Category Archives: Men’s Emotions

Suicide and Men: Part One, Why are men so much more likely to complete suicide?

Men commit suicide four times as often as women and no one knows why. This has been going on for many years. The chart below shows this ratio as being stable from 1950 to 2014 so that tells us that the ratio is not due to some recent shift in our cultural values or due to the economy or some other external source. (blue line is males, black line females, US suicides per 100,000) There are other stats that show that even in the 19th century this ratio seems to hold up. But why?

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Let’s take a male friendly look into the possible reasons for this.

First we need to look at the standard manner of dismissing such a huge difference. So many people, including people in our educational systems, suicide prevention organizations and even researchers make the claim that men commit suicide more often due to their choice of lethal means. They point out that 25,926 males used lethal means to kill themselves  in the United States in 2012 and only 2,818 females used the same lethal means. Most listen and then nod in agreement at how many men use lethal means and how few women, assuming this must be why men suicide more often than women. Then it is pointed out that many more males than females commit suicide so it is more accurate to compare the percentage of male and female suicides that use lethal means. Have a look at this chart and notice that men chose the lethal means of hanging or firearms in about 81.6% of their completed suicides. But also notice that women chose those same lethal means in 54.7% of their completed suicides.   Those two numbers are not that far apart. Yes, this is probably a part of the reason for men to complete suicide more often than women but it in no way explains the mammoth four to one ratio that has held for years. Something else is obviously happening.

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Most people are not even concerned about this difference. If you look at the suicide prevention web sites you will notice that this problem is rarely discussed on the first page and all too often not even on later pages. They usually fail to tell their readers that the largest risk factor for suicide is being male. This is such an important piece of data it is hard to believe that they routinely omit it but they do. Even government reports on suicide, college classes, media stories, suicide conferences and many others tend to fail in alerting people to this problem. People are simply not interested. Even researchers lack interest. Just try and find research studies that look into the reasons for this difference. You probably won’t find much.

There is one man, a psychologist, Thomas Joiner, who has theorized about this difference. Joiner points out a possible contributing factor for the 4 to 1 ratio is that men are more fearless and this fearlessness allows them the courage to end their own lives. A very interesting and at least partially true idea but again, it would be difficult to explain such a huge difference by one psychological trait. I think Joiner is on to something but I think it is just a part of the puzzle.

Let’s turn to some other ideas that might relate to our understanding why boys and men are so much more likely to complete suicide. Let’s first look at cultural messages.

CULTURE

It starts early. Little boys are told that BIG BOYS DON’T CRY. Most of us shudder at the thought that this clearly tells boys they need to stuff their feelings but there is an even more pernicious aspect to this. When an adult tells a little boy that big boys don’t cry they are indeed telling him to stuff his feelings but they are also telling him something else. They are telling him that when he does feel hurt and in need of support that they, the adult offering this idea, will not be there to help and offer compassion. So the message is two fold. First it tells the boys to stuff it and second it alerts him that when he is feeling hurt he should not expect support or compassion. He watches as his sisters get what he lacks.

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With this default it is simple to see that he will be unlikely to seek help when he has been taught for years that no support will be there when he is in need.

Much has been said about men being reluctant to express emotions but what has not been pointed out is that no one really wants to hear men’s emotions. How about you? When was the last time you offered to listen to a man who was emoting? Most of us have to answer that we haven’t done that for a very long time or possibly ever. A man’s emotional pain is generally seen as taboo, something that people want to avoid.  You can contrast this with the way people see women’s emotional pain and you see that women’s pain is seen as a call to action. When women have tears people scurry to help, when men have tears people simply scurry away.

But that’s far from all our culture does to boys and men. As boys get older the culture refuses to accept any signs of dependency.   Men, and sometimes older boys must appear to have things covered by themselves, to appear independent, and when they don’t, guess what happens? They are shamed as not being real men. A man named Peter Marin wrote an excellent article on homelessness and explained this very dynamic. Here’s what he said:

“To put it simply: men are neither supposed nor allowed to be dependent. They are expected to take care of others and themselves. And when they cannot or will not do it, then the assumption at the heart of the culture is that they are somehow less than men and therefore unworthy of help. An irony asserts itself: by being in need of help, men forfeit the right to it.

Exactly. A man’s choice is to appear independent or face being judged as not being a real man. The hallmark of a suicidal person is to feel hopeless and helpless. So the man who feels hopeless and helpless also knows that if he exposes this he will be judged as not being a real man. This is a very tough double bind that men face. If I do open up about my helplessness and hopelessness I will be judged harshly, if I don’t open up I am totally on my own. Most men choose to be on their own.  Can you blame them?

