A Dozen Questions for Men

Fatherhood, education, sexuality, war, crime, and redemption: 12 questions on the big topics for men everywhere to consider.

This is an interactive essay. I have 12 questions that I think might be important, but I need your help infiguring out which questions really are. In each case I pose the question, explain why it might be important, and give a quick response to the question myself before turning it over to you.


1. Are men categorically better parents, at least in some areas? Do you think gay (male) parents have something to teach mothers? 

Why: We as men have an inferiority complex when it comes to parenting. Moms have dominated the realm for an eternity. With men wanting to be more involved as dads, the question is whether we are any good at it, and, if so, is our skill the same as moms or something different?

My Take: Damn right. I’ve had three kids and there are a ton of times when I just think to myself, What the heck is she doing? I like to think I have a certain calm intuition with my kids that is unique to me. But maybe I am just nuts.

Photo jmettraux/Flickr

Next: Telling the Truth

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About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. Eagle34 says:

    Tom: “Every act of sexual violence is to be taken seriously. But this idea that somehow in heterosexual gender wars that discussion of rape of men by women should get equal time is just fricking insane.”

    I know this article was written a long time ago, but this is so hurtful. Really hurtful.

    I sincerely hope you’ve changed your tune on this because let me tell you something:

    Focusing equal time on men who have been raped or hurt by women is not frickin insane because there are tons of men out there who have already been seriously hurt by women in their life that they get enough grief from society for speaking out or not speaking out. And you’re saying its insane to focus on them equally as we focus on women victims?

    It’s maddenning you supported (hopefully, as I’ve said, you changed your tune) this reprehensible belife that has caused many men to remain silent and not even call what happened to them rape.

    Funny how contradictory your statement sounds when you say this while putting a picture of a sign reading “There is no justification for rape” above it. Because you’re basically justifying what happened to the men who were raped or abused by women in their life believing they don’t deserve equal focus.

    Or would you rather they be left by the wayside until they decide to take their anger to the next level and hurt women themselves? Of course then you, and others, will be wondering what caused them to do it in the first place.

    Seriously, Tom, I hope you’ve put this belife behind you. Because if you didn’t, then you don’t care about men.

    Tom: “The numbers are not equal. Rape is predominately an issue where men rape women.”

    Once again, hopefully you’ve read the latest CDC reports as this article was written a long time ago because it rebutes your belife here.

  2. I hope this string develops again ….

  3. DavidByron says:

    My Take: Every act of sexual violence is to be taken seriously. But this idea that somehow in heterosexual gender wars that discussion of rape of men by women should get equal time is just fricking insane. The numbers are not equal. Rape is predominately an issue where men rape women. That does not mean all men are rapists or should be treated as such. It does mean that, as men, we need to step up to figure out why other men rape women.

    So….six months later it turns out that just isn’t true. The fricking insane turns up in black and white as data on the gold standard report for sexual violence (the NISVS). The first time anyone bothers to ask, the answer turns out to be yes women rape men a hell of a lot. A HELL of a lot.

    Even I was surprised it was so often.

    Tom, how does this effect how you think about this stuff? Me, I have two statistics degrees and I love that stuff. I believe statistics and I can see a good one from a bad one. But I think for most people if the stat is so far outside their comfort zone it is like a magic trick at best, or just dismissed as a lie at worst.

    I hope in ten years or so when they do another national sexual violence survey of this size and quality, they will delve into woman on man rape more and find out more about it, but this really is a genuinely good survey both in size and methodology.

  4. 11. How important an issue is the rape and sexual abuse of adult men by women?

    I know I’m a bit late but I just wanted to express how disappointed I am in how you tried to redirect that question into the usual “women have it worse” terriority that rape conversations are led to. Presuming that this question is verbatem of what was asked why even bother bringing up male against female rape when its not even in the original quesiton. You sound like you are more worried about making sure everyone knows women have it worse than making sure rape victims are taken seriously regardless of the characteristics of the victim or rapist.

