Category Archives: Men’s Emotions

We Who Fell From Grace/Alphabet-soup/Being But Boys

Illustration: “D”, Moiret Allegiere, 2017

This is a guest post from Moiret Allegiere.  He has a great deal to say about our plight as men in today’s insane misandrist world. You can find his blog here.

We, who so lovingly devolved and fell from grace; who longed to be devoured by the rush and the filth and the harshly whispered words…

who so quickly succumbed to illness, to tribal despotism and despair; who saw sudden surges of revenge pondered in school-yards a-flame…

…who so slowly broke down and fell apart on streets lined with gold…

who so openly announced our departure from our selves for all to hear…

who so honestly drank slow-burning ruination from chalices offered by silver-tongued Succubi speaking soft nothings in our ears…

who so truthfully believed belittling tattle-tales and nursery-rhymes, timid and scared and frozen in the headlights…

who so freakishly, annoyingly, self-devouringly swallowed the hook and line and sinker of preposterous tongue-tied dogmatism…

who so very much longed to prove our worthiness in shaded temples overrun by smog and asbestos by the light of her countenance…

who so dramatically disowned our inner-most being for the flicker of her shanty-town eyes and trash-heap domestication…

who so simple-mindedly tore our beating hearts from our chests through our throats and shattered jaws to present as tokens of our love…

who so lonely in nights beneath concrete-breasts, betwixt asphalt-thighs slick as weapons-grade plutonium, cursed ourselves just for being…

We, who so longed for love that we became a self-mutilating spectacle burning with desires deemed demonic, satanic, beast-like…

who so longed to be loved that we fell from our heads and minds and souls into caricatures resembling anything but ourselves…

who so believed the foul things we were told in classrooms steeped in ideology that our souls, our spirits, died by slight-of-hand suicide…

who so fell for the tranquil war-cry of dogmatic serpents, ideologically blinded by pins and needles, that we waged war upon ourselves…

We, who made ourselves disposable, expendable, throw-away-able..

who made necklaces from our own teeth and presented them as gifts…

who made solemn vows to never be the ones we were…

who made promises to sacrifice and to protect and to serve…

We, who were told we were – by our mere presence – dangerous…

who were told we were – by our very nature – fiends…

who were told we were – by testosterone itself – immature…

who were told we were – by birth – untrustworthy…

We, who were made to make amends for the sins of our fathers…

who were made to take a pledge of inferiority…

who were made to mimic serfdom from infancy…

who were stoned by popular vote…

who were put in laughingstocks for speaking up…

who were hung, drawn and quartered when we drew a line in the sand…

Where are we now?

…lost in opiate-daze, body-outlines drawn in charcoal upon streets of yesteryear, heads resting on pillows of impenetrable street-trash, sleeping rough beneath lonely midnight-clouds, being spat upon by passers-by whom we, in the prime of our youth, swore we should protect?

…lost in manic labyrinthine chores and demands with vision clouded by push-and-prod-and-pulls infinite, minds ensnared by senses of righteous indignation at the here-to, here-now, come-here-boy, slaving away at the rat-race in indebted servitude to make amends for the sins of our fathers?

…lost sleepless between lead-sheets where our groins are slowly eaten away by bedbugs crawling through our shameful erections, working to do what the constant buzz and drone and hum of puerile, infantile, prepubescent publications tell us that we must do in order to be men?

…lost in fulfilling a barrage of incoherent societal demands levied at us for being us; a disastrous crack-haven voice calling for our responsibilities, our self-sacrifice, for us to do better and to be better so that women and children shall be safe and free and be safe to be free and be free to be safe?

…from us…

…lost in alleyways, brutally beaten and kicked to the curb, shot between the eyes and mugged, robbed, ripped apart by violence gratuitous and grandiose, crawling our way through broken bottles and puddles of piss to be told, at the end of the line, that we must end violence against women?

…lost between the spread legs of time, shadows floating by, unseen and unheard, unnoticed and unwanted, vague bodies crippled from stress and melting minds, double-narratives told constantly, double standards imposed upon us, heart, soul, mind, body now lost in time and space?

Where are we now?

…free-falling with arms flailing impotently into some dread future-scape, numbed by cogwheels ticking away, by machinery, by mechanical contraptions brutally burying into our skin and bones, our skulls and minds, our hearts and souls.

…free-falling with temperaments doomed to die, with judgements passed on the monstrous cock, the savage balls, the passage of time from mirrors mirroring history viewed through period-blood, menstruated heavily from high-and-mighty academes who never once tasted truth.