This is just one facet of what scientists have named “precarious manhood.” They have shown that around the world men and young men are expected to prove their manhood repeatedly in order to be considered men. Men are under constant surveillance to appear independent and if they fail to appear independent they pay a severe price in being devalued and judged as not being “real” men. Women face nothing similar. When girls reach physical maturity they are considered women, not so for the boys.

Men intuitively understand the above. They live it on a daily basis. However, women are not under similar pressures and don’t realize the hardships men face. Too many times women simply expect men to be more like them. I often see it in the couples therapy I do. The women expect their men to talk openly about their vulnerabilities, their feelings, and their need for help.   This of course flies in the face of his certainty that his neediness and feelings will do nothing but harm to him and expose his dependence. He has a natural and learned tendency to do his best to appear independent and he comes by it honestly. For us to suddenly expect him to do a complete 180 degree change and appear needy is a bizarre and unreasonable expectation.

These two elements, not expecting any help to be available and routinely being shamed for any sign of dependence have a cumulative impact on men. When they do feel hopeless and helpless it is easy to see now why he would be less likely to open up about this to anyone.

RESEARCH

Let’s turn to the research and see if there are studies that help us understand why men would be so much more likely to complete suicide.

The work of Shelly Taylor is a good example of research that helps us in understanding this problem. Taylor realized in the early 2000’s that nearly all of the research on stress had been done only on male subjects. Women had been left out.  What we know about fight and flight surely applies to men. Taylor proceeded to only study women under stress. She wondered if women might have different strategies. She found that women, unlike men, would be much more likely to “tend and befriend.” That is, women were more likely to move towards interaction when stressed, to move towards other people. A sharp contrast to the male tendency of fight and flight that moves men either into action or inaction. So think about it. Can you see how the female nature of moving towards others when stressed will make it much more likely that she will interact with a person who will realize her distress and then push her to seek services? Notice also that the male tendency to move to action or inaction under stress takes him away from concerned others. Indeed action and inaction are very powerful forms of healing (for more info see The Way Men Heal) but they do leave men more on their own to heal and a very powerful depression is a very difficult thing to heal by ourselves. The more feminine interactive modes are more likely to open avenues of loving others challenging our shame, guilt, and self deprecation. Healing with action and inaction will often lack this outer challenge from someone we love and this leaves men more at risk to persistent negative thoughts, shame, and guilt. His pain is less visible to others and this is dangerous in a powerful depression.

I hope you are seeing that men are taught to keep their emotions to themselves, that their emotional pain is not something that others want to hear, and that it is not something that does them much good if expressed. Rather, they see that if expressed they run into a wall of shame and judgment. It is a short step to now realize that for these reasons he is much less likely to seek “help.” First he knows it is likely not there for him but second he also knows that it’s a trap, if he does show his vulnerability he is toast.

BIOLOGY

Then there is the biological aspect to this. Men get 10 times more testosterone than women and we are now learning some fascinating things about testosterone. For years scientists have been  unsuccessful in trying to connect testosterone with aggression. With improved research techniques they now know that rather than being related to aggression , testosterone pushes men to strive for status and to protect that status once gained. Men and to a lesser degree boys, are built to strive for status. Wanting to succeed, wanting to win, wanting to be good at something and working towards that are all now known to be related to testosterone. It’s easy to see how winning and succeeding are important to men and boys and also are the antithesis of dependency. When we win we are far from dependent. Boys and men are not only socially conditioned to be independent they are pushed in the same direction by their biology. Independence equals success, dependence equals failure.

Another impact of testosterone that has been verified recently is that it reduces fear and increases willingness to take risks. This adds some strength to Joiner’s ideas about fearlessness.

If you look at the factors we are discussing separately they don’t make much sense. Why push boys to not cry? Why try and win all the time? Why does precarious manhood push men to repeatedly prove their manhood? Why would testosterone push men to strive for status and take risks? Each by itself doesn’t make much sense. But if you look at them working together it begins to add up. All of these things are helping men in what is being called the masculine hierarchy. Big Horn Sheep butt heads to determine which male will have access to the top rated females, right? What scientists are now finding is that human males also live in a hierarchy. And, like the sheep, the bottom line of the hierarchy is reproductive access. Precarious manhood, testosterone, the desire to win and not be seen as dependent are all factors in moving upwards in the male hierarchy. None of this really makes much sense until you realize that women really, really, like high status.   Men of high status, like millionaires, Senators, professional sports players, famous musicians all have a much better chance of attracting women than most guys on the street. These men are high in the male hierarchy. All men know this and will work hard to be as high in the hierarchy as he can, knowing that higher status means a better chance of success with very attractive women.

