The end of the Rainbow.

Recent events in the US and Europe have had me thinking a lot about nations, borders and the kind of people who make up the idealitic heart of the rainbow coalition of the left, people like myself: weirdos. I’ve seen people comment often on various alt right blogs that leftists are out there engaging in some grand conspiracy to destroy the family and ruin Western countries, but It’s not my experience that that’s the case. In fact, as I’ll explain in this post, leftists just think they are being good people by following their core belief that all people are basically the same and its important corollary: any differences between outcomes is therefore due to systemic social oppression (I.e. Strong holding down the weak, rich oppressing the poor, white oppressing the colorful, etc.) This belief which appears to be a strength may well be the left’s undoing.

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t those who scheme all of the things above and work to attract adherents to their conspiratorial plans, there surely are, but I’m saying that I’ve never met such a person, they work in ivory towers and boardrooms if they work at all, not regular jobs. They live in penthouses and mansions, not single family homes, not dingy little apartments. No I’m talking about the regular people, the middle and upper middle class of European descent  who think they’re doing good by opposing nationalism, voting for free X for everyone, expanding voting to all no matter how long they’ve been here and where they came from, opening borders for everyone, controlling guns, etc. All these polices are underpinned by that core belief in everyone being the same. When things happen that challenge that belief you get cognitive dissonance which is painful and people don’t like pain so they reject it… But not forever. You can only be harassed on the street or mugged or hear of friends and relatives who have so many times before you start to reevaluate your worldview, before the walls start to crumble and the scales fall from your eyes, as they did for me. This is why media must shun stories that contradict the everyone is the same  narrative, because real lived negative experiences with people who are different and act differently, causes problems.

Additionally there’s evidence that when faced with adversity, leftist groups don’t cohere, but splinter. During the Spanish civil war when various leftist groups were forced together, even when fighting for their own country and an elected leftist republican government against a fascist coup, rather than unite against their common enemy the various factions of the republican left, the communists, socialists, and anarchists chose to fight amongst each other, rather than put aside their differences. This famously soured Englishman George Orwell who was at the time fighting alongside the republican forces in one of several internatinal brigades made up of leftists of various other nationalities who’d come to Spain to fight on the republican side. Orwell, when not complaining about the lies of journalists, the plague of lice among the troops, or the terrible food available during the conflict, described the bitter enormity between communists and anarchists. Which I find amusing when you consider that he said both groups agreed that supporting the republic, as it was a bourgeois democracy, was suboptimal at best as bourgeois liberals were prone to supporting fascism anyway and ought to be considered enemies even if they didn’t support Franco’s fascist army directly. This paranoia, coupled with the “no true Scotsman” mentality that the left has regarding right thinking people  (I.e. Only those who think and act exactly as they do, with a similar amount of wealth) seems sharply at odds with their stated “we accept everyone” ethos. This is why I think  the rainbow grows when times are good and there is more than enough for all, when people who don’t need to produce can flourish as parasites of one form or another, and the rainbow ends when times get tough, when things break down and go to hell and every man must take care of himself, when you have to produce something of value to be valued.

Parenting a regular boy, when you aren’t.

Does your son have trouble sitting still? Is he taciturn, curt, occasionally disrespectful? Does he like to wrestle, to climb, to run, just because? Does he have trouble dealing with frustration, especially when asked to write something about a topic that doesn’t interest him? Then you might have a regular normal boy on your hands. For many people, certainly those in antiquity, this wasn’t a problem, indeed it was expected for a boy to behave this way. Now we’re told that boys who shuffle their feet and twiddle their pencils who ache to get outside, to run, are broken, wrong. Now they’re deserving of medication to “calm them down” so they sit nicely in their seats, so they don’t “act out” and cause problems for teacher, for the day care provider.

