Liberation of Males0001

Liberation of Males0001 - The Liberation of Males WHY WE...

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Unformatted text preview: The Liberation of Males WHY WE NEED LIBERATION We men work too hard. We are taken advan- tage of because we need'our jobs. We often feel lonely, competitive, angry. We hurt ourselves with addictive substances of many kinds, from cigarettes and caffeine to drugs and alcohol. We don’t have as much closeness in our relationships as we need. We aren’t as involved in our chil— dren’s lives as we would like to be. We hurt peo- ple we love and regret it afterwards. Sometimes we have no idea why we get so upset. Relation- ships are often confusing, and it is difficult to live up to all the expectations of us, whether the ex~ pectations are to be strong and silent, or warm and sensitive, or both. We often don’t know what we really want. We don’t get the full enjoyment from our lives that should be possible. We have these difficulties and others because we have been hurt. In particular, we have been hurt in important ways because we are male. Boys and men are hurt because of negative attitudes about them as males and the harmful roles they are pressured into playing. We get hurt early on, and often, in ways that we sometimes don’t even '1‘ remember. By the time we are adults, we are "hardened." to getting hurt, and many of us feel ,We "cannot stand” to pay any attention to our? "feelings. These experiences. of being hurt affect us, whether we like it or not. They influence how we act, feel, and think. They affect how we handle our relationshipsThey affect. how we handle pressure, competition, and criticism at work. They affect how we take care of ourselves: our diet, our need for. exercise, our need for rest and relaxation, our need for affection and love. They affect the choices we make for ourselves: our life- style, our job, our relationships. They affect our hopes, our dreams, our attitude towards our life. Unless we find a way to heal these hurts, they ‘will restrict our view of ourselves, of others, of 4 the world, and of our place in it. They will affect how we treat other people and how we handle conflict. Most things that upset us as adults are similar to painful things that happened to us as children. We are nOt usually aware of this, but when we are ‘upset, we often say the same hurtful things to other people that were once said to us. We use the same hurtful tones of voice that others once used toward us. Alternatively, we may instead submit to being hurt in the same way that we had: to submit as a child. The unhealed hurts tend to ,, cause us to hurt others in the same ways that we were hurt, or to submit to being hurt again. Many of us discover this for ourselves for the first time as parents. We hear ourselves say the same things to our children that we hated hear- " ing from our parents. Those of us who were hit often find ourselves hitting our children. It "just ' happens” without our even thinking about it. Males as a group tend to be hurt in similar ways, and this is why we have similar problems. _ No male ever wanted to be hurt nor is to blame for getting hurt or for being affectedvby it now. To get free of the influence of our past hurts, to live the kind of joyful, powerful life we could live, we need to allow our natural healing process to functiOn. This will free up our self-assurance and initiative so that we can prevent and elimi- ‘ nate the harmful treatment of anyone. THE NATURAL HEALING PROCESS When young children are hurt, they sponta- neously try to get someone’s attention, and they , try to tell what happened and to “cry, shake, laugh, or show outrage. Given warm and caring attention, they may keep this up for some time, until they are finally relaxed and ready to go on to something else. This seems to be the natural re- action of human beings to being hurt. This release of emotional tension through tears, laughter, ' trembling, outrage, talking, and yawning is ap- parently the key to recoVery from hurt. If it can be done to completion, any tendency to re-enact the‘ hurtful experience disappears, and we can think calmly about it. As we grow up, all people, but particularly boys, are discouraged from allowing this healing process to run its course. The effect is that boys have less access to using, the natural healing pro- ' V ‘ cess that keeps humans cooperative, caring, cre- ative, flexible, relaxed, and joyful. Instead, boys are typically ridiculed for trying to recover, thus receiving insult added to the injury. ‘ Each man’s ability to heal, however, remains intact even if he hasn’t cried in twenty years. Laughter, yawning, and talking are permitted in most cultures, and people find ways of allowing the process to occur. Anyone can recover the full range of their healing processes. HOW MALES ARE HURT WE ARE HURT ASS BOYS Boys are hurt as young people differently than girls are hurt. These differences explain why the two genders develop different difficulties and strengths. We males are hurt in two general ways. 1. We are treated as less than human, and as fundamentally different by nature from females. 