then exit the boat as best friends. Michael Jordan emoted by crying for his late father after winning the championship. Men are “good” just the way they are, and need not bother with all of that “crying” and “talking about your feelings” stuff.
Okay. So let’s take the very first part.
“opening the talk by holding his hands in the air and chanting, “Men are GOOD!””
Now have a look at the very beginning of the youtube (about 2:40) and see if I hold my hands in the air and chant men are good:
So I hope you noticed my hands were behind my back and I said “men are good” exactly two times. Not much of a chant. But why would he want to portray me like that? My guess is that what I was saying went against the grain of his own belief system and he was trying to paint me as a fanatic of some sort. Perhaps he was thinking… “men are good? No, can’t be right. Men are the problem!” And when we don’t agree with someone and want to diminish their ethos what can we do? Say they are chanting! You know, who chants? Mostly religious folks who are far from the mainstream and often seen as fanatics. The default population views “chanting” with great suspicion. So let’s just paint Golden as a chanter! LOL Cheap. Whatever happened to Woodward and Bernstein? This writer actually reminds me of what I might expect from a middle school student who had it in for the person they were writing about.
But it gets worse. The article quotes me as saying “How many of you have been told that you don’t know how to talk about your feelings? Golden asked the crowd.” (the actual quote was “how many men in this audience have heard that? That you are not dealing with your feelings” – considerably different but close) But then goes on to say
“His explanation: Men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally.“
Okay now this one gets me. I have spent over 30 years sitting with men in deep emotional pain and have never said and will likely never say that men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally. He has missed the entire thrust of the talk. What I tried to say was that men have a very different way to open up and most people can’t even see it.
The article says:
“Men are “good” just the way they are, and need not bother with all of that “crying” and “talking about your feelings” stuff.“
Yet another horrible interpretation. What I have found and I hope what I said in the talk was that men have a different way to get at their emotions. I never said anything about them not needing to bother with the crying etc. The fact is that their actions and inactions will often move them to a place of tears. They are just much less likely, for a wide variety of reasons, to do this in public.
The question that arises in my mind is why would this reporter write such a biased and inaccurate piece when all of the rest of the interviews I have done over the years have been markedly different in accuracy? I think it is a small jump to see that this was the first time that I had presented for AVFM in a public men’s issues setting. My normal setting is with mental health professionals or with hospices. In those settings people seem very receptive to the message but once you get associated with men’s issues you get slammed. I think what we are dealing with is a culture and a writer who is so gynocentric and so threatened by hearing the idea that men have needs that he fails repeatedly to be able to see and discuss those needs. He shuts down and attacks. This is what people do when they are feeling threatened. Be sure to read the rest of the article and you will see that his slant was not reserved just for me. The entire conference seems to have gotten under his skin.
I wrote a comment for the online Salon article to try to clarify what I actually said but I think it is falling on deaf ears. Read some of the comments and you will see Archie Bunker and worse. Archie was at least lovable. If you can detach it can actually be fairly entertaining to read through them. This is a brainwashed group that is vehement that their brainwashing is the only way to see things and anyone voicing a different viewpoint is seen as an idiot who can’t get dates. I mean really? I will paste in the comment I made here.
Here’s the comment:
Thanks for including me in your article. While I do appreciate being included I feel that you didn’t seem to portray the talk in an accurate manner. I thought I would post here and offer the basics that you seem to have missed. I would encourage everyone to have a look at the free video on youtube and judge for yourself the accuracy of this article. http://youtu.be/h7yaH-DVbYQ?t=2m34s Here are the main points:
You can’t say all men heal one way and all women heal another. It is much more complicated but it is fairly safe to talk about most men and that is what the talk considered as will this post.
1. Most men will process their emotions in a way that is very different from the cultural default. They will tend to use action, inaction, and honoring to do so.
2. Men do this for many reasons but the main reasons that were discussed in the talk were that a man’s emotional pain is taboo in our culture. The second reason of four was that men are expected to provide and protect and this expectation includes a powerful expectation that men avoid any form of dependency. When men are seen as dependent they are often judged as not being “real men.” Men are not dumb enough to fall for that trap.
3. There are physical reasons for these differences starting with the large levels of testosterone that boys (and about 18% of girls) receive at about 2 months in utero. We discussed the probable impact of this on the processing of emotions. The work of Shelly Taylor (The Tending Instinct) showed us that when stressed, men and women have different paths to cope. Men tend to fight or flight. That is, they tend to connect their stress with action or inaction while women do something very different. Taylor found that women will “tend and befriend.” That is, women will move towards INTERACTION when stressed. This contrasts with the men’s tendency to move towards action and/or inaction. This important bifurcation starts to help us understand our differences in processing emotions.
4. The talk then gave two examples of the way men heal. We discussed Eric Clapton and the way he worked with his loss following the sudden death of his young son. We also discussed Michael Jordan and his ways of coping following the murder of his father.
I have been working with men in emotional pain for over 30 years and having someone write that I said “Men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally” is pretty shocking and inaccurate. I said nothing of the sort. What I did say was that men have a very different way to process their emotions and we need to factor that in when we help them connect. The material I presented was a summary of what usually takes 3-4 hours to get across. Many details were left out due to time. If you have any interest I have written two books on the topic, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, and the more recent kindle book “The Way Men Heal.”
“Crass ideological opponents”
“Paranoia and vitriol”
“Violent Internet histories”
“A palpable distaste for women”
These men laugh at rape jokes.
Describing a Saturday Night Live sketch as if it attacked our beliefs—when it addressed none of our beliefs at all
Mentioning mass murderer Elliot Rodger
These are things Jessica Roy used in describing the International Conference on Men’s Issues and its readers and editors in her Time magazine article.
She went as far as describing a point during the conference when she got the vapors and had to leave the building! Interesting that she doesn’t tell us what content gave her this vaporous experience, nor does she tell us when and if she returned.
Here’s the way her article starts:
I went to the conference in suburban Detroit expecting a group of feminist-hating Internet trolls; I found much more.
It is clear that Roy had very strong preconceived ideas about this conference prior to even setting foot in the venue. In other words, she was prejudiced. In her mind, she seems to have thought that these were her enemies, these were violent and vitriolic opponents who said things so vile that she had to leave the building. It’s little wonder that her article is desperately biased as she clings to her outdated, half-the-story ideological-feminist indoctrination.
Roy peppered the article with examples of how men are indeed in need of services at times but implied that the “paranoid” and “vitriolic” leadership was not doing a good job of getting them the help they need. Presumably, from her perspective, the conference also failed in that regard.
At some points during the article Roy related content from the conference and then immediately offered a refutation. In most good reporting, I have seen the reporter report what transpired and then, when it is an important point, seek out other expert opinions as a counterpoint to help the reader see both sides. In Roy’s case, most of the time she simply saw herself as the expert and worked to refute the claims of the conference speakers. This shows us clearly that this was personal to her; she wanted to refute what was being said. There was “her side” and then the side she was writing about. Her stance as a journalist was biased and far from neutral.
A very strong indicator of her defensiveness and brittle worldview:
Still, being surrounded by men who belly-laughed at rape jokes and pinned evil elements of human nature wholesale on women was emotionally taxing at best and self-destructive at worst. Once, during a particularly upsetting segment of the program, I had to excuse myself from the auditorium to seek refuge on the bug-filled bank of Lake St. Clair. I kept wondering why I had volunteered to fly 600 miles to attend the conference alone, to surround myself not just with crass ideological opponents, but with people with violent Internet histories who believed my very existence oppressed them. But to emerge on the other side of this with both my sanity and a worthwhile story, I would have to actually adopt a grain of their advice. I would have to stop feeling like a victim, and in turn cast aside all of the humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences I had collected as a woman.
