Post-Masculinity

Excerpted from a brilliant article by Manson (see link):

A New Masculinity

Beginning about a year ago, I became obsessed with the question of whether a universal masculinity exists or not. [ ]

You may think this is a funny thing to start obsessing about. But in hindsight, it wasn’t odd at all. For one, much of my social experience the five years prior, and this very website, were rooted in my experiences within the pick up artist (PUA) movement. One could easily argue that a large component of the PUA experience, if not the defining component, is helping men discover and get in touch with their masculinity in order to attract and sleep with more women.

The movement focuses on cultivating conventional masculine behaviors: being socially dominant, leading, establishing strong boundaries, pushing one’s will onto others, objectifying and achieving progress. Non-coincidentally, adopting these new behaviors often leads these men to greater success with women.

[ ]  After all, back when I was meager, passive-aggressive and whiny, women were repelled from me. When I began to behave in a dominant, assertive and pushy manner, women began sleeping with me, people began listening to me and internally, my behavior felt right on a deep level.

Then in late 2009, I began to travel all over the world. And within a few months it became impossible to ignore: masculinity and dominance are culturally relative. In America, most women consider me to be cocky and aggressive. In some Asian cultures, women even found me to be brutish and intimidating. Yet in many countries such as Argentina or Ukraine, I came across to women as sensitive and respectful. Hell, many of the women in Brazil are more sexually assertive than I am. And in Russia, when I told a girl I was seeing that most women in America find me to be too aggressive, she began to laugh in my face.

“You? Are you serious? The reason I like you is because you’re so sensitive and attentive compared to Russian men.”

[ ]  One of the beautiful yet horrifying aspects of traveling all over the world is that every time you step off the plane you set yourself up to have your assumptions shattered. It happens regularly. This was one of them.

The first lesson of this experience was what is known in social psychology as assortment theory, or what I refer to in my book as “Demographics.” The concept is a scientifically observed phenomenon where behavior by one person will naturally screen out and only attract people of that similar behavior.

[ ]  In my case, back when I was a meager, passive-aggressive, whiner, I only attracted women who corresponded to those traits: i.e., not very attractive women. When I began behaving in a dominant and assertive manner, I began attracting women in the US who sought out those dominant and assertive traits — which tended to be the hot, feminine women who were sick of dealing with wusses all the time. But then, when I went to Russia and was suddenly considered passive and sensitive, I attracted women who sought out those more passive and sensitive traits — who coincidentally also were hot, yet well-educated women who were sick of the Russian men acting like drunken pigs.

The point of assortment theory is that there are no (or very few) absolutes: no matter how you alter your behavior, that behavior is always going to naturally attract one subset of people and repel or simply not interest the majority.

[ ]  Throughout all of these experiences was the implication that not only may there not be a universal masculinity, but that conventional masculinity is not universally attractive, something feminists have been saying for decades.

In fact, when I posed this question to a feminist writer earlier this year, she responded with exactly that: it feels like typical masculine traits are universally attractive because every woman I’d been with had been attracted by my masculine traits. It doesn’t mean that women couldn’t be attracted to me for other reasons. In short: assortment theory.

But if masculinity is culturally relative, then why are so many people (both men and women) lamenting the seeming loss of masculinity in our culture? Why are sociologists putting out books about how we’re losing generations of men to “guy culture?” — men who don’t want to commit themselves to anything but playing video games and drinking beer? How does that explain the disaster that’s become the dating and marriage market in the US?

And cultural relativism can’t completely explain it. If it did, men would simply adapt with new norms and move on. To a degree we are. But developmentally, we’re not. We can’t ignore that we ARE biologically different. Men have ten times the amount of testosterone pumping through us, which makes up bigger, stronger, urges us to take more risks, be more violent, less empathetic, want more sex, and achieve greater feats. This all on average of course, and there are exceptions. But the point remains. Everyone seems to agree with the sentiment that western men have lost something in the past few generations.

I saw, and still do see, a lot of the nascent men’s trends (everything from PUA to Maxim-type magazines to shows like Mad Men) in the west as a struggle to reclaim some sort of lost masculinity of the past 50 years. But what is the nature of that struggle? Is retaking a masculine identity a matter of shifting cultural norms? Or is it biological destiny?

The answer it turns out, is a little of both (as usual). And I’m not the first person to ask these questions. Anthropologists and psychologists have been digging into this one for decades.

Rites of Passage

Camille Paglia once wrote, “A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men.” Say what you want, but both Freudian psychologists and many anthropologists back this up. Whereas a woman’s femininity is implicit by simply being and birthing, a man’s must be proven through action.