4 2. We are pressured, under threat of rejection and violence, into narrow, rigid ways of behav- ing based on this negative view of us. WE, ARE TREATED AS LESS THAN HUMAN, AS "DIFFERENT" . Males are treated as different in nature from fe- males. From nursery rhymes to radical ideolo- gies, we are portrayed as made of different stuff than females and as not fully "human." 1. We are‘treated as if we did not feel pain like females do. _ 2. We are treated as inherently aggressive and violent. ' ' 3.*‘We are treated as inherently compulsive in our sexuality. "MALES DON’T HURT LIKE FEMALES DO” Many people believe thatvmales do nOt feel as much pain, or feel hurt-in the same way as fe- ‘ .1 males do. Some common misbeliefs are: It isnot ‘ E as bad for a boy to get hit as it is for a girl. A boy ' doesn't feel sad or lonely or need to be held in the way a girl does. A man doesn’t‘feel physical pain or effort the way a woman does. These are not true. Our bodies read to injury the same way a fe- male’s does". We have the same nerves that fe- males do. We are told, however, that we are weak if we admit to feeling pain. There is tremendous pressure on us to confirm this myth. Circumci-‘ sion is an example of a shocking, painful experi- ence for an infant that the culture dismisses as unimportant. This is a harsh “Welcome” into the . world and affects us in harmful ways. WE ARE LEFT ALONE One of the ways this is acted out is that boys are left alone, physically and emotionally. Boys are cuddled and held less than girls when infants, and physical affection stops at a younger age with boys. Boys are expected to be independent earlier than girls, which in itself is okay, but, in addition, they are not given a resource to turn to‘ with their feelings about difficulties which they encounter. Boys are not expected to need close- ness, reassurance, and attention. This, in effect, abandonment so early in life is harmful to a boy’s sense of his place and importance in the world. OUR INJURIES ARE DISMISSED l AS UNIMPORTANT If we get hurt when we are working or are playing a game, we are supposed to shrug it'offi and continue as though nothing had happened. We are not expected to interrupt the work or game oVer Something as unimportant as our. pain. The work or game is treated as if it were, more important than our feelings. We are ex-; pected to learn to function, no matter how we feel, as preparation for our adult roles. It is made to seem better to us to just ignore our pain and carryon. ? OUR FEELINGS ARE NOT LISTENED TO Adults are embarrassed by males who show they are hurting. They act as if this is not how "a man” should act, and turn. away from his "humiliating display.” Some adults avoid paying enough attention to boys to even notice their pain. Boys. are hurting and: needing attention much of the time, but it is not acknowledged. When boys lookdistant and want to be alone, adults are not surprised. If boys ask for attention, they are viewed as "weak’for "needy," and peo- ple "worry? about them. Being ignored this way or not being listened to if we try to talk, can make us doubt whether our pain is real as well as whether anyone cares. OUR ATTEMPTS TO HEAL OURSELVES ' ARE INTERRUPTED When boys cry and pay attention to being hurt they areoften labeled as "Sissies." The culture re- ; fuses to acknowledge that males feel as deeply as females, so our feelings are seen as a sign of ' weakness and of not being fully "male." Since the pain is not "real," it is considered shameful fOr us ‘ to seek attention. Thus, it is treated as normal to ‘ punish boys for trying to recover from being hurt 7 by crying or shaking; This is perhaps the most damaging effect of our oppression because it keeps us from using ournatural healing pro- cesses. Thus the hurts tend to build up on us in- stead of being being healed and learned from. WE’RE TOLD, “MALES ARE AGGRESSIVE AND VIOLENT BY NATURE" ' Although aggressive or violent behavior is re- ally a sign of how males have been hurt and then pressured into acting out their hurts toward others, the culture treats this as evidence that males are sub-human and therefore appropriate subjects for killing or being killed in war. BOyS; are encouraged to "play war” or play with guns?