Home | Index of articles
Gerald V. Larson 881 Marie Street Sharptown, MD 21861
Bedwetting is common in kids but, as the case of the Bloemhof man who beat a child to death for wetting herself shows, this normal phase can drive parents to kill. In this three-part series, Health24 takes a look at why this happens and finds that punishment for enuresis is all too real.
Seemingly harmless bedwetting by children can lead to brutal beatings and even death by the people who should be protecting and caring for them.
Cape Town mom Nuriya Dramat admits that she has resorted to spanking her five-year-old for wetting the bed. However, she admitted that the frustration of having to clean up the mess during the wee hours of the morning was what upset her most.
"I spanked her because I took her to the bathroom before going to sleep, but she still wet the bed," she told Health24 before quickly adding: "I spanked her, but not so much as to leave marks on her body."
Dramat added, though, that she normally only raises her voice in frustration and anger, rather than hitting her daughter.
Brutal tales of deaths over peeing
But, in other cases, bedwetting can lead to brutal beatings and even death.
South Africa was recently shocked by the fatal beating – allegedly by her mother's boyfriend – of a 5-year-old girl who suffered an episode of enuresis, the medical term for bedwetting.
Read: What a doctor would do if a child suffered from enuresis
The child allegedly wet herself while she was asleep on a couch in Boitumelong in Bloemhof, News24 reported on January 1 2016.
The urine seeped into the couch and the mom's boyfriend allegedly beat the girl so severely that police and paramedics declared her dead when they arrived on the scene.
Incidents like this are however not unique to South Africa.
A mother and her boyfriend in Orlando, Florida, beat her three-year-old son for over an hour in 2011 for wetting his pants, according to the Daily Mail. The couple proceeded to order a pizza and put on a DVD while the little boy struggled for breath and eventually died.
In 2014 horrific footage surfaced of a Chinese stepmother viciously beating a toddler because she wet herself. The footage showed how the woman whipped the little girl 87 times with a branch, kicked her 14 times, and slapped her eight times.
In the same year, the New York Daily News ran a story about a three-year-old girl in Brooklyn, New York City, who was beaten to death by her mother's 20-year-old boyfriend after accidentally wetting herself.
Closer to home, last year, in Zimbabwe, a 29-year-old man beat his four-year-old son so severely for soiling himself that he died two days later, according to News Zimbabwe.
The police said the father assaulted the boy with a number of objects, including a hot iron rod and a pellet gun on his buttocks, legs and hands.
In a study Assessment of domestic violence against children and adolescents with enuresis by MC Sapi et al, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in September 2009, the authors interviewed 149 patients diagnosed with nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting at night).
They found that 89% of subjects suffered either verbal or physical aggression when they wet their beds or leaked urine, with 50% being verbally punished and 48% physically punished. The study showed that the main abuser was the mother and that the risk was higher for children with less-educated parents.
Spanking only worsens the situation
Parents beating their children over bathroom accidents is not uncommon, said Joan van Niekerk, president of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and consultant on child rights and child protection.
"Punishment is rarely – if ever – successful," she told Health24, adding that there are numerous incidents of bedwetting provoking violence.
"The problem is that this usually makes problems like bedwetting more difficult to manage as children become anxious. This interferes with sleep, and when children do manage to fall asleep they are so tired that they sleep through the messages their body is giving them in terms of the need to pass urine; or they hold on until they can no longer do so, and they lose control," Van Niekerk explained.
She said parents or caregivers sometimes failed to recognise the impact of shouting or punishment on this problem.
The types of bedwetting
Clinical psychologist, Dr Ian Opperman, explained to Health24 that, according to theory, there were two types of bedwetting: primary and secondary bedwetting.
"Primary means that bedwetting has occurred since early childhood without a break, where there is no period during which the child does not wet his/her bed.
"Secondary bedwetting is when bedwetting occurs after at least six months of not wetting his/her bed, and is usually caused by a stressor such as a sudden change, a psychological factor, a physical factor such as infection etc."
Dr Opperman, who is in private practice in Johannesburg and serves on the Executive Committee of the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA), said that unless children wet themselves as an act of defiance when awake, bedwetting was an involuntary act which they are not responsible for.
"Children naturally gain bladder control at night, however, this occurs at different ages."