(Another Sidenote: I realize that women struggle with their own feminine identity issues. I don’t mean to downplay them. But they’re different. And we’re talking about masculinity here, so deal.)

Modern Freudians believe the defining emotional struggle for men is of emotionally disassociating from the safety and care of the emotional (sexual?) attachment with their mother. This disassociation plays out sub-consciously through various life experiences that establish emotional and sexual independence. Men who succeed in establishing their independence are free to fully function as men, whereas the men who never completely escape their mother’s grasp flounder endlessly and ineffectually throughout their lives, struggling to act independently, eluding success, and many times failing to move on to establish a family of their own.

Examples of this disassociation process include masculine propensities for competitive achievement, sexual conquests, professional success and wealth, political power, etc.  [ ]

Anthropologists have found that this process of disassociation plays out in men in every culture. What changes is how the process plays itself out, and to what degree. For instance, indigenous tribes in Eastern Africa require adolescent boys to be tortured and maimed publicly to certify their masculinity, whereas Spanish men are forced out of the house at an early age and expected to become breadwinners early on. Japanese men are put through excessive schooling and expected to achieve a certain academic standing.

What’s interesting though is that any one conventional expression of masculinity is not universal. Tahitian men lack any sense of machismo and are considered quite lazy by comparison to other cultures, but the men there still express their emotional disassociation in other ways, primarily through social groups and organization. In Trukese culture, it’s accepted that men will be come drunks and excessively violent with each other in their early 20′s. Many hunter-gatherer societies tie masculinity to the ability to hunt and catch food. Our society, up until recently, usually attributed manhood to a man’s ability to accumulate and provide wealth and resources.

So the conclusion is that the psychological development of masculinity is universal, but the way it manifests itself is different from culture to culture.

After surveying dozens of cultures on their beliefs and practices of masculinity, anthropologist David Gilmore came to many of the conclusions mentioned above: that there seems to be a universal drive of autonomy among men worldwide, but the way they express that autonomy differs from one culture to the next. Also, this autonomy seems to always be up for debate and has a need to be confirmed by other men in each culture.

[ ]  Gilmore’s theory, set out in his book Manhood in the Making is that the severity of masculinity in a culture — and the chasm between gender roles — is proportional to how treacherous the environment in which that particular society exists is. Cultures that are constantly warring over territory, who have limited resources and have to battle the elements or nature have some seriously hardcore conceptions of masculinity. And rightly so. When you’re constantly defending your only sources of food from invaders and wild animals, you need men to step up and be warriors and protectors. Men are more biologically suited for that, so deeper gender roles become established.

Meanwhile other cultures which are isolated, have plenty of resources, and not threatened, the men are usually comparatively passive and relaxed. Again, there’s a lack of economic need for diverse gender roles, so society adapts.

The idea that social norms and culture are influenced and created by environmental conditions and economic realities is not a new or controversial one. It’s an idea that the scientist Jared Diamond recently popularized in his acclaimed books Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. We don’t make up our ways of life in a vacuum. They develop and evolve out of economic necessity.

The Crisis of the Western Man

If you’re reading this site or even remotely taking me seriously right now, you may be one of the many who has the sense that something’s amiss with Western men. Sociologists have been fretting about it for an entire decade now. Entire self help industries for men have sprouted up. Demand for men’s dating advice has surpassed women’s dating advice. Communities such as the PUA movement have formed and thrived. In a celebrity-scape of Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake and “The Situation,” there’s not a legitimate masculine role model to be found anywhere. Hell, even feminists began fretting about 10 years ago, with writers such as Christina Hoff Sommers and even Naomi Wolf lamenting that boys have begun falling behind in school at every level. US universities are currently 55% female. Girls are outperforming boys in almost every subject and have moved to being even with them in the math and sciences. In 2010, for the first time in American history, women out-numbered men in the workforce.

Feminism has often been blamed for these changes. And indeed, in a society where men used to derive their self-worth from making money and establishing good careers, suddenly having women as their competition (or bosses) can sabotage that search for meaning. After all, the point of men pursuing achievement and success so much was to assert their independence from women — now, with women as their peers, it kind of undermines the developmental effect.

But I don’t think feminism is the root cause for modern masculinity’s turmoil. In fact, I think it’s just another effect of a deeper underlying cause. Remember, Gilmore asserted that gender roles break down in societies which experience greater security and resources. They’re no longer as useful.