So really, the parents discouraging their sons from crying in public is done not as a crazy and inexplicable act but as a way to help him be higher in the hierarchy. They want their son to succeed. Same with precarious manhood. The pushing of males to repeatedly prove their worth is just another way to push him higher in the hierarchy. Testosterone does something similar when it pushes men and boys to strive for status.  It is this striving for status that has literally built much of modernity.  It is nothing to sneeze at.

Men live in this hierarchy each day, in fact, their lives are surrounded by hierarchy. What are men’s favorite sections of the newspaper? Sports and business rightchart-594212_1280? What do those have in common? Hierarchy after hierarchy. Things are broken down to who is first, second, third and on and on. IBM stock up today, DOW up but the NASDAQ down at the close of trading. RBI’s, batting averages, quarterback ratings and a host of sports stats are the domain and love of many men. Think hierarchy. Many men enjoy this and women are often perplexed.

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The hierarchy is what it is, but it does have some lethal effects when it comes to suicide. Men will strive to stay up in the hierarchy as high as they can. But this means putting on your best face whenever possible, putting your best foot forward. In order to maintain your place in the hierarchy you don’t want to share your failures, your dependencies, or your depression. This puts men into a very dangerous place. Their lives have often been filled with striving for status and trying to put a successful face on for the public.

Women often do not understand this. They think that he should just get over it and start talking about stuff. But wait a minute. Women have a similar hierarchy. It’s called attractiveness. Women do their best to put their best foot forward when it comes to their appearance. While men’s hierarchical involvement is more global and touches nearly every sphere of his life, a woman’s hierarchy is more limited to attractiveness.  Just as status is one of a man’s tickets to reproductive success, the same is true for women and attractiveness. And most women work hard at this.  Just a quick look at the 64 billion dollar cosmetic industry should give you a sense of how important this is. Just for reference, the NFL, MLB and the NBA bring in a combined revenue of about 26 billion dollars. That’s less than half of the cosmetics. So women work hard to stay as near the top of their hierarchy as possible and they spend quite a bit to do so. Have you ever heard of a women refusing to leave the house without her makeup? Can you see how this is similar to the men? She wants to put her best foot forward and be able to mask her imperfections just like the men.

The difference is that women’s decisions to not go out without their makeup tends to have much less severe consequences than a man’s reticence over his depression.   Depression is seen as failure, a status dropping weight that needs to be fixed privately and he is all too often left alone in the weight of his troubles.

Devaluing Men

There is one more factor that is rarely discussed that I think we need to at least mention. The devaluation of men and boys.

China is one of the only countries in the world where women commit suicide more than men. The chart below shows three western countries and then China. Notice that all of the western countries appear to have men outnumbering women. China however flips that and shows that female suicide in China actually outnumbers males. Why would this be? Why would almost every other country show men to outnumber women in suicides but China has more female suicides?

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Most of the theorists point towards China’s devaluation of women as being the cause. They say that women in China are seen as inferior, boy babies are preferred to the point of aborting girl babies in order to have a male. Valuing males over females say the theorists, must create an environment where the females are more likely to take their own lives. I tend to think that their assessment is at least partly correct. But what does that tell us about our own country?  I think a case can be made that in our country it is the men who are devalued, men are seen as inferior and this devaluation impacts men and boys in the US in the same way theorists are positing it impacts girls and women in China. Just look at how easy it is to bash men.  Imagine yourself in public commenting that men are jerks.  What response would that bring? I have seen this often and no one bats an eye. Most people will just nod.  But now think what would happen if you proclaimed that women were jerks.  I have seen this one too and can tell you what I have seen is people immediately defending women and castigating you for saying such a thing. This is a huge and unrecognized double standard.   It’s not uncommon for people to laugh at men, for men to be forgotten when it comes to their emotional pain, for men to be devalued and used as cannon fodder, to die on the battlefield (97% male deaths), and in dangerous jobs (93% male deaths). Could it be that this devaluation of men and boys plays a role in their greater numbers of suicides? I am guessing yes.

