Category Archives: Girls

A Normal Education? Graduation Rates and Sports

Graduation Rate Czar Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has proposed a bill that would require universities who want to participate in the hallowed NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to produce graduation rates exceeding 40% for their student-athletes. This has outraged many in the sports world and has taken a lion’s share of radio time from actual basketball banter as we welcome another heart pounding tournament to our tubes later today.

There are some who regard the proposition as a foolish attempt by a politician, once a Harvard basketball player, who lacks an understanding for today’s student-athlete. Earlier this morning on ESPN’s flagship show “Mike & Mike in the Morning” guest host Doug Gottlieb (former collegiate athlete at Oklahoma State) spoke to the global issue of athletics and education. Gottlieb stated that the majority of current college basketball players are not accustomed to college life, expectations, and need for higher education. He further opined that many of these athletes come from homes where college was never discussed or experienced by previous generations. So…how can we expect these kids to understand the value of an education when all they have been told is that their athletic ability is the ticket “out?”

Of course Gottlieb didn’t say it…but I will—His statements are really about race and resources and culture…and the commodity that is the student athlete. Should graduation rates be up? Absolutely! The mere fact that 12 out of 65 teams in this years tournament would be home watching instead of playing (University of Tennessee, Kentucky and others…I’m talking to you!) should say something about priorities of BOTH the student AND the institution.

Who is kidding who? All children begin their educational careers as commodities. Sorry if that doesn’t sound p.c. enough for you, but it is true. Last week I wrote about the Kansas City school district that is closing nearly 50% of their schools to save $50 million dollars and slash 700 jobs. Just yesterday Detroit announced the closing of 45 schools by the end of the academic year. This continues a string of closings (100 since 2004) in a system that has over 50,000 open seats.

This country doesn’t know which end is up or who to ask for help. We are throwing spackle, I mean tax payer dollars, at a dam that is in disrepair. The current topic on the hot stove may be athletes and graduation rates, but that is all that it is. The ball will be tipped up in mere hours, fans will plop down, and the networks and marketers will be salivating. Nobody truly cares whether or not these kids graduate. They just want them to stay out of trouble in the future so that the university can leverage their legacies to garner other prospective athletes and alumni dollars.

Maybe what we should do is bring in Temple Grandin to herd our educational system in the right direction. Or, maybe…and I know this is a novel thought…maybe we should look at our neighbors across the pond. Maybe we should adopt similar approaches to education realizing that not all children want to go to a classic college setting…maybe some would be better off at a trade school. That is precisely how we should view the student-athlete. If we think that raising the academic bar will entice better performance we are truly in stuck the sand. The goal at that point would be grade driven. Knowledge would be left on the kitchen counter just like your cell phone as you race to get the kids ready and the day started.

Temple...We Need Your Help!

Cultural shifts are not easy nor entirely necessary if the intentions are not well thought out. Raise the standards of the educational providers, the environments we call educational, and move the needle away from stats…and you just might uncover a special talent in each child. If we fail to change our perspective, then all we have done is maintain the status quo so that terms like tenure, election, and tax base proliferate our communities. Get the system on track THEN communicate student expectations. Driving reverse at 80 mph only endangers the rest of us.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Adults Failing our Children?

The last time I checked…adults were supposed to be the ones providing good examples for children. Ironically, the opposite seems to be occurring the wider we focus our lens. If you happened to peruse the top headlines yesterday you would have seen stories like these:

“Governors Propose National Education Standards…48 governors seek nationwide standards for what kids learn in school”


“Kansas City board OKs plan to close nearly half of schools


7-Year-Old
911 Hero an Example for all Families
Experts Say Carlos Likely Saved His Family With Quick Thinking, 911 Call

At first glance you might say, “What’s the big deal?” You might even say that we have heard these stories before. If you dig a little deeper, though, you will see how desperate our educational system is at the present moment. The Kansas City school board voted to close down 28 out of 61 schools saving approximately $50 million dollars and shedding 700 jobs. CNN is reporting that schools in 17 states have opted to run four day weeks. The federal government assembled the nations governors in an effort to standardize English and Math standards. And…do I even need to comment on the fact that 48 out of 50 agreed. Alaska? Texas? I will take the 5th at the moment…hoping that they have better solutions to the ever-growing gap between American kids and the REST of the world.

