Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween: Real Men Aren't Scary

What gender were most of the scary costumes this last Halloween night? One guess—male. From your classic Phantom to your Vampire to your Werewolf, Frankenstein to your ghoul du noir, the scary hairy, bloody and mummified guys are the ones that scare the bejeesus out of us.


On the other days of the year men are often made out to be the ogres (with the exception of one Hollywood ogre) that do more damage and cause more grief-- emotional, physical and social than not. In other words, it’s been a successful Hollywood gambit to vilify most men while making a handful of protagonists the knights in shining armor. These are well-documented tropes.

Yes, off screen the statistics on family violence and rape document much higher perpetration of real violence by men.
And men get the credit for heading up many an institution that has and still does enslave, exploit, disempower and kill.

All of that can make a pretty bad rap for men. Add the Hollywood tropes and its no wonder I sometimes feel the need to walk on the other side of the street to put a single woman pedestrian more at ease.

What is really scary is what happens to boys and men. From day one males are separated from females and spoken to and treated differently, sometimes while they’re still in the womb!
They are often handled more roughly and regarded as tougher even in the vulnerable neonate form. They are not. They are little babies totally dependent on adults.

What happens to boys is that they are sexually abused at a rate of one out of six, now thought to be a conservative estimate. The recent release of records by the Boy Scouts of America is just the tip of the iceberg.

Teachers treat boys differently in the class room and on the playground, treatment that can directly or indirectly amplify aggressive behaviors. 

Males are 4 to 1 more likely to be murdered than females.

Since l980 when mores changed to allow more females into combat, men still die at a ratio of 10-1 while in active military duty.

There are more statistics, but here’s my point. Men begin life as innocents, they are hurt by both individuals and institutions,  they either recover and go on to lead wonderful and productive lives or they don’t recover and some go on to become the petty thief, the drug lord, gangbanger, white collar criminal and corporate raider.

Men are not scary. What happens to them is. As long as we regard men as scary or expendable, whether on screen, on the real battlefield or in the corporate hustle, we will keep creating a world where we each walk different sides of the street and different streets altogether.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Feature: Men's Passion Profiles

Are there men in your life that you admire?

Every individual is unique and special, one of a kind. And over the course of time we each meet different people whose special contribution to our lives can fill us with delight, awe and gratitude.

In this post, I’d like to begin a new feature called Men’s Passion Profiles. You will meet three men I know and hold in great esteem. Fortunately for me there are many more. My initial selections will be aimed at highlighting men with diverse passions. You will have the opportunity to participate by thinking about yourself and other men you admire. You can comment and suggest others who can be profiled here, including you.

In the book King, Warrior, Magician and Lover authors Gillette and Moore talk about the importance of openly expressing admiration for men as part of what supports our personal growth and the development of authentic community with our brothers of all ages. How often do we overlook and forget to express this? What holds us back?
As a community organizer I like the idea that something so basic becomes both the glue and the balm of our relationships with one another. Truth be told though, it just feels good to admire and be admired by other men. It cuts through our ego and penetrates that veil or wall so many of us were conditioned to believe is the natural competitive state of our co-existence with other men. And it can help spur us on to even greater heights in the pursuit of our passions and life purpose.

Men’s Passion Profiles

Steve Lauterbach-
A now retired surgeon and administrator in ER at San Francisco Kaiser, Steve made a decision before the end of his satisfying career to move to the mountains and a small community. A bold move that his family was not entirely happy with initially. Choosing in favor of his passion for the alpine, its peace, beauty and inspiration became a great boon for all he came into contact with in his new full-time home. He used and is using his hard won political and social acumen in tense situations to build better alliances and relationships in his son’s schools, his community associations and in moving forward a vision for creating access and education about local forests and recreation opportunities.
I had the great pleasure to partner with Steve in creating a community association that would assist neighbors to resolve conflicts in the use of their immediate national forest lands while unleashing creativity and collaboration to create a legacy trail system for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians in the central Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I learned much from his calm, quiet, yet openly enthusiastic problem-solving demeanor in places where strong feelings could easily have derailed meeting the higher needs of the group. I admire Steve’s qualities of focus, commitment, gentle persistence and compassion. He is always challenging himself in new ways and recently supported a 69 year old friend to complete a 101 mile trail race in under 34 hours by being the support “pacer” for the last 23 miles.
Some of Steve’s work and play passion can be viewed at

Bill Poulson-
Initially learning construction from his contractor father Bill supported himself doing carpentry and eventually became a fine woodworker and furniture maker. At 21 he built a sailboat with a friend and sailed to Hawaii where he lived for many years. Bill became a high end stain-glass artist and now with his wife, partner, glass and fine artist Bobbette Budsworth creates beautiful and sometimes intricate windows and large wall size glass murals that are displayed on more than one continent. His autumn season mural of Yosemite National Park has been on display at the famous Awani Hotel and another mural of Boston Harbor in colonial times is in Tokyo at a large hotel for American military personnel.
I’ve had the pleasure to both work and play with Bill and at one point create a business that produced architectural features for landscapes including real and faux rocks, waterfalls and outdoor furniture that blended with nature. We shared an intense passion for nature, building and design as well as being ski buddies “dancing on top of the world” together. I admire Bill’s deep sensitivity to all things in nature. Beauty can literally bring this weathered-hands man to tears. His desire to bring his murals to where millions can be inspired is one that continues to occupy his thoughts and dreams as he completes the last two of the four seasonal murals of Yosemite National Park.
Check out Bill’s new Kickstarter campaign to finish the murals.

Bob Olofson-
I first saw Bob on stage as a wailin’ sax player for one of the hottest Reggae bands in far northern California. It was obvious to me that music is where his heart had landed early on in life.
It was much later that Bob and I got to be friends and I discovered some of his other passions. Bob, like many other men in these profiles has been a very dedicated husband and though he has worked as an employee in a variety of settings he is master of his own schedule as a property manager. 
Bob involved himself in the development of spiritual community and has co-created events that bring people together on common ground to celebrate both their diversity and unity. 
Bob's been part of or formed other musical partnerships that publicly perform and record in many genres including original material. He has written and recorded a powerful and evocative musical called “Looking for Daddy,” in which he explores his own path to healing and wholeness out of childhood wounds and trauma.

I’ve worked with Bob over the years to help sustain a 22-year-old annual gathering of men and boys known as The Northcoast Men’s Gathering that takes place in the wilds of the Lost Coast of California. Bob became a steadfast leader of men in partnership with others you may meet in future profiles. Bob models leadership by telling his truth and creating safe places for others to do the same.

What I admire most about Bob is his fierce courage in hunting down his own inner ghosts, meeting them head on and having the amazing ability to communicate that inner journey to others in ways we can immediately understand and identify with as men, each on our own journey to realize our best selves.

Now let me ask again. Who do you admire? Have you told them?

Ready for greater clarity about your passions and what it would look like to be living them fully? Call me and we'll talk. 209 923-0502