First, please accept my thanks for visiting my website. It is the product of two years of writing, and a half century of living, along with over twenty years as an observer and activist in the strange realm of socio-sexual politics. I hope whatever sanity I have held on to from that has found its way to the pages here and that you might find something useful in them. But first a few words about me personally, about how this site came into being, and more importantly, why.
Being born in the mid 50’s, I grew up in a much different world than we live in today. My father was career military, serving faithfully through two wars and bearing the scars, both internal and external, to prove it. My mother served as well, being an army wife and raising three boys. She earned a masters degree with honors after, and only after, that job was done.
My youth was rocked in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as was the rest of the country. During that time I came to question and indeed suspect everything my parents stood for, as did most everyone of my generation. It took some time to figure out that my father wasn’t the guy that got us into Viet-Nam; he was just a soldier doing his job. I also figured out my mother wasn’t a domestic slave, just a principled woman who put her family first.
It also dawned on me that what they stood for was work, their old school values, and above all else, their children. I wasted a good measure of my youth in denial of that, and carry regrets to this day.
I did my own stint in the service and found myself unsuited for the grueling conformity and dedication to tedium it requires in peacetime, though I can’t imagine I would have preferred walking in my father’s footsteps to the battlefield. The fashionable rebelliousness I acquired in adolescence didn’t help, but it made things a lot more interesting.
A bad match for the military and uninterested in manual labor I eventually escaped to college. After a few attempts at majoring in beer, I settled on psychology, and minored, according to the faculty, in driving them to giddy fascination with razor blades and other sharp objects. Apparently the military had not beaten the irreverence for authority out of me.
But the problem with college, at least in that time, was that it almost always led to a job, unless you stayed there and taught. I liked the idea of light work that translated into prestige and puffery, but the conformity required in academia rivals that of the military. Been there, done that, if you’ll forgive such a blatant cliché.
I wanted something really easy to do so I chose a career of trying to talk crack heads and alcoholics into staying out of bars and crack houses. That turned out to be almost as hard as reasoning with professors, but it was also for a much better cause. I stayed with it for the better part of twenty years.
Interesting thing about counseling addicts; you can only talk about booze and dope so much. Sooner or later get around to other things like work, social life and the lot.
Like marriage and family.
Addiction takes its toll across the board. Much of the recovery from it is repairing damage that frequently cuts across the lives of everyone close to the addict. It’s a given in the treatment world that including the spouse is essential; that we are, in actuality, treating the family and marriage as opposed to treating the individual.
This is difficult work at best, but it got even more complicated. Somewhere along the way, about the time gender feminists brought their “feminist therapy” theories to the community of practitioners, things took a most bizarre turn for the worse in a treatment industry that already struggled with efficacy and recidivism. Simply put, we stopped really treating addiction and started practicing sexual politics with our clients. We segregated them by sex, more accurately we built walls around female clients, and started teaching them that all their problems, in one way or another, stemmed from men.
We taught them classes on the many dangers of men, much of it focusing on how to spot and deal with the bad ones, with the subtext being that they were all bad ones.
The entire field seemed to morph into one giant episode of a weekday afternoon talk show, with damaged lives put on display like circus sideshows. But unlike television the purpose was not to sell commercial advertising, but rather to push political ideology, and push it on people at the most vulnerable point in their fragmented lives. We began to identify and treat masculinity as the disease, not the addiction, and the cure for it was misandry –the hatred of men and boys– even though at the time I didn’t know there was a word for such a thing. Men’s groups devolved into sessions of shame, clinically applied and charged for by the hour. Or, as one psychotherapist once told me, just before being paid to address a group of male clients, “I love to take men’s macho bullshit and shove it down their throats.” The look in her eye was nothing less than sadistic. And she was looking at me no differently than she looked at her “clients.”
So of course all this spilled over into the daily routines of practitioners. Many male counselors quit closing their doors when in individual sessions with female clients. Allegations of sexual impropriety were routine, and encouraged, as were false memories of childhood abuse. I am sure I can’t account for the hours of group therapy, money and possible help that were squandered by therapists, processing memories of abuse with clients that never happened. Rather than helping them heal relationships with their already battered families, we sometimes just helped them drive the final nail in the coffin. It was- is, professional abuse on a massive scale.
The profession proceeded with all of this wholesale. It became a dangerous place for men to be, both clients and staff. The insurance companies didn’t bat an eye. They continued to pay. Treatment continued to suffer. And as time passed, relationships suffered more. Anti-male hate speech filtered its way into therapy and the culture at large in the same way tabloid journalism took over the news. Mainly because it sold. Still does.
Having the unusual notion that it was more my job to counsel addicts than to demonize men, it often put me at odds with the prevailing powers. Never subscribing to the adage “If you can’t beat em, join ’em,” I fought. In many ways I got my ass kicked.
The old saying goes, you can’t fight city hall. That may be true, but it’s nothing compared to fighting titty hall. Not even close. And that is not to say that the problem was women. It wasn’t. The problem was hateful ideology hiding behind the façade of helping women, which effectively rendered it immune to attack. The “helping professionals” that ushered in this ideological malignancy were men as often as they were women.
Eventually I left, watching what was left of professional treatment go down in flames like Rome.
So, to let you know, I did not get into this type of writing because I hate women, because of a bad divorce or a bad mother; and not because I want to return to any imagined days when women stayed in the kitchen and men ran the world. I do what I do for the same reasons that I chose to work with people who were headed for jails, destruction and death because the horrors of addiction; because something needs to be done.
Because as human beings we must at least try.
As a counselor I was often the bearer of tough messages that people needed to hear. Sometimes there was no easy way to say what needed to be said. As a writer on this particular subject, I view the mission as largely the same. So those that need sugar coated should go get a doughnut. I don’t say that in arrogance. Something has poisoned the relationships of men and women, which means it is poisoning our children. And instead of finding solutions, we have become addicted to the problem. I admittedly lack subtlety or even tact in my approach. Blame it on necessity, or blame it on me. But I am less concerned with offending you than with telling you less than the truth.
And what I know is that the truth is the only antidote for this type of poison.
With respect to that, I offer you mine.
[typography font=”Just Another Hand” size=”34″ size_format=”px”]Paul Elam[/typography]