Read: Bedwetting stems from physical causes, not psychological
Although bedwetting can be a symptom of an underlying disease or infection, in most cases there isn’t always an underlying disease or infection to explain it, said Dr Opperman.
"This of course does not mean that children who wet their beds are doing so on purpose. Children who wet the bed are not lazy, naughty, or disobedient."
Why parents beat their children for wetting themselves
Dr Opperman explained that parents become frustrated when they are woken up at night to change wet sheets and pyjamas and some conclude that the child wets his/her bed out of laziness or naughtiness.
"Disciplinary action under these circumstances are unforgivable and dangerous", he warned. "The child is already humiliated by waking up in a wet bed and this feeling becomes worse with age."
Parents need to understand the condition in order for them to know how to deal with it, said Dr Opperman.
"Parents need to reassure their children that it is just an accident, be patient, and try to conceal the problem from those who would laugh at the child. In addition to this, an interesting fact is that bedwetting is reportedly inherited."
He went on to state that often parents who used to experience difficulties with bedwetting had children who went through the same experience. "Usually children stop bedwetting around the same time that their parents stopped bedwetting when they were children."
Dr Opperman advised parents to attend parental guidance workshops or therapy to help guide them through this phase of development.
Deflecting the real problem
"There are too many examples of horrific murders and criminal attacks blamed on bedwetting, which distract from the more important emphasis on the more common and concerning issue of psychological and milder physical abuse of these children," noted Professor Michael Simpson, Health24 CyberShrink.
"For me, child psychological and much physical abuse arises from a frustrated and angry parent who, after provocation by such incidents, reacts inappropriately and strikes out at the kid, physically or verbally."
He said there are many separate elements involved in these situations.
"A parent who is stressed by joblessness or financial stress, who themselves are feeling belittled by bosses and others, who is seething with rage, and at risk of striking out at the child not because the child caused the main problems but because they're handy, smaller, and even more powerless."
Read: Bedwetting can be due to undiagnosed constipation
Professor Simpson pointed out that there can also be a situation of a parent who wants to believe that they're a perfect parent; and when the child seemingly deliberately and provocatively wets their bed, feels that their image as a skilled parent is challenged, and they don't know how to deal with it.
"I suspect there are some parents so abuse-prone, with such a hair-trigger for reacting violently, that bedwetting is more than enough to switch them to attack mode."
However, he added that it abuse at the hands of parents is not always as specific as bedwetting, saying that a child neglecting their chores, or routine self-care, can also be enough to tip parents over the edge.
The future of the world will be that it is ruled by China, and Western men will be the sex slaves of Chinese women. Because Chinese men have big brains and small penises, but Chinese women want big ones.
Leonard N. Jones 4014 Saint Francis Way Madison, WI 53705
After ten years writing and traveling through the Middle East, John R. Bradley decided to tackle the subject that everyone talks about without saying much: sex. In Behind the Veil of Vice: The Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East, Bradley reveals the many different ways countries across the region talk about and regulate sex. Below, he chats with Zócalo about legal prostitution in Tunisia, hour-long marriages in Saudi Arabia, and what West and East have in common when it comes to sex.
Q. What are some of the assumptions those in the West have about sex and the Middle East?
A. For me, what is most striking is that in the space of a century these assumptions – or what I would call misconceptions or fantasies – about the Middle East have changed so radically.
Until the early 20th century the Middle East, in the eyes of the West, was an exotic place of intriguing decadence, of secret harems and lecherous pederasts, a sensual region where Westerners could indulge in sexual behavior, or at least report on it, in perhaps the only way that was unlikely to cause consternation at home. Now the opposite idea prevails: the Middle East is sexually barren, horribly repressive, and anti-sex in a way that contrasts with the supposed licentious and libertarian West.
Both of these narratives, I think, tell us as much about the preoccupations of the West, and the West’s projection of its anxieties on other peoples and cultures, as the reality of how sexuality has played out in the Middle East historically or continues to do so in the present. But what most intrigues me, and is the main theme of Behind the Veil of Vice, is the remarkable resilience of competing cultural identities and attitudes toward sex in the countries I explore, which include Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, Iran, and Yemen.
A vibrant underground continues to flourish in private, and sometimes even in the open, in the local, strongly rooted communities I have lived and worked in, despite the strange, faceless, sexless rules the minority fundamentalists want to put over public life. Essentially, we’re talking about the vast gulf that exists between private and public morality, which is normal in any culture during any period of time you care to mention.