Of course “belly-laughs at rape jokes” were hardly the norm for anyone there, and all evil elements of human nature were not pinned wholesale on women; women were just held to be as culpable as men by most of the presenters. And men must not experience humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences as men just because they couldn’t immediately rattle them off for her when prompted.
As an example of the distorted lens Roy sees things through, when Dr. Tara Palmatier showed a slide in a presentation on clinical narcissism, rather than trying to understand or to expand on what Dr. Palmatier was saying about it, Roy decided instead to try to disprove the assertions of Dr. Palmatier without discussion, by claiming it was about how attire causes rape. This is the work not of a journalist but of an ideologue trying to promote their own view of the world. Give them an alternative viewpoint and they go bonkers.
The question does arise: Why would Time magazine send a reporter who was so biased and closed-minded to cover this conference? Maybe like sending an “earth is the center of the universe” proponent to cover a Copernicus news conference. What would you expect from that? Then again, maybe Time doesn’t hire unbiased reporters anymore?
Time magazine is not the only culprit here. The Washington Post also sent a reporter who had strong biases and training that focused more on women’s issues and had left out men and boys. The article she wrote is not unlike Roy’s. It’s biased. Both were obviously steeped in the wrong-headed, half-truth feminist dogma that has been the default of the media for many years. If only either could have listened carefully to the presentations they might have seen the damage their thinking and writing has been doing. Compare either of these articles with this USA Today story on the conference. Note the contrast and that it lacks the bitter hatefulness seen in the other two.
My wife, who attended the conference and is sympathetic to the views expressed at the conference but who could not be described as an “activist,” read the Time magazine article and said, “It’s hard to believe that she related in the article the way she did. It is just bizarre … her perceptions of the situation, it’s way off base.”
I must wholeheartedly agree, having been there myself.
Now it’s your turn. All of the presentations at the conference are now online and linked below and free for viewing. Have a look and decide for yourself whether you agree with my wife or with Jessica Roy. I am betting strongly on my wife.
If you missed the International Men’s Issues Conference in June of 2014 you missed an astounding event. Lucky for you it is now online and viewable. (links at the end of this post ) The consistent theme that was heard repeatedly during the event was that the old narrative is woefully inadequate and is being replaced with a new one that improves the focus of compassion and choice to everyone, not just a select few. Exposing this old narrative came from almost each speaker and was described in a wide variety of ways.
I do hope that those who attacked this conference and unsuccessfully tried to shut it down by sending death threats to innocent people will take the time to listen to these presentations. I think if they take the time to do this that they will find that the speakers all offer a similar message of wanting the best for all people, not just a select few. They are truly humanitarians. How could anyone want to shut down a humanitarian event?
I am reminded of a book I read many years ago. It was a book on human evil by Scott Peck. The title was People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. In it, Peck explained that evil was most often practiced by those who would attack others rather than deal with their own failings. This sort of attack would then leave what Peck described as the hallmark of evil, it would leave a huge amount of chaos in its wake. Of course I won’t need to remind anyone that men’s issues consistently focus on events and problems where men and boys are facing huge amounts of chaos whether it is the family court traumas, the domestic violence industry, or some other misandrist avenue.
I couldn’t help but notice that the First International Men’s Issues Conference had a number of speakers addressing the idea of evil. Sen Ann Cools, the first black female Senator in North America started off the conference by openly asking how anyone could actually believe the feminist narrative that has been thrust upon us all for the last 40 years. Senator Cools told stories of her experience in the Canadian Senate that exposed the half truths and the gynocentric majority that turned their backs on the needs of men and boys. Erin Pizzey then gave a remarkable presentation about the plight of men and boys. She labelled what has been done to men and boys, particularly in the domestic violence arena as done by “The Evil Empire.” Then Tara Palmatier, PhD eloquently and humorously pointed out the lopsided nature of acceptance of the narcissism of girls and women and the shame, blame, and lack of acceptance for boys and men on so many levels. The conference started off with three women who very eloquently and powerfully labeled the state we are in and the impact this has on boys and men.
The presentation where I learned the most was from Karen Straughan. I would highly recommend you check it out. I had been duped by the idea that feminism in the beginning was actually for equality. Karen rid me of that notion. She went into detail about the Seneca Falls Convention and showed clearly how the feminist narrative, even in the 19th century, was clearly blaming men for the ills of the world.
There were so many other presentations that were simply excellent. I can honestly say there was not one presentation I heard that didn’t get an A. Barbara Kay did a great job in exposing the misandry in the media. Mike Buchanan brought to life the political reality and shared his experience in starting a political party in England to focus on boys and men. Fred Jones inspired us in laying out what it takes to win a fight that may be stacked against you in the start. Golden did okay talking about men and their unique ways to process emotions and Paul talked about the importance of honoring our blue collar men and the fact that the world functions due to their often unappreciated efforts.
Warren Farrell started off day two with a ten point summation of the most important issues we need to address in order to find success. As usual Warren is thinking ahead of the curve! Carnell Smith told the story of cupcake and had us all laughing and inspired to keep any eye peeled for the soul crushing impact of paternity fraud. Robert Franklin exposes the partnership of feminists and family court lawyers and their goals of keeping fathers out of families. Terry Popp focused on the huge problem of suicide in the military and showed the excellent video Purple Heart’s Final Beat. Then Stefan Molyneux spoke and began by looking at evil and how it starts and stops, moved to circumcision and then beyond. He really kept us all interested and laughing.
What a great group of presentations. This conference was truly an astounding event.
At this point day two is online on youtube. The present video is a number of hours long and difficult to navigate and find the beginnings and ends of each section. For your convenience the links below will take you to each presentation.
Part one went over the basics of brainwashing and began to look at some of the similarities that male feminists seem to share with those who were brainwashed by the Chinese. We discussed how the parallels we were drawing were not precise and were general though striking and eye opening. I think a similar situation can be seen when we turn to the similarities of the feminists with those who were doing the brainwashing, the communist Chinese.
We saw how the Chinese first depended on attacking the identity of the captives and added the prolonged use of guilt and shame. This was all done within an environment where they (The Chinese) were held as infallible. I think a good case can be made for some strong similarities existing in the way feminism has attacked men and boys. It is a curious question why they would do so. Let’s start there.
So why did feminism attack the identity of men? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Telling the truth that women suffered and faced discrimination due to rigid sex roles just wasn’t that sexy and the media and politicians would fail to be interested. But, if you can find a bad guy, you know, someone to blame, then the ordeal becomes sexy and interests the press and those politicians knowing they need something to get re-elected. We will just blame men and claim they are the problem. Hey, we could juice it up even more and call them oppressors!
And that is just what they did.
They did this with the benefit of a gynocentric culture that has always jumped to attention when females claim they are tied to the tracks. If you don’t believe that just look at our laws. Time and time again the laws protect women but less so men. The Violence against WOMEN Act, Sexual Harassment Laws, Rape Shield laws, affirmative action, and on and on. The protecting is all for women and little for men. Men are disposable.
It didn’t take long to find that the tactic of blaming men as oppressors was actually very effective and very lucrative. The more they did it, the more media attention and funding they would get. And no one complained!
Of course, the obvious truth was that women were restricted not by oppressive men but by rigid sex roles. These roles had been the norm for many, many years and would likely still be in effect except that women became aware that their options were limited by their sex roles and they wanted more options in their lives.