  5. I think too many of these questions were loaded and not thought out very well. Some are just clearly divisive and poorly constructed. Male rape is a good example of confusing the issue enough to distort the position of others and render their position invalid, which is pretty much how rape works to begin with. I would tend to believe that the presentation of the question regarding male rape, represents the way a rapist would think.

  6. 1.(parenting) my observations tell me woman “manage” children more than engaging them in an exchange.(fail) I would say that women spend more time chasing their kids when they should be leading them.

    2.(lying) I never believed the truth to be that negotiable. I always believed the truth to reflect a value and respect for others.

    3.(manhood) Sorry to disagree, but maleness is (personal) passed from generation to generation, manhood is in retrospect(historic) and masculinity (environmental) is gained from mentors and peers.The crock is that maleness has been treated as non-existent by females who are only interested in masculinity and how it will benefit them.Tom you sound a little confused about being a man, did you buy or lease?

    4.(spectrum genders) Wow talk about confusing the obvious. It’s an incredibly homophobic statement to suggest that sexuality somehow removes you from your gender. Will you also be approving breathing.What a fucking elitist,insecure question.Wouldn’t it be better to ask whether an individual is comfortable with the spectrum position in which they reside. Or is it more important to advertise your personal sexuality.

    5.(fatherlessness) The reason for fatherlessness is that society does not support their presence. There is no government institution that supports fathering. The best we offer fathers is denigration.

    6. (draft)Mandatory draft for men? No way don’t support it. We’ve done our bit draft the women, we could stand to lose a few million.

    7. (education) Education is dominated by females, we need complete gender separation including instructors
    if the women want to screw up their education let them, they have certainly screwed it up for boys.Gender politics should be removed from the education system entirely. I’ve had enough of bipartisan feminism.

    8. (horny females) Who cares, the only time it matters is when it’s time for sex.

    9. (redemption) Redemption must be maintained as a key component of rehabilitation, although most accusers are beyond redemption. I do not feel that I personally fit the schematics of the popular notion of what most refer to as a “good man”. I also do not request or require redemption.

    10. (racism) I think the ability to perpetuate racism is afforded by our unwillingness to discuss it. Restitution is another roadblock to bigotry.

    11. (male rape) Well you distorted that issue pretty quick. Maybe if you change your nomenclature, thought as a critical process might be easier to attain. To re script the language would be to consider the issue of power over another to coerce sex. Oh wait to uncomfortable a thought process, or do you define the parameters of rape, cause if you do you are a rapist.

    12. (shooting yourself in the face) Marriage is only a lifelong commitment for men. Women are the only ones that can exit marriage free and clear. You can thank feminist influence on family law for that. Marriage is dead feminism and family law killed it.It no longer matters how anyone romanticizes marriage it’s a non issue.

  7. dragnet says:

    “Rape is predominately an issue where men rape women.”

    Actually, no. Rape is predominately an issue where men rape other men. Last in US prisons were 300K reported cases of male-on-male sexual assault—that number dwarfs the number of male-female rapes.

    • They are in prison probably for rape crimes anyhow.

      When women ask for statistics of rape, we’re speaking of those acts that have taken place outside of prison. (Sorry but the ones in prison don’t count). In other countries, there’s capital punishment for most serious crimes and offenses – this reduces the need to keep on-going stats, babysitting and wasting tax dollars and resources on criminals.

      Now I get where men come up with these skewed rape statistics that women rape men as equally or more…they’re including prison stats of all things. I’ll have to keep this in mind next time men on here bring up these crazy ass misleading stats.

      Women are not ignorant, we know rape happens to men as well (though in different numbers). Please don’t play us for stupid.

      • Janet Dell says:

        Wow, just WOW. You want stats that a biased to the point of view you have that more women are raped than men. IF that is the case why do you even want the stats. You have already decided how you are going to view them. RAPE IS RAPE, NO MEANS NO, Prison rape is rape.

        Should we not count rape in a marriage , well , after all that is different than stranger rape. OR lets not include stranger rape because that is different rape by someone you know.

        MichelleG. Really, you really want to go there.

