From the category archives:

News

A recent article in the Scientific American discussed new research on how men’s minds turn women’s bodies into objects…although, not quite. From the article:

“A recent study found that showing men pictures of sexualized women evokes less activity in areas of the brain responsible for mental state attribution—that is, the area of the brain that becomes active when we think we are looking at an entity capable of thought and planned action. Other studies have found similar results. When men see body shots of women as compared with face shots, they judge women to be less intelligent, likeable, ambitious and competent.”

But it’s not that men see women as objects, like robots, but that they see women through one lens instead of the other. “Research into mind perception has found two dimensions along which we tend to categorize others: agency (the capacity to act, plan) and experience (the capacity to feel emotions). A robot, for example, is high on the dimension of agency but low in experience. It can think, but it can’t feel. When we see flesh, on the other hand, we tend to see experience but not agency—an entity capable of pleasure and pain but not necessarily the sharpest or most useful tool in the shed.” When men see women’s bodies, their perception of their ability to act and plan goes down, but their perception of the women as emotional goes up. And interestingly, as the latter goes up, so does a man’s sense of the woman’s vulnerability and thus her need for protection.

Read the whole article: How Our Brains Turn Woman Into Objects (@Scientific American)

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For Father’s Day back in June, the furniture retailer IKEA set up something called “Manland” in their stores. Basically, Manland was a nursery for grown men who hate shopping. Wives and girlfriends could drop their husbands and boyfriends off in a play area that included food, men’s magazines, and a foosball table. While the women shopped, the men could relax. There was a 30 minute limit to a man’s stay in Manland, and women were giving a buzzer that would go off when the time was up and she had to go collect her man.

Some men have hailed it as an awesome idea, while others have decried it as incredibly insulting to men, something that makes men look like infantile morons. What do you think? Would you have liked the idea if it had been presented in a less “daycare for men” way, or does the whole idea stink?


Read more: Ikea Sets Up Playpen for Men (@Toronto Star)

Hat tip to Tuck Oden

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I thought AoM’s Christian readers would appreciate a recent article posted on the First Things blog, (which is published by The Institute on Religion and Public Life, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute), called “Jesus Is Not a Cagefighter.

The author of the piece, Joe Carter, examines that perennial fixation of the Christian faith: the perceived feminization of the church. Carter outlines how, starting in the 60s and 70s, the portrayal of Jesus became much softer. He writes, “During those decades when the ideal of masculinity was in flux, Christ was portrayed as a sensitive, pacifistic, Phil Donahue-style guru (think “hippie Jesus”).” Carter argues that the pendulum has now swung back too far the other way, with churches using MMA as part of their ministries, emphasizing Jesus’ aggressive qualities at the expense of his meek and loving ones, and generally focusing on a “pugilistic Jesus.” This movement is an effort to attract men to the congregation, because they statistically attend church less often than women do, and if the man in the family comes to church, the rest of the family is more likely to go as well, more so than if just the mother attends.

While Carter makes it seem like this swinging pendulum between the feminized Jesus and the hyper-virile Jesus is a more recent phenomenon, this has happened before, most notably at the beginning of the 20th century. The highly popular and successful evangelist, Billy Sunday, sought to save Christianity from the feminization of the church that developed in the Victorian Age, and preached things like:

“[The church needs to] strike the death blow to the idea that being a Christian takes a man out of the busy whirl of the world’s life and activity and makes him a spineless effeminate proposition.”

“[The Christian man cannot be] some sort of dishrag proposition, a wishy-washy, sissified sort of galoot, that lets everybody make a doormat out of him. Let me tell you, the manliest man is the man who will acknowledge Jesus Christ.”

“Lord save us from the off-handed, flabby cheeked, brittle boned, weak-kneed, thin-skinned, pliable, plastic, spineless, effeminate, ossified, three karat Christianity.”

Here are some questions for discussion:

1. Do you think the feminization of Christianity is something that is just perceived, or do you think it is real?

2. Do you think that incorporating things like MMA into church is a good thing that will attract men, or something that detracts from what you think the mission of a church should be?