‘ and are then assumed to be acting out their "natural aggressive inclinations” rather than what they are really doing, that is, trying to pre- pare themselves for and resolve their feelings about the lives they see themselves being "pro- grammed for.” Instead of being listened to and helped with their difficulties, boys are often pun— ished and criticized for having difficulties and then left alone to deal with their problems. WE’RE TOLD, "A BOY WANTS ONLY ONE THIN G” Men and adolescent boys are viewed as insa- tiably preoccupied with sex, The culture’s atti- tude is that we are "like animals.”i’-We are as— sumed to be untrustworthy in this area, ready to 8 ’, do "anything" to manipulate a female into hav— ing sex. Conversely, the culture assumes that a female who understands this weakness can ma- nipulate us into doing anything by taking advan— tage of this compulsion. v This com‘pulsiveness about sex is seen as an in— herent characteristic of all males. Both other males and females are trained to expect us to be aggressive sexually. If a male doesn't behave like this, he is “suspected” of being Gay, i.e., not "male." If he doesbehave like this, however, he. is also regarded with disdain, as a slave to sexual desire, or sometimes with fear, as a "wild beast.” The culture allows no role to a male to be ra- tional, respect himself and be respected in this area. ' ' There are several reasons men are tense around sexuality. None of them are inherently a part of our nature as males. They are all the result of ex~ ternal pressures upon us and hurts which we have endured. The culture dictates that the male is to initiate relations and the female is to resist. Most girls get " talked to about boys by either their mother or fa» ' ther in ways that set them up for this. Females are i supposed to both not want sex and to use it as a bargaining chip. This denies the reality that both males and females sometimes want sex and sometimes don’t. Many males do act compul- sively around sex, but this is not inherent. This is a result of being hurt in a series of experiences that together add up to a difficulty in being re- laxed sexually. ' r We males become separated from each other and from females so thoroughly that we become desperate about this one activity in which we are allowed to get close physically and emotionally: sex. This activity is supposed to fill all our'needs for intimacy, affection, touch, etc. With no other approved sources for receiving intimacy and closeness, we understandably become tense and urgent when we see an opportunity for Closeness. We males are rated in this culture by the "attractiveness" of the women we are able to as- sociate with. It is presumed that the more a "man" we are, the more "attractive" the women around us will be. The advertising media cultivate and exploit our tensions around sex (actually around lackof closeness) for profit. Products are advertised with the implication that "beautiful" women will be attracted to you if you have these products. Even ' more damage is done by the advertising "mes- sage" that only "beautiful" women are desirable, thus devaluing our relationships with the vast majority of women who dOn’t look like the hyped—up advertising "models." This tends to fo- cus the attention of us males on the appearance rather than on the richness and individual hu- manity of each woman. 10v WE ARE PRESSURED TOWARD ACTING LIKE A "MAN" Our identity as males is constantly challenged, as if it were something that had to be proved again and again. It is not recognized some- thing relaxedly inherent, but rather treated as de- pendent on our actions and attitudes. ’ ‘ From early childhood and even infancy, the culture pushes males to prepare to "be a man." From the most innocent gifts of trucks and blue clothes to the harshest rejection as a "faggot," we are being mistreated to condition us so that we will take our "proper" place in society as rigid adult males. The rigid roles society expects us to fill require us to be willing to kill or be killed, to work our- selves to death—if necessary—to support our families, and to suppress our human feelings. The ways boys are pressured into acting rein— force the attitudes that males don’t mind being hurt and are naturally aggressive and violent. These attitudes are used as the justification for , assigning males the adult roles of provider, pro— tector, and producer, and for excluding males from the roles of nurturer and caregiver. Any di— vergence from those ways of acting challenges the society’s assumptions about males and dis— turbs the security of knowing "who will fill which roles." ’ 11 lawn“ Gay oppression is intimately involved with the ways all males are hurt. If we refuse to comply with the pressure to conform, we are accused of being Gay, in other words, "not a man." The re- ' jection and violence towards anyone