Irritable
Male
Syndrome
 

What’s Great About Guys?


My men’s group has been meeting regularly since 1979. We began meeting when we all lived in Marin County, California and felt the need for a supportive environment to discuss the changes going on in our lives. We’re seven guys who now range in age from 61 to 71. During the last 30 years, two guys have dropped out and two guys have been added. The last “newcomer” joined the group 19 years ago. We now meet for a 5 day gathering four times a year. It’s something that we all look forward to and never miss. We met recently in Seattle were T lives now and during our time together I realized something important about men that I had missed.

First, it struck me that our current cultural view of men is often very negative. Second, I had a flash of recognition of how truly wonderful guys really are. As a culture we seem to have accepted that (to some degree at least) women, gays, and racial and ethnic minorities are human and deserve care and respect. However, many believe it is still OK to put down men. There’s a book (one of many) I saw recently called All Men Are Jerks, Until Proven Otherwise by Daylle Deanna Schwartz. The book was published by major publisher and Ms. Schwartz has appeared on Good Morning America and Oprah. No one could get away with writing a book titled All Women Are Jerks or All Blacks Are Jerks or All Jews Are Jerks, but we still seem to feel that male bashing is funny.

What would the world be like if we honored the men in our lives rather than ridiculing them? Let me tell you a few things that I like about the guys in my men's group (I could write a book on each one…but, I’ll be brief).

Terry waited until he found the right woman, married, had two kids, and raised them to be kind, loving, and involved in the world. He’s still madly in love with his wife, and it shows. Jim retired after a successful career, has become a late-in-life grandfather, mentors young men, is an incredible artist, and works daily to be a better father. Del raised a son and a daughter, re-married and helped raise his new wife’s daughter. A superb father to all, Kenji takes his health seriously and keeps fit in body and spirit. He’s never had kids of his own, but has been a terrific father to a number of young men who have come into his life.

Derrick makes great wine from grapes he nurtures like his children. When he married he stepped into a family with four kids. He soon became a man of value in their lives and every day teaches them what it means to be loved and supported. Tim built a school (the program, the teachers, parents, kids, buildings, the stone-work, the driveway—the whole shebang). He also stepped into the father role when he married. He’s a loving, creative spirit, who continues to heal old wounds and deepens his relationship with his wife, family friends, and the school community.

What do these guys have in common? They care. They’re not afraid to feel. They are strong in ways that really count. They are always learning and growing emotionally. They are creative. They have real courage. They can be counted upon. They aren’t afraid to fail. They never give up. They love and are loved. They act like men at a time when it isn’t always easy to do so.

Given the climate of the times, guys often hide their goodness because it is sometimes seen as “bad.” Guys restrain our natural desire to be polite and hold the door for a woman for fear we will be labeled chauvinists. We hold back our tears for fear of being labeled “soft.” We take Viagra to make our erections hard for fear that being soft will label us as “impotent.”

One of the wonderful things about being in a men’s group for 30 years is that we let ourselves be seen—in all our human-male-flawed glory. It’s rare these days that men let their goodness show, even to themselves. It’s even more difficult to take the risk to let it out to women.

One woman who found a novel way to learn about men is Norah Vincent. Norah wanted to know what life was really like for men. Many women have long been convinced that men have always had it better, in every way. To find out for herself if this was actually true, and to see where the common perception fell short, Norah did it: for eighteen months she became a guy. She lived in the world of her alter ego, Ned, with an ever-present five o’clock shadow, a crew cut, wire-rimmed glasses, and her own size 11 ½ shoes—a perfect disguise that allowed her to observe and participate in the world of men as an insider.

Reading her account in her book, Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey Into Manhood and Back Again, I thought, “this is a woman who literally walked a mile in my shoes and ‘got’ what it’s like being a man.” Dealing with the "opposite sex" brought some deeply disturbing insights.

“I thought,” she said, that “dating was going to be the fun part, the easiest part.” She talked like a kid in a candy-store, finally getting her chance to be a guy and ask out any woman she wanted (the fact that she described herself as a lesbian feminist made the prospect even more enticing). What she found was very different than expected. “I was in for a mountain of rejections, and the self-hatred that came with being the sad pick-up artist, the wooing barnacle that every woman is forever flicking off her sleeve.”

She discovered that it wasn’t so easy being a man in a world where women had a kind of power that was often invisible, but could cut deeply into a man’s soul. “As I would soon learn, that’s how it went for most guys. It was just the way of things in the wild when you were male. You were the eager athlete, the brightly colored bird doing the dance, and she was the German judge begrudging you the nod.” She came to understand how difficult it is for men to be themselves and how easily they can be wounded by women who don’t realize their power to hurt.

I wish more people could get an inside look at the inner workings of men today. I think they’d find that, contrary to popular belief, men are quite wonderful.

If you’re a woman, in what ways do you find men to be worthwhile? If you’re a guy, in what ways are you most proud of being a man? What’s great about guys?

©2010 Jed Diamond

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Jed Diamond is the internationally best-selling author of nine books including Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Managing. The 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression. and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome. His upcoming book, Tapping Power: A Man’s Guide to Eliminating Pain, Stress, Anger, Depression and Other Ills Using the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Psychology will be available next year. For over 38 years he has been a leader in the field of men's health. He is a member of the International Scientific Board of the World Congress on Men’s Health and has been on the Board of Advisors of the Men’s Health Network since its founding in 1992. His work has been featured in major newspapers throughout the United States including the New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. He has been featured on more than 1,000 radio and T.V. programs including The View with Barbara Walters, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, CBS, NBC, and Fox News, To Tell the Truth, Extra, Leeza, Geraldo, and Joan Rivers. He also did a nationally televised special on Male Menopause for PBS. He looks forward to your feedback. E-Mail. You can visit his website at www.menalive.com



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