3. Do you think that Carter is right that the portrayal of Jesus as an aggressive manly man has gone too far, or do you think that he is being overly-cautious?

Read: “Jesus Was Not a Cagefighter” (@First Things)

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Yesterday the NYT reported on the results of a study that confirmed something that, if my memory serves me correctly, has also been found in previous studies: that women are attracted to a man with a deep voice. The researchers showed:

“women an image of an object while they listened to a computer-manipulated version of a high- or low-pitched male or female voice say the object’s name. They then repeated this experiment with real male and female voices.

In both cases, women expressed a clear preference for low male voices and had the best memory of the images whose names were spoken in low voices.”

Researchers say that the reason for this preference is that women want to mate with the best protector/provider possible, and that a deep voice can be a sign of a man’s masculinity.

Read: A Magnet for Women? Try a Deep Male Voice (@NYT)

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For while I’ve thought that a great topic for AoM to cover would be the ins and outs of how to take one of the road trips many men dream about doing: visiting all 30 baseball stadiums in the country. I haven’t done it myself, so I need the help of an AoM reader who has. I’d like him to write an article about it, or if he’s not comfortable with that, I’d be happy to interview him.

If you’ve done the baseball stadium road trip, and would be interested in participating, email me at artofmanliness@gmail.com.

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A strange news story emerged this week. Am English-speaking boy named Ray, who is 17 years old, wandered out of a forest in Germany. He had a mysterious tale for authorities, telling them his father had taken him into the wilderness after his mother died, and that the father and son had spent five years living in huts and tents in the forest. Then his father died, and the boy had buried him in a shallow grave and then followed the advice his father had given him before his death, to follow his compass north. He wandered for two weeks before reaching Berlin. Authorities are now looking for more information about who the boy is.

As the reader who sent this article to me pointed out, the story has some interesting parallels to Iron John (the Grimm fairy tale and the book).

A movie and book deal cannot be far behind–the kid must have an incredibly interesting story to tell.

Read: Mystery of English-Speaking Boy Who Lived in German Forest for 5 Years (@Fox News)

Hat tip to Colin O. for the link.

 

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As reported in the NYT, a study has recently shown that after a man has a kid, his testosterone levels drop, and the more involved he gets in child-rearing, the lower his T levels fall. “Men who spent more than three hours a day caring for children — playing, feeding, bathing, toileting, reading or dressing them — had the lowest testosterone.” This reduction in testosterone is thought to help men commit to their families and stick around to rear their progeny.

Although testosterone plays a central role in making men manly, researchers say the findings shouldn’t freak guys out and make them feel like fatherhood makes them wimpy. They say men should focus on the takeaway that the study seems to prove that men, like women, are biologically adapted to being hands-on parents. Evolutionary biology professor Dr. Peter Ellison hopes the study helps men “realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring.”

The study is interesting too as it shows that your behavior can affect the hormones you release, and not just vice versa.

What do you think? Does the study make fatherhood seem less manly or do you find the results encouraging?

Read the article: In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone (@NYT)

 

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A couple of weeks ago in Minnesota, Pat Smith and his 11-year-old twin boys, Nate and Nick, went to a charity hockey game. Mr. Smith bought three raffle tickets for $10 each for a chance to win $50,000 by making a shot from the center of the rink at halftime. He wrote Nick’s name on all three tickets; Nate had just recently had a cast removed from his arm and figured Nick has the better chance of making the shot. Come halftime, one of Nick’s tickets was drawn, but he had left during halftime, telling Nate to take the shot if his name was called. And that’s what Nate did, amazing the crowd by making a shot that had to go 89 feet and slip through a 3.5 inch gap made in a board that was placed across the mouth of the goal. Euphoria and pandemonium ensued. According to a report by NPR:

Both of the twins were shocked. Pat Smith says that in the excitement, he went along with the swap — but he didn’t feel right about it the next day.

