Male Affection and Its Benefits

I was struck by the black demon of depression and anxiety in my late teens and early twenties, a time when many men are, with iron like determination, trying to forge their destiny and make sense of themselves now that they have transitioned from a boy to a man. In these fragile years of transition I had lost two men, two men who meant the world to me – my father and grandfather – I was 18 when they both died in quick succession, and their deaths caused an emotional cataclysm that only in this past year I was able, after many years of pondering and endless internal conversations, to lay to rest.

I have always been an affectionate man, atavistically demonstrative, something also encouraged and nurtured by my immediate family. I found it a benefit and a curse during my years of struggle with the black demon. These years were fraught in many ways, due increasingly to a merry-go-round of gaining and then losing friends, as a man of warmth and affection, I have always, and will forever, value friendship with such passion, and for the most part, this facet of my personality helped me come out of the darkness. As a younger man, my failing was to be too open with too many people, too quickly, and lack that ability to judge characters precisely. Now, I feel that I have steadily gained that ability to judge a character, maybe not fully, but certainly in the immediate.

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Tragically, in the feminised environment that the Western world has created for itself in the last forty to fifty years, many boys and men alike are suffering from an onset of emotional retardation, fuelling the fires of alienation and all the psychological destruction that goes with that, with the disruption of the harmonious balance between the masculine and the feminine, they are either becoming too emotional and thus feminine, or lacking emotion so much that they become the worst parodies of a masculine man, the type of men that third-wave feminists fantasise about.

In a culture that has set about on a course of nihilistic and hyper-individualistic destruction, a good understanding of affection, particularly between each other, is what many men lack today. Men need to get back to seeing their male friends as brothers, who can help each other with all manner of things, as our ancestors did, and as many men throughout the world still do. With my father’s family hailing from a culture where men, to this day, understand the positive properties of affection with their friends, I was able to see first hand that this behaviour was quite natural. It was an everyday occurrence to see male relatives and their friends embrace one another, have their arms around each other and kiss each other on the cheek. Of course, all were and are manly men, salt of the earth, hard-working fighters, so there was no sexual connotations in their actions, it was simply pure unadulterated love.

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Writing in The Art of Manliness, Brett McKay, touched upon the subject of male affection in its historical context. A rich photographic essay with nearly 100 photos of male bonding, Brett said – “As you make your way through the photos, many of you will undoubtedly feel a keen sense of surprise — some of you may even recoil a bit as you think, “Holy smokes! That’s so gay!” The poses, facial expressions, and body language of the men will strike the modern viewer as very gay indeed. But it is crucial to understand that you cannot view these photographs through the prism of our modern culture and current conception of homosexuality. The term “homosexuality” was in fact not coined until 1869, and before that time, the strict dichotomy between “gay” and “straight” did not yet exist. Attraction to and sexual activity with other men was thought of as something you did, not something you were. It was a behaviour — accepted by some cultures and considered sinful by others.”

This contemporary confusion over male affection and its, fairly new, correlation with homosexuality has proved a detriment to men’s well-being. The photos I and Brett McKay sourced are now looked at through sexualised modern eyes as some kind of secret gay history. Of course, one or two of these men in the photos may have been gay, but I can say with confidence that if these men could see what “journalists” are writing in dire digital rags like BuzzFeed about them, being part of some pre-1960’s gay culture, they would give these dim wits a swift punch in the face. In my research I found that entire books had been published by intellectual ne’er do wells, who have spent too much time reading Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, and have absolutely no understanding of history or male psychology. These books further the lie that male affection, indeed affection of any kind, goes hand-in-hand with sexuality.

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We see that with homosexuality becoming mainstream, a society will come to its conclusions on what is and is not “gay behaviour”. Take England as an example, during the Sodomy Trial of Oscar Wilde, revelations of his sexual exploits began circulating, and as the news became a national sensation, soldiers who used to walk around the parks of London holding hands stopped immediately. Now, this may be seen as insignificant, but it kick started the decline of male affection as it had always been.

In a society that no longer cares for men’s well-being, for example with male suicide rates reaching epidemic proportions, affection among our friends, as men, should be discussed, as the benefits of physical affection are numerous. As Dr Kory Floyd articulated in his article for Psychology Today, affection releases positive hormones and reduces stress hormones. Scientific studies have also shown that affection lowers fears of mortality and helps us reinforce our bonds with each other.

male affection 1Friendship in the 1940’s.

At no other time in history have men needed to look at themselves and their brothers for support, and affection is something that will help in bringing us closer.

ATL-2Ben Zhorzholiani

Ben is our main writing guy at Dons Den, a freelance writer, editor and photographer, he covers many subjects relating to men’s issues.

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So You Want To Survive In The Wild?

