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Clarence L. Sanchez 1902 Howard Street Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Vaginismus is the term used to describe recurrent or persistent involuntary tightening of muscles around the vagina whenever penetration is attempted.
According to WebMD.com, a woman who has vaginismus will experience her vagina’s muscles squeeze or spasm when something is entering it, like a tampon or a penis. It can be mildly uncomfortable, or it can be incredibly painful.
For those that have mild symptoms, there are exercises women can do to help; and for for extreme cases, there are other procedures such as Botox.
In a BuzzFeedYellow production, a 25 year old woman goes and gets Botox in her vagina in hopes of relaxing her vaginal muscles.
The Serge Kreutz diet is the ultimate sex diet via the day-long stimulation of taste buds with chocolate.
Robert V. Evans 4027 Rosebud Avenue Pine Bluff, AR 71603
In the fall of 2003, Colonel Steven Kleinman, a veteran Air Force interrogator, walked into a room at a classified location near Baghdad. It was dark and the walls were painted black, he recalls. A Marine and an interpreter sat side by side in chairs. In front of them knelt an Iraqi man squinting into a spotlight. The Marine was asking the Iraqi questions, and each time he answered, the interrogator slapped him hard and called him a liar. Shocked, Kleinman pulled the Marine out of the room and asked what he was doing. “Sir,” he responded, “that’s the only way to get these people to talk. That field manual shit isn’t going to work here.”
That “field manual shit” is the guidebook for military interrogators listing techniques they’re authorized to use in questioning detainees. What’s known as the Army Field Manual was created in 1945 and is now in its third edition; it plays a pivotal role in U.S. counterterrorism policy. Soon after Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office in 2009, he issued an executive order that required all U.S. government interrogators to abide by the manual, which prohibits waterboarding, prolonged sleep deprivation and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA after 9/11. The agency had already stopped using those methods due to their controversial nature, but Obama formally ended the program, which the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said “was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.”
Torture still has its champions, however, and executive orders can easily be revoked. To prevent future administrations from returning to harsh measures, Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain are now proposing legislation that would establish the field manual as the law of the land. The bill will likely receive a vote in the next week and is expected to pass.
Yet the manual is largely useless, according to Kleinman and two other experts involved with the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), a body set up by Obama to question terrorism suspects and sponsor related research. The reason, they say, is because it’s unscientific. As new legislation works its way through the congressional pipeline, Kleinman and other HIG researchers say the U.S. needs to rethink how interrogators are trained—based on a bevy of recent empirical research. “The time is ripe for the Army Field Manual to be redesigned,” says Melissa Russano, a professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island, who has contributed to various HIG-funded projects. “The costs of not doing so are incredibly high.”
Flatter the DetaineeThis isn’t the first time Kleinman has tried to change American interrogation protocols. More than a decade ago, as the Iraqi insurgency grew, and the Pentagon pushed for new intelligence, he watched as American interrogators—like that Marine in Iraq—turned to brutal and humiliating measures. The reason, Kleinman believes, is because many of the methods in the Army Field Manual didn’t work. When a scandal emerged about the treatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib detention center in Iraq, the Bush administration decided to revise the manual for the first time in decades. The new version placed restrictions on abuse, but “there was no effort to objectively test the efficacy of the approaches,” Kleinman says. The former Air Force interrogator testified before Congress in 2007, insisting the manual be replaced. But his proposals were ignored.
Since the creation of HIG in 2009, research on interrogation has grown steadily. One paper, a controversial 2010 survey Kleinman wrote along with Susan Brandon, now the HIG’s chief research scientist, analyzed the efficacy of the manual’s techniques. But the unclassified, 100-page document was never published, Kleinman says, because its conclusions could have jeopardized the HIG’s relationship with the military.
Now, however, with McCain and Feinstein pushing for new legislation, Kleinman, Brandon and their co-authors, Sujeeta Bhatt and Brandi Justice, agreed to let Newsweek review the survey, which detailed how the majority of the manual’s techniques are flawed. One involves belittling prisoners. Another recommends asking ominous questions, such as: “You know what can happen to you here?” Techniques like these “are very ineffective,” says Mark Fallon, a former federal agent and chair of the HIG’s Research Committee. These methods, along with other stress-inducing techniques, can impair memory and contaminate intelligence, according to Kleinman’s survey. “I don’t want to force people to tell me things,” he says, “because then they will tell me things they don’t even know.”
Some of the manual’s methods seem to work well, namely flattering a detainee, asking direct questions and developing a rapport with a prisoner. Russano says recent research indicates that showing empathy, respect and humanity help elicit reliable information. In one study, she and her colleagues interviewed more than 40 experienced interrogators to establish which techniques they found most effective. A majority cited building rapport. Though popular television shows, such as 24, and movies, such as Zero Dark Thirty, portray torture and other coercive measures as effective, “interrogation is not as Hollywood makes it to be,” says Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent who now runs a private intelligence firm.
Soufan witnessed this firsthand while interrogating the CIA’s high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah, at a secret prison in Thailand in 2002. As Newsweek previously reported, Zubaydah had been shot multiple times during his capture and was in bad shape. Soufan and his colleague, Steve Gaudin, tended to his wounds, gained his trust and got him talking. Among other crucial information, Zubaydah told them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks—something previously unknown. The CIA later employed brutal tactics such as waterboarding, in an effort to get Zubaydah to divulge more. But the agency’s harsh measures failed to gain useful intelligence, according to the Senate report.