labeled "not - a man” enforces compliance with the restrictions about how we should behave as males. Most of the reasons boys are called Gay or attacked have I nothing whatsoever to do with sex. Gay sexual practices are used as a pretext for the savagery of the violence against those who diverge in any way from the rigid definitions of what it is to "be a man." ' EXPECTATIONS OF US ' AS MALES WE ARE NOT TO ACT AS IF WE FEEL ANYTHING DEEPLY ' ’ We are not to; act as if we can get hurt. We are not to cry-or be-frightened. We are not to act like we care deeply. We are not to act "too" affection- ately towards anyone, and certainly not toward V other boys. We are not to appreciate beauty. in the . arts or to express our feelings or ideas artistically. Males who don’t comply with these restrictions, especially Gay men, are subject to rejection, beat- ings, and even murder. ’ - 12 WE ARE EXPECTED TO BE VIOLENT Many of us have had fighting as a regular part of our daily existence, just to maintain a re— spected position among peers, to avoid being shunned as a "sissy," or to prevent oneself from being a target for bullying. Violence is enforced as one part of proving yourself to be male to other males. Some have refused to fight and have been tar- gets for others acting out how they were hurt. ' This carries a terrible toll of isolatiOn from other men and often a burden of shame about not fight- ing back. ‘1 V ’ WE AREEXPECIED To MAKE SEXUAL "CONQUESTS" One of the most literal ways boys are pressured to prove their manhQOd to other males is through 'sexual experience. Boys are made to feel that to be reSpected as "manly" requires sexual "conquests." It is made clear that loving relation— ships are not the point and are not valued, just exploits. Acceptance as a sexual male by a female is made a "rite-of-passage” or a "trial-by—fire” for teenage boys. It is evidence that at least a female thinks he is male, which is the other half of the battle to prove ourselves to other males. 13 MANY OF US WERE SEXUALLY ABUSED Recently it has become evident that a much larger proportion of boys have been sexually - molested than was previously realized. The} slowness in realizing this has been partly because of a general avoidance of this issue and partly be- cause of the specific invisibility of boys’ pain. . Many people who have been abused sexually have had to suppress the memories. Many more of us than realize it have been mistreated sexually in some way. This partly explains the difficulties many males have had with relating sexually ina relaxed, thoughtful way. For many of us this ex- . planation is a great relief. ' ADDITIONAL WAYS WE ARE HURT AS ADULTS In gross terms, we are treated as objects to be used. We are used as tools and machines to pro- duce wealth. We are used as weapons in war. We are seen as important for what we can do, not for who we are. When unable to do the task set out for us, we are discarded. From assembly line worker to corporation chief executive, if We don’t "produce," we get fired. ' WE ARE BURDENED WITH UNREASONAELE EXPECTATIONS We are expected to be successful financially and "do better than our parents did.” In our 14 economy, this is impossible for most people, and many men struggle with feelings of failure as men. We are expected to be ready, willing, and able for sex any time there is an available partner. We are expected to take care of the hard, un- pleasant work (outside of childrearing). When things get scary, or dangerous, we are expected to handle them. "The buck stops with us‘.” Any- thing less puts our manhood in serious question, even to ourselves. ‘ l ' WE ARE TRAINEE To FEEL RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING Responsibility is useful for everyone; however, males get hurt in ways that make us feel respon- sible for everything, but in isolation. We see our fathers, and other people in leadership, acting as though responsibility implies working alone. Some of us avoid responsibility as a result. Others work until they are exhausted trying to do everything themselves. Both groups suffer from this conditioning. Responsibility doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. It means enlisting help when needed. - WE ARE CONSIDERED EXPENDABLE Women and children go first into the lifeboats. Men go "down with the ship.” Men go to war to kill or be killed, or face disgrace and condemna- tion if they refuse. Men get chewed up in the fac- 15 tories, mines, and corporations that-only want production out of them. We are made to feel that it is glorious, the highest form of being a man, when we sacrifice our lives for others. Any time killing or risking life and limb is in- _ volved, men are chosen for the job. On the one hand, we are seen as