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The 10 most important wilderness survival skills:

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1. Take Inventory of Your Supplies

Everything you have on you is a potential survival tool, and can be utilized. For example, with some creativity and ingenuity, a shoelace can be used to fashion a bow and arrow and a $20 bill and hatchet to start a fire without matches. Take advantage of everything you have.

2. Get Your Head Right

Maintaining a positive attitude is perhaps the hardest and most important wilderness survival skill to develop. Studies have shown that when people adopt a positive attitude their thinking is more creative, integrative, flexible, and open to information. Moreover, positive people tend to bounce back more quickly from physical sickness and injuries than people with negative attitudes. These two traits, creativity and physical resiliency, are essential to survival.

When you’re alone in the wild with little or no provisions it’s easy to slip into depression and feel sorry for yourself.

Resilient men have an internal locus of control. They’re the masters of their own destiny and tend to handle stress well. Those with an external locus of control curl up into a ball and cry big crocodile tears about how bad they have it. Which man do you think is going to survive when their back is to the wall?

While you should maintain a positive attitude while lost in the wild, you don’t want to delude yourself into thinking that things are better than they really are. First, you only set yourself up for disappointment when things don’t go your way, and second, maintaining a realistic outlook will keep you from getting complacent. You always need to be planning and working as though you’re in your situation for the long haul.

In short, hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

3. Learn to S.T.O.P.

A key to survival is to frequently S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan)

The key to surviving in the wilderness is keeping yourself from panicking. Sometimes the best thing you can do in a survival situation is to do nothing and just think. You’ll save yourself a lot of wasted effort.

4. Small Mistakes Are Magnified in the Wilderness

In the wild, small mistakes can kill. If you break your leg in suburbia, you’ll just have to prop your foot up on a pillow for a few days and hobble around on crutches. An inconvenience, but you’ll get by. Now, break that leg in the middle of nowhere and you have a world of problems. You won’t be able to walk, which means you won’t be able to hunt. If you can’t hunt, you can’t eat. If you don’t eat, you die. All because of a stupid broken leg.

Granted, completely avoiding mistakes isn’t possible, but you should limit them as much as you can. Taking the time to S.T.O.P. can definitely prevent most blunders. Staying constantly vigilant will help, too.  Be aware of your surroundings. You never know if you’ll end up face to face with an angry mother bear or a raging bull moose.

5. Always Carry a Good Tool

Any cutting tool would come in handy out in the wild. Even a lowly pocket knife. Another essential tool worthy of praise is a high beam tactical flashlight. Put these tools in the hands of a crafty, able-bodied man, and he’ll not only survive the wild, he’ll conquer it.

6. Know How and Where to Get Clean Water

People often underestimate the importance of water in a survival situation. Your body can still function with little or no food for weeks, but go without water for a few days and you die. Water isn’t hard to find. It’s everywhere (well, except for deserts). The problem is finding clean water.

Most wilderness survival experts recommend boiling water before drinking it to kill any harmful pathogens. This technique, of course, assumes you have a pot on hand. If you don’t have a pot, several techniques exist to procure drinking water like collecting rain or creating a water still. It’s also possible to create filtering systems with things you have on hand, like a t-shirt.

7. Make a Safe Shelter

After finding water, finding (or creating) shelter to protect you from the elements should be your next priority. Take advantage of your surroundings when creating a shelter. Rock overhangs make excellent shelters. If you don’t have a rock overhang nearby, you’ll need to use materials like limbs, leaves, and pine boughs to make a shelter. A lean-to is an easy and popular wilderness survival shelter. Other shelter designs exist and each one has their pros and cons.

8. Find Food

A man cannot survive on fruit alone. Your body needs protein to give you strength. You can prepare to feed yourself in the wild by becoming familiar with edible plants, berries, and roots. Moreover, learn how to create rudimentary traps to capture small game.

9. Know How to Start a Fire Without Matches

Fire provides warmth, light, protection from animals and insects, and a rescue signal. Fire is also a big morale booster — almost like a companion.

When you’re in a wilderness survival situation, don’t count on matches. Even if you have them, windy and wet situations will render them virtually useless. Thus, it’s essential that a man knows how to start a fire without matches. You should try learning several methods so you’re prepared for any situation. In addition to knowing how to start a fire, you should also know how to build a campfire appropriate for your different needs.

10. Prepare a Signal

In the wild, surviving is your top priority. Your second priority should be to get the hell out of there and back to safety. Fire works as a great signal.  A reflection mirror is another great option. While you can purchase a special signal mirror, any shiny, metallic object could work in a pinch. You can also create search signals by using rocks which contrast with the ground’s color to spell out “SOS” or “HELP.” The letters you create should be at least 9 feet tall in order for pilots to see them from the air.

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