IDEAS TO HELP END MISOGYNY (from metronews.ca and other sources)
1. Pay attention to women. Listen to what they say, do, write, etc.
2. Attend a walk to end sexual violence and/or to promote a united gender movement such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, or Take Back the Night.
3. If you’re a man, volunteer with young men and boys to be a positive role model and to help them navigate life.
4. If you’re a man, take a supporting role in Feminist and women’s organizations by doing behind-the-scenes and administrative work that’s typically delegated to women, so that the women can be leaders.
5. Intervene with your friends and yourself when something is happening that appears to be men believing they are entitled to women’s bodies.
6. If you’re a parent, be aware of gender roles and how you promote them, help your children break out of gender stereotypes and avoid gender bias so they can grow up to be who they truly are on the inside, regardless of gender.
Peace Talks Radio host Suzanne Kryder talks with Dr. Victor La Cerva, co-founder of The New Mexico Men’s Wellness Group and author of the book “Masculine Wisdom”
Kryder: How would you teach a young boy if you’re a parent to accept the pleasure of their body and not to dominate a woman or another man?
La Cerva: Well hopefully from the beginning when the three year old boy starts playing with his penis while he’s sitting on the couch –
Kryder: What would you do?
La Cerva: What would I do in that situation? I’d say it’s really great and cool to experience pleasure from touching yourself and it’s kind of a private thing and so it’s not okay to do it when there’s a lot of other kids around or a lot of other people around. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a good thing, but it’s something that you get to do for yourself in private. So that would be an approach. I think it’s very important, especially pre-puberty, not at puberty when the hormones are already raging, but pre-puberty to have developmentally consistent conversations with kids about their sexuality.
The other piece of this, which is critical because you asked the question in a certain way about how we, as parents, can instruct our young men to experience pleasure in their body, but not be dominating their partners in an unhealthy way. One of the things that’s really important for parents to understand is that, at some point, their kids will not listen to them and their best advice and so part of our job as parents is to find those three to five other people who may say the same things, because we have a shared sense of values, that we would say, but that our kids can hear because it’s not their parent telling them. There’s going to be times for every teenager, I experienced this with my own girls, where no matter what I say, no matter how wise it is and no matter how actively listening I am, no matter all the skills that I bring into play, it still doesn’t make a difference because their job is to push me away to define themselves. So in that process of pushing away, my job as a parent, before we get to that point, who are the other three to five people in their lives that I can say, “Look, I’m having a really hard time right now with my son communicating. I need you to go throw the ball around with him or take a walk on the beach or play music or whatever it is.”
Kryder: How do parents who to pick for the three to five people because coaches can sexually molest them or sometimes people, religious people can sexually molest them. How do parents pick?
La Cerva: Well ideally, through one’s extended family or if again, both men and women have taken the time to develop a sense of community, then you’ll know who those people are within that community who can reach out to your kids when you need a supportive person. It can be an aunt, it can be an uncle, it can be a grandparent, any of whom could potentially be abusive characters and act out badly which is why the other side of the equation has to do with educating your kids about “good touch,” “bad touch,” and “secret touch,” to immunize them that they know that if anyone ever tries to touch them in an area where they would normally wear a bathing suit and wants them to keep it a secret, they have to tell you right away and then you have to believe them when they tell you.
Kryder: In terms of sex, some men want a stronger dominant kind of sex and some women want a softer more submissive sex. What can you do? Would this lead to some men trying to be more dominant over women all the time?
La Cerva: Well, I think that the answer to the challenges between the sexes is given to us by real estate; “location, location, location.” Well, with issues between men and women, it’s “communication, communication, communication.” Why would I want to force my partner, who is someone that I care about to do something she doesn’t want to do? At the same time, I would hope that she would be open to doing some exploring, both in terms of the level of intimacy that we have and the sexual expression within that intimacy. And I would hope that I would be the same way. Many men get very threatened and part of that has to do with male sexual myths and so on that we can get into.
Kryder: What are the sexual myths that men learned?
La Cerva: Some of the male sexual myths are men are supposed to be ready for sexual expression anytime in any place. That says that men don’t have their own sets of conditions that make them feel comfortable and safe in terms of their sexual expression, so that’s a myth.
Another sexual myth is that it’s natural and spontaneous, so therefore every man knows what to do. That suggests that there’s no reason to talk about it which is a very destructive myth in terms of developing your own expertise, understanding your own body, many, many things if that’s where you’re coming from, so that’s two myths.
The third myth has to do with the purpose of sexual expression is orgasm and everything is orchestrated towards that. That leaves out a huge territory of wonderful expression between two human beings, heterosexual and homosexual, if all you’re focused on is that.
