Gender Issues


Gender Issues and Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues21 Nov 2016 02:34 pm

Ever since early adolescence I’ve been hormonally constituted to be fascinated, mesmerized, entranced, intoxicated, infatuated and enthralled with the female body. Yet, even before the onset of puberty I found myself drawn to girls in the arena of personal relationships and intimate connection.

When it came to the realm of physical activity comprised of running, jumping, tackling and working together as a team I totally preferred the company of boys. In adolescence, in terms of intellectual, scientific and philosophical discourse I once again preferred the company of men.

Yet, what mattered to me most was how to maximize the quality of personal experience through consistently deriving joy form both body and mind. The time and energy, care and devotion, women spent processing their thoughts and feelings regarding their relationship with others as well as themselves I found highly captivating and fulfilling. In many ways this processing of relationship became the core of my definition of intimacy, and intimacy became the center of both the way I lived in the world and how I found meaning and fulfillment in life.

My love affair with the female body and feminine personality were not relegated to a specific type or ideal. The female body and the many varied ways woman had of processing their thoughts and feelings I found endlessly stimulating and refreshing. They were the fruit that I longed to savor and desire whether they be peach, plum, watermelon, pomegranate, grape or berry.

Despite enjoying the cornucopia of the pleasures offered through their intimate company, I never had a problem being loyal and devoted to any woman willing to match my intensity and devotion to intimate sharing. Every visceral, sensual, emotional and intellectual experience of my life became richer and more fulfilling when shared with a partner. I always felt it a touching privilege to be included in the processing ritual that forms the basis of most feminine relationships.

In activities I preferred the company of men, and in conversation and relationships I preferred the company of women. Viewing and experiencing the female life style as having more options and freedoms I greatly envied the female role in society. In the early 60’s the women’s movement with its emphasis on improving the quality of life, consciousness raising, respect for all human life and maximizing one’s experience of love and intimate relationships filled me with hope. I felt that men were imprisoned by work and oppressed by bosses and gender expectations.

Life in the Sixties

I grew up in a town where the great majority of men worked in factories and/or held down two or more jobs in order to make ends meet allowing their wives to stay home and provide the children with a safe and loving environment. Though this wasn’t always the reality, it did fit most of the lower middle class and middle class homes with which I was familiar.

A man’s life, I was often told, and as it appeared to me, centered around three things, duty, sacrifice and alienation. Duty and sacrifice were often spoken of with a sense of pride and purpose. Alienation was talked about in pop psychology, talk shows, the theater and in political messages espoused by unions, marxist and socialist groups, the intelligentsia, and dramatic plays. Death of A Salesman was probably the most powerful play I saw on TV during my childhood, and my father’s frustration, anger and depression seemed to bore testament to his sense of alienation.

My dad was so often very absent and emotionally damaged by his war experience. He would occasionally wake up from nightmares wailing and speaking in Italian in very anxious tones. I have no memory of him speaking to me let alone doing an activity with me, and even when punishing us with belts and switches he never made physical contact with us.

My dad often worked two jobs during my developmental years. My mom, while a busy homemaker, was able to work according to her own schedule and found time to engage in joys during the day such as watching her favorite TV programs and visit neighborhood friends. When I was three and four years old and my brother and sister were at school I had my best times with my mother (who had her own volatility and mental health issues). I would listen to my mom talk to herself and to the TV programs, and I often accompanied her as she walked or traveled by bus to visit friends. My mom loved to cook and the aromas of childhood were dominated by the nurturing smells of food that lingered in the house for hours.

When I was eight my mom decided that she was no longer needed in the home full time and she began to work. My sister, then fourteen, was asked to help out with the cooking and cleaning. and my brother and I were expected to maintain our rooms and make our own breakfast and lunch. My dad’s only objection was that it would make him look incompetent and a failure at providing for his family. Yet, he quickly adjusted to having more free time and not having the entire financial burden placed upon himself.

Since the late 70’s and early 80’s it has been fashionable to focus on how reluctant men are to help out around the house when their spouse goes to work. While this was true in my dad’s case it was also true that when my dad worked two jobs my mom did not help out or take on any of the traditional male tasks. In addition to working anywhere from sixty to eighty hours a week, my dad took care of the lawn, cleaned the gutters, put up screens and storm windows, and did most of the strenuous outdoor activity. Though not good with his hands he fixed all broken items in the home, for we had no money to hire out for professional or trade services. In essence none of this division of labor changed no matter how many hours of work my dad did each week, or when my mom took on an outside job.

I was mot enamored with the male role which I not only experienced in my family but witnessed in pretty much every home in our factory town. While I often saw and talked to my friends mothers, their fathers were generally not present or when present they were busy doing some chore or task. It is true that the men went to clubs and belonged to social organizations, but they usually were dominated by drinking and for group protection and alliances in the labor, religious and political arenas. The handful of times I accompanied my dad to these functions I found them generally bereft of amy intimate conversation though at times there was bonding via humor, story telling and rallying against common enemies or concerns.

Intellectually stimulating conversation was difficult to come by in my youth, and I sought and established friendships with peers who were interested in and willing to engage in thoughtful and intimate conversation. Rarely was I present in a home in which the parents demonstrate a vested interest in their child’s and their child’s friends thought and feelings. The exception to this was my Jewish friends whose families engaged in interesting and thought provoking conversation.

Years of Social Change

I couldn’t relate to my mom’s sense of being bored and having too much free time which greatly influenced her decision to go to work. Shortly after my mom went to work the women’s movement became a part of the mainstream social discussion. I found the entire movement quite encouraging and it gave me hope that men, and not only women, would be able to seek a better quality of life. The early dialogue in the women’s movement focused on quality of life issues such as consciousness raising, intimate relationship, self-discovery and finding and engaging in activities which improved and fulfilled oneself infusing their life with a sense of joy and meaning.

In my junior high years a feminist mom of one of my classmates initiated monthly assemblies where we would listen and discuss important social issues such as the war, poverty, the good society, and how to find meaning in one’s life. I was convinced that the women’s movement was going to free both men and women by providing everyone with options and replacing labor and sacrifice with intimacy and personal growth.

Shortly before I graduated high school the focus of the women’s movement turned towards the economic freedom of having jobs and careers and turned away from quality of life issues. I felt betrayed as the movement abandoned self-actualization and intimacy and replaced by an obsession with joining the workforce and receive equal pay. I could not fathom why women would aspire to live in the world that so many men experienced as a repressive prison. Why would anyone who was seeking intimacy and a better quality of life make alienating labor its core goal?

In my eyes the humanist and feminist goal of creating a society fostering human fulfillment and self-actualization was being replaced by everyone being imprisoned by a life dominated by alienating and stifling labor.

Honoring Everyone’s Sexual Nature

In the fist couple of paragraphs I discussed how I was drawn to and desired to be intimate with the female body and value system. Data and conversations I had with my male friends amply demonstrated that I was not alone with this visceral, emotional and psychological attraction to women. The male sex drive is a powerful hormonal tempest that often dominates many men from puberty well on into adulthood. Sexual desire and the desire to have an intimate relationship with a woman is hard wired into the average heterosexual male.

We have come a long way in terms of understanding, accommodating and sometimes even celebrating the complex biological and hormonal feminine world. The bulk of men and women understand that the hormonal premenstrual changes in the average female influence mood, emotional tenor as well as sensual sensitivities and thought process. We also have begun to understand and accommodate the hormonal and emotional changes engendered during peri-menopause. Only a small portion of people would consider the emotional, physical and psychological changes to be a matter of choice, or a personal problem and handicap. While the hormonal changes are not experienced by everyone in the same manner and intensity, we would not say that they are fictitious or something a woman just needs to overcome.