As I dust my hands off from these appalling stories like a brick layer tired of the cement after a long arduous day…I find the story that has been plastered everywhere…little Carlos who calmly called 911 while protecting his sister as armed gunman stormed his home. As the media descends on this little guy we all find out that his mother regularly went through the proper procedures during an emergency. Smart. Concise. Thoughtful. These are the words that come to mind when I think about the effort made by his mother to lay the foundation for difficult work.

She is just one woman whereas the state and federal agencies and representatives are vast and, supposedly, representative of our communities.

Taking Down the Very Folks That Will Be Taking Care of YOU?

It is refreshing to know that somebody is being educated these days…even if reading, writing, and arithmetic are not. The irony can be found in the manner with which our educators are approaching the various problems at hand (i.e. low test scores, crowded classrooms, declining educator skills etc.)…and the irony is that we are scrambling to fix the problem.

We are scrambling like a kid who forgot he had a book report due today. Our schools are eroding, literally and figuratively, and the only thing we can think of is to throw test scores at the wall. We have decided to treat education and our children like NASCAR vehicles plastered with ads. It is and will always be about the almighty dollar unless we begin to focus on the way(s) children learn. Innovation does require funding and support from multiple levels. It requires a humble mindset. A way of thinking that looks at the experience of the audience….the child.

And, if that pains you too much to think about then think about what you liked/disliked when you were a student. What connected you to the material, inspired you to put forth the effort, and provided you with an overall pleasurable experience? It really isn’t that difficult. How do teachers and administrators feel? What works for them and what continues to befuddle them? After my work in education over the past 10 years I can tell you that the general consensus from educators is that they are inundated with new “campaigns” on a yearly and sometimes semester basis. A new way to score, a new way to observe, new boxes to check…and all we are doing is creating mass burnout.

You are getting slews of educators that aren’t enjoying their jobs anymore. They are asked for more and more with less and less professional development and support. The children see this coming and what you end up with is the makings of a perfect storm. Two disenfranchised groups of people who can’t wait for the awful song to be over…kinda like Simon Cowell screaming “rubbish!” after a grueling 2 minute karaoke audition. Ladies and gentlemen…we are not auditioning educational principles…we are preparing the next generation so that they will prepare the next.

Ah! You Scared Me! I thought You were trying to TEACH Me Something...

It is sad that widespread education has become a laughing stock to the participants and to our global neighbors. We have been so concerned with a child’s behavior that we have failed to ponder whether or not it is actually our methods that are eliciting dry heaves from our children.

We want our children and educators to wake up with some degree of optimism not pessimism. Tough decisions lie ahead. Some will be unpopular…some desperately needed. Get out of your comfy lazzyboy, stretch your legs, and get ready to stand up for the needs of the new world and the children tasked with saving it.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Competing Sexes

Looking to Beat the Next Guy?

HBO has done it again! They have secretly become a documentary juggernaut. Their latest prize pits NBA Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in an epic depiction of two men possessed with competition. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the layers these two icons peeled back during their reign…racism, big versus small town, East coast-West coast, and dollar for dollar they delivered.

I will admit, as a sports fan, that my competitive juices were flowin even if from the couch flanked by my two cats and a lukewarm cup o’ joe.

I suddenly thought about my youth and how my seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years were staked out by competitive outlets. I had a sport for every season, a grade or project every term, a girl I wanted to look buff for, and distant educational and career goals to tide me over. Life was competitive ALL the time!

Now…well it seems that for many of us competition is relagated to survival…not for mere advantage or gamesmanship, but for our financial security and lifestyle. Where did it all go? Is this Normal? Is it Abnormal? Am I losing a step?

I mean I can turn on the tube and see competition for viewership and marketshare. Shoot, I can even read about competition between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Democrats and Republicans, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer, Oprah vs. The World, Mac vs. Windows, and last but certainly not least Conan vs. Jay. Competition is right at our fingertips…and as I painstakingly reach for it I can’t help but wonder what we would all be without competition?

Looking for Your Competitive Advantage in Life?

Would we be lost? Would we be a species that never got out of the Stone Age? Competition has a place…we need to feed our species, advance our species, and procreate our species…and competition remains the single most important ingredient. It inspires us during times wrought with disallusionment and pain. Competition helps us gauge our progress, modify our approach, and reach for new heights. And, for each gender competition can be deeply personal…

Males are given the edict that to compete is to demonstrate your prowess amongst all in your path from dusk to dawn. Some have deemed this male character the Alpha Male….the Silverback. So, as men age they look for arenas to compete in, to win…and many do so with very little regard for their opponents.We have all read of the hostile takeovers, the businesses now running lean and most have a man at the helm. Most of us have been personally impacted by the corporate competition…I mean greed…

Females, on the other hand, have been wronged for centuries. Females have been given the message that the competitive landscape is for men only…thus relegating women to compete for these men. Let’s not forget that, though, times have changed significantly, the overwhelming message has been for women to compete in non-threatening areas and for menial purposes.

