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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:35 pm 
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Fatherhood 2.0.

By LEV GROSSMAN
Sat Oct 6, 2007

Does being more of a father make you less of a man? To a group of committed dads assembled one night in a New Jersey diner, the answer is obvious. Sort of. Paul Haley, 38, a father of two, says women look at him when he walks down the street with his kids. "I think it's admiration," he says. Adam Wolff, also 38--with two kids and one on the way--ponders what it means to be a man. "Is my man-ness about being the breadwinner or being a good father to my kids or something else?" Michael Gerber, 36, father of a 7-month-old, asks, "Do you mean, Do we feel whipped?"

"I'm probably a little whipped," shrugs Lee Roberts, 45. He's a part-time copy editor, married to a full-time journalist, who has stayed home for nine years to raise their two children. "There are definitely some guys who look at me and think, 'What's up with him?' Do I care? Well, I guess I do a little because I just mentioned it," he says. Haley speaks up to reassure him: "Kids remember, man. All that matters is that you're there. Being there is being a man."

But what does it mean, exactly, to be a man these days? Once upon a Darwinian time, a man was the one spearing the woolly mammoth. And it wasn't so long ago that a man was that strong and silent fellow over there at the bar with the dry martini or a cold can of beer--a hardworking guy in a gray flannel suit or blue-collar work shirt. He sired children, yes, but he drew the line at diapering them. He didn't know what to expect when his wife was expecting, he didn't review bottle warmers on his daddy blog, and he most certainly didn't participate in little-girl tea parties. Today's dads plead guilty to all of the above--so what does that make them?

As we fuss and fight over the trials and dilemmas of American mothers, a quiet revolution is occurring in fatherhood. "Men today are far more involved with their families than they have been at virtually any other time in the last century," says Michael Kimmel, author of Manhood in America: A Cultural History. In the late 1970s, sociologists at the University of Michigan found that the average dad spent about a third as much time with his kids as the average mom did. By 2000, that was up to three-fourths. The number of stay-at-home fathers has tripled in the past 10 years. The Census counts less than 200,000, but those studying the phenomenon say it's probably 10 times that number. Fathers' style of parenting has changed too. Men hug their kids more, help with homework more, tell kids they love them more. Or, as sociologist Scott Coltrane of the University of California, Riverside, says, "Fathers are beginning to look more like mothers."

Many dads are challenging old definitions of manliness. "Masculinity has traditionally been associated with work and work-related success, with competition, power, prestige, dominance over women, restrictive emotionality--that's a big one," says Aaron Rochlen, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Texas who studies fatherhood and masculinity. "But a good parent needs to be expressive, patient, emotional, not money oriented." Though many fathers still cleave to the old archetype, Rochlen's study finds that those who don't are happier. Other research shows that fathers who stop being men of the old mold have better-adjusted children, better marriages and better work lives--better physical and mental health, even. "Basically," says Rochlen, "masculinity is bad for you."

So are sugar doughnuts and beer bongs, and men hate to let go of those too. Women forced the revolution by staging one of their own: in the 1970s they began storming into the workforce, making it harder for men to shirk child care. What's more, they showed their sons that it's possible to both work and parent. Economic forces were at work as well: for the entire 20th century, every successive generation of American men could expect to do better financially than their dads--that is, until Generation X. According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the median income for a man in his 30s in 2004 was 12% lower than it was in 1974, once adjusted for inflation. Men were forced to relinquish sole-breadwinner status for their households to stay afloat.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:46 pm 
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Part 2.

But how to forge a new idea of manhood for this brave new two-income world? Hollywood hasn't been much help. From Michael Keaton in the 1983 movie Mr. Mom to Adam Sandler in Big Daddy (1999) to Eddie Murphy in Daddy Day Care (2003), the sight of a man caught in the act of parenting has been a reliable laugh getter -- always a good indicator of what the culture considers uncomfortable material. For every Pursuit of Happyness, there's a movie like this summer's Knocked Up, which plays not so much as a tribute to fatherhood as an effort by men to convince themselves that fatherhood is all right -- and the movie's happy ending is the least plausible thing about it. One show at least managed to capture the tension: What were those seven seasons of The Sopranos about if not a man fighting to reconcile the tender pangs of a caring, new-style father with the old-school masculine ideals of violence and stoicism -- not to mention the psychological damage wreaked on him by his own old-school father?

Society hasn't made it easy for newly evolved dads to feel manly either. In Rochlen's study of stay-at-home dads, those who scored low on measures of traditional masculinity professed higher degrees of happiness in their roles -- as well as in their marriages, with their children and with their health. But even they worried about how the rest of the world viewed their choice -- with some reason. "There's definitely a stigma out there," says Rochlen. "The dads tell stories about mothers on the playground looking at them like they're child molesters or losers."

Ironically, dads who take on parenting roles once considered emasculating may simply be responding to nature. Studies have shown that men experience hormonal shifts during their female partner's pregnancy. A man's testosterone level drops after settling down to marriage and family, perhaps in preparation for parenthood, as the male hormone is thought to be incompatible with nurturing behavior. In one study, for example, men with lower amounts of testosterone were willing to hold baby dolls for a longer period of time than those with a higher count. In another, the very act of holding dolls lowered testosterone.

More evidence of nature's intent to design men as active parents might be seen in the effects of involved fathering on children. Given the politically charged debates over same-sex unions and single parenting, it is perhaps not surprising that the richest area in the nascent field of fatherhood research is in the results of fathers' absence. David Popenoe of Rutgers University has pointed to increased rates of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and other problems among children raised without a male parent present. Research on the unique skills men bring to parenting is sparse but intriguing. Eleanor Maccoby of Stanford University has found that fathers are less likely than mothers to modify their language when speaking to their children, thus challenging their kids to expand vocabulary and cognitive skills. Fathers also tend to enforce rules more strictly and systematically in reaction to children's wrongdoing, according to educational psychologist Carol Gilligan. "Having a father isn't magic," says Armin Brott, author of seven books about fatherhood, "but it really does make a difference for the kids."

When men take on nontraditional roles in the home and family, it also makes a difference to the marriage. Coltrane of UC Riverside and John Gottman at the University of Washington found in separate studies that when men contribute to domestic labor (which is part and parcel of parenting), women interpret it as a sign of caring, experience less stress and are more likely to find themselves in the mood for sex. This is not to say that more involved fathering has erased marital tensions or that it hasn't introduced new ones.

Dads admit they get fussed over for things moms do every day. "Sometimes you're treated like a dog walking on its hind legs -- 'Oh, look, he can do laundry!'" says Jim O'Kane, 47, a father of two in Blackstone, Mass. And some women resent ceding their role as top parent. When her daughter fell down at a birthday party, Amy Vachon, 44, of Watertown, Mass., recalls that the girl ran crying all the way across the room -- to her husband Marc. "I admit it hurt at the time," she says, "mostly because I wondered what everyone thought. There's such a high standard in society for the good mother."