We also have come a long way in realizing that sexual orientation, identity and sexual appetites are less about choice and more about biochemistry and genetics. One does not choose to be gay anymore than one chooses to be heterosexual.

We have much data regarding the harms caused when one suppresses, denies, or resents their sexual identity and preferences. Depression and even suicide are common reactions to sexual repression, yet often it can also lead to perversion, aggression, and physically harming self and others. There are numerous biochemical and emotional benefits for those who live a healthy and rewarding sex life. The sense of joy and connection not only benefits one’s self-esteem, but also improves one’s personal health, psychological perspective and ability to feel and express compassion.

The heterosexual sex drive is just as biological and inherent as that of gays, lesbians and transgenders. It is just as vital for heterosexual men to have their biological imperatives honored. Similar emotional, psychological and social problems emerge when the male sex drive is repressed, prohibited, suppressed and demonized and when men are told to overcome and transcend their sex drive through will power.

There is a tendency in the feminist narrative to decry the male sex drive in a host of negative frames. The male sex drive objectifies females. The male sex drive is often equated with a male need for power and control. The unrefined (non repressed) male sex drive leads towards violence and aggression. The negative bias towards the male sex drive includes feelings that for a man to be sexually healthy he need to curb his sex drive and become in touch with his feminine side.

While we have acknowledged the ill effects of long term suppression, denial and repression of one’s sexual identify, desires and appetites with the LGBT populations we have generally ignored or at least minimized the effects of repression and rejection on the emotional and psychological health of the heterosexual male. It has been rather common knowledge that from the onset of puberty through a sizable portion of adulthood the average heterosexual male’s life is frequently dominated by sexual thoughts, desires, urges and fantasies. Decades of scientific research have identified many of the hormonal and biochemical processes which render sexual intercourse a biological imperative for a great portion of adolescents and men.

The average adolescent and young adult male’s life being dominated by sexual impulses is also dominated by feelings of rejection and repression in that the goal of their daily and hourly impulses are denied and rebuffed. Is it any wonder that many men who have spent the greater portion of their adolescent and adult life being rejected and often vilified for their “preoccupation” with sex have a hard time staying emotionally invested and engaged?

One’s sexuality and sexual nature is core to both one’s self-concept and satisfaction in life. One’s sense of joy, pleasure, intimacy and meaning is highly impacted by and structured in one’s sexual sensibilities. The appreciation, understanding, compassion for an individual’s sexuality and sexual identity is just as important for heterosexual males as it is for any other sexual preference and identity.

All people and genders are negatively impacted by repression and suppression in any arena including that of sex drive and identity. The list of ways in which these repressions and suppressions manifest themselves is quite lengthy and would include various forms of active and passive aggression, inhibitions, perversions, obsessions and compulsions. Accommodating and helping people’s sexual natures find healthy expression and satiatIon benefits all and leads to better mental and physical health.

I am particularly distressed by the growing feminist perspective that many men are being labeled misogynists. The hormonal biochemistry of the heterosexual male sex drive is not based on hatred, but on attraction, intimacy, desire, passion, connection and devotion. Anger, hatred, abuse and violence are more often the products of repression, suppression, rejection, denial and desperation.

The male sex drive has been the core of all that I cherish and gives meaning to my life. It it what propels me towards finding intimate relationships with others. The biochemistry of sexual fulfillment and orgasm, is central to my experience of pleasure, beauty, passion, empathy, joy and intimacy. Yet, these marvels of being human have often come from my ability to withstand the censure and negative bias of a repressive society that tries to have me deny or transcend my sexual desires. I look about me and do not find many other males who have been able to embrace their sexual natures in a personally fulfilling manner. The road to personal happiness and social harmony is best navigated by understanding and compassion and not with anger, prohibition, and intolerance. The male sex drive is in dire need of a bit of compassion and understanding, and the potential benefits in terms of social harmony are hard to overestimate.

 

Economics and Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues17 May 2013 03:03 pm

My dad came to the US from Italy when he was 13 years old. My mom was born in the US in a small Italian community which was where my dad’s family eventually settled. My mom’s parents married shortly after they had come to America and quickly started a family.

My dad, who was 13 years older than my mom, lasted less than a year in public schools and began working to help support the family when he was 14. My mom lasted into her freshman year of high school, but too, had to quit school to help support the family.

My dad was a firm believer in the idea of coming to America to “make a better life”. He, like many of contemporaries, felt that hard work and sacrifice were necessary to accomplish this goal. Living in the US was seen as an opportunity to escape the poverty that had dominated his family for generations in southern Italy. Success, for him, was being able to provide for his family so that they had food on the table and would not have to spend their waking hours worrying about basic safety and survival.

After my parents married they moved to a nearby factory town on the shores of Lake Michigan. My dad took pride on his working his way up from the railway yards to become a ticket agent at a train station. He talked of his being fortunate of no longer having to do “menial labor” nor having to work in the factories that dominated local employment.

In my early years I rarely saw my dad for he found it necessary to  have a second job to make sure we could not only survive, but save some money for the future. My dad got up at four in the morning,  got ready for work and returned home about 3 in the afternoon as we were coming home from school, we than would eat before 4 so that my dad could make the evening shift at some restaurant or at the new fast food establishments.

On the rare evening my dad was at home he would take his slide rule and racing form to the kitchen table and spend hours doing the research that went into his small wagers on the horses. On weekends we either went to relatives houses many of which still lived in the Italian community a half hour away, or some relative would come to our house. Larger family parties occurred regularly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays and church functions. On Sunday mornings we always went to church before seeing relatives for the remainder of the day.

The men in my hometown talked about work and factory life far more than any other topic. Even in family gathering it was unusual that someone didn’t vent a little frustration over their work situation, boss or the lack of security in their employment. 

Maybe it was just what we chose to watch, but the topic of labor and work even seemed to dominate the entertainment industry. I remember movies and plays which dealt with coal miners, factory workers, union strikes and the plight of failure and emptiness in characters such as Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman.

While Marx was not someone my blue collar world had read, people and TV often talked about feeling the “dehumanizing” role of factory work, or how mass production work was like living in a prison, or how insulting and degrading it was to have to kowtow to every boss or supervisor and how the work itself took away a man’s sense of dignity and self-respect. Even the popular comedies on TV made numerous jokes and references to the ever present possibility of being fired or laid off.

At a very early age I became highly fearful of ending up working in a factory, or being forced to engage in some labor of endless repetition. Even the professionals in town with careers or those in management positions seemed to be kowtowing to some boss and being tethered to a long and highly structured work week.  In my mind I began to equate work with a loss of freedom, autonomy and any hope of  a decent quality of life.

My mom had worked from the age of 15 until she got married in her late 20’s. She took pride in being a strong peasant woman and in the old world values of the immigrant mother’s she idolized. She liked the role of  mother and homemaker, and took a particular delight in cooking.

My mom’s life of a housekeeper mother was filled with menial labor and “drudgery”.  Yet, the ardor of her work load and the time required to complete a task seemed to lessen with each invention and advance in appliance technology. Going from washboard to wringer was not that drastic, but the jump to washing machine was dramatic and much appreciated. Even the advance in fabrics reduced ironing time. The list of appliances, technologies and “conveniences” which reduced housekeeping time and effort was expanding on a monthly basis. Even in lower middle class families such as ourselves the quality of life of the homemaker was improving greatly.

