The Warrior Pose
June 22, 2018 10:53 AM   Subscribe

 
If you want to try to become a better man through physicality, anger, controlled violence, and catchphrase philosophy, well, that's one way, I guess. You could do this instead of joining the army. But I'll be over here trying to be a better man (whatever that means) by emulating positive role models and being aware of my place in the world and of my interactions with others.

"Fuck thinking! Thinking is becoming! Thinking is what got you into this in the first place. Fuck thinking!”

Yeah, no. Thinking is what makes us better people. And thinking is hard because the world is complex. Tough shit.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2018 [53 favorites]


If you want to try to become a better man through physicality, anger, controlled violence, and catchphrase philosophy, well, that's one way, I guess. You could do this instead of joining the army.

Or the public school system.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 11:24 AM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


You can't get well by eating poison. But you can learn to enjoy the taste of it.

"Fuck thinking! Thinking is becoming! Thinking is what got you into this in the first place. Fuck thinking!”

This is the worst interpretation of dependant origination that I've ever seen, and that's saying something.
posted by selfnoise at 11:25 AM on June 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


Long piece. Covers a lot of ground. A few chunks that stuck with me:

“Women are leading [both] across the board in business and at home … and living more powerfully than men today,” Garrett proclaimed to the New York Post in 2017. “And that’s causing complete chaos for men.” To address this chaos, he cold-soldered a program of male improvement out of military-training methods, mixed-martial-arts drills, New Age spiritual exercises, and a mishmash of therapeutic techniques.

and then later ...

Approximately 500 dudes per week apply to be one of the men to receive such treatment. But before any one of them is granted the privilege, he must fill out an application in which he is asked questions such as: “Have you ever been PUNCHED IN THE FACE by another man?” “WERE YOU RAISED RELIGIOUS? IF YES -> What Religion where [sic] you raised in?” “Have you ever PUNCHED A MAN in the face?” If the applicant’s answers are deemed acceptable, he is then subjected to an intense, two-hour phone interview. If he passes the interview, he undergoes a month of “run-up” in which he must film himself completing assigned tasks (E.g., “WHAT IS YOUR SUPER POWER STRENGTH?”), must bear his darkest shames to Warrior coaches over FaceTime, must prove repeatedly that he is neither a lunatic nor a wisenheimer. If he manages all this, and can pony up the $10k, he is admitted to Warrior’s crash course in how a bro should be.

and then ...

If you happened to read any Robert Bly during the men’s-group revival of the early 1990s—or if you’ve happened to come across Jordan Peterson videos today—this will all be familiar to you. It’s of a Jungian piece: men need to rediscover the primal, positive masculinity that has been nefariously discredited and covered up by a wider culture that prefers its sons benumbed and compliant. How we are to do this is with an active program of mythmaking and ersatz ritual.

and then (still quite a ways from the end):

These are the sorts of lessons that are obvious ones, that should’ve been learned long ago: Be strong but also empathetic. Listen, and ask questions. Place your own needs last, but take care of yourself so that you might take care of those less able or advantaged. Never blame others for your own feelings. Or failings. Protect the weak. Respect your elders. Be kind and generous, but be firm with your boundaries. Try new things, learn new skills, make yourself as well-rounded as possible. Be open to changing your mind, but be careful not to change it too often. When you feel ready to give up, try just a little longer. Try a little longer the time after that.

That’s the thing about Warrior, I realized. The fact that something so remedial exists, and is patronized by a growing number of men, is less an indictment of the state of masculinity (though it absolutely is that) than it is a sign that some guys, at least, are sick and tired of being schlongs.


And so on. By which I mean, as I suggested up top, there's a lot in this piece. I look forward to what I hope is an illuminating discussion.
posted by philip-random at 11:25 AM on June 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's a fairly interesting article, but I don't buy the thesis for a second: "No one becomes a man; one is deemed a man by one’s peers—meaning masculinity is something that can be revoked at a moment’s notice" seems either so trivially obvious (and true of everyone and everything) that it's not worth saying, or a pile of reductive mystagogic nonsense.

You cannot rely upon a community to hold you to account. That's the really scary thing. A lot more frightening than physical challenges or admitting to your worst action. The actual challenge of being an ethical person is that you have to, at some point, hold yourself to account. While people can support and advise you, in the end you have to work out what you think is right and then follow through. Morality, in the end, is what you choose to do when no-one else is looking.
posted by howfar at 11:26 AM on June 22, 2018 [25 favorites]


In exchange for a year’s worth of Warrior’s services, he would be charged $25,000.
Ah, I was wondering what the con was; $10K for a week of full-staff activities doesn't seem like much of a take.
posted by Etrigan at 11:27 AM on June 22, 2018 [14 favorites]


It's like when they started marketing moisturiser for manly men by saying PERFORMANCE and ENDURANCE except with therapeutic yoga retreats, that said the kind of guy who is too manly to go to one is the person who most needs to go so maybe this isn't that bad a thing.
As long as it doesn't turn into a terrifying Son's of Jacob­/Peterson re-education camp.
This seems to hit the sweet spot between worrying, ludicrous, potentially useful for some people to work through their own problems and oldtimey self-actualisation snake oil. Fascinating.
posted by Damienmce at 11:31 AM on June 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Needs more lobsters.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:31 AM on June 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm so glad I like my father.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:32 AM on June 22, 2018 [18 favorites]


Relevant SLYT.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:33 AM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


"Fuck thinking! Thinking is becoming! Thinking is what got you into this in the first place. Fuck thinking!”