But didn’t women have options? Yes, they had many options but simply not the same as they saw men getting. (of course men have never had the options that women had but they have yet to complain, you know, like not dying in wars, or getting to stay at home with the kids while someone else works and supports you, or actually getting compassion and emotional support) What many people don’t realize is that in 1960, prior to feminism, women were 32.3% of the workforce. That’s right, one third of our workers were women. With all that our gynocentric government has done since then it is now at 47%. That’s up only 15%. Women had jobs and worked outside the home. And how about college? Again, what most don’t realize is that in 1960, prior to feminism, women received 35% of the college degrees. Does this sound like a group that is oppressed? No. Let’s compare them with a group that was oppressed. Slaves. Slaves were 0% of the workforce and 0% of the recipients of college degrees. See the difference? One group is limited by a rigid sex role and faces discrimination that keeps them out of some professions and some top positions etc and the other group is actually oppressed and forbidden to take part in society. Huge difference. There is no comparison. Women have made gains in many areas including getting more jobs as professionals such as lawyers and doctors. They have also surpassed men in obtaining college degrees. In fact at this point women are getting more degrees than men at the same rate that men had gotten more degrees than women in 1970. But guess what? The 1970 figure for women is seen as a sign of discrimination/oppression against women while the 2010 figure for men is seen as a success for women! A part of that misandry is due to feminists and their cronies having gotten away with painting men as the problem and of course we simply don’t care so much about those who are the cause of the problem. We ignore their pain and suffering. Sound fair to you? Again, this is just more evidence of our living in a gynocentric world.
The attacks on men’s identity were basically a global false accusation. The feminists took the low road and falsely accused their own partners, the opposite sex, in order to get what they wanted. These false accusations likely worked on the feminists in the same ways that we saw brainwashing work on the men who betrayed their own origins. When we betray, we will tend to detach from that which we betray. The feminist betrayals of men likely moved them farther and farther into a detached position. We will also likely be more motivated to collect evidence that the betrayal was justified. This may give us a clue about the extent the feminists have gone in betraying men. Could it be that the more the feminists betrayed men the more detached they became to men?
And what happens when someone is falsely accused? The first thing the accused does is often deny that the attack is very important. From their perspective they know that it is false, it is bogus. They know it is untrue. They figure that in a short period people will figure this out and all will be well. They trust that that common sense and compassion will prevail. A part of this early denial is the minimization of the impact that such a false accusation can have. It seems to me that this is just how men responded to the early false accusations. They laughed it off and figured such nonsense would never have much impact. They were wrong. What is the worst thing about a false accusation? It is almost impossible to disprove. Individual men could say that they were not oppressors but there was no way for men to speak as a group and disprove the false accusations of these constant attacks. And they started to spread.
So the feminists/women had made a choice: Insure more stuff for women by attacking men’s identity and integrity. They frankly seemed like naturals at this tactic. Labeling men as every sort of bad meme one can imagine. Men were pigs, men were rapists, men were greedy and unwilling to share with women, men were violent and bullied innocent women in relationship, men were insensitive, men were oversexed, men were testosterone poisoned, men never grew up and the list goes on and on. Men were bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Not some men, but men in general. Just try and imagine someone saying similarly negative things about women as a group. I bet you can’t even imagine it.
In order to maintain this lie of men oppressing women they needed to paint men as more and more terrible oppressors. They proceeded to create oppressors at every street corner. Men were oppressing women and keeping them from getting jobs, they were sexually harassing them on the job, men were oppressing women and keeping them tied to the home, men were oppressing women via domestic violence and beating them at home, men were oppressing women by raping them, by keeping them out of schools, by limiting their pay, by keeping them out of boardrooms and top jobs. Men men men. Bad guys. This was drilled into the consciousness of a receptive and gullible public who cheered on the poor dears who had been so oppressed by these evil men. And the funding flowed. The agencies created. The bureaucracy begun. The American public loves an underdog and hates a bully and that is just how this fight was painted, the men were bullies and the women were underdogs. The American public still thinks this way to this day due to these lies.
Bullies don’t deserve any special treatment. In fact people tend to hold the attitude that bullies should pay for their bullying. Things like affirmative action might disadvantage men but they have been bullies/oppressors and have “had it all” for years. The prevailing attitude is that now it is their turn to suffer. Add that to the fact that men are already seen as disposable and these things create a situation where men are much less likely to get any compassion and more likely to have people nod and accept that they experience disadvantage. No compassion for them.
This drill went on for years and as it progressed the media and academia picked up the bull horns and started to attack men just as it had been started by mostly feminists. This eventually expanded to nearly every sphere of American life. The media, academia, the courts, the legislatures everyone had gotten in on the act of blaming men. Now it was common for all of these factions to beat up on men. No one cared. Men were fair game. They were oppressors, they were egocentric bullies. All things masculine were seen as a problem, all things feminine were seen as a solution. The men were the oppressors and deserved it. The fact that so many others were now carrying out the attacks on men’s identity relieved the feminists from having to do so. You rarely hear the men are pigs line or other degrading comments much any more but it is there. After years of attacks the entire culture has taken on the anti-male attitude. It is automatically assumed by most people and because of this it simply does not need to be voiced. The negative stereotype of men has become a part of the cultural fabric.
Along with the attacks on male identity came the guilt and shame. This could be seen in all of the name calling and identity attacks but was additionally related to attempts to demean both men and masculinity with blame for the problems of the world. This was not an attempt to make men feel guilty for a specific behavior or something they had done in their lives. No. It was more an attempt to have men BE guilty. To be and feel guilty simply for being male. You were guilty not for something you had done, but for something you were. You were male. This is quite similar to the communist Chinese tactic of having their captives live in a world of shame and guilt over who they were not only what they had done.
There were some places with a much higher density of male hate and contempt than others. Probably the area with the most hatred espoused was academia. The women’s studies departments were run by radical feminists who voiced this message repeatedly. Anyone who disagreed would face a great deal of hardship from the university administration. Accusations of misogyny were used as weapons. Entire faculties started living in fear of appearing in any way to be anti-woman or being pro-male. They were petrified and even to this day the people I know on college campuses are afraid of the gender politics of the feminists. Very few will speak up even a little in opposition to women and feminists. Everyone knows to stay silent and not draw attention to oneself. These people have been known to be ruthless and consider themselves infallible. People live in fear of them. This of course is very similar to the Communist Chinese brainwashers. They routinely attack the identity of men, shame and guilt them as being misogynists and do so from a place of infallibility. Two peas in a pod.
I think that this high density of man hatred has been at least partly responsible for the lack of gender diversity in resources on today’s college campus. Almost every place you look are more things for women but there is almost nothing for the men outside of huge mega-buck athletics that doesn’t really help the average guy. Women’s Centers, women’s safety, women’s groups, women’s health. etc.
The density of the male/masculinity hatred on campus must also mean that our college campuses are one of the more effective brainwashing centers. All those that pass through, both males and females, get indoctrinated into the anti-male stereotypes from their freshman introductory welcome workshops to their last day on campus. It is little surprise that on college campuses we tend to see more male feminists.
It also dawned on me why feminists are so quick to call males misogynists when they are simply talking about the needs of men. I have noticed this for years that simply mentioning men’s needs will bring on an accusation of hating women. They are very quick to point out that what is being said is misogynistic. But why would simply voicing men’s needs be misogynistic? Well, it can’t be, but what I have assumed over the years is that feminism has a very old habit of voicing the needs of women while at the same time attacking men as the problem. Could it be that they are simply expecting the same hatefulness they have practiced for years to come back at them from those who start to voice the needs of men? Seems like a possibility to me.
