A worthy long read about men & loneliness

depositphotos_1843523-stock-photo-lonely-manI’m fascinated with the topic of toxic masculinity and how it can lead to partner violence and/or murder. In fact, the two deadliest mass shootings in the United States so far this year involved men allegedly targeting their estranged wives as the women attempted to move on.

So when I saw this #longread about loneliness and how it seems to affect men more than women, I wondered, could there be a connection? Were these men who killed their partners afraid to lose their confidants? The women they considered to be their only friends?

Here are the paragraphs I found most interesting in the piece:

It starts young: One avenue into understanding men’s loneliness is to consider how children are socialized. In an interview, Niobe Way, a professor of developmental psychology at New York University who has been doing research with adolescent boys for almost three decades, talked about how we are failing boys. “The social and emotional skills necessary for boys to thrive are just not being fostered,” she said in an interview. Indeed, when you look at the research, men do not start life as the stereotypes we become. Six-month-old boys are likely to “cry more than girls,” more likely to express joy at the sight of our mother’s faces, and more likely to match our expressions to theirs. In general, before the age of four or five, research shows that boys are more emotive than girls.

The change begins around the time we start school: at that age—about five—boys become worse than girls at “changing our facial expressions to foster social relationships.” This is the beginning of a socialization process in “a culture that supports emotional development for girls and discourages it for boys,” according to Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. This begins to affect our friendships early—in a study in New Haven, Connecticut, boys aged 10-18 were significantly worse than girls at knowing who their friends were: “over a two-week period, the boys changed their nomination of who their best friend was more frequently than girls, and their nomination was less likely to be reciprocated.”

And the teenage years are when it gets sad, IMO:

However, for many boys—Way calls it “near-universal”—a shift occurs in late adolescence, roughly from the ages of 15-20. In a phase of life we often think of in optimistic terms—self-discovery, coming of age—boys’ trust in each other shatters like glass. Three years after his first interview, Jason, asked if he had any close friends, said no, “and immediately adds that while he has nothing against gay people, he himself is not gay.” Another boy interviewed by Way in the eleventh grade who up until the year before had maintained a best friendship for ten years said he now had no friends because “you can’t trust nobody these days.” In interviews with thousands of boys, Way saw a tight correlation between confiding in close friends and mental health, and she observed that, across all ethnic groups and income brackets, three quarters of the boys she spoke to “grow fearful of betrayal by and distrustful of their male peers” in late adolescence, and “begin to speak increasingly of feeling lonely and depressed.”

Making matters worse, in the middle of this estrangement from other boys, as we’re becoming young men, we’re governed more than ever by a new set of rules about what behaviour we’re allowed to show. Psychologists call them display rules. “Expressions of hurt and worry and of care and concern for others,” according to white high schools boys, are “gay” or “girly.” Black and Hispanic boys, according to Way’s interviews, feel pressure to conform to even stricter rules. Men who break the rules, and express “sadness, depression, fear, and dysphoric self-conscious emotions such as shame and embarrassment” are viewed as “unmanly” and are comforted less than women. Way told me when she speaks in public, she often quotes a 16-year-old boy who said, “It might be nice to be a girl, ‘cause then I wouldn’t have to be emotionless.”

What about young adulthood? Young guys hang out a lot? Can’t be so bad, right? 

And yes, entering adulthood, and up to the age of 25, men and women do have approximately the same number of friends. For the outsider looking in, then, and even for the man himself, it may appear that nothing’s amiss. But to paraphrase University of Missouri researchers Barbara Bank and Suzanne Hansford, men have power, but are not well. In the UKsuicide rates among men are steadily rising. In the US, so is unemployment among men, often coupled with opioid abuse. In a 2006 paper addressed to psychiatric practitioners, William S. Pollack of Harvard Medical School wrote, “present socialization systems are dangerous to boys’ physical and mental health and to those around them, leading to increased school failure, depression, suicide, lonely isolation, and, in extremis, violence.” In a study Pollack did of boys age 12-18, only 15 percent of them projected “positive, forward-looking sentiment regarding their futures as men.”

Women keep being intimate with their friends into adulthood, and men, generally, do not: “Despite efforts to dismiss it, the finding that men’s same-sex friendships are less intimate and supportive than women’s is robust and widely documented.”

How homophobia plays a role:

“What is wrong with men,” Bank and Hansford asked, “that they can’t or won’t do what they enjoy to the same extent as women do?” In a study of 565 undergraduates, they investigated. Six possible reasons why men shut each other out were measured by questions like “how often [the subject] and their best friend showed affection for each other, had a strong influence on the other, confided in the other, and depended on the other for help.” The worst offenders? Homophobia, and something they called “emotional restraint,” which they measured by responses to statements like “A man should never reveal worries to others.”

From the vantage point of adulthood, especially in progressive circles, it’s easy to forget the ubiquitous and often quasi-ironic homophobia of teen boys, which circulated among my guy friends. That’s why it was amazing to read Dude, You’re a Fag by C. J. Pascoe,1 who spent a year embedded in an American high school divining and taxonomizing the structures of teen male identity in intricate and systemic detail. She concluded that “achieving a masculine identity entails the repeated repudiation of the specter of failed masculinity”—in other words, boys must earn their gender over and over again, often by “lobbing homophobic epithets at one another.”

What about married life?

