Monday, September 19, 2011

Are we crazy train(ing)?

Interesting piece here from the Good Men Project.

"Gaslighting is a describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy... hose who engage in gaslighting create a reaction—whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness—in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal."

This article has been shared in several forums, and it stands out to me how men seem to react to the perceived personal accusation. Are most men incapable of looking past the indictment of some men's behavior to examine our own actions? Why must we defend men in general and point our fingers at the misdeeds of others rather than taking an honest look at something like this? We should be thankful of the point of view that helps us have empathy for women. As a man raising a young woman, I certainly am.  We have to be careful, as parents and men, not to condition our wives and children to this tactic of diminishment. More importantly, we must not detract from things women and feminists tell us feels like sexism.

Anyone could do or say something sexist unintentionally... the real test is what our reaction is to being told about it. Do we change our behavior, do we reconsider our language or do we put up our walls of defensiveness and work in vain to maintain our "Good Guy" persona at the expense of the very characteristic we are trying to protect? I have come to realize there are so many every day things that I don’t consider as a man because I have never had to, because I was raised differently, because the expectations placed on me were different, because I AM different than them. "Good” men ought to listen to women, and we ought not to detract from their feelings and experiences just because we don’t share them.

The defenses I keep seeing from some men in response to this article of “women do it too” is empty. Men are not on the receiving end of the societal discrimination and dismissal of our emotions as “crazy” to the degree of women at all. Men’s emotional responses are explained away as perfectly acceptable “short tempers”, “too much testosterone”, “inherent competitiveness” or “just a bad day” while women are viewed, as a group, to be more prone to “crazy” and “over-reaction”… the worst part of it is that any attempt by women to bring this up is met with more of the same accusations or with demands they “lighten up”. Men who dismiss this article need to think about how that must feel.

“Good Men” need to confront this tactic and these stereotypes at every turn in our selves and we need to speak up when we see it in public. It’s not always comfortable to challenge people on these things, but it is the only way to make change. The idea in this article is just one facet of the diminishment of women as people through sexism the good guys should fight against and I think this is EXACTLY the kind of thing a men’s magazine should be putting forth. There are too many potential “good men” who have never been exposed to the world view of women, feminist theory, rape culture and the impact of our actions, non-actions, words, silence and attitudes on women. Our wives, our daughters, our sisters and our mothers deserve better and they need the good guys to speak up and stop being defensive about the observations (this article didn’t say “ALL MEN” do anything nor that this tactic is “ONLY” employed by men, so why do so many of us read it that way?). You don’t have to be the jerk described in every article like this to learn something about how we impact women and how to do something about it. I applaud “Good Men Project” as a men’s publication that stands out from the rest, we don’t need another FHM or a Maxim, we need this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tools of the Mind vs. Tiger Parenting

I ran across an interesting piece here on BigThink which touches on Dr. Sam Wang's indictment of "Tiger Mom" principles:

“An important point here,” says Wang, “is that willpower [i.e. self-discipline] training in children is most effective when the child is having fun.”  Intense stress is a poor learning tool at best, and potentially harmful to the developing brain, especially in sensitive children. Gently guided play, a powerful approach exemplified by the school program “Tools of the Mind”,  can incorporate self-discipline training into the imaginative play that children naturally engage in and enjoy."
This roused my curiosity about Tools of the Mind as I was not familiar with this program. Check out this NPR article for more background on the methods. The program focuses on improving executive function; 
"good executive function is a better predictor of success in school than a child's IQ....  executive function is the ability to regulate one's own behavior — a key skill for controlling emotions, resisting impulses and exerting self control and discipline." 
For anyone really interested in learning more about this, I found a 3 part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) from Kids at Thought to be comprehensive and helpful for understanding the Tools of the Mind program, the research supporting it and the methods of applying it to teaching and raising your own children.