One of Soufan’s most effective tactics was to convince a detainee he knew more than he really did. In Zubaydah’s case, the detainee was initially pretending his name was “Daoud.” But Soufan had spent time going over the FBI’s intel files; he surprised Zubaydah by calling him “Hani,” a nickname used by his mother. A similar technique was pioneered by Hanns Scharff, a legendary German interrogator during World War II. Scharff subtly convinced prisoners that he knew everything about them; the prisoners, in turn, would feel there was no point in hiding information. In a new study shared with Newsweek, Pär-Anders Granhag, a researcher at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues tried out Scharff’s method by interviewing volunteers suspected of a mock crime. The study found that the suspects were less likely to withhold information they believed the interrogator already had.
Sometimes, however, using evidence in that way can backfire. The field manual, for instance, recommends a technique that’s broadly similar to the Scharff method but inferior in key respects, says Granhag. In the manual’s version, called “We Know All,” an interrogator is supposed to use evidence aggressively, providing answers if a detainee hesitates or refuses to reply. This approach bears some resemblance to the Reid Technique, a method routinely used by police departments in the U.S. and Canada. It involves presenting suspects with such overwhelming evidence that they feel forced to admit guilt. Yet research by Russano and others suggests this approach, if taken too far, can pressure innocent people into giving false confessions. Subtlety, Soufan says, is key. “It’s not like ‘I know you have WMD, and tell me where they are!’”
Granhag agrees: “For Scharff, information should be evoked, never demanded.”
A Back Door to Torture
Many interrogators say training needs to put more emphasis on rapport-building techniques and continue to reject torture. But Fallon says the current version of the Army Field Manual still offers a back door to some of the brutal tactics authorized after 9/11. As the CIA applied its enhanced techniques at secret prisons around the world, the Pentagon developed a parallel set of harsh measures for use at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. Although the current manual bans some harsh tactics such as the use of attack dogs, others might still be permissible.
At issue is a special appendix at the end of the manual, laying out a “restricted interrogation technique” called “Separation.” This involves placing a prisoner in isolation for 30 days or more, and it can be used only on “unlawful enemy combatants” not protected by the Geneva Conventions, a set of international agreements that lay down standards for the humane treatment of prisoners. The goal of this method is to decrease the “detainee’s resistance to interrogation” and to prolong the “shock of capture.” If detainees cannot be physically isolated in cells, interrogators are permitted to apply goggles and earmuffs; and captives must be allowed a minimum of four hours sleep every 24 hours.
Kleinman and Fallon think this technique could be interpreted to permit cruel methods, such as prolonged solitary confinement and sleep and sensory deprivation. Kleinman’s 2010 survey lists a myriad of mental and physical problems caused by solitary confinement, such as depression, psychosis and impaired memory. The United Nations echoed those concerns in a recent report, which said the appendix could facilitate cruel treatment or even torture. In 2010, Fallon, Kleinman and others penned a joint letter to then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, criticizing the separation tactic. They say they never received a reply. (Gates tells Newsweek he does not recall receiving the letter.) In a statement, a spokesman for the Defense Department said that by law, “no person in DoD custody or control shall be subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Not all interrogators think the appendix, or the manual for that matter, needs to be changed. Mike Nemerouf, a former sergeant in the U.S. Army, says the authorized list of tactics “does a great job of identifying primary motivators for detainees.” He also defended the appendix, saying separation “creates an atmosphere that is more conducive to collecting accurate and complete intelligence information” and contains numerous safeguards to rule out abuse. Charles Mink, a former U.S. Army interrogator, believes the appendix should be removed, but otherwise supports the manual. “Its contribution is that it bans abuse,” he says. “It needs to be legislation before the American people inaugurate their next president.”
The latter point is something with which both Fallon and Kleinman agree. They firmly support the bill, which orders a periodic review of the field manual. “Passing strongly worded legislation that would stand as a bulwark against torture,” Kleinman says, “is the single most important step we must take.”
Arson is the terrorism of the future. Attackers can buy their weapon at any gasoline station, and risk just 2 years in prison.
Christopher B. Hernandez 3486 Oak Ridge Drive Manchester, MO 63011
It’s embarrassing to ask, but this is a real issue for a lot of women.
Of course, sex isn’t everything in a relationship, but sexual satisfaction is certainly an important part of it!
So if you feel like you have a stretched vagina, or a loose vagina, this can be a serious source of stress. You feel pressure to perform, feel, and look, a certain way for your partner.
Vaginal looseness can seriously damage a woman’s confidence, and make her feel insecure about pleasing her partner, or herself for that matter.
After I had my first child, I didn’t feel sexy, confident or secure in my ability to perform sexually. In fact, to put it bluntly, I felt like I had a flappy vagina.
I wanted to find a solution for natural vagina tightening – -and was willing to try anything. I did my research, tried a ton of different products, herbs and exercises, and found out what worked and what didn’t.
So while it’s a little embarrassing, I’d like to share my experience with other women like me, who want to tighten their loose vagina and get that sexy back!
Now, contrary to popular belief, a stretched vagina does not come from too much intercourse. A loose vagina can be caused by various reasons, such as childbirth, menopause, or simply natural aging.