By the time I was four or five my mom was able to entertain herself with radio or TV while she tended to her household tasks and chores. She was able to take breaks to watch a favorite program or visit with a neighbor lady for an hour or so, and still get dinner on the table by 4.  My mom actually found enough “leisure” time to reengage in hobbies/crafts of her latter childhood such as embroidery and crocheting.

Most of her daytime TV was divided into two areas. One area of interest was quiz type of programs such as “Concentration” and the other were the emotional tearjerkers such as “Queen for a Day” or the “Millionaire”. 

While the advances in technology appeared to be a boon for the housekeeper, it did not seem to improve the quality of life for the factory worker. While advance in assembly line technology did reduce the physical demand on a worker, it also reduced the scope of their activity to one part or cog of a product. No longer could they even take pride in the completion of an entire product such as a clock, radio or car, but only in the installation of a front fender, minute hand, or some other part of the complete product.

While technology reduced the time it took to housekeep and the strain the tasks took on the body, in the factory it just increased production expectations and the fears that the technology would replace your need as a worker. Advances in technology made it possible for my dad’s work load to be decreased, and he could have theoretically played a radio while he worked. Yet, his “higher ups” sent out memo’s stating playing a radio would result in termination of employment, and the railroad found many new and additional tasks for him to perform to insure that he had no free time or that his work load was reduced in any fashion or form. To the contrary it seemed that each passing day my dad was required to do more, and be responsible for more, with no additional pay.

In general I found my mom’s life more tolerable than my dad’s. I found his perpetual working, subservience to bosses, and the lack of autonomy and development of outside interests to be boring at best and humiliating at worst. I could never reconcile my relatives story of my dad’s past with the dad I knew. The man who played trumpet, read philosophy, travelled the country, was an avid Ham operator, gambled, made his own sausage, cheese and wine, etc. was  nowhere to be seen. The last vestiges of that man were only seen at the rare moments he listened intently to the opera on the radio, or took time for himself to read reflective nonfiction.

The time I remember him being the most vibrant and alive was when I was 6 or 7 and his union went on strike. My dad become a leader of the workers at this time and set up camp at the downtown hotel in our town. He shined in the role of organizer, giving people instructions, speaking at meetings and being part of the negotiations with management. Though he was glad when the strike was over, I kind of missed the dynamic man who was my dad for a short time.

My dad’s sense of pride and self-esteem had him adopt the stay at home housewife preference. He felt it was his obligation and duty to be the “breadwinner” and that he would be a failure if his wife “had to work”. Yet, when I was 8 years old my mom decided that since all the kids (I was the youngest) were fairly self-sufficient that she wanted to do more to help make our family financially more comfortable. It took only a couple of weeks to convince my dad that she nor their friends would think she “had to work”, but that she just wanted a new challenge and it would allow my sister an opportunity to learn how to cook and manage a home.

My dad helped my mom get a job as a ticket agent at another station on the same line as my dad. She enjoyed the challenge and it gave them a shared interest which brought them closer together. Yet, it wasn’t long before the luster of the new job wore off, and my mom began to complain about the routine just like all the men. Yet, at the end of the day the sense of financial security she got from the job outweighed its deficits and she stayed on the job until about a year after she was robbed at gunpoint and never again felt safe at work.

By the time I got to high school I had made the following assessments of the world and lives of men and women.  I viewed being male as having almost no options and being destined to a laborious life spent in servitude, with little hope of privacy, autonomy or time for personal development. Most of the men I knew seemed empty, emotionally vacant and resentful. The boys my age were trying to sow a few wild oats before conforming to the fate of being male.

I did have some distant male relatives who lived in Italian communities or neighborhoods that seemed to truly enjoy their lives. They were artists, musicians, entrepreneurs (organized crime?), or individuals who somehow got by with minimal labor. They were fun loving, funny, emotional, and their lives seemed to be filled with meaningful relationships. Quality of life, joy and relationships were their priorities and they made you feel good just to be able to bask in their energy.

The Italian lover’s of life philosophy summed up by the colloquialism “dolce far niente”  (sweet idleness) was something that I harmonized with. Another version of this Italian art of living philosophy was offered by North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano when after being diagnosed with cancer  said: “To me, there are three things we all should do every day…..You should laugh every day…You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears…If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”…

The life of most of the adults I knew seemed hollow and meaningless. Life seemed too incredible and precious to me, to waste it in toil or mindless activity. Most men were doomed to an empty existence of endless labor, we had no choice in the matter. Women on the other hand were beginning to have options, my mom could work or stay at home. Technology and social change were opening a whole new world to women in which they began to talk of issues such as“quality of life”, “consciousness raising”, “intimacy” and the richness of human emotion and experience.

Just when I was beginning to feel that I would have little or no opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rich existence the women’s movement emerged as a beacon for a vision of living a quality life. While the majority of men were consigned to a life of labor and subjugation, a growing percentage of women were entering a new age of self-exploration and enlightenment.

I remember watching the Phil Donahue show and feeling a growing sense of hope and optimism. Women were leading a discussion on the direction of society. The gospel of the women’s movement seemed to be that men were leading an empty life of labor, ambition and the thirst for power, and that women were in danger of leading a “shallow” and “superficial” life filled with pettiness and gossip. Women were being called upon to join together in a quest for a fulfilling and meaningful life. A life of freedom, dignity, respect and personal development. 

The majority of my male friends in high school were either already becoming emotionally vacant and empty, or just partying until the music stopped. My female friends were more into self-disclosure and talking about their feelings. 

I became close to a small group of verbal guys who talked at length on science, philosophy and the future. I also found another mixed group of friends who talked about art, literature, music and social revolution. The majority of female friends I had, talked about relationships, human communication and the soap opera of adolescence. 

Though I sometimes found the conversation of my female friends to be petty or emotionally tedious it was far preferable to the alternative. I found myself introducing or advocating my female friends to become more engaged in the women’s movement and its basic philosophy.

Advances in technology were already showing that automation was the future, and that many factory jobs could be replaced by automated machines working faster and more efficiently than human workers. We already were showing signs of having too many workers for too few jobs, and that productivity goals could be met through less full time workers.

The women’s movement and pop psychology were informing us that “self-actualization” and “intimacy” were far more important than work/labor and making money. That, in fact, monetary ambition and long working hours were injurious to health, quality of life, and the development and maintenance of fulfilling friendships and enduring familial relationships.

Despite the murder of some very important leaders of social change much had been accomplished not only in the growth of the women’s movement, but civil rights, and the ecological and anti-war movements. Watchdog agencies, whistleblowers and journalists were exposing the corruption in government, business, medicine, finance, academia, the media and the military in a way that seemed to promise better management and accountability.

Human dignity and respect was on the rise for workers, women, minorities and students. Fear and hatred was being replaced by tolerance and understanding. The landing on the moon had been a sign that we can accomplish anything we commit ourselves to and that war, poverty, and world hunger were problems we could address and solve.

We are fond of saying that it is darkest before the dawn, yet one person’s dawn is another persons dusk. And just at the moment when I felt that the journey of self-actualization and quality of life was about to take flight, the forces of anger, control, hatred, and oppression seemed to silently turn us back towards the prison we just escaped.

Almost overnight the messages of personal development, quality of life, human intimacy, freedom and autonomy were being subtly modified and replaced with messages speaking of consumption, making money, and national and cultural superiority. 

The advertising and business world targeted minorities, women, and students as emerging lucrative consumer markets. Equating new found freedoms and social status with making money, consumption and having a new and expensive image. Drinking malt liquor and wearing specific clothes became synonymous with being a hip and successful black person. Virginia Slim’s proclaimed, “you’ve come a long way baby”, to hawk a product “designed for the modern woman”. 