You see it has been the great spoof our species…men convincing women that their pursuits were more important to the greater good…that women had a place…just over there on the sidelines.

For many, these deficient approaches are not borne from intention or malice, but rather from generations trying to survive the way they knew how. It really is hard to pass definitive judgment when we, as a country, are continuing to breed competitive destruction…we have just found new and different ways to mask our approaches and intentions.

Feeling Competitive?

We all have a burning desire to stay on top, to pursue the unattainable…it is the American way. Just look at the current landscape…looking even closer at our educational system. We now have “Race to the Top” from the federal government, we have schools and districts that pay students for attendance and top grades…and why? Because competition, today, isn’t about aspirations or dreams…competition is about the almighty dollar. Adults are wooing kids for higher test scores, ratings, and marketshare. It is as if they are saying…“Here kitty kitty….here kitty kitty.”

All the while, children who are only concerned with competing in gym class are actually playing lead roles in the high-stakes game of adult competition. In fact, it is the children who hold the magic ticket and not the adults. Failing tests grades, reduced product usage, and even fewer website hits put us and our American dollar at risk.

It truly is sad that competition, while fantastic as a sport and motivator in times of despair, brings out the animal in all of us. We were once young people competing for a cause, for a purpose, for the betterment of generations past and present. Somewhere along the path to adulthood we lost our way, sold out to the highest bidder and forgot what makes this country so grand….The hope and belief that with a little elbow grease and commitment we can win at the game of life…together.

Let us all think about the role competition plays in our lives, the impact on those around us, and the messages we are downloading to the up-and-coming generation of children.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Man-Up or Stand Up? The American Boy is in Trouble

Who Needs Lifting? Men or Boys?

I am a staunch supporter of males and the females in their lives. I believe that we can do better, as a gender, but must step up and be accounted for. Some of you who read this might wonder if I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or took my politically correct vitamins in excess. Some passerby’s might wonder if I live in the basement of my mother’s home and spew comments in a an environment where anonymity is a given and gravatars act as i.d. badges.

Though this image might bring you joy it just isn’t true. I am a Normal, insecure, bold when I need to be, confident in waves, man who loves ESPN, the arts and yard work on any-ole-day U.S.A. And, yes sometimes I find it necessary to shed light on a social practice that isn’t helping males in their pursuit to be Normal…in an effort to reach personal greatness…and life satisfaction.

As a part of an online community, The Art of Manliness, I am often challenged to think, laugh, and cry at the experience of being male. The members are thoughtful and thought provoking which I applaud with all sincerity. Yesterday was a perfect example wrapped into a single thread. A member asked a question…he wanted to know how to Man-Up a 13 year old that he knew. He described this young boy as soft, squishy, an unmotivated sissy, and lazy. I, of course, commented and to his credit the author said he didn’t know of any other word to use other than Man-Up.

The Art of Manliness

I was also given a review on the term and its usage on the site which said:

“Within the context of this site (AoM), “manning up” simply refers to “growing up” and coming to grips with yourself as a man. It’s not so much about toughening up as it is about maturing beyond boyhood.” -Jamie

To Man Up? The Urban Dictionary actually has 25 definitions and there is an organization, by the same name, that strives to end violence against women. Many of us have seen the phrase in reference to sexual enhancement and performance. We have seen it used at Little League games to dissuade emotions associated with females from being aired. Many of us have heard the phrase as a call to action; a rising up from self-induced-pity to a place of formidable stature and strength.

The American Way?

And, we have to wonder what is the impact on a generation of young boys without fathers, without male role models in schools, without heroes on the athletic field, governed by a society and educational system determined to squeeze the boy out of them, reprimanded when they become addicted to video games as a result, and told that success only comes to those who can effectively repress feelings and push on in the name of the American spirit.

I say with great confidence and sadness that our young boys are at a crossroads. Our boys are flailing in the wind with no direction, purpose, or sense of self.