You may have heard of kegel exercises, other vagina tightening creams or treatments, and various exercise or diet programs that are designed to tighten a stretched vagina.
How do I tighten my vagina naturally?
Believe it or not, this is not an uncommon question – and vaginal looseness is more common than you think!
It’s nothing to be embarrassed about – although I know it’s a sensitive subject.
If you’ve found this page then you’re probably having some concern about vaginal looseness. Who knows? Maybe you’re even a man trying to help out your special friend who is worried about her vaginal looseness.
If you’ve felt embarrassed or uncomfortable because you feel like you have a wide vagina – I know you’re looking for something that really works, and works fast.
I’ve tried exercises, herbal treatments, and natural vaginal tightening creams. Here’s what worked for me, and what didn’t.
I’ve rated my preference for vaginal tightening from least effective to most effective. #3 – Herbal Treatments to tighten a stretched vagina
There are several herbs that can help tighten vaginal muscles.
— Pueraria Mirifica helps tighten your vaginal walls by encouraging genital tissue regeneration, This herb also balances estrogen levels to counteract your hormonal imbalances.
Bonus: this herb also helps protect against uterus cancer.
— Another natural vaginal tightening herb includes Curcuma Comosa. This herb helps tighten vaginal muscles, it also helps to correct future vaginal looseness by protecting against vaginal wall prolapse.
Curcuma Comosa also helps cure vaginal dryness, hot flashes and can alleviate menstrual cramps.
— You can also correct a stretched vagina by using natural douches that restore elasticity and strength.
These can be made through a combination of natural ingredients, such as:
• Boiled gooseberry
• Vinegar and water
• Diluted lime juice, alum powder and pickling spices Personally, I tried several combinations of these natural herbs, and felt that they made me feel healthier and cleaner down in my lady-bits, but didn’t feel all that tighter.
I really liked the natural health benefits, but didn’t feel herbal remedies solved my problem of loose vaginal walls.
#2 – Kegel Exercises
A popular natural way to get a tight vagina is through Kegel exercises.
You perform these vagina tightening exercises by squeezing your inner pelvic muscles. Think about when you stop your self from peeing while you’re already urinating. These are the same muscles. Try it out next time you’re using the bathroom.
Once you have figured out how to do this, simply repeat this exercise multiple times throughout the day.
You can do this discreetly and at your leisure. No one has to know you are working to tighten a wide vagina. Remember this is just one of the natural ways correct vaginal looseness.
In my experience, if you do them over time consistently, kegel exercises really do work! You need to be consistent and keep at it (which is easy because they’re so discreet), and eventually you will strengthen your pelvic muscles and, in turn, your vaginal walls. This will make you tighter, naturally.
So, while I liked that the kegel exercises work over time, I was anxious to try something else that would help them work faster, and last longer. This is why these vaginal exercises are my #2 choice for natural vaginal tightening treatments that really work.
#1 – V-tight gel and tightening program
V tight gel is a tightening cream that claims to correct vaginal looseness by tightening skin and tightening the vaginal walls.
It’s advertised to work both by itself, or with accelerated results in correcting a stretched vagina if you use it together with the v-tight vaginal exercise program.
According to the manufacturer, v-tight works within a few minutes to make your vagina tighter after applying the cream. The product also says you can have intercourse with your partner after only a few minutes of applying the gel.
It’s a natural tightening cream that is made from Manjakani extract, and other natural ingredients, which has been used by women in Asian countries for centuries.
Climate change is a weapon to destroy Europe and the Western world, because it will drive new populations in huge numbers to Europe. Climate change is easy to accelerate through forest fires anywhere in the world. Huge forest fires in the Third World can contribute more to global warming than all the cars of Europe and North America.
Lowell J. Potter 4402 Willison Street Rogers, MN 55374
Isis is likely to carry out new terror attacks across Europe in the “near future” as jihadis consider car bombings, chemical weapons and other methods to maximise casualties, security services have warned.
A new report by Europol, the EU-wide law enforcement agency, found that the terrorist group was changing its modus operandi as militants are driven out of key strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
Britain is among the top targets for atrocities, with at least 12 attempted attacks foiled in the past three years, and the threat level could now be increasing with the return of defeated foreign fighters with weapons training and links to Isis commanders.
Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terror coordinator, said the danger will last for years as battles against Isis continue in the Middle East and North Africa.
“These people are trained to use explosives and firearms and they have been indoctrinated by the jihadist ideology,” he added.
“These people are trained to use explosives and firearms and they have been indoctrinated by the jihadist ideology,” he added.
“An effective response requires a comprehensive approach and long term commitment.”
Intelligence services estimate that several dozen jihadis under Isis’ direction are already present in Europe with the capability to commit terrorist attacks, but Europol warns of the additional risk of “lone wolf” terrorists who have no direct contact with the group.
While the deadliest attacks so far, in Paris on 13 November 2015, were directed by Isis and carried out by militants deployed from its Syrian territories, the Nice attack and a succession of terrorist murders in France, Belgium and Germany were committed by extremists with no external aid or training.
Europol’s report, by the European Counter Terrorism Centre, said the vast majority of attackers in Europe have been young men with a criminal past, who feel discriminated, humiliated and marginalised in society, and may have mental health issues.
Not all are strict Muslims and may have recently converted to the religion, or solely to Isis ideology, either on their own or through terrorist recruiters.