A lot of feminism’s triumphs can be attributed to just that. Beginning in the mid-20th century, technology had largely taken over the role of homemaking. Cleaning the house, washing the clothes and cooking dinner took 1-2 hours whereas in the past it had taken an entire day of hard labor. Women had access to pre-heated ovens, electric stoves, dishwashers, toaster ovens, vacuum cleaners, etc. There was no more need for them to stay in the home all day. In fact, one could argue that modern women went through this same identity-level crisis generations before the men did. What had defined them as a gender for centuries was suddenly rendered unnecessary. Between technological advances in the home and birth control, women were able for the first time in history to exercise complete control over their bodies and their time.

These same economic realities are now applying to men. Historically, men attached their entire identities to their careers and professions. That’s who they were. That’s where they derived their sense of self-worth. And that’s how they asserted their emotional autonomy.

But in recent decades, the career-man is almost a myth. People often spend only a few years at each job. Many jobs have been outsourced or automated. The economy has tanked a couple times. And now women (or the wife) are working just as hard (or even harder) than you. That’s no longer a very stable sense of identity. And not a reliable way to express emotional autonomy.

Take a man who works a standard corporate job and makes a decent living. Let’s say this man is totally reactive to his environment and the people in his life. He did well in school because others told him to. He got a nice job because his parents wanted him to. He did what his bosses said to get promoted so he could make more money to provide for his wife and family.

In 1950, the this man would be considered a raging success. He’d actually be celebrated as a proper example of what a man should be. The fact that he doesn’t like his job is irrelevant. The fact that he’s his boss’s whipping boy wouldn’t matter. He brought home the bacon and had a proper, respectable identity.

But today, there’s a strong and powerful cultural under-current that this man is considered a jailed failure. He’s stuck working a job he hates for people he doesn’t like for money he doesn’t need, just to give it to a woman who doesn’t need it and is likely to divorce him anyway. Whereas it used to be enough to simply get a paycheck and bring it home, that doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s not good enough. Anyone can do that now, so it’s not a viable way for a man to disassociate, to declare himself independent and powerful. In fact, it’s the opposite. He’s taking the safe route. The route that no longer validates his masculinity or helps him assert his autonomy.

So what’s the result? Generations of financially successful men who are pushovers, who don’t assert themselves, can’t get a date, and end up obsessed with sex and/or embroiled with mommy issues. Sound familiar? Our society has evolved to a place of more luxury and security, and therefore the previous rites of passage men utilized to establish themselves have washed away and left a muddied, incoherent masculinity behind.

A New Masculinity

One thing that surprised me when I sifted through a lot of feminist writing this year was how often feminists would wish that men would step up, shake off the shackles of their failed gender roles and shape new identities for themselves. I have to admit, it bridged a lot of apparent gaps for me. I think feminists miss the fact that we’re trying; we’re just not trying to do it in a way that they expect or necessarily like. But they are right. Men need to step up and define a new masculinity for themselves. We need to stop floating aimlessly through our lives, reactive to the world and what’s happening in it.

I spent most of the last five years operating within a men’s movement full of men obsessed with asserting their emotional independence. Sure, the motivation and inspiration behind it was sex and women, but it had long been clear to me, that at the core of it, the PUA movement was a method for men to vicariously find that emotional independence and validation from other men that they had missed growing up — whether it be because they grew up without a father around, because their career path turned out to be stifling and unsatisfying, because their relationships consistently fell apart due to their neediness, or whatever.

Feminists were often (and still are) perceived to be “the enemy,” scapegoated for the tattered state of modern masculinity. But if you take the time and side-step past the rape culture paranoia, some of the patriarchy lunacy, and a lot of unnecessary soap-box speeches, then you get to the heart of that movement: economic and social realities forced women to confront and transcend what defined them as women, and now it is time for men to do the same thing. And right now we’re sucking at it.

Most current men’s self help movements are rife with “woe is me” pity parades, and bizarre forced rituals (drum circles, sweat lodges, etc.) that are painfully anachronistic and ineffective. The pick up and dating industry indirectly leads a lot of men to establishing powerful and independent identities, but it’s also weighed down by misogyny and men fixated on superficial sexuality. Magazines such as Maxim, GQ, FHM, and others prey on men’s most immature impulses by plastering half-naked, airbrushed women across their pages, while hocking overpriced shit down your throat in a constant attempt to re-establish the failed-state of masculinity’s past: that a real man buys expensive crap and fucks hot girls. Hit it or quit it… broski.