      • Peter Houlihan says:

        “Now I get where men come up with these skewed rape statistics that women rape men as equally or more…they’re including prison stats of all things. I’ll have to keep this in mind next time men on here bring up these crazy ass misleading stats.”

        Actually any study I’ve read examining rape in the general population has failed to unclude members of the prison population in it’s sample.

  8. I have to say I am disappointed in the survey quite a bit. It was a good idea and I hope you do it again – but perhaps differently. The questions are good – not necessarily the top 12 I would have come up with but I did not publish the survey. However, I did not even finish it. I did not – and do not – like surveys that have such a poor allowance for nuance. Lichert scale questions are some of the best measures in my experience doing research of various kinds. There was also a double-question…..which skewed any results of that question. Could there only be one reason for so many fatherless boys? of course not. Are we all on a continuum of sexuality? Perhaps but if so even where we are on the continuum is not fixed, as far as I can tell, based upon age and even context. Of course we so often conflate homosexuality and homosociality that question is probably skewed as well…this was not up to GMP or Tom’s usual high standards and quality. Sorry

  9. Any kind of sexual assault is a serious crime and should be treated as such. I’m curious, though, about the claims I’ve seen that women rape adult men nearly as often as men rape women (not talking about child abuse). Given that men as a rule are physically stronger than women as a rule, how is this even possible? There aren’t a lot of women who could overpower a guy in a dark parking lot, obviously. Also, “rape” of a woman usually means penetrative sex, what are we talking about exactly in connection with women raping men? Unwanted kissing or groping? That could be sexual assault depending on the context, or it could just be someone getting a bit too feely while giving a goodnight kiss at the end of a date, which is annoying or upsetting, but not the same as rape.

    Feminists have unfortunately sometimes used broadly defined “unwanted sexual contact” surveys to inflate “rape” statistics and I wonder if MRA’s may be doing the same. If you define “rape” as, “I was at a party one time and a drunk person grabbed my [butt] [balls] [breasts]” or “I started making out with my date who was drunk and [he] [she] groped me until I got upset and left”, you are going to get some high numbers. In 4 years of college, I can think of at least 5 times when I suffered an unwanted butt or breast grabbing at a party or club, and several other times when a drunk friend or date groped me, yet I wouldn’t classify any of those incidents as rape.

    On the other hand, I do know a guy who received an unwanted blow job from a woman while he was recovering from a broken ankle and couldn’t get away from her. So it does happen and I’m not trying to discount any experiences of that nature, I just wonder if anyone has any statistics that don’t conflate all forms of unwanted sexual contact (even relatively brief or minor ones) with actual rape.

    • Do we really need to explain to people how women can rape men? Do we really need to explain how the male body responds to stimuli regardless of whether the man is sexually aroused? Do we really need to explain that women can and often do substitute their lack of physical strength with a weapon? Do we really need to explain that a female rapist can and does threaten her victim with claiming that he raped her? And why should women’s sexual violence against boys not count when we count men’s sexual violence against girls as sexual violence against women?

      Regarding how studies define rape, it varies per study. The infamous National Victimization Against Women Survey includes all the acts you described above and attempts to commit those acts in their definition of rape. Legally speaking, unwanted sexual contact is rape. Each state varies in how they define sexual violence. Some use “sexual assault” while others use “rape.” However, most states would count unwanted intercourse, such forced oral sex, as rape.

      • You don’t need to explain how it happens,I’m interested in any actual statistics. Not all unwanted sexual touching is equivalent to rape, and I have argued that point with feminists many times.

  10. Full disclosure: I am gay. I am also a feminist. I find no tension between the two identities. As a gay man and as a feminist, question number four is (and I am trying to be kind here) contrary to and problematic for anyone whose desire is to develop an important concept of 21st century masculinity.

    Question 4 is the most difficult for me to hear being asked as an “important” question. Not because men don’t have questions about sexuality. I think there should be a space to discuss what it means to be sexual and sex positive. It happens to exist here: http://www.scarleteen.com/ and though the forum is usually designed for teens and young adults, I think the sex positive messages here would be great.