…free-falling into delirious neglect from a society whose whispers maniacally conjure grins and glee toxic and nauseous through perpetual lies and misrepresentations, through hit-pieces a-plenty and the everlasting tide of self-assured cock-shamed shaming of the cock.

…free-falling maddeningly into spirals of deceit where once stood truth atop the shoulders of giants, now ground into spastic broken shards of glass doubtlessly preaching dubious equality handcrafted marvellously from uncertain rustling behind the shower curtains.

…free-falling, lambasted and ridiculed for standing up where once we fell down, delving ever deeper into the solemn solitude of cathedrals erected to honour the death of potent masculinity; the culling of young minds seeing young boys led to the slaughter viciously, maliciously.

…free-falling into chemical castrations; blood and chalk on blackboards coveted by legions of pedagogues armed with orthodox new-truth, pale and pasteurized, homogenized and swollen with lies of a dogmatic nature, dominatrix school-mistress with fell venomous fangs.

We, whose wings were cut, whose fangs were pulled, whose claws were trimmed…

we, whose thoughts were silenced, whose tongues were amputated, whose throats were slit…

we, whose heroism was dubbed toxicity, whose playful banter was labelled hateful, whose sexuality was considered primitive at best…

We of the conveniently neutered generation,

of the conventionally tortured generation,

of the chronically tormented generation…

Who are we now?

…A generation of boys and young men shamed into silence, into servitude, into self-flagellating microcosm misanthropy aimed squarely at our sex and gender…

…A generation of boys and young men whipped into the deserts and the tundra to be food for the vultures and the buzzards and the demons; to feed the roar of the moving dunes, like waves…

…A generation of boys and young men lost within the manifested reality of grim-faced bespectacled poet laureates of fame and befuddled fortune in feudal-systems crafted from narrative convenience in academic stupidity…

…A generation of boys and young men ripped from the arms of their fathers and thrown into dungeons to suffer and then be crushed beneath the weight of the wickedness of the world…

…A generation of boys and young men scarred from a thousand strokes of the whip; the cat of nine tails poignantly expressing the societal dissolution of our very nature…

…A generation of boys and young men being told that they are at fault for the demons in the wilderness, the ghosts at the door, the past, present and future atrocities of humanity…

…A generation of boys and young men who never witnessed the rod being spared; who were spoilt with the tongue-lashings of a million studiously inept traumatized graduate students of brainwashed notoriety…

…A generation of boys and young men lost within the vortex of a de-constructed society, within whose arms and upon whose bosom we were never wanted, wished or welcomed…

…A generation of boys and young men who have been socialized into sacrifice, who have had their sexuality scrutinized, their essence demonized, their eyelids sewn shut with barbed wire…

…A generation of boys and young men raised into self-loathing and cold despair, losing ridiculous societal games by their mere presence considered harmful to all within line of sight…

And we were promised that our problems also mattered.

And we were promised that all should be treated equally under the sun.

And we were promised, were we only to open up, we would be saved.

And we were told the problems of boys and men were of their own making.

And we were told the problems of girls and women were also of men’s making.

…then we were told that boys and men have no problems, but that we are boys and men.

…then we were told to shut up…

…then we were told that we were the problem.

…then we became the problem…

*

Agencies devoid of reason chase us out of bed in stone-cold mornings.

Belated birthday-wishes for the dream that was the child within,

Choked out at the corner of bedlam and squalor,

Delirious and dripping with fright-night splendour,

Eternally seeking empathetic connections – salvation through society.

Fear being what they taught us in our ruptured barnyard-schools,

Gullible as only small children could be,

Hated and shamed for nothing but our crucified cocks,

Illuminated by the rudimentary petticoat-philosophy of nincompoops.

Jealousy reigned supreme in the bloodshot eyes of low-gear thinkers;

KKK-lynchings emulated in child’s play: boys are inferior.

Lying is the path towards miss-understanding,

Maddeningly hiding truth for sake of ideological convenience.

None who speak truth live long to tell the tale;

Only death await those who dare defend the masculine –

Painting perverse, obscene portraits of we who fell from grace –

Quiet, quaint, devilishly innocent political “truth-seekers”,

Raped by sourced evidence and facts to the contrary,

Silencing us as we advance ever more; crossing the borders of obscurity.

To tear the blindfold away from the inebriated waste-face of society,

Understand that society need to know more than lies and slander.

Vile assaults on men, on boys, on masculinity called us out to war.

We will win through persistence this war of nuclear attrition,

Xeroxed and force-fed to our gutless, gullible generation;

Young and old are all the same, tranquillized and mindless,

Zombiefied by rigorous academic intellectual insanity.