It's a slippery slope: a recent Pew survey found that increasingly, parents rank their relationships with their kids as more important than their relationship with their spouse. Just as interesting, they rank their job dead last. That most masculine of traits -- the ability to go out into the world and bring home a buck -- is receding in importance for the men of Generation X. Men's rates of labor-force participation have dropped from just above 90% in 1970 to just above 80% in 2005. Almost a third of young fathers (32%) say they dedicate more time to their children, while 28% say they devote more time to their jobs.

Big employers are beginning to catch on. Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Xerox and IBM are urging family-friendly benefits for their male employees and touting them to male recruits. California recently became the first state to guarantee paid time off for new dads. But the U.S. still lags far behind other countries: only 12% of U.S. corporations offer paid leave for fathers of new babies (the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act enables workers in large companies to take up to 12 weeks off, but that time is unpaid), while dads in 65 other countries are guaranteed paid paternity or parental leave; 31 countries offer 14 weeks of it or more. At companies that offer and encourage paternity leave, participation is high. KPMG reports that 80% of eligible workers have taken paternity leave since it was first offered in 2002. Still, more than half of working men say they would not take paternity leave even if it was offered, most saying they could not afford it, others fearing it would harm their careers -- the same complaints long made by working women.

Today's fathers aren't the men their own fathers were but only if you insist that the nature of masculinity doesn't change -- that it's a biological fact and not a mutable cultural construct. The new fathers are creating a new ideal of masculinity. It's not as Mad Men cool, but it is healthier. "The emerging and evolving norms of fatherhood and masculinity challenge men to be a different kind of guy," says Rochlen. "But on the positive side, it gives them new opportunity to embrace and enact these dimensions that are good for them and good for their families." It's even good for their emotional health. Coltrane says fatherhood is proving a "safe pathway" for men to develop and explore their nurturing side. "It's not considered wimpy or gay to hug your daughter," he adds. That's something we can all embrace.

View this article on Time.com
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:13 pm 
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Hm. Food for thought. Good article, Victor.

There are a few things that stand out for me --

Quote:
"There's definitely a stigma out there," says Rochlen. "The dads tell stories about mothers on the playground looking at them like they're child molesters or losers."

That must be similar to what you mentioned some time ago, Victor, that because you are a man alone, but still like to see movies like Shrek and such, which are classified as kids' movies, you usually go to the latest show in the evening rather than in the afternoon because you don't want people to get the wrong idea.

It's wrong to have to do that but it's clear that you are quite correct in feeling somewhat less wanted when there are a lot of kids around and you are alone.
Quote:
David Popenoe of Rutgers University has pointed to increased rates of juvenile delinquency, drug abuse and other problems among children raised without a male parent present.

This is very visible in poor (African-American) families where often it is the mother that is the single parent. Especially the sons have a hard time staying on the straight and narrow.

Quote:
Dads admit they get fussed over for things moms do every day. "Sometimes you're treated like a dog walking on its hind legs -- 'Oh, look, he can do laundry!'" says Jim O'Kane, 47, a father of two in Blackstone, Mass. And some women resent ceding their role as top parent. When her daughter fell down at a birthday party, Amy Vachon, 44, of Watertown, Mass., recalls that the girl ran crying all the way across the room -- to her husband Marc. "I admit it hurt at the time," she says, "mostly because I wondered what everyone thought. There's such a high standard in society for the good mother."

Yes, women are certainly not above bigotry and discrimination against men when it comes to "controlling" their children. I've seen this much too often, where the father is practically chastised for wanting to help out or simply told to shut up when it comes to children's issues. Some women think they automatically become professional child carers and educators after having giving birth to a child. But it's simply not so.

The famous line "Are you a parent" asked of someone who made a comment or suggestion when they already know the person is not is a good example of this. Because it indicates that because "I" am a parent and you are not, I know everything better about children and you know nothing. And that too is total bullocks.

Quote:
Today's fathers aren't the men their own fathers were but only if you insist that the nature of masculinity doesn't change -- that it's a biological fact and not a mutable cultural construct. The new fathers are creating a new ideal of masculinity.

Most definitely, and a real improvement too. I think part of the reason my own marriage stranded after a while is because he was too 'traditional' with his masculinity - simply refusing to help out when I was dead tired after a hard day's work, as much as he was, but he considered it "women's work" and I had to do it.

Give me the new, improved man anytime!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:08 pm 
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Singapore men still have a loooooong way to go before they do all that. It's a very macho-based society in its roots. With all these government "inspired" programs teaching us how to have sex and what is allowed in the bedroom and what not, it seems the government is trying more to educate itself rather than the citizens. We already know what to do in the bedroom, thanks.
:happy0065: :happy0192:


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:51 pm 
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i think it is actually sad that faherhood gets appointed a "typical heterosexual male" thing. i know so many gay men who would be wonderful fathers...and law forbids it. :sadcry:


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 8:06 pm 
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From The Sunday Times
August 3, 2008
Where have all the real men gone?
Top American columnist Kathleen Parker is causing a furore with her new book Save the Males, in which she argues that feminism has neutered men and deprived them of their noble, protective role in society

Image

I know. Saving the males is an unlikely vocation for a 21st-century woman. Most men don"t know they need saving; most women consider the idea absurd. When I tell my women friends that I want to save the males, they look at me as if noticing for the first time that I am insane. Then they say something like: "Are you out of your mind? This is still a male-dominated world. It"s women who need saving. Screw the men!"

Actually, that"s a direct quote. The reality is that men already have been screwed — and not in the way they prefer. For the past 30 years or so, males have been under siege by a culture that too often embraces the notion that men are to blame for all of life"s ills. Males as a group — not random men — are bad by virtue of their DNA.

While women have been cast as victims, martyrs, mystics or saints, men have quietly retreated into their caves, the better to muffle emotions that fluctuate between hilarity (are these bitches crazy or what?) and rage (yes, they are and they"ve got our kids).

In the process of fashioning a more female-friendly world, we have created a culture that is hostile towards males, contemptuous of masculinity and cynical about the delightful differences that make men irresistible, especially when something goes bump in the night.

In popular culture, rare is the man portrayed as wise, strong and noble. In film and music, men are variously portrayed as dolts, bullies, brutes, deadbeats, rapists, sexual predators and wife-beaters. Even otherwise easy-going family men in sitcoms are invariably cast as, at best, bumbling, dim-witted fools. One would assume from most depictions that the smart, decent man who cares about his family and pats the neighbour"s dog is the exception rather than the rule.

I am frankly an unlikely champion of males and that most hackneyed cliché of our times — "traditional family values". Or rather, I"m an expert on family in the same way that the captain of the Titanic was an expert on maritime navigation.

Looking back affectionately, I like to think of home as our own little Baghdad. The bunker-buster was my mother"s death when she was 31 and I was three, whereupon my father became a serial husband, launching into the holy state of matrimony four more times throughout my childhood and early adulthood. We were dysfunctional before dysfunctional was cool.

Going against trends of the day, I was mostly an only child raised by a single father through all but one of my teen years, with mother figures in various cameo roles. I got a close-up glimpse of how the sexes trouble and fail each other and in the process developed great em-pathy for both, but especially for men.

Although my father could be difficult — I wasn"t blinded by his considerable charms — I also could see his struggle and the sorrows he suffered, especially after mother No 2 left with his youngest daughter, my little sister.

