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For Men Only

men-only.jpgMale sexuality is under assault. Here are some of the statistics that back up this assertion. The average man's sperm count is half what it was 70 years ago.  Half of all American men have problems with impotency (the politically correct term now is erectile dysfunction). Prostate cancer is the number one cancer among men (one in three men is expected to get it) and testicular cancer is on the rise.  60 percent of men over 40 have prostate problems. Birth defects of the penis and undescended testicles are on the rise, too, so the problems aren't just affecting older men.

Professor Skakkebaek at Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, said: “There is evidence that male reproductive function seems to have deteriorated considerably during the past 4 to 5 decades.”  Since similar reproductive problems are on the rise in wild animals, so the causes are clearly environmental. The truth is that environmental toxins are disrupting the balance of male hormones and chemically “castrating” men.

But masculinity is under attack on two other fronts as well.  For starters, the nutritional deficiencies caused by the modern diet are weakening men's bodies through chronic disease. Many men suffer from back problems, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and other chronic problems that reduce and inhibit their natural masculine strength.

But, this is not all.  The third prong of the attack against masculinity is a social one.  Being manly has in many ways become “politically incorrect.”  Men are encouraged to be sensitive and feeling and suppress their natural characteristics to be aggressive (I don't mean that in the violent sense, but in the sense of doggedly pursuing their goals and defending what they value) and tough.

Becoming a Man

Becoming a man is not simply a function of going through puberty. Becoming a man has traditionally been seen as the transition from having the values and attitudes of a boy to acquiring the values and attitudes that we instinctively recognize as manly.  This transition requires healthy masculine role models who can guide boys through the rites of passage that turn them into men. Most men in modern society have not had healthy male rites of passage. 

The combined result of this three-fold attack is a loss of healthy male energy in modern society. A large percentage of guys are overweight, weak, impotent and/or infertile and, in general, suffer from a lack of masculine self-confidence.

Guys, it's time to defend our right to be men. In this article, I will address how we can defend ourselves against this assaults on our manhood.  I'll talk about the environmental toxins that are reducing our testosterone levels and reproductive health and the nutritional deficiencies that are weakening our bodies.  I'll also talk about how to reacquire the values and attitudes of real manliness and counteract the propaganda that is convincing men to act like boys, instead of encouraging boys to act like men.

Environmental Toxins

plastic-bottles-web.jpgThere are a number of chemicals that reduce male health and fertility.  One group of these chemicals is xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are environmental chemicals that have an estrogenic effect, meaning they attach to estrogen receptors in the body and stimulate them.  In women, xenoestrogens cause estrogen overload and result in over stimulation of breast and uterine tissue.  In men, xenoestrogens disrupt the natural balance between male and female hormones, causing men to lose some of their manly traits.

For starters, xenoestrogens are believed by some researchers to be the primary cause of a world-wide decrease in male fertility.  They are both reducing male sperm count and reducing the quality of male sperm.

Xenoestrogens are also believed to be a major factor in the rise or prostate diseases.  The prostate has estrogen receptors, so these chemicals over stimulate prostate tissue resulting in the overgrowth of the prostate, a condition known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH for short). They also contribute to prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and prostate cancer.

Since testosterone helps a man burn fat and build lean muscle, xenoestrogens also contribute to obesity in men.  They may cause men to develop more breast tissue (a very common problem with modern men) and to experience erectile dysfunction (we've become the Viagra generation).  Clearly, any man who values his manhood ought to do all he can to avoid xenoestrogens.

Avoiding Xenoestrogens

Pesticides and other agricultural chemicals are a primary source of these xenoestrogens, which is one reason why many farmers have developed serious weight problems in spite of the physical labor they perform.  Men ought to be eating organically grown produce wherever possible and making sure that regular produce is properly washed to remove as many of these chemicals as possible.

Since plastics are another major source of xenoestrogens, soft plastic containers should be avoided in favor of glass. At the very least use hard plastics instead of soft ones.  Since heat releases these chemicals, don't microwave food in plastic containers or put hot food into plastic containers. Also, don't give your children, especially your sons, soft plastic toys they chew on.

One of the chemicals in plastics that has been shown to inhibit testosterone and damage male reproductive organs is phthalates.  In addition to being used to soften plastics (hence the reason for avoiding soft plastics), phthalates are used in perfumes, hairsprays, lubricants and wood finishers. They are also responsible for that new car smell as they are volatile (which means heat releases them).  About a billion pounds of materials containing phthalates are produced worldwide each year.