Yeah, no. Thinking is what makes us better people. And thinking is hard because the world is complex. Tough shit.


I feel like a lot of this boils down to a lot of guys trying to tough-guy their way out of depression and anxiety problems where you could say that "thinking too much" is indeed part of the problem, but I'm not sure avoidance and aggression are great ways of solving that for all the people around you if not also for your own sake.
posted by Sequence at 11:53 AM on June 22, 2018 [24 favorites]


If you've ever seen Generation Kill, you can have some fun imagining what Corporal Person would say about this.
posted by officer_fred at 12:07 PM on June 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Is this something I'd have to be heterosexual to understand? Cuz I gotta say, the gay version of this sounds like a lot more fun.
posted by Nelson at 12:09 PM on June 22, 2018 [13 favorites]


By which I mean, as I suggested up top, there's a lot in this piece. I look forward to what I hope is an illuminating discussion.

Be the change you want to see and share what your reactions were - what of the "a lot" do you think merits illumination and discussion?
posted by PMdixon at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


To elaborate on that because I'm angrier than I thought I'd be about it: I'm honestly upset by the article itself failing to even address the depression angle despite suicide coming up on multiple occasions, both a participant talking about his long-running suicidal ideation and the suicide of a family member of someone participating happening while he's there. Like, I think modern masculinity is an interesting topic, but there are people who seem to be seriously in crisis doing this and getting promised this will fix everything and then dumped back into their regular lives. That takes it out of "weird" and into "predatory".
posted by Sequence at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2018 [24 favorites]


For argument's sake, let's assume that this works: It helps the participants achieve their goals of being better, in ways that benefits them and their friends and families.

If so, then this is just another example of growing inequality: They are paying $10,000 or $35,000 or whatever, and that's not just profit to the owner; it's also because they are absorbing and concentrating a lot of resources that could be used to help people who don't have $35,000 to spare.

For example, "One staff member had been a cop for 15 years before he saw his first Garrett J. White video, after which he gave his two-weeks’ notice, forfeited his pension, and signed on to coach with Warrior." This country needs good cops, especially in high-crime neighborhoods. I obviously don't know if this guy is a good cop, but to the extent that fewer people want to be cops, we're going to end up with worse cops.

And if you disagree and think this is not helping, then it's just rich guys wasting those societal resources.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:21 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


UGH, UGH, UGH, UGH, UGH!

If by some catastrophic mischance I were to fall into these peoples' hands, I'd be dead or in an irreversible vegetative state by the afternoon of the first day after flipping out and trying to kill one of the 'trainers'.

This is how groups of men go wrong, gone wrong before they even get going.

Groups including gay men are generally better, but not completely. Maybe if there were enough trans men.
posted by jamjam at 12:26 PM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of an old Dilbert cartoon* where Dogbert hosts a corporate retreat. He explains that he's going to physically and mentally abuse the group until psyche strains to justify the situation, at which point they'll think they've learned something and even thank him for letting them pay for the experience.

*Yeah, I know Scott Adams has gone way off the bend, but old Dilbert was really a pretty interesting and funny read, especially when they got into psychology.
posted by es_de_bah at 12:32 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


We keep rewriting fight club, except we leave out the part about it being the life of a crazy man.
posted by Typhoon Jim at 12:37 PM on June 22, 2018 [24 favorites]


This was a cute Fight Club reference:

They ran the gamut from short to towering, pear-shaped to wood-carved....
posted by thelonius at 12:40 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's an incredibly privileged form of therapy and I can't imagine myself doing it (even if I could afford it) but I'm not seeing what's wrong with it if it works for them? It's not like them deciding not do it would mean they'd donate that money to [your favorite cause].

I'd be slightly more worried about how intense it looks if they accepted anyone with the money but I'd hope their selection process exists to filter out people who wouldn't be receptive of it.
posted by Memo at 12:42 PM on June 22, 2018


I'm not seeing what's wrong with it if it works for them?

For me it's not so much what's wrong with it, it's what it tells me about what's wrong with us, as a society.
posted by howfar at 12:45 PM on June 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


PMdixon - Be the change you want to see and share what your reactions were - what of the "a lot" do you think merits illumination and discussion?

Let me throw it back at you? What about it doesn't merit discussion etc? I can't even begin to list all the stuff it touches on, reflect off of. But I'll start with the obvious question: What do we do about Toxic Masculinity beyond just condemn it?