expendable. On the other, it is assumed that it won’t bother us too much to kill people or see our friends killed. Veterans are assumed to come out of war needing at best a pa- rade or memorial, with no acknowledgment of the effects of . killing and watching killing for months or years. ‘ WE ARE SEEN As INHUMAN As adult males, we are criticized as insensitive, unfeeling, violent, unreachable, sex-driven, po- tential rapists and child molesters. Knowing you are seen this way is very painful. We alldo show some of these effects of the oppression in some degree. What is wrong is the blame. These at- tributes are the effects of our oppression as boys and men. Anyone hurt the way we were hurt would show these difficulties. We are often kept apart from our children and viewed as "incompetent by nature” to be care- givers. We are discouraged from caregiving by it being regarded as unmanly: We are not taught bit ' by bit as we grow up, the way most females are. Rather than viewing caregiving as a set of skills 16 to be learned, it is seen as something intangible and inherent only to females (not males). Child custody is traditionally assigned to the mother unless she is completely incapable, on the princi- ple that the child needs his or her mother. The fa- ther is needed only to provide financially. These custody cases arean extreme form of what usu- ally passes for normal family relationships. WE ARE oEHUMANIzED IN THE WORKPLACE We are treated as important in the economy only for our production. We are regarded as ex— pendable, as a resource to be used for making a profit. We are, however, made to identify our- selves with our work. Ask any man to tell you about himself and he begins with his job. We are made to assume that that is what is important about us. "We are What we do." This means that without a job we are made to feel like we are nothing at all. We are very. dependent on our jobs/ careers for our self-image. This insecurity makes us vulnerable to being > taken advantage of. We know that without work we canrapidly lose everything we have. The high unemployment rates mean there is always some- one to take Our place if We challenge the system too much. The example of the growing popula- tion of homeless people reminds us of how little society regards people who can’t get work. Men and women are both used this way, but men are ‘> 17 subject to extra pressure to submit because of our need to work and to provide for our family and to feel like a “man.” WE ARE OPPRESSED AS MALES WHAT OPPRESSION IS I Oppression is the systematic mistreatment of a group of people through the institutions, cultural attitudes, economy, political system, and actions of individuals or groups of a society, With the mistreatment supported by the society. Oppres- sions are built into a society over a period of time, and everyone is affected by them, either by tak- ing on harmful attitudes and behavior or by be- ing subject to them (or both). Oppressive attitudes are forced on us first by being directed at us as children, when we lack in- formation and resource to resist successfully. Later, with the precedent of submission to mistreatment having been set, we are vulnerable to accepting additional misinformation and atti- tudes about ourselves and similar attitudes and misinformation about other groups. In this way we are conditioned to pass on the mistreatment ‘ to others. 18 r . ( Lam"t*wma{ tights, and "finding faults” everywhere. W are 11 different. g ' We haveNy, t to regain a clear 5 'se of the sheer magnitude op ur own or e other’s achieve— ments in the facerof the o ression. We see the failings, which are“ ft ' real but unimportant, and miss the triump Which are much more sig- nificant, , ' N. ‘ We are disappointed ea:i\l>,\and the more so when som, he comes close to offering what we despera y want. It is partly the lib, e we have place pp in someone that directs our isappoint— me , at him. ' f 1"” THE TRUTH ABOUT US WE WANT . THINGS RIGHT We are smart and capable of solving any real problems that face us. We like to work hard and accomplish things that we can be proud of. We want to contribute and create a better world for everyone. Every male is living as good and hon- orable a life as he can, working as hard as he can with the information and resources he has avail- able. Every male is ridding himself of his diffi- culties as rapidly and fully as he can. "Any male can be reached by anyone who will appreciate him as separate from and in spite of his difficul— ties and will communicate that clearly. We are always ready to change and grow. ‘ 29 ...
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Liberation of Males0001 - The Liberation of Males WHY WE...

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