Category: Men

The New American Man Doesn’t Look Like His Father

This summer, All Things Considered is exploring what it means to be a man in America today. In some ways, the picture for men has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. More women than men are going to college, and the economy is moving away from jobs that traditionally favored men, like manufacturing and mining. Attitudes have also changed on the social front, with young men having more egalitarian attitudes toward women and expectations of being involved fathers.

Pedro Noguera, a professor at New York University and head of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools, says the biggest shakeup has been in education. In 1962, men made up about 65 percent of college enrollees; today they make up about 43 percent.

The other side of that figure is the dropout rate for men. Noguera tells NPR’s Audie Cornish that in some states, it’s twice as high as the female dropout rate.

“These patterns speak to a larger problem, because we know now that the jobs of the future require college degrees,” Noguera says.

The education imbalance between men and women is also having an impact on the dating scene, Noguera adds, something that’s been already true in the African-American community: “A growing number of well-educated, professional women … are unable to find men of similar education.”

But sociologist Michael Kimmel, a professor at Stony Brook University and director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, says the changing landscape hasn’t come with changed attitudes about masculinity.

“Survey after survey shows that 60 to 70 percent of men still agree with the notion that masculinity depends on emotional stoicism — never showing fear, never showing pain,” Kimmel says. “So, the world has changed dramatically, and yet most men still cling tenaciously to an ideology of masculinity that comes off the set of Mad Men.”

But Kimmel says today’s boys and young men have a much better sense of gender equality than many of their fathers did. He sees a clear example in cross-sex friendship. For 25 years, Kimmel has asked his students if they had a good friend of the opposite sex. When he first started asking, about 10 percent would answer yes. Today, almost everyone does.

“Think about that. You make friends with your peers, right? You make friends with people you consider your equals, not your boss or your servants. I mean, my students today are more experienced with gender equality in their interpersonal relationships than any generation in our history,” he says.

Noguera also has seen men become much more involved with raising their children and general housework.

“But what hasn’t come with that is a new definition of what it means to be a man as a nurturer in the family,” Noguera says. “Can you be strong and be a nurturer? Well, many women have figured out, yes, they have to be, in fact. Because they have to raise the kids on their own, and they can’t afford to just expect some man to save the day.”

He says today’s men are searching for a way to reconcile old ideas related to strength with the need to be better listeners, more cooperative and more open to others.

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*Article originally published on NPR.

The One Trick To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

One of my most annoying self-defeating habits is comparing myself to others. Other coaches. Other men. Other writers. Other entrepreneurs. Other couples. Other dancers. I’m not going to sit here and say that I’ve totally gotten rid of that habit, either. It might always be there to some degree. I’m ok with that.

If you are on this planet, you will always be observing contrasts in our environment, good and bad. It’s natural. Use it as inspiration to do/live/love better? Awesome. Use it to treat ourselves like shit? Not so much fun.

But one thing has helped me tremendously is accepting and making peace with the following truth.

There is ALWAYS going to be someone:

Better looking
Sexier
Richer
Smarter
Kinder
Healthier
Calmer
Thinner
Stronger
More muscular
More energetic
More generous
More available parent
Better dressed
More eloquent
More confident
Better dancer
Better speaker
More famous
More charismatic
More popular
Bigger boobs
More well-endowed
Has smoother skin
Has more hair

Knowing and accepting that is key if we are to stop freaking the hell out about how we measure up to other people. (And most of the time it’s people we don’t even know and we’ve only seen their social media highlight reel.)

“But wait, Jeffrey, the opposite of those things is also true.” I totally agree. There will always be someone less talented or worse off than you in every area. And that can make us feel grateful for our situation. “Wow, I’m so glad that my family doesn’t have as much drama as his does.” Or in other cases, have us feeling superior. “Haha, no one came to her party.”

But my hunch is that many of us don’t focus on that end of the spectrum too often. We often use comparison to beat ourselves up.

No matter how good you get, there will always be someone better than you in something. And even if you find someone who is equally as skilled/popular/pretty as you, your mind might then start to judge yourself that you’re not unique or that you might someday fall behind.

Once I practice accepting that reality and that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, I begin to relax. And what you CAN do about it is notice the comparison thought come up and let it go. “Thanks, mind! You’re right, that’s true! She DOES have more clients/money/likes/comments/friends than I do.”

And that allows you to focus on another truth:

IT DOESN’T MEAN A DAMN THING ABOUT YOU.