My immediate response while reading it was along the lines of -- "sometimes I just wish every young man could have the early 20s I had, which involved a lot of completely un-directed and thus free range (and wild) psychedelic adventuring, usually pursued in the company of other young men." I mean, we weren't intending anything but having what we came to call "superlative fun", but epic stuff happened regardless (by which I mean descents unto hell, confrontations with the gods, all manner of high and deep weirdness). And out of it, eventually (and for pretty much all of us), arose a sort of balance and maturity which seems to have served us and our communities pretty well. I'm thinking of maybe a dozen people here, all but one* of whom now (at least three decades later) have become pretty solid people -- good husbands, partners, workers, neighbors.

Anyway, weird and troubling as I find The Warrior Week and its offshoots, I can't say it really surprises me. America being America, of course there was going to be a for-profit service cum adventure camp for detoxifying young men, and a large part of it would seem ripped off from the Marine boot camp experience ... and it would be f***ing scary to look at. But I do think we need to look at it.

* one guy, I have lost complete contact with mainly due to his alcoholism; he in retrospect had the most baggage to deal with (a brutal father etc) and if I feel guilt about anything I did in this phase of my life, it involves not doing more to help him ... and yet, it's not as if I didn't try.
posted by philip-random at 12:48 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


After all, this type of theorizing presupposes that men are like this and women are like this. It presupposes certain roles that all men—all men throughout time—not only want to play but need to play. This way of thinking, it’s Procrustean. It holds that every man can be poured into one of the same few molds, sure, don’t worry about it. The suit of armor will fit everybody, no problemo.

This is what's wrong with it. And this:

The coaches had assured me that they knew each man’s ultimate answer. Whether they’d learned this through the month of “run-up” or through background checks, I am not certain. But as soon as they received the answer they were looking for, the coaches took each blindfolded man out of the hut, left him to stand trembling for a few seconds in front of God and the handful of support staff, and then said, “Receive what’s coming to you,” before splashing him clean with two fire buckets full of water.

This is gay conversion therapy minus the gay part.
posted by PMdixon at 12:48 PM on June 22, 2018 [17 favorites]


I am acquainted with a handful of men who I think might find this attractive, and that makes them feel very alien to me.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:48 PM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


What about it doesn't merit discussion etc?

I didn't say it didn't merit discussion. I asked you what you thought about it because you were being coy.

But yes, I find these pieces trite and repetitive, as the author cops to. It's all basically the same quasi mystical fetishism of a vaguely Jungian notion of masculinity coupled with emotional and physical abuse. Our society is sick and toxic masculinity is one of the major mechanisms of that sickness. Ultimately these people are looking for a sense of community and purpose they feel is missing. Their version of finding it is barely distinguishable from incel ideology. How a detailed depiction of the details of a particular instance of the abuse help us address anything in particular is deeply unclear to me.
posted by PMdixon at 12:55 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


Fascinating article. It's worth looking at the virtues the Warrior Week people are trying to communicate. Let's take a sample:

“Hold up a picture of your wife,” Kevin told him. “There’s your marriage consultant. Never do we have the thought that maybe our wives know what our wives want. So fucking simple! We have this crazy fucking story that women are so complicated and difficult to understand. No. The number of us who are so committed to customer feedback yet don’t do the same thing with our wife, ours kids, God? It’s amazing.”

So: treat your wife as a person that you are capable of communicating with and understanding to come to a better marriage.

“Just be honest about your fears with your daughter,” Kevin was saying. “I realized I was the first boy who was pressuring my daughter to do something she didn’t want to do—and she was saying no. And I was so fucking proud. To the point right now of tears. I’m so fucking proud of her for saying no.” Kevin wiped at his face. “That being said, I love you guys.”

Similarly: Treat your daughter as a person who has their own desires, and understand their desires are not subordinate to your own. Help them to say no not only to you, but to other men in their life.

Alright, let's see what the author things of these same women:

The recruits saw their blood, sweat, and tears spliced between testimonials by the grateful wives and daughters of previous Warrior Week attendees, all of whom appeared to be Lamborghini-driving pinky-ring wearers from Scottsdale.

He reduces them to their image, what they are wearing, acknowledges that they are saying something but does not reproduce what they are saying. So much for virtue.

So yeah, the grift and the narrow definition of masculinity is bad. On the other hand the sharing and overcoming burdens as a part of a group that builds trust, the sharing of vulnerability that results from that trust, and the feminist lessons of the first two quotes are really important things for these men to learn.
posted by ReadEvalPost at 12:59 PM on June 22, 2018 [13 favorites]


In case you were wondering, yes of course the founder poses in front of Lambos
posted by Damienmce at 1:07 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I feel like the grift, though, deployed by baiting some pretty fundamental human appetites for real connection, is what makes it deplorable. That's entirely apart from all the gross tacti-cool lookfeel.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 1:09 PM on June 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


What Warrior Week gets right is the simple fact that masculinity is conferred. It is bestowed or withheld by the community of men around you who are always watching, weighing, judging...Women give birth to boys, the old saw goes, but men give birth to men.