Late yesterday afternoon as I was in the backyard I heard three young men talking and making a bit of noise. When I looked over to my neighbors house I noticed these three young men (approximately 18-21) crawling through an upstairs window. The house, you see, is in the midst of renovations and the owners are looking to rent the top unit out. I stopped them, at least the one young man who looked nervous, and asked them if they were with the work crew and found out they wanted a “peek inside.” Let’s just say they got my drift and headed out of my urban neighborhood.

You might say to yourself that this was a harmless act, but I am concerned at the lack of judgment. It concerns me that these young men were so apathetic to getting caught. I very easily could have called the cops and I would imagine a charge of breaking and entering could have been established. To them…nothing. They drove away quietly without verbal exchange.

Before we can ask young boys to Man-Up, we first need to establish what they are actually Manning-Up too. We need to provide a playground and environment that let’s them explore with guidance, tussle safely in the name of bonding, and believe what they feel inside. Just because we have generations of men, mine included, that were cast aside from the rational side of life doesn’t mean that we have to send them down the river as well.

If we, adult men, want a seat at the proverbial table of life then we have to set the example…together. We have to communicate our disgust for the medical system that limits access and respect during pregnancy. We have to communicate our needs with our medical and psychological doctors. We need to role model the great dualities of manhood…that we can grunt to our friends one minute, compose poetic stories the next, protect our children, cry with our children, love our spouse and most importantly ourselves all at a moments notice.

Apathy for ourselves is one thing…apathy for the next generation—shameful. Think about the language you use and the story it supports or erodes…young boys are waiting for us to Step Up…in the process we might just figure out what it actually means to Man-Up.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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The Teenage Rulebook For Cool-ness

Boy Are We Cool!

Ah…to be a teenager. To stroll the hallways of “anywhere” high school U.S.A. is a right of passage for so many youth dying to fit in with their peers. This weekend I was out doing what adults do….running errands of course…when I noticed something that took me back to my high school days.

Let’s set the stage…a lovely Saturday afternoon, the temperature around 40 degrees and sharing the highway with me were two teenage boys, aviator glasses in-toe, and not a care in the world. What caught my attention was that these young men were driving with the top down in daddy’s car. You or I would think this behavior weird or idiotic, but I would argue that these boys were out for a bit of adventure…

To see these young men and wonder how cold they must have been on the outside made me wonder about what was going on inside. What was it that possessed these, Normal looking, teenage boys to drive around in a manner more suited for chili and a sweater? Were they trying to connect with their inner Tom Cruise? Maybe they were on a mission or maybe 40 degrees was the perfect temperature to market themselves to other teenagers…namely—GIRLS!

Hi Ladies

What would teenage girls be thinking? Dumb boys? Cool? All I know is this…young men will do just about anything to woo the girl(s) in their path. Teenage boys of today will even change their scent in ways previously thought of as feminine.

CBS Sunday Morning demonstrated this point with a story about the obsession boys have with body spray products. You know the ones…Axe Body Spray and its claim that by using it girls will fall at the feet of the user. There was a day and a time in this country when all young men smelled like were dirty socks and “cool.” Musty was the odor of choice because it communicated a rugged individualism…now we have young men spraying themselves down in a car-wash of fermones and watching “High School Musical 12”.

The goal of course is to win over the young women and to “beat out” the competition. Now…it is fair to say that Maverick and Goose on I-65 this weekend were of the mindset that cool comes in pairs…and they might be right…but the decision ultimately lies in the hands of the young women who are grading and judging every move. I mean teenage boys aren’t concerned with a young ladies father…are they?

I mean…are young men even worried these days about impressing someone, anyone other than the young lady herself? And…what would a father and young man even talk about? Cologne? The merits of High School Musical versus Grease? Or what about the latest and greatest video games or tech gadget?

Let’s face it—there may be some teenage wooing rituals and traditions that are facing extinction! At least in the ole days a father and young suitor could talk about plans for college or work or how his father was doing. They could talk about Ford or GM or spring training. But, how many fathers want to hear about a young mans desire to build a personal brand utilizing the most appropriate SEO/CRM/Social Media outlet or embedded videos?

The answer…not many! And because of the ever-growing distance between men of yesterday and boys of today the only common denominator…sad to say…is sex. There—I said it. That is right. Even our fathers thought of sex and maybe even some of them experienced sex. Now, it is important to note that this is not a commentary on teenage sex and the stance we should take. This is just an honest thought about what everyone thinks about.