    This spectrum question is moot when we stop insisting that sexual expression be necessarily attached to an identity. So you want your girlfriend to put her finger or a dildo in your ass? Doesn’t make you gay; it makes you like having your prostate stimulated and if you try it, you’re gonna love it.

    Second, the “my take” is offensive to this man in particular because generally speaking, this man is gay and a feminist. Being a gay man in a default heterosexual world is not easy. I assume, sir, that you are talking about the stereotype that gay men are sex addicts or that intimacy comes easier between two men. Read Dan Savage’s weekly sex advice post to find out how difficult relationships can be for all types of identities. But let me tell you from both personal experience and the experiences of many of my gay male friends that may demystify what it means to be gay for those of you who are straight and still reading this: Gay men have their intimacy and sexual performance problems, too.

    But not only are you insulting gay men, you’re insulting women, too. By saying you “deal” with women, you imply to some that women are in need of being dealt with. In other words, women are a chore or something that takes a lot of effort. By using the word “deal,” you mark your interaction with women as a negative to some people. I suspect that what you really mean is that intimacy and communication is what is difficult. If that is the case, then you should know that intimacy is not a gendered issue as you have implied it to be. Women don’t need to be dealt with, but strong 21st century men need to work hard at communicating and being intimate in ways that are free and open.

    Lastly, what does it mean to be as homosexual as you can get? Are you suggesting that you’ve been called “faggot” in a public theater by some teenagers? Are you suggesting that you’ve waited in a hospital while the man you love is recovering from surgery all the while thinking to yourself that if some ignorant nurse says that I’m “not family” and can’t see him how you’re going to start breaking stuff? How you’re gonna have to fight to see him instead of put all your energy into helping him heal and recover? Are you suggesting that when you hold a man’s hand you don’t also get tired that you are also making a political statement, that it can’t just be two men holding hands, but “an act of strength” or “sickening display” depending on who’s looking?

    I can understand if these “important” questions are supposed to be written with some humor, but I do not see them presented this way. What I see in these questions is a perpetuation of stereotypes that keep men from developing into individuals that equates intimacy with strength, love with courage.

  11. Richard Aubrey says:

    Izzy. Absent discussing the big deal about involuntary servitude, have you thought about supervising unwilling teenagers doing whatever public service you have in mind?
    What do you intend to do with those who refuse?
    Who gets to choose what counts as public service?
    People who voluntarily choose to do some public service may continue to do public service. SERprise.
    What about people dragooned into public service activities? Do you know for sure that the experience makes them more likely to continue?

  12. RE: Question 6 (the draft)

    Your question implies that the draft is just for military purposes. Many other countries require a period of PUBLIC SERVICE (including but not limited to military svc.) for all young people. The United States would greatly benefit. Performing public service while young tends to lead to continued lifelong civic service.

    Many of the pressing social needs we have, could be improved by all the extra helping hands for such things as Habitat for Humanity, feeding programs, etc. Consider the impact new college grads could have on our troubled school system. A reinvigorated Peace Corps could be of immense help for the massive hordes of refugees worldwide, and could go a long way to restoring America’s tarnished image in the world.

  13. Clarification…..

    My comment on “affording a woman her self-respect and dignity” assumes that a man will usually do so BEFORE sex (perhaps in order to ensure sexual success), but not often AFTER sex… the cliched image of a man leaving the room and high-fiving his friends the next day is nauseating to many women. As such, we deny our want for sex because it’s better than being disrespected. You want more women to want sex?…R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!!! BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER!!!! 🙂

    • Just curious Dee, do you think that men see women doing the same thing, I know I’ve seen it and all to often. I think “self respect and dignity” is not something I need to afford anybody, they either have it or they don’t. I just don’t feel compelled to play protect the slut game or act as anyone’s dignity cop. The first woman I ever slept with advertised it to her girlfriends, where was the respect? A partner latter in life felt it was appropriate to admonish me for a sexual comment made by one of my acquaintances that was generalized to the point that it only suggested we were having sex. Meanwhile her friends were openly commenting on it. I think you get what you give.