To the extent this is an accurate description of the underlying model, it is deeply misogynistic, whatever words about asking your wife what she wants might be said along the way.
posted by PMdixon at 1:13 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


It's an incredibly privileged form of therapy and I can't imagine myself doing it (even if I could afford it) but I'm not seeing what's wrong with it if it works for them?

If they were only pushing this for guys who felt kind of bored and disaffected, this would be very different, but they clearly aren't. The potential for harm here is so huge. It really is much like the problem with conversion therapy. All else being equal, adults voluntarily going to such a thing, I mean, if they get informed consent then whatever. When you target people who are already vulnerable in some fashion and then you set them up so they're going to have significant negative feelings about walking away, you have a much higher obligation, in my opinion, to establish "works" to a higher standard than "some guys who did it already look cool and say it worked for them".
posted by Sequence at 1:16 PM on June 22, 2018 [8 favorites]


I mean, I agree with them in that exercise can be good for you, and that main stream masculinity has some problems with it these days. I think the answer is moving forwards though, not backwards. Though I appreciate all the grifting means the owner doesn't have the time to think about such matters.
posted by LegallyBread at 1:18 PM on June 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


I dunno, sounds fash bro
posted by The Whelk at 1:21 PM on June 22, 2018 [25 favorites]


Cuz I gotta say, the gay version of this sounds like a lot more fun.

Ha. I, too, thought "So this is like a het bro version of Short Mountain?"

Having RTFA, the whole thing looks like a very expensive camp that's part dude ranch, part knock-off EST, part dom session. Which, I mean, if that's your thing and you can afford it, then party on, but there's an ironic flavor to dudes spending tens of thousands of dollars on themselves to be better husbands and fathers.

I must say that it looks like someone went to central casting and fetched Garrett White out of the "mysterious leader" file.
"What Warrior Week gets right is the simple fact that masculinity is conferred. It is bestowed or withheld by the community of men around you who are always watching, weighing, judging. No one becomes a man; one is deemed a man by one’s peers ..."
I actually think that there's some truth to this—our gendered performances are "conferred" to some degree. But what's absolutely missing here is any acknowledgement that what's being offered is a very specific kind of masculinity. One that's not necessarily bad in and of itself, probably, but which is definitely damaging to pretend is the only variety available.

Last thought, circling back to the first, is that the defiantly unremarked on eroticism of all this is absolutely off the charts.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:24 PM on June 22, 2018 [16 favorites]


Another cautionary tale against not using lots of acid and/or mushrooms in college or when college-aged. Kids, take acid and/or mushrooms and avoid stupid male identity traps!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:30 PM on June 22, 2018 [20 favorites]


I feel like the grift, though, deployed by baiting some pretty fundamental human appetites for real connection, is what makes it deplorable

This is pretty much the Self-Help Movement of the 1970s (and onward) in a nutshell, certainly as I experienced it (mostly from the outside). With the bulk of my previous comment coming from a feeling that whatever value there may have been in what was being sold back then (and there was some value), it fell far short of getting anyone genuinely free of their confusion. Because at some point, I think, you've got to get the hell outside of the program (any program) and figure things for yourself based on your unique experiences and related research and study.
posted by philip-random at 1:32 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


In a way, I can see the attraction this kind of thing would hold for a lot of guys. It seems to me that the recruits are paying the program for a kind of risk free intimacy.

I think a lot of men are desperate to feel seen, known, but have no idea and few models of how to create those kinds of relationships outside of a sexual context. So here, they plunk down a chunk of money, "prove" their dedication to the org during the vetting period, and in return get at least the illusion of intimacy that comes with little emotional risk, because not only are they all in the same raw process at the same time, but their vulnerability is repackaged to them as virtue. Voila, a band of brothers who won't deride you for feeling, because you saw them cry too.

I get how hard it is for many cis guys to risk even digging into their emotions, much less asking other dudes for support. I am just really skeptical that an emo-tactical MLM program/scheme/whatever is a real and lasting solution.
posted by Vigilant at 2:15 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


This is what people who buy into patriarchy and consequently need therapy do instead of therapy.
posted by kewb at 2:24 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


I am Jack's feeling of resignation.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:43 PM on June 22, 2018 [12 favorites]


Is this something I'd have to be heterosexual to understand? Cuz I gotta say, the gay version of this sounds like a lot more fun.

So what strikes me about this is that it seems to be specifically constructed to a. allow men to access forbidden emotions without b. making them fear they might be gay.

All the yelling, physical exertion, violence, manhood talk; that's cover so these men can actually be honest with each other (in a limited way, at a very high price) about the fact that they have the full gamut of emotions and get sad and scared and other things that aren't "manly."