Tremendous damage has been done to both men and boys and women and girls over the years. It is going to take a long time to start to shift these hateful attitudes. Men and boys deserve both choice and compassion. At this point they are getting very little of either.
For many years that I have been shocked and confused by the vehemence and persistence that feminists attack males and also male feminists attack men and masculinity. Both blame men for most ills in the world. I have always scratched my head and wondered how they could get so vitriolic and juiced. It has also confused me how the feminist males could be so self-deprecating. Then I ran into the brainwashing material by Robert Lifton and it started to make some sense. The male feminists are exhibiting very similar behaviors to the people that Lifton studied who had been brainwashed. The feminists also seem to share some characteristics with the communist Chinese brainwashers. The following article will give you a beginning knowledge of the work of Lifton and you can be the judge about drawing a connection between the two. I am in no way totally convinced but it sure seems to be a likely connection worth discussion. See what you think.
American psychiatrist Robert Lifton studied both western and Chinese citizens who had been through China’s brainwashing attempts in the early 1950’s. This group had undergone a powerful psychological experience at the hands of their captors who had done their best to brainwash them. Lifton, who uses the term “thought reform” rather than brainwashing conducted interviews with many of those who were imprisoned and later released. Oftentimes the interviews took place very shortly after their release. He averaged 15-20 hours of interview time with each of the 40 subjects. He pulled together his ideas from this effort into a book,Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, A Study of Chinese Brainwashing which was published in 1961. The book has become a classic and has been instrumental in our understanding of the Chinese attempts at brainwashing.
Lifton’s basic outline of the essence of brainwashing has been used in a variety of areas outside the strict arena of brainwashing. One is religious cults and their attempts at thought reform. Another has been abusive relationships where the abuser seeks to “brainwash” his or her victim. In both these areas it could be argued that what transpired was technically not brainwashing, at least not in the exact same sense that Lifton observed. There were no chains and handcuffs, and no literal imprisonment. However, the Lifton outline is extremely useful in exposing the path and structure of the extreme manipulation in both these areas. The cult seeks to transform the member into a devoted and non-questioning adherent and will use a variety of methods to make this happen. Similarly, the abusive person attempts to manipulate the abused person in numerous ways. Both the cults and the abusers have a common trait, they both start by attacking the identity of the subject. By attacking that person’s sense of self they soften the individual’s ability to maintain their personal view of the world. This is clearly seen in the abusive relationship where the abused will often get to the point where they see the abuse as necessary and their own fault rather than an abusive act.
This idea of attacking the identity is actually Lifton’s first element of the thought reform process. He describes the experience of a priest who was one of those he interviewed. The priest told him in detail how the Chinese captors had hammered away at him that he was not really a father. They told him he was living a lie. He was not really a father and not interested in the well being of people, he was instead an imperialist spy, who was greedy and only thinking of himself. When the priest would answer truthfully he would be rebuked and told he was lying. He would be put in chains and handcuffed and made to stand for long highly painful periods. Sometimes he was kept awake for long periods. He was being taught that if he offers the wrong answer, no matter how truthful, he will face severe punishment.
Lifton sees this first step as being crucial, and even a pre-requisite for all that is to follow. Without the identity being “softened” many people will simply not shift away from their world views. Damaging the identity in some way is imperative. You can think of an abused person who is beaten on a regular basis. This person has been told that the beatings are their fault, that they are the problem and if they weren’t so bad the beatings would never happen. The abused person slowly loses sight of their own identity, and over time loses sight of even their own perspective. They start to identify with the perspective of the abuser, and even side with the abuser. If you communicate with an abused person like this you will hear those messages loud and clear, “This abuse is my fault.” Following Liftons basic path they have swallowed the perspective of the abuser and their own identity has been significantly compromised.
The idea of brainwashing a cult member or an abused person are both taking Lifton’s ideas and applying them on a micro level, the level of an individual. But what about applying these same ideas on a macro level? I think there are some very interesting connections when applying Lifton’s ideas on a more global level.
One area I see where they can be easily applied is in connection with feminism and the obvious attacks on men’s identity. Over the last 50 years men have experienced the most dramatic drop in loss of status of any group ever in our history. I cannot think of any group of a similar size (roughly half the population), going through such a contrast in labels. Men in the 1950’s were seen as good, were seen as helpful, were seen as productive, were seen as those who made the world a safe place. Since that time men’s identity has been attacked until in today’s world men are seen as anything but the above. They are seen as the problem. This is a huge turnaround and one piece of this has been the relentless attacks on men’s identity. Just think of all of the phrases used by feminists and others, “Men Are Pigs” “All Men Are Rapists” “Men are Greedy” and on and on. Men have been linked to causing wars, ruining the economy, being the source of violence, and just about every negative you can imagine. Men’s stock has dropped in a huge way and a part of this drop has been the attacks on men’s identity. These attacks started with feminists but so many others have now joined in including the media, the government, academia and even from the water cooler. At this point, in 2014, men are now seen as the problem.
Like the Chinese captives and like an abused person, if you hammer away long enough at the identity you will start to have an impact. We can see this today when we observe boys simply not wanting to grow up as male, boys who are enamored with the feminine and ashamed of their masculine. Indeed the default view of men and masculinity is very negative. This sort of macro attack on men and masculinity does not have the personal and intimate impact of an individual repeatedly avering your lack of goodness as happened so often with the Chinese captors. Instead, it has the power of being global and accepted by not only individuals but by academia, the courts, the government and the people at large. In some ways it reminds me of Lifton’s stories about the Chinese surrounding the individual being brainwashed with people who shouted at him for hours about how he was a spy, he was wrong, he was a liar, he was an imperialist and more. Those interviewed spoke of the power of this technique of having no ally and being surrounded by people who all believe you were an “imperialist.” Men and boys today are totally surrounded by negative feedback about men. There is no place for them to turn that says a positive word about men. They face a barrage of negative information about their sex from home, school, television, movies, the courts, the government and just about everyplace you can see. All have been convinced that the goodness of men is simply not prevalent and that there is basically something wrong with men. They, men, are wrong, and wrong simply because they are male. This has got to have a powerful long term impact on every boy’s and man’s identity.
Lifton emphasized repeatedly that the attacks on the identity made by the Chinese captors were made from a group that was held to be infallible. If any prisoner were to question any aspect of their captors, even a tiny issue, he would be punished severely and told clearly that the captors were infallible. In fact, the prisoners lived in an environment that demanded a respect for the infallibility of the captors. Just think of the abusive person expecting no questioning of their abuse. They demanded that their perspective, the abuser’s perspective, was the only correct viewpoint and in essence that they were infallible. The same can be seen in today’s feminism. /in some ways the adherents maintain that the doctrine of feminism is infallible. You can see this in action in the total intolerance of feminists to allow even discussion of men’s issues on college campus’s. You can see it in the remarkably violent and caustic response to AVFM’s planned conference on men’s human rights. The response includes death threats to innocent bystanders apparently because the topics don’t please them. (more on how men’s issues is a threat to feminism later) I saw this sort of totalism first hand while I was a part of the American Psychological Association’s Division 51 listserv for the study of men and masculinity. Questioning of feminism was basically not a good strategy. Only two people were banned from that group and both were active in questioning feminism. The reason given for one man being banned was that he mentioned male victims of domestic violence too often. It didn’t mesh with the feminist meme and had to go! Men were only the perps! You can easily see this same sort of thing on feminist online forums. Anyone who disagrees is immediately banned from being a part. You can see this in the feminist attempts to silence people like Warren Farrell from speaking at a Canadian University blocking the entrances and pulling fire alarms. His message that drew such ire? He was planning to talk about the needs of boys. This was somehow translated into being hateful toward women and misogynistic. We could list many more examples. It seems clear that feminism has existed in an environment that disallows questioning and assumes its infallibility. There is obvious intolerance for views that differ from their own.
