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June 14, 2004



Wow. Thank you very much for sharing, Hugo. I hope this helps me to understand the guys around me a little more!

I suppose we've had so many years of being told that girls need other girls that we really need somebody to remind us that guys need guys, too. And we all need each other most of all. I've always been proud of the number of male friends I have around me - they bring out the parts of my personality that I suspect would never flourish if I had an (almost) exclusively female social circle. But of course I wouldn't understand myself very well without "my girlies" too, so it makes perfect sense for guys to need both male and female friends.

Balance is definitely the key - and there would be no point in having male and female if we lived out our days in segregation, so I'm thankful that we are all free to mix and live that "healthy life" together.

Do you think men are generally as aware of this problem of imbalance as you have become?

Ivan Lenin

I've noticed you're afraid of men, Hugo, and I understand. Sometimes I'm afraid of them, too - for example, when they try to take my money or cut my face, or just knock me unconscious for a little bit. Those experiences were somewhat unpleasant, and they have made me gravitate towards the ladies, too. Also, they tought me the importance of civility.
But honestly, Hugo, I think your fear of testosterone is suppressing some of your better qualities, such as intelligence and curiousity. Open your heart, and you will see that we're not that scary.


Thanks for giving us something to think on, Hugo.


Great post, Hugo. I would also add that, especially for fatherless children, they will look for masculinity elsewhere if they have been raised in a very female environment, and can't find it there. Black Power, for instance, or the National Front. This is particularly true of cultures like Maori, Pacific Islanders and African Americans, but also of tough-guy Europeans too.


Fascinating post, Hugo. Do you ever see your younger self in your male students?


John, I do agree -- and in my city, they look for it in gang culture.

Jenell: I see myself in them all the time. Where I have to work is I have to fight my own urge to be impatient with them. It's so much easier to be sympathetic and compassionate with young women -- and the men need it so badly, just in more subtle ways.


A standing bravo! the best i have read from you in all the months up till now. very bold in explaining the formation of your ideology. Balanced!!!

keep it coming


Wow, Joe, coming from you... thanks!


Very insightful post, Hugo - and it answers my question of why a guy ended up teaching gender studies. I too wish that we had more "non-violent yet deeply masculine" role models. Maybe you should start writing about men more often.


When you talked about needing other men to change, I immediately thought of monastic environments. Monasticism, in its orthodox forms of strict fraternalism or ...what would the form of the word be for sororiety?, though it can be *too* exclusive, recommends the same sense of support and society from those who are (more or less) built, socialized, and structured like oneself.

Like you, I also had few same-sex/gender friends, and it wasn't until I got to college and began actively pursuing friendships with women (and coming out as queer and dating women) that I came to understand what I had missed out on as a child, and how I had needed those kinds of friendships from a young age. I'm grateful that I now have close relationships with women--I've also gotten closer to both my mother and my sister as a result of this deliberate cultivation.

A very provoking--in a positive way!--post. Lots to think about--and thank you for being open about this. I hear few men discuss these things in a calm way. So much of the "male society" discourse is dominated by back-lash against feminism. Thanks again.



Black Power is a gang. They and the Mongrel Mob are prospecting my 11 year olds-or they are until I catch them. Grrr!


Excellent post Hugo!
I remember a quote from John Eldredge, "Masculinity is bestowed. A boy learns who he is and what he’s got from a man, or the company of men. He cannot learn it from other boys, and he cannot learn it from the world of women".


Hugo - Excellent post, I see this in my sons as they gravitate toward their step-dad, my husband, at this time in their life. It is a good shift for all of us, thanks for giving words to that. Your words are often read and discussed at our table, particulary your posts regarding men.


I'm curious, Hugo: What do you think about college fraternities, opposed to sororities? Both are basically geared towards a specific gender. Do you see fraternities encouraging their members to exercise their masculinity with the kind of activities they put on?


I think there is, sadly, a gulf between the professed ideals of most fraternities and the reality. I was never in one, but many friends and family were. Many of them hated the raunchier parts of what they were asked to do, but were so eager for male bonding that they put up with it. In an earlier era, fraternities generally had older men (often professors) who more closely supervised the goings-on.