It's kind of brilliant in its own way, and very sad. Can't men just fucking talk to each other, without having to go through Manhood Proving Rituals first?

I mean, it's hard and scary to move a friendship from "watching the game and joking" to "hey I need to talk about this deep scary stuff with you, I hope you won't stop being my friend when I do," but that's worth risking. And you can end up with an actual real friendship.

You shouldn't have to pay thousands of bucks and get icewater thrown on you to find a few minutes of real connection with other men.
posted by emjaybee at 2:54 PM on June 22, 2018 [28 favorites]


The number of us who are so committed to customer feedback

That's a pretty specific client base. Especially creepy after the post about the failures in customer feedback systems.
posted by clew at 3:09 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Can't men just fucking talk to each other, without having to go through Manhood Proving Rituals first?

They can. I feel a bit bad about my gay drive-by snark because I know a lot of straight men genuinely do have trouble sharing intimate thoughts and emotions with people. Or making close friendships with other men. And that for some straight men they have to couch any hint of vulnerability or connection with big demonstrations of no-homo masculinity. That's a real problem for some men and I feel badly for them.

But there are lots of straight men who can be emotional and intimate without freaking out. I think back on some of the gentle teachers I had growing up. Or to take a topical example now, Mr. Rogers. Those are the models of masculinity I'd like to see men aspire to. Not some 'roided out drill sergeant wannabe. But maybe this hyperaggressive stuff works for some of them. If so, well, do what works.

(And to be fair, as a gay man I hardly have my own shit figured out. I've got intimacy issues too. And despite admiring the Radical Faeries I've always been a little scared by the idea of actually going to a Gathering.)
posted by Nelson at 3:16 PM on June 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


Thanks, I've been to rainbow gatherings, done shit loads of psychotropics, and got sober. I liked all of those things and had bad male role models to boot. I think I'll pass.
I I'll just watch another episode of Laid Back Camp.
posted by evilDoug at 3:16 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Sure, the messages that this program is delivering could be a lot worse. However the medium in this case is also a message. Using verbal and physical abuse to indoctrinate men into those values says loudly that their model of masculinity endorses abuse as long as you're saying the "right" things. And I've had more than my fill of people screaming their disappointment in my face, or gaslighting me about my values, all crap they link to how I must act according to my "nature."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:28 PM on June 22, 2018 [13 favorites]


" I'm not seeing what's wrong with it if it works for them? It's not like them deciding not do it would mean they'd donate that money to [your favorite cause]."

I find the Jordan Peterson quasi-fascist shtick that underlies the philosophy of this pretty problematic:
“Women are leading [both] across the board in business and at home … and living more powerfully than men today,” Garrett proclaimed to the New York Post in 2017. “And that’s causing complete chaos for men.” To address this chaos, he cold-soldered a program of male improvement out of military-training methods, mixed-martial-arts drills, New Age spiritual exercises, and a mishmash of therapeutic techniques. “There is a primal nature inside men that has been sedated, between the way that boys have been raised like me, raised by my mother, and the way that churches and society and government … have taught men that it is not OK,” he explained.
posted by treepour at 3:31 PM on June 22, 2018 [17 favorites]


(Although I admit, this is a piece I can't read too deeply.)
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:32 PM on June 22, 2018


I mean, my girlfriend just told me about a nightmare she had of getting murdered by a mob of angry incels and I (a queer-identifying guy who definitely reads as queer) have been having stress dreams about getting hunted down by anti-gay neo-nazis. These guys may not be incel terrorists but the fascist streak and underlying worldview and the not-directly-political-but-politcal-as-fuck rhetoric are the same, and it's pure poison and it's terrifying.
posted by treepour at 3:45 PM on June 22, 2018 [15 favorites]


Just remeber, Bob Ross was once a hard-ass Marine drill instructor.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:41 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]



This is what people who buy into patriarchy and consequently need therapy do instead of therapy.


To be fair, those patriarchy salespeople make the Florida beach-side Condo timeshare people look like total n00bs. You think you know high-pressure sales tactics, then you haven't been to a Patriarchy Party recently! eat your heart out Avon!
posted by some loser at 5:43 PM on June 22, 2018


I dunno, sounds fash bro

I always wondered how COBRA recruited.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:52 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Just remeber, Bob Ross was once a hard-ass Marine drill instructor.

Air Force, but yes, he was said to be quite the hard-ass.
posted by Etrigan at 5:58 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wish they could take this energy and do something productive with it like clean up a river.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:12 PM on June 22, 2018 [9 favorites]




I dunno, sounds fash bro

It pretty clearly owes a lot to the Discovery Channel documentary on Navy SEALS.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:36 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


I always wondered how COBRA recruited.


COBRA recruits primarily through MLM programs involving fake telemarketing scams and people who complain in comments on the Weather Channel's online properties.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:50 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


It's kind of brilliant in its own way, and very sad. Can't men just fucking talk to each other

Honestly, they can't, and the reality is that mainstream society - and a lot of men and women both buy into this - really frown on it when it happens.

