Helping Angry Men By Ron Potter-Efron

Get Off The College Degree Prejudice

The English Suffix -ology or '''-logy''' denotes a field of study or academic discipline, and '''-ologist''' describes a person who studies that field. Psychology is the STUDY OF mental processes in living creatures. A person who is a psychologist does not necessarily do all, or any, of the things that are commonly thought of, they don't have to be a counselor. They don't have to be doing anything at all professionally, and their studies, just like any other studies, do not have to follow certain "guidelines". In order to get certain DEGREES or CERTIFICATES in the field of PSYCHOLOGY, one must complete the required courses that go with that degree. A musician for example, in this free country, can study music in any way they choose. They don't have to have a certain degree to be considered a "real musician". No one is going to tell them to stop studying music unless they do it in the "traditional" way that makes everyone else feel comfortable. Well maybe some people will... But LEARNING ABOUT MUSIC and playing it, and writing it, does not require that one attends Berklee, or that one actually graduates. One does not have to go to Johnson and Wales, or France, to learn how to cook, or graduate MIT to become a software designer. There are many, many programmers who learned completely on their own, or had a little bit of schooling. This society is now obsessed with degrees and certificates. A 24 year old with a business degree, and zero work experience, will be hired to manage groups of employees who have a huge amount of experience, and would often be much more efficient and successful in the managerial position. We need to STOP this obsession and prejudice with degrees. If someone studies something, they are an ---ologist. If they get their degree, then they have acquired a degree in that subject as well. They are not "obsessed" with a subject just because they did not graduate Columbia or Brown with a Master's, it is THEIR path, THEIR interest, THEIR passion. So unless you want to be told to put down your guitar because someone else doesn't think you should be learning music without going to Berklee, or playing it, or writing it; Or your ratchet set because you didn't get your mechanic certificate; Or your binoculars and camera because you didn't get a degree in Ornithology, or your spatula because you didn't graduate Johnson and Wales, then stop trying to tell other people what they should and should not be interested in, or studying, or writing and talking about. List of "ologies" :

Men and Women, Communication

Talking TO another person is worlds apart from talking AT another person. We talk TO whom we respect, and we tend to talk AT whom we don't. The person on the receiving end knows the difference.

Hostile Environment

Hostile Environments are created by the members of the group, when members of the group feel that they possess superior traits, and bond on these supposedly superior traits. Anyone who enters the group, whether it's a small friendship group, a class, a family group, or a workplace, who does not share this "superior trait", will often be treated unkindly, coldly, and with disdain. (Like a 'dirty peasant' who doesn't "belong" in the Royal Courtyard).

You may well be creating a "hostile environment" if you belong to a group of people who have come together based on superficial traits, and if you and your group hold pride in these traits. For example, a Women's History class that is made up of all women, and is led by a female professor, can easily create a hostile environment toward male students. If their focus on the subject is objective and straightforward, then the class may be safe, and all students can learn and participate without feeling like an "outsider". But if the women plug this into their personal egos and identities, and make it about themselves, bonding with each other on their femaleness, "Men Can't Get This, Only We Get This", they are probably creating a hostile environment toward males, AND toward any females who refuse to participate in the "us against them" games. (Women's History is not FOR women, it is HUMAN HISTORY that pertains to everyone, and is FOR everyone.) Such a hostile environment will perpetuate itself; most male students will feel uncomfortable, and drop the class, or not take it in the first place when the atmosphere of the class is talked about. Therefore there will be few men in the class. Not because men "can't get it", or "can't learn it", but because of the hostile environment.

 Any group can do this~ groups based on ethnic identity; "WE" are the "good people" and "They" are the "bad people", "dumb people", "racist people", "arrogant people"~ members of the group are not intellectually able to see themselves or others as individuals. Groups based on Political Parties are very common as well.

Groups based on their age~ teens of all generations do this. "We" understand things that the "older people" don't GET, man! (Remember that?) But older adults do this as well. Of course, these older adults were often the same people who did this as teens. They just change the thing they have in common with the other people they have grouped themselves with. (Baby boomers, for example.) "We" get stuff that no one else gets, man!

Groups based on gender are the most common. People will often believe that another person, whom they know NOTHING about, has similar skills, life experience, knowledge, and interests all because they are the same gender as themselves. Or that the person will automatically bond with them, or be on their "side" against the opposite sex. This creates very hostile environments, separation, division, resentment, and halts productivity and progress.

Like the Women's History class mentioned previously, if for example there is an Advanced Math class, and the professor is a male who has it in his head that males are better at math than females, and there are male students in the class that want to echo his sentiments, (the ego desire to "own" knowledge), then that class will probably be a Hostile Environment toward female students. Not only will there be few females in the class because of this obvious vibe, so the female students will feel exposed and unprotected, but also the male professor will do all kinds of subtle things to avoid acknowledging the female student as a "Real Member" of the group. Any male students who engage in this behavior will NOT be corrected by this professor, he will allow it to happen, pretend he doesn't notice it, turn away when it happens instead of addressing the problem. It is a matter not just of direct bullying by the professor, but of laying down a red carpet for anyone else who desires to display hostility toward the female student.