From this broad, experiential education in the ways of men and women, I reached a helpful conclusion that seems to have escaped notice by some of my fellow sisters: men are human beings, too.

Lest anyone infer that my defence of men is driven by antipathy towards women, let me take a moment to point out that I liked and/or loved all my mothers. In fact, I"m still close to all my father"s wives except the last, who is just a few years older than me and who is apparently afraid that if we make eye contact, I"ll want the silver. (I do.)

My further education in matters male transpired in the course of raising three boys, my own and two stepsons. As a result of my total immersion in male-dom, I"ve been cursed with guy vision — and it"s not looking so good out there.

At the same time that men have been ridiculed, the importance of fatherhood has been diminished, along with other traditionally male roles of father, protector and provider, which are increasingly viewed as regressive manifestations of an outmoded patriarchy.

The exemplar of the modern male is the hairless, metrosexualised man and decorator boys who turn heter-osexual slobs into perfumed ponies. All of which is fine as long as we can dwell happily in the Kingdom of Starbucks, munching our biscotti and debating whether nature or nurture determines gender identity. But in the dangerous world in which we really live, it might be nice to have a few guys around who aren"t trying to juggle pedicures and highlights.

Men have been domesticated to within an inch of their lives, attending Lamaze classes, counting contractions, bottling expressed breast milk for midnight feedings — I expect men to start lactating before I finish this sentence — yet they are treated most unfairly in the areas of reproduction and parenting.

Legally, women hold the cards. If a woman gets pregnant, she can abort — even without her husband"s consent. If she chooses to have the child, she gets a baby and the man gets an invoice. Unarguably, a man should support his offspring, but by that same logic shouldn"t he have a say in whether his child is born or aborted?

Granted, many men are all too grateful for women to handle the collateral damage of poorly planned romantic interludes, but that doesn"t negate the fact that many men are hurt by the presumption that their vote is irrelevant in childbearing decisions.

NOTHING quite says "Men need not apply" like a phial of mail-order sperm Continued on page 2 Continued from page 1 and a turkey-baster. In the high-tech nursery of sperm donation and self-insemination — and in the absence of shame attached to unwed motherhood — babies can now be custom-ordered without the muss and fuss of human intimacy.

It"s not fashionable to question women"s decisions, especially when it comes to childbearing, but the shame attached to unwed motherhood did serve a useful purpose once upon a time. While we have happily retired the word "bastard" and the attendant emotional pain for mother and child, acceptance of childbearing outside marriage represents not just a huge shift in attitudes but, potentially, a restructuring of the future human family.

By elevating single motherhood from an unfortunate consequence of poor planning to a sophisticated act of self-fulfilment, we have helped to fashion a world in which fathers are not just scarce but in which men are also superfluous.

Lots of women can, do and always will raise children without fathers, whether out of necessity, tragedy or other circumstance. But that fact can"t logically be construed to mean that children don"t need a father. The fact that some children manage with just one parent is no more an endorsement of single parenthood than driving with a flat tyre is an argument for three-wheeled cars.

For most of recorded history, human society has regarded the family, consisting of a child"s biological mother and father, to be the best arrangement for the child"s wellbeing and the loss of a parent to be the single greatest threat to that wellbeing. There"s bound to be a reason for this beyond the need for man to drag his woman around by her chignon.

Sperm-donor children are a relatively new addition to the human community and they bring new stories to the campfire. I interviewed several adults who are the products of sperm donation. Some were born to married but infertile couples. Others were born to single mothers. Some reported well-adjusted childhoods; some reported conflicting feelings of love and loss.

Overall, a common thread emerged that should put to rest any notion that fathers are not needed: even the happiest donor children expressed a profound need to know who their father is, to know that other part of themselves.

Tom Ellis, a mathematics doctoral student at Cambridge University, learnt at 21 that he and his brother were both donor-conceived. Their parents told them on the advice of a family therapist as their marriage unravelled.

At first Tom did not react, but months later he hit a wall of emotional devastation. He says he became numb, anxious and scared. He began a search for his biological father, a search that has become a crusade for identity common among sperm-donor children.

"It"s absolutely necessary that I find out who he is to have a normal existence as a human being. That"s not negotiable in any way," Tom said. "It would be nice if he wanted to meet me, but that would be something I want rather than something needed."

Tom is convinced that the need to know one"s biological father is profound and that it is also every child"s right. What is clear from conversations with donor-conceived children is that a father is neither an abstract idea nor is he interchangeable with a mother.

As Tom put it: "There"s a mystery about oneself." Knowing one"s father is apparently crucial to that mystery.

Something that"s hard for many women to admit or understand is that after about the age of seven, boys prefer the company of men. A woman could know the secret code to Aladdin"s cave and it would be less interesting to a boy than a man talking about dirt. That is because a woman is perceived as just another mother, while a man is Man.

From their mothers, boys basically want to hear variations on two phrases: "I love you" and "Do you want those fried or scrambled?" I learnt this in no uncertain terms when I was a Cub Scout leader, which mysteriously seems to have prompted my son"s decision to abandon Scouting for ever.

My co-Akela (Cub Scout for wolf leader) was Dr Judy Sullivan — friend, fellow mother and clinical psychologist. Imagine the boys" excitement when they learnt who would be leading them in guy pursuits: a reporter and a shrink — two intense, overachieving, helicopter mothers of only boys. Shouldn"t there be a law against this?

We had our boys" best interests at heart, of course, and did our utmost to be good den mothers. But seven-year-old boys are not interested in making lanterns from coffee tins. They want to shoot bows and arrows, preferably at one another, chop wood with stone-hewn axes and sink canoes, preferably while in them.

At the end of a school day, during which they have been steeped in oestrogen by women teachers and told how many "bad choices" they"ve made, boys are ready to make some really bad choices. They do not want to sit quietly and listen to yet more women speak soothingly of important things.

Here"s how one memorable meeting began. "Boys, thank you for taking your seats and being quiet while we explain our women"s history month project," said Akela Sullivan in her calmest psychotherapist voice. The response to Akela Sullivan"s entreaty sounded something like the Zulu nation psyching up for the Brits.

I tried a different, somewhat more masculine approach: "Boys, get in here, sit down and shut up. Now!" And lo, they did get in there. And they did sit. And they did shut up. One boy stargazed into my face and stage-whispered: "I wish you were my mother."

Akela Sullivan and I put our heads together, epiphanised in unison and decided that we would recruit transients from the homeless shelter if necessary to give these boys what they wanted and needed — men.

As luck would have it, a Cub Scout"s father was semi-retired or between jobs or something — we didn"t ask — and could attend the meetings. He didn"t have to do a thing. He just had to be there and respire testosterone vapours into the atmosphere.

His presence shifted the tectonic plates and changed the angle of the Earth on its axis. Our boys were at his command, ready to disarm landmines, to sink enemy ships — or even to sit quietly for the sake of the unit if he of the gravelly voice and sandpaper face wished it so. I suspect they would have found coffee tins brilliantly useful as lanterns if he had suggested as much.