I am the antithesis of most of this thinking, however I'm not going to lie; I still consider it difficult to talk about a number of my feelings that fall outside the prescribed range of 'acceptable male feelings' - and I think that for a guy I really talk about my feelings a lot! It is even harder for me to do this in person with other men - there's like four dudes I can be even slightly honest about with this stuff, and they me.

The sense of 'danger' around this kind of expression is palpable as man. They are very fraught conversations that inevitably carry a lot of tension. And you may think, "men are trapped in a glass cage of their own making, they just need to step out!", but I would say no.

I have seen and experienced the reaction when men step outside social constructions of male emotion. It's not pretty. Consider the reaction to a man crying at work, for example. Consider the reactions to a man crying at work simply because he's stressed out about work stuff (ie not dying of cancer or something). There is, very frequently, visible discomfort, stepping back (often physically), confusion, going all the way to disgust, anger, and fear.

It's not just work, I have seen this with friends, with partners even - and I don't even know if the people are aware that they are doing it, or why. A lot of people want men to admire, to be 'strong', to be 'masculine'. Guys know this, which is why they are so afraid to talk or even hint at this stuff, and it gets bottled up, or for some leaks out in the most toxic ways imaginable.

I'm not gay, so I'm only looking at this from the outside. But I do envy some of my close gay male friends the sense of fellowship that they appear to have with their broader gay friendship circles. That fellowship has developed, no doubt, because of rampant homphobia, abuse, harrassment and exclusion. However I think that many gay men have - after being excluded from 'traditional' versions of masculinity - have kind of reconstructed their own ideas of what masculinity means, and I think it can be a more inclusive, more emotive version. (Of course, then I look at suicide and depression rates for gay men, and I think I'm probably just 'grass is greening' it and those guys probably find it just as hard or harder).

tl;dr Men can't just talk to each other - or anyone; society does not include that in its vision of what masculinity is. The patriarchy, it fucks everyone up, it does.
posted by smoke at 7:24 PM on June 22, 2018 [15 favorites]


Consider the reaction to a man crying at work, for example.

Yeah, crying is strongly punished. I choked up once and the woman I was talking to immediately stood up and went to the open door. I thought she was going to close it. The whole wall was glass, but at least it would give us a bit of sound privacy. Instead she flagged down a passerby to stand silently in the corner as a witness for the rest of the conversation, which she brought to a close quickly and without resolving my problem. I've wondered since whether the eventual outcome would have been different if I had been able to control my voice better for those few minutes.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:17 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Honestly this sounds a half step from where they should be prosecuted. The answer to toxic masculinity is not more toxicity. Purge it with fire.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:10 PM on June 22, 2018


I reject the philosophy that men can only be strong capable and emotionally balanced by cultishly giving someone $10K+ and telling strangers your deepest and darkest insecurities. I'm all for that working for some people - but this is something that rings of a different falseness and a donning a different mask to hide behind. Don't get me wrong - if this works for some folks - fantastic... But if this is the next offshoot from ->Adventure racing -> MMA -> WTF-ever-this-cult-is ... well then by the time this is rolled out to the various satellite clinics it is going to go wrong somewhere. Maybe it will be a drowning, maybe it will be a machismo explosion, or something burning, but more than likely it will be capitalism 'democratizing' this program into something just this side of a MRA rally. That's the shit about something like this that scares me.

I can understand the seemingly intensive screening before accepting people into this - especially if there are going to be viral press within the mix. One bad participant and this glass house is going to remind you of why they should all be using the neighbors bathroom... This is made to sound rugged but 'safe'; intense yet 'controlled'; make you more emotional by burning your inner thoughts... And then you read the pull quotes from folks in that article and it is this me-centric world view where 'I' view myself as the knight in shining armor even if 'I' haven't always been good... this is like... learning to ignore your inner demons and when those do pop up, not acknowledging them and the damage they are still doing... So yeah, seeing the founder with two fucking METAL! rings on his fingers and a dog-collar bracelet was not a surprise.

I don't have the answer of what people should be doing, but I feel like it is irresponsible to think that this is it.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:13 PM on June 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


The things that this program provide for its clients--a sense of purpose; being seen; emotional connection; and a set of, if not values, meta-values--are all things traditionally provided by religion.

Add to that the additional appeal of physical training, and yeah, the appeal is clear. I didn't see much discussion of the clients' religious backgrounds, or all that much about their identities (and yes, those things create an identity as much as someone's interiority), which means I'm speculating when I guess that lots of these guys aren't particularly religious, or aren't anymore.

I'm not plugging for religion so much as noting that it's an older set of systems for channeling these needs.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:41 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


There is, very frequently, visible discomfort, stepping back (often physically), confusion, going all the way to disgust, anger, and fear.