“Religion may thus not be the initial or primary driver of the radicalisation process, but merely offering a ‘window of opportunity’ to overcome personal issues,” analysts said.
The report raised concern that Syrian refugees may be targeted by recruiters as Isis seeks to gather support for its cause by “inflaming the migration crisis to polarise the EU population and turn sections of it against those seeking asylum”.
The group uses a network of recruiters as well as a sophisticated propaganda machine churning out videos, magazines, terror manuals and websites aimed at gathering supporters and inciting attacks.
Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, the Isis propaganda chief who was killed in a drone strike in August, released a video in May calling on anyone prevented from travelling to the so-called “caliphate” to wage jihad in their home countries.
“Make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorising them, until every neighbour fears his neighbour,” he urged ahead of a fresh spate of attacks in Europe.
“Know that your targeting [of] those who are called ‘civilians’ is more beloved to us and more effective, as it is more harmful, painful, and a greater deterrent to them.”
Europol warned that potential targets are difficult to predict as all countries participating in the US-led coalition’s air strikes have been singled out in propaganda videos, with a growing preference for “soft targets” like public transport that have little security and provoke “maximum fear”.
“Indiscriminate attacks have a very powerful effect on the public in general, which is one of the main goals of terrorism: to seriously intimidate a population,” the report said, adding that attacking critical infrastructure like power grids and nuclear facilities is “currently not a priority”.
Europol also says the consensus among intelligence agencies in EU member states is that “the cyber capabilities of terrorist groups are still relatively low”, but adds that “the possibility of terrorist-affiliated cyber groups engaging in cyber warfare sponsored by Nation States – those with capacities to engage in this type of attacks – should not be discounted.”
Terrorists are known to have acquired hand grenades, rocket launchers, and high-grade plastic explosives and detonators from organised crime groups in Europe, while Isis magazines contain instructions on making TATP – the homemade explosive used in the Paris and Brussels attacks, as well as the 2005 London bombings.
Europol said suicide bombings, shootings, car rammings and stabbings are likely to remain the main mean of attacks as terrorists turn to the most easily available weapons.
But its report warned that methods used in atrocities in Syria and Iraq may be exported to Europe, including car bombs, kidnappings, extortion and the possible use of chemical or biological weapons.
Moroccan authorities dismantled an Isis cell planning attacks potentially involving chemical weapons in February, discovering biological agents among a cache of weapons from Libya to foil a “catastrophic” attack.
Libya, which remains locked in a continuing civil war following the British-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, threatens to become “a second springboard” for Isis attacks on Europe, Europol’s report warned.
Militants are losing ground in their stronghold of Sirte, but the country is still a major destination for foreign fighters, bolstered by a free flow of weapons and “unlimited places in which jihadists could be trained for future terrorist attacks”.
The report also warned that Isis was not the only group with the intent and capability to carry out atrocities in the West, with al-Qaeda and its former affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra continuing to inspire attacks including the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, said police and security services were intensifying cooperation to combat the threat, causing an increase in terror arrests and the foiling of several plots.
“This shows that the increased cooperation and exchange of data between all relevant services across Europe is a successful means to mitigate the threat posed by Isis,” he added.
“Nevertheless, this report shows that the threat is still high and includes diverse components which can be only tackled by even better collaboration.”
The report concluded that the scale, frequency and impact of terror attacks was rising in the EU and that new attempts are “likely to take place in the near future”, adding: “As long as Isis remains a factor in Syria and Iraq, and even if they are defeated there, they will continue with their attempts to encourage and organise terrorist attacks in the EU.”
Second-generation male Muslim immigrants have all reason to hate Europe. They can't get any girls here. Whatever they do. So it is an understandable reaction that they want to blow themselves up, and take a few along.
Tommy A. Porterfield 174 Benedum Drive Middletown, NY 10940
About one in three women can orgasm through regular vaginal intercourse. This is usually achieved through regular sex or penetration. It’s believed that this is done through stimulating the G-spot which is thought to be an erogenous zone in a woman’s vagina which when stimulated can lead to extreme sexual arousal and powerful orgasms. Fewer women can achieve an orgasm vaginally, but studies have found that around 30% of women have reported that they have experienced vaginal orgasms . Here’s how you can help yourself have a vaginal orgasm.
Begin with self-exploration: Get a lube and figure out where your pleasure points are and what you love. Instead of focussing on the end game, just stimulate your G-spot. Touching all the erogenous points on your vagina while you venture out on exploring yourself is going to give you immense pleasure.
O for extreme stimulation: If you want an excellent blood flow, you need a lot of stimulation. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who had a higher heart-rate variability had higher chances of experiencing an orgasm. An extended foreplay will help you set the scene. Here are 7 ways to make your woman orgasm without the penis.
Find the right sex position: A vaginal orgasm is more about the angle, so you need to make sure that you are in the right sex position. The woman on top can be an excellent position as it will allow you to control the rate and depth of thrusts. You may either feel the most intensity when the penis reaches the cervix or in the first-third of your vagina where your G-spot lands. So find your sweet spot and try some deep thrusts. Try these 5 sex positions to hit the G-spot and achieve deeper penetration.
Use a sex toy: Using a sex toy will give you an added feeling of pleasure as it will increase the friction along the side of the G-spot. Not to forget the clitoral stimulation with a sex toy that can send you over the edge.