Or your potential.
Or your worthiness.
Or your lovability.
Or your sexiness.
Or your business.
Or your family.
Or your life.
Or your life’s path.
Or your attractiveness.

So, I invite you to see what happens when you accept reality and bring your focus back to YOU. Because there is another obvious truth:

Other people are other people. You are you. And you are incomparable.

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*This article was originally published on Jeffrey Platts website.

READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – Meet Teddy Seymour, the First African American To Sail Around The World!

Teddy Seymour calls himself an “average man”, and average runner, and average sailor” but on June 19, 1987, at the age of 46, he achieved an extraordinary feat: He became the first black man to sail singlehandedly around the world.

The former Newport Beach sailor had a bare-bones cruising budget and little support from anyone other than his family and friends when he set out from his home in the US Virgin islands on February 24, 1986 aboard his 35 foot fiberglass sloop Love Song.

His motivation wasn’t fame and glory. “I didn’t make this (voyage) for the publicity. It’s not my style, I could have gone to New York and gotten backing, but this was a solo effort.”

He did it simply because he wanted to sail the world.

Seymour’s solo sail was so low key that the only publicity he has received is a handful of stories published in island papers and one write-up in his hometown newspaper in Yonkers, New York.

And another sailor, William Pinkney of Chicago, has announced that his circumnavigaton next year will be the first ever by a black man. Pinkney’s high profile effort has the backing of Bill Cosby, Armand Hammer and several others. But D.H. “Nobby” Clarke of Suffolk England, who has been keeping blue water sailing records for more than 50 years, confirms that the unassuming Seymour is the first black man to circumnavigate the globe alone. Seymour has also received an honorary lifetime membership in the Joshua Slocum Sailing Society, which recognizes circumnavigations.

Public recognition, however, isn’t likely to run his head or affect the people and places he visited, he prefered remote areas “untouched by the wand of progress” over more popular tourist destinations. He said he wanted to sail, not visit; aside from the pyramids, historical sites didn’t really interest him.

Along the way, he stopped at only 12 ports, including several South pacific islands, Australia’s Port Darwin, the Seychelles Islands, South Yemen, Israel, Greece, and others.

Economics prevented additional stops; Seymour said working at various ports, as other cruisers say have, wasn’t feasible. In Bora Bora, he said, “They want you to deposit thousands of dollars” to ensure you can leave.

Instead, he just cut expenses. After preparation costs of about $17,000 plus the $25,000 purchase price of the boat, he was left with cruising funds of just $6,000: $2,000 in savings, a $2,000 loan from a cousin, and a $2,000 Visa credit limit. In the end, he made it on $5,300, by following one basic rule: “Keep it simple.”

That philosophy extended to his diet. his storage lockers were filled with “one case of peanut butter, potatoes, rice, beans, oatmeal, onions, flour, and lentils,” he said.

I baked my own bread, and about once a week, caught a fish” using homemade lures constructed out of dried fish skin, aluminimum foil, candy wrappers, a teaspoon, and frayed line or electrical wire. “The hungry fish didn’t seem to mind the lack of refinement in my creations.”

A standard-sized icebox provided refrigeration for fresh meats and vegetables, and Seymour grew his own bean and alfalfa sprouts for fresh, high-protein addition to his diet.

His water supply was limited to 66 gallons in two tanks, plus whatever rain water he collected off the deck. In 17 months, he refilled the water tanks only five times.

He required medical attention only once, visiting a doctor in American Somoa for treatment of boils. Other ills were treated from his medical kit, which contained primarily antibacterial medications, large bandages, gauze and an Ace bandage.

A cramped neck and lack of exercise were his greatest health complaints. A devout runner and former college track star, he missed his daily workouts. Still, stretching and yoga exercises helped him mantain muscle tone, and he kept in running condition long enough to win second place in a 5,000 meter race in American Somoa. Now a year later, he is just returning to his pre-voyage running condition.

Despite this seemingly carefree existence, not everything went as Seymour intended. “Orignally, I planned the trip with three women, each on a different occasion. They…backed out. All along, I was getting ready,” he said.

Three years before he left, he planned his route, checking weather and estimating arrival dates as each of his five scheduled ports. With seven extra stops, delays for repairs, 10 days in the Pacific doldrums and an average speed of 3.5 knots, his planned 15 month voyage stretched to 17 months.

But perhaps the greatest hitch in his plans was a course change to avoid a stop in South Africa. He initially planned the easiest route, staying ithin 1,200 miles of the equator and sailing around the Cape of Good Hope.