For many of us, seeing men cry has been an immediate precursor to seeing men get violent. Perhaps because of the shame they feel for crying, but when you’re afraid of someone twice your size who has suddenly become violently out of control, you don’t really care about why. Until men are no longer statistically likely to externalize their pain in ways that are dangerous for others, you’re going to see this reaction, and it will not be wrong. This is a problem men have to fix for themselves, and it is not safe and not fair to hold the rest of us responsible for helping.

What this program does is continue to treat male emotion as something special, something uniquely powerful, something that needs to be catered to in special ways. No. Men need to learn to accept and regulate their emotions. Doing so in a supportive group seems like the ideal way to do this, and I have male friends who are managing this without the use of creepy fascist mythology and deeply misogynistic attitudes. And without paying 10k/week to be inducted into a cult that reaffirms that they are special Kings.

As to constructions of masculinity that are inclusive...I have yet to see one on a cultural level. Individuals, maybe a few. Or at least they weren’t harmful to the extent that I have known them. But gay male culture, to take the example you used, is often profoundly more misogynistic than straight male culture. Like everybody else, there’s a tendency to only be as inclusive as you need to be to include yourself and your experience. And as long as masculinity is defined by supremacy and subjugation, this is going to be a problem.

So maybe that’s where you start — if you take away supremacy and subjugation, what’s left? What does it mean to be masculine?

I agree that men need help, and I applaud any dude who realizes this and wants to be better. And I sympathize with him, too, because this stuff is not easy. But this program is...not help. It’s predatory and exploitive and it perpetuates some terrifying ideas, all in the context of a militarized cult. There are reasons to be worried.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:22 AM on June 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


Yeah, that happens. On the other hand, shaming people (or less frequently, sexualizing) as a f*g, sissy, queer, and a betrayal of our forefathers is something that some straight women do as well. Acceptance of "male tears" is limited to a small subset of situations and conditions. (And there's a whole thing of gender shit about failing to cry to certain triggers.) Men can't ugly cry except when alone, or in therapy.

The other thought that was in my head all night, those forefathers that I'm betraying by being a non-Christian, queer, and pacifist didn't pay $10,000 for their character-building hardships. The economic depression, manual labor, and wartime service were historical events they were forced to negotiate.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2018


Men can't ugly cry except when alone, or in therapy.

Or weirdly as semi-aspirational fantasies in country music songs.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:46 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not plugging for religion so much as noting that it's an older set of systems for channeling these needs.

Yeah, I guess this is part of what I was trying to get at by reflecting on my rather psychedelic early twenties.

The things that this program provide for its clients--a sense of purpose; being seen; emotional connection; and a set of, if not values, meta-values-

If the secular world has only one problem, it's that it doesn't really have an answer to the problem of Emptiness ...

sense of generalized boredom, social alienation and apathy. Feelings of emptiness often accompany dysthymia,[1] depression, loneliness, anhedonia, despair, or other mental/emotional disorders, including schizoid personality disorder, post trauma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and borderline personality disorder

Certainly nothing like what most established religions so enthusiastically do have. And now it seems, so does The Warrior Week. I say "seems" because, as I suggested earlier with my allusion to the Self Help stuff of the 1970s-80s, my guess is that it probably doesn't -- that all they're really offering is a pile of sweat and fury and shouting and overall NOISE that ultimately doesn't fill the void-emptiness at all, but rather just blocks it out for a while. Which, for me, is the truly scary part. What happens to all these unleashed demons of rage and despair and humiliation when the bottom falls out of the program, the profits stop rolling in, the "church" is put on the auction block?

Which leads to a perhaps unanswerable question (certainly for a mere Web Log). Assuming that we can't just fill our own personal voids by going back to to Sunday School and little white church houses, families all dressed up, kneeling in their pews together (or whatever our particular version of old time religion may happen to be) what is that we could move forward to? Because if Warrior Week says anything to me, it's that we do need something ...

(and when I say we, I don't mean the individuals in this thread, I'm thinking the greater culture, America in particular, but really everywhere that the so-called death of god is evident)
posted by philip-random at 10:09 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Up front confession: I couldn't get through more than half the article. This is because it was creeping me out. I think it's seeing people hand over their autonomy that does this, because of the deeply creepy and murderous outcomes - deaths in sweat lodges, mass suicides, fantasies of crazy domination - very much to the fore in reporting on cults. Cults operate by depersonalsing, making uncomfortable, disorienting physically, isolating etc in their induction process and what the 'warriors' go through is textbook.

These photographs. I don't understand how you can look at these without seeing a conman. I know what an admirable man looks like i. e, usually not like a snake oil salesman. That haircut also, sending all my spidey senses tingling. Unfortunate connotations here in 2018.

It seems to me culture provides certain axes along which it is easier than usual to manipulate people. It's a pity awareness of manipulation isn't taught in civics class or PSE or whatever. I mean maybe these guys get something valuable from the weekend but I bet it isn't an improved ability to assess a second hand car.