But, of course, boys don"t stay Cub Scouts for long. We"ve managed over the past 20 years or so to create a new generation of child-men, perpetual adolescents who see no point in growing up. By indulging every appetite instead of recognising the importance of self-control and commitment, we"ve ratified the id.

Our society"s young men encounter little resistance against continuing to celebrate juvenile pursuits, losing themselves in video games and mindless, "guy-oriented" TV fare — and casual sex.

The casual sex culture prevalent on university campuses — and even in schools — has produced fresh vocabulary to accommodate new ways of relating: "friends with benefits" and "booty call".

FWB I get, but "booty call"? I had to ask a young friend, who explained: "Oh, that"s when a guy calls you up and just needs you to come over and have sex with him and then go home."

Why, I asked, would a girl do such a thing? Why would she service a man for nothing — no relationship, no affection, no emotional intimacy?

She pointed out that, well, they are friends. With benefits! But no obligations! Cool. When I persisted in demanding an answer to "why", she finally shrugged and said: "I have no idea. It"s dumb."

Guys also have no idea why a girl would do that, but they"re not complaining — even if they"re not enjoying themselves that much, either.

Miriam Grossman, a university psychiatrist, wrote Unprotected, a book about the consequences of casual sex among students. She has treated thousands of young men and women suffering a range of physical and emotional problems related to sex, which she blames on sex education of recent years that treats sex as though it were divorced from emotional attachment and as if men and women were the same. Grossman asserts that there are a lot more victims of the hookup (casual sex) culture than of date rape.

Casual sex, besides being emotionally unrewarding, can become physically boring. Once sex is stripped of meaning, it becomes merely a mechanical exercise. Since the hookup generation is also the porn generation, many have taken their performance cues from porn flicks that are anything but sensual or caring.

Boys today are marinating in pornography and they"ll soon be having casual sex with our daughters. According to a study by the National Foundation for Educational Research issued in 2005, 12% of British males aged 13-18 avail themselves of "adult-only" websites; and American research findings are similar. The actual numbers are likely to be much higher, given the amount of porn spam that finds its way into electronic mailboxes. If the rising generation of young men have trouble viewing the opposite sex as anything but an object for sexual gratification, we can"t pretend not to understand why.

The biggest problem for both sexes — beyond the epidemic of sexually transmitted disease — is that casual sex is essentially an adversarial enterprise that pits men and women against each other. Some young women, now fully as sexually aggressive as men, have taken "liberation" to another level by acting as badly as the worst guy.

Carol Platt Liebau, the author of Prude, another book on the havoc that pervasive sex has on young people, says that when girls begin behaving more coarsely so, too, do boys.

"And now, because so many young girls have been told that it"s "empowering" to pursue boys aggressively, there"s no longer any need for boys to "woo" girls — or even to commit to a date," she told me. "The girls are available [in every sense of the word] and the boys know it."

Men, meanwhile, have feelings. Although they"re uncomfortable sorting through them — and generally won"t if no one insists — I"ve listened to enough of them to know that our hypersexualised world has left many feeling limp and vacant.

Our cultural assumption that men only want sex has been as damaging to them as to the women they target. Here is how a recent graduate summed it up to me: "Hooking up is great, but at some point you get tired of everything meaning nothing."

Ultimately, what our oversexualised, pornified culture reveals is that we think very little of our male family members. Undergirding the culture that feminism has helped to craft is a presumption that men are without honour and integrity. What we offer men is cheap, dirty, sleazy, manipulative sensation. What we expect from them is boorish, simian behaviour that ratifies the antimale sentiment that runs through the culture.

Surely our boys — and our girls — deserve better.

As long as men feel marginalised by the women whose favours and approval they seek; as long as they are alienated from their children and treated as criminals by family courts; as long as they are disrespected by a culture that no longer values masculinity tied to honour; and as long as boys are bereft of strong fathers and our young men and women wage sexual war, then we risk cultural suicide.

In the coming years we will need men who are not confused about their responsibilities. We need boys who have acquired the virtues of honour, courage, valour and loyalty. We need women willing to let men be men — and boys be boys. And we need young men and women who will commit and marry and raise children in stable homes.

Unprogressive though it sounds, the world in which we live requires no less.

Saving the males — engaging their nobility and recognising their unique strengths — will ultimately benefit women and children, too. Fewer will live in poverty; fewer boys will fail in schools and wind up in jail; fewer girls will get pregnant or suffer emotional damage from too early sex with uncaring boys. Fewer young men and women will suffer loneliness and loss because they"ve grown up in a climate of sexual hostility that casts the opposite sex as either villain or victim.

Then again, maybe I"m completely wrong. Maybe males don"t need saving and women are never happier or more liberated than when dancing with a stripper pole. Maybe women should man the barricades and men should warm the milk. Maybe men are not necessary and women can manage just fine without them. Maybe human nature has been nurtured into submission and males and females are completely interchangeable.

But I don"t think so. When women say, "No, honey, you stay in bed. I"ll go see what that noise is" — I"ll reconsider.

© Kathleen Parker 2008

Extracted from Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care by Kathleen Parker, published by Random House New York

Source: The Sunday Times UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 8:08 pm 
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Depressed, repressed, objectified: are men the new women?
They're less fertile, more weight-obsessed and 'non-essential to parenting'. No wonder men are confused about modern masculinity.

* Elizabeth Day
* The Observer,
* Sunday August 3 2008

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Male models on the catwalk at Milan fashion week. Photograph: Chris Moore/Getty Images/Catwalking

If recent research is anything to go by, 21st century man is in a desperate muddle.

In June, men discovered that their libidos are in freefall, prompting a 40 per cent increase in males seeking counselling for impotence problems. Their existential angst worsened in July, when British men discovered that they have the most unequal paternity rights in Europe. According to Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, fathers in the UK are seen as 'not essential for parenting'. The same month saw the publication of a medical study that proved the quality of men's sperm declines to such an extent after they hit 45 that the chances of a partner's miscarriage are doubled.

It's not only their internal biology; men are also succumbing to the traditionally female preoccupation of looking good on the outside, too. Sales of male beauty products have leapt 30 per cent over the past decade. Almost 20 per cent more men are having plastic surgery than ever before while, last year, researchers from Harvard discovered that a quarter of anorexia and bulimia sufferers is male. During the fashion shows, male models had their own equivalent of the size-zero debate. 'Male models look chicken-chested, hollow-cheeked and undernourished' noted the New York Times.

Every week, it seems as if there are new surveys and studies tripping over themselves to paint the grimmest possible picture of modern masculinity. They tell us that men are more neurotic and less fulfilled than ever before; that they are objectified rather than revered; that they are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and yet are criticised for it. Men appear to be confused about what they are and unsure about who they are meant to be. So with more of them feeling disenfranchised, disillusioned and disempowered, is it feasible to think of men as the new oppressed minority? Might men, in fact, be the new women? And, if so, who is to blame for making them feel marginalised?

In the UK, men account for 75 per cent of all suicides. They are twice as likely to die from the 10 most common cancers that affect both sexes and, typically, develop heart disease 10 years earlier than women. Although there is a national screening programme in place for cervical and breast cancer, there is no equivalent for men, in spite of prostate cancer claiming 6.7 per cent more deaths for men than cervical cancer in women.