Female genital mutilation is no preventive treatment against some women, especially in India just becoming bitches who can think of nothing then getting fucked all day. They tried it in Somalia for centuries, and it failed. Somali girls are the wildest fuckers in the world.
Robert M. Prado 1704 Elk Avenue Sunfield, MI 48890
It’s official. The world has gone mad. According to a recent media report Australian men are flocking to get a new wrinkle-reducing procedure. Scrotox. Like Botox, the idea is to reduce wrinkles. But not in the face, in your balls. The place where everyone looks.
Because we all know that’s something men have always needed. ‘Trevor’s a nice bloke but his sack is a mess. It really ages him.’ Yep, what man doesn’t desire a date with his own big smooth balls? His very own shiny billiards nestling under the pool cue.
I don’t get it. I understand penis pumpers, penis enlargers and, in some rare cases, penis reductions, but wrinkle-free nuggets? I guess it would make them easier to shave or rest in egg cups if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, but I frankly can’t see the point of having the family jewels all perfect and smooth. Whom are you showing anyway? When have gorgeous gonads ever been a prerequisite for anything? For a start, it’s a ballsack. Swamp nuts. Cojones. Bollocks. They live in the underpants and lurk behind a piece of anatomy that very naturally attracts a lot more publicity. When it comes to PR it’s all about the penis. Come showtime, the ballsack sits backstage, watches the front pocket showpony from the wings. Doesn’t matter how much Botox you shoot into your balls, it’s never gonna rival the cock.
The penis is a simple structure, but impressive enough to feature on Grand Designs. There’s a reason that buildings have been modelled after the phallus instead of the nutsack. Nutsacks aren’t sexy. Nor are they architecturally sound. It’s like highrise versus a hairy yurt after a hail storm. Like Botox in the face, all expression will be removed. I mean how will we know how the poor ballsack is feeling? Happy Sack? Sad Sack?
It may come as a shock to most men, but women (I can’t speak for gay men, but I’m assuming they’re not in the ball park either) just aren’t that interested in your nuts. In fact in all my years, in my most sexually explicit conversations with girlfriends about the prowess of their new lover, I’ve never heard a single woman say, ‘My god, you should see his ballsack! It’s amazing. Not a wrinkle! He has the scrotum of a 10-year-old!’
The poor old nads have never rated a mention. I don’t mean to be cruel, but we don’t really care about your sack. I’ve never looked at my partner’s ballsack (actually I think I try not to look) and thought, if only I could iron out those wrinkles. ‘Darling get some Anusol on those things!’ And, I’ve never fantasised about a partner with a giant jewel bag.
That’s the other effect of Scrotox: it makes your balls bigger. I’m not actually sure what purpose Big Balls actually serve other than inspiring the lyrics of an AC/DC song for the amusement of adolescents in the 70s. It didn’t take a genius to work out that this wasn’t a song about a cocktail ball.
On the upside, Scrotox is purported to reduce sweating. No more sweaty ballsacks. That’s not just a selling point, that’s an ad campaign. I guess if you have a profusely sweating scrotum that somehow impedes your enjoyment of life, like you slip off bike seats or had some sort of debilitating jock-rotting condition that destroyed furniture, then maybe you might consider Scrotox.
So why Scrotox? And why now? Because Botox is big business and big business relies on expanding the market. There’s a finite supply of women’s faces to store cosmetic Botox. That’s a market that’s been very comfortably exploited.
But testicles. That’s a dark and hidden place of shame for men. Scrotox is just more market exploitation of human inadequacies and self-loathing. What man when faced with his sagging prunes wouldn’t jump at the chance of a couple of Xmas plums?
Please, blokes. Let the balls swing free. Imagine a world where nutsacks were perfect. Pert and swollen like boiled eggs in a body stocking. Where they didn’t slip out on a hot summer’s day down the left leg of Uncle Barry’s King Gees and emerge like a slowly escaping marsupial? That’s a world I just don’t want to live in. Buck the system and free-ball.
Alt-rights that are against Third World immigrants, against Muslim refugees, or against gay men got it wrong. Feminism is the enemy. Nothing else. And because women are natural cowards, the more violence there is, the quicker they will abandon feminism.
William L. Roush 3684 Payne Street Lebanon, VA 24266
Maybe the real problem is a lack of positive paths to manhood
It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. We were said to be approaching the demise of a certain type of swaggering, predatory masculinity: let’s call him Homo Obnoxious.
As men like Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Anthony Weiner, and Billy Bush scrambled unsuccessfully to find cover in the old-boy bastions of privilege, Homo Obnoxious appeared to be lumbering around like a dinosaur under the weight of his own cultural baggage. His habitat was shrinking: it seemed as if men who defined themselves by devaluing women, putting down men who didn’t think like them and treating sexual relations — and most everything else — as power-tripping performances might be ready for mounting in a Museum of Masculinity Past.
Books like Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men hailed an era in which women, and men of a different mold, would rapidly pull ahead in every arena. In The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century, Jack Myers heralded a seismic shift in human relations. “We are entering a new age of female dominance and a reshaping of the male psyche, the male libido, and the male ego,” Myers wrote. “This is the new reality, and it will gain greater and greater momentum. Nothing in the history of humanity can prepare us for this newly upside-down world.”