The attitude of the writer ain't no great shakes neither.
posted by glasseyes at 10:48 AM on June 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Really, those photographs are pretty fashy-hipster-Mephistopheles for representing a non-problematic take on masculinity.
posted by glasseyes at 10:52 AM on June 23, 2018


One of the things that healthy congregations provide is not just weekend services but opportunities for service during the week. It's a collaborative work, if you want it to be.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:53 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Taking people's power. Putting them through trials. Giving the power back as a gift from the Leader. That there is a certain indication of bad faith.
posted by glasseyes at 11:16 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


This is a problem men have to fix for themselves, and it is not safe and not fair to hold the rest of us responsible for helping.

I didn't feel my comment was asking women to fix or help anything? Or holding them responsible? It's a little frustrating to me that it's very difficult to have a conversation about men on metafilter without regular reminders that women have it worse and that men essentially bring it on themselves. It really is very dismissive.

Statements like this: "Until men are no longer statistically likely to externalize their pain in ways that are dangerous for others, you’re going to see this reaction, and it will not be wrong." - Are huge calls - where are the statistics that men are 'statistically likely' to externalize their pain dangerously? What does this statement even mean? Is it over 50%? Over 20%? Over 10%? How would anyone be able to prove that?

The default assumption that men are dangerous, unpredictable animals until proven otherwise is part of the damaging discourse I was talking about. I understand the reasons for it - the stakes are high for women, after all - but this is exactly what I mean by the patriarchy hurting everyone.

Comments like yours are essentially embedding the status quo, by telling men not to get emotional because it will terrify any women they are around, and that they must keep emotions under a tight lock down because otherwise they might lose control in dangerous ways. They are not allowed to ask for help because it's their own fault they are like this. Messages like this are one reason why men have trouble expressing emotion beyond a circumscribed range in particular circumstances.

I agree with you that some gay men can be very misogynistic, but generalising to include all the gay cultures out there is a bit unfair I think, and a little homophobic. Lots of predominantly gay friendship groups include many women, both queer and straight.

I apologise if this response comes off one the defensive side, but I just get really frustrated at the way conversations about masculinity often go here.
posted by smoke at 5:04 PM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


where are the statistics that men are 'statistically likely' to externalize their pain dangerously?

Where are they? Santa Fe. Parkland. Sandy Hook. Sutherland Springs.

Sorry, but we’re way beyond the point where we get to boo-hoo how mean everyone is being to men. Don’t like it? Work toward a world where it isn’t 100 percent justified for people to be a little worried at these messianic proto-fascist boot-camp grifters making a buck off of toxic masculinity with more toxic masculinity. It makes you feel bad to see generalizations about how shitty men collectively have been throughout the entirety of human history, up to and including June 2018? Congratulations. You have now experienced the barest scintilla of being under the boot.

Sucks, don’t it. Well, we fucking earned it.
posted by Etrigan at 5:51 PM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed you feel that my comment was "boo-hooing" about how everyone is mean to men. I like to think it had a bit more nuance to it than that. I think you're making a lot of assumptions about what I said, and why I said it, in a super-condescending way; I hope you wouldn't talk like this to me in person.

Men can be victims, too. Talking about this does not invalidate, supercede, or minimise the way that women are victims, nor the shit state of masculinity and its effect on women.

Can we have a discussion about this stuff without increasing the temperature to inferno levels and insulting other mefites and their feelings? I hope Schadenfrau didn't feel I was invalidating her experiences as a woman interacting with emotional men - I totally get why she feels like that, heck, I feel like that myself at times with emotional men, it's very uncomfortable.
posted by smoke at 6:19 PM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Y'all start the gender shit with infants and continue abusing, gaslighting, and denying what doesn't fit in your binary script for the next century. You can't have it both ways. You can't demand that half the population needs to to do emotional work and and call them demons, fags, sissies, and failures at any vulnerability that doesn't fit the script of getting a job, getting a house, enlisting when asked, and working until the stress murders you.

Of course everyone here is so woke, and never got gender-nasty because a partner didn't put out, never told a kid to "man up" because it was fucking inconvenient for you, never laughed or gave someone the side eye for going off script, never demanded gendered performance of friends, lovers, co-workers, children, never commented on the freak in the public space, never gossiped about celebs doing their gender roles wrong, because WE are metafilter and don't do gender shit plainly in these discussions.

I don't buy that. You do it because I've done it and we all cut our deals to avoid being batted again, raped again, disowned again, fired again. At least don't be a fucking liar about it. And don't gaslight me about how that could never have come from lovers or women in my family and my partner's family.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:34 PM on June 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


If you're uncomfortable, there's no reason to stick around. But disgust is a good barometer low-level homophobia or transphobia. The next steps are often harassment, discrimination, and sometimes violence.

"Let men and boys cry," isn't a call to swoop in with lotion-treated tissues, hugs, and emotional wisdom. It's a call to stop verbally, physically, and sometimes sexually abusing men and boys who do cry.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:59 PM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


« Older The dog does not die.   |   4,000-year-old stew Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments