Eight Little Known Secrets About Being a Man

Secrets of being a manIt isn’t easy being a man (or a woman) these days. Roles are changing. The world is changing. It can feel like the very foundation of who we are has been built on an earthquake fault.  Just when we think we can walk around safely, the ground begins to move and we are knocked off our feet.

My parents tell the story of my circumcision (one of the many hazards of being male, and still a hazard for many women in the world). My father was behind me as they spread my new-born legs and cut away my foreskin. It was supposed to me a ceremony of celebration of manhood. Not for me and not for babies who are abused in that way. I let out a scream and arched a stream of urine over my little head, which hit my father in the eyes.

I’ve been fighting assaults to our humanity ever since. Here are a few things about being a man that I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Sex Matters: Males and Females Are Different in Every Cell of Our Bodies

According to Marianne J. Legato, M.D., Founder of The Center for Gender Specific Medicine, Everywhere we look, the two sexes are startlingly and unexpectedly different not only in their internal function but in the way they experience illness.” This difference goes right down to the cells in our bodies. David C. Page, M.D., professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) says, “There are 10 trillion cells in human body and every one of them is sex specific.”  [Read more…]

7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being a Man

how to be a manMy journey to manhood began early. Shortly after I was born my parents gathered for the traditional circumcision. They weren’t religious, but since they were nominally Jewish, I was held down by my father while the mohel (rhymes with oil), a pious, observant Jew educated in the relevant Jewish law and in surgical techniques, did the deed. I was present, but don’t consciously remember what was done to me.

However, the story was told that when my foreskin was cut away, I let out a huge scream and sent a healthy stream of urine arching over my head and hitting my father in the eyes. Everyone seemed to laugh at the retelling of the story. Even as a child I thought, “You missed the whole point. My screams were telling the world that what you were doing to me was wrong and my well-aimed response was telling the world, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take your abuse without putting up a fight.’”

In my book, The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, I said, “I consider circumcision to be a form of child sexual abuse, since it is a direct attack on a boy’s genitals and his sexuality. It is the first form of abuse most boys experience.” It took me years to remember that what was done was abusive and to recognize how it impacted my later life. It is still not easy being a man today and there are things I know now at age seventy-one that I wish I had learned earlier.

  1. Child Abuse is Common. Our Mind May Forget But the Body Always Remembers.

It’s difficult to know how early abuse impacts our lives. It took me many years to understand that the circumcision was traumatic and had an impact on my adult sexuality. In her book Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology and How You Can Heal, Donna Jackson Nakazawa reports on the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE). The ACE study offers irrefutable scientific link between many types of common childhood adversities and adult onset of physical and mental health disorders. [Read more…]

Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget: Surprising Findings from The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine

“Men and women think differently, approach problems differently, emphasize the importance of things differently, and experience the world around us through entirely different lenses,” says Marianne J. Legato, M.D., Founder of the Foundation for Gender Specific Medicine and author of numerous books on men and women including, Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget.

The field of gender-specific medicine is less than 25 years old.  In 1992, Dr. Legato  published  The Female Heart: The Truth About Women and Coronary Artery Disease and revealed that women’s presenting symptoms of heart disease are taken less seriously than men–and when women undergo cardiac surgery, they are less likely than men to survive.  Further, her team learned that heart disease often presents differently in men and women.   Men more often feel a crashing pain in their chest, while women more often experience fleeting pain in the upper abdomen, shortness of breath, and sweating.

Prior to Dr. Legato’s work, the assumption was the men and women were essentially the same except for issues specifically related to our reproductive functions.  But since Dr. Legato’s research in the 1990s the field of gender medicine has flourished.  There is now an International Society for Gender Medicine (IGM) and national societies in Austria, Germany, Israel, Italy, Sweden, and the U.S. [Read more…]

For Love or Money: The New Male Vocation Is….

The cover story in Time magazine headlines:  The Richer Sex:  Women, Money, and Power. It reports on studies showing that almost 40% of working wives make more money than their husbands and goes on to say, “Assuming present trends continue, by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men.”

This raises some interesting questions:  Will present trends continue, or will things shift back again towards men carrying more of the load to support the family?  If present trends do continue will it be good for men, women, and children?  Could the new male vocation be learning how to love more rather than learning to make more money?

I think there’s a wonderful opportunity here.  I’d offer it in the form of an equation (thanks to author Chip Conley for the idea of turning big ideas into short equations):

________    =  Happiness

Love divided by money equals happiness.  I know for most of my adult life, I thought I created happiness for myself and my family by working harder and harder to make more and more money.  I put a lot more effort into making money than learning the skills to love myself, love my wife, and love my children.  I knew I loved them, but I thought I expressed it best by making money.

My equation of effort might have looked like this  1/10 = 0.1.  I put in 1 unit of learning to love for every 10 units on making money.  Now, with so many men finding it difficult to make money, perhaps we can reverse this equation.  10/1 = 10, where we can put ten units into learning to love for every unit on making money.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Time Magazine Cover March 26, 2012