Soon the women’s movement humanistic message of quality of life and intimacy became lost in the desire for equal pay and full employment. Entering the evil and destructive male dominated world of power, money, servitude and labor became the goal and battle cry of the movement. 

While I fully supported equality and rights for all, I felt stunned that the goal had now become for all to become slaves to money, labor and subjugation to corporate owners be they white male, female or minority. I personally cared little if the warden were black, white or female, I just wanted out of prison. My concern was in the quality of our lives and in our ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships and a societal respect for my and your privacy and autonomy.

Now forty years later I still have the same longings, desires and goals. I look back at the women’s movement like a photograph of an old girl friend who ended up sleeping with my old tormentor. We could have shared so much together, we could have had made the world an intimate caring place. Instead we now live in a society in which two paychecks don’t even have the purchasing power of one back in the 50’s or 60’s.  And where quality of life, life expectancy, health, happiness quotients, and leisure time have been on the decline and falling behind other more “socialistic” nations around the globe.

While I look back at what I experienced as a lost opportunity its hard not to be frightened by our surveillance society and the loss of all the freedoms and privacy we struggled to achieve and the fact that the only real growth industry left in our decayed capitalistic system of empire is fear mongering , prejudice and intolerance. 

Jim Guido

 

Gender Issues and Relationships and sexuality07 Nov 2009 01:27 pm

When attending recent wedding ceremonies I’ve been struck with how daunting, if not realistic, it is to commit to being with someone for the rest of your life. Being married for 26 years I’m far better equipped now to vow “till death do you part” than I was back then. Any marriage that flourishes even during the hormonal throes of menopause appears quite hale and hearty and able to go the distance.

Given the fact that committing to someone for life is so difficult, it would appear that it would be wise to maximize any factors which propel people towards bonding with each other. When you look at nature nothing propels individuals towards each other than the sex drive. The male sex drive in particular seems to be the impetus towards union.

Though it be true that in any particular pairing a woman’s sex drive may be stronger than their mate, by and large the male sex drive is one of the strongest forces in nature. When watching a nature show it is common to see two male beasts hurdling towards each other at full speed only to butt heads in the most violent of fashions with the sole purpose of winning the right to mate with a female.

While watching from the comfort of a couch women are often shocked and horrified by the spectacle while most men either think “been there, done that”, or at least feel a genuine sense of sympathy for the plight of the participants. Anyone doubting the fact that the male sex drive is stronger than the average female can just ponder how often woman pay for sex as opposed to men.

It is through sexual passion, pleasure and ecstasy that the average person desires to consume or fuse with their mate. It is through sexual passion that one yearns to know every inch of their beloved’s body and being.

Yet, in our society we have a tendency to demonize the male sex drive and demand that men overcome, master or sublimate their sex drive. Men who are open to trying to satiate their sex drive are accused of reducing their mates “to sex objects” or being shallow regarding love and intimacy.

Now I’m not saying that sex is the only important ingredient to a life long union, or that sex cannot be pathological or even a way to avoid intimacy. What I am saying is that sex is a powerful and natural force towards union, and that repressing or demonizing it is counter productive when your goal is life long partnership and union.

Every relationship is going to have difficult lean times when our lives are full of stress and hardship. During such times it if often the pleasure and closeness forged through sexual intimacy which allows the matrimonial bond to survive.

Woman who complain about the pervasiveness of their mates sexual energy are often cutting off the very blood supply that is allowing the marriage to succeed. Differences in sexual appetites is almost a certainty in every relationship, but bridging those differences through understanding and adaptation is very important.

Ridiculing a partner over their elevated desire for passion or demanding that they deny their sex drive is not a strategy leading towards forming a mutually rewarding relationship. Sexual repression, rejection and deprivation are often factors leading towards sexual addiction, promiscuity, infidelity and perversion.

Desiring frequent sex is no more a sign of pathology than enjoying food and yearning to eat is a sign of an eating disorder.

Many complain that the importance of sex in a relationship is exaggerated and over rated, and that true intimacy functions on a higher plain. Yet, most of these same people would leave or divorce their spouse if they found out they “had been unfaithful” or “ had an affair” with someone else. If they really believed that sex is unimportant than they wouldn’t feel betrayed or the relationship destroyed by meaningless sex. If sex wasn’t important than why would almost every culture on earth make fidelity the central component of the marriage vow.

Pleasurable and rewarding sex is probably the single most powerful tool we can use in creating and maintaining a life long intimate relationship. The desire to love every inch of body and being is the best foundation I can think of for building a life long relationship, and sexual intimacy is the most natural and universal drive propelling that desire.

To paraphrase the bard, “I come not to bury Eros (the erotic), but to praise him”.

Sex is not the answer to every problem in a relationship, not even close. But denying, or even ignoring its importance seems fool hearty. I guess one could fell a tree without a saw, but to purposely avoid a saw when your goal is to cut down a tree seems like an awfully silly thing to do.

Jim Guido

PS I have written many posts on the male sex drive and gender issues particularly from August 2007 to March 2008. Also many of my posts have dealt with what I feel is the modern tendency to deny, avoid and demean our humanity.

Gender Issues and Psychology and Relationships16 Sep 2009 09:01 pm

Most high functioning animals learn their skills by playing while babies. They learn how to hunt, defend themselves, escape from danger and develop their most vital skills all while playing with siblings, peers and parents. Human children too, develop many of their skills and characteristics through play.

The following observations of human play are divided along gender lines due to the difference in play styles often exhibited by boys and girls. This is not to say that all boys play one way and girls another, but does seem to fit the standard ways in which children in the US play and use fantasy in their formative years.

While boys tend to prefer large motor activity spending much of their play running and moving about, girls tend to talk more and engage in relatively stationary activities. Having worked in day care during the late 70’s I observed quite a difference in play styles between most boys and girls. During the last decade or so I have been called upon to observe children having trouble in day care programs in order to help the staff develop strategies and interventions allowing a child to remain at a particular center. Though the roles of men and woman have changed greatly, the play styles amongst boys and girls have not changes much over the last 30 or so years.

Playing with dolls still remains a favorite activity of young girls. Girls are comfortable playing with dolls alone, side by side with others and will sometime even join others in small group doll play. Most girls prefer personal rather than group doll play and change to more social activities such as dress up, playing house and puppet shows when in groups. Girls also enjoy doing crafts and arts in groups while engaging in spirited conversation.

When playing with dolls most girls enter their own personal little fantasy land. They move the doll or dolls about while talking to them frequently. They often organize daily activities and events with the doll(s) such as tea parties, dinners, dances and the like. Many times the doll is taken care of like it is a baby, or the doll is a baby. Most of the time the child seems to enjoy having total control of the interactions with the doll. Though affectionate with their “dollies” most girls are quite verbally critical of their dolls behavior and dole out punishments and admonitions with great frequency.

To me the most striking aspect of standard doll play is the amount of verbal and physical energy the child puts into correcting and bossing their dolls Even though the doll is motionless the fantasy is that the doll is always in need of guidance and punishment for social errors in terms of behavior and verbals. The doll is both a person and a possession in need of the girl as mother.

This need to be in complete control is also demonstrated in other female dominated games. Most fathers of little girls who have been invited to a play tea party have experienced the harsh corrections of their almost every move. Dad picks up the tea cup, he’s often corrected on how to hold it. He takes a cookie that’s offered him and here’s his daughter cry out “no, no you’re supposed to say……” or some such thing. The entire tea party is spent with the daughter scripting every word and action with a running dialogue as director of the party.