While women still earn on average 12 per cent less than men and are severely under-represented in top-level corporate roles, men in full-time
employment work an average of 41.9 hours a week, compared to women's 37.6 hours. According to the American men's-rights author Warren Farrell, there might be a glass ceiling for women, but there is also what he calls 'a glass cellar' for men. 'What I mean by that is men are both at the top of the economy scale and at the bottom. Of the 25 professions ranked the lowest [in the US], 24 of them are 85-100 per cent male. That's things like roofer, welder, garbage collector, sewer maintenance — jobs with very little security, little pay and few people want them.'

Farrell says that women generally prefer a more flexible work-life balance and that implies 40-hour weeks 'at most'. Often, mothers are able to work fewer hours only because they are financially supported by their male partners. This, he claims, is the real definition of power. 'I define power as "control over one's life". A balanced life is far superior to the male definition of power: earning money someone else spends while he dies sooner.'

It would be easy to dismiss these arguments as anti-feminist but there are some commentators who think this could be a fundamental misreading of the movement's original goal: equality for both sexes, rather than the dominance of one at the cost of the other. Rosie Boycott, who co-founded the feminist magazine Spare Rib in 1971, points out that their first editorial insisted liberation should be for men as well as women. 'It is as much of a trap for a man aged 18-65 to feel solely financially responsible for 2.2 children and his wife, to be entitled to two weeks' holiday a year and to work nine to five, as it is for a woman to be responsible for all the childcare and housework,' she says. 'Men don't feel comfortable admitting that they're taking time off work to take their daughter to the dentist. We need a bigger critical mass of people to make that happen.'

But much of this remains a resolutely middle-class problem. At the lowest end of the economic scale, women are still attempting to shrug off the yoke of oppression and inequality. Meanwhile for many men, their loss of status in the home and the workplace is twinned with a loss of confidence in themselves. Neil Oliver, the television historian who has just published Amazing Tales for Making Men out of Boys, says that there is a conspicuous dearth of positive male role models. 'I grew up hearing tales of Ernest Shackleton and watching films like Zulu,' he says. 'The world in which I was a little boy was one of clearly defined roles for men and women and we don't have that any more, so men are struggling to readjust. Manly men have been hunted to near extinction in Britain and the concept of manliness has been outmoded. Yet the urge to be a man is a primal thing and still exists in boys today.'

In the classroom, too, boys are at risk of losing out on male role models. According to government figures for 2006, the ratio of newly qualified female to male teachers under the age of 25 was approaching seven to one. The introduction of coursework and modular exams is believed to play to traditionally female strengths — girls tend to be more methodical while boys tend to follow high-risk strategies such as cramming the night before an exam.

Some critics argue that this creeping 'feminisation' has led to girls outperforming boys on almost every level: they use more words, speak more fluently in longer sentences and with fewer mistakes. By the age of 11, some 76 per cent of boys have attained government-set literacy standards, compared to 85 per cent of girls. At GCSE level, 66.8 per cent of girls achieved A-C grades in 2007, compared to 59.7 per cent of boys (in real terms, this means they trail behind their female counterparts by nine years).

Do these statistics have any bearing on the everyday experiences of ordinary men? 'I don't know if I feel oppressed, but there's a sense in which women can talk about us with impunity,' says a 32-year-old male lawyer from London, who does not wish to give his name in case his female colleagues start pelting him with rotten tomatoes. 'I've been in the office on several occasions where sweeping generalisations have been made about the general crapness of men: "Oh, all men are useless, no wonder he couldn't get the job done in time" — that sort of thing. I don't take it all that seriously — at least, not yet — but I know that I wouldn't get away with saying the same things about women.'

For a long time, it wasn't particularly fashionable to stand up for men. Warren Farrell, the daddy of the so-called 'masculinist' movement, has been making his arguments since the late 1970s and frequently attracts outrage. His books —Why Men Earn More and his latest, Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men? — seek to redress what he sees as an endemic sociocultural bias against his gender.

In almost all respects, he believes that men are now the weaker sex: 'The problem with feminism is that it saw man as the enemy. When only one sex wins, both sexes lose.'

On a superfi cial level, Farrell's insistence that men are scrabbling around in the dark searching for their lost masculinity like a mislaid dumbbell seems ill-conceived and borderline offensive. However, over the last few months, several books have been written reiterating Farrell's belief that men are disgruntled with their lot and must fight back against a Western culture that worships womanhood while demeaning masculinity. Apparently, men are stymied by biology as well — human genetics experts estimate that man will be extinct within 125,000 years owing to their declining sperm count and the mutation of the Y chromosome.

So — although women hold only 17 per cent of parliamentary positions across the globe, despite there being only 10 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and ignoring the fact that it is still illegal for a woman to drive a car in Saudi Arabia — it seems that, sometimes, it is harder to be a man.

Just ask Guy Garcia, author of the forthcoming The Decline of Men, an upbeat look at how the American male is 'tuning out, giving up and flipping off his future'. There is, says Garcia, 'a social predisposition to treat men as unworthy parents, betrayers and incorrigible philanderers'. Or there's Michael Gilbert, whose 2007 study, The Disposable Male, does pretty much what it says on the tin. 'Motherhood is immutable,' Gilbert writes. 'Paternity is the social construct. Amazingly, we have been doing everything we can to deconstruct it.'

Nor is it just men who have taken up the cudgel. This year saw the publication of Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care by Kathleen Parker, a pithy stateside newspaper columnist who prides herself on her Coulter-esque capacity to say the unsayable. 'I think men are confused because they are receiving conflicting and often confusing messages from women and culture,' she explains. 'We want them to be providers and protectors — except when we don't. We want them to count our contractions and share baby's midnight feedings, but then we want them out of the picture when we tire of them.'

Parker reserves much of her ire for 'the highly lucrative boy-bashing industry' that views sexual discrimination against men as a form of shared hilarity. So while you can buy T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan 'Boys Are Stupid — Throw Rocks At Them', to claim the same about women would be viewed as an incitement to violence. Discrimination against men increasingly seems socially acceptable. 'When Susan Pinker, the highly regarded psychologist and journalist published her recent book, The Sexual Paradox: Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference Between the Sexes, she received an email from a colleague asking her to give a comment 'on the difference between men and women's brains — or rather, men's lack of brains!'

'It was a joke no one would make about women,' Pinker tells me. 'When you said you were writing a piece on men, I was just floored because my experience has been that no one cares a whit about men. I think there is a double standard. Because women have been discriminated against for so long there is a hyper-sensitivity about making jokes about them that doesn't exist for men. They are assumed to be fair game because they're on top. There's a notion that it's acceptable for women to treat men as dolts. It's a form of female bonding, as if it's known that men are a bit useless.'

Of course, lots of men are relatively happy with the status quo, but does this make it desirable or just? There is still a novelty factor attached to the notion of a full-time father and a mother who goes out to work: in many ways, the man who wishes to be a stay-at-home dad can be likened to the woman who wanted to be a surgeon in the 1950s. They both face a similar barrage of sexist assumptions.

