A quick look at how compassion and choice for boys and men is more limited and why.
A quick look at how compassion and choice for boys and men is more limited and why.
Helping Mothers Be Closer to Their Sons is a book that does just that, it helps moms be closer to their sons. It does this by first offering mothers new information on the uniqueness of their sons.
The first section of Helping Mothers Be Closer to Their Sons offers moms the important information the media and others have omitted. It examines the role of the testosterone flood in utero and how this changes boys even before they are born. It looks into the newest ideas drawn from improved methods in testosterone research. These new methods show that testosterone is not about aggression or violence, it is instead about striving for status. That is, pushing him to compete, to win, to be at the top. Testosterone pushes boys to win and this is just one of the many ways that a boy’s biology impacts his way of being.
The book shows how boys adjust their behaviors based on their differences and importantly how moms can use these differences to get closer. Sections on why boy’s emotions are invisible and how to see them, on how they play, how they compete, how they heal and more. Golden offers tips and suggestions about how to take advantage of the boys uniqueness and use it as a way to get close. There are bonus sections on discipline, adolescence, and teaching boys about emotions.
Concise and straight forward this book will put moms in a position to truly appreciate their boys for who they are and to get closer in the process.
Give it a try. You can’t go wrong.
The following is an unedited excerpt from a new book I am hoping will be finished and published by this February, “Helping Moms Get Close to Their Sons.” This is the concluding section about the unique factors that boys experience that their sisters don’t. TG
We have seen how boys are impacted from within by their brain differences and organizational testosterone. We have seen how the testosterone pushes them towards competition which then translates to impressing women with higher status and then to reproductive success. But there is another factor that greatly impacts boys not from within but from outside. Researchers are calling it “Precarious Manhood.”
When girls successfully go through puberty they are nearly always considered to be women. They have no need to prove their “womanhood” to anyone. It is simply accepted. Not so with boys. Boys may successfully navigate the physical side of puberty but this does not make them men. Nope. Manhood is something that he must prove. Repeatedly. Scientists have dubbed this phenomena “Precarious Manhood” and state that manhood is not a condition that comes about through biological maturation, that it is a “Precarious or artificial state that boys must win against powerful odds.” They have studied this around the world and say that this is nearly universal. In a wide range of cultures boys often face a difficult task to prove their manhood and even when he succeeds he must continue to prove his manhood throughout his life.
Generally at puberty and beyond boys are expected to prove their worth. According to a leading expert on this topic Joseph Vandello, “manhood must be earned and maintained through publicly verifiable actions.” This unwritten mandate leaves men and boys anxious about proving themselves. Research has shown that men are indeed more anxious over this than are women and that in response to being challenged are likely to exhibit risky or maladaptive behaviors.
Whether it is on the soccer field, at school, with girls, or schoolyard brawls boy’s manhood is being observed and graded. This, along with his biology creates a profound difference in boy’s lives. His sister does not have the testosterone differences we have described, she is not pushed into a competitive mode, and is not graded at every step in a similar manner.
These three things, the testosterone flood, being the competing sex, and precarious manhood play are large role in how boys will act in the world, how they will behave towards themselves and others, and how others will perceive them. The testosterone pushes the boys to succeed from within as it pushes him to strive for status while the precarious manhood pushes him to succeed from outside as the culture demands he repeatedly prove his manhood. All the while he lives in an invisible competing role that says he should win or at least look good in order to succeed reproductively. He gets it from all ends.
Knowing these things makes it easier to get a sense of boys and to understand some of their ways. Boys are thrust onto a stage that expects them to strive for status, to succeed, and to prove their worthiness at every step. This is a profound difference from his sisters who do not face these three things.
What does a boy need to do to win in this sort of scenario? One ironic answer is that he needs to do the very things that his parents have been telling him for eons but therapists have been telling him he should ignore. Things like be tough, be strong, big boys don’t cry, and so many others. These messages begin to make more sense when you can see that the boy’s parents love him and want him to succeed. They can intuitively understand that being tough and strong will place him higher on the hierarchy while crying will send him in a downward spiral. My sense is that parents are aware on some level that their son is indeed in a race and needs to look good in order to succeed.