*

Being but boys, we lived vivid summer-evenings entranced in woodland playtime, running wild and free through trees infested with trials and tribulations for us to conquer…

…being but boys, we slew monsters and crossed paths with gods in never-ending summer days where we dazed about in frantic free-form imagination, hopelessly devoted to expressive life and love…

…being but boys, we grabbed every minute, every moment, and shook it endlessly, heedless of time passing through us, ecstatic, burning internally with wild warlock energy…

…being but boys, we stomped the ground beneath our feet until it turned to mud, conquering horrifying demons and fears and sweating like mad, hungry, powerful beasts…

…being but boys, we were shamans and warriors, magnificent playwrights of our own shared destinies, found in the holiest of holies, the inner sanctum of boyhood imagination…

…being but boys, we danced to tunes only we could hear in the soft, warm, murmuring summer air, breathlessly entangled and ensnared in lifesaving, life-affirming explosions of joy…

…being but boys, we were unhinged, burning with rebellion, with piss and vinegar, with breaking the cataclysmic chains that tied us to the daily drudgery of routines like superstition…

…being but boys, we evolved and we grew and we came to be young men, affirmed through fear-mongering parasites in burnt-out messianic lectures at school to be viciousness and lust and rage and ruin…

…being but young men, we were thrown overboard, cast adrift, to float face-down in lost mid-summer dreams where hopelessness gripped our throats as saltwater filled our lungs…

…being but young men, we succumbed to the allure of life-denial, taught haphazardly with veiled words sung from irrational gurus atop pinnacles of forced chemical castrations…

…being but young men, we saw our heads stomped by tender feet preaching liturgies of our foul wickedness through tyranny clothed in excruciating religious fanaticism…

…being but young men, we were made to rebel against our selves in days and nights of self-flagellating dishonesty, disrobing our masculinity to cleanse the palates of tin-foil-hat dictators…

…being but young men, we were made to break the supposed mould of maleness imposed upon us by our tyrannical forefathers, whose words and deeds should trickle down from history and manifest in us as shame…

…being but young men, we were shame incarnate, rebuilt, reborn from aeons of historical dust and mist and mud, disgusting swine of society dribbling with glee at every lash of the whip across our backs…

…being but young men, we fell into despair and never uttered a word in opposition to clinical insanity reigning supreme in miraculous lamplight-plays of smoke and mirrors…

…being but young men, we were castigated, ridiculed and shamed, laid in chains and iron and led towards torture-chambers to be confronted with, to admit to, our sins and seek repentance through pain…

And we saw, as men, our friends fall into catatonic states of unbridled drug-abuse, chained to the bottle and the needle as time wore on and wore them down.

And we saw, as men, the falling-out of our sanity linked to pre-programmed academes interrupting the heartbreak with lectures plentiful of shame and neglect.

And we saw, as men, broken and beaten and crushed by the weight of all our sins, God pass by in miniscule whimpers to lead some other stranger to some other far-away land.

And we saw, as men, summer floating into winter, permanently frost-bitten and trembling with hypothermia and repressed rage, our selves blow chunks of brain across living-room walls and floors.

And we saw, as men, suicidal ideation taking the place in our minds where once we used to stomp the ground to mud, where once we used to laugh to our hearts content.

And we saw, as men, our own deaths mirrored in the eyes of society shining with self-assured mockery and overambitious celebration at the death of we, of us, being nothing but men.

And we saw, as men, a world which passed us by and flew above our heads, daring us to reach out and touch its wings and tender beak, to seek its nurture and its love and compassion and fail, for it to mock and laugh…

And we saw, as men, the dawn of our demise where we were drowned in monsoon-rain, choked by moonlight, thrown from the cliffs onto the lashing, crashing, smothering waves below…

And we saw, as men, our friends and then ourselves checking out and longing for release and, after quick snack-breaks in rudimentary ghettos, finding solace in dropping out…

Where are we now?

No longer lost.

No longer losing.

No further fall from grace.

No further need for grace.

No more mindless dogmatic self-flagellation.

No more mindless pilgrimages of redemption.

No more swollen tongues from shutting up.

No more swollen chests from having to prove our worthiness.

We were mockingly proven to be unwanted, unneeded, unnecessary.

We were mockingly proven to be lecherous, treacherous, syphilitic.

We were told we were violence incarnate; anti-Christ resurgence, war, pestilence, famine and death in one neat package of toxic testosterone and vicious venomous boners.