So the stage is set with an infallible source who is attacking the identity. What happens after that?
You must learn to feel GUILTY, and then BE GUILTY
With infallibility hammering away and identity starting to falter it brings on self doubt in large amounts. This sets the stage for the very important element of inducing guilt and shame. The captors did everything they could to force the person to take on blame for anything that might have happened to them in their lives. This is repeated unmercifully. It is hammered home that the person (and their imperialistic way of life) is the real source of all their troubles. They are to blame. And the blame is related to their stupidity of going along with the imperialistic ways. (Can you hear the same meme that men have been stupid to follow their misogynistic ways of the patriarchy?) Behind this is the implication that if they would only accept the infallible ways of their captors that all would be better. Some of those who were imprisoned spent several years going through this sort of thing. It is not hard to imagine that after years of identity dismantling and guilt inducement that the end result would be a very shaken person who assumed they were the problem and needed to find a way out. Any way out.
The guilt starts to open them up to a negative part of their identity that is more accessible now due to the original identity having suffered fractures. This puts the captive in touch with a part of himself that is indeed less than good. One could even say that it puts him in touch with the evil within himself. This of course, leaves him vulnerable to identifying more closely with this negative part of himself and this identification lowers his sense of integrity and forces him to question his own morality and goodness. This is just what the Chinese want to happen. Yes, they want them to feel guilty but the end product is not meant to produce an individual who feels badly about what he DID. The end product is meant to produce an individual who feels bad about who he IS! They want him to know that he is an imperialist who is therefore responsible for the actions of all other imperialists. You must learn to feel guilty, and then importantly, BE and ACT guilty.
Confessing is Surviving
Lifton says that a theme that was prevalent was that “only those who confess will survive.” Confessing was something that the prisoners learned to do. In fact, confessing was one of the few ways that prisoners were able to ease their burden of punishments even though they totally disbelieved what they said. At first, knowing that they were lying, they would give false confessions to try to please the captors and avoid painful chains and handcuffs. Often times the Chinese would punish them for these early confessions claiming that they were lies with the implication that these confessions were not nearly strong enough and failed to match the crimes the Chinese were maintaining they had committed. Those that Lifton interviewed would speak of the impact of their false confessions. They said that each false confession tended to further break down their identity and their own world view. What began as a ploy to lessen punishments and ingratiate themselves with the Chinese quickly bit them in the butt and left them confused about who they really were. They started to see themselves as what the Chinese had been telling them, they saw themselves as liars. This further confused the captives and left them reeling. Lifton talks of how the men became “lost in the labyrinth of their own false confessions.” It became very confusing.
Slowly their confessions might be accepted just a bit. As they were accepted the captive would strive to offer more confessions that might please the Chinese. They quickly learned that the only way to maintain self esteem was by self-flagellation. The more they blamed themselves and beat themselves up the more they would avoid severe punishments. The drill became deprecate self and idealize the Chinese.
We can see this sort of thing in both the abused person and in male feminists. When the abused person can tell the abuser that they know they are at fault for the beatings, this will obviously bring at least a temporary harmony and relief. For male feminists, after hearing repeatedly that men are the problem, they find that the more they self-deprecate and distance themselves from all things masculine, the more the feminists will accept them. Self esteem is now bolstered not by truth or creativity but by deprecating oneself. You can see this sort of male self-deprecation on youtube repeatedly. These men go on and on about what awful beings they are, they are male. It is not a pretty sight but it makes a bit of sense to me now knowing that this is a part of the brainwashing they have experienced. They seem to expect that their self flagellation will bring them acceptance from their reformers. The courser the hairshirt the better. Their identity is now based on their own guilt. Their esteem is now based on how much they distance themselves from anything masculine and apologize for having been masculine and therefore misogynist. They have begun to not only feel guilty about their actions, but to BE guilty about their actions. They have been misogynists, like all other men, and must atone. But like the prisoners, each time they confess it has an additive impact on their own identity and their sense of who they are.
One of the things the Chinese captors would encourage was for a prisoner to turn against his own people and blame them openly. When doing this the prisoners were more likely to come into the good graces of their captors. Those interviewed also spoke of the psychological impact of blaming their own group; even though the blaming was at first intentionally false, the end product was that they would feel less identified with their origins and more inclined to align with the Chinese. When the person sees themselves as the problem, and publicly claims that their original group is the problem, this admission, even when false, tends to detach the accuser from their own group. These false accusations of their own group are basically betrayals. When a person betrays a group they are far less likely to identify with that group. With each betrayal the thinner the attachment becomes. They had become what the Chinese had accused them of at the beginning. They were liars. Now the original accusations of the Chinese had been transformed into self accusations.
Lifton’s work helps us to see that if the male feminists are anything like those brainwashed by the Chinese that self-flagellation and male bashing are probably important activities for them. Their self esteem and identity are tied to them. The more they do it, the more they are aligned with their “captors.” Each time they openly blame men and masculinity for the ills of the world and blame themselves they likely lose a little bit more of their identity as men and take on a bit more identity as feminists. It reminds me of the “Dear Woman” video on youtube where the men apologized to the women for all of the ills that masculinity had created. That video makes a little more sense to me at this point knowing the dynamic of self deprecation and accusing one’s group.
Just like the Chinese brainwashing victims we can see how the male feminists self-deprecation and volumes of hatefulness towards masculinity increase, it results in more detachment from being identified as male and more self-deprecation and male bashing. This likely starts slowly but it is obvious that it can pick up steam and become a runaway self-deprecating and blaming train since it often gets positively re-enforced. I have seen a few of those trains myself!
Just imagine for a minute that you were a male feminist and had gone through this process for years of blaming both yourself and your own sex for most of the world’s problems. You did this blaming over a long period of time and transformed your identity from its original state into a new state that is built on a shaky feminist foundation. This new identity is somewhat brittle and has little room for areas of grey. One would assume that it would be a fairly precarious perch that required more blaming to maintain. The more we blame the more we feel a bit of self righteous stability. Now imagine that you run into someone you know who is talking about men’s issues. What does that do to you? It likely throws you into chaos due to your precarious perch. In order to maintain this adjusted identity you need to maintain the attitude that men and masculinity are indeed the problem. If someone starts to claim that men have needs and have areas where they face hardship and discrimination that becomes very difficult to hear. How could that be that the group that is responsible for the world’s ills have special needs? Does not compute. When someone threatens that stance what does it do to you? It’s not hard to imagine that it would get you very upset very quickly. Tolerance for the target group having needs is likely very limited. You have much to protect and if men and masculinity have problems of their own that puts a hole in your ability to blame them for the worlds’s ills. Men’s issues becomes a threat.
Here’s a quote from the Lifton book that tries to summarize the experience of those going through the brainwashing:
“Their situation was like that of a man taken suddenly from his ordinary routine and placed in a hospital for the criminally insane, where he is accused of a horrendous but vague crime which he is expected to recognize and confess; where his assertion of innocence is viewed as a symptom of his disease, as a paranoid delusion; and where every other inmate is wholly dedicated to the task of pressuring him into a confession and a “cure.””
This paragraph does a good job of summarizing the experiences that Lifton wrote about. But does it also describe fairly well the experience of an unsuspecting young man entering a woman’s studies class? It sure seems like a good match to me as it describes his impossible situation and dilemma.