Puppet shows given by a girl and a boy often go a similar route in which every line uttered by the boy is met with the girl saying, “no, no, now you say…..” or “now you do……”. I believe this aspect of verbal control of domestic and social interactions is often duplicated by girls as they grow into mothers and wives.

The social control aspect of a young girls early play and fantasy life often comes to the forefront on their wedding day. Many woman talk of how much they dreamed of and fantasized their wedding day since they were a young girl. Many a talk show has been spent discussing a wedding trauma experienced by a bride when things didn’t go as planned. Even without a major mishap many brides express a severe disappointment that the day did not live up to the dream. It’s tough for a man to live up to how the doll performed and was scripted to perform in the many dress rehearsals of the young girls fantasy play. She can’t interrupt the grooms every action and verbal with “no, no, now you say…. or no, no now you do”.

Real men make terrible dolls and even worse fantasy princes. They don’t talk right, act right and treat their wife with the kind of love and devotion that her dolls did with her expert guidance and control. While little girls dote on their baby dolls and feed and take care of them, when they fantasize about their future husbands little girls play is dominated by the love and devotion the man shows and feels for them. Girl’s fantasies as well as most fairy tales are centered around the girl being the prize. The prince loves and the heroine of the story is loved.

In most relationships I’m privy to, the woman controls most of the domestic and social venues while the man is in control of most everything else. It is not unusual for a woman to exert great influence over what a man wears at a given function. A husbands performance at a given social function is often cause for great concern over even a source for frequent arguments during the course of many a marriage.

When women complain that they “just want to be listened to”, I have a hard time not picturing the doll being propped up in the chair as the little girl talks on and on in fantasy dialogue. Dolls are the perfect playmate and the perfect possession. Men just don’t make the grade.

This is not to blame doll play for much of the problems in heterosexual relationships, but it is important to note that early play is the basic template most animals use for adult life. It is somewhat to be expected that the fantasy and habits formed during early play would be replayed during adult life.

Babies have a better chance of replicating many aspects of early doll play. A baby being helpless, vulnerable and mute for quite a span of time is in perfect need for the little girls constant teaching and guidance. The frequent talking to the doll is once again very beneficial when a young mother talks to her baby. A vulnerable baby needs to be someones prized possession.

Yet, many mother’s experience difficulties when their babies grow up and their verbal control and criticism causes conflict and turmoil. Having a human being come out of your body after being part of you for nine months has to be one of the most incredible experiences a human being can experience. The fetus was created in your body, lived and grew in your body, and every cell of their body was formed from your cells. The blood and air feeding the fetus are yours, so when the baby is born it must be hard to not continue to view it as part of you. In so many ways a baby is truly a possession of the mother.

These facts, coupled with the doll fantasy play, make viewing and treating a child as a separate and autonomous person a true hurdle for a woman.

While much of a little girls fantasy and doll play involves future hurdles regarding a need to control social and domestic environments a little boys early play and fantasy deal with other control issues. in fairness to women I’ll give a short synopsis of the male hurdle.

The typical boy’s fantasy and game world is dominated by action and adventure. While many today focus on a little boy’s desire to play with guns or win wars, this does not exhaust his areas of interest. Little boys love movement. They are either running, or imagining driving a car, plane, truck or space ship. Many crave super powers and either have super hero action figures, or imagine being in a world of dinosaurs or mythical beasts. Little boys, love to win, conquer, build and invent. They like to plan, design and take things apart. Many spend hours seeing how things work or exploring lawn, creek and forest life.

Young boys thirst for change and control of the world around them. Leaving things alone and just admiring them is not something most boys enjoy.

The need to build, control, invent, design and just plain tinker and monkey with everything natural or man made is a young man’s burden. The misuse and overuse of the planet’s resources is predictable with the play of young boys. Political conflict and war is also structured into the play and fantasy of young boys.

Entire books could easily be dedicated to the current and possible benefits and drawbacks of the play of both young girls and boys. This post was only meant to whet the appetite for exploration and discussion regarding this issue.

Jim Guido

Art and Gender Issues and Psychology and Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues09 Aug 2009 10:20 am

I’m always amazed at how many of us behave in ways which seem to indicate that we do not view the human body as a thing of beauty? In fact there is much evidence to lead one to conclude that we are not only not happy with our bodies but view them as something to overcome and transcend.

Since the onset of puberty when I started to become attracted to the female form I found the majority of female bodies beautiful in one way or another. It was rare that I found a female form without some alluring or at least redeeming quality. Being heterosexual I was neither drawn to nor desired the male body. Yet, this did not prevent me from admiring my own or other males muscle tone or physique.

As I’ve mentioned many times how the female form has been central to art and the definition of beauty for almost every culture on the planet. Yet, despite this fact there does seem to be a tendency for people to be critical of the human form and in many ways find the human body disgusting or something to overcome or transform.

The use of make up has become more pronounced through the ages. While it can be used to enhance or draw attention to particularly attractive aspects of a person such as their eyes or lips, it also can be used to hide perceived flaws. If you pay attention to the message given in advertising the major role of current make up artistry to cover up flaws and create false impressions rather than accent strengths.

The entire realm of cosmetic surgeries even goes further in its desire to remove flaws and overcome weaknesses. Referring to a woman as a natural beauty is becoming a rarer event, especially amongst females.

The percentage of woman who state that they are happy or even comfortable with their bodies is shockingly low if you believe the statistics in magazine polls and psychological self-esteem studies.

If you look at Woman’s magazine’s beauty ads and photos you see a very narrow and unrealistic form of beauty. The models build and body type look very similar and they are air brushed into a rather cartoon like existence. Though male nudity magazines often tend towards featuring woman with larger breasts and flat stomachs you can still find woman of many varied body types being presented in an erotic fashion. Though the air brushed female is on the rise in male mags there is still plenty of space given to celebrating the varied forms of the female body.

The male form is far less celebrated in our society, and is at least as narrow in its definition of masculine beauty.

Other than a few rare exceptions the general male body is not considered attractive by our culture. In fact many woman state they find a partially or well dressed man far more attractive than a nude one. Not many men would say they prefer a clothed female body over a naked one.

In fact, many woman and men are uncomfortable and even disgusted by the male form. In modern cinema the naked female body is posed as a thing of beauty while the male body is seldom naked as when it is it usually is used a vehicle for comedy. While woman may complain that the female bodies in cinema are unrealistic and idealized, everyone realizes a male cavorting around in his underwear is a recipe for hilarity. A nude woman dancing and bending over is often erotic while a nude man dancing and bending over is used as a comic device in cinema resulting in people laughing and shouting words of disgust such as “gross”.

If people’s discomfort with the sight of the human body is becoming more pronounced it is nothing in comparison to the campaign against the human scent. When was the last time you heard someone praise the natural scent of a person other than their lover or spouse. Our bodies exist in a world of deodorants, perfumes, colognes, and scented shampoos where any trace of a natural human scent is impossible to discern. Any hint of the body’s natural scent would almost usually be viewed as poor hygiene. There use to be a difference between body odor and its scent.

Sure bad breath and stench are to be avoided, but isn’t there a positive role for one’s natural scent. Is the smell of the human body inherently offensive and disgusting? And if we feel the human scent repulsive what does it say about our view of ourselves and humanity in general.

In future posts I’ll take a look at other ways in which we show a dislike for our very humanity, sense of self, and experience of life. Yet, before concluding today I want to offer a couple more observations regarding our view of the male form and beauty.

