On men being men again.

From “Desire,” a poem by Stephen Dobyns:

Why have men been taught to feel ashamed

of their desire, as if each were a criminal

out on parole, a desperado with a long record

of muggings, rapes, such conduct as excludes

each one from all but the worst company,

and never to be trusted, no never to be trusted?

Why must men pretend to be indifferent as if each

were a happy eunuch engaged in spiritual thoughts?

♦◊♦

The feminists have had their say over the years, and most men got the message: It’s not okay to objectify females, to see them as a conglomeration of body parts, to speak to them as if there is a microphone nestled between their breasts, or to act as if young women strutting the streets in mini-miniskirts and revealing halter tops are the least bit interesting to us unless they also happen to be carrying a copy of Goethe’s Faust. (I just learned that photographers would often stick a copy of Proust or Dostoevski into Marilyn Monroe’s hand before shooting, to round out the picture, so to speak. Ironically, Monroe actually was an avid reader of great literature and, contrary to her two-dimensional, pin-up calendar image, it turns out she was actually a person as wellWho knew?)

So we got it. Women are not merely sexual objects of desire. But what happened to men in the process of their feminist education? Poet Robert Bly, in Iron John, was very critical of typical “New Age Sensitive Males” who had essentially cut off their own genitals in the effort to distance themselves from the macho idiots that incur the wrath of women, and to become the thoughtful feeling blokes women claimed they wanted them to be. There was a rude awakening for many of us though, when we discovered that yes, women wanted us to be sensitive and respectful friends and fellow workers, but more often than not, they still often preferred the “bad boys” in the bedroom. We were duped, and gypped.

I remember as a teenager, the single worst thing a girl could ever say to you was, “Let’s just be friends.” It was the kiss of death. Like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, it essentially meant, “NO NOOKIE FOR YOU!” As I got older, just once I wanted a woman to say to me, “Listen, let’s just be lovers, I can’t handle a friendship right now.” I once mentioned this in a stand-up comedy performance, and an enterprising lass in the audience approached me after the show and took me up on it. We made a date to get together, but when I got to her apartment, I found it was filled, floor to ceiling, with 32 years worth of the New York Sunday Times. When I inquired, she said if she ever got around to “catching up,” she would most likely begin with Section Two, the Arts and Leisure pages. Needless to say, this opening conversation was not a harbinger of erotic adventures to come, and I left soon afterward, with a 1973 copy of the Book Review tucked under my arm, a consolation prize.

My old college friend Billy had a unique way of dealing with the sex and power issues within a stable marriage. He writes:  “Even though as a gynecologist, I knew there were better methods available for birth control, I always recommended the old-fashioned diaphragm to couples because it had a distinct advantage: it had to be stored somewhere, usually in the soap dish or shampoo caddy in the shower. Early on in our marriage, I learned that if I let my wife get into bed first, I could go into the bathroom and check the shower, and I could eliminate the guessing game as to whether that night would be a go or not. If the diaphragm was not in the shower, there was only one other place it could be. If it was still in the shower, then I could get into bed with a pre-emptive strike, saying, “Is it okay if I just hold you tonight?”  After our last child and after the tubal ligation, I was back out in the woods, figuratively. When I asked my wife if she would mind continuing to use the diaphragm, and she figured out why, I got cut off for a good two weeks.”

I took a popular workshop in the early 80’s called “Men, Sex and Power” (now “The Sterling Men’s Weekend”) in which the following riddle was proposed as a summary of male-female relations around sexuality:

“How does an 800 pound (male) gorilla make love to its (female) mate?”

Answer: “Anyway he wants to.”

The message was that women ultimately want men to be men, and that they want to be “taken,” often with force (in a safe and mutually agreed-upon, consensual way), and it was high time that New Age men—there’s no better way to say it—“got their balls back.” (I actually don’t think women want to be taken by force, except maybe once by Javier Barden; they mostly want us to beg, plead, and clean the house.)

But the message of the gorilla is dangerously close to the belief system of right-leaning Christian groups like The Promise Keepers who assert that a man must reclaim his rightful place as head of the family, the one who “wears the pants,” while the little woman returns to her rightful place as nurturer of hearth and home. Certainly as a society we have thankfully moved way past such limiting roles long ago. But in the sexual arena, even wise teachers of sexuality such as David Deida, author of umpteen books on the subject, insists that in striving for equality of the sexes, women have become more like men, men more like women, and in that sameness we have lost the fundamental male-female energetic polarity that makes for desire, lust, and hot sex. How to bridge this gulf, in which men are men, women are women, and raw, primal desire is real and allowed, yet not cross over into the world of inequality, rigid roles, objectification, and pre-feminist values?