So that now, to still the beating of your hearts; we’ll stand repeating:

There is no balm in Gilead;

and we who fell from grace

shall play this game

ah

nevermore.

Moiret’s Book:

Vol 1 Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/107571074X
Vol 1 Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TZTPDPR
Vol 2 Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1075714184
Vol 2 Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TZR25NL
Vol 1 Illustrated Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1075717094
Vol 2 Illustrated Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1075723078

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Excerpt: Swallowed by a Snake, the Dagura People

This  is an excerpt from my first book, Swallowed by a Snake.  It offers a glimpse into the workings of the Dagura People in Africa and the way they heal from loss.  It was this group and many other indigenous groups  which opened my eyes many years ago about the important differences in men and women and the ways we heal.   See what you think.  (pgs 124-126)

The Dagura People

 

We now turn to another example of indigenous grief rituals, that of the Dagura people of Africa.28 When a death occurs the women of the village begin to grieve. Their grief is somewhat muted, however, until the men have ritually announced the death. This announcement cannot occur until the men have created a “sacred space” for the grief of the village to emerge, and no man is allowed to show signs of grief until after this ritual space has been created. This is done by invoking the aid of the spirits through a private ritual performed only by the men. The invoking of the spirits is partly designed to elicit enough grief from the mourners to allow the dead person to move into the world of the ancestors. The Dagura believe that the soul’s journey into the next world is dependent in some ways upon the grief expressed by the mourners. Without adequate grief, the soul is thought to be stuck on this plane of existence and unable to leave the world. They have thus connected their grief with a purpose, that being the birth of the soul of the newly dead. The creation of ritual space, a safe container for the expression of grief, is seen as essential to the birthing of the spirit of the person who died. A part of this creation of sacred space involves throwing ashes around the house of the deceased and the ritual preparation of an actual physical space for the grief ritual. The announcement states that there has been a death, the ritual space is ready, and it is now time to grieve.

 

The Dagura Grief Ritual

 

The grief ritual itself is complex and beautiful. The grieving space is divided into different sections. The body of the dead person is dressed ceremonially and seated on a stool in the section called the “shrine.” Two women elders are seated next to the body and are charged with the duty to collect the grief that is being expressed and to “load it on” to the dead person to help him or her in the journey toward the ancestors. The shrine is colorfully decorated and contains some of the important possessions of the dead person. There is a boundary around the shrine which symbolically marks the separation between the living and the dead, and outside of the two women tending to the body, no one is allowed to enter the shrine, for to do so would mean entering the realm of the dead.

 

Between the shrine and the mourners is an empty space that represents chaos. Within this space people are allowed to express any form of grief they want, as long as it is related to their feelings about the death. Crying, dancing, or any expression of emotion is accepted and expected to take place within this space. There are people who are designated as “containers.” These people are often relatives who have come from afar. Their job is to insure the safety of the space for the grievers, making sure that no harm comes to those who are actively grieving. The Dagura believe in releasing grief with all its intensity, but they have also developed a system in which the intensity does not exceed the capacity of the mourners. It is like a system of checks and balances. The containers follow the grievers as they mourn and if they stray out of the ritual space, will gently tap them on the shoulder to remind them to come back into the contained space.

 

On one side of the shrine are the men of the village and on the other side are the women. Each group consists of mourners and containers. The mourners are further divided by the “kotuosob,” a small piece of rope tied around the wrist of the griever. The rope designates a person who was particularly close to the deceased, perhaps a family member. This marking alerts all the participants that someone who is wearing the “kotuosob” is what they call a “center of the heat” person, that is, a person who is more likely to be in danger of “grieving himself to death.” The Dagura see grief as food for the psyche, necessary to maintain a healthy psychological balance. But they also see its danger—too much grief and a person will “lose their center” and, they believe, can grieve to death. Thus the Dagura designate specific containers to follow closely behind the tagged person and do exactly as they do, including dancing, jumping to the beat of the drum, or pounding the ground. Sometimes when a tagged griever is experiencing a great deal of grief, a group of containers and mourners will form a line behind him or her with each person in the line doing the same action as the primary griever. It is understood that this transmits the feeling of the primary griever into all of those down the line. This type of process is viewed as a form of silent and physical support to the person who is grieving. It is important to point out that among the Dagura the healing of grief is gender specific. That is, no woman will approach a man in trying to help him with his grief, and no man would do the same for a woman. They believe that it takes a man to help release and heal the grief of another man, and a woman to reflect the grief of a woman.

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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?

suic-chart1

 

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.

suic-chart2

 

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.

sad-219721_1280

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.

 

 

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