If you’re male try to spend some time listening to female’s inn conversation, if you’re female pay attention to how central the concept of beauty is to feminine dialogue. When entering a house, or a shop or when first meeting another female it is rare that no observation or compliment regarding the beauty or physical appeal of something is not made within seconds. Something worn or in the room or changed is noted or praised. A new hair style, clothing, ear rings, etc, will be noted, or the feel or look of some object will be brought to everyone’s attention.

Over then last few years I’ve been astounded by the percentage of conversation time females spend assessing, appreciating and describing the sight, feel, smell and taste of beautiful things. Yet, despite this preoccupation with beauty and beautiful things how rare it is for woman to appreciate or articulate the beauty of the male form.

Males who seldom talk of the beauty of objects, on the other hand, generally view the female form as the height of beauty. This irony is depicted in the following lyrics from Preening Like a Peacock.

Preening Like A Peacock

Preening like a peacock hormones out of control
Preening like a peacock putting on the show

Women find beauty in natural things
Sunrise/sunset, seashores and gems
Women see beauty in many things
Flowers, colors, in fashion and rings

She sees beauty everywhere, preening like a peacock
Why is she looking way over there, preening like a peacock

A woman feels beauty in every touch
In satin, silks and in a baby’s flesh
A woman smells beauty in every sniff
In perfumes, herbs and floral scents

Spending hours smelling roses or buying a new top

A man sees beauty in the girl of his dreams
His temptress, his partner, his goddess his queen
A man finds beauty in a woman’s form
A breast, a thigh, a hip bone exposed

She is the goal of art
She is his anchor and spark
She gives the milk of life
Without her he shrivels and dies

A man feels beauty in the passion of curves
Flowing from buttock to the small of the back
A man feels completion with a woman in tow
She’s his altar, his Eden, his castle and throne

While I preen my feathers I feel oh so hot
Every time I feel I’m pretty I hear the bubble pop

Nothing pleases like a maiden in heat
Itching for pleasure from her head to her feet

Yet lust fades as quick as it comes
From an 8 course banquet to a stick of gum
In a woman’s world of beauty men don’t make the cut
A few handsome faces maybe and the occasional butt

But we’ll never really get it, we’ll continue to strut
We’ll shake our tail feathers thinking we’re too much
We’ll shake our tail feathers we’ll strut our stuff

To listen to this song go to the Priorities CD in the music section.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Government and Psychology and Social Issues09 Feb 2008 12:32 pm

The typical view is that modern industrial societies are patriarchal in nature and manner. Male domination, in these societies, is enforced and maintained through aggressive and violent brute force.

In our examination into male female tendencies through gender symbols we have called into question much of this stereotype of male aggression. While granting the validity of phallic symbols such as guns, missiles and knives we have balanced this with other valid phallic images. These images focusing on penetration, probing, expansion and emission included the microscope, hypodermic needle, telescope, drill, hoe, train, pen, paintbrush and many other tools, artistic, implements and technological instruments which have been used to foster and improve the quality of life.

So, is male brute force the only or even main instrument of social power, or are there other less overtly masculine means used by modern societies to enforce control over its populaces?

Modern psychology has identified many alternative methods that an individual may employ to establishing and maintain control over another. Many of these methods can be used by governments and political leaders socially and not just be used in one-on-one situations. These general strategies of psychological manipulation include guilt, shame, fear, exclusion, intimidation, innuendo, class designation and exile.

Though various forms of psychological intimidation and warfare have existed throughout history, they probably have never served such a central role as they do in modern democracies. In general modern democracies are premised on the idea that citizens have general rights and that they elect the leaders who serve their interests. Such an ideology makes it difficult for a political group to govern through brute force. Instead they must foster control through more subtle and psychological means. This is the realm of public perception management and political spin. This is the realm of getting people to willingly give up their rights and privileges in exchange for protection and inclusion within the group.

These indirect means of power and control are not only done by governments upon its citizenry, but filters down to interpersonal interactions among individuals and communities. The same strategies are also used in international affairs. Therefore, the psychological methods of power and control are used in interpersonal, domestic and international levels.

While brute force and the threat of brute force is still a major tool used by the
US and a few other nations in international affairs most other nations use less aggressive means of exerting their power. Most nations and governing bodies standardly use strategies of power and control which deal more with psychological matters such as guilt, shame and exclusion.

Let’s take a moment to discuss the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is more internal and geared towards the individualistic nature of democratic societies. While shame is more a form of public humiliation and exile. This distinction between cultures that emphasize guilt and ones which employ shame was first introduced by ER Dodds but grew in popularity in many fields including psychology, philosophy, anthropology and sociology.

In short modern societies often employ both shame and guilt with despotic and socialistic societies leaning towards shame and democratic or theistic societies centering on guilt. In both cases power and control are fostered by either a person feeling personally at fault and unworthy (poor self-esteem) or socially humiliated and devalued.

In international affairs nations use the principle of exclusion through leaving or removing nations from groups such as NATO, OPEC or the UN. This would also involve being sanctioned or punished by some international organization, or in being labeled a terrorist state by some international body. Nations will often use indirect pressure to exert power or influence over another nation, such as embargoes or economic sanctions whereby the target nation of the act suffers economic or political harm.

Inside of nations tools such as strikes, demonstrations and marches often serve to wield power and influence. In a capitalistic/democratic nation the threat of the ballot box or in refusing to consume or patronize a business can give grassroots or religious organizations great leverage and power.

What the bulk of this post suggests is that power in modern societies even those which are patriarchal or despotic often employs techniques of power which are not typically masculine in nature. Not only is power diffused of brute force, but many of the mechanisms employed could be considered feminine in nature.

Though both men and women employ direct and indirect means of power, the more blatant aggressive and violent forms are considered masculine and the more indirect, verbal and vague forms are considered feminine. For more on the feminine aspects of power I’d suggest you read my posts on female womb/vaginal sexual images and their meanings. In short the female images focus on protection, gestation and accumulation which is exemplified in images such as the purse, nest, home, bank vault, coal mine, vases, pots, vessels and secret passage ways.

Likewise in modern psychology the indirect means of getting power are considered feminine in nature. This is the realm of passive aggressiveness, and though once again this strategy is employed by both men and women it is considered more feminine in nature.

With this in mind one could make a strong case that the bulk of day-to-day power plays in modern society use feminine rather than masculine techniques. While men have been labeled brutes and violent tyrants women have been cast as gossips and social predators. The realm of gossip, innuendo, rumor, and verbal insinuation is the realm of modern politics in the US. Fact is seldom focused on and instead we are always forced to consider perception and presentation. What is said, is often secondary to how it was said or even who is reputed to have said it.

In a society which openly acknowledges the importance of spin and spends great energy in parsing their words to arrive at a desired affect, it is hard not to recognize a classically feminine energy. The desire to destroy the reputation of your opponent by smear and rumor and to have them suffer the pain of being excluded from the group is not the technique used by brute force or tyrants.

Again many studies have shown that while males across the globe have a tendency from birth to be attracted to objects and activities, females have a tendency to be focused on relationships and language. I would argue that modern societies have become less focussed on structural change and more focused on words and relationships. Most wealthy modern societies have become more conservative in nature, and such conservatism puts a limit on the type and style of change encouraged and allowed. Such conservatism also makes the management of public perception all the more important and that means the use of language and images becomes more a tool of power and control.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Government and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues03 Feb 2008 01:56 pm

In our previous posts regarding aggression and violence we’ve posed the probability that the male tendency towards brute force and domination has been overemphasized. While comparing apes to humans we saw that apes have one dominant male per group which vigilantly keeps all other males at bay. The other males do not seem to be very aggressive and only are affected by the dominant male’s attitude when he is physically nearby. Likewise we noted that most men do not use violence or the threat of violence very often, with the majority of men only having a few physical confrontations through the majority of their adult life.