Television shows and movies have seen a throwback period of masculinity with powerful male characters in popular shows such as Californication and Mad Men. But men such as Hank Moody and Don Draper are caricatures — idealism sketched onto a screen, with deep flaws. Draper exhibits an independence and strength that leaves male viewers in awe and female viewers in lustful shivers, but at the end of the day, he’s ruthless and gutted of any deeper empathy. The sexual chaos and wit that permeates Hank Moody’s life would make any man envious for a moment (myself included). It’s impossible for a man to watch Hank and not immediately desire the same kind of boyish freedom he exercises around the women of Hollywood. Yet, Hank too, is a complete emotional fuck up: substance abuse, an ex-wife he can’t stop cheating on, a daughter he sucks at raising, a career scarred by underachievement.

Don’t even get me started on Jack Bauer.

The point is, as a culture, there’s a void where our masculinity used to be. Created by the absence of our fathers, the futility of conventional career paths, the inundation of a feminized pop culture, this generation of men is floundering and has been for a while. It’s no wonder we’re staying unemployed, single, having more casual sex and playing more video games than any generation of men before us. It’s no wonder that feminists are writing 20-page articles in places like The Atlantic freaking out that all of the single men are either “deadbeats or players” and that many women are actually consciously choosing to stop hoping for marriage.

So what are we supposed to do?

Remember, the key universality is defining an emotional independence for ourselves followed by validation from other men. Simply making money isn’t enough anymore. Buying nice things isn’t enough anymore. Achievements and conquests by themselves aren’t enough. Perhaps you’ve done many of these things, and you have felt it. Having money and nice things is nice, but it doesn’t make you feel like a man anymore. Something’s still lacking. We live in such a culturally relative post-modern world that all of these things are only as valuable and recognized as those around us make them.

What I offer is the idea of a post-masculinism, an idea of masculinity that includes conventional masculinism (dominance, achievement, sexual pursuit), but is not confined by social roles or expectations. One man’s right of passage may be building his own boat and sailing across Lake Michigan. Another man’s rite of passage may be writing and publishing a novel. Another man’s may be living in on a beach in Cuba and volunteering with starving children. The common denominator is that we set out to establish ourselves as emotionally independent through our actions. The common denominator is taking action as individuals.

Since there’s no longer any socially universal norm for masculine achievement, we are the first generation of men that must create our own. And what’s more independent or emotionally liberating than that? It’s a true expression of your individual power and your masculinity.

But this isn’t easy. And in many ways, we’re ill-equiped for it. Just as women were ill-equipped to supersede their roles in society, we are as well, just in different ways. Striking out on your own path and creating your own rite takes courage, ambition, technical skill, all conventional masculine traits. But it also takes introspection, emotional awareness, vulnerability and a willingness to fail — traits most men are not accustomed to.

Entrepreneur and business writer Gary Vaynerchuk often speaks of the idea of personal brand. He claims that in the coming age of social media, our most important asset is going to be our own personal brand that we present to the world. I see the concept of post-masculinity in similar terms: it’s not enough to simply be a bread-winner, to be a provider, to be a walking paycheck anymore. It’s like Tyler Durden says in Fight Club (the perennial movie of post-masculinity if there were such a thing): “You are not your job. You are not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”

Our canvas is ourselves and we’re all artists. The developmental blueprint is that there is no blueprint. There’s an individuality and eccentricity that we must all cultivate and contribute back to society. Throughout human history, men always had a clear a concise path laid out before them. We’re one of the first generations that doesn’t. You can do or be anything you want in any capacity that you want. So create your own standard and then surpass it. Psychologically that’s where we derive our worth and our value. Right now simply following the path our fathers and grandfathers laid out before is not working. It’s time to blaze our own trail.  

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Hefner

Hugh Hefner (see link):

“We like to spend most of our time inside. We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph, and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, and sex.”

Marriage Advice from 1944

advice for marriage from a 1944 book, excerpted from an article (see link):

[ ]  “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage; half closed afterwards.”

Sooner or later, if you are “stuck” on a girl, you arrive at the crucial indecision, “Is she the right girl for me? Shall I marry her?”

Yours is an unbelievable lot, brother. You are required to decide for the rest of your life, at a time when you are bereft of reason. You are required to be impartial about the object of your love, when love prejudices you in her favor. Unfortunately, such is the cockeyed nature of things that every marrying man gets into this predicament.

What you seek in a wife is strictly your business. To rephrase the old proverb: one man’s wife is another man’s poison. But it is only fair to warn you that what you desire may not coincide with what you require. You may have no idea of what is good for you. Perhaps you need a woman to bolster your ego, but are masochist enough to “go” for a girl who slaps you down every time. Haven’t you seen that happen? Or you may need a girl to slap you down, but egoist that you are, you “go” only for “fluff” that flatters your vanity.