“I just felt I had to do the right thing,” he told ABCNews Monday. “I just think that honesty is more important than any prize or money you could get.”

So Nate came forward and told the truth to the game’s organizers, who consulting with the insurance company that underwrote the event, decided to not give the boys the money but rather to donate $40,000 to youth hockey leagues.

The dad, Pat Smith, told Today that coming forward was not only the right thing to do, but also a valuable lesson for his sons: “They learned that honesty is always the best policy, and you can never go wrong telling the truth.”

“Some people wouldn’t tell the truth, so it’s cool that we did,” Nate Smith added.

Read:

Boy Makes $50K Hockey Shot, But It’s The Wrong Boy

No Cash For Kid Who Made $50,000 Hockey Shot (@NPR)

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The Art of Manliness is all about reviving the best parts of the past, and if those best parts are also delicious, then all the better! You’ve probably heard about how classic cocktails are enjoying a revival, but there’s good news for teetotalers and people who simply love soda pop, too. As NPR reports, mixologists are recovering the long lost soda recipes of yesteryear, and experimenting with unique flavors, creams, and phosphates to come up with the kind of concoctions that used to be mixed up by soda jerks during the golden age of soda fountains.  It’s true as the article says that these fountains were “once an equivalent to the local saloon,” and the history of good old fashioned soda pop is pretty fascinating and even manly. For more information, check out one of our oldest articles: “Tired of Beer? Become a Soda Connoisseur.”

Read/Listen: In Soda Revival, Fizzy Taste Bubbles Up From The Past (@NPR)

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A few weeks ago, The Tulsa World (my hometown newspaper) published an op-ed piece from a longtime resident of T-town, Michael Lapolla. Lapolla told the hard-to-believe tale of how he took his 6-year-old grandson to a local playground and was accosted by a mom who questioned whether Lapolla was really the boy’s grandfather. He told the woman she was out of line, but then four other moms gathered around him and also questioned him, implying that he was really a kidnapper or child molester. They called the police and told Lapolla he couldn’t leave until they got there. He complied, and it only took the police a short time after they arrived to clear things up. Needless to say, neither Mr. Lapolla nor his grandson were very happy about the incident.

It reminded me of a piece I read awhile back in the Wall Street Journal by Lenore Skenazy entitled “Eek! A Male!” Skenazy chronicles a series of disturbing stories just like Lapolla’s in which well-intentioned men are stereotyped as potential predators.

The male aide at a day care center isn’t allowed to change diapers and has to leave the room while the female aides do so. The British Musician’s Union told its members to avoid touching students, even to help them position their fingers correctly on the piano’s keys. A public pool in Australia banned boys and men from changing in the same locker room, and it was the men who asked for the policy, as they were afraid of being falsely accused of something.

The fear of men as potential predators has some truly unfortunate, even tragic, effects; such vigilance can make us less safe, not more, as Skenazy details:

“This queasy climate is making men think twice about things they used to do unselfconsciously. A friend of mine, Eric Kozak, was working for a while as a courier. Driving around an unfamiliar neighborhood, he says, “I got lost. I saw a couple kids by the side of the road and rolled down my window to ask, ‘Where is such-and-such road?’ They ran off screaming.”

Another dad told me about taking his three-year-old to play football in the local park, where he’d help organize the slightly older kids into a game. Over time, one of the kids started to look up to him. “He wanted to stand close to me, wanted approval, Dad stuff, I guess. And because of this whole ‘stranger danger’ mentality, I could sense this sort of wary disapproval from the few other parents at the playground. So I just stopped going.”

And that’s not the worst. In England in 2006, BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn’t stop to help for fear he’d be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.

I have to admit, when I’m in public alone with my baby boy, Gus, I feel like people are looking at me funny. Of course the mustache probably doesn’t help.

Have you ever experienced an “Eek! It’s a male!” moment?

Read:

“Taking the Fun Out of a First Chocolate Soda.” (@TulsaWorld.com)

“Eek! A Male!” (WSJ.com)

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