It’s the marriage of love and desire, the blending of Eros and Agape that has been particularly problematic for men forever: if I want you, I don’t love you, and if I love you, I don’t want you. How many men have sectioned off their lives, keeping love in the home and hiding Eros in the pornography closet?

What would a “Masculinism” movement entail? Preferably, something other than the Bly-inspired Men’s Movement that usually had us sitting in sweat lodges and drumming naked in the woods, desperately trying to reclaim our primitive roots. (Some children’s summer camps try to instill these male instincts early: my friend’s son came back from one such place with the new name, “Flows With the Dolphins.”  When I heard that, to honor my sweat lodge experiences, I briefly became “Shvitzing with the Schmucks,” but it didn’t stick.) I don’t think becoming imitation Native Americans is the answer for guys like me, or most men I know. Somewhere between Ward Cleaver and Geronimo the answer lies.

My friend Charley, however, a veteran of the Men’s Movement, points out, in its defense, that “Men in America are divorced from the earth, the sky, the air and fire and water and every thing that made men men for thousands of years because they were close to nature.” (I beg to differ; when I was a kid, there was no such thing, for example, as indoor malls. When my mother took me shopping for clothes, all of the stores were right out in the open, exposed to the elements. And she often allowed my brother and me to set up our little pup tent in the living room, where we kept a window open so we could hear the crickets and other wildlife sounds of the Fair Lawn, New Jersey nights. Cut off from nature? I don’t think so.)

 

According to new research, plummeting sperm counts could result in human annihilation. We asked men how guilty they feel about potentially wiping out the species

Sirin Kale

This article originally appeared on Broadly.

Finally, some good news in our fucked-up news cycle: We’re heading for the extinction of the human race!

New research published in Human Reproduction Update has found that our species could become extinct if male sperm counts continue to fall at current rates—and that men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are to blame.

Researchers assessed the meta-data of nearly 200 studies into sperm counts from around the world. They found that men from these regions seen their sperm quality deteriorate rapidly in the last 40 years.

Men from these regions saw a 52 percent decline in sperm concentration, and a 59 percent decline in sperm count. By comparison, no similar decline was seen in South America, Asia, or Africa, although it’s worth pointing out that fewer studies have been conducted in those parts of the world.

Speaking to the BBC, lead researcher Dr. Hagai Levine expressed alarm that the human race might become extinct if the trend continued. “If we will not change the ways that we are living and the environment and the chemicals that we are exposed to, I am very worried about what will happen in the future.”

But how do Western men feel about being responsible for the extinction of the human race? Is it just another thing to add to their list of sins, like police brutality and The Emoji Movie?

There was only one thing to do: ask some heterosexual men from North America and Europe! But where to find them? After much research, I managed to track some down. Only joking—the VICE UK office is full of straight white men! You can’t move for them! They’ve everywhere!

And there was no awkwardness about me cornering my male coworkers, coffee in hand on a Wednesday morning, to ask about their sperm motility. Everyone was extremely chill and receptive to my journalistic request.

“I think my sperm are perfectly fine thanks,” blushes my colleague Harry, pastry and iced coffee in hand. “I don’t want to know anything.”

“I’m deeply sorry for my role in the imminent extinction of the human race,” VICE.com editor Jamie responds. “They’re not certain of why sperm counts are decreasing yet, are they? But assuming it has something to do with poor diet, smoking, and a huge lack of exercise I do not feel great about my own sperm count right now in any way.”

Later he messaged me to tell me he was googling sperm supplements and “legit having a minor panic.”

Many of the men I interviewed for this piece wound up pretty freaked out, which is surprising—I always thought straight white guys were pro-human extinction. Otherwise, why are so many of them also climate change deniers?

“This new finding has put a horrible negative spin on what I regard as the main accomplishment of every one of my lackluster sexual encounters: making sure I haven’t knocked up some girl I picked up on Tinder,” whines my friend Mike. “Now my failure to impregnate girls has been a droplet in the flood of human extinction. As if the sex wasn’t already shit enough.”

Most of the men I spoke to were pessimistic about their sperm on account of their terrible lifestyles—which makes sense. Obesity, smoking, stress, diet, and the chemicals in our plastic and pesticides have all been variously cited as to blame for the fact that modern-day man’s sperm is as shaky as Jared Kushner’sunderstanding of the Logan Act.

Another thing that might be to blame for your defective spunk is watching too much TV. According to one 2016 study Copenhagen University study, sitting in front of the TV for over five hours a day was associated with lower sperm counts.

“As someone who is not obese, doesn’t smoke and doesn’t really watch TV, I see myself as an example of the solution, not the cause of the problem,” lies my boyfriend Charlie sweetly. (He loves reality TV.) “Hopefully other men will be as enlightened as me in the future and together we can ward off this looming threat.”