Before you make the momentous decision, you would do well to ponder the questions in this chapter. Obviously, you will not be objective; but it is of the utmost importance that you make the effort. To compensate for your prejudice, be extra hard in judging her.

  • She is attractive, of course, but is that her chief asset? (Try to imagine her ten years from today.)
  • Do you want her because she is popular–because other men have wanted her? (Don’t be a copy-cat!)
  • Could you spend seven consecutive evenings in her company without being bored? (If the answer is affirmative, it is a good sign.)
  • Do you have similar tastes in most things?
  • Is she a good sport?
  • Is she reasonably healthy?
  • Is she a flirt? Does she make you jealous? (Decide whether you can stand the strain; your jealously will persist until you grow indifferent.)
  • Are you constantly irritated by some small mannerism of hers? (You can’t be terribly in love.)
  • Does she tell lies? Do you mind?
  • Is she a nag?
  • Is she quarrelsome? (The Bible warns, “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house.”)
  • Is she hard on other people? (Don’t judge by her behavior to you.)
  • Is she trying to reform you? How do you feel about being reformed?
  • Has she tried to boss you? (Maybe you need a boss.)
  • Would she put up with all your faults if she knew them?
  • When you quarrel, who capitulates first? (A combination of two stubborn mules is bad.)
  • Do you agree on children, or a career, or both? (Better settle this beforehand.)
  • Does she expect you to support her in a definite style? Could you count on her cooperation in hard times? Would she go to work if necessary?
  • Will she help you get ahead? Or will she pull you away from your work?
  • Can she handle money?
  • If you marry her, will you also be marrying her family?
  • Does she let you get around to see your old pals? (If you have been too infatuated to notice, make it a point of finding out.)
  • Are you proud to present her to your friends? (If not, reconsider.)
  • Do you hope to reform her? (Give up the idea. People change, but not according to plan.)
  • Do you know her faults? Are you willing to live with them?
  • Do you still think her perfect? (You’re wrong, of course, but marry!)

Marriage Myths

excerpted from this article (see link):

[ ]  Many of the traditional reasons why a man gets married are a myth.

“I won’t die alone”
Wrong. The simple fact is that one spouse WILL die alone. Visit the hospital and go to the terminally ill or cardiac departments. Few people have the time to sit with an ill relative all day and all night. Yes, you may get visitors, but they aren’t having the same thoughts as you are. You’re contemplating your mortality, while they’re wondering what food the hospital cafeteria offers. In the end, even with a loving and supportive family, most of us will leave this world alone, unless you both die simultaneously in an accident of some kind. Your spouse may die fifteen years before you, or you may be in the hospital for your last year. Ultimately, we all die alone. Married or not.

“I won’t grow old alone”
Not necessarily. A marriage can self-destruct at any time. Your partner may initiate divorce at age 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65 or 70. Many married people end up in the same position (alone) as if they had never married at all. Now they enter their twilight years broke, as a result of being stripped of half or more of their life’s assets, losing half their retirement and pension funds, and being assessed alimony payments. [ ]

Men are led to believe that not marrying implies only one destiny; that of a solitary monk in a cave, a shunned loner. However, life is not so black and white. Not marrying does not mean you cannot continue to date or have meaningful relationships throughout your life. There are plenty of single people in all age brackets. A bad marriage can be the loneliest of institutions, because most of your emotional outlet and companionship is concentrated into one person who gives back nothing in emotion, affection or support. Young men in their 20′s and 30′s should be more aware of the alternatives that exist in life. They should be aware that marriage is a choice, and is not the only path life has to offer. An informed decision is less likely to be one that is later regretted.

“I’ll get regular sex”
Not from Modern, Western Women. Access to regular sex is the oldest and the most frequently cited reason to marry. Many men now know that Modern, Western Women frequently stop having sex after just a short time of being married. There are plenty of “sexless” marriages. Talk to a few married couples that are honest about their relationship. One or both partners may stop wanting sex after kids, or the sex may be as infrequent as once a year or once every six months, or the wife may only have sex when she wants the husband to buy her something, take her somewhere, or remodel the house. Read the honest opinions of married men on the Internet. Most Western, Married Men will have more sex with their Western Wives in the first six months of their marriage than they will in the next 40 years. Lastly, it remains to be seen whether sex with one exclusive partner for forty years or more is even a natural act, or just a man-made convention. In many Western Nations, the wife is no longer required to have sex with her husband. She can deny him at any time, for any length of time. She can, if she wishes, deny him sex forever and there is nothing that he can do about it. [ ]

Marriage is hardly a guarantee of regular sex, as many people are led to believe.