The mental health industry has missed these critical differences and continues to push boys to be more like girls. One well known psychologist told me once that men simply need to developmentally “catch up” with women and that the world would be a better place if only men could be more like women! I hope you can see now the danger in that sort of thinking. All of the related urgings of the mental health professionals for boys like “You don’t need to be tough.” “Be sensitive” “talk about your feelings” “Crying in public is a good thing.” Knowing what we know now about boys and the world they face makes this like telling a long distance runner that he does not need to train for that upcoming marathon! It would be like the mama big horn sheep telling her son to stop butting heads, he doesn’t have to do that! Telling him this sort of thing would complicqte his task rather than helping. Being sensitive and crying in public would drop him in the hierarchy and make his task all the more difficult. With our boys we need to be aware of the stressors they face and help them navigate those as best we can.
This reminds me of an experience I had the other day when talking with a group of male psychologists. They were all impressed that the winner of the Heisman trophy had cried during his speech and heralded that event as a sign that things are changing and men and boys are becoming more sensitive. I laughed. What they didn’t understand was that when any man or boy is at the top of the hierarchy he can do whatever he wants. If he wants to cry he can get a way with it since he is at the top. He is the proclaimed winner. Just think of what reaction they might have had if one of runners up might have cried during his speech. They might have liked it but the world would see him immediately as a whiner and a poor loser.
We’ve gone over some of the basic male tendencies. The impact of the testosterone flood, the hierarchical mindset, the push to strive for status and compete, some information on boys and girls different ways of communicating and of getting what they want and their differences at play. With that under our belt we are in a good position to tackle something that has confounded women for some time: Why can’t you see boy’s and men’s emotions?
Psychologists have studied and argued about male sex roles for many years. They have done a decent job, with a few exceptions, of describing these roles. These include the independent, tough, competitive and unemotional types and many others. But they have missed possibly the most important aspect of these roles completely, and that is the connection of the male sex role with gynocentrism. Without gynocentrism the male role would simply not exist. It is an essential element in the male sex role and describing the traits that might make up such a role is very short sighted. They have failed miserably at identifying the underlying reason for the roles. On that point there is mostly silence. Take the example of the recent movie titled “The Mask.” In this film male roles are villainized and seen as a problem that boys need to remove as if they can take off these roles like they might take off a mask. There is zero mention of why those roles have evolved as they have.
This article will start a discussion about the connection of male sex roles with gynocentrism and how our zest to push boys into male sex roles is actually a push to train them to be gynocentric foot soldiers.
I can remember in the 1950’s when I was a little guy the common phrase used in my elementary school was “girls first.” Whether it was a line to get ice cream, leaving a large school assembly, or just getting a drink from a water fountain. The standard chant was girls first. The girls got to go before us boys simply because they were girls. I can remember asking when the boys would get to go first and was rebuked and told to just wait my turn. What is the message to boys? Your needs are secondary. Your job is to sacrifice and let the girls go first, get used to it. Of course there was never a time when any teacher said “boys first.” Boys first has a strange ring to it, doesn’t it? The message was clear. As boys we needed to put our needs second and allow the girls to go first, simply because of their biological difference, they were girls. And if you complain about this unfair advantage you will be shamed and labelled as a troublemaker.
If you are going to be a gynocentric foot soldier you had better learn that your needs are never first. You will be facing many situations in the future where you will need to put women’s needs ahead of your own. Get used to it. This is the beginning of basic training.
While the overt usage of the “girls first” or “ladies first” adage may be diminished I think that the idea is still prevalent. All one has to do is search google and see how many images sport the “ladies first” meme. This gives us the odd mix of “ladies first” alongside “we are all equal.” Yet another bizarre twist in our misandrist culture.
Added into this crazy mix is the big boys don’t cry message. Nearly every male in the US has heard this repeatedly. Much has been made about how this stops men from emoting in public and encourages them to avoid their tears. Men have been shamed for eons for not “dealing with their feelings.” I think this obvious blue pill assessment is limited and misses the mark. If one ignores the gynocentric connection then one sees only a man avoiding emotions. But why? Why would a man want to avoid emotions? The first reason is that in a gynocentric world women’s needs and feelings are important and men’s are not. Think back to a little boy being told that big boys don’t cry. What are they saying to him? They are saying that his needs and hurts are not as important as his sister’s. When do young boys cry? They cry when they have needs that are not being met, or when they need attention to a hurt. The message is clear. When you are a boy and you are hurt or have needs, they are less important than your sister’s. And if you dare complain about it you will just hear the same message once again, “big boys don’t cry.” Voicing your needs is seen as whining. If you are going to be a good gynocentric foot soldier, that is, be a good provider and protector of women you can’t whine or cry.