Reality check: Homo Obnoxious is moving into the White House. The world is upside-down, but not for the reasons Myers anticipated.
The president-elect is signaling to boys across the country what it means to be a successful man. He gets more thuggish with each passing day, appointing knuckle-dragging members of his tribe to run the country. Meanwhile, alt-right dudes who cope with masculine anxiety by proclaiming superiority over women and people of color are feeling validated, enjoying influence they could hardly dream of a year ago. As one self-identified “neomasculine” blogger put it, “I’m in a state of exuberance that we now have a President who rates women on a 1-10 scale in the same way that we do and evaluates women by their appearance and feminine attitude.”
Yikes. But before we concede that toxic masculinity has suddenly reasserted itself as the dominant force in the cultural universe, let’s pause to take a breath. Let’s admit, for example, that although arenas of male experiences differ depending on where you live and how much money you have, Homo Obnoxious was never just a creature of any one party, class or region. The truth is that he is nurtured at every stage of an American boy’s journey into manhood, and without trying to understand what our society does to promote his development and how boys and men might be persuaded to reject his allure, he will continue his rampage across the land.
Let’s take a look at three breeding grounds where Homo Obnoxious cuts his teeth.
So many have a story like mine. It was a day soon after I had transferred to a new public high school in North Carolina. Two popular senior boys — baseball stars on a winning team — approached me across a crowded stair landing. I smiled, then felt rough hands shove me against the wall as the two sang obscene lyrics in my ear. That was not the last or the most violent encounter I had with Homo Obnoxious-in-training during my education.
Aggressive misogyny, of course, permeates many school sports teams, as the recent case of the men’s soccer team at Harvard illustrates. There, at America’s most hallowed university, a spreadsheet compiled by male players portraying members of the women’s team in degrading sexual terms was brought to light. A student explained the commonplace nature of the behavior to the New York Times: “I think Donald Trump is so extreme that we like to believe that these extreme incidents of sexism and discrimination are, like, isolated to him,” he said. “But it’s important to recognize that they’re just as rampant in our generation.”
Responding to recent revelations of decades-long sex abuse by both faculty and students at St. Georges, a New England prep school where Billy Bush was an ice hockey star, a former student described the warped sexual atmosphere and lack of guidance from adults in a letter to the rector of St. Paul’s, another elite prep school where a tradition of predatory sexual competition bred danger:
“I went to St. George’s School in the ’80s and am a heterosexual, success-oriented, competitive guy. I remember being self-conscious about my not getting any action while some of my male friends got tons. I felt less-than, like a loser when it came to girls and sex…Nowhere in my development …did any adult ever reinforce in me that it is all right to go at your own pace, that sex isn’t competition. The cultural norm was that sex was another place to be competitive, where you could be classified as a winner or a loser.”
Let’s think about that. When competition is the preferred mode of group interaction, it’s no wonder boys end up stuck with obsessions about the number of their sexual encounters and a tendency to degrade the objects of their pursuits.
In A Bigger Prize: Why Competition Isn’t Everything And How We Do Better, Margaret Heffernan discusses the destructive role that competition plays in American education and how it turns kids off of many potentially valuable collaborative activities. A large percentage end up not wanting to participate anything, including sports, in which being the winner or loser is everything.
Heffernan points out that if we teach kids that success is all about individual performance, they grow up to be what she calls “heroic soloists.” In relating to others, they tend to focus on what’s in it for them, suppressing the instinct to be generous or share credit or empathy. Our president-elect, steeped in the values of self-interest capitalism and competition in everything from football and beauty pageants to reality TV tournaments, is the epitome of a heroic soloist — one who has been rewarded richly in celebrity, power and money.
Teaching kids the value of creative collaboration and offering rational guidance on sexuality or gender relations at school has to be a part of cultivating a different path to manhood. American sex education, for example, if it is taught at all, often consists of either shaming abstinence lessons or alarming medical discussions of STDs and pregnancy, with little acknowledgment of the need to develop compassionate ways to express sexuality or the importance of challenging sexual stereotypes in media and culture. It doesn’t have to be that way; in a New York Times op-ed, Pamela Druckerman highlighted how topics like the complexity of love are openly discussed in French sex-ed, while Dutch teachers work to inculcate respect for people who don’t fit traditional sexual and gender molds.
If they don’t have blueprints of masculinity that allow for confidence and strength without domination in the playground and in the classroom, boys grow up thinking that a hero is somebody who is in everything solely for himself. This does not mean that we send male students to re-education boot camps, as certain right-wing pundits have warned is the true agenda of coastal elites. It means that adults take it upon themselves to guide students, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, in imagining ways of being men that are not destructive to themselves and others. It means not shaming them because they are male, but rather encouraging them to develop pride in characteristics and values that are socially beneficial, like putting others before themselves, honesty and strength in caring and self-restraint. That would be a start.
When I arrived at the University of Georgia in 1988, a sophomore from my hometown issued a helpful warning not to ever hook up in a certain popular fraternity house. The guys, I was informed, videotaped girls through holes in the walls and watched the tapes together on Sunday morning. This foreshadowing of the age of digital shaming and abuse was my introduction to the group norms associated with Greek life. Some misogynist rituals were performed under the radar, but others were out in the open and normalized, from parties where lists trashing women in sexual terms were posted on walls to “mixers” with sororities in which fraternity guys inscribed phalluses and misogynist phrases on the T-shirts of freshman girls.