So drawing from Lifton’s material we can see that male feminists, in response to feminist pressure are likely to:
1. Self-deprecate in order to prove their allegiance to the new captor which also detaches them from their original identity.
2. Blame men and masculinity. By betraying their own identity they further detach as they hope to ingratiate themselves.
3. The blaming and self-deprecating make it very difficult to openly discuss the hardships and discrimination that men face. Try to imagine a southern white in the 1950’s trying to discuss the hardships and discrimination faced by southern blacks. They would have a similarly difficult time.
But what about the Chinese brainwashers. Are feminists in any way like them. Let’s turn to that next in Part 2.
When a drought hits in Africa the animals head for the few spots that still have available water. I think we have something similar happening in the US today where we have a drought of masculinity. Two places where the masculine still exists are in sports and gaming. Both these spots offer a masculine environment where competition is the norm and competition rules. Those who practice harder and are more skilled are rewarded, those who are not, aren’t. Both these spots lack the politically correct mentality, affirmative action and censorship of interaction. Boys flock to these places.
Compare this with our schools where 6 year old boys are being expelled for kissing a 6 year old girl or a 7 year old boy is suspended for fashioning his breakfast pastry into a gun and pointing it at someone. Our schools are dominated by the feminine and by women who have a natural inclination to, understand girls. They were one. Boys? All too often the thinking is that the boys just need to learn to be more like the well behaved and attentive girls.
The erroneous assumption that many people fall prey to is that we are all a blank slate at birth and then are molded by our socialization. The media and our colleges have been spreading this one-sided notion for nearly 50 years. This leaves us asking the question “Why can’t the boys just act like the girls?” If we are all just blank slates that should be easy. But guess what? Boys are not like the girls, at least most of them. They have different bodies, different dreams, different hormones, different brains, different desires and on and on. Young boys generally don’t dream of getting married and having babies, they more often dream of being a dominant sports hero or an explorer, an astronaut, or some other dream that may tickle his well developed fantasy life. And boys are unique in so many other ways.
And the beat goes on in expecting boys to be like girls around all of the feeling stuff. Lots of feeling stuff. Boys should be in touch with their feelings! Just like the girls! This drives the boys nuts. They live in bodies that are not tuned to frequencies that are dominated by feelings. More likely they are interested in actions. Most women, of course, don’t have a clue about this difference and wonder why these boys are not “dealing with their feelings,”™ just like they do, just like the girls do. Sometimes they will even ask the boys why they are not “dealing with their feelings?” But wait, have you ever seen a man ask boys something similar? Probably not. Why not? Because men grew up as boys and know that the boy’s bio-computer is not set on that frequency. The lack of having any understanding males in schools is a real problem where boys live in an environment that is all too often clueless about their nature.
Just imagine a school that was run by men. Men were the teachers, men were the administrators, the coaches, the guidance counselors, the cafeteria workers, etc. The focus of the schools was on winning and only on winning. Feelings were not important since they were not connected with winning. In fact those who shared feelings were punished. It was a distraction. Now imagine that all girls in the US had to go through that system over the last 50 years. What would it do to girls?
In todays feminized schools competition has become a no-no. Guess what? Boys thrive on competition. Ever been to a cub scout meeting and watched what happens? The boys compete and they love it. One of the mainstays of the meetings used to be competitive games. No matter that someone loses, its the excitement of wanting to come in first and excel that matters. I remember my own and my son’s scouting experience with things like the pinewood derby where all of the boys built a small wooden race car and then competed. It was great sport. Did my daughter do anything similar in brownies? Absolutely not, her groups were focused on relational events, not competitive events. As I remember the Brownies had a “Brownie Circle” and a “Friendship Circle” with the emphasis being on friendship and relating. I am guessing that things have changed in todays pc world of gender cleansing and the boys are being forced to be more relational. Just a guess. Let’s hope they are having fun competing
Now our schools are promoting the relational and pure competition is going the way of the dodo bird. There is a very feminine push to see everyone as winners and no one as losers. This has crippled many of our students from missing out on the experience of losing and learning how to both respond to and handle losing. If we don’t help our youngsters by practicing losing we are limiting them. We all need plenty of practice losing and sometimes losing big. This is exactly what helps bring maturity and it is exactly what our culture tries to insulate away from our children.
There’s a private boys school outside of Washington DC that uses boys’ competitive nature to help in both deportment and scholarship. They divided the school into two groups. The Blues and the Whites. When you enroll in that school you are assigned either to the white or the blue team. From that point forward everything you do creates points for or against your team. If you get kicked out of class your team suffers, if you get straight A’s your team benefits. If you excel in sports or extra-curricular activities your team gets points. The rivalry is fierce. The boys push each other to get more points and when they have more points they get both special privileges and bragging rights. Needless to say, the boys do much of the policing of acting out behaviors and the grades are top notch. Compare this to our default public school that has removed competition from the curriculum. Things have become increasingly buffered from all things competition. The focus is not on who is first, second and third, the focus is on getting along, being nice to each other etc.
This competitive nature of boys and men is not new. Men have been competing against each other for thousands of years and for good reason. As men compete they join in the battle for status. When we win an event our status goes up, when we lose, our status goes down. Men strive to keep their status up. This is the world in which boys and men live. At least most of them. This is the world of striving for status. And why is it so important for boys to strive for status? Because their life depends on it. The higher their status the more likely they will be successful and the more likely they will find reproductive success. This has been a goal of men for thousands of years, to be the one who gets the girl and then has a family and excels. This is partly why boys practice competing as youngsters. They are preparing for later in life. This is why they HAVE TO GET TO LEVEL 17 in their video game! It’s all about status.
You can see something very similar in the animal world. Usually it is the young males of a species that are involved in rough and tumble play. Scientists have found that the play of young animals is usually practice for the skills they will need later in life. I think we can see something similar in human boys and girls. The research is very clear that boys when very young tend to prefer toys like trucks and guns while young girls prefer dolls. The socialization crowd heard of this research and claimed it was still socialization but just not overt. Then the researchers did a study on chimpanzee boys and girls and their toy choice and guess what they found? They found that the little boy chimps preferred the trucks and guns and the little girls chimps preferred the dolls. The scientists failed to detect any behaviors from the older monkeys to try and stop the boys play with guns or the girls play with dolls. They seemed to just let them be. Perhaps we have something to learn from these monkeys?
Do Girls Compete?
Well, yes, but it is not quite the same. Girls don’t compete with each other to gain status just like the boys, they instead, are the ones who “choose.” The girls watch the men compete, they watch the men who have gotten status and they decide (choose) who they will mate with. How many times have we heard the phrase a woman’s choice or women have choice. Think back, have you ever heard the phrase a man’s choice or men have choice? Not so much. Remember too, that girls are sometimes born with status. Very attractive women and girls have immediate status that is completely unrelated to their accomplishments or actions, it is instead related to their attractiveness which is due not to their efforts but to their genetics. They may have to do things to keep up their attractiveness like watch their weight or work out but the heavy lifting of being attractive is something she was born with. A young woman who has symmetrical facial features, the right ratio of hips to waist, and well developed breasts is born with something that men and boys find irresistible. She knows this and is very aware of how to leverage her attractiveness to manipulate the males. Unlike the boys, this characteristic is not something she has had to work for, this is something she was born with. I can’t think of any similar process in boys. The boys don’t have a clue what it would be like to be wanted and desired simply due to a part of their body being a certain way. Boys are very aware that they succeed by gaining status and that is just what they do.