“I wrote to President Reagan, Jesse Jackson, and Andrew Young to make arrangements,” he said, received no replies. “During the trip, I consulted an American consul, who said, ‘Don’t go.'”

Instead, after sailing through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the Seychelles, he altered course and went north through the Red Sea and Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea.

Seymour made a speedy 19 day trip across the Red Sea but was plagued by winter storms in he Mediterranean, even after waiting out the rough weather in Isreal for 31 days.

“Every bit of my 18 year sailing experience had been in mind, temperate climates,” he said. “I was thinking of the cruise as an opportunity to experience a different kind of sailing, when I should have been regarding it as a wild adventure with the potential of a struggle for life.”

Winds to 40 knots tossed and pummeled Long Song off the coast of Libya, and Seymour spent three days struggling against hailstorms and strong head winds. “At that time, the British Broadcasting Corp. Weather Service declared that the Medittanean was experiencing the worst winter in 42 years,” he said.

Forecast of another gale sent him for shelter in the inner harbor at Pilos, Greece, where two days later he went hiking with some friendly Greeks.

“While in the mountains, the wind picked up. I looked down the hill into the harbor and didn’t see my boat,” he said. Realizing the ancor had dragged and Love Song was in danger of hitting the rocky shore, he caught a bus tot he harbor, blew up his dinghy and launched it through the breaking waves.

“I couldn’t board (the dinghy), so I swam out with a dinghy and rowed out to Love Song for the rescue. With the help of adrenaline, brute force, cursing, anger and luck” he got the boat back into the inner harbor throwing “all four anchors plus the galley sink” overboard to keep it from drifting again.

The next day, Pilos received its first snowstorm in four decades; another morning, Seymour awoke to the sound of icicles falling from the spars and crashing on deck.

Perhaps an even greater problem with singlehanding, Seymour said, was the need to stay alert and maintain a 24 hor watch. “In the Red Sea, Mediterranean, North Alantic and the Caribbean, there was heavy shipping and I stayed awake up to three days,” he said.” I chewed coffee beans, and took NoDoz.”

Conversely, in the South Pacific, where shipping was light, he said he sometimes slept 17 hours a day, letting his Aires steering vane do the work.

When ships did appear, he added his spreader lights to his running lights, altered his course if collision seemed possibile, and monitored the VHF radio. “Everyone moniters VHF 16, even Soviet ships. They’re surprised to find another ship in some waters,” he said.

His satellite navigation system was another resassuring peice of eqiupment, even though he used it only as a backup to celestial navigation. He confessed to a great feeling of comfort each time the sat nav beebped, verifying his daily sun sights. “It’s a tremendous power to know where you are in the middle of the ocean,” he said. “There are two things I won’t leave home port without: satellite navigation and M & M’s with peanuts.”

Unlike many sailors, Seymour also loves the sound of an engine powering his sailboat. “I feel you whould have the biggest engine you can fit in the boat,” he said. “An engine is extremely important, even if it’s used for no more than making sure the ancor is set. There are a lot of places you can’t go without an engine – like some harbors.”

Long Song’s 11 hp Universal inboard diesel engine came to the rescue several times during the voyage, and required repairs only once, in Australia. The sat nav was also repaired in Australia and again during Seymour’s layover in Greece. A headstay broke on the Indian Ocean, and was replaced in Gibraltar.

In Australia, as in many other ports he stoped at, Seymour found his race created interest. “People would invite me to their homes. In Australia, I went home with a mechanic. He fixed my engine for free. A parts company representative ordered the parts I needed and paid for them himself. Everywhere, people helped me. I got preferential treatment by being a black American,” he said.

But rather than depending on the kindness of strangers, he tried to prevent repair problems with preparation. Before his departure, he reinforced the boat with six layers of 24-ounce mat and epoxy resin inside the bow and several layers in the stern.

He also installed five-sixteenth inch stainless steel rigging and double headstays, strengthed the rudder post, added solar panels and reinforced the mast support. The aluminum mast is stepped to the deck and supported belowdecks by “a post made of 17 pieces of wood minated side by side,” he said.

Seymour replaced the vinyl covered pine overhead, which trapped moisture, with varnished wood, and added ironwood to the underfloor because it resists mold and sea water damage.

The fiberglass boat has a full keel with an attached rudder and is rigged so that all lines run to the cockpit, virtually eliminating foredeck work. “The mainsail is held on the boom by lazy jacks,” Seymour said, “and the job is held on deck by a net connected to the forward stnchions.” In addition, the boat relies on a tiller rather than a wheel. “so there’s no concern with a cable breaking.”