  14. RE: Question #3. What is the question?

    You ask two opposite questions: “Does that still exist in some different form or was it always a crock? ”

    Male role models have been somewhat overhyped. Not that there aren’t good role models, or that some boys don’t learn invaluable lessons from them. The problem for many of us (at least those of us 50 and over) is that were raised by poor role models. Our fathers, albeit well-meaning, were often clueless about raising kids. There was no Good Men Project to give our fathers guidance on healthy parenting, so the default was for them to raise kids the same way they were raised. Children raised by alcoholic or other-addicted dads had negative role models. Among my childhood friends (1950’s-60’s), I’d guess that about 50% of use were physically abused by our dads to some degree (and some were sexually abused).

    I, as an “enlightened” father in the 80’s, intending the best, repeated some of the same mistakes my dad made (not abuse, but still clueless on some things). My adult children love me very much, but I still wrestle with guilt about some of my misteps. The best that I could do was to acknowledge those mistakes and apologize for them. Thankfully, my kids are very gracious and forgiving. I hope I can take credit for part of that.

    Thank you, Tom and the Good Men Project, for what you are doing to help today’s man become better. I hold hope for our future when I see the positive contribution you’ve made to the whole range of issues around manhood.

  15. I’m gonna say this once and only once……. The majority of us women like to FUCK!.. That’s right folks, we like to screw as much as men. The ISSUE at hand; however, is the DOUBLE STANDARD: A man who fucks is a stud. A woman who fucks is either a slut or some cold broad doing her “marital duty”. In other words….STOP ASSUMING THAT WE DON’T WANNA FUCK AND STOP PUNISHING US FOR WHEN WE DO WANNA FUCK!!!! Trust me gentlemen, you will all be a lot happier if you create a safe space where “the cat can feel secure in letting you pet her”. And YES…..that means you have to afford a woman her self-respect and her dignity AFTER you’re both done with each other. Oh, and try to limit your time with any asshole friends who think all women are sluts, whores and lesbians……we take mental notes and yes, you WILL be judged by the company you keep. xo

  16. Anonymous Male says:

    An interesting survey, but kind of an unusual assortment. Some of the questions seem not very male-specific, like the education question.

    I wasn’t sure how to answer the role models question, because it was awkwardly worded. It read to me like “Is it A or B, Yes or No?” Huh?

    A great piece for starting all sorts of great conversations, though. I think it’s very telling that “Maybe” was the biggest response for several of the questions.

    On the women being as horny as men question, I hesitate to say to say yes for two reasons. One, I often doubt women really, truly realize how often men think about sex. There are all sorts of pressures for men to under-report that and very few pressures to exaggerate that. Secondly, I suspect that women can think about sex as often or can be as horny as men are, but I think women multi-task better than men do or at least can think about sex and other things at the same time more easily than men can. Their horniness is more easily diluted by other things than men’s horniness, and it seems to me they usually less distracted by horniness than men are. A different concentration, maybe?

    No doubt this thinking is a product of my own stereotyping and own peculiar experiences. I also recognize that women have their own pressures to under-report how often they think about sex. And of course individual cases vary. There are certainly some women who are much hornier than some men are. That’s why I came down on the side of “Maybe….”

  17. CharliePATpk says:

    Having worked in the Defense industry, I can back-up Rich’s statement that not all (I would submit, not the majority) of the enlisted are there because of personal economics. I was ineligible to enlist, so I cannot speak first hand.

  18. Tedesco McLean says:

    “Maintaining the upper hand” What! In a healthy marriage there is no need for dominance. To use this phrase in the context of a relationship is reprehensible. Are women just as horny as guys? Kinda of a blanket question. Put it this way: are all guys (or women) as horny as other guys (or women)? Now it becomes a question of individuals not arbitary groups.