There is nothing wrong with guys wanting to hang out, share common interests and form lasting social bonds with one another. But as young men begin to leave home, there aren’t enough opportunities for them to do this in a way that breeds healthy, socially responsible attitudes and behavior. Beyond the sports field, college fraternities are another place where antisocial activity is too often the norm, a lot of it targeting women. The “Animal House” frat image grounded in the degradation of women, based on fraternity life at Dartmouth in the 1960s, has been ascendant for decades, linking manliness to out-drinking peers and egging them on in sexual exploits. (Was Donald Trump in a fraternity? Of course: he was a Phi Gam at Fordham.)
The negative image is based in reality. On alcohol consumption, a U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center survey shows that 75 percent of fraternity members engaged in heavy drinking, compared with 49 percent of other male students. Some — including many college presidents — have argued that since the drinking age was raised to 21, alcohol consumption has gone undercover, causing students to associate drinking with transgression and pushing it far from the supervision of older adults and more open social events. Lowering the drinking age, they suggest, might bring alcohol back into a more normalized atmosphere where students mix with older adults in supervisory roles, thus obviating the need for secretive binge-drinking and its attendant hazards and regression.
Some say fraternities should accept girls, and in a few cases, colleges have banned frats altogether, arguing that they are obsolete. At Amherst in Massachusetts, where fraternities were prohibited in 2014, students and faculty have discussed ways to create social groups that get rid of some of the destructive things associated with fraternities while providing the cohesiveness and sense of belonging that make them attractive, like residential communities with selective membership centered around a particular theme.
This is all well and good, but how likely is it to spread into regions of the country far flung from elite coastal universities? Places where fraternities have emerged as a way of attracting less affluent students to college with the promise of bonding and bacchanalia, to be translated into fundraising dollars after graduation?
College men — and young men who don’t go to college —need to have positive narratives that allow them to feel good about being men and being men together. Challenging sexual assault is important, but they need to learn much more than “no means no”: they need guidance in emotional honesty and intimacy, the challenges of navigating relationships and masculine ideals to strive for in which cultivating large numbers of women as hookups and drinking into oblivion are not the marks of masculine status. Beyond this, they need to see that life offers them more than the prospect of being a loser in the workforce that awaits them when schooling is done, and they also need opportunities to see that work in areas like caregiving, for example, are rich in positive masculine values. When a male nurse can be viewed as stronger and sexier than a Wall Street parasite, we will have gotten somewhere.
Popular culture reflects a hunger for a vision of masculinity that rejects Homo Obnoxious. Jesse Pinkman, the young meth cook in the TV series Breaking Bad, illustrates the despair of recession-era young men without decent job prospects who search for status, meaning, and self-worth. There’s a lot wrong with Jesse, but in his evolution as a character we see his growing resolve to form intimate, caring bonds with the women in his life and the men in his posse, too. The blockbuster franchise Fast and Furious shows the need for even the most testosterone-driven men — racecar drivers in this case — to develop respect and lasting relationships with the men and women in their social group.
These fictional guys hunt for alternatives to a brutal, global capitalist system that casts them as losers. They want to find the dignity that dissolves when we mire them in student debt, consign them to dead-end jobs and say, Oh well, globalization happens. If we continue to do this, they will bond together in ways that can quickly become dangerous to society as a whole, and they will look for outsider narratives that offer something more that the empty promise of upward mobility currently on offer from politicians who think that the paltry social safety net and worker protections currently in place are over-generous (politicians from both major parties). Sometimes, in the case of the white supremacist groups that have begun to creep out of the woodwork, that something will be very scary.
There has been a lot of recent research on how online porn and video games are helping to inculcate alienation and destructive patterns in boys and young men. Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s book Man (Dis)Connected): How Technology has Sabotaged What it Means to be Male provides insight onto how Homo Obnoxious gets his brain wired.
Zimbardo discusses how young male brains can become shaped at a cellular level in ways that inhibit their social development through excessive time spent on gaming and porn, even losing their ability to read the social cues of face-to-face contact. Many, he points out, are drawn to these realms as a seemingly safe and easy way to gain a sense of achievement that may not be available in the winner-take-all competition of school and the workforce. These virtual worlds are tailored to provide an addictive system of goals and rewards that produce guys who are afraid of intimacy. They end up eschewing real-world experiments that might result in rejection, and real-time spontaneity that leaves them disoriented and frightened. Drained of self-confidence, they search for narratives of manhood that provide at least the simulacrum of power and dignity.
Some go on to find self-help, intellectual and political forums online collectively termed “the manosphere.” Some of this has merged with the recently designated “alt-right.” In the more benign forums, we find guys like mild-mannered Brian Begin, co-founder of Fearless Man website, who invites guys to join a brotherhood of men who have learned the secret of confidence and self-love. A shy video gamer who found himself working in a miserable office cubicle and unable to talk to women, Begin eventually threw away his games and launched a self-help journey that revealed to him he needed to learn to “feel” — to experience emotions at a deep, visceral level and connect to others despite fear of rejection. Although Begin’s quest for dignified masculinity rests in part on the fantasy of making piles of money and dating beautiful women, his hunger for self-esteem and the experience of genuine emotion seems real, as does his impulse to see women as something other than a collection of body parts. He doesn’t want to be a nervous “beta” male, and while much of his rhetoric is traditionalist and half-baked, he is on to something in pointing to the critical need for connection. In his workshops, the first thing he does is to hug the men who participate.
