Nicolai Redux

 

Sunset and fellow photographer at the beach

I’ve posted previously about my friend from graduate school, Nicolai Khoklov.

Let me review. One day at Duke University I was introduced to a new graduate student by the name of Nicolai. His heavy Russian accent was intriguing. Later it came out. He had been the head of the KGB for Eastern Europe and finally, after much soul searching, he defected.
The story is dramatic. Our intelligence service was to get his family and take them out of the country when he went on Radio Free Europe to announce his defection. They didn’t do it and he lost them forever. Later, when he was in Germany, Russian intelligence tried to poison him with a radioactive substance. He survived. That’s the drama.

The Truth Is Spoken

Then there is the other part. One evening Nicolai talked at length about his experiences. The key words he uttered in conclusion were – “You think it is like James Bond. It is, in fact, like Get Smart.” (For the younger generation, Get Smart was a television show which satirized intelligence services.)

Nicolai’s words continue to resonate with me. Especially in our current political environment. What we are seeing displayed is incompetence, disregard for country and corruption among many other things. What we are showing the world is embarrassing.

How Are We To Assess This Specter

Nicolai’s story resonates. In this campaign season, we may dismiss the show as a form of comic opera or are we seeing life as it is? Many of us are shocked at what we are seeing, but, is the truth that this was there all along and we have not seen or experienced it this openly?

Get Smart was meant to be funny but what we are seeing now is anything but funny. Or is it that we should be honest with ourselves and that we are seeing fundamental truths about humanity? It is sobering to realize that these kind of beings were there all along and we need to attend to the fact of their existence. Maybe the recognition is uplifting and useful.

Remember, Nicolai’s job was to safeguard the underbelly of the Soviet Union in Europe. He was to gather intelligence, kill people if necessary and build an underlying defense force for his country. In the end he felt it was all a lie and his job violated his sense of humanity. And so he followed the guidance of his conscience. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had more politicians with his integrity.

Another Form of a Reality Show

The lesson for us is that this is not comic opera. It is reality and it is often dysfunctional and displays the faults and frailties of humanity in its worst forms. We may laugh, but often should cry at what is revealed. Will we see ourselves for who we are including our vulnerability and what is lurking under the surface. That, in itself, is valuable.

Get Smart was for fun but as is often the case with comedy, it displays lessons to which we need to attend. Again we come back to our view of reality. We have to decide how we interpret the events of this season and what we do with it is another matter. And to me Nicolai is a role model. Is it up to us collectively to bring this under control?

What have you concluded?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Feelings of Inadequacy and Powerlessness

 

Personal Management

To fulfill our potential requires not just commitment and dedication for success. It also requires us to deal with our perceptions of ourselves and our belief or understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. Perspective is needed to balance such things as our talents or lack of interest. Our weaknesses need not drive down our self esteem. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It’s also a matter of orchestrating our motivation with self esteem. And it is often not so easy to understand our strengths and how they may benefit us. The bottom line is that management of the self involves management of an orchestra.

We cannot all be talented in the same way. Where we do not have talent we may have lack of interest or commitment or we may view something as inessential. Men have sports heroes and we are instructed to admire and follow in their footsteps. But some of us are not interested and where formerly this may be seen as an inadequacy or a weakness it can be transformed into a view of lack of interest because there are other talents which offer potential for growth and satisfaction. The confinement may be in what men do to each other. Part of the question relates to recognizing the extent and diversity of effects on each other. All too often there is an
enforced lack of introspection especially if the issue is not to be discussed.

And Then There is the Sexual Arena

Now before us we are seeing considerable evidence of the issue of male sexual abuse. Boys may ask each other, “Did you get any?” This is a depersonalization of women and helps lay groundwork for abusers. This question comes from the outside and, if the young man has values which indicate to him that he wants to not treat women as objects, self esteem may come to be at question.

Establishing a Useful Focus

As the sexual abuse scandals have become highlighted we see a central focus on males exercising power. We need to not overlook the other possibilities and it would need to be central to male group discussions. For many men it is not primarily a matter of power but one of THEIR self esteem. And when women step forward and talk about how they were abused they are too often punished and shouted down which makes matters worse.

We need to recognize that men may push and harass women sexually not because they are exercising power but because they feel powerless and inadequate. In short, it may be compensatory.They hope they may prevail and feel more powerful or worthwhile. Just as when Trump strikes out because his narcissism isn’t being fed. These behaviors can be more indicative of insecurity, fears, powerlessness and personal flaws rather than an exercise of power. They reveal weakness. These men may avoid despair by attempting to reassure themselves and their worth. Otherwise they can collide with a personal negativity.

Self As Trash

If a man believes he is trash then the subjugation of others may enhance, for the moment, their feeling of their own worth. But these kinds of self disregard can be assuaged only temporarily. Self concept and what we believe in ourselves is a virtual statue of self image we carry with us. And if it is dubious or negative then it must be supported and dealt with over and over because there is no event in day to day life which will thoroughly mitigate it unless there is a thoroughgoing search of the meaning and substance of ones self regard and belief. And men, when they are willing to search and admit can help each other with this problem. And so we return again to the meaning and need for men to self examine together. We share these flaws in self and in male culture. One of the leading indicators of this problem being underlying is seen in the man who must always receive praise and adulation. Enjoying recognition and celebration is one thing but the insistence and extent of need indicates a personal flaw.

The Bottom Line

If all the above seems complicated, it is because it is complicated. We need to examine these various themes and lay them out before us. If we focus only on power, we lose track of the variety of things which feed the dysfunction. We have our work cut out for us.

How often have you been able to perceive this process in men?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

New Focus on Patriarchy – Pt 8

 

Exploring Our Future possibilities

It does not appear to be an exaggeration to say that we have reached a turning point in human history and may well be looking at an extraordinary future. We seem to have expanded options.

When we reach periods of crisis and resistance it is not always apparent what the underlying issues are. There are those who claim we know why women have been subjugated. I’m not at all sure. One conclusion is about the knowledge regarding paternity of children. While it can always be at question, it seems doubtful it is anything approaching a significant explanation. And there are no ready answers but opens our eyes to what is possible is important.

The New Woman

Do we have any idea what we are seeing. Is there a new woman at hand or has she been here all along. Our culture is changing.

I remember in the 1960s as women sought new roles some donned suits like men wore and had similar ties. That was abandoned shortly. Now again we are trying new roles and seem to be accepting that women can be both pretty and smart. I’m loving the women showing up on the news shows. They are not just window dressing except on one “news” channel. And they hold their own in all regards. It is both fascinating and delightful. And the fight for their empowerment continues.

Rescuing Our Future

Men have been largely in charge for a very long time and its time for a change. It is assumed that men are naturally competitive and aggressive. Well, if we go back to when we hunted and gathered there may have been a certain utility but it is not necessary anymore. Too often men can be hollow, shallow and lacking in actual power they assumed they had.

It is hardly uplifting or lofty for men to be in control who seem inclined to abuse the poor and take advantage only for their own profit. Sociopathy is not a necessary male attribute and we have seen much too much of it in the political arena recently.

Rulers Through History

In some ways we believe that we have a new kind of ruler in the “modern” world. I’m not convinced. There were men of power in the ancient world who engaged in stunning violations of human rights and dignity. Later royal families took charge but in Europe what it amounted to was closely linked families who warred among themselves and the true suffering were the people of their nations. Wars of conquest continued.

Now we have new ways to build and collect wealth but we still have a hard core of extremely wealthy rulers. The people of the world get meager shares of wealth but a few countries have more wealth to share. