Monday, February 22, 2010

A response to Mr Chips

Mr Chips wrote: "If you notice youth culture fashions, you will see that,
despite the extreme sexual promiscuity of song lyrics, some books, and
computer games, the clothes boys now wear go to great lengths to hide
and conceal, long and baggy, with shorts that go down to the ankles.
It's as if there was some kind of a tacit fear for a boy to show himself off."

Here is part one of my response:

Before: Boys were expected to be or to become aggressive, dominant, try to rise to the top of the pack (though this usually takes the most social skills, not the hardest punching power), successful, masculine, sexually assertive, hard working, reliable.

Boys were expected to be tough, able to fend for themselves, able to look out for danger and deal with it. If harmed, boys were expected to take it like a man, get up, move on, build a bridge, get over it.

The threats to boys before were massive. There were more active wierdos, murderers, rapists, molesters and you name it in most of history, at least in many Western cultures. Out on their own, shepherd boys, farm boys, runner boys and every other kind of boy faced down and overcame, or were overcome by, many threats.

That, anyway, was when men ruled the world. Survival of the fittest.

Of course, men could have done a better job. The world was too dangerous, then.

Then women achieved political power. Women are, on average, more likely to be mother bears. Someone threatens children? Lock the children inside and kill everyone outside. Put the wierdos in jail for life. If they deny being a wierdo, don't believe them. Play it safe. Err on the side of caution. Safety first.

Politicians must respond, if they want votes. Every new law, pass it. Every new punishment or restriction, pass it. Forget freedom. Security and doing what looks to be safety-centered is what matters. Be child centered. Praise every child infinitely. All life for children must be covered with big baby bumpers. Pushing children to succede is child abuse. Living life vicariously through your child's academic or sports or social success is a psychosis.

Boys are taught that they are young men and going to be men, soon. But men are very bad and all men want to molest you. "Sex" they learn, at age 5, 6, 7, and 8, from their mommies or others who would protect them, is a bad thing done by bad men lurking everywhere to any boy stupid enough to go outside and walk down the street.

Boys are taught to be defensive. To assume every adult male is a pervert. A dirty old men. Adult men are the scum of the earth. Every boy dreads becoming one.

But boys do crave acceptance, and where do they find it? Some find it from peers. Some are so desperate they would do anything to get it. Anything.

Is Junior really safer in this new world? Will he be ready for the challenges of life?

Reminds me of how one young man, true story, was a rebel, and his parents could do nothing to him to stop his crimes for fear that social workers and the police would remove him if they "taught him a lesson". When he turned 18, the police taught the lesson, instead. Permanent criminal record AND they beat him to a pulp for his attitude. And with recidivism rates (because we use the insane method of imprisonment to "rehabilitate" - which it does, 5% of the time) being what they are, Junior will now be a thug, ex-con, and a permanent criminal.

Mr Chips wrote via Art Fraternity

If you notice youth culture fashions, you will see that, despite the
extreme sexual promiscuity of song lyrics, some books, and computer
games, the clothes boys now wear go to great lengths to hide and
conceal, long and baggy, with shorts that go down to the ankles.
It's as if there was some kind of a tacit fear for a boy to show
himself off.

I am old enough (61) to remember when I was a kid, shorter and tighter
were what was wanted, and most boys tried to get away with exposing as
much flesh as possible.

By the same token, back then, the emphasis was on girls to dress
appropriately and more or less modestly. Today the tables are turned,
and boys dress like nuns and girls like mini pop tarts.

When I have been in the mall or my local Wal-Marts, I often see girls
in small groups acting very brazenly. I seldom see boys out together
any more. When I see them, I see them in ones and twos usually with
an adult. Again, when I was a kid,it was us boys who hung around in
small groups in public.

I am almost certain that there is a positive correlation between the
rise of militant feminism and the decline of genuine fraternity both
among boys and men. Where it comes in, how it comes in and how it is
quantified I have my theories, but no facts.

I would appreciate feedback from anyone else who has noticed these
phenomena, and what they believe the reasons to be. I think these
things are exactly the manifestations of the malaise our host is
talking about.

Mr. Chips

[minor corrections made]


Friendship and companionship are in very hot water.

People have given themselves over to television and other modern electronic devices (computer games, internet, video games, and who knows what is next). The time they give to this came, statistically, out of our social time - the time we spent doing things with other people (for a proof of this see the excellent book Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnam).

Even when our electronic activities have a social element (social networking, dating, chat, e-mail, etc.), our time with our friends and the friendships we form are often not as good as a more ordinary friendship.

Fraternity is in hot water.

Psychology created the group "homosexual" (prior to this the subject of orientation was much more vague and less on our minds) many years ago, and, generations ago, Western governments slowly stopped enforcing anti-gay laws and slowly started repealing them.

One of the pressures against fraternity is our extreme homophobia. With homosexual activity now legal, many men would never do what men naturally did one or two hundred years ago. Sleeping together in the same bed was commonplace. Swimming nude together was very common in many cultures. Touching - arms around each other, sitting side by side and the like - was the norm, not the exception. Social analysts are still trying to explain why from around 1908 to around 1918 we see men in the USA (and elsewhere, though I don't know if the time-frame was the same) stop touching each other all the time and start avoiding body contact.

A pressure against body contact in that era was the spread of an understanding of germ theory - kids were no longer in the parental bed or group beds if a family could afford individual beds. Bed advertisements warned that you did not want to breath the germs of another person...

Prior to these events, whatever their cause, men in many Western cultures tended, at times, to form very strong male friendships and to engage in very male activities with friends and in groups. Fraternity ruled.

When Fraternity ruled, life as a child was like this:

From a little boy you longed to enter manhood.
If well-connected, you might become a page to an aristrocrat.
From an early age you would work, and people would know you from your accomplishments.
If well-to-do, you might have a tutor.
Your childhood might have privation, but it also might have unbelievable adventure, life outdoors or in the streets (some bad, some good there). Read memoirs of people who had real childhoods. It was much more dangerous back then, but parents still tended to let their young ones experience the real world.
You might be able to secure an apprenticeship from a young age.

In such an environment, there was culture, children were a part of culture, older persons passed the culture onto children, and so on.

Around 1900, I don't know exactly when, "safety first" became a concern. While it is wonderful that we are safer now, in some ways, this has caused massive changes:

Kids used to drown in rivers and other bodies of water all the time. That is what kids do. It wouldn't even be very newsworthy.

Kids, sadly, disappeared.

But the safety precautions we have implemented have, of course, gone way too far.

I knew of kids who NEVER left their yard unless escorted.

There are kids with no social skills, almost no friends, possibly destined for isolation and abnormality. Now I accept that some great people were isolated as children, but does that have to be the norm?

And when Fraternity ruled, the number of things that men did together as men, or together with boys or the boys, was legion.

One issue that my writing and my other blog try to address is, males are handsome or beautiful in their own ways. Homophobia and fear of being labeled a pedophile mean that males very much keep their distance from the concept that males are good looking.

For some, this is wise, but it tends to go too far.

Men who worked with kids 100 years ago could openly talk about how good looking the kids were. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, made it well-known that he wanted his visits to camps to coincide with their (nude) swim time. He considered his interest to be sentimentalism, and it probably was!

I worked extensively with children years ago, and (though not everyone is the same), I could see their beauty without wanting to destroy their beauty. Without wanting to abuse them, cause tension in our relationship, defeat all I was working to do for them, and probably end up in prison or worse.

On this aspect of fraternity, intergenerational relationships, let me add that you must not only be trustworthy, but you must also engineer a safe environment. There was one young man who was sexually precocious. I told his custodian on the very first day we met that I never wanted him to spend the night. I just knew I should take that precaution. There are tons of precautions that parents, mentors, coaches, teachers, etc., should take, for all people, male and female, are sexually risky. Even grandmothers have been known to be a bit weird at times! And some of the very worst offenders have themselves been but children at the time of the offense. Please, be safe, but do not sacrifice fraternity.

Why fraternity? If I can like another male, it helps me somewhat accept myself, as well (I am male). It helps to make life worth living. Friendship. Companionship. Comrades.

Not many years ago, men being friends with other men was openly considered one of the most important things in life.

Now people in generations age 30 and up cannot even talk about it.

We have killed fraternity. We have killed our culture.

Hunting down every man who even looks with awe at the beauty of a child or youth (which is 90% of men), we make it harder for fraternity to revive. Why? Because we are demonize all men and we are even, though we do not realize it, making it uncomfortable to be a boy (or a girl) or to even raise children (or help others raise children, such as by coaching, teaching, babysitting, etc.).

In the end, boys won't want to be men. Talk to young people. Many look down on older people now more than ever before, and, rather than looking forward to maturity and success, they only fear growing old and growing ugly.

Fraternity is dead.

Let's start a new fraternity, a fraternity alive!