Though less lonely, married men are more socially isolated. Compared to single men, and even unmarried men cohabiting with a partner, married men in a 2015 British study were significantly more likely to say that they had “no friends to turn to in a serious situation.” This seemed to capture the situation of Roger, 53, in Indianapolis, who’s been married for 24 years. “The friendships I had in college and post-college have kind of dissipated,” he said. “My wife and I have a few friends in couples, but I don’t really see friends outside of that.” He confides in no one other than his wife. “There’s very little need to,” he said. Roger is typical: married men “generally get their emotional needs met by their spouses/partners.” Why, then, would Roger need to keep up with anyone else?

Read “The Legion Lonely” here.

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Travel: Remembering Martinique before Irma

I am grateful that I was able to visit a few of the islands impacted by Hurricane Irma in 2016: Puerto Rico, St. Martin and Martinique.

Puerto Rico, while having lost power on some of the island, seems to be doing fine. St. Martin, however, is said to have suffered much damage. I never took photos while in St. Martin as I left my camera on the cruise ship. But I did take pictures Martinique, a French Caribbean island, which is also said to be doing OK post-Irma.

View pics of the more badly damaged Caribbean here via Buzzfeed.

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#NowPlaying: Toli & The Femm Nameless ‘See Line’

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Pic via the Femme Nameless Facebook page

I have some good news and some bad news.

The band news is I found out about an empowering all-female band that made beautiful music, but are no longer together. The good news? A Brooklyn record label has re-issued their music! This band is the Femm Nameless.

Led by Trombonist Toli Nameless, who recorded with Antibalas on their classic version of Willie Colon’s Che Che Colé, The Femm Nameless picked up where the Godfather of Afrobeat, Fela Anikulapo Kuti left off, just after meeting Sandra Izsadore. They had a powerful and unmistakeable energy that could only come from a woman, or in this case, eight women.

They describe themselves as “all-female punk funk meets ‘Mama Afrobeat,’ the Femm Nameless, disbanded after some active years of performing live and recording an incredible demo that never saw the light of day―until now.

The good folks over at Kooyman Records dug into the vaults, mastered and unearthed these jams from Toli & The Femm Nameless to bring us a 10” viny.! The record includes a dance floor monster―a cover of Nina Simone’s “See Line Woman,” flipped upside down, in fine Afrobeat style.

The ideas on the record were put together by Toli, along with Tom Brenneck of the Dap Kings, the Budos Band and the Menahan Street Band, and Ernesto Abreau of Antibalas. The record was recorded and engineered in East Flatbush, Brooklyn by Sydney Mills of Steel Pulse.

Get the record here: iTunes: apple.co/2h8wg5X
Limited 10″ Vinyl: bit.ly/2sFtfMl

Or stream it below.

Repost: The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women

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I am loving this entire list of the greatest albums made by women by the good folks over at NPR Music. No Doubt, Fiona Apple, Norah Jones, La Lupe… it’s like going down memory lane with so many great albums.

Here’s an excerpt of number 47 by Cuba’s Celia Cruz:

47. Celia Cruz
Son con Guaguanco(Emusica/Fania, 1966)

When Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso sang, people stopped and listened. Alfonso, known by her stage name Celia Cruz, possessed a full-bodied voice filled with emotion and sincerity that makes you feel viscerally what she’s singing. She took Cuban music out of Cuba, out of Latin America and into the world. And she did it as a black woman in a male dominated field that valued whiteness. On her 1966 album Son con Guaguanco, she sings about daily life—about not having manteca to cook, losing her purse and being deeply in love. As women fought to be taken seriously in the workplace, Celia Cruz tirelessly put out albums and toured the world as a single woman — something many people looked down on. But she was the ultimate example of a woman carving her own path and demanding the respect she merited. Though Son con Guaguanco didn’t have much commercial success, it marks the type of music she popularized from the beginning of her career called pregón, which is a Cuban musical style based on the calls and chants of street vendors. She also popularized the Afro-Cuban sounds filled with the raucous horns and drums that comprise the basis of salsa, which became the music of Latinos in the 1970s. A true legend and superstar, and compared to Ella Fitzgerald by many in the American press for her soneos (improvisational sections of salsa songs more nuanced than jazz scats), Celia Cruz continues to be a shining example for being completely yourself. —Christina Cala (NPR Staff)

Read the whole list here.

A Look Back at this Year’s LAMC

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Mon Laferte at Central Park LAMC/SummerStage Showcase

The LAMC once again provided opportunities to network for conference go-ers and artists alike. Attendees were informed about industry trends through panels featuring representatives from Pandora, Spotify, Rogers & Cowan, NPR, Live Nation, The Orchard, Universal, Moet Hennessy, and Symphonic Distribution, among others, plus a special conversation with the legendary
Carlos Alomar and Eduardo Cabra.

Panel topics ranged from touring in the U.S. and digital music platforms to Latin music in TV and film. Additionally, our showcases around NYC featured artists like Mon Laferte, La Vida Bohème, Amaral, Los Pericos, C. Tangana, Rawayana, Princess Nokia, and Alex Anwandter at venues such as SOBs, Highline Ballroom, Central Park SummerStage, and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park.

During the Indie showcase on Thursday, A.CHAL and Jesse Baez were named this year’s “Discovery Award” recipients and received award packages from Shure, Gibson Brands, PioneerDJ, and Native Instruments joining previous Discovery alumni such as Kinky, iLe, Carla Morrison, and El Mató a Un Policía Motorizado, among others.

 

LAMC attendees were able to split their time between panels, showcases, and activations by PioneerDJ, Shure, Native Instruments, Sounds from Spain, Symphonic Distribution, and others at the Stewart Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Also present was the now classic LAMC media floor for all of the showcasing artists – filled with many key media outlets.