The sturdy Love Song has served Seymour well fo many years. An Alberg hull manufactured by Ericson, it was built in 1966; Seymour bought it in the mid-1970s, while stationed near Newport Beach as a Marine artillery officer. He lived aboard, moored near the Pavilion fuel dock in Newport Harbor, for four years before sailing solo through the Panama Canal to take a teaching job in the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1979.

Before buying Love Song, Seymour had lived aboard a 26 foot Columbia Mark II for five years. his first boat was a 16 foot Snipe. “I learned to sail by reading two books and then by going our and renting a sailboat in Newport harbor,” he said.

As a child growing up in Yonkers, New York, he was fascinated by the water, and at the age 13 he and some friends built a raft out of scrap wood and drifted down the Hudson River. That was the sort of start of his on-the-water wanderings. “Some of us are drawn to the water for more profound reasons than securing a glass of water to quench a thirst,” he said.

For now, Seymour is at home on Love Song, back in St. Croix. he teaches sailing, runs his small business, Love Song Charters, and plans to teach kindergarten this fall – the same things he did before his circumnavigation.

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*This article was originally published on Indigo Waves.

Men, You Are Not Sexy If….. (Pt. 2)

Last week I highlighted some key characteristics that I thought made a man unsexy. Well, that was only the tip of the iceberg. There are sooo many other things that are a turn off to me. Will they stop me from dating a good man? Probably not, but they sure are fun to write about.

Here we go:

  • Long fingernails – I don’t know any women who prefer to be with a man who has long fingernails. They’re just not sexy. We don’t want our cheeks getting scratched up when he touches our face or be forced to look at the dirt underneath his nails that he’s bound to accumulate. Besides, what does a man need long fingernails for anyway? They’ll just get in the way when he tries to lift weights or fix a flat tire. Some men can get away with long hair, but not long fingernails.
  • Text me instead of calling me – It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago this wasn’t even an issue. Sure texting was around but it wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. Nowadays it seems to be all that men do even though they shouldn’t. I don’t care if other women are okay with texting, I am not. When you don’t take the time to pick up the phone & call me, you become very unsexy to me
  • Not well rounded – It’s great when you meet someone who is an expert in something, but it’s even better when you meet someone who knows a little about a lot. One who may not know everything but he is at least familiar with a wide range of subject matters – that’s what I call sexy. I’ve met cute guys who are nice, funny and smart but haven’t been outside of the town they were born in. I know men who can talk my ear off about wrestling or art but know nothing about politics or technology. What’s the saying? “Jack of all trades, master of none” – this is the kind of man I prefer.
  • Too many sexual partners As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing sexy about a man who has slept around. Sure that may mean they have a lot of practice but practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect. Look at Shaquille O’Neal or even President George Bush. Shaq couldn’t hit a layup no matter how many times he tried in his nearly 20-year NBA career, and President Bush wasn’t any better in his second term than he was during his first. Doing something repeatedly doesn’t always make you any better at it and there is nothing sexy about a man who hasn’t been careful about his past
  • Cuss too much – Cursing is not sexy. Sure, sometimes curse words slip out accidentally or can really emphasize the point we’re trying to make but as with anything in excess, it should be kept to a minimum. A real man knows how to use his words wisely & chooses wise words

If I think of any more (which I’m sure I will) I’ll be sure to post them. After all, if these things bother me, I’m sure they bother other women as well.

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Men, You Are Not Sexy If…..