This is not to deny or devalue the fact that an unacceptable percentage of men engage in physical intimidation and force in their domestic home life. Often times domestic violence is used to control and intimidate and it is reflective of the basest animal instincts in man (fight or flight response).  Psychologically the resorting to violence is a sign of desperation, and indicative of a fear that one is inferior and incompetent.

At times in society we do find leaders who in fact are little more than bullies. These dictators control through violence and the threat of violence. Everything about them is built around maintaining an environment of fear.  They are like the great apes and seek out and destroy all challengers until they themselves are finally defeated.

While some leaders are physically imposing  and skilled warriors, the majority of leaders  are seldom big, strong or skilled fighters. In most cases leaders in larger and more complex societies are not physically intimidating. A quick look at the history of conquerors and kings will show that the most outstanding and successful leaders were relatively small and physically less endowed. Admitted some made up for their lack of physical intimidation by being completely insane and scary, yet the vast majority of national leaders have been relatively average in strength and size. Cesare, Napoleon, Pepin, Hitler, Castro, Washington, Victoria and Stalin are not physically intimidating individuals. Yet, they were great leaders and emperors.

The leaders of the Roman and Greek empires were often more skilled in verbal abilities than physical ones. Though they used others to enforce and protect their power, they themselves did not arise to their position of dominance and control through sheer physical prowess.  They attained power through inspiring others to follow their lead and to support their ambitions to be a leader. The desire and ability to lead is more about social dominance rather than physical intimidation. Such leaders often surround themselves with military power. What they lack personally in physical power they make up in military might.  Yet, we should not minimize the importance of the fact that their ability to rule and stay in power has more to do with their verbal skills and intellectual strategy than with physical strength.

So, if we look at the true leaders who seek and maintain their power through dominance and control we find they themselves are not the strongest and most gifted warriors. Their skills lie not so much in the typically male realm of brute force, but in the realm of interpersonal relationships and verbal abilities.

What is ironic about this is that these skills are more feminine rather than masculine in nature.  Gender studies of infants from around the globe generally show the following. Male infants have a tendency to focus on objects rather than people. The vast majority of male infants will look at mobiles while in the crib, and focus on spacial relationships at a young age. Male infants are quicker to engage in large motor activities and prefer active play and interacting with their environment than interacting with others.

Female infants, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on the human face than on the mobiles. Female infants prefer social interaction rather than manipulating objects. While male infants brain waves show a preference for spatial expansion, female infants usually develop strong and early verbal skills and abilities. While boys develop hand and eye coordination through physical play girls are forming verbal relationships with  peers and adults. While the boy’s interactions with their peers is often dominated by physical play and tasks, the girl’s interactions are verbally dominated and relationship oriented.

So, with this in mind it is fascinating that the men who achieve power and dominance in larger complex societies are often very verbally gifted. Rather than achieving their aims of power and control through brute force they do it through relationship building and verbal influence.

In the next couple of posts we will look at the interplay of male and female styles of achieving power and control and how they play out in modern society. We will also try to investigate and expand upon  the non-violent forms of gaining influence and impacting society which tend towards harmony and equality rather than control.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Politics and Psychology and Relationships25 Jan 2008 09:09 pm

The conclusions of studies into the role and function of violence and aggression in the human and animal world have been fairly consistent. They show that both males and females resort to violence when they feel threatened, cornered or highly confused. This is what is typically described as the fight or flight mechanism in which a creature either retreats or attacks in response to a sense of danger or peril.

In nature female’s of the species seem to prefer fleeing the situation unless their young are in danger, in those circumstances they will take on almost any foe. Males in both animal and human societies resort to violence and aggression when they feel threatened or to defend their territory. While both males and females protect their territory, males usually have a larger area. Females protect the home/nest while the males typically stake off a larger territory.

The bulk of animal aggression and violence unrelated to acquiring food usually has to do with defending oneself. Males also get violent and aggressive when meeting a rival during mating season, or when protecting a food or water source.

While the majority of violence is done to defend oneself, the males of the species often use violence and aggression to acquire and attain desired things. In most animals being violent in an offensive manner is done to attain food, shelter, water or a particularly advantageous living area.

Male humans resort to using violence and aggression to acquire desired things more often than most other creatures. Though females occasionally use aggression as a way to acquire desired things, it is rare for this behavior to be used in a habitual manner.

In previous posts I’ve stated that the role of violence and aggression in the male is currently overstated. The typical modern man can count on one hand the number of physical fights that he has engaged in since he became an adult.

Since the average person encounters many confusing and frustrating situations in his life time, and likewise can feel threatened or in danger many times a year, it is obvious that we have developed other ways of responding to danger and confusion.

Modern psychology has identified many subtle ways that people show aggression or try to hurt or ward off others. These methods are often described as being passively aggressive. The bulk of human conflicts which aren’t harmoniously resolved usually result in the use of passive aggression rather than brute force or physical contact.

This is not the time to get into a lengthy analysis of the role and function of passive aggression or of psychological warfare. Yet, it is important to realize that even dominant males do not respond to every conflict with brute force. It is logical that the weaker and less physically imposing people would resort to non-violent means of fighting or injuring others. This is why psychologists have often emphasized the role passive aggression plays in the female social world. Yet, in any given conflict the less physically imposing individual is more likely to engage in psychological or verbal ways of winning a battle.

What role does violence and aggression (both passive and active) play in social change? Are they the major means of social change, or are there more sophisticated and positive means of social change in use which make up the bulk of social change?

Potential answers to this will be explored in the next post.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Government and Politics and Psychology and Social Issues18 Jan 2008 12:16 pm

In August I began writing posts on the male sex drive. At first I focused on the pervasive and strong impact of the inherent sex drive on the emotional and social development of the male adolescent. The demands of the male sex drive were found to be pivotal in how men feel about themselves and what they are willing to share with others.

This led into a comparison between the emphasis men place on activities, accomplishment and pleasure and the female focus on relationships and beauty. This in turn spawned a discussion regarding ways to successfully bridge the gender divide while creating mutually satisfying long term relationships.

During our exploration into the male sex drive we came across many popular myths regarding both genders. This in turn led us to investigate to what extent it is true to refer to our culture as being male dominated. After some discussion I put forward the hypothesis that our culture is male dominated but increasingly female oriented.

Oftentimes people use the Freudian concept of the phallic symbol to demonstrate how men are aggressive, violent and controlling by nature. We used this as a starting point and discussed not only the male (phallic) symbols but also introduced the female sexual images as well.

Our discussion then compared the images related to the phallus with vagina/womb symbols. The male phallic images were seen in objects and activities which related to penetration, probing and emission. These included the standard phallic images of guns, knives and missiles, but were complemented with more positive images as pens, paintbrushes, drills, tools, microscopes, telescopes, trains and submarines. The goals of the phallic images were expanded from aggression and control to include discovery, creativity, progress and expansion.

The female vagina/womb symbols included the purse, bank vault, gold mines, a ship’s hull, homes, nests, and many containers such as pots, pans, urns, vases and barrels. These images reflected the related goals of protecting, housing, accumulating, storing, and gestating.

At this point I’d like to add a few more observations comparing the male and female sexual symbols. The goal is for use this additional information into determining in what ways is society feminine and masculine.