CONCLUSION

I hope you are starting to get a sense of why men might commit suicide more often than women. Let’s list the factors we have discussed:

  1. Choice of more lethal means of suicide.
  2. Joiner’s ideas of fearlessness
  3. Big boys don’t cry and knowing there is no support
  4. Disallowing dependency in men
  5. Precarious Manhood (facing lifelong judgment about his manhood)
  6. Testosterone and its encouraging striving for status, limiting fear, and increasing tolerance of risk
  7. Hierarchical nature of men
  8. The devaluation of men and boys

Men, due to both biological and social factors are less likely to seek out “help” when they are depressed whether it’s a professional helping connection or a personal one. A great deal of the psychological community views this male tendency to avoid therapy and “help” as being pathological. I am hoping that from reading this article you will be able to see that it is more a natural consequence of the man’s nature, his hormones, and his environment. Our task is to find therapeutic interventions that will work with men. They will likely be starkly different from the traditional modes we now use. Our present therapeutic industry is built for women and their “tend and befriend” styles of healing and their face to face talking and emoting. This works great for most women and some men but it fails miserably for many men and some women. Therapy is not built for men and tends to miss the mark.

If we want to be of service to men we will need to change our ideas about healing and our modes of intervention. Part two will focus on ideas about healing strategies that might be more useful in helping men.

 

 

Vet Suicide and What You Can Do #22kill

Twenty two veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. Every day. That’s twenty two too many. Want to do something about this? Good. Here’s what you do:

Do as many damn pushups as you can and make a video of your efforts. Post the vid online with hashtags #22kill and #22 if you did 22 pushups. If you did 53 the hashtag would be #53. Simple right?

Yeah, but how can this help?

vetsWell, a group of veterans have started a global movement called #22Kill They are working to bring more awareness to the tragedy that has been slipping by most of us that so many of our veterans are dying from suicide. The idea of their work is to reach 22 million verified pushups. Not only will your pushups move their counter towards the 22 million goal it also sends a message that one more person out there cares about our vets and will take time out of their day to honor them and let them know you appreciate what they have done for all of us.

I admire this group for their efforts. They are using the masculine paths. That is, when men are met with difficulties and struggles they will less often join a support group and more often move to DO something that honors. It is through the action and the honoring that he is able to tell his story. One beautiful example of this is Michael Jordan, who moved towards action after the tragic murder of his father. We all know that Jordan quit basketball after his father’s death. We also know that he started playing minor league baseball in hopes of catching on at the pro level. This confused most of us, just as many of men’s healing paths tend to confuse most people. What we didn’t know at the time was that Jordan’s father always wanted him to be a baseball player and was not shy in telling Michael. So Jordan’s switch to baseball was an action to honor his father. He did it for his dad. Make sense?

Pushups can work in the same way. In fact, their instructions tell you to state your name and then say who you are doing the pushups for. This is connecting the action to honoring. This is healing.

I will be doing my 22 soon and will put it on youtube. I hope you will too.

 


 

It also needs to be added that 66 non-veteran males die each day in the US from suicide.

#22Kill web site

Instructions for making your vid

Book The Way Men Heal

Maryland Report on Suicide, Boys and Men

My thanks to Spencer for pointing this out to me.

Gynocentric Media – Men’s Problems, Women’s Emotions


The media is all about women as victims and their emotional pain.  It is also about men as villains or heroes.  The last 50 years has made a dent as the media has begun portraying women as villains and heroes but has failed miserably in seeing the emotional pain of men and boys. Have a look at this article. The article is about three male reporters who were being sentenced to jail.  Note that the picture that accompanies the articles doesn’t show the men in pain, or even the men feeling uncomfortable, it shows one of their wives in tears!  This is just the way it goes in our gynocentric media.  Men’s Problems, Women’s Emotions.

I have worked with men and women in trauma for many years with a focus on men and boys.  It has been very clear for decades that in the media articles about those who are suffering from trauma the women get the lions share of the coverage.  The men?  Well, you know.

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INTRO – Bias Against Men and Boys in Mental Health Research (1)

This is the introduction to a five-part series of articles about the bias against men and boys in psychological research. There is a short youtube that goes over the very tip of the iceberg of the contents of these articles. I will paste that in at the end of this post.

INTRO

Most of us are familiar with the male bashing we see on television. Men are portrayed as buffoons and helpless ne’er do wells who consistently need others (women and sometimes children) to problem solve and do the right thing. Most people are tired of this ridiculous bias yet it continues unabated. What most don’t realize is that a very similar male bashing exists in mental health research. The past 40 years has brought us a powerful respect and admiration of women and girls. This is a good thing. The problem is that we seem unable to hold both men and women in the highest esteem. As we hold our women up we seem to tear our men down. It’s as if we can only see women as “good” and men as considerably less than good. This binary vision of the sexes gets played out in the male bashing we see on television but it also gets played out in numerous other venues including mental health research.