Kryder: At what age do boys learn this and how do they learn these myths?
La Cerva: Well, I think it’s more constructive to talk about what we don’t do rather than what we do wrong. If you have a clear perception of what it is you’re trying to communicate to your kids, which most people don’t have, around sexuality, then the whole process becomes much easier. What I want is for my kids to be safe, number one. I want them to experience pleasure with their bodies and I want them to be able to communicate about it. Okay? So if somebody says a word, the “f” word at the table when they’re five years old and the response from the parents is; “Don’t you ever say that again or wash your mouth out with soap,” or something else which many of us experienced growing up, that’s very different than “Where did you hear that word? What do you think it means?” Where you open a conversation about it. If kids grow up where they learn that they can talk about any of this stuff, then they’re going to begin to have a chance to not be sucked into that black hole of mal-education about sexuality and sensuality.
Kryder: Puberty; what do parents do when the sexual desires of boys really fire?
La Cerva: I think it’s really important to make a distinction between love and sexuality and I’m treading on probably some dangerous ground for a lot of listeners. The reality is that we all have sexual drivers that are not necessarily connected to the desire to be intimate and experience love. It’s a sexual need. It’s a sexual desire. We don’t honor that in our culture in any form that I see; sex always has to be connected to love, sex always has to be connected to intimacy.
Then we get very deeply here into what people’s values are and the sad thing is that because we can’t agree on all our values, we tend to not talk about it at all which then becomes very destructive for the kids who are trying to find their way. So we have all these constant battles about sex ed in the schools because one person has a certain set of values and another person has another set of values and we can’t agree, so the kids end up with nothing sometimes; no discussion about values around sexuality and intimacy and love.
So I think sometimes people just want to have sexual expression and they want to have that as a short-term, limited, that’s it kind of connection and as long as they’re doing it safely and not spreading diseases or exposing themselves to diseases, I personally think that’s great. At what point does that start for it to be considered healthy? I think that’s going to vary with the individual, but clearly there are some people who are ready to be sexual active before they attain some magic legal age when all of a sudden they’re supposed to be wise and make good choices. Is it okay for a 15 and a 16 year old to get sexually active if they’re caring about each other or even if they’re not caring, if they’re wanting to have some sexual exploration? Again, I think the issue comes down to safety first and respect for yourself and the other human being that you’re interacting with, but that’s not what we teach in this culture. See, we put such a lid on sexuality that then it starts leaking out in all these unproductive, unhealthy, destructive ways.
Kryder: Say you have a 12 year old boy who’s starting to go through puberty, what would you tell him as a parent?
La Cerva: Well ideally, that conversation has been going on for a long time, as I mentioned before, that we’ve had a series of conversations. It isn’t this awkward “Sit down, you’re 12 now, I guess I have to talk to you about this stuff.” Ideally, all along we’ve been using those teachable moments. We’ve been demonstrating our values about how we talk, about the kinds of jokes we tell or don’t tell so that it doesn’t have that awkwardness of this sort of one time conversation and then the parent goes, “Shew, I’m glad that’s over with” and the kids is, “Thanks for the history lesson” because they’ve already been through it. Blind obedience to rules and “shoulds” doesn’t really get us anywhere. It’s about the evolution of consciousness and hopefully we can rest in being in touch with our own sense of yeah, that makes sense or no, that doesn’t make sense.
Kryder: How could we deal with the likelihood that youngsters are being exposed to music, videos, magazines and pornography, some of which promote misogyny, power, violence and non-consensual dominance of partners.
La Cerva: It’s always important, to the extent that you can, just like with drug experiences, to share from your own personal experiences. So we might say, I remember being on the playground when there was no internet and no easy access to this kind of material and people bringing a magazine with pictures of naked girls and how we were all eager to look at those pictures and get stimulated by those pictures.” You share a personal experience that helps you connect to them.
Then from there you can go and talk about the messages that the culture constantly tries to trick you with like all this advertising. Why is there advertising? Is it really because this product is so great or is it because they want to constantly generate need in you and the desire in you for something and you’ve experienced it yourself that, once you get it, it’s not so great and you probably didn’t need it. It’s just how the media in general tries to manipulate you and trick you. Teenagers hate that they’re feeling manipulated or tricked, so this is another way that all of this stuff is another way to try to trick you to think a certain way and what I want you to do, what I’m inviting you to do is think for yourself. The culture, there’s all these messages about objectifying women etc., and then you can go down that path of do you think that really helps you in relationships?
Kryder: But it feels good and you said pleasure was good.