The Feminizing Effect of Fluoride

Fluorine-Fluoride-web.jpegAnother compound which may be causing a drop in testosterone levels is fluoride.  High doses of fluoride are known to suppress testosterone production, but a study published in Environmental Research in 2003 suggested that even low levels can reduce the amount of available testosterone.  Only 2-3% of the testosterone in the body is active, so if fluoride reduces the active testosterone, this is very significant.

The fluoride issue is of special interest to me. On advice of our dentist, my mom gave me fluoridated water for several years.  She crushed up these fluoride tablets the dentist gave her and put them in pitchers of water for me to drink.  I did not start puberty until I was 16 and did not have to shave every day until I was nearly 20, so my passage through puberty was delayed.  Also, I developed a number of unmanly gestures and attitudes that I learned caused a few people to think I might be gay.  I now believe that this was the result of the fluoride my mom gave me.

When I became aware of this a few years ago, I did some fluoride detoxification and I really felt a difference in my masculine self-confidence. Other people noticed this difference, too.  Since a large number of water sources in the United States are now fluoridated, this may be part of the reason for the growing male reproductive problems mentioned earlier.

I don't have the studies or solid information to back this up, but I have been told that Hitler pioneered the fluoridation of water supplies because he found it made people more docile and willing to submit to authority.  Since testosterone-driven males tend to be strong-willed and independent, it makes sense that fluoride would make a population more unwilling to question authority.

Also, I did not save the information, so I can't cite it, but I did see one study which correlated the fluoridation of water supplies with the rise in male homosexual activity.  This is a very politically incorrect thing to say (and I am personally not offended by anyone's sexual orientation), but I cite this only as an additional piece of evidence that implicates fluoride with reductions in testosterone. 

The bottom line is, avoid fluoride. In fact, avoid the other halogens, chlorine and bromides, too.  These chemicals displace iodine from the body and reduce thyroid function. Thyroid function is tied in with reproductive function as the thyroid hormone is needed to combust the lipids that are the basis for all sex hormones.  So, reduced thyroid function causes reduced output of reproductive hormones.

Phytoestrogens

soy-products-web.jpgConsidering the problems men are having with reduced testosterone levels due to these environmental chemicals, it would seem wise that men also reduce their exposure to phytoestrogens.  Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens. While phytoestrogens are probably very good for women as they do help to block the more powerful xenoestrogens, they probably aren't a good idea for men who are trying to balance their hormone levels.

One of the foods that may be particularly problematic for men is soy.  There is research that demonstrates that genistein, one of the phytoestrogens in soy, decreases male fertility.  There is also research which suggests that soy products in animal feed can reduce the fertility of male animals.  Occassional use of soy products (2-3 times per week) is not a problem, but soy is increasingly being added to many foods and vegetarians often consume very large amounts of it.  Many body builders claim it is harder to build muscle on soy-based protein powders, too. 

Based on what I've read, I've decided to limit the amount of soy in my diet. Instead, I am opting to include more organic, grass-fed beef in my diet. I've done this even though I'm an A blood type and soy is supposed to be a beneficial for me and red meat is an avoid.  I've found that as long as I don't eat large portions of the grass-fed beef (no more than 2-4 ounces) and take protease enzymes with it, that I actually do better than I did when I ate more soy.

Another interesting plant that has strong phytoestrogenic effects is hops. Hops has been traditionally used to decrease sexual desire in men and increase it in women.  According to Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation at one time beers were made from a variety of medicinal plants, many of them possessing testosterone-enhancing action.  The decision to require that beer be made from hops was made under pressure from the Church, again based on a need to make men more obedient to authority and less sexually active.

Nutrition and Masculinity

man-steak-potato-eating-web.jpgAlthough I won't spend as much time on this topic, poor nutrition is also playing a role in reducing masculine strength and energy.  In the 1930s, Francis Pottenger conducted experiments on nutrition using cats.  I won't go into detail about the studies, but in the groups of cats that were fed diets of either cooked meat or pasteurized milk there was a decline in both general and reproductive health.  Fertility decreased and female cats became aggressive and mean, while male cats became docile.  Infertility and miscarriage were a serious problems in the second generation of cats fed improper diets and homosexuality also started to appear in the second and third generation cats. There was no fourth generation, because reproduction ceased.

Pottenger's experiments (discussed in his book, Pottenger's Cats: A Study in Nutrition) show that nutritional deficiencies alone can cause reproductive changes in both male and female animals.  The reproductive glands do not function independently from the rest of the body, so general good health is needed for reproductive health.

A medical doctor who is a good friend of mine, Dr. Hugo Rodier, has commented that there ought to be warning labels on high sugar foods that say, “Warning: May Cause Erectile Dysfunction.”  He feels this would probably help men avoid these very destructive refined carbohydrates and the many health problems they cause.

Unfortunately, many men don't know how to cook or have anyone in their lives who prepares healthy meals for them.  As a result, many men rely heavily on “fast food” which damages their health and virility.  Guys, we need to wake up and realize that this “fast food” is destroying our health and make wiser choices about what we eat.  I don't want to go into a lengthy discourse on nutrition here, but I suggest you watch the movie Super Size Me and you'll see what I'm talking about. 

Then get the book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon and learn how to eat in a way that builds the strong, masculine body you want to have.  This book contains the most sound nutritional advice of any book I've ever read.

Getting Politically Incorrect

This brings me to the final assault on masculinity.  Ladies, if you've been brave enough to read this “For Men Only” article, you may or may not want to read this part.  It's definitely not politically correct. 

Example-father-son-web.jpgIt's tough to put a finger on the exact qualities that make a man, manly, but we can see these qualities in the heroic men of historical movies and fiction. (Most modern movies have very poor role models of masculinity.)  Some of the qualities we might observe in these “manly” men include physical strength, moral courage, self-confidence, a willingness to make personal sacrifice to do one's duty, the ability to stay calm and level headed in a crisis and good leadership skills. 

Men are different than boys.  A boy has to undergo rites of passage to become a man.  Traditionally, these rites of passage were performed by older men around the time of puberty.  Boys were taken from their mothers and taken out into the wilderness, fields or workplace by men and taught what it means to be a man.  They were taught to face their own fears and act with courage in the face of those fears.  They were taught to be responsible, to support the team (other men), to lead, to hunt, etc. They were taught the skills of the warrior and had to prove that they were willing to lay their lives on the line in order to protect those who were entrusted to their care and do their duty. 

Most importantly, especially in tribal cultures, a man had to do their vision quest to discover their life purpose and mission. A man is not a man without a sense of life purpose.  A man needs a mission in life.  Something he is dedicated to that is more important to him than his own life or even his family.  Great men have always had a cause.  Part of the rite of passage is the vision quest, where the boy faced the wilderness alone and was expected to emerge with the vision of his life purpose.

Adult Males are Missing Rites of Passage

family-generations-men-web.jpgAll this is largely missing from modern society.  With young men spending much of their time in public school and the high rate of divorce, where mothers get custody of the children 90% of the time, boys don't get to experience the rites of passage they need to learn how to become men.  Boys learn how to be men from men. A woman can't teach a boy to be a man.

A boy has to be “roughed up” by the men to toughen that part of him that turns him from a boy into a man.  The is because the essence of manhood is to be able to set aside my personal comfort and needs and be responsible enough to do what needs to be done.  This is the essence of the hero.  The hero confronts the problem in spite of the danger to himself and fights the good fight.  And, no matter how deeply it is buried or lost, in his heart, every man longs to be the hero.

A man who does not know how to assume the role of the hero in his own life will suffer. He may become depressed or withdrawn.  He may turn to alcohol or drugs. He will father children and not care for them. He will be unable to commit to caring for and protecting a woman in marriage. 

It is important to emphasize at this point that men who are abusive and violent lack healthy masculine energy. Remember that the essence of manliness is to put aside one's own needs and comfort to be responsible enough to do what needs to be done. A man who has completed his rites of passage does not lash out against those who are physically weaker than him or dependent on him for care and support. 

I was fortunate to have had at least a partial rite of male passage because when I was growing up I started working with my dad and uncles during the summer months.  Associating with men in the workplace instilled in me a work ethic and a sense of responsibility I see lacking in many of the grown-up boys I see in the world.