“I’ll have someone to cook and clean for me”
Not necessarily.  [ ]  Today’s woman is empowered by not performing the traditional housewife duties, regardless of whether she is working or not. If a husband asks that his wife perform traditional household duties because she is not working, he will often be labeled sexist, abusive or controlling, even if he is doing his “traditional role” of paying all the bills, providing for his family, and performing the traditional manly duties of vehicle repairs, maintaining the lawn and house upkeep.

“I have to be married to have kids”
Not anymore. Her ovaries do not physically need a [marriage] contract [ ] in order to be fertilised by your sperm. Cro-Magnon man had children long before lawyers invented marriage contracts. Often, you do not need to be married in order to share health benefits. You do not need to be married to designate your partner on a life insurance policy. [ ]  It is ironic that responsible parents who raise a healthy family, but never actually sign marriage paperwork, get less respect than divorced parents or married parents who are ineffective, inattentive or incompetent.

-Having a lifelong, faithful, committed relationship has nothing to do with being “married”.
-Owning a beautiful dream home together has nothing to do with being “married”.
-Rearing healthy, happy, and successful children has nothing to do with being “married”.
-Building a family and life together has nothing to do with being “married”.
-Growing old together has nothing to do with being “married”.

[ ]  You do need to be married in order to throw an extravagant four-hour party, and share the same last name.

You do need to be married in order to involve the state and government in your romantic affairs.

You do need to be married in order give away half of everything you own.

Besides that, marriage does nothing more than introduce lawyers and social workers into your life. These are people that otherwise would have nothing to do with your life or your relationship.

Men need to stop and ask themselves:

“Why exactly am I getting married? What exactly does marriage mean to me in today’s world? What is the benefit to me to get married?”

It is no longer a lifelong commitment, because it can be reversed overnight on her unilateral whim.

Marriage was originally created as a way for families to merge land, property, political power and influence; perhaps people should return to viewing it as just that and nothing more. The rest of it is fake modern TV Fantasy and Tabloid Gossip and Hype polluting the minds of today’s impressionable youth, and a way to keep the multi-billion-per-year wedding industry chugging along. Perhaps the only criteria should be to ask oneself: “How excited am I for us to merge our finances and assets?” When all the fluff and hype are boiled away, that may be the only remaining reality. Spend a day in divorce court, and you’ll see exactly what is real and tangible and lasting about marriage. [ ]  The rest are myths, lies, bold unsubstantiated promises, and maybes. “For better or for worse…”

The Western Divorce rate is 43%. It is higher in some parts of the world such as California, Great Britain and Australia. [ ]  Consider the number of people who are in a bad marriage, but elect to stay; Men who don’t want to lose 50%, women who know they can’t support themselves alone. Next, think of how many more couples stay together just for the sake of the kids. Of these “forced marriages”, consider how many of these marriages involve infidelity, no sex, or sleeping in separate beds or separate rooms. I estimate the percentage of happy and monogamous marriages to be under 5%. Are these odds you would take in a business venture, investment or loan? Most of the risk-averse population would not. Yet they seek this exception to the rule everyday through marriage.

Ninja

excerpted from this article (see link)

Imagining guys running around in black pajamas and swords, disappearing in a puff of smoke? Well let’s start with a proper… non Hollywood idea of what the Ninja were… or are… and then see what we can learn from them.

Today we have this image of the Ninja as evil assassins sneaking around Japanese castles and killing under cover of night. What most people don’t know is that the Ninja were simple farmers, priests and shopkeepers who were forced out of Japanese society and hunted by their own government. They were the ultimate survivors. In fact the word Ninja in old fashioned Japanese translates to “the person who overcomes”.

Early in Japanese history a Samurai General named Daisuke Togakure lost a battle; and as was tradition in Japan his master ordered him to kill himself and ordered that his family be stripped of all title and land. Instead this Samurai General chose to survive. He fled his home with his family and went to live in the wilderness. Now an outcast being hunted by his own government he was forced to re-invent his understanding of combat. Togakure met up with some Chinese immigrants who had fled the massive wars going on in China. Their knowledge of battle tactics, medicine and technology from all over the Asian main continent helped Togakure form what would become one of the earliest and oldest traditions of the Ninja. (This is just a rough and quick version of the oral history of the founding if this tradition) There are many other traditions of Ninjutsu but they all are similar in that they contain a philosophy of life which values surviving and overcoming or “persevering” and which leads to a simple life style with a very alternative method of self defense. The philosophy of the Ninja stood in opposition of the Bushido code of the Samurai which contained a strong class structure, and espoused suicide as a noble and honorable ideal. To the Samurai the Ninja were dishonorable, evil creatures who had no right to live… the Ninja just wanted to be left alone to live their lives as they saw fit. [ ]