Sex during high school, to the young people themselves, is often a measure of “cool.” It is the culmination of 40 degree jaunts down the highway in a convertible, the hours spent dousing fermones out of a can, and the countless time spent trying to find a bicep or two in the high school locker room. Young boys are just like those distant relatives in the jungles of our planet—always posturing for stature in the eyes of the females and to instill fear in the eyes of the competition.

Can You Smell Me Yet?

The challenge for all teenagers becomes their ability to be and play smart. To make decisions that won’t shape the rest of their lives negatively and ones that they can be proud of when they are older are all a part of the teenage experience.

Sadly, so too is teenage pregnancy. So too is the song and dance between hormones and common sense—between conversation and sexual intimacy and the real-world consequences of teenage rituals and traditions.

Which brings us back to the rulebook for teenagers and courting or wooing behavior. It brings us full circle to understanding all that our children are doing and the actual motivation behind the behavior. Are you aware of it as a parent? Do you sweep it away because you did the very same things or do you overcompensate in an effort to prevent ill-fated mistakes from YOUR past?

The rulebook is pretty simple. It has a front cover, one page of text, and a back cover. The front of the book titles your intentions for your child; the body of text outlines your honest expectations and support measures you will provide; the back cover a friendly reminder that you suffered through the same issues as they and that you are not above them…but beside them as they traverse the sometimes beautiful and often sketchy landscape that is being a teenager.

All the Best!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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Are YOU Normal?

Just Wait for the Next Generation!

It becomes increasingly obvious that a segment of the population fears the word NORMAL. Maybe some folks think that it implies less than, adequate, or maybe even average when in fact it has NOTHING to do with performance!

Our country has sent us all down the river. Yes, this is a great country in so many ways but the messages we have sent down the stream to males and females can be devastating. Even I get sent down the river, as they say, by readers who send me angry notes of bewilderment. I sporadically receive some of these back-channel emails from individuals who are new to my blog and they ask what my definition of Normal really is. I am thankful for the reminder for both our sakes.

Re-establishing a marketing campaign for an entire generation can be daunting…but I am up for the challenge! I am showered, dressed, hair quaffed, new stylish glasses resting on the bridge of my nose…and oh yeah did some curls to exercise the ole biceps…mighty beneficial for a blogger these days. And, now that I am prepared for this challenge I want to reintroduce thoughts that I was recently asked to provide given the tenuous position our gender is in these days…

As I sit and ponder my place in the world I am reminded of the men who have gone before me, those around me, and those thrown at me. It has become increasingly hard to define what normal males look, sound and, maybe more importantly, act like.

On television and other media outlets, normal and male aren’t represented accurately or collectively, for that matter. We are inundated with reality TV shows about swapping wives and nannies who know better than parents. And on CBS we have men fighting in cages.

It is True...We are Humans During the Day...Superheros in our Dreams

I don’t see normal conversations about the experience of manhood or the shared activities and thoughts between a father and his children. I don’t see family shows depicting stable family life or marriages that one could be relatively proud of. What I see are dumb men who are presented as normal: men who don’t know how to respond to their spouses dreams, take care of the kids, or do anything requiring thought for others.

Can this be normal? I hope not, but I am gravely concerned that this is what our young children believe to be true. The bar for men has been set so low that the only direction to go, I hope, is up.

As our boys continue to struggle in academic settings and our adult men struggle to find their places at work and in the home, we need a change. We need to redefine what it means to be a part of this group called manhood not at the expense of women or children, not at the expense of common sense or traditional grunting during a playoff game, and not at the expense of our communities.

Redefining our gender requires adult men to think about it from a boyish stance. What do we want our boys thinking about when they think of themselves and this group they belong to? Do we want them to have a sense of pride for the good we contribute and the leadership taken through thoughtful discussion? Or do we want them to think of boys behaving badly at school, home, and work?

We Can't ALWAYS Be Perfect or Feel Invincible

In the 1980s we saw a redefinition take place for the youth of the African-American community. Prior to the Cosby Show, critics wondered how young African-Americans viewed themselves and what they could or could not accomplish when they grew up. Our media, to that point, had given limited opportunity for a child to see successful African-American children and their families. We are at a similar point in our history as men.

We have an opportunity to reshape the motivations of young men, and it will come at the cost of our own experiences. A certain level of grief can be expected when we begin exploring our lives and the motivations behind our good and bad decisions in the context of those who provided such lessons. It takes courage, community, and commitment from normal males to shepherd the next generation from I.S.S. (in school suspension) to college campuses where men are in danger of extinction to careers and families they can be proud of.