La Cerva: I’m going to get to that. The third piece has to do with anything, when it comes to any kind of experimentation or explorations that our young people are up to that we have concerns about and to have that objective conversation of what’s good about watching porn, what’s potentially destructive about watching porn. So what’s good about it? What’s bad about? Yeah, gee, it’s kind of pleasurable, it’s kind of fun, I learned knew things. What’s destructive about it? Well, what might be destructive is that I’m always looking for something else and not satisfied with what I’ve got or it can be kind of addictive. I find that I want more of it. So if you see a clip of a particular thing, you might say, “That’s absolutely disgusting. Why would anybody want to do that?” That’s all your judgment stuff. Again, we come back to the notion of pretty much anything is okay as long as it’s not hurtful to yourself or another human being and it’s consensual in terms of sexuality and that’s not a message that most people in this culture with all of our baggage, religious and otherwise, are willing to embrace.
So if you have in your mind as a parent that pornography is bad, it’s terrible, it’s destructive, there’s nothing else, then you can try to give that message to your kids, but then it becomes a bit of the forbidden fruit whereas this other approach; “What’s good about it?” “What’s bad about it?” ideally you’re starting to teach them to think for themselves so that they can stay in good relationship. Safety first and try to stay in good relationships with drugs, with sexuality, with all of the things that are out there that are potentially dangerous and destructive.
Kryder: Dr. Victor La Cerva, in your book Masculine Wisdom, you talk about male heterosexual intimacy. What is that?
La Cerva: Intimacy can be defined as a willingness to share my inner life and understand about your inner life; what are your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, wants, desires and what are mine. That’s the ground of intimacy. Without expanding emotional fluency, it’s difficult for men to be intimate on that level. In other words, if I am not even in touch with my own feelings, how am I going to share them with you? One of the driving forces for men in terms of the relationship between intimacy and sexuality is that we will get to intimacy through the physical means because those other tools for intimacy are not as well developed, so when we talk about male intimacy, what we’re really talking about is how to expand the playing field of what’s available to me to share with a partner.
Peace Talks Radio host Suzanne Kryder talks with Chicago Medical School Neuroscientist Dr. Lise Eliot who has two young boys of her own. She’s the author of the book “Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About It.”
Eliot: Look at the movies our kids watch where the objectification of women is what we all just get used to. If we don’t train kids to see that asymmetry of power in the environment, then they’re not going to see it in their own relationships, but if we can show this power differential and how it’s harmful for women. It’s actually harmful for men too because it creates this unreal masculine ideal that they have to be in charge, they have to be all-controlling that frankly probably doesn’t suit a lot of boys and a lot of men.
Kryder: If it doesn’t suit them, why are they doing it?
Eliot: All I can say is that it’s a multibillion dollar industry to objectify women. It’s pretty hard to cure people or remove them from this as being acceptable and normal kind of behavior.
What’s interesting to me is how some of these guys suddenly become fathers and if they have daughters, their eyes are opened up when they see their daughter’s treated in the same way that they may have treated women before.
Kryder: So how do you do it? How do you raise your boys to not objectify women?
Eliot: That’s a really good question. We talk often and openly about that issue. It’s not ever a comfortable conversation and I always have to be clear to my sons that I’m not accusing them of anything, but I’m acknowledging the culture that they’ve stepped into and that they shouldn’t be bystanders if they see girls’ classmates being abused by other guys because there’s so much status in aggression. The boys who aren’t at the top of the pack are not comfortable challenging it, but we just need to keep plastering it right out there for the inhumanity that it is and just keep opening up more eyes. I’m very optimistic actually. I think each generation of young people is more aware of the genuine humanity of every individual and the need to respect that. We could have a better world, but I have to believe that it’s going to be better for our kids’ generation than it was for ours and for our grandkids after that.
Kryder: In 2014 there was a mass shooting in Santa Barbara. It brought forth the conversation about misogyny and male so-called entitlement to sex. I’m curious: what does brain science say about those areas of behavior? Is it nature versus nurture or something else?
Eliot: Oh, I don’t think one could say that misogyny is hardwired. I think it’s well learned. Any kind of racism, sexism, babies aren’t born automatically hating and devaluing people that look different from them. It has to be learned. There’s a beautiful song, it was from the musical South Pacific; “You’ve Got To Be Taught.” In its time, it was a radical notion, but it really is true I think that this is well learned behavior and very harmful, but if it can be learned, then there’s hope that we can unlearn it or allow fewer boys to learn that with each generation.