This collection of articles will offer you an inside glimpse into the workings of several studies and show how the anti-male bias plays out in the research. We have all grown to trust “research” and when we hear that a study shows that “X is correct“ we tend to automatically believe that “X” is correct. Research has taken on an almost divine ethos that carries the seal of approval of correctness. If science says it, it must be so. The problem of course is that science, especially social science, is less than concrete and is much more slippery than measuring a distance or the tensile strength of a bar of steel. Mental health research is much more vulnerable to values and ideologies of the researchers. If a scientist believes a certain thing it usually has little impact on his measurements of the tensile strength of the bar of steel. No matter what he believes the measurement will likely be the same. But what about issues in social sciences where researchers come to the table with a large amount of preconceived ideas, allegiances to ideologies that espouse strong opinions about those being studied or have traumatic life histories that bias them against certain groups? Can those sorts of things influence the “findings” of a social science study? You bet they can. Gone is the impartial judge weighing the evidence and sifting through the data to find the truth. In today’s world of social science research the opposite is happening: researchers are starting at their pre- conceived biases and then designing research to prove that bias. As bizarre as that sounds it is demonstrably true in some social science research. You will see some of that within this paper.

We start off with a short summary of a very important paper by Murray Straus titled “Processes explaining the Concealment and Distortion of Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence.” Straus leads us through seven ways that feminist researchers hid or distorted the data of their studies in order to insure their results would reflect the pre-conceived ideology of females being the victims of domestic violence and men being the perpetrators. Straus’s explanations make very clear how an ideological bias can impact the results of social science research. He describes in detail exactly how they accomplished this. One technique he describes is simply ignoring your own data that contradicts your ideology. Another is to simply not ask questions that might risk obtaining answers that would contradict your thesis. After reading this piece you will have a better understanding of the ways this subterfuge has been accomplished.

The next section describes a 2009 study from Great Britain on teen violence. You will see how the researchers follow Straus’s descriptions by ignoring their own data. The original survey showed that boys were about 40% of the victims of violence but by the time the research was done and the recommendations made the ad campaign that followed was designed to help only girls and to teach the boys how to better treat the girls.

The following section features a study on “reproductive coercion.” It will show how the omission of the details about the sample of those surveyed had huge repercussions down stream. In a nutshell the study was done on impoverished African American and Hispanic females. This fact was not reported in the research article, nor reported in the press release, and never showed up in any of the national media articles that followed. It is well known that interpersonal violence is about three times as likely in an impoverished population. By omitting that little bit of data, that the sample was largely impoverished women of color, the ramifications of their study changed drastically from one that applied only to a poor population of women of color to a study that applied to the population at large. This shift resulted in millions of people reading about the study in the national media and being led to believe a message that simply wasn’t justified by the study itself.

The last section looks at the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI). This inventory claims to measure men’s degree of conforming to what it calls “masculine norms.” There are multiple problems with this inventory but the most obvious is its choice of very negative descriptions for what masculine norms are in this culture. The norms include such descriptors as “Violence” ”Disdain for homosexuality” ”power over women” and ”playboy.” Simply by choosing these words to describe men in this country is misandry. This is male bashing. There’s more.

It’s important to see the ways these studies try to influence the public and promote their own ideological biases. Each of these studies was done by researchers who appeared to have strong ideas about men and women and their research conveniently harmonized with their pre-conceived notions. With “science” holding so much power and ability to sway opinions it is critical that we watch carefully how the social sciences use their studies to proliferate their own ideological viewpoints.

The spreading of misinformation has a very negative effect on the population at large but there is no place in more danger of this than in the halls of congress. Our legislators are easily influenced by studies such as those described herein and the likelihood of laws being written based on one sided viewpoints becomes alarmingly high. To make matters even worse our legislators are largely unaware of their own unconscious chivalry and combine that with hysterical research that claims damsels in distress need funding and what you see is billions of taxpayers dollars being spent in a very questionable manner. Combine these studies with the media, and then the blogs and you get a system that is fed by erroneous data that accepts it as fact and acts on it. One needs to only notice the fact that great majority of people in the US are convinced that women are the sole victims of domestic violence to understand the power of the media and particularly the media in combination with “studies” that are used more for propaganda than for gaining an understanding of the truth.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

The Making of Gynocentric Foot Soldiers

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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.

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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. 

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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.

False Accusations and the Denial of Men’s Emotional Pain

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 whilman-164216_1280e 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.