Then there is the issue of exercise. The schools in their race away from competition and masculinity have taken away yet another thing that boys need in order to function: they have taken away exercise. How you ask? They have stopped recess where traditionally boys have gotten at least 30 minutes of running and jumping to calm their bio-computers. But no, recess has been either cut or diminished. In a feminine environment it is just not as important a sitting still.
I can remember when I was in school many years ago that the gym teachers and coaches took a similar approach to discipline. They were usually pretty tough but the punishment was almost always doing something physical. Take a lap Golden! That meant I had done something wrong and my punishment was to run one quarter mile. I was also banished from the game for that time while my friends played on. Another similar punishment was having to do a certain number of push ups. Give me 20 Golden! Where is the wisdom in this? Well, the coaches knew that what the boys needed was a workout and they were more then happy to give it to them if they acted out. What seemed like a punishment was actually a therapeutic act. This is exactly what a disobedient young man needs. He needs to run! In today’s feminized schools punishments are doled out but I would bet that very few are physical.
Then when these young men can’t run and jump they sit in classrooms and get fidgety and can’t sit still. The girls can sit still and since we are all equal™ shouldn’t the boys be able to do it? Of course they should! Since the boys don’t and won’t then they are just being impudent and stubborn. We need to force them to act more like the well behaved girls. Those darn boys just won’t do it! We can make them do it, let’s medicate them!
NASW is mandated by its own code of ethics to be there for those in need. Sadly, it seems that those in need are defined as those who fit the narrative of political correctness. Men and boys don’t fit that narrative and simply need not apply. I could give you numerous examples but here is a start:
I was reading the NASW News a national monthly publication for NASW and noticed an article on suicide. I was aware of NASW’s past history of focusing on girls and suicide even though 80% of completed suicides are males. I read the article and found that there was no mention of men and boys being the vast majority of those completing suicide. I wrote the author a letter which he was kind enough to print in the May edition. Here’s the letter to the editor: (bold text was in the original letter but omitted by NASW)
- I just read your article on suicide in the NASW News. I am both saddened and shocked that there was no mention of the fact that males comprise 80% of those who complete suicide. 80%. Jut imagine for a minute that some other malady had 80% of the victims be female or black or just about any other demographic. Under those circumstances the article would have likely featured entire sections on this or that group that face the bulk of the problem. The least they would have done would be to call attention to the group most impacted. Why not so with men? Sadly this is not a new problem. NASW has been ignoring men as victims of suicide for many years having sponsored research on the suicide of women even though women are a fraction of those who actually complete suicide.
The obvious importance of the 80% stat is that men comprise a group that is unlikely to seek help in traditional settings. If people are very serious about wanting to help with suicide they had better start figuring out what might help men and how to attract men to treatment. At this point we are failing miserably and that is important for Social Workers to know. Finland was the world’s first country to take actions to help men and they have had considerable success. Australia is starting to work in that direction. The US is a Neanderthal with the media blacking out this important bit of information.
It is an embarrassment to me that NASW maintains such a sexist and misandrist attitude towards men and their difficulties. NASW was at the forefront of creating a White House Council on Women and Girls but when NASW was approached about supporting a proposed White House Council on Boys and Men they at first said they would look into it, but failed in ever responding, even after being prompted. Many wonder why there are not more men in Social Work. It seems clear enough to me.
The following article is another example of a problem that impacts boys and men considerably more than women and girls. The difference is that this problem does not seem to be a result of feminism, gynocentrism, or our white knight legislators. This is a result of our lifestyle, our corporations, and our biology.
The sad truth is that we are living in a world that is saturated by chemicals that mimic human hormones. These chemicals have been dubbed “Endocrine Disruptors” since their mimicking confuses and throws off the delicate balance of our human endocrine system. EDC’s as they are called, (endocrine disrupting chemicals) are all around us. They are in our streams, our lakes, our grocery stores, our carpeting, our lawns, our cars, in the food we eat, in our toothpaste, soaps, plastics and just about everywhere you look. Most of these are derivatives of fossil fuels, often plastics. They are in fertilizers, pesticides, even the byproducts of pills like birth control pills, This stuff is everywhere.
But what is the big deal? Why get hyped up about these small amounts of chemicals?
The informative endocrinedisruption.org web site states that “Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) interfere with hormone signaling in a variety of ways depending on the chemical and the hormone system.” They go on to state that “biomonitering of chemicals in the blood and urine has shown that 100% of the people tested have EDC’s in their bodies.” So this is not about someone else, this is about you and me.
This is not a small dilemma. The same web site states that EDC’s have been implicated in neurological diseases, reproductive disorders, thyroid dysfunction, immune and metabolic disorders and more. But guess what? These chemicals impact boys and men considerably more than they do girls and women. Look at the list of problems that are thought to be related to EDC’s and males: ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, delayed puberty, hypospadias, obesity, early testicular cancer, male dysgenisis syndrome, prostate cancer and more. Almost all of these problems have been growing each year. ADHD has been increasing by 3% each year since 1997 and 5% a year since 2003. Many scientists are starting to believe that EDC’s are a part of this problem.
Imagine the havoc you could wreak if you started taking hormones into your body, you could throw off a very delicate balance of a finely tuned system by increasing the amount of one hormone or another. Imagine we started giving boys and girls additional estrogen on a daily basis. What do you think would happen? It would likely confuse their biological system and throw the normal process into chaos. Right. This is a crude description of what is happening in our world today. Both boys and girls are exposed to substances (EDC’s) that mimic estrogen (most EDC’s mimic estrogen or in some cases block testosterone) and these substances are throwing off the natural balance of the endocrine system. But these are in such small amounts, you wouldn’t think they would be that harmful, right? Wrong.
The endocrine system is extraordinarily sensitive. In fact, it is amazing. It makes decisions based on infinitesimal amounts of hormones that are released in the body. One of the pioneers in understanding Endocrine Disrupters is Theo Colburn, PhD. Listen to the way she describes things in her book Our Stolen Future“The endocrine system is so fine-tuned that it depends on changes in hormones in concentrations of a tenth of a trillion of a gram to control the womb environment. That’s as inconspicuous as one second in 3,619 centuries.” This is why it is so critical to worry over even tiny amounts of chemicals around us that mimic hormones. A tiny amount can cause big problems.
The place those tiny amounts can cause the biggest difficulties is in the womb. It’s a contained environment that is controlled by minute amounts of hormones. Developmental actions and processes are started and stopped in the womb by these tiny amounts of hormones. If the mother has EDC’s in her system from the food she eats, the soft plastic raincoat she wears or drinking from plastic bottles this can cause difficulties to the infant in utero. This is obliviously the most vulnerable time since fetal development is often related to minute changes in hormone levels. If you have substances in utero that throw off that sensitive balance by mimicking natural hormones you can have permanent damage to the fetus.
Then shortly after birth the infant may be less vulnerable but is often subject to plastic bottles from which they drink warm liquid, plastic pacifiers they suck on, or a huge array of other ways to ingest EDC’s. Have you ever taken a swig of water out of a clear plastic bottle that had gotten warm in the sun? When you did, did it taste plasticky? What you were tasting was the endocrine disrupters that had been released from the plastic when heated. You just got a dose of estrogen.
Theo Colburn calls EDC’s the “stealth” chemicals and for good reason. The government has been testing for cancer producing agents for some time but the tests needed to evaluate a possible endocrine disrupter are much more subtle. With 12,000 new chemicals entered into our country every day it would be an overwhelming task to keep tabs on them all. This means that many of the endocrine disrupters are probably going under the radar. The EPA has been mandated to test for EDC’s for some time but has dragged its feet to such a degree that law suits have been filed to force them to do so. According to Colburn the corporations are spending mega-bucks to keep this quiet. They have a huge investment in their products and seem more concerned about their profit than about human suffering.
So how does this stuff manifest?
Scientists were shocked to find that male alligators at a lake in Florida had shriveled testicles and genitals. The gators also showed high levels of female hormones. What was going on? They struggled to figure it out and ultimately came to the conclusion that these poor gators had been victims of EDC’s from the pesticide DDE that had found its way into the lake. These chemicals had created chaos in the male gators and their genitals proved it.
Male fish are also taking a hit from EDC’s. Many fish across the country are now swimming in water that has higher levels of EDC’s. Fish tend to have their sex determined by the levels of hormones in their bodies. When the hormones are at a certain level that fish will be male, when it is at a different level it will be a female. So now we have fish swimming in water that is higher and higher with EDC’s that mimic estrogens and guess what happens? The EDC’s impact the males in a profound manner. They turn the males into non-descript fish that has genitalia that is a bizarre mix of male and female. It is the male fish that have been seen showing the bizarre genitalia, sometimes the male fish will grow eggs instead of testes! What a mess.
But what about humans?
One of the suspected connections with EDC’s is that of changing the timing of puberty for both boys and girls. Girls onset of puberty has been steadily getting younger and younger. It used to be that girls would enter puberty around 11-12 years old with boys lagging about a year after them. But now guess what is happening? Girls are entering puberty when they are 9 years old on average and even younger in the black community. At the same time the boys puberty is becoming delayed. Many experts are thinking the EDC’s mimicking estrogens plays a part in this.
Human males also seem to be taking the hardest hit from the EDC’s. American boys today are three times more likely to be born with genital abnormalities then boys 30 years ago. The frequency of smaller then normal penis’s, hypospadias, and undescended testes are all examples of this.
Scientists are also thinking that the drop in testosterone levels of boys and men in the past 30 years may also be due to the EDC’s. A 35 year old man today has 20% of testosterone of a 35 year old man 30 years ago. Men just aren’t like they used to be…
Leonard Sax points out that the bone strength of boys seems to be deteriorating. Boys today are nearly twice as likely to break bones as boys were 30 years ago and many are thinking this is related to lowered bone density due to EDC’s. It seems at the same time that girls bone density may be going up. Go figure.
The only good news is that we do have some power in limiting our exposure to EDC’s. Eating whole foods that are unprocessed, eating organic foods that have not been exposed to pesticides, wearing clothes are have not been treated with chemicals, and on and on. We all need to become more informed about this problem, especially when it comes to women who are thinking about getting pregnant. For more information on EDC’s you can find some great information on youtube. Here’s a start but I would urge you to google it and see what you find.
DEAR ABBY: I have been married to a wonderful man for 30 years. Our marriage may not be perfect, but it’s quite good.
My dilemma is this: My husband keeps track of every time we have sex and has a personal goal of 100 times a year. In 2013, he informed me that we’d had sex only 76 times, and that was not adequate for him. He was quite upset about it.
Do you think tracking your sex life is normal, and what do you think about a couple married for 30-plus years having sex 76 times in a year? Is that normal? Also, keep in mind that he travels for business and is gone about 60 days a year. — PRESSURED
DEAR PRESSURED: Your husband sounds like a college student who is striving to get 100 notches on his belt. Rather than obsess about the number of times you have had sex, the quality of the experience should be more important. Fifty GREAT times a year would be better than 100 so-so times, one would think. And no, I do not think your husband’s preoccupation is “normal” — whatever normal is these days.
Abby! How could you? Don’t you know that men like to keep count of things? Actually women do too. Just imagine this man had earned 25% less last year then the year before. What would you say if the wife complained about him earning less and wanting him to earn more next year? I bet you would give her a “you go girl!” and not complain about HER counting. I bet you would not call her immature and ABNORMAL. I bet you wouldn’t be a bit concerned about the quality of his expereince in earning less, only in the numbers. But if the man starts counting things about the relationship and points out that they are 25% behind his goal you call him immature and abnormal. tsk tsk tsk. That puts you clearly in the sexist category now doesn’t it? Is sex twice a week too much to ask? Not according to Dr Phil who says that 68 times a year is the national average. C’mon Abby, I think you need a course or two in men’s issues. At this point you are only seeing things from her side and not his.
Have you heard anything in the media about the meds used for ADHD being unsafe? I would bet not. But guess what? There’s been quite a bit of scientific data pointing towards that very possibility. Just have a look at this page:
Leonard Sax, M.D. has been pointing out these potential risk factors for some time and I can’t remember seeing any articles in the news media other then those written by Sax.
The worst thing about these potential side effects and brain changes resulting from these meds is that they center around de-motivating the boy. The very thing that the medicine is trying to do, to help him focus, is negated by this potential impact of simply not wanting to get out of bed. Here’s what Sax says in his excellent book on boys, Boys Adrift:
“The stimulant medications appear to exert their harmful effects by damaging an area of the developing brain called the nucleus accumbens. Independent groups of researchers at the University of Michigan, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of Pittsburgh, Brown University as well as in Sweden, Italy, and the Netherlands all have found that exposing laboratory animals to these medications, even at low doses and for short periods can cause permanent damage to the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that is responsible for translating motivation into action. if a boy’s nucleus accumbens is damaged, he may still feel hungry, or sexually aroused. He just won’t feel motivated to do anything about it.”
Sax states that we can’t be certain yet about the damage in humans since the evidence is not fully in. However, he asks parents a simple question: Would you like to volunteer your son for a trial?
Most parents would say no. But that is only if they know the dangers. At this point very few people seem to know these drugs may be risky. I have seen no headlines, heard no “60 Minutes” reports or specials on NPR. I have heard nothing about the possible risks involved. Silence. Just consider what might happen if medications used for mostly girls were found to have a similar risk. There would be a firestorm of articles about the misogyny of the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical companies labeling them as patriarchal evil doers and oppressors. It would likely be front page material. But not so with boys.
But it gets worse. The media is usually informed by medical professionals and those folks are simply not speaking up, or worse yet, they are saying the opposite. Take Dr Biederman for example. Dr. Joseph Biederman is the chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital. You know, the hospital associated with Harvard University. Here’s a bit from Wikipedia about Dr Biederman:
In 2007, Biederman was ranked as the second highest producer of high-impact papers in psychiatry overall throughout the world with 235 papers cited a total of 7048 times over the past 10 years as determined by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). The same organization ranked Biederman at #1 in terms of total citations to his papers published on ADD/ADHD in the past decade.
Biederman was the recipient of the 1998 NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist award. He was also selected by the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society Awards committee as the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Psychiatrist Award for Research. In 2007, Biederman received the Excellence in Research Award from the New England Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He was also awarded the Mentorship Award from the Department of Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
This is someone who’s opinion is counted by all and especially by the media.
And what does Dr Biederman say about these drugs. According to Sax he has been “strenuously encouraging” their use. Why would the head of Harvard’s hospital pharmacology not mention the risks of these drugs? Well, we don’t know but we do know one thing, Dr Biederman received 1.6 million dollars from the pharmaceuticals and never bothered to tell anyone. You do the math.
Then there is Dr. Fred Goodwin, former chief of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Apparently Dr Goodwin has been singing a similar tune about these drugs being safe and guess what? He has now been outed as getting 1.3 milion dollars from the pharmaceuticals.
How many more Biederman’s and Goodwins are out there? Maybe these doctors are part of the reason we haven’t been hearing much?
Parents need to know the risks involved. If the media and our medical professionals won’t do it, we need to. Send this article and its links to parents who might need to know this information.