I’m pleased to see what they call the “Consent Movement” among young women. I saw an internet ad for some underwear with the word “consent” on it. We should just condition young people that there has to be some kind of verbal consent; “Yes, I want to do this” by both parties before they engage in sex and especially if there’s been drinking involved. This is definitely a two way street and it’s part of the whole point that I was getting at about sexism. Sexism is so built into our culture. Both sexes are powerful and both sexes are beautiful and both sexes are important and they’re not so different. They really are not as different as our binary minds like to create. A lot of women are a lot more athletic than men. A lot of men are a lot more sensitive and empathic than women and we have to stop stereotyping them and let every individual just be who they’re going to be.
Peace Talks Radio host Suzanne Kryder talks with Dr. Joseph Marshall, founder and director of the Omega Boys Club. Since the 1980’s, he’s worked with youngsters in San Francisco and taken his prescription for living alive and free all around the world.
As we heard from Dr. Marshall in part one of our program on raising boys, he’s using a straight talk approach with youngsters in his program who’ve largely adopted what he calls the “Commandment of Violence” to guide their lives.
He says too many urban youngsters live by commandments like these;
• thou shalt handle your business,
• thou shalt do what you gotta do,
• thou shalt get girls,
• thou shalt not be a punk,
• thou shalt not snitch,
• thou shalt get your respect,
• thou shall get your money on,
• thou shalt carry a gun for protection,
• thou shalt be down with your crew,
• thou shalt be down with your home boys, right or wrong.
Dr. Marshall says young men living by these commandments and picking up on other sexual myths from pop culture think that they’re following a set of survival skills, but he says, “It’s really just a recipe for incarceration or death.” He says they build up an expectation of sexual power and dominance over women or their partners. Meantime their partners are also influenced by pop culture about what they’re supposed to be looking for in a partner.
Kryder: “Thou shalt get girls.” Now what does that mean?
Marshall: It would be the commandment – well, there’s actually two commandments. For the boys, it’s “Thou shalt get girls,” and for the girls, it’s “Thou shalt get a man.”
Kryder: I’m curious about homosexuality. If a person is in your program, but they’re homosexual, what do they do with that commandment?
Marshall: Well, that would not be their commandment. It depends on obviously what your orientation is, but it’s a matter using people for your purposes. It’s a manipulation tool. It’s not even seeing them as individuals, it’s what you can use them for for you.
Kryder: So what would you tell a parent in terms of bringing up that boy about not using girls?
Marshall: Nobody should use anybody. It’s not a matter of – well, why would you use anybody at all? You remember, we’re talking about if you get into a power domination and control mentality, then everybody is going to be used. My guys use other guys to get what they want. They don’t really care about them. I mean they do, but they don’t. They use girls. Girls use guys. Everybody is using everybody because when you’re thinking like this, it’s all about you. It’s not about the other person and so my question is: why are you doing what you’re doing? What are you trying to get out of it? Are you trying to really be somebody’s friend, care about somebody? You have to always look at your motivation for doing something.
Kryder: It sounds like that maybe parents are goofing up too. If you pass on what’s inside you, do they need programs or parents?
Marshall: Oh sure, sure they do, absolutely. I don’t deal with parents, because I love working with young people, but I have actually. Adults are obviously more resistant because they think they’ve done it longer and they think they know it all, so they’re less likely to listen. Young people, one good thing about working with young people is that they want to be guided.
Kryder: You have the commandments of violence. What would you replace them with to teach young boys about women?
Marshall: Let me say this first. (For these youngsters), there are two types of women. There are “sacred women” and there are “other women.’ The sacred women are the mothers and the daughters normally. With boys it’s their mothers and their sisters, not even their girlfriends. With men it’s not even their wives often times. They have a negative view of women, but the negative view of women is worldwide. When I explain this, I try to explain it in a way that people get, so what I do is I have them read the negative view of women as a risk factor and I have them substitute, instead of “women,” I have them say “African.” So substitute that. It’s seeing the African as less than human, less than equal as a commodity to be bought and to be sold. Well, obviously when you see anybody like that, you don’t see them as a human being. In much of the world, that’s the way women are seen. Women are seen as less than equal, less than human, flawed, incomplete, as a commodity to be bought and sold. And so when you go around the world, you see that in places; women are just not valued. They have less value than men. The problem with the negative view of women is that it’s sanctioned by culture and religious thought. All these killings in Pakistan, but it’s all over the world, it’s about power, domination and control.
Kryder: What about boys’ sex drives? You know, puberty hits and they have all this sex and they have fantasies. How can you deal with that? What does your program do to help the boys with that?
Marshall: I talk to young people about being comfortable. “Why are you doing what you’re doing? Are you doing it because society says something, because your friends said something, because you’re trying to live up to some kind of image?” Those are the conversations you have to have with young people about why they’re doing what they’re doing. Half the time they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. You have to have those conversations with them.