As you might have read in some of my previous posts on this blog, I was not a regular boy. I did not like playing outside, I did not have any interest in or perform well in sports, I was a creative, emotional, talkative boy and I know my parents would have preferred a regular boy, like my second son. Now that I’m an adult, I’m challenged with the task of providing the kind of guidance my budding manly man needs to become the fullest, best expression of who he is.  I don’t want to make him into me. Certainly I’ve experienced first hand how much fun it is having your parents send you to one uncomfortable activity after another, hoping you’ll conform to their expectations, hoping you’ll “normalize.” Should I do the same? Should I send him to act in plays, force him to read novels and report on which characters he identified with and how it made him feel? No, that would be as torturous for him as baseball was for me.

So if I’ve decided he doesn’t need to be forced to be creative, talkative and calm. If I’m determined that he doesn’t need what I needed when I was young, then… what does he need? To answer that question I simply looked back in time… to a place labeled coldly by some as “patriarchy” but I tend to view as a society that took the interests of men and boys seriously. What I’m talking about my friends are the 30s, 40s, and 50s in America, the time of Disney’s true life stories, Davy Crockett, Cowboys and Indians, mens clubs and boys clubs.

One thing I notice when I look at this period, being the odd alien I am, is that there was a ton of physical movement in the lives of boys in the early twentieth century, far more than there is today. Oh sure, we still have sports and gym, but not like we used to. Gone are the long hard runs, the pushups, the situps, the calisthenics. I wondered about this as I heard reports of my son struggling in school with writing projects, how he would burst into tears at the mere thought of parsing out a single sentence, much less an entire paragraph. So I started running with him and having my wife run with him (she is an avid runner) and giving him the option to take a run or a walk if he was feeling frustrated. Why? Emotion is a natural response to frustration. It’s just a bunch of hormones being released, flooding his system, overwhelming the circuits and exercise, can be like a release valve. A young boy with problems writing needs to write more in order to figure out how his brain can get it done but he can’t do that if he’s flooded with stress hormones, so he takes a break, runs, comes back and deals with the problem with a level head. This has worked wonders.

Rule number one: Cardio.

The next thing I noticed is that my second son was having trouble dealing with ribbing from other boys. He would explode into tears, again unable to keep the cool he so desperately wanted, he was overwhelmed by stress until he was crying. For this one Grand pa came to the rescue. My father always teased me and not in a friendly way, in a mean spirited, I’m going to make you feel like crap way. I always hated this in part because when he called me girly, he was right, I knew I’d never be good at the things he wanted me to be good at, that he was good at, namely sports and math. However, given my experience with the physical activity I started to wonder if my father wasn’t doing something he was programmed to do. I started to wonder if men tease boys so they can toughen up, so they can learn what others will say to them and about them, and already have ready responses. Regular men are competitive, they joust for position constantly both by building themselves up and by pushing each other around both verbally and physically. Most of the time this is in a good natured, friendly way but as a child I had a very hard time seeing it as such. So I started picking on my son and pushing him around. Not in a mean spirited way like my father (who had married an intellectual harpy and was unhappy about it) but in a fun challenging way. The little guy has responded far better than I ever expected. He hates when I make silly faces or voices, he hates when I make up stories but if I give him a shoulder bump and call him a useless dweeb, this look of consternation mixed with impish joy comes over his face that I’d never seen before. I also tackle him, wrestle him, and order him around for no other reason than to exert authority and he doesn’t like it, he loves it. The more powerful and commanding I am, the happier he is. I’m never going to be Mega Manly Dad ™, but I can play one on TV, for him.

Rule number two: Pick on him, be physical, be contentious and commanding, but in a good natured way.

The final item I’ve learned to respect is relevance. Regular men can be notoriously single minded in their pursuits, preferring to work for hours on one single project until it’s complete, rather than dally about with many different things (which is what I prefer). My second son is no different. I’ve watched him work one building project for hours on end without even taking the time to eat. I am not this way, if I’m given a writing project (lets leave aside for the moment that I enjoy writing) since I have so many subjects I dabble in on a daily basis it’s no trouble to come up with something to write about, my son on the other hand, slams directly into a wall, especially if the exercise is about anything he’s not interested in right now. If the boy has memorized every block and creature in Minecraft and all that swims in his head is the next mod he’s going to write and how to do it, then writing something about his summer vacation is going to feel like a huge waste of time. Let the boy write about topics relevant to his current mental space, let him expound on the blocks, the creatures, the design he has planned, the buildings he’s going to make. Do this all the time, not just when he has to write. If he starts yammering out a sorted list of his favorite objects, listen, make a comment. Don’t just turn off, because that tells him focus is a bad thing and it isn’t, it absolutely isn’t. Focused people can dig up all kinds of success (including tons of money) with that tireless attention to detail. Don’t make him think it’s bad because it bores you.

Rule number three: Respect the topics that are relevant to him and support his desire for focused activity.

That’s it for now, I might add more to this as I think of it, but those are the three big things I’ve learned. I’d also like to mention that it’s entirely possible your female child could act like the above, especially if she has a male digit ratio (very long ring finger, longer than her index finger.) I have no idea whether the advice for young masculine males would help masculine females as the only one I know is my wife and I’m not her parent. If you have a young girl with a masculine digit ratio then please chime in in the comments.

Be Very Careful About Getting a Vasectomy.

blackscissorsLately I’ve noticed this alarming trend on the internet and even with people I know personally: Men being pushed by their wives or girlfriends to have a vasectomy. Even the guys at the web comic Penny Arcade recently had a series where one of the two main characters is pushed by his wife to snip his manhood. Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to get a vasectomy, especially if you really don’t want children and I want to be clear here: if you want it for your own reasons then have at man. No, what I’m talking about is the woman in your life wheedling you to have a vasectomy. It’ll be so much easier they say, no more annoying condoms, no more birth control, just the two of you and loads of crazy unprotected sex. Except in the experiences that I have witnessed thus far these promises are very likely a fantasy and even worse it could even be a huge trap.

So let’s start this out by relating the experience of my friend, let’s call him Mike. Mike had been married for twelve years to a woman he loved completely, with all his heart and soul. He’d struggled with depression for much of his life but his wife had been there for him pretty much the entire time. She’s a mousy, introverted, intellectual woman who works in healthcare and functioned for a long time as the primary breadwinner for the family while Mike was battling his depression. The two of them had three kids together, all of whom seem relatively well adjusted. Out of the blue Mike’s wife starts pressuring him to get a vasectomy. She uses all the reasons I mentioned above. She supports him through the procedure, she comforts him as he spends more than two weeks icing his aching crotch. Then, when he’s healed and things are starting to look up for him, she up and leaves him. She doesn’t take the kids she just leaves and she doesn’t come back. It’s been a couple years now and she’s still not back.

Mike was obviously crushed by the whole scenario and interestingly he seems stronger now than he’s been in a while. However after it all happened, the more I thought about it, the timing of the whole thing seemed odd. She must have had some guy on the side for a while that she was keeping from him. Mike is sure of that and I tend to agree with him. The question is: if you’re planning to leave, why make your former husband get a vasectomy first? How does that advantage you? My initial thought was that, having been vasectomized, the man can now no longer have children. So now he can’t go have another family with another woman. Primarily this advantages his first wife’s offspring: they will never be replaced with children from a new family, they will always be his primary focus. The other possibility is that it’s just a possession thing: she wants to make sure no one else (especially someone younger and prettier) can have children with him, out of spite. Maybe both, maybe neither.

What concerns me now is that this may be a lot more common than I originally thought. A man and woman have a seemingly stable relationship, maybe they have kids, maybe not, then she starts pushing for a vasectomy and after he does it either the sex goes from a trickle to zero or she leaves him completely. It could be as simple as the vasectomy being a “shit test”, i.e. she is saying: “Cut off your manhood for me!” and she expects him to respond with a resounding, manly: “Hell no!” One of the main things we middle aged men have over on a woman is that we can leave a relationship in our 40s and reasonably expect to have a completely new family with a completely new, younger woman. If you accept the vasectomy and affirm that you’ll never do that you are literally and figuratively emasculating yourself.

So readers, do you know anyone this has happened to? Is Mike’s story unique?