But there is another piece of this mess that is rarely mentioned. By saying to a young boy that big boys don’t cry you are not only telling him to STFU you are also alleviating yourself from any responsibility to tend to a boy’s pain or to muster even a rudimentary degree of compassion. So the message to the boys is clear, your pain does not matter as much as our sister’s and it matters so little that those who love you don’t feel the need to offer you support or compassion. Deal with it. Be a man. Boys learn to handle it themselves because very few others will step forward and offer them a hand. But they also learn that others simply don’t care about their pain. This is the basic training of a gynocentric foot soldier.
And then there is the mess that starts for boys in early childhood where they are told to never hit a girl and if they do they will face severe punishment. This rule is enforced, not only by the parents or authorities but also by the toughest boys. The girls catch wind of this and take advantage. Some start hitting the boys knowing the boys cannot hit back. But wait, the girls violence is ignored. No one lifts a finger. The boys already know that no one will likely listen and will turn away and shame them for complaining. Now they find out that violence is just one more area where their needs don’t count. They also know that if they report a girl who hits them they will face a gauntlet that labels them a pussy. Boys learn to stay quiet about their needs, even safety needs. This is what a foot soldier is supposed to do. The girls learn that they can be damsels in distress and turn on the waterworks to get what they want. They also learn they can get away with violence against boys. The boys learn they face a very unfair system and they better stay quiet about it. If any of the boys speaks up and complains they regret it. They get punished for speaking up. Quiet, you just take care of yourself and take it like a man. Reminds me of our present day domestic violence system.
These three, girls first, never hit a girl, and big boys don’t cry are the marching orders of the gynocentric foot soldiers. Each one informs the boy of his role. The gynocentric army is all about the safety and satisfaction of women through the sacrifice of men. It’s pretty simple and has been functioning effectively for centuries. “Big boys don’t cry” tells boys that their needs are simply not as important as the tears of women and girls they are destined to sacrifice for. “Girls first” tells the boys to get used to the idea of sacrificing their own wants and desires in order to help women and girls. “Never hit a girl” marks out who is the enemy (other men) and who is to be protected (women and girls). All of this goes on under the radar with most people simply being ignorant of what underlies these messages.
We can’t blame the culture totally for this. I think there is compelling evidence that there are biological factors that are driving gynocentrism. If there were no biology involved do you think for a second that boys would do exactly what they are told? Hell no. Do boys follow just about any other dictum offered by parents or the culture at large? No. Do boys unquestioningly follow? Of course not, boys by nature are rebellious and very slow to do what is demanded of them. But do they follow through on these three things? Pretty much. Not only do they follow through they also patrol the males around them to be sure that they are also following through. This is more than just culture.
Boys are surrounded by these gynocentric messages. At home they will likely see their dads put his needs last and focus on what mom wants and rarely saying “no” to her. In the media they get more gynocentrism. Men saving women from harm and sacrificing their own safety, needs, their desires or even their lives in order to do so. Worse yet, if they are not saving women they are portrayed as stupid and incompetent which seems to be a gynocentric man’s way of trying to make women feel better in comparison. Men are shown to be unable to make a simple decision without the help of a smart woman who can show him the way. Most men don’t complain.
Our college campuses are overrun with gynocentrism. No one dares to cross the gynocentric party line of the women studies departments for fear of their job. Women first? Yes, maam.
In our legislators the boys see the same. Like automatons, our gynocentric male legislators do exactly the same thing. We have seen them focus on women’s and girls needs, especially for the last 50 years and ignore the needs of men. Just like the boys were taught, just like the boys saw from their father, just like we see in the media. Now our legislators are acting out this same foot soldier pattern by enacting laws to help women and girls and completely ignore the needs of boys and men. Domestic violence laws like the Violence Against WOMEN Act, the rape shield laws, sexual harassment laws, workplace harassment, affirmative action for women and girls, title IX and on and on. Boys and men are an afterthought.
Gynocentrism is bad enough but what happened In the past 50 years put a new sinister spin on the gynocentric foot soldiers Now it wasn’t just girls first and big boys don’t cry, now the new fabricated twist was that women and girls were oppressed, by men. Our young men make it to middle or high school after years of gynocentric training and now they must deal with a new monster, the lethal and incorrect mantra: Men oppressed women and women are victims. If they contradicted or questioned a party line about women and girls being victims or having special needs they would face overwhelming opposition. Much of that opposition would be from gynocentric soldiers protecting women.
So on top of the ideas that boys are here to protect, care for, and provide for women is the bizarre notion that the very people who had been providing and protecting them were now guilty somehow of being perennial abusers of women and girls. So now men and boys need to provide and protect women and also atone for some mythical oppression of those they have sacrificed for years. Really? Maybe put even more simply, it’s like having a slave owner tell his slaves that they had oppressed him in the past and that their ancestors had oppressed him as well and they now need to make up for that with special treatment for him. Enough said.
Our boys face a routine and unacknowledged training to be gynocentric foot soldiers. The male sex role is based on placing the needs , safety, and desires of women and girls on a higher level than those of men. If we ignore this foundation we are sure to fail in serving men. From the childhood messages like big boys don’t cry to viewing the vast majority of male role models who are serving the needs of women and neglecting their own wants and needs our boys rarely see a man choosing consciously and going his own way. This needs to change.
If we are really going to free men from their roles we will need to help them first with what has been drilled into them and is facilitated by their biology: putting women first. Instead of trying to teach boys to cry we need to teach boys that their needs are of importance. We will need to teach boys that it is not mandatory for them to provide and protect for others, that it is also okay for them to simply care for themselves. We need to help them see the value in their being, not just in their doing and we need to help them see that, in spite of what the culture and feminists might say, men are good. Then once they have the data, once they get the information and understand the gynocentric yoke, then and only then should we let them go whatever way they want. If they want to get married then so be it. If they want to move to the desert and be a hermit then so be it. Unlike the feminists who push women into certain roles and shame them for others, we need to bless the boys in their own choices whatever they might be.
Men are indeed good.
I keep hearing that false accusations of rape make it harder on real victims of rape. Really? There may be a kernel of truth in this idea but it completely ignores the trauma and pain of the man who is falsely accused. The knee jerk reaction of most people is to worry over the woman and ignore the pain of the man.
This pattern to focus on females in emotional pain and offer help while ignoring the emotional pain of men and boys is the default in the United States. This not only leaves our men and boys without help, it also leaves us with an ignorance about their emotional pain.
To get a sense of the emotional pain of the falsely accused listen to the words of a young man falsely accused of rape via an article on slate.com:
“My girlfriend was raped several years ago. I was falsely accused of rape less than a year ago. I contacted her (I had known her before her incident) because I was desperate for someone to talk to who would understand what I was going through. To my great relief, it turned out that we understood each other very well. From the initial stages of suicidal thoughts and not being able to function to the long-term fear, mistrust, and guilt that are facts of our lives, it turns out that her experience of being raped and mine of being falsely accused of rape were very similar. …”
He touches on some of the hallmarks of a false accusation which he and his girlfriend realized were very similar to her reaction to having been raped. The loss of functioning, the suicidal thoughts, the long-term fear and mistrust along with the potent guilt are a few of their similar reactions.
It often starts out innocently enough. He hears that she has accused him of something he didn’t do. He is not so worried, at least not at first. He knows he did nothing wrong and figures that when people get the facts that this will blow over like a dark cloud that never rains a drop. But, to his shock, he starts seeing that even when he speaks the truth about what actually happened he is still considered a criminal.
But our young falsely accused man goes a step farther in his descriptions of his situation. Listen to what he says:
“One important difference, though, is that when she was violated, she received a great deal of help (medical, legal, psychological). Apart from family and friends, I was on my own. My legal and psychological problems had to be dealt with by me at a time when I couldn’t eat, sleep, or think (except, of course, about killing myself).”
He sees very clearly that very few believe him while nearly everyone believes the woman. The system and our culture are failing him. His pain is invisible while hers is treated with reverence, even though she is lying.
He must be shocked by the amount of coddling and care that she gets from friends, family, the university, the authorities, and so many others. He is likely shocked again when he compares this to the reaction he receives. Almost no support, but plenty of negatives.