'There is a culture of motherhood, a sanctity about it, that is quite strong in the UK,' argues Duncan Fisher, chief executive of the Fatherhood Institute. 'There's a gratuitous exclusion of men and the impression is given that you're left looking over the mother's shoulder. Midwifery services are described as "one-to-one care". After the birth, each mother is given a free magazine called "Mum Plus One". If a woman goes to a job office, she is asked "Are you a mother? Let's see what kind of job you want to do," whereas no one would ask a man if he was a father.

'The guy is just not factored in. That's OK if you're a well-resourced middle-class man who can assert himself. But that's why so many teenage fathers drift away: there's no expectation that they should be included.'

Yet research shows that children with supportive fathers have lower instances of substance abuse, higher self-esteem and higher educational achievement.

Nor is this cheerful presumption of man's uselessness limited to fatherhood. The Advertising Standards Bureau reports a steady increase each year in the number of complaints about the way men are portrayed on television as 'buffoons' or 'idiots'. A 2007 advertisement for MFI kitchens depicted a woman slapping her husband in a dispute about leaving the toilet seat up. 'If a man belittles a woman, it could become a lawsuit,' says Farrell. 'If women belittle men, it's a Hallmark card.'

Tad Safran, a Los Angeles-based scriptwriter and journalist, discovered this to his cost last year when he wrote a scathing piece in a national newspaper about British women's 'unkempt' appearance. 'The hate mail I got was insane,' he says now. 'I was called "Sexist of the Year". Maybe I deserved it, but certainly that wouldn't have happened to the same extent if it had been written about men.' As if to prove his point, a few months later, another British broadsheet published a feature entitled 'Are Men Boring?' Both articles were based on ludicrous generalisations but no one labelled the female journalist sexist.

Does any of this really matter when men occupy an almost unquestioned position of primacy in nearly all walks of life? Are they getting their boxer shorts in a twist about trivialities? And is it patronising to assume that the nagging disaffection felt by primarily middle-class men in the Western hemisphere is shared by men the world over?

Maybe. But, according to experts like Susan Pinker, there is a necessary truth here too: that perhaps our harmless chatter among female friends
occasionally carries a deeper significance than we might like to think; that for all the sperm banks and Rampant Rabbit vibrators on offer, men still have a role to play that can complement women rather than limiting them. We might, she argues, end up demeaning our own gender: 'It does us a disservice to gloss over the fact that our husbands, sons, brothers or fathers are all unique individuals. I've never believed in this Mars/Venus division: we're all just people.'

Source: The Observer UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:40 pm 
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21st Century Boys
By Gavin Haines

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MADE UP: Gavin Haines has his mascara done by Joy Crouch at N-Joy beauty salon

Metrosexual: A term generally applied to heterosexual men with a strong concern for their appearance, or whose lifestyles display attributes stereotypically seen among gay men.

Does this sound like you?

If so then the chances are you care about your hair. Perhaps you'll be on first name terms with your hairdresser, maybe you'll be no stranger to the straightners or, at the very least, you'll use something called conditioner.

However, as much as you like your hair, you don't want it everywhere and a bit of seasonal pruning and the odd wax might not be uncommon.

As well as hair, you'll care about what you wear and you won't need satellite navigation to find your way around your local gentlemen's outfitter - where you might even exchange money for garments like a pink shirt.

However, as you know, clothes are only part of the story and skin care is a big priority. Moisturising is absolutely essential and because a golden tan is de rigueur in metrosexual circles, you'll need to get your colour from a bottle if the sun isn't shining.
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And there will be no shame in any of this because you are metrosexual. No doubt your mates are like-minded and therefore unlikely to give you any stick. In fact they might even want to know where you get your hair cut and what moisturiser you're using, unlike your Dad who will probably ridicule you, but he is constrained by the shackles of masculinity and old so doesn't understand.

If all this sounds familiar and describes you well, then your jewellery-clad ears might prick up with the news that men's make-up has just arrived at a high street near you.

While this metrosexual must-have was introduced earlier this year by Jean Paul Gaultier, it wasn't readily available or affordable for blokes with a penchant for painting their face. However thanks to Superdrug that's all changed as this week they launched a line of make-up for men including Guy-liner and Manscara which is on sale for £6.50.

"Men are obsessed with their appearance more than ever," explains Jenny Hill, a representative from Superdrug. "Men wearing make-up has become more prevalent in the music industry and in the fashion industry and it's a trend that has a good chance of trickling down into the high streets."

Jenny also believes that while some might snub the likes of Manscara at first, she is confident that metrosexual men will follow the example of people like Russell Brand.

"It's one of those things where people balk at it when they first hear about it," she says. "But ten years ago when we first introduced moisturiser for men people said it would never catch on and now it's a multimillion pound business.

"We have quite a lot of men coming in, mainly for things like facials, manicures, pedicures, waxing and to have their eyebrows shaped," explains Joy Crouch, head beautician at N-Joy. "I think men are starting to take more care of themselves."

However it's not just pretty boys getting these treatments, indeed some of Joy's customers are people you would not expect to see in a beauty salon.

"We have quite a lot of men who do manual jobs coming in, like builders," she explains. "Their hands are usually rough or cracked and they want us to treat them."

So as even the builders move towards being metrosexual, it seems that the floodgates have opened and perhaps Superdrug's make-up will actually do rather well.

Source: Bournemouth Echo UK.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:01 pm 
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From The Times
September 9, 2008
Men brush up on the art of male make-up

Guyliner, manscara and now concealer are in the van of a £700million-a-year retail assault traditional masculinity

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Tom Whipple has his wrinkles and shadows attended to
Tom Whipple

For David Walker-Smith, the director of beauty at Selfridges, male concealer is only a beachhead. "We have tinted moisturiser, fake tan, eyebrow waxing ..." he tails off wistfully, considering what might have been if only men were not so conservative. "It's all there if they want it."

He briefly stops talking to let Almantas Kiskuntas, the Baltic region's champion make-up artist of 2004, apply Yves Saint Laurent's new Touche Eclat for men under his eyes. Then he stands up, looks in the mirror - his top three buttons undone to reveal an immaculately waxed chest - and says to The Times: "Right, your turn."

As far as the male beauty world is concerned, the arrival this weekend of Touche Eclat, the male analogue of the ubiquitous female concealer, is a sign that metrosexual man is becoming a profitable proposition. It joins guyliner and manscara - shamelessly punning additions in Superdrug's range of products - to fight over a male grooming market worth an estimated £700million a year.

With the market expected to defy the credit crunch to grow to almost £900 million next year, Yves Saint Laurent is confident that society is now ready for men in make-up. "Sure of himself and his masculinity, L'Homme Yves Saint Laurent imposes his own style," the company says in a glossy pamphlet that uses the word "virile" a lot. "He knows that his power of seduction, composed of strength and sensitivity, makes him irresistible." Mr Kiskuntas is about to make L'homme Times irresistible too. He brushes an orange powder around my eyes and under my nose and describes the virtues of the product. "This is unique, it is not for ladies. And it doesn't matter how much you put on, it will be invisible."

In a couple of minutes, the steady hand that once defeated the best make-up artists of Latvia and Estonia is done. I certainly don't look as if I have make-up on. I look, perhaps, a little brighter, less tired. Touche Eclat claims to use reflective particles to smooth out the appearance of tired areas, while appearing natural. The original product was released in 1992, and quickly became a staple of the fashion house's range.

A small powder puff of beauticians - if that is the correct collective noun - has gathered to watch. "You look a-ma-zing," one says. The general feeling is that I am an airbrushed, smoother, better me. The response from colleagues later is rather different. The home editor stares and then declares that I look "well groomed". The foreign news editor stares for even longer, and asks: "What's concealer?"

According to Mr Walker-Smith this is just hypocrisy. "I know a lot of men use these sort of products in secret," he says. "They are embarrassed and often end up stealing their wife's or girlfriend's. Everyone wants to look their best."

Just draw a line after guyliner

Lucy Bannerman, Commentary

On the sex appeal of men in make-up, I'm of the rock star school of thought. That is to say, "manscara" and "guyliner" good, foundation, concealer and all other products in need of an application brush, well, ever-so-slightly bad.

If worn by the right man, in the right way, eyeliner signals potentially attractive qualities - imaginative, unconventional, a crucial appreciation of David Bowie. Or possibly a roguish bon viveur who knows how to enjoy himself.

But the artificial radiance of Touch Eclat? It has all the sex appeal of Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian leader, whom I imagine is no stranger to the rejuvenating effects of Luminous Toffee Radiant touch No 4 - and is a perfect example of what can go wrong when make-up and machismo collide.

Rightly or wrongly, a man intent on expelling dark shadows will always seem slightly more vain or self-obsessed than the millions of women who wake up every morning thanking God for the magic make-up bag of tricks that helps us to present a slightly less scary front to the outside world.

It is the same principle applied to receding hairlines. Whether we prefer men bald or bouffant, I've yet to hear a woman exclaim, "Ooh, he looks so much fitter with that hairweave." Far better to be seen not to care than be caught caring too much.

Source: Times Online UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:23 pm 
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From The Sunday Times
September 28, 2008
Be honest: we all love the sexist alpha male
India Knight

Many women will tell you that one of the most irritating things about life is that alpha males - great silverbacked gorilla types - strike us, maddeningly, as being rather more attractive than their kinder, gentler, more considerate dwarf-monkey counterparts.

We know intellectually that it shouldn"t be so, since the gorillas are often sexist pigs (just to mix the animal metaphors); but when push comes to shove and we"re picking a boyfriend rather than a friend, few of us find beta males especially appealing.

In real life as in Georgette Heyer, the reprehensible, oddly sexy brute fares rather better than the sensitive flower. Now it turns out that the unreconstituted, sexist male chauvinist is not only more attractive to many women, but earns more money and is more professionally successful than the kind man who sympathises when you have period cramps and offers to make you a nice cup of camomile. Not fair, is it?

The Journal of Applied Psychology has just published findings from a University of Florida study based on interviews with more than 12,000 men and women. Between 1979 and 2005, they were questioned regularly about how they viewed male and female roles - whether they believed a woman"s place was in the home, whether employing women led to more juvenile delinquency(!) and whether it was the woman"s job to take care of the home and family.

Sexist men, the scientists found, made an average of $8,500 (£4,600) a year more than men who viewed women as work-place equals. Meanwhile, feminists earned more than their more traditionally minded female colleagues (but not a great deal more - £800 a year, on average). And while there was only a small difference between the pay packets of "egalitarian" men and women, sexist men"s wages outstripped everyone else"s.

Surprised? Me neither. It"s one of those stories that, even without being corroborated by the figures, has the horrible ring of truth about it: we"ve all worked in an office where the sexist monster is (a) very good at his job and (b) gruesomely and guilt-inducingly attractive despite his antediluvian attitudes.

The existence of such men is why sexism persists: it is obviously wrong on every level, as many an industrial tribunal will attest, but the combination of power and, shall we say, lack of political correctness can be a potent one - which is why everyone in Britain fell in love with Gene Hunt, the hulking great throwback in the BBC series Life on Mars, which was set in the 1970s. On paper the character was entirely despicable; in full flow he made his intelligent, evolved, sensitive sidekick look like a ladyboy. Men wanted to be Hunt; women wanted to be with him. This says a great deal about men"s sense of being emasculated at every turn in modern Britain - a complaint that is, I think, pretty much justified and needs to be addressed before it does considerable damage.

It is surely no coincidence that men seem angrier than they have ever been; you notice it especially when it comes to pornography. Wanting to subjugate and violate powerless women used to be a specialist minority interest; it has now become mainstream. Nobody seems to mind much. I find that pretty alarming.

See also the extremes men now go to in order to punish their former wives or girlfriends: horrific news stories about fathers murdering their children and then killing themselves have become, if not quite commonplace, frequent enough to ring loud alarm bells. There was another one just last week. There"s not much point in women saying, "Oh dear, how horrid - but anyway, about my right to breastfeed in public . . . " These are issues that need to be looked at urgently before the situation gets wholly out of control.

Women aren"t powerless - au contraire. What is interesting about the sexist pay packet is that it doesn"t happen despite women, but rather with their consent and, in many cases, their covert approval. The fact of the matter is that biology will always get in the way of gender politics; you can cogitate and reason all you like, but it isn"t easy simply to eradicate attitudes and desires that have been hard-wired into us for millennia.

Wet men aren"t generally considered desirable or attractive; manly men are. Manly men, knowing they are considered attractive, continue to behave in their retrograde way and are rewarded for it with popularity, success and, if they"re good at their jobs, a heftier pay packet than anyone else"s. And then everyone likes or admires them even more, secretly or otherwise: success, money, esteem - what"s not to like, apart from the little matter of gender politics? And so it goes on.

Meanwhile, confusingly, everything we read and observe and are taught shows us that the object of our admiration is to be condemned and that being a victim of sexism is one of the most terrible things that can befall a helpless woman (in fact, it really isn"t and we"re not helpless: there are many worse things than people making jokes about your bosoms, especially if the jokes are quite funny. If they aren"t, we all have a tongue in our head and, if need be, recourse to the law. Part of the problem with all this is the irritating assumption that women are constantly doomed to victimhood and need protecting from the big, mean boys).

No wonder people get muddled. So this is a little plea for the sexist alpha male — the one we all secretly think isn"t as dreadful as he"s made out to be. Isn"t it time that we gave him a break from the full force of our disapproval? We live in a furtive sort of society where lots of women fancy men they feel they shouldn"t and many men go through life pretending to be a great deal sweeter and more feminine than they actually are, because they"ve been told it"s the only way to be.

It"s unhealthy, really - smoke and mirrors masking the unavoidable fact that, underneath it all, women prefer manly men, even ones who make sexist jokes; and men prefer womanly women, even ones who whinge about being fat. Perhaps that"s a terribly self-hating and sexist thing to say. Or perhaps it"s just the truth.

+ Writing in 1605, Luisa de Carvajal, a Spanish nun who was brought to London by the Jesuits and risked her life in pursuit of martyrdom (she was especially good at the gruesome task of collecting relics from the freshly murdered bodies of Catholic martyrs), opined as follows: London is overcrowded, dirty, rowdy, especially on Friday nights; the food"s not up to much, everything"s too expensive and it rains all the time.

"The food looks good," she wrote in letters home, "but it has no smell and almost no taste." As for the neighbours: "At times, they grind me down with the noise that comes through the wall where I sleep. All you hear is the sound of meat being roasted and others cooking, eating, playing and drinking." She is repulsed by the lack of sanitation - one day she sees carrots transported in a cart that had just been used to carry the corpses of plague victims - and is shocked by thieving children "of 10 or 11" being sent to the gallows.

No change there, then, despite the intervening 400 years (you can substitute the vilification of child criminals for the gallows, as though babies were born evil). The nun"s letters have been translated for the first time by Dr Glyn Redworth, a history lecturer at Manchester University. His book, The She-Apostle: The Extraordinary Life and Death of Luisa de Carvajal, published last Thursday, is an absolute treat - utterly gripping from start to finish.

Source: Times Online UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 1:31 pm 
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What nonsens. Alpha males are strong, intelligent, caring and considerate people, that is what makes them natural leaders. Women who fall for the brute are mirroring their own insecurities in those of the bully they fall for.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:58 am 
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I agree with you there, Lily. There is absolutely no need, or inclination, for an alpha male to be loud and boisterous, aggressive or bossy. I'd say that would be more the territory of the fake-alpha male, the one that thinks he's better than others, and needs to constantly have this confirmed either by his own actions or the sycophancy of others.

An alpha male does what he does because he enjoys doing it, not because he wants to impress. He's comfortable in his skin and will find those jobs that make him feel good, otherwise he will do the job at hand best he can out of his sense of duty.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:01 am 
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Men have their uses but are rather last century

Action man is outmoded and male traits are not getting us anywhere

3 November 2008
by Stewart Dakers

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Gordon Gekko style greed is not what is needed in modern times. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

The current financial crisis is symptomatic of a more fundamental disorder. The free market aristocrats locking their twelve pointers on the trading floor betray a peculiarly male volatility, of point scoring, dick-measuring ferocity.

Their behaviour derives from a testosterone surge that is reproducing a hyper-male culture of medieval intensity. The core issue is gender. The Top Gear mentality of inflated masculinity is apparent on pitch, screen, and page; in the boxing ring, corridor, committee, front bench and boardroom. It is on display in the brutalism of raunch culture with its lad mags and roasting. It is celebrated by the predominance of diamond geezers, jack-the-lads, slacker dudes, dumbed down fatherhood, an infantilised version of true masculinity. It is applauded by the moronic kindergarten blatherings of 'men' programmed into perpetual puerility by a revival of aggressive patriarchy. Most shamefully, it is exposed by the increasing use of rape as a means of dominance in the home and on the battlefield.

In all these arenas, maleman struts his atavistic stuff. There was a time when macho-masculinity was fit for purpose. Twelve thousand years ago, during and following the thaw, we needed action man, with 'a little less conversation please'. As humanity struggled to survive a period of elemental chaos then establish order, structure and organisation, the soft fingers of social literacy were subordinate to the hard fist of physical control. This is no longer the case. There is a new ethos, in which care has priority over enterprise, the housekeeper over the entrepreneur, stewardship over expansion.

EQ now outpoints IQ.

Technology has transformed the work place, replacing the masculine qualities of muscle, system, specialism and dictation with the feminine aptitudes of dexterity, multi-tasking and negotiation. The emphasis within human organisation and business has moved from competition to collaboration, with a new emphasis on 'others'. This is seen in support systems, restorative justice, health and safety, and a therapy culture for victims, whether of trauma or disadvantage. The new human narrative is creating an essentially feminine paradigm.

It is possible that the resurgence of masculinity is simply a cry of protest from a gender in decline, as it faces up to the redundancy of those qualities by which it has hitherto dominated the stage. The current financial crisis serves to expose the masculine model as unfit for 21st century purpose. Global management requires an economy of maintenance based on household need, not one of expansion driven by tribal greed. If the human vehicle is to reach a fourth millennium, then men need to take a back seat.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 10:12 am 
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True enough but the question remains if this is what all of society wants because clearly intelligent, multi-tasking, caring and considerate men seem to be a very very small minority in places where it should count, like the ones mentioned.

And even if some countries or regions, such as Europe and Japan recognise that the male macho mind set needs some serious adjustment, there are many other regions, such as the Middle East and Africa where this has absolutely no bearing. Where instead men are often all powerful, especially where it concerns women, and all they are doing is consolidating their own power and wealth regardless of the cost to others, just like our own bankers and politicians.

And there is also a positive side to machismo, I don't see the need for men to become women. The greed and selfishness that is causing so much problems today aren't only male traits, but human ones. History is full of selfishness and power mad women, let's not blame it all on men, please.

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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:42 pm 
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Swedish men 'not as masculine as they used to be': study

29 April 2009
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/19144/20090429/

Swedish men have become more metrosexual and less masculine in recent times, according to a new survey polling both sexes on their opinion of the Swedish male.

51 percent of respondents said Swedish men were more masculine in previous times, with men in particular (58 percent) agreeing with the statement. Only 13 percent of men and women felt today's men were more masculine than their predecessors.

Asked whether Swedish men were more masculine than their counterparts in other countries only 9 percent of Swedish women felt this to be the case. 19 percent said Swedish chaps were less masculine, though the overwhelming majority (65 percent) said they were neither more nor less masculine than foreign fellows.

Swedish women also like their mates to stand up straight and be counted. Asked to choose between five alternatives, 33 percent of women found slouched shoulders and poor posture to be the least attractive physical qualities in a potential partner.

28 percent said overweight partners were a no-no, while 18 percent ruled out partners with feminine features, 8 percent disliked scrawniness and 0 percent found masculine features to be a turn-off. The 'None of the above' and 'don't know' options made up the numbers.

For men (36 percent), the weight issue topped the list of least attractive physical features, followed by posture (18 percent), masculine features (18 percent), scrawniness (10 percent) and feminine features (3 percent).

Moving away from the physical side of things, both men (44 percent) and women (43 percent) listed 'a good sense of humour' as by far the most attractive quality in a partner.

Very few respondents considered job success to be the top draw in a partner: 2 percent of women and 1 percent of men.

Both women and men were also asked which type of man they found most attractive. A lot of men chose to skip this question but on the whole those who did answer agreed with the replies of their female compatriots, who responded as follows:

- The normal "boy next door type, like TV show host Fredrik Wikingsson": 26 percent.
- The James Bond type in a tailored suit: 18 percent.
- The metrosexual type, "like football player Fredrik Ljungberg": 13 percent.
- The slightly chilled out type, "like actor Rolf Lassgård": 6 percent.
- The tough muscle mountain, "like Sylvester Stallone in the Rambo movies": 3 percent.
-The lanky, musician type, "like musician Andreas Kleerup": 3 percent.

7 percent of respondents had somebody else entirely in mind, while a further 7 percent couldn't make up their minds.

The internet-based study was carried out by YouGov on behalf of MBT Shoes. The polling agency received responses from 1,003 people aged 15-64 and spread across the country.

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