To be Normal ultimately means that one is fallible, successful, strong, weak, proud, humble—we are everything that encompasses a human being. Please do not support the notion that males only value comes through performance, but rather in the discretionary spaces of life where we can demonstrate both wisdom and compassion, emotion and direction, love and disappointment. We are many things…what we are not should NOT shape our direction now or ever as we steamroll into the future. The next generation of young men and boys need us and the next generation of young women and girls need us too. Let’s provide an accurate landscape that does not misrepresent the challenges and celebrations of life.

Best Wishes!

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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How Much is That Negligee in the Window?

Can I Help You?

We have all heard the tune from back yonder, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” and been transposed to the days of our youth. Back when innocence prevailed or at least it did on T.V. and we lived a life of “purity.” That has come to a screeching halt…that of no surprise…to those of you reading today. We continue to be fascinated with those around us, the scandals they embroil themselves with, and the filthy gossip we bat around like a good ole fashion spat between Robin Givens and Mike Tyson. The dirtier, scarier, filthier it is…the better! Right?

Seeing others flail about is fun…right? Taking me away from my own reality feels like a gift from the Gods…right? Giving me pause, for entertainment purposes, is a way of giving back for the hard work and pain I have endured…right? Which brings me to a classic example of gawking that I just have to share…

The other night I was driving downtown Nashville with my fiance when we past the Hustler store (on of all streets, “Church Street”) when we noticed a gentlemen staring or should I say gawking through the plate-glass windows. As we sat at the red light, we both took notice at the level of commitment or should I say intensity with which this gentlemen peered into the candy store for adults. We both looked at each other and almost simultaneously said, “He looks Normal” as if to say he didn’t look like a stereotypical weirdo. Shocking no…surprising yes….

…and it got me thinking about this fascination with what is just beyond our reach. It also had me thinking about whether or not it was gender specific or driven by idiots. Was it something that only degenerates do or was this display of sultry desire a mere expression of hormones going askew? And, if gawking at negligees is Normal or accepted, what other ways do we ALL gawk at life and what assumptions do we lather onto the object of affection and/or disgust?

If men gawk does it turn women off? If women gawk do men feel mighty? Does it lessen one and uplift the other? Is it different if you are single and are “gawked” at? Does it sometimes feel good to stop others in their tracks with what you have done or what you look like? And, are there different forms of gawking that are unacceptable, equal, and/or just different? Would we consider tabloid journalism gawking? If so, then are we all guilty of the sinful pleasure of gawking through a news rack?

Let's Talk About Wants Instead...Whadda Ya Say?

Which brings us to the most appropriate and timely example….that of Mr. Tiger Woods. Millions probably watched Tiger’s apology today and formed immediate opinions. Many have been fascinated to gawk, I mean watch, the unraveling of an American icon. Now for many of you, this is an example of entertainment—not gawking. For some of you, like writers in the Golf world, boycotting is the approach of the day and for others it is mere water cooler talk.

Watcher or Gawker of Tiger's Press Conference?

Either way it presents as a perfect example for us to consider. Why is it that others successes and failures are far more entertaining and interesting than our own lives? Why do we get significant pleasure in the unattainable? Why do we want to bear witness (my apologizes to Lebron James) to salacious, scandalous, and murderous activities?

I must admit that I am the first to gawk at death on a Saturday night or two when I watch 48 Hours Mystery. I will say out loud that I am ready to, “…see dead people.” I say it with pleasure for entertainment and for my (I know I am not alone in this) desire to test out my detective skills.

Witness the NEXT Michael Jordan

I am not proud of my “gawking” and I want to continue to understand it. I think we would all do ourselves a favor by asking what it is that we gawk at and what are we truly going after. What lessons are we teaching our kids? How will they know when to intervene or will they just practice group-think and gawk with others when someone is in need?

Just recently a young girl was beaten in front of security personnel in Seattle and received no assistance or protection. Why did gawkers not turn into helpers?

Gawking can begin innocently. Gawking can merely be wishful thinking. The problem is that it sets the stage for an overall approach to life…One that places us on the sidelines of life assuming and placing judgment on people and circumstances outside of our purview and probably pay grade. Think about what you are gawking at and think even harder about the respect you are displaying to yourself and the younger generation looking for acceptable role models.

Dr. Rod
Rod Berger, PsyD The Normal Male

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