In most instances the woman is believed no matter what. The police ignore his side and treat him like a rapist, the media is more than happy to paint him as if convicted and throw his name around willy nilly with at least the inference that he is a rapist. Rape centers make demands that all those claiming to have been raped should be believed no matter what. While it might be a good idea to put your trust in someone in crisis it quickly turns to crap if you put your trust in someone who is lying. The rape centers refuse to admit there are liars out there and they will go to great lengths to shame the police, the hospital, the media, the public or anyone who might even ask a question about the veracity of her claims. This sets us up for a real mess. By giving the liars a pass you set up the falsely accused for chaos.
As time goes on he realizes that he is basically alone in his knowledge of the truth. No one believes him. Even his friends are wondering. He starts to feel way out on a limb and also very shocked. It is just hard to believe that your entire universe of friends, teachers, adults are looking at you sideways due to the lies of a woman. It’s hard to believe that a system of “justice” has gotten things so wrong and is intentionally and wrongly painting you as a criminal. The world which not long ago seemed safe and predictable has now become unsafe and very unpredictable. This promotes confusion and the devastating isolation that is so common for the falsely accused along with the potent fears of the world being a big unpredictable booby trap. They feel isolated, profoundly judged and labelled, unsafe and alone and in a world that has gone mad.
This is a billboard that says double standard. While the emotional plight of the young woman is given support at every step by friends, family, the police, courts, the media and others the emotional state of the young falsely accused male is ignored and denied. He is viewed as the problem. She is automatically seen as a victim simply because she accuses him, he is seen as a pariah simply for being accused. He is in great pain and turmoil but no one lifts a finger to be of assistance. The sad fact is he is presumed guilty prior to trial. He is now seen as an object, not as a human being. He is profoundly objectified. The double standard could not be more stark.
The larger problem is that this pattern of catering to the emotional pain of females and ignoring the emotional pain of males is not exclusive to false accusations. You see this same pattern most everyplace you look. In my work with traumatized men over the past 30 years I have seen it repeatedly. Time and again I would see that in a traumatized family the men’s wives would be the focus of help and the man’s pain would be ignored. Often times people would approach the father and rather than ask about his situation they would say, “How’s your wife holding up?” The woman gets the support, the man, gets asked about his wife.
This same pattern is seen when our culture, media, and academia all focus on female victims of domestic violence and ignore the male victims. They do this even though research shows that men are about 1/2 of the victims. Congress sets up a billion dollar service for women and men get ignored or even blamed.
We see the same ignoring of men’s emotional pain when we see that males are 80% of completed suicide but there are no services specifically for males who are suicidal. There is also not much research looking into why men are 80% of completed suicides. It seems it is much easier to get funding to study women, the men get left out. And of course, the media fails to inform the public of men in pain. Dead silence. Same thing with workplace deaths where men are 93% of the dead. People simply don’t care. If these deaths were female or even some minority the media would be screaming loudly. But when men are the victims, we get silence.
Our culture is now and always has been very gynocentric. (for more information see http://gynocentrism.com) One definition of gynocentrism found on that site is “any culture instituting rules for gender relationships that benefit females at the expense of males across a broad range of measures.” When it comes to emotional needs it is clear in our culture that a woman’s emotional pain is a call to action while a man’s emotional pain is ignored. Some try to cover this profound bias by claiming men are cold and don’t want to deal with their emotions. But this has simply been a cover to excuse oneself from even needing to pay the slightest attention to the man’s emotional pain. Epic fail.
The contrast is great between the cultural response to female and male emotional pain. One gets compassion and the other gets ignored, shamed, or both. This contrast is so great that it behooves the label of bigotry. Just as we saw whites create a system where whites automatically got services superior to that of blacks today we see our government and charities developing services where women get care and compassion far superior to that of men and no one even notices. No one. Reminds me of a bigoted 1950’s southern town that didn’t think its action were in any way a problem. In today’s world, the status quo, that is nearly everyone, are guilty of bigotry by not having compassion for the emotional pain of men. Which side of the fence do you stand on? Are you a bigot who has little compassion for boys and men?
Perhaps someday we will look back on this era and see its bigotry just as we now look back on the racism of the 1950’s. I do hope that day comes quickly.