Our Taboos are Killing us

I read a great blog post today from the Sexademic – http://sexademic.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/screw-critical-thought-blame-women-feminism-or-men/

Here is the Response I wrote:

THANKS! The times they are a changin’ indeed.

Masculinity (and Femininity) need a reset. I get very tired of listening to men a) blame women rather than take responsibility for their happiness, unhappiness, satisfaction, political station, job, etc. b) say and do things which reinforce damaging, violent and emotionally immature stereotypes about men.

I also get very tired of women who either a) blame men rather than take responsibility for getting what they want or creating the relationships they want or b) let men off the hook for being immature and emotionally stunted with statements like ‘boys will be boys’ or c) say and do things that reinforce damaging, psychically violent and emotionally immature stereotypes about women.

It’s a dance that’s been playing for a few tens of thousands of years. You’d think with these huge masses of grey matter, the lizard brain would be a bit more in check.

AND I also feel very strongly that the fundamental mistake is one of denial. We have collectively created a culture of taboos (political correctness could be an example) in which there are whole areas of personality, actions, thoughts and feelings which have been put into a deep dark hole. AND surprise, surprise, these archetypal demons locked in ‘unbreakable’ chains manage to find a way to escape and show up in all kinds of damaging ways in the culture. Gonzo porn, domestic violence, sexualized children, violent misogyny, misandry and homophobia, hypersexuality, women whose first and primary concern is sexual acceptability, men whose first and primary concern is denial of ALL that could be considered feminine. Men are no longer consciously taught to be mature, because there are few men who understand what that maturity looks like, or how to teach it. The same is true of women. And the lot of us are mostly taught by media, which as you pointed out is mostly made, produced and marketed by men. (the same immature men who were never taught otherwise)

Want to break the denial? Create conscious places for men and women to safely explore the taboos, let the demons out of the cages in a safe and conscious way (this does NOT mean enacting them on one another!) and learn what they have to teach us. We’re already letting them out … we’re just making the wildly irresponsible choice to not analyze, process and explore these taboos consciously. When we come to a level of self-awareness about what we hide in our taboo closets, the taboos lose their psychic magnetism – freeing us ALL up to create masculinity and femininity that will support us toward wholeness rather than diminishing us toward gendered mud-flinging.

The good news is that there are more and more men and women waking up, doing their work cleaning out the closets and creating conscious and more emotionally responsible cultures and relationships. They are isolated pockets most of the time, but growing.

And if the predictors work … it will only take about 1% of the population waking up to change the whole game. I think that the huge amount of yelling, fear and panic about this topic might indicate that we’re close to breaking through. I hope so.

For men – I recommend the ManKind Project as a way to start doing the work of taking responsibility for our lives. Cut the shit man. Time to take responsibility for yourself.

Extra Open Men’s Groups this Month!

How about this – the world needs you. Not a washed out, pale, shadowy version of who you are. Not a stuck, quiet, frustrated, depressed, angry and asleep version of yourself. The world needs the BIG YOU. The fully awake you. The you that is willing to take some risks to make the world, your relationships, and your dreams, shine the way you want them to.  Everything going pretty good these days? Awesome. Then the world needs the you that is ready to be even MORE alive, awake and empowered. The you that knows that growth is a never-ending journey. Are you ready to take the next step in your journey?

In three weeks a group of about 60 men will gather in North Oxford Massachusetts for a weekend training called the New Warrior Training Adventure. In 48 hours these men will have the opportunity to confront the darkest parts of who they are and face their fears. They will have the space to heal parts of their past that have held them back for years. They will have the chance to find within themselves a new kind of power to get the things done in their lives. They will find a connection and trust with other men that they have probably never experienced before.

They will have the opportunity to take a step up the ladder in their own personal evolution – no matter where they are – as a man and as a human being in the world. Every aspect of their lives will be affected.

After this weekend, the New Warrior Training Adventure, these men will be invited to join or form men’s groups. The Springfield Uprising is one such group. We have been meeting weekly for over two years. We help one another through mentoring, exploration, truth telling and building safe spaces to share our lives. This is the continuing work of our circle; to heal, to empower, to trust, to connect, to continue our personal evolution as men and as human beings. You are invited to participate in this evolution – and continue on YOUR path. This open men’s group is for all men.  This open men’s group is FREE. This group is not affiliated with any one spiritual practice, your beliefs are welcome.

We will be holding Open Men’s Circles for the next 3 weeks in a row – October 14th, October 21st, October 28th – from 7pm  to 9pm at 380 Union Street, West Springfield – (at A to Z Movers, look for the big trucks – enter the building on the ground floor under the “Auction Preview Sign”) – more info? Call Boysen 413 883 2462.

Hope to see you there.  You are welcome to bring a friend. I remember that I felt nervous when I attended my first men’s group. I didn’t believe that I would be accepted or welcomed. I didn’t believe that I would fit in. Maybe this is the first fear to confront?

To Learn More about the ManKind Project – the not-for-profit organization that presents the New Warrior Training – CLICK HERE – If you are interested in taking a big step in your life and you want to attend the NWTA happening in 3 weeks – call me – 413 883 2462.

Emotional Activism as a construct for societal transformation

I am re-posting an older article that still resonates with me.

In June of 2007, I was in Northampton, MA at a public screening of Byron Hurt’s HIP HOP Beyond Beats and Rhymes. If you haven’t seen this movie – I recomend it highly. Hurt has done a fantastic job of really opening the connections between rap, hyper-masculinity, violence, misogyny, sexism, homophobia and corrupt capitalism. The film is powerfully edited, smart, compelling. There were about 160 people in attendance at this Sunday night screening. Some very well recognized heavy-weights in the pro-feminist, anti-violence men’s movement were in attendance.  On the way home with the LadyK I tried to verbalize the deep sadness and frustration that I feel about the disconnection between what I do in my work with the ManKind Project and the work that is being done by powerful scholars “intellectual Heavyweights” (as Hurt said) on the front lines of the anti-violence men’s movement.

Continue reading “Emotional Activism as a construct for societal transformation”

Open Circles – July 15th and 22nd

We’re hosting an additional Circle this month – and hoping to expand to a circle every other week by the end of the summer. So what is this about? It’s about the totally responsible and mature choice to connect to a group of men to offer mentoring and be mentored. The most powerful, successful and brilliant men in the world have circles of advisers – people they trust to share their highs and lows with – people they work with to refine their ideas, make better choices, take risks.

Kings have courts. Presidents have cabinets. CEO’s have boards of advisers. Religious icons have disciples. What we provide is a space to learn deeply about yourself in the company of other men. To challenge yourself, to be recognized for the brilliance that you bring to your world, to get honest about what’s REALLY going on with you, to share in the passages of your life. We are confidants, friends, challengers, sounding boards – we are a band of brothers united by a desire to make ourselves – and the world – a better place. Many men are these days are isolated from one another and from themselves. Many of our relationships are shallow and don’t begin to honestly address the difficulties and triumphs in our lives. Open Men is about getting honest, bravely taking responsibility for your life and helping other men while you help yourself.

You are invited. Bring a friend.


380 Union Street, Ground Floor
West Springfield, MA 01089

This is the business of one of the men in our group.

How to find us
“We park right by the big AtoZ Moving Trucks – look for the parking along the building.”

How I got involved in New Warrior stuff – the truth about the ManKind Project

A question from an old friend who I haven’t connected with in years.

So how’d you get involved with the New Warror stuff?

I’m curious about the program. I may check it out but as I explained to J***, while the underlying concepts certainly resonate for me, I’m very peculiar about (and easily distracted by) the language and vessel chosen to convey ideas. Sometimes the idea is meaningful, but the way it’s expressed raises my hackles, sounds off alarms, and I just can’t trust the messenger. And the message itself gets diluted in the process. Sometimes, regardless of the messenger, it takes me years to fully absorb a useful message and translate it into meaningful change.

This really got me thinking. Here’s what I came up with.

I did the NWTA in April 2004, a year after I left a very complicated and painful relationship that I was in for 7 1/2 years. I had known about it for years because my brothers and my Dad had done it.  I was on a good path. I was feeling positive about my life, I had been with the beautiful lady who is now my wife for about 6 months, we were doing really well, I was taking risks again, expanding my world, creating friendships. AND I was ready to look at the deeper stuff – to go beyond therapy, which had really helped me, into active participation in something bigger. I was aware of a part of myself that I was still holding back in my life. Some doorway that hadn’t been opened.

The paragraph about the concepts, ideas and the messenger – I get it. And there is some serious jargon to digest. I have become very conscious about this language, so I hope I don’t bludgeon you with it.

Maybe you’re over-thinking? This kind of intellectual analysis kept me locked in a box for 8 years. For me, it’s an avoidance technique. I can think myself out of doing anything – especially if it calls to me – because that means that I sense something I WANT, but I am afraid to reach out for it, afraid to screw it up. When I dismiss the message because of the way it was delivered, I cut myself off from the opportunity to actually come up with my own insights. I expect perfection. There is none.

The EXPERIENCE is what it’s about. The New Warrior Training Adventure is an initiation into a different way of relating to being a man. It’s about trusting yourself enough to let go of the rope and trusting other men to catch you and not hurt you. It’s about learning what you are capable of – the beautiful good and the horrible bad. It may raise your hackles because it runs so contrary to the Lupis Goitalonis (lone wolf) mentality that most men carry. What? you want me to trust you? F*ck that. You want me to stop thinking for a minute and FEEL? F*ck you. You want me to tell you what I am really about? F*ck off. Last time I did that I got the shit kicked out of me.

I over-analyzed the “intellectual framework” of the work as it was understood by a couple of men with their own understandings, beliefs and biases. (they didn’t have the book shelf that I had, or the degree that I have … blah blah).

I didn’t believe it could possibly be all that the men in my life claimed it was. I said no for 7 years. I argued that I was ‘on my own path’, and that I was learning ‘in other ways’. I read, I went to 12 step meetings, I did therapy with a feminist therapist, I led anti-violence workshops for college students, I sat in some men’s groups sponsored by the local men’s center (and though well intentioned, they never even broke the surface for me). I read all kinds of negative press about the ManKind Project and the ‘mytho-poetic men’s movement’. I argued that it was anti-feminist, that it was brain washing, that it was some kind of pyramid scheme, that it was like a cult. My brother J* just kept asking me to trust him, to trust that he would not do me harm. J* is a very smart man – and he is one of the most cynical people I know- and yet this changed his life.

I chose to do it despite my fears and arguments, because I saw the difference it made in my brothers’ lives and marriages – and the difference it made for their kids. They weren’t brainwashed; they still had their own peculiar (and sometimes ineffective) ways of being, but they were kinder and more open with their wives and children, they were more accountable for their actions, they talked about their feelings, they treated each other with a clear, clean respect. They reacted less and responded more. They started standing up for themselves when they needed to. They made better choices. Most of them no longer participate in MKP men’s groups, but the effects that their time in circles had on them are clear in all their lives. Their kids are growing up with self-confidence that comes from being seen and valued for who they are, from being listened to, from having their emotions accepted and affirmed. My brothers had all this goodness inside, MKP helped them do was open the door to it.

What Happened at my Weekend

It was the most powerful experience I had ever had to that point in my life. Parts of it were cheesy. Sometimes I was PISSED that they were ‘treating us’ that way. Parts I didn’t understand until much later. Sometimes I didn’t like the words that were being used. Feeling the power and care of 65 men who are not playing games, not bullshitting each other is life-altering. I have been sitting in MKP circles of men for 5 years now. And I keep getting more tools, keep deepening my ability to connect to people (everyone), I’ve stepped into leadership, handled the hard stuff, gotten accountable for what’s happening in my life. K* and I have honesty and connection that I haven’t ever experienced. There are some incredible, powerful, brilliant, passionate men out there doing their parts to make the world a better, safer, place for everyone. Many of them have different ideas and ‘frames’ for what this work is. Some I resonate with, others I don’t.

I emerged from the weekend saying … if only I had taken this risk then … I could have avoided hurting my ex-partner as I did, I could have avoided hurting myself for a lot of years. All the perfectly logical reasons I had for not going were actually based in fear of being seen for who I believed I was – broken, doomed to be alone, too afraid to live, a ‘bad’ man, somehow not worthy of being loved and appreciated.

So I understand the idea that the ‘vessel’ is important as a carrier of the message. And I would assert that the ‘vessel’ here is more important than the concepts that you are resonating with. Concepts are easy. You can get the concepts in a book, god knows I do. But you will never begin to approach the experience. There is no other vessel that compares to it.

The red flags are good, they will keep you self-aware, having a strong ego is good for this process. But can you take the next step and trust that you are strong enough to take care of yourself AND allow yourself to fully participate in the experience? The men who lead these weekends are experienced, sharp and dedicated to creating safety. Not to say that there aren’t f*ck-ups, there are, but there is always someone right there to step in. And most of all – there is safety. Emotional and Physical safety to do whatever it takes.

When you come out of it – there are men ready to help you process the other stuff that will inevitably bubble up. But it will be up to you whether you choose to reach out and keep working with it. My opinion is that being in a circle of men is the most responsible choice I can make if I am truly dedicated to making the world a safer place, because that is where I learn how to do it. Thinking that I want to help create a better world means little if I’m too afraid or disempowered to act or if I can’t even handle my own resentments against my neighbors, my wife, my boss. Activism is great! Speaking out is great! Movements implode when in-fighting destroys them. And the in-fighting is not about the concepts, it’s about the failure to process the underlying judgments, motivations, wounds and psychology of the individuals. One person with a poisonous lack of self-awareness can destroy an organization (or a nation!). And only a group of highly self-aware people with finely developed skills will be able to short circuit that destruction. MKP, for me, is about developing those skills.

Lots of men go on to do all sorts of other stuff. I know I have. There are lots of paths. But I have never spoken with a man who does not see how unique and powerful this experience was or how it contributed to making his own path more clear and vibrant – even if he hated the weekend. It gives many men the will and passion to go for their deepest dreams. It gives every man a sense of purpose (of his own creation) that he can go out and live in the world.

There is misogyny in MKP, and homophobia and ignorance and racism and arrogance and self-limiting tribal thinking and unconsciousness, but FAR LESS than I experience in most areas of my life. When that stuff shows up, there are men in MKP willing to stand up and confront it. We are actively confronting those harmful attitudes and beliefs in ourselves and each other, because we trust each other. We have the most self-aware ways of handling conflict that I have ever seen.

Some men who walk away from MKP are simply too attached to their rigid beliefs about difference to make any changes or stand as equals with men who challenge them. We are not a homogenous group. It’s not like being in a circle of just academics, or social activists or blue color workers, conservatives or liberals. Unquestioned beliefs, on both sides, will be questioned. In my opinion, we men can no longer afford to create segregated communities of ‘like-minded’ people. We have to do more than isolate ourselves in this time of global problems.

At a core level for me – it’s about escaping the nihilist belief that I’m alone. Because as a man among men – these men – I’m never alone. These men that I have shared this with – these are the men who will bury me – knowing everything about me and loving me deeply. They will comfort my children and my wife. There will be nothing left unsaid, because there was no fear to prevent me from saying it.

It’s an emotional bungie jump. Scary. Safe.

What is a Men’s Group?

What is a Men’s Group? We are a group of men that share our experiences, our wisdom and our presence with one another to support self-awareness, positive change and transformation. We challenge the destructive aspects of masculinity and our own personalities that hurt us, our families, our communities and our world. We form a community of peers who take risks for ourselves to improve our lives and help others. All kinds of men are involved. We are non-religious and non-profit. Any man ready to follow some simple ground rules and take responsibility for himself is welcome.
read more …

Why Men’s Work?
Because the way we see it, the world really needs men who have courage (heart) enough to get real with one another. Dominating, chest pounding, ‘tough it up’ or ‘laugh it off’ masculinity is a facade that often covers up the truly effective, powerful, compassionate, nurturing, mature man. Men supporting men by fostering a greater sense of self-awareness and personal responsibility has profound impacts on families, friendships and communities. Remaining in denial about the harmful effects of being ‘disconnected’ from ourselves and each other, whether through machismo, addictive behaviors, cynicism or isolation is bad for our health, dangerous to society and bad for the planet.
read more …

What is the New Warrior Training Adventure?
The NWTA is an intense 48 hour experience that challenges a man to look at himself honestly and deeply while being supported by a non-shaming group of highly skilled facilitators and volunteers. It is an opportunity for a man to truly examine himself in a way that few men do in our world. It is an initiation made for the modern man – we call you into community with yourself. Parts of it will rock your foundations, parts of it may seem ridiculous to you. You will have fun, you will be challenged, you will enter altered space and return safely. read more …
To read and watch testimonials about MKP CLICK HERE.

What’s in it for me? Many men experience profound shifts in their lives as a result of the work that they do in our circles and at our trainings. Greater emotional intelligence can bring you stronger more intimate relationships with your family, your spouse or partner, your children, your friends, your co-workers. Personal satisfaction, a greater sense of internal peace, more successful business ventures, more happiness, the courage to make the changes that you have been scared to make. Men leave our training empowered with a sense of personal purpose for their lives that often translates into service in the world – a mission that they create for themselves and a renewed sense of agency to make it happen. read more …

What are you trying to sell me?
We are selling a new way of seeing men and of being a man. The values we hold are timeless. Compassion, Awareness, Integrity, Accountability … to name a few.

  • If you are looking for a community of men to collaboratively make a difference in the lives of others – to awaken yourself and serve the world – we’ll see you there.
  • If you are feeling stuck, depressed, full of anxiety and fear, dissatisfied with your situation … if you are standing at the crossroads,
    you might find a second chance.
  • If you feel you’re on the right path in your life, feeling ready for the next step, feeling a calling to fully express yourself … we are offering you a community of like-minded and empowered men to help you overcome your internal obstacles and challenge your self-limiting beliefs and behaviors.
  • If you feel happy with who you are and satisfied with your life … we are offering you a deepened connection to your own brilliance and a community to share it with.

We are not selling Perfection, Salvation or a Weekend Fix-it All. The work of being authentic, connected, emotionally intelligent and self-aware is ongoing and not something that ANYONE can promise you on a weekend. We are not out to save you, we are only here to hold up a mirror to your life. You get to choose whether you look in that mirror.

The NWTA costs $650 for the full weekend. The deposit is $150 and is transferable for 2 years. In New England we use a payment process that is based on the value received & the ability to pay for the weekend. Call to learn more. There is limited scholarship money available.

Put simply, how much is a better life worth to you? How much is a better world for your children worth? To read and watch testimonials about MKP CLICK HERE.

To register call 1-877-THE-NWTA.

Involvement with a ManKind Project Men’s Group is FREE unless there is an agreement to pay for a rented space or an agreement to support the New England Center with a donation. You can visit a men’s group in your area, call 877-THE-NWTA for more information.

Risk Free? Nope. There is always a risk in opening up. There is always a risk in being honest with yourself and with those around you. We won’t be hard selling you on attending a training. What we will be inviting you to do is to take a chance and look at your life in a new way.

If you would like to talk to someone about MKP and can’t make this open circle … give me a call.

Boysen Hodgson

Seeking a Singular Awareness

Another way to look at WHY I participate in a men’s group and why I did the New Warrior Training Adventure was to gain more Self Awareness.  Self awareness is the state of being where you I can be watching my thoughts, feelings and actions without being lost in them. I am aware that I am feeling Sadness, or Anger, or Fear and yet there is a distance between me and the emotion that I am feeling – such that I don’t have to REACT to the emotions in a way that is harmful to me or to those around me.

To learn more about attending Open Men or about the ManKind Project or the New Warrior Training Adventure, email me or call 413 303 9193.