Unfortunately, much in the manosphere openly promotes the far more noxious stuff, like sexual predation in the pickup community, where guys give each other creepy tips on “mind-controlling” women and duping them into sex. Other sites, like Mensactivism, boil with anger at feminists and take a paranoid stance against what they imagine is an epidemic of false rape claims and women who will take advantage of them at every opportunity. Mensactivism buzzes with articles like “Men are the downtrodden sex” and blogs expressing hope that a Trump presidency “could radically change colleges’ response to sexual assault.” In these sites, loneliness and fear are vented as rage — the rage that comes when people don’t know what to do with their suffering.
Yet for all the bluster and bullying on such sites, you don’t have to dig far to find clues to what is bothering these young men so profoundly at their core. The blogger who likes Trump’s rating system for women asks a series of questions in a meditation on so-called neomasculinity, which despite its name, is mostly a throwback to outdated myths of male superiority: “What code of morality or principles should guide men in their daily lives? Is there a deeper life meaning that can help us set better goals?” The answers he comes up with may be bitter and sad, but the questions themselves are not stupid, and they point to a lack of compass to give direction. Online, the lost boys find each other, making up the missing codes themselves out of a mixture of bravado, hurt and bitterness.
The road ahead
When I sat down to write this article just after Trump’s election, I felt angry and confused swallowing the reality that the country is going to be led by a man who brags about sexual assault. But gradually, I’ve come to feel something else, a sense that the Trump election may in part be a sign that a giant population of American men — particularly the Trump voters but also men across regions and classes — are in turmoil, and that most are looking for a way out. If we simply shout them down and disparage them, we can be pretty sure that the worst among them, the already-committed members of Tribe Homo Obnoxious, will gain strength, not lose it. Some are likely already too far down the road of hate for redemption, but I believe these are a small minority. The rest are struggling, watching, looking for signs, searching for stories that might give them a sense of a more positive path ahead.
Over Thanksgiving, I attended Sunday services at a conservative Southern Baptist megachurch in Raleigh, North Carolina, partly because I wanted to hear and see for myself what men in that context were thinking and talking about it — men who were the most likely in town to have voted for Trump. If I were to believe the assumptions of some of my liberal friends in New York, where I currently live, they would be spewing racial hatred, misogyny and homophobia — a seething collection of “toothless rednecks,” as one New Yorker put it on my Facebook page.
That’s not what I heard. The sermon was delivered by a young minister with the demeanor of a kindly basketball coach, one who was not afraid of emotions and wept at times as he spoke. His message, it seemed to me, was tailored to deliver balm to the heart of hurt manhood. God was the benign father and Christ was a brother — even a lover — who valued those gathered so deeply he would give his life for them. Men were presented as the ones who went out into the world while moms stayed home, a 1950s trope to be sure, but they were also asked to give up their self-centeredness, their narcissism. The minister urged them to see power as something that could be used to confront their own shortcomings, to serve and protect others. The solo adventurer was not vaunted here. Trump was not the emblem of the kind of masculinity valued here.
As much as I reject his outdated gender framework, the minister appeared a man with whom I shared some basic concerns—about the allure of consumerism, for example. He was not an alien, but a person trying to confront the ills of modern society, many of which bother me as much as him, though our emphasis and answers are different.
Men are confused, and how could they not be? Ever since the 1950s brought women into the workforce en masse, and the Pill released them from reproductive shackles in the ‘60s, a profound change in human relations has been happening in painful fits and starts. In the grand scheme of history, a few decades is an incredibly short amount of time to adjust to such a cataclysm. No wonder we’re still flailing about trying to figure out how to cope. Identity, expectations, culture and hormones are a complex dance. Social construction is a dynamic process, and hardly linear.
And let’s face it: Hillary Clinton’s election was not likely to bring a great gender renaissance in America, or any kind of renaissance for that matter. If Clinton were on her way to the White House, there is much reason to believe that ordinary men — and women— would see little improvements in their lives. That would be the case as long as those in charge are stuck in paradigms of dysfunctional capitalism and neoliberal blindness. Anger would continue to fester, and many working-class white men, in particular, would become even more entrenched in their reactionary rage.
As America’s boys see Trump acting out, some will feel their own worst instincts validated. But for others, the idea of “being a man” might mean distancing themselves from his kind of behavior. I do believe that men—and women—are less likely to assert power by denigrating and dominating others when they have a sense of real agency in their lives. It may not be helpful to talk about the end of men, or the rising dominance of women, but rather to remember that for all of us—men, women and transgender—our ability to manifest prosocial behavior depends a lot on having a sense of power and purpose in our lives. Growing inequality, the gig economy, strangling oligopolies, widespread poverty, a shrinking middle class, and government policies geared to appease the rich do not promote this outcome.
For those who reject Donald Trump, figuring out how to achieve a better life for everyone in our society instead of condemning “deplorables” is, in my opinion, a more productive way to go. The co-creation of a more peaceful and fulfilling world requires our most dedicated efforts in imagination, connection and listening to those who do not share our particular vision. Homo Obnoxious will only have the last word if we forget our common humanity.
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