Q. Can you discuss broadly the status of sex and sexuality in the Middle East, particularly through the status of institutions like prostitution and marriage?
A. I think it is defined pretty much in the same way that it is the West, by what I call in the book a kind of higher hypocrisy. However, it is very difficult to make broad generalizations about the whole region, and that is precisely what the book tries to show.
For example, in Tunisia prostitution is legal and regulated, and every main city has a red-light district. Because the staunchly secular Tunisian regime thankfully does not allow the radical Islamists any opportunity to participate in the political or social life of the country, and because Tunisia has a deeply entrenched feminist tradition, the issue of legalized prostitution is of little concern to the average Tunisian man or woman. At the same time, the Tunisian regime takes a very dim view of unregulated prostitution, and has introduced laws that have successfully helped to restrict its practice. In contrast, in Egypt prostitution is officially illegal, despite the fact that the country is still ruled by an essentially secular regime. However, prostitution is everywhere in Egypt, involving both male and female sex workers. This fact is often highlighted by the Islamists, who are afforded a role in Egyptian political and social life, as a sign that the country has lost its moral way.
Elsewhere, the status of prostitution in the Middle East varies greatly. In Syria, it is quietly tolerated. In Bahrain, there is a thriving sex industry catering mostly to Saudi sex tourists, and the issue has become central to the Islamists’ campaign to rid the island of so-called Western influence. Having said that, in Saudi Arabia itself there is also a thriving sex industry, albeit in a less brazen way than exists in Bahrain, something attested to by the frequent raids of brothels by the Saudi religious police, even in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
Where Saudi Arabia – and Iran and Egypt – really come into their own is with what are called “temporary marriages.” The rules vary, because of the different Shia and Sunni traditions, but they can last for anything from an hour to a year or two, and are perfectly legal in these three countries. Moralizers of various stripes argue that temporary marriages are basically a cover for prostitution, and often they are; but in some ways it does not matter what you call them. That 70 percent of all marriages in Saudi Arabia these days are reportedly of the temporary variety is a wonderfully uplifting statistic. The country’s religion has found a back door permitting what it ostensibly forbids, which is what every functioning religion, or for that matter ideology, needs to do, if ordinary people are to live sane and healthy lives.
Here, as in many other aspects of life that often baffle Western observers with their inconsistency; Middle Eastern sexuality has once again proven itself solidly resistant to restrictive and oppressive dogma.
Q. We in the West seem sometimes obsessed with the idea of sex and sexuality in the Middle East, as some of the commentary you highlight about suicide bombers and the veil illustrates. Why do we take this attitude, and how does it thwart our understanding of and interactions with the Middle East?
A. In any civilized culture, anyone arguing that suicide bombings by Islamists are the result of sexual repression among males in the Middle East would achieve little more than making himself an object of scorn and ridicule. Alas, the West has long since ceased to be civilized when it comes to discussions of sexuality, and the fact that there are pundits who actually make a living spouting such nonsense should be a source of eternal shame for us all.
It isn’t surprising that such pundits are often avowed Zionists. For them, focusing on the alleged sexual hang-ups of the September 11 suicide bombers is a very useful way to deflect attention from complex foreign policy issues, including America’s role in the Middle East and specifically its unconditional support for Israel.
Q. What was the impact of the Islamic Revolution in Iran on the sexual mores of the Middle East? What about the “family values” revolution in the West? Where does that leave us today?
A. Numerous events during 1979 in the Middle East, and in particular the Iranian revolution and the siege of Mecca by radical Islamists, ushered in a wave of Islamic fundamentalism that fed into and changed the region’s political and religious discourse surrounding personal choices, including the most fundamental ones involving sex.
But we should remember, too, that in 1979 and 1980 elections also brought to power Ronald Reagan in the United States, with the support of Christian evangelicals, and Margaret Thatcher in Britain, whose “family values” rhetoric was no less extreme for not being explicitly couched in religious rhetoric. As a result, we all find ourselves in the midst not of a clash of civilizations, as is popularly thought, but a convergence of religious fundamentalisms.