If this is all too much for you, why not do as my colleague Joel does, and live in sour, cloudy disbelief? “Sperm is hardly a dwindling fucking resource,” he blusters. “There is so much sperm in the world at any time. Think how much sperm is in the office right now. And you only need one sperm to make a baby.”

“Besides,” he goes on, “surely they’re working on synthetic sperm by now? If there aren’t already plans to cut men out of the reproductive cycle, that’s a real oversight.”

I couldn’t agree with you more.

http://www.scmp.com/tech/science-research/article/1909151/are-men-going-become-extinct-some-experts-give-males-5-million

Are men going to become extinct? Some experts give males 5 million years, but one Chinese-led team says there is still hope

Fragility of male sex chromosome has caused it to shed more than 900 genes over the course of evolution, but one recently discovered protective mechanism may yet save the day

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 February, 2016, 8:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 June, 2017, 12:53pm

The male sex chromosome, which is notoriously fragile, has been shedding genes over the course of human evolution, leading some scientists to fret that male babies will no longer be born in 5 million years’ time.

While this may sound far-fetched, the animal kingdom throws up some scary precedents. Whiptail lizards are a case in point: they have already evolved into a self-sustaining species composed entirely of females.

Moreover, women live longer than men (73.5 years vs. 68.5 years on average).

Others believe that, before such a perfectly matriarchal society could ever come to fruition on a global scale, the earth would be destroyed by nuclear Armageddon, a renegade asteroid, worldwide pestilence – or the machines will take over.

But even if the world does die, mankind takes to the skies in search of a new planetary home, and robots remain pets and personal assistants, women are unlikely to ever see men completely phased out, according to a reassuring new study by Chinese and other scientists.

The study, which was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, pours cold water on what many may consider an outlandish “doomsday” prediction concerning the end of “man” kind.

It did this by analysing the X and Y chromosomes of 72 human donors from China and Africa, which led to the discovery that male sex genes have been protected for the last 50,000 years or so by a process known as DNA methylation, an epigenetic mechanism that cells use to keep a lid on gene expression, or change.

The international research team, which was led by Professor Sun Yingli at the Beijing Institute of Genomics, claim male genes have benefited from such protection since the time the first modern humans migrated out of Africa.

Epigenetic means “above genes”, and an epigenetic mechanism is one that does not change the sequence or internal structure of genes. DNA methylation falls under this category as it adds a methyl group to genetic molecules (DNA) in a way that modifies the genes’ functions, not their sequence or structure.

As is taught widely in school, the sex of a human baby is determined by two chromosomes: X and Y. These are also known as gonosomes. The same hold true for most other mammals, as well as certain plants.

If both chromosomes are the same (XX), the baby is a girl. If they are distinct (XY), it’s a boy. As such, the Y chromosome sustains the male lineage as it passes from father to son.

Both chromosomes have been found in animals dating back 300 million years. But back then, both X and Y had over 1,000 genes apiece.

Yet slowly, over the millennia, the number of genes associated with the Y chromosome dwindled – until only about 50 remain today. In contrast, the X chromosome still has about 1,000 genes.

However, deeper scientific studies have revealed that the rate of loss slowed dramatically about 6 million years ago, when man started to evolve from chimpanzees.

At this point, the spigot through which the genes were being leaked seems to have been – if not turned off – then at least radically tightened.

The epigenetic study conducted by Sun’s team showed how DNA methylation has maintained a level of stability in the patterning of the Y chromosome.

“This indicates that the Y chromosome is not as fragile as was previously suggested,” Sun’s team wrote in the paper.

“The function and phenotypes of human males have been protected by a stable DNA methylation pattern for tens of thousands of years,” they added.

Epigenetic studies have created a lot of buzz in recent years as an epigenetic mechanism allows an individual to acquire a new trait after they are born without undergoing any genetic mutation.

But epigenetic traits were not believed to be inheritable, because most of the acquired traits would be “erased” by the reshuffling of the genes inside the embryo.

Other scientists responded to Sun’s paper by saying it creates more questions than answers.

“If the DNA methylation of the human Y chromosome has remained unchanged for tens of thousands of years, it would be a curse rather than a blessing,” said Prof. Liao Kai, a researcher with the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“If that were the case, it would cause men to lose their ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment,” he said.

This is based on the logic that epigenetic mechanisms play a crucial role in human evolution because they can respond to environmental changes much faster than the process of genetic mutation.

They do this by allowing an individual to develop new physical traits that help them adapt – but without changing their overall genetic blueprint.

“Natural selection favours species that can adapt rather than resist change,” Liao said.