As a person who has studied and practiced this tradition for several years now I have found some great principles which are a guide I use in life and in my preparations to continue life. In all of my training and all of my study of the Ninja culture as it existed hundreds of years ago and as it exists today I have found five principles that seem to apply to the Ninjas secret to not only survive but to thrive. [ ]

Principle #1: Strong and clean spirit
[ ]  The Ninja speak of attaining an unfettered mind; that you should know who you are at your deepest core. Life should be spent learning, knowing and practicing what you are. This done in everyday life gives an unfettered mind and leads to good decision making under even the worst situations. [ ]

Principle #2: Utility.
While the Samurai prided themselves on beautiful swords passed down through their family for generations and body armor decorated with family crests and religious icons the Ninja often used little more than modified farming implements as weapons. This was in part because of the ban on civilians owning or carrying swords… (we can learn a lesson here) but also because of the principle of utility. To the Ninja they were not mere weapons, but rather everything was a tool. A Ninja didn’t pride himself on a fancy sword; instead he would make a sword which like all of his tools served more than one purpose. His other commonly used weapons were converted farming implements. [ ]  Sure the Ninja would have never turned down a fancy ray skin and ivory Katana, but he would usually be found with a much cruder instrument. [ ]

Principle #3: Simplicity.
As I said earlier the Ninja were mostly farmers and merchants, but they could be found in all levels and aspects of life. There were even some Ninja amongst the ruling class of Japan at one time. What was common amongst them was that they strove to live a simple life. Both historic and modern Ninja rarely had lavish homes or castles. Rarely were known to frequent parties and social events. Instead they lived simple lives enjoying the things in life which were of true value. Simplicity permeated all aspect of their life. Often a diet of simple, healthy home grown food was eaten. With this simplicity in lifestyle one also becomes more in tuned to your own environment, able to notice small changes in weather and even understand nature on a closer level. Rarely did the Ninja draw attention to themselves. Instead of going off to become famous warriors and have grand adventures most Ninja lived quiet lives in their villages and trained diligently in their fighting arts; not for glory, but simply as a means to protect them and their families from the outside world. [ ]

Principle #4: Community and Self-Reliance.
Contrary to what some may argue community and self reliance are not mutually exclusive ideas. The Ninja were experts at having a community OF self reliance. The Ninja often lived in very close nit villages and towns where they worked and trained together so as to provide everything they needed and thus insulate themselves from the rest of Japan. [ ]

Principle #5: Fluidity.
Absolutely essential to the fighting style and even day to day life of the Ninja is the principle of fluidity. The Ninja fighting style involves five principle ways or feelings of combat. Each one represents an element of existence and grants almost a personality to your movement and technique. Examples are fire, a strong hot burst of energy cutting through an opponent or earth, the stable and immovable feeling of power. The five elements (earth, wind, fire, water, and the void) are not in themselves all powerful; it is the Ninjas ability to transition from one to the other and combine them in response to any situation which is essential. This fluidity was not just expressed in the elemental forms of combat, but instead is the fundamental difference between the Samurai and the Ninja. The Samurai followed set in stone techniques and movements. Memorize enough movements and you will have one for every situation. The Ninja started when they had to adapt and abandon old ways; this flexibility allowed them to meet all situations and adapt their techniques to any situation. A fundamental idea in the Ninja philosophy is not to have expectations of what will happen, but instead to be ready for and deal with whatever comes. Work towards your goals but adapt to the outcomes as they happen, don’t get caught in a frustrating loop of things not going your way and reacting with the same effort every time. [ ]  We should have basic tools which will work in any situation. Tools which serve multiple purposes and can be adapted to anything we need.  [ ]

WATER: Just as water feeds life and contains a power in both its ability to draw away from and crash back onto anything, to slowly erode a mountain, feed the tallest tree; we need the essentials of life. [ ]

EARTH: Strong foundations in faith and community allow us to stand like a rock against the corruption and destruction around us. [ ]

FIRE: Fire is our arms, our brute force through firepower.
[ ]  The Ninja as with all people of Japan were disarmed by the ruling elites, however the Ninja refused to comply, instead they fought back. [ ]  Fire comes in a burst of violence, heat and action. It is emotional, but not un-controlled. Fire also represents our passion, the passion which makes us act. It is the burning sense of right and wrong which protects our very soul from the corruption of the world. [ ]

WIND: Wind leaves us aloof, it represents the lighthearted sense of security preparedness gives us. [ ]  The feeling of being un-touchable effects your very movement and every aspect of life. Being self reliant, with your own business and self sustaining property gives you this confidence and allows you to take stands politically and economically without fear of losing your job or being evicted from your home if you oppose the powers at be.

