Need advice on having a vasectomy? Don’t ask a man

Hammer and eggs There’s a scene in the movie “Jaws” where the Mayor of Amity Island explains how yelling the word “BARRACUDA” won’t get much reaction on a crowded beach. “But if you yell ‘SHARK’ you’ll have a panic on your hands…”

Keeping that in mind, you’ll have some idea of the reaction you get from most men if you change “shark” to “vasectomy.”

This was the first word out of my radio this morning, and yes, it caught my attention immediately. I had mine 10 years ago after weeks of campaigning from my ex-wife, who had a degree in social work. Because of this, she was trained on how to approach sensitive subject matter. That’s why I was allowed to discover, with no pressure from her whatsoever, that my new place mat at the dinner table was actually a medical brochure titled:

So, You Want To Have a Vasectomy?  
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Male culture makes instilling healthy sexuality in our sons more difficult

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I saw my first naked woman when I was 9, thanks to a kid named Jimmy, whose father had a collection of Playboy magazines under the bed. While his parents were at the grocery store, Jimmy yanked out a copy and with practiced ease flipped to the centerfold.

“Your mom has one of these,” he said, pointing between the legs of Miss August.

“No WAY!” I said, unwilling to accept that my mother could possibly have anything on her body that, in my mind anyway, looked like a piece of our cafeteria meatloaf. I left soon after, convinced that Jimmy had shown me a magazine of female freaks. When our class began studying the human reproductive system later that spring, Jimmy turned to me and winked when Mrs. Flunkem used her ruler to point out the vagina being projected onto the chalk board.

“Your momma,” he mouthed.

Years later, that feeling of embarrassment was something I was determined to spare my own sons. The truth is, women are much more aware of their bodies and sexuality, and at a much younger age, then men. The male culture communicates about sexuality in much the same way it does about sports: through stats and stories. Anything deeper than that, and the shoulder punching begins. However, it was important to me that my sons not only understand the physicality of reproduction and, unlike me, never find themselves shocked by a vagina, it was just as important that they understand sexuality is not a statistic or story to be told — it’s how we communicate love beyond our words.

*shoulder punch*  Continue reading

Real men are always in control — of themselves, not others

image Anyone who reads my weekly newspaper column or blog posts knows I try to keep life in perspective through humor. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the reasons my children are still alive today. While I joke about that, for many years humor was also part of a coping mechanism from a childhood witnessing both verbal and physical abuse by the men in my family — specifically, my father and older brothers.

The good news is that each of them eventually turned themselves, their lives and the lives of the people they loved, around. It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized the impact that a childhood witnessing abuse had on me, and how some of those wounds — as both a witness and recipient — had never truly healed.

I know this because I occasionally saw reflections of my father and brothers in myself as I fought to avoid making the same mistakes with my own children; I also know this because I came to realize that as much as we want to tell ourselves we can choose not to take any baggage with us on our journey through life, ultimately it’s always somewhere waiting to be claimed. Continue reading