  19. Cynthia says:

    The questions Mr. Matlack has posted are important items to consider, ones extremely pertinent to modern gender roles and normative expectations. I definitely agree that these are questions that men should be asking themselves. Yet, as a woman, I feel the need to respond to the question “Are women just as horny as guys but afraid to admit it?” It’s not as cut and dry as a three-answer option, and I’m sure most men and women would agree. I apologize for the length of this, but I’d argue that limitations of sexual relations, gender roles, and individual sexual behavior are all effected by three progressively narrower areas of life:
    – Culture and Society –
    As men and women, we’re taught by society how to behave in acceptable gender roles. Although individuals do vary, there is absolutely no way around this aspect of large-group human behavior. When it comes to committed relationships, I’ve noticed a clear script that I’ve been given – play the part or you’re not part of the play. It’s not only that women play one of a small few available roles, if we act outside of an expected script and men (and other women) are thrown for a loop. Some of the generalities that I’ve taken in about sex, as a woman, just from being a part of society: sex is the most powerful male motivator, therefore I should dangle the prospect, barter with it, and withhold as necessary. If I give it up too fast, no matter how badly I want it, I’m easy. If I, for some reason, don’t want sex for a protracted period of time, I’m frigid. If I express desire bluntly or initiate in a forward manner, then I’m wild. All of these items completely ignore male emotional health and female sexual drive, as well as the importance of sex as a physiologically and psychologically healthy bonding tool. They also produce the “afraid to admit it” portion of the question posed. Simone de Beauvoir wrote that men cannot picture the sexually equal female, and therefore do not know what they’ve been missing out on; however, I’d argue that many modern “liberal,” and educated or thoughtful, men and women have started to conceive of this notion. For those of us who’ve hit this point, it becomes an issue of how to break oneself of normative expectations and embrace redefined relations. How do I as a woman, acknowledge my stresses and emotional upsets, but still maintain that I want sex? Society and the media suggest that I take my troubles to a supportive female friend while downing a pint of ice cream. I need to figure out how to make myself admit that during a conflict with a partner, I often wish they were redirecting that energy into making my toes curl? Male partners have been able to be mad at work, or even at me, and still manage to want sex much of the time – not only this, but want sex with me. Not to enrage all of my fellow feminists, but how do I find the root psychology of that enculturated gender behavior and transplant it into myself? We need to find the emotional setting where we’re comfortable with saying, “My boss is a jerk, you didn’t do the dishes last night, but right now I really wish you’d put your hands in my pants.”
    – Feminism –
    Feminism’s different subgroups, when it comes to the sex act and sexual power, ultimately advise different strategies for women and men. It ranges greatly, from manifestos against penetrative sex to suggestions of seeking out female-positive porn (I must nod to the awesome piece by Emily Heist Moss regarding her interview with James Deen). Regardless of the actual effects of feminism, there is still a huge rift between what cultural and society are telling women to be versus our biological urges. Parts of feminism tells me to be a true sexual equal, and not allow myself to put on the show of primping or preening. But what if I love wearing heels? Yes, I want that catch-22: I want to be desirable and respected. In an ideal world, it would work. In the real world, it doesn’t always. While Andrea Dworkin would recommend that I not let myself be penetrated, Susie Bright would show me how to ensure a partner hits my G-spot. Feminism is a minefield when it comes to actual sex. Culture not taken feminism to heart where it’s really important: respect. But when it comes to feminism and my sexuality, how can I be a good feminist, and want a partner to be a feminist, when I enjoy the very idea of men imagining bending me over a table? This seems to be the one arena where women (and men), who’ve been exposed to actual feminist thought (and not just mass media interpretations), have to pick and choose how they feel about sex as an individual – but it doesn’t make open sexual expression any easier.
    – Male Partners and Personal Experience –
    Partner dynamics is a big reason why many women end up behaving in X, Y, or Z sexual manner within committed relationships. I’ve had some amazing lovers. Boyfriends who would lean over in grocery stores and whisper that they want nothing more than to bury their face between my thighs. With boyfriends like that, I had a lot of sex. I’ve also dated men who, after presenting their junk to my face, told me that there is just something about cunnilingus that made their stomachs churn. Men like that have not lasted. It really comes down to reciprocity, plain and simple. I will want more sex with a lover who not only makes sure that pleasure and orgasms are mutual, but doesn’t view it as a chore. Finding genuine pleasure in your partner’s sexual satisfaction seems to be a big indicator of other emotional connections and general relationship health. Women want good sex, and reciprocity is a beautiful thing. Scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

    Are women just as horny as men? Yes. And no. We are, but we’re kept from our pure and wild biological sexuality by various influences. This provides us with the revelation that when we have sex, we are fucking under the influence. The influence being and combination of pressures from the Euro-American culture, gender roles, politics, religious dogmata, various feminists, the media’s image of the ideal female body, our families, our friends, our past partners, the type of porn our current partner enjoys, and our stressful day. The questions posted are from one man’s mind, and this response is from one woman’s. Sorry again for the ridiculous length.

    • glad i’m gay lol, when me and my partner having sex its all about pleasure and intimacy. Culture, politics, media image? fuck with that, all i care is you…. i want you to fuck me and i want to fuck you. SIMPLE.

  20. Sexual abuse of adult men by women. Until You have been there it can not be explained. I used to believe the it was impossible for a woman to rape a guy. Sure it is not the same violent episode that you see on television. You are saying no and it is being ignored. If you can not physically get away and you don’t want it to happen and she continues it is rape. What do you tell your spouse? Your friends when she tells everyone that you were together? The police, ya right. You were sexually abused. It ruins your life and it is all your fault because you are a guy, you always want it and how could anything happen if you didn’t want it to.

  21. Certainly I agree that women are not categorically better parents than men, which seems to be the issue you’re getting at — but I don’t think it’s necessarily an improvement to suggest instead that men are categorically better parents than women, even in some areas. Gender isn’t a particularly meaningful consideration when it comes to looking after a child, and I think a more important discussion involves identifying what *are* the meaningful considerations, and how we can better cultivate them in all people. (Your sense of “intuition,” for example, would be a great thing to pick apart and try to teach.)

    • Yes, the issue of parents’ genders is irrelevant. I was raised by my mother, my dad died before I knew him and I was fine. The ‘everyone needs dads/mums’ idea is largely influenced by looking at ‘broken homes’. To say that a child needs parents of both genders is to say that there’s a part of learning to be human that only exists in one gender or another.

  22. Tom, your view on the draft is pretty condescending to those of us who have volunteered to serve. Perhaps you would only serve if you were poor or compelled, but millions of us have volunteered for a vast array of reasons which (among many others) include patriotism, tradition, poverty, boredom, the desire for a rite of passage, a ticket to independence, and a way out. Give me another minute and I could probably give you half a dozen more. We’re all volunteers, and dismissing our service as the result of “economic need” is insulting. I’m not one to pretend we all serve selflessly, but I think you have to be pretty disconnected from those who serve to believe it’s primarily (or even largely) a matter of poverty.

    Yes, poor people probably serve their country more. I suspect you’ll find relatively few firefighters and cops from wealthy backgrounds. Not because firefighters and cops couldn’t do better financially, but because the upper class doesn’t seem to see the value in that sort of service…at least not for themselves and their children, even if they will say thank you to other people’s children. I come from a very upper-middle-class background (mom is an RD, dad is a computer engineer, and the extended family includes doctors, lawyers, and engineers) and I was asked (post-9/11, mind you) by a high school friend why I was joining the military instead of “doing something” with my life. (His goal was to become an investment banker, just to be clear.) The upper class is the upper class because they prioritized personal gain.

    And I’ll add, “He which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart…We would not die in that man’s company who fears his fellowship to die with us.” No desire for a bunch of whiny babies who had to be forced to serve to be next to me when I need a fighter.

    And drafting women would be silly. There’s no advantage. It’s just whiny MRA nonsense with no foundation in military reality.

    • Anonymous Male says:

      On the drafting of women being silly:

      I can see some validity to that argument, in terms of muscular strength for some aspects of military service. There are heavily-muscled young men in the infantry who can hardly carry their heavy packs today without suffering long-term back injury, so I can see that women on average might have less ability in that area.

      But, to say there is no advantage seems silly to me. Going house-to-house “winning hearts and minds” (trying to take that phrase at face value) maybe could use a female presence at times. Since much of counterinsurgency work looks a lot like police work, seems to me there is the same benefit as having women police officers. (Whether the U.S. military SHOULD be deployed in police-type roles is another question.)

      And seriously, how much upper body strength do you need to pilot a drone from trailer 3000 miles away? Women have thumbs, too….

      • How are those women going to get out to do the door-to-door business? With the infantry. So it may, very occasionally, be necessary or advantageous to have women along but it’s not so common that it would justify drafting women. Aside from these limited roles, there’s no advantage to having a woman along and frequently there’s a disadvantage. The physical aspect is one major issue, but there are many.

        • Jennifer says:

          You know there are women on the ground already right? The advantage of having a “woman soldier” along is that *she-is-a-soldier*. She’s trained the same way her male counterparts are trained and if she couldn’t do the job required she wouldn’t be in the position.

          • Funny you say that, but the military just lowers the scores needed if the women can`t beat the tests. But I`m all for women in the infantry, it`s gonna be hilarious.

  23. Many of these questions are obvious, but they are ultra-important to ask. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the busy, detached worlds in which we live, so to take some time to reflect on these questions is more important than ever.

    Our higher education system is top notch – but the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Contrary to what many conservatives tout – this is not simply the result of some people working hard while others lounge on the couch and collect unemployment. Life isn’t that simple. One way to bridge this gap is through making voluntary service (not necessarily military service) in at-risk communities and areas mandatory, not just something those “with good hearts” do. Good hearts can be developed and eyes can be opened if exposure to various perspectives and lifestyles and situations is considered the capstone to attaining a higher education degree.

    Good work as always, Tom. You continue to make me honored to be part of the Team here.

    • Respectfully…

      I spent 2 years working with high school students on the West Side of Chicago, and I can say in all honesty that the viewpoint represented here is every bit as overly-simplistic as the much derided conservative viewpoint.

      The fact of the matter is that poverty persists because of choices individual people make. Unfortunately, these choices are often made for children by their parents. No amount of work on my part could ever make a father recognize that the right thing to do was stay out of jail for the good of his son. No amount of work on my part could make up for parents that instruct their children to drop out of school because the new Walmart is hiring.

      Most heart-breakingly, I remain unsure if I could ever even convince any student that they were actually in control of their own futures, because I was fighting an uphill battle against parents that had been telling their children to shut up and stop dreaming since before they could walk.

      No amount of “public service” will enact the fundamental changes that must happen in many of America’s communities. Until we are willing to acknowledge that the culture of poverty is passed on just as surely as the culture of wealthy is passed on, the cycle will not be broken.

  24. A couple of points:

    There is a lack of role models for boys and young men, and part of the reason for that is because so many men were raised raised without male role models themselves. It is difficult to help others if you have no idea what to do. The other problem is that people treat men like pedophiles, so any man showing interest in children can easily have that turned against him.

    I agree with Gore Vidal: there are no homosexual people, only homosexual acts. I also think we are too quick to label people as this, that, and the other rather just accepting that some people have varying sexual interests.

    Instituting the draft would not solve the disparity in who joins the military. During the Vietnam War many wealthy men managed to weasel out of service, so even if the draft were re-instituted it would still be the poor you pay the price.

    According to a recent study, male victims report that nearly 40% of those who raped them as children were female. We honestly do not know how frequently women rape men, partially because of the common refrain of “Rape is predominately an issue where men rape women.” Male victims far less likely to come forward, especially when they face the former sentiment. It is ridiculous and dangerous to pretend that women never rape men and that their violence against men is not worth talking about.

    • Jennifer says:

      I would definitely like a link to the study you’re quoting saying male rape is 40% women on men considering that goes against the result of every male rape study I”ve seen conducted over the past several decades.


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