THE VOID: This is often a difficult concept. [ ]  The void is the sense that anything can and will happen. On one hand it is the knowledge of all potential dangers and the ability to handle them. On the other hand it is the ability to react with anything, having every tool in your toolbox so that you can react and adapt in any way necessary. [ ]  Where the void can help is in the idea of not being an idea. Not being anything in particular, be void of form. Don’t fit a stereotype . . . . [ ]


The Meaning of “No”

from here (Rule 2 seems tough):

I finally picked up that summer girlfriend I’ve been talking about. She’s a cute little thing, good job, nice girl, and easy to get along with.

I sealed the deal Saturday night after our second date. We met up at a bar here locally, I bumped in to a few friends along the way, and the five of us had a good night. As we left around 1:30 a.m., I walked her to her car and gave her a kiss, which is when she said “How far do you live from here?”

I said “about 6 miles”, and she smiled. She said “Let’s go back to your place and you can bring me back to my car tomorrow. Is that ok?”

Of course that was ok.

Once we arrived back at my place, she did the usual: she looked at the photos hanging on my wall of friends and family, asked all the “who is that?” questions, and headed for the bathroom as I crawled into bed. Neither one of us were drunk, because we had both been going easy on the booze since we both had long weeks and we weren’t in a party mood.

She came out of the bathroom and crawled into bed, and we started messing around. After about 15 minutes she was completely naked and on top of me. I grabbed her wrists, flipped her over on her back, and got on top of her.

“I love this”, she said, “but I’m not sure I want to have sex.”

I gave her a little kiss on the forehead and said “ok”. I rolled over, put my boxers back on, and we continued fooling around.

That’s when she started justifying her “no” to sex. She said “I just want to take it slow. I’ve learned that rushing in to things too quickly is a bad idea.”

I said “It’s not a problem, really. I’m just glad you’re here.”

I’d say less than 5 minutes later, she pulled my boxers back off, jumped on top of me, grabbed my rod and slid it in. I was a bit surprised, since her “no” was pretty clear just a few minutes prior.

Me: “Well look who decided she wants the…”

Her: “Just shut up and fuck me.”

I’d dare say there’s not a man out there who hasn’t been in this position a time or ten. The girl says “no”, you honor her wishes and stop the pursuit, and the next thing you know she’s asking for it again – or she just starts taking it.

This is a tricky situation since as a man, all of the risk involved goes on you. So let me make a few observations on the “no means no” situation, and share the personal policies I have developed over the years.

1. No means no, every time, in every situation, end of discussion. Game for me has never been about getting a woman to do something she doesn’t want to do – it’s about making her feel comfortable doing what she already wants to do. If she wants to be with me, then great. If she doesn’t, that’s fine too.

2. A drunken “no” has staying power for 24 consecutive hours. In the situation I described above, we were both stone-cold sober. But if either one of us was a little tipsy or drunk (I never get drunk, by the way) her “no” would have been treated as an absolute no for 24 hours. When she climbed back on top of me, I wouldn’t have had sex with her – regardless of what she said. I’ve been there many times over the years, and I have looked some rather beautiful young women in the eye and said “I don’t think you’re ready for this.” They usually get pissed off, call me a fag, and leave. No good deed goes unpunished.

3. A firm “no” is adhered to; as is a casual “no” and even the implications of a possible “no”.  I always err on the side of caution. The word “no” can come in many forms. “Slow down”, “wait,” “I’m not sure”, and any number of other words or phrases born of hesitation means “no” to me. If she says anything of the sort, I’m out.

In today’s sex-positive feminist world, the word “no” is becoming increasingly rare. But when it does pop up in any form, my advice is to take it very seriously. 30 seconds of orgasmic pleasure is not worth the lifetime of pain you’ll experience if she decides the next day (or a year later) that you took advantage of her without her consent. This is her world, she is the gatekeeper of sex, and it doesn’t matter if you acted inappropriately or not. All she has to do is *think* you acted inappropriately and and you’re screwed in more ways than one.

This article is not about promoting grrrrl power or urging men to treat women like the ladies they wish they were; it’s about keeping you from finding yourself in a jail cell staring at the business end of Big Bubba’s fleshpole while hoping he read this article and agrees that “no means no.”