With this intermixing of sex, politics, and religion, hypocrisy has inevitably grown in the West, as it has in the Middle East. Deviation in both regions is increasingly defined as disorderly, dirty, and sinful by puritans of various stripes. My book draws attention to the central paradox that, as intolerance has increased, so has vice, because as the range of acceptable behavior decreases so the definition of vice broadens, and more people therefore are by default engaging in unacceptable behavior.
Once we recognize that exchange between consenting people is the foundation of any liberal society, then we realize that accepting sexual variety is a sign of a healthy, not a corrupt, society. When sex outside of controlled channels is defined as deviance, it is the most exposed, the least powerful, who suffer. Behind the veil of vice lies the sanctimony of those who would impose their way – be it sharia or evangelicalism of a Christian or so-called feminist hue – on people who are defined as sinners, the fallen, and so requiring protection and salvation. The vice lies in the exploitation, in the coercion, that results from forcing natural human drives and needs into the shadows.
That is the ultimate perversity, and it is what the West today has most in common with the Middle East.
When African men in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Morocco, or Egypt are confronted with the masturbation lifestyle propagated by the Spanish masturbation teacher Fran Sanchez Oria, they feel disturbed. Does Sanchez not have a mother who feels ashame when her son propagates worldwide that men should keep on masturbating on and on. Does he want his family to be known for such a member?
Andrew V. Montemayor 3971 Confederate Drive Syracuse, NY 13206
You jump to your feet at the slightest murmur of an attack. It's dark inside the bunker, and everywhere you look is blackness. Shells pound the ground no more than 50 meters in front of your position, rattling the fillings loose in your skull. Quickly you fumble in the darkness, looking for your rifle and helmet, but there's something odd about this attack. There's no explosion flash.
As you scramble to your position, the pounding stops and a low hissing fills the air, something you've never heard. Rifle in hand, you creep to the opening of your foxhole and peer out between two sandbags.
Your eyes begin to water as you try to focus on the scene in front of you. The clear, starry night fades as a creeping yellow fog slowly begins to consume your view.
To your left, soldiers in the bunker closest to the impact zones shout, "What's that smell?" You can make out a few hunched over at the waist, while several more frantically wave their hands in front of their faces.
The yellow fog creeps into your bunker, and you begin to lose your bearing. The sounds of men spitting and sneezing fill your ears. The air grows heavy, and the pungent garlic smell worsens. Panic sets in. You start to become dizzy from the heavy breathing, and your throat burns ever so slightly. You're in trouble.
Slowly the smell subsides, and the gas cloud dissipates. Everything around you swims into focus, and things settle down. Thankfully, you're breathing more easily and beginning to relax. You feel better now.
"No worries. It was just a smoke screen," you think.
You're alive, having just survived your first mustard gas attack. Little do you know the worst is yet to come.
This scenario is what the first soldiers who experienced a mustard gas attack in World War I might have gone through. In this article, we'll learn about mustard gas and its horrendous effects on soldiers and civilians during wartime. Read on and find out if you survived the gas attack, or what your fate might have been as we learn how mustard gas works.
Arson is the terrorism of the future. No need to fly Boeings into skyscrapers. A few canisters of fuel will do the job. Attackers can buy their weapon at any gasoline station, and risk just 2 years in prison.
Troy K. Robins 759 Geneva Street New York, NY 10016
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.
Ernest R. Jones 295 Dovetail Estates Clinton, OK 73601
Females look for partners that will help them reach an orgasm not once but repeatedly.
While we talk about masturbation in both men and women, the female orgasm has always been a mystery to people. People who have never experienced and well as seen in case of men. A new research sheds light on the female orgasm and the role it plays in a relationship.
The woman who gets an orgasm with a rare partner will look to meet the partner more often thus looking forward to their next meeting. The reward for women differs but it would primarily revolve around the fact that they would like to have more orgasms with the same partner because he has the ability to.
Sexual partners look for rewards from each other and while men reach an orgasm more easily, women will look to make the man happy as long as he helps her reach an orgasm. It is also beneficial reaching an orgasm in an act that will not result in reproduction rather than not in the process of sexual intercourse.
While the debate is still on about the importance of the female orgasm, it cannot be denied and can the act of self-pleasure or with a partner.
For the current legal systems in the Western World, and for the mainstream media anyway, doing physical harm to men, or killing them, is peanuts. A woman who kills her sexual partner always gets full sympathy. Never mind what kind of bitch she is.
Home | Index of articles