Russell Arben Fox

Hugo, a superb post, as usual. It's been a while since I've written--been busy with other things, and haven't been following the blogs like I used to, but I had to say "thank you" for this.

I have six brothers. We seven Fox sons, along with the forceful personality of our father, made our home growing up a very masculine one, in good and bad ways. (There was also my mother, and two sisters.) As the father of three daughters, I've sometimes wondered if there is something particularly "male" about my past, my development, that I need to renounce, if I am to help raise my children well. Maybe there is. But your post also reminds me how much I treasure, and how grateful I am for, the deep and (I hope) relatively humane fraternity which holds us brothers together and grounds us as men and human beings, even 30+ years on and almost all of us with wives and families of our own now. Sisterhood gets most of the attention, and that's as it should be, given how the deck has for so long and in so many ways been stacked against women. But there is a vitality, a nobility, and a necessity to brotherhood as well.


Hugo, I am curious about your statements in this post.
You seemed convinced of the primal importance of men's singulary capability to make other men grow and with your support of Robert Blys quote only men can transform boys to men. Why then, would you think you could teach women how to be women? Religious, anti-abortion male teaching women's history? How hypocritcal.

From Hugo's post
"I've become convinced that only other men can make men grow. ...Our wives, mothers, girlfriends and other women can only share with us what kind of man they would like us to be -- they cannot "role model" that for us. As Robert Bly puts it (and I know he raises some feminist hackles): Women can change the embryo to a boy, but only men can change the boy into a man.I am convinced of this: living life surrounded by other men, men who offer encouragement, accountability, and male energy, is an essential part of that healthy life."


K's comment it demonstrative of the kind of a bind people who teach classes like women's studies are under. On the one hand, many on the right suspect the whole thing is a plot against their way of life. On the other hand, apparently, you've got people who think the purpose of the class is to teach them how to be a woman.

I'm rather lucky, in the sense that I get to address big, interesting social issues about our role in the world and who shapes it and stuff, but my classes have dry, boring titles like "Western political thought--17th and 18th century" and "Individuals and the State" so noone bothers me.

Richard G Phillips

Is it OK to let my kids see me naked in the morning,??I especially like to shave after a shower and my penis is almost its erect length because of the warm shower water. My five year old daughter took her finger and poked the shaft, asking why she didnt have one, my nine year old son asked when his will be that big. To me these are just normal questions, my wife says NO, keep the bathroom door locked.What do I do?

Hugo Schwyzer

Richard, I'm not a parent. (And I am going to assume you are not a troll, period.) But I do think that it is vital that children learn that genitals, while not shameful, are private. No child should ever touch a father's penis under any circumstances. Permitting one's child to do so strikes me as profoundly irresponsible.


Self loathing men and women can overcome their bigotry thru gender re-assignment. Go see a doctor.


Men are an enigma to me, they misrepresent themselves and expect women to trust them....I think that what they need to do is, concentrate on their current relationships and stop looking around.


J.J.B, I agree with you. Why do you think that a man lives with a woman, (not his wife, or the mother of his child.) Yet, looks around at other women?...Why bother living with a woman, if you aren't going to be loyal to her ....You are either in-love, or you are not.


JJB and Marie, is there a reason why you are both using the same email address?



Thanks to these three posts to this older discussion of yours, I took the time to read what you'd originally posted. I'm sure you know that there is a similar phenomenon with some women. I, for one, have never had any really close female friends, outside of my family. My best friends all through school, and to this day, have been male.

There are the same root causes - that avoidance of feeling judged by others of one's own gender. In addition, I have difficulty understanding other women, particular women who fit into the "girlie-girl" stereotype. I'm used to very open, straight-forward, shoot-from-the-hip, community-minded, mothering women who still exhibit their pioneer ancesters' independence.

The older I get, and the more I work with international students, the better I understand other women. But it's still a very difficult challenge to feel close to them and not to feel judged by them.

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