Hostile Environments are created by those who have ego-identity issues, who desire to be a member of an "elite" group. Those who try to work and learn in such an environment are often sabotaged to the extent that they cannot complete tasks or achieve their goals, which is of course the goal of the members of the group. (Then the group members will say "See, he/she couldn't do it because he/she is not one of us.")

Ego, Memory Lapse, and Ownership

An intriguing, and also often aggravating, thing that some people do on a regular basis is claiming ownership of ideas, knowledge, and things.

A very common example is when a person learns how to do something, and then treats others as if they are stupid or ignorant because they have not learned how to do that yet. As if the knowledge they have...
acquired is innate, they were born knowing it.

People who do this also tend to do something else: they want to be the "One Who Knows", as if the knowledge is a solid object that only one person can own. They will often treat certain others as if they do NOT KNOW what THEY know~ they couldn't possibly... (If they know how to run a machine, you don't. Because in their minds, the knowledge to run the machine is like a stone held in your hand. Only one person can hold a stone. If they are holding it, you can't be holding it.)

I have run into this on a regular basis in the building trades. It looks like sexism, and it is to some extent, but it's not really about that. It's about the individual's ego. "I know something that makes me special" or "I know something that proves I am one of the Men" is very common, and obviously an issue from childhood that was not grown out of. "Masculine knowledge" does not exist in reality; all knowledge can be learned by anyone who wants to learn it. But the sexism is just a symptom; the men who keep trying to prove that a woman does not know what they know ALSO do this to other men, based on any kind of superiority/inferiority issue.

As a personal example, probably the most poignant one I can remember was: a male friend who does manual labor for carpenters part time (he has a full time office job) explained to me for literally 2 hours how he dug holes for footings of a deck, and how much work that was, how much dirt was moved, and how it takes a long time, how difficult, what it was for, etc etc etc, (something he had done the previous summer), and how NO ONE UNDERSTOOD HOW MUCH WORK IT WAS. Why was that poignant? Because he was telling ME all this, as if I had no idea about digging footings, or building decks. That same day I had LITERALLY left work, taken a shower and drove out to meet him~ the shower was to wash off dirt and sweat from DIGGING FOOTING HOLES all day, manually; it was the fourth day of it; I had to dig them manually because of the location, and they had to be extra deep, and the dirt had to be moved up a hill... for MY CONTRACTING BUSINESS. My friend actually interrupted, dismissed, and ignored me every single time I started to explain that yes, I could relate to the difficulty of digging footing holes...
Another glaring example: One day my partner, my employee and I were looking at a kitchen remodel, where the closet wall had to be reconfigured. I assessed it and explained in detail what I thought we needed to do to achieve the goal. The two men were silent until I finished. My partner then proceeded to repeat exactly what I had just said, nearly word for word, explaining it as if he had thought of it completely himself. My employee just stared in surprise~ I said "That's what I just said" my partner said "No you didn't~" my employee said "YES, she DID." That kind of thing happened OFTEN, with lots of different people, in various scenarios.

There are plenty of women who do this as well, especially with things that bolster their identity as a "Woman", just like when men do it. If one of these women knows a recipe, she often convinces herself, and everyone else, that she is the only one who can make that dish, or make it well. This woman often is the "only one who knows how to do the laundry", as if this knowledge is innate. Exactly like the man who believe they are the "only one who knows how to use the chopsaw". This woman is also the Authority On Child Rearing, she is the Only One who know how to wash a baby, how to make bottles, how to hold a baby, how to dress a child, how to discipline a child. How to make a bed. How to vacuum, how to mop, how to fold towels, how to do secretarial tasks. Anything that she knows how to do, especially if it can be labeled "Feminine", she is the authority, and she will condescend to women when she can get away with it. Exactly like this same man will condescend to other men when they can get away with it.

They seem to completely forget LEARNING how to do things. They were simply born knowing everything they know, and they would rather not have someone else share this knowledge.

You can also see this same behavior with THINGS. with many of these same people. If they receive something they like as a gift from you, they often convince themselves that they are the one who acquired the thing all on their own. Sometimes they will even invent a story about acquiring it. If you let them borrow or use your equipment, they often come to believe that it belongs to THEM. They simply forget or delete that the thing is yours. (How many CDs have you lost to this?) I have lost thousands of dollars of tools and equipment over the years to this.

I have also lent things to others who not only decided that it was their own, but "forgot" that I was the one who showed them the thing in the first place, and even that I had any interest or experience in the subject. They completely convinced themselves that they were the one who discovered whatever the interest was, and then proceeded to behave toward me as if I had no knowledge, interest, or experience in the subject at all. They literally have to "Own" EVERYTHING that is in their possession, or in their heads, and they seem to completely delete anything that is related to you giving them the thing, or you doing the thing, or you knowing about the thing.

These men and women will DELETE anything that shows what they believe isn't right in their heads. BOTH men and women who do this also go along very much with gender roles and sexist sabotage; it makes it much easier for them to "Own" knowledge and things in their fantasies. BOTH males and females will dismiss men who are regular cooks in the home, who are the main child-caregiver, male nurses, stay-at-home-fathers, etc, and will dismiss female auto mechanics, politicians, doctors, carpenters, engineers. If something has a "male" or "female" connotation to it in their heads, they will dismiss a person who is not the right sex, and will deny that they could POSSIBLY have any "real" knowledge, skill or experience.