While the male phallus is exposed the female genitalia is hidden. The exposure of the male phallus makes it logical that men would be direct, blunt and aggressive. Likewise, the hidden nature of the female genitalia leads to images of secretiveness, tact, nuance, diplomacy and passive aggression.

Another interesting characteristic of the phallus is that it its mode of growth is sudden, quick and expansive. In contrast the apparent changes of the womb/vagina are cyclic in nature and generally favor consistent growth and long incubation periods.

In the world of social and political change the phallus is akin to revolution and periods of sudden growth. The womb/vagina is more akin to evolution and bringing things slowly to fruition.

In yesterday’s post I was drawing upon this imagery when I talked of how aging democracies become less mercurial and more status quo oriented. This is an example of why I feel that modern democracies are becoming more feminine in their goals and methods. This is neither inherently a positive or a negative but rather only meant to point out that the modern view of our society being male oriented and dominated is a little overstated.

The early years of almost any social system are dominated by issues of quick and sudden change. Progress in such societies is usually quite dramatic and the previous status quo is viewed in a negative light. In the early stages of democracy an improvement in the standard of living is heralded along with expansions of personal freedom. The new citizenry is hopeful and the society is bustling with new technologies and ideas. This emphasis on quick, dramatic change is obviously male in nature.

In the infancy of the US there were many periods of huge change which improved the standard of living and health of its citizenry. Each improvement in the means of communication and transportation had dramatic impacts on the daily life of citizens. Likewise improvements in medicine, chemistry, physics, farm production, animal husbandry and agriculture had an impact on the quality of human life.

During the early years of the US it was in a state of perpetual expansion, not only in terms of technological growth and invention, but also in terms of physical space as prospectors and pioneers traveled south and west. From the phallic symbol perspective it makes sense that the Wild West was such a enticing fantasy for so many men.

As our society aged and we ran out of frontier land our lives had to integrate change in a new way. Once our borders stopped expanding our communities began to become more complex and intricate. This allowed us or maybe forced us to make life more predictable and safe.

Yet, as a society matures it’s rate of growth slows and its continued success increasingly depends on the existence of the status quo. Large successful businesses began to replace individual entrepreneurs. These larger enterprises began to fund and monopolize the bulk of research and through time became increasingly in control of which new technologies were developed and how they were implemented. Through time many successful enterprises evolved into huge monopolistic corporations which then became huge multinational corporations.

We are now at the point where are society is capable of absorbing incredible amounts of technological growth without damaging the status quo. We will not here point out the relative merits and drawbacks to this fact, but only will point that this method of growth is more in line with the vaginal/womb form than that of the phallus.

Due to the length of this post I will leave it to you to read between the lines and expand upon the basic ideas I’m suggesting here. I urge you to take the time to see how our society has changed from one of masculine means of progress and growth to a more feminized approach.

I’ll stop with a couple of examples of how the political process has become more feminine in its methods and goals. Years ago politicians were very direct, blunt and honest. They stood up for what they believed in and seldom worried about offending their audience. Sure they attempted to show people that they were good, but they also wanted to convince people they were right. Politicians not only tried to exhort people through slogans promoting national pride and patriotism, but also encouraged them to vigorously go their own way and grab the American dream.

Today, politicians are afraid to stand out and spend hours on wording things in a manner which will appeal to the widest audience. The pressure of pleasing the electorate has weakened the desire to speak one’s mind. While the old politicians told people to roll up their sleeves and make sacrifices the modern politician relies on feel good issues or on posing their opponent as evil or dangerous. While the old politician talked of common sense and the need to raise taxes to get what one wants, todays politicians find sly and secretive ways to tax citizens while bragging that they will never vote to raise taxes.

The political world used to be very masculine in its methods of getting in people’s faces and challenging them, today almost no one understands the hidden working of politics and instead they have to rely on innuendo and half statements made by political handlers to guess at a candidates position.

Jim Guido

Gender Issues and Psychology and Relationships11 Jan 2008 12:36 pm

In the last few posts we’ve been trying to assess the ways in which our society is dominated and oriented along gender tendencies. We’ve previously stated the likelihood that society is male dominated while  being female oriented.

In the previous post I mentioned the possibility of looking at primate society as a means of seeing its similarities or vestiges in our modern society. In the higher primates we often find the social group is dominated by a male, the larger the group, the more males are present in the community. Yet, it is rare that the dominant male shares his power with any of the other males.  In fact, the dominant male usually spends the bulk of his time and energy intimidating, threatening and bullying the other males of the band.

Once the original fighting to establish the dominate male is complete, and he now sees himself as having mating rights with all of the females, the number of physical fights decreases or vanishes completely. Despite the lack of challenges or challengers the dominant male continues to routinely threaten and intimidate the other males, and is ever vigilant in his desire to show everyone who is boss.

The other males in the band generally avoid and ignore the dominant male and just go about their lives. Studies have shown that the recessive males are healthier and live longer than the dominant male, and autopsies have shown that the dominant males apes and chimps have stress related symptoms such as heart disease, high cholesterol, etc. at a much higher rate and degree than the other males of the troop.

This supports what I proposed last post that the bulk of power in human societies is horded to a small percentage of dominant males, and that it is misleading to say that men have all the power in our society. Like primate societies, most human societies are dominated by a few males. And like primate societies the dominant males spend the bulk of their time and energy intimidating, bullying and threatening the other males to such a degree that even when their are no rivals or challengers  present they continue to thump their chests and terrorize and humiliate the rest of male members of their tribe. To a lessor degree, but still applicable, many dominant males view the entire female population as a mate pool and spend much of their energy courting and trying to force sexual intercourse with a significant number of the band.

Yet, at this point we’re only viewing power in the narrowest sense of brute force and physical aggression. As we stated before while brute force may be the preferred method of the dominant male, it is not the standard method of power for the remainder of men. Many men find power in their ability to know and understand and in their ability to create and invent. They may have a prowess which gives them power. These prowesses can be artistic, mental, athletic or professional.

When comparing the physical strength of males and females we find that their are areas in which women are stronger. In general, men are stronger when it comes to upper body and leg strength, yet woman have stronger bones in the areas of the hips and waist. Women aren’t as vulnerable as men in the pubic area, and generally are more flexible than men. If we judged strength through longevity woman are definitely stronger than men.

So what does an expanded vision of power look like, and how do men and women compare in this manner. Our standard definition of power focuses on brute force and active aggression. Yet, modern psychology has identified the fact that most of human interactions involve less direct means of power called passive aggressive acts.

Passive aggressive acts use power in indirect and usually less physical ways. This is the realm of psychological warfare, of guilt, shame and humiliation. This is the realm where one defeats the other through getting one excluded from the group, defaming them, making them look stupid, or turning the group against them. Passive aggressive methods are hidden and indirect, its methods include not only humiliation, but stealth, rumor, manipulation and deception.

While brute force is seen as the male form of power, passive aggressiveness is generally viewed as a female form of power. I would be the first to admit that many men are as passive aggressive as many women, but it’s indirect and hidden nature better reflects the vaginal/womb imagery rather than the phallic. Male sex images and symbols like their gonads themselves are plainly visible and out there. Their means of power even when not violent or physical are more overt. There is nothing hidden in the means of exhibiting male power in the phallic world of probing, penetrating and emitting. The alternative forms of male power in the arts, sciences, athletics and philosophy is not hidden.

Yet the womb and vagina along with the bulk of their related symbols are hidden. This is why it is easy to see how the indirect use of power is more feminine in nature, even before we take into consideration the need to be indirect due to the comparative physical strength of males.

In the next post we will compare the uses and functions of male brute force and female passive aggression in modern society.

Jim Guido

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