I also had another male rite of passage when I joined the Airforce at 23 and went through basic training.  That's another experience where male values are instilled in you. I learned to quit making excuses and to take responsibility for what I do. I'm glad I at least had some male rites of passage, many guys have had none.

Anti-Male Media Messages

demand-couple-argue-fight-web.jpgUnfortunately, much of the popular movies, TV and literature of today doesn't provide very healthy examples of mature masculinity.  In fact, you'll often find men portrayed as grown-up, irresponsible boys.  

Interestingly enough, it was my sister who opened my eyes to start seeing this.  She told me that she didn't like the Bernstein Bear's children's books.  I asked her why and she told me because Momma Bear is the smart one and the leader of the family and Pappa Bear is practically one of the children and she thought the books were demeaning to men.

Since that time I've noticed how often this happens in modern movies and TV shows.  Instead of being shown as respectable leaders, who are willing to set aside their own comfort to do their duty with courage, it has become popular to portray men as weaker than women and less capable.  It's not that women aren't better at certain things than men, it's just that the idea that men have suppressed women for generations has become so entrenched in the popular mindset that male bashing has begun to be accepted as “normal.”

I've had to work hard at recognizing this subtle, but continual “propaganda” that is communicating that I should in some way be ashamed for being a man, for thinking like a man, acting like a man and having the desires and attitudes a man has.  Joining a local men's group here in Saint George has been very helpful for me.  Learning that my attitudes, feelings, desires and problems are similar to other guys has helped me recognize that I'm OK and that the way I think and feel is normal.

I've also found a number of resources that have helped me develop a healthier masculine self-confidence.  I've included some of the books and materials I've found that have helped to shift my attitudes and help shake some of the “boyish” qualities out of me and develop more “manly” attitudes and attributes.  Check some of these materials out.  They can really help you.

Men, it's OK to be a man.  It's OK that we're different than women.  Difference is good.  Let's protect those differences by taking care of our masculine health.  Avoid the chemicals and xenoestrogens that rob your masculine energy.  Eat healthy and do what it takes to have a stronger and healthier physical body as this always helps our feeling of masculine confidence.  Finally, associate regularly with other men and seek out some resources that support a healthy masculine self-image.  In short, learn to be the manly hero in your life that you secretly long to be by defending your right to be masculine.

Suggested References

Mind OS and The Omega Male by Dr. Paul Dobransky (These are courses available at www.doctorpaul.net. Although this website is primarily aimed at men who are single and are trying to learn to date and become more successful with women, the stuff Dr. Paul teaches can help any man.  His MindOS material is great.  I'm saving up to take his Omega Male program.  He has has a women's version of his MindOS system available at www.womenshappiness.com)

The Myth of Male Powerby Warren Farrell (This was the original book that opened my eyes to the problems we men face in modern society and the anti-male propoganda that is going on in the media. It provides statistics showing how many men are struggling in today's society and how little help there is for them.  For instance, it documents the high rate of male suicide and depression and the fact that women physically assault men in relationships almost as often as men assault women.)

Equality: A Man's Claim : The Equality Issue from the Male Perspective, and an Ethical Society's Viewpoint by Alan Millard (This volume covers the same concepts as The Myth of Male Power, but does so in a way that is so far to the other extreme that it could be called a masculinist book.  What it helped me to see was how ridiculous and far out some of the feminist assertions are and what it would be like if men really had there way.  This book is out of print, but when I checked there were four copies available on Amazon.  The author has a website www.ncfm.org. There is a whole list of books on this topic on that site.)

Men Freeing Men: Exploding the Myth of Traditional Male by Francis Baumli, Ph.D.  (This is another great book talking about the men's movement and documenting that inequality is a two-way street.)

Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly (Robert Bly is one of the pioneers of the Men's Movement and this book uses a traditional story to tell how the boy develops into the man.)

The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity: A Modern Practical Guide to the Ancient Way (Fireside Books (Fireside)) by Daniel P. Reid (A good book on sexual health for Men based on Chinese medicine)

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (The best book on nutrition I've ever read. Another politically-incorrect book.)

The Castration of the American Male by Gary Brodsky (OK, Gary is probably a bit extreme for most of you and you'll probably find the titles of some of his books outright offensive [I do], but nonetheless, this book does point to a real problem and is worth reading. Gary's website is www.garybrodsky.com. I've already warned you that you might find some of his other stuff offensive, so visit his site only if you're not easily offended.)