  • Drive a hybrid – I know, I know. These cars are fuel efficient & economical, blah, blah, blah. But I’m sorry, there is nothing appealing about a man who is concerned about saving the environment by way of his monthly car payments. Everybody knows that the kind of car a man drives says a lot about him and if he’s that conscious about what he drives, how super-conscious will he be about other things that matter even more?
  • Has a baby momma (not to be confused with an ex-wife) – I already wrote about why I don’t date men with kids (click here). Not only do I consider these men not to be marriage potential for me, I also think it’s very unsexy to have a bunch of kids with people you weren’t willing to commit your life to. Yes, things in life happen but if you haven’t “learned your lesson” then I think you are not only unsexy but you are also unwise.
  • Exhibit poor table manners – There is nothing worse than an adult eating like an animal. Make that a wild animal. It’s okay to enjoy good food, but be tasteful with the way you enjoy it. We’ve all been out with people who talk with their mouth full, spit as they talk (Ew, gross!) or someone who leaves their elbows on the table – Tsk, Tsk. My personal pet peeve when it comes to dining is when people hold multiple utensils in their hands at the same time. I should do an etiquette post later to explain more but basically unless you are cutting up some food, you should only hold 1 utensil at a time. So put that left hand down!  The way a person eats also says a lot about them (I eat slowly, I wonder what that says about me?)
  • Use a coupon on a date – All grown men should know by now that coupons are a no-go for a date. I definitely believe I am worth more than you saving a couple of dollars. So save those for hanging out with your boys (yeah, let them tease you about it), taking your mother out to dinner or for ordering carry out when you’re dining alone (which you will be if you use one on me). Shoot, you can even use them after you get married & no longer need to impress anyone. But if you are on a date, please leave those coupons taped to your refrigerator at home
  • Think you are God’s gift to women – I’m sure every man, whether they show it or not, believes that they are the answer to every woman’s problem. Well, I’m here to tell you that you aren’t. We are God’s gift to each other. Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to only give us women a gift, and not you now would it?! (insert sarcastic smile here)
  • Have long fingernails – Okay, I just had to throw this one in here. I CANNOT stand any man with long fingernails. Why don’t you just cut them off? What need does a man even have with long fingernails? If you’re nails are too long, you’re obviously not doing any manual labor and for me that’s just not sexy

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Is This Is A Monologue Or A Dialogue?: The Reason Why Women Should Do Less Talking & More Listening

Everyone knows women talk a lot. Not only do we talk a lot, we talk all the time. I am definitely guilty of this stereotype but I don’t mind because as a woman it’s pretty much expected of me. When I don’t talk, men think that there’s something wrong me. So I almost feel obligated to keep talking, as weird as that may sound.

As much as most women talk, the question is – do we do as good of a job listening as we do talking? The truth of the matter is I’m sure that we don’t.  You may have heard the old adage “God gave us 2 ears & 1 mouth for a reason: So we can listen twice as much as we talk”. But why is it so hard for women to listen in the first place?

I would like to think that one of the reasons women talk so much is that we are just better at it. Men already expect us to do most of the talking which means that we’ve had a lot of practice. We express ourselves verbally because we are more emotional and are especially good at talking our way out of things. If you were good at doing something wouldn’t you continue to do it too?

Another reason I think women talk so much is because we have so much more to say. Think about it, we already engage in more conversation in & outside of work, we talk on the phone a lot more with our friends and we probably even eavesdrop a little bit more giving us more things to talk about. We like to gossip and never have a shortage of things to discuss.

I would like to think that everything I say is witty, funny or amazingly interesting! But then it dawned on me – the only way I have new things to talk about is by listening to other people. As much as it pains me to listen (and not talk), I recognize that men want to be heard just as much as we do. Conversation, after all, is a 2-way street.

Listening is like cleaning the toilet – even if you don’t like to do it on a regular basis, it always makes things a whole lot better when you do.

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You Have To Get Off Your Couch In Order To Meet Your Spouse

A lot of my friends are single but like me they spend a lot of time not going out. It seems like when you are in your 20’s it is fun to dress up for dates and stay out until the wee hours of the morning. But as you get older all that “going out” stuff gets old. It can be such a hassle to find a cute outfit, fix your hair, put on makeup, wobbling around in 4-inch heels only to end up alone at the bar.

So after a history of bad outings or horrible dates you just decide to stay at home. After a long work week it’s much easier to stay at home and rest up or take care of personal things like laundry, paying bills or hitting the gym. Going out seems like such a pain & more trouble than it’s worth. And when you stop going out, you stop wanting to go out.

For me, it’s gotten to the point that going out is something that I don’t really need to do every weekend. Or even every other weekend for that matter. In lieu of large crowds, expensive drinks & lame pickup lines my living room coach suddenly looks really appealing. And before I know it a whole month can pass by and I haven’t left my couch.

The question then becomes, how will you ever meet someone if you never leave your couch? It takes a lot to go out and sometimes leaving the house just doesn’t pay out. But unless I want to enjoy the rest of my weekends alone on my couch, I need to get out to meet someone.  Sometimes it really doesn’t matter where you go. You can meet a man at a bar, the club, the library, a skating rink or even at a pool hall. And not all of these places require dressing up. I’ve even hooked up with men from the gym (and you know I was not looking cute there!).

So ladies (and gentlemen), even when you don’t feel like it – get up, get dressed & get going!  Sitting on the coach is okay every now & then, but staying on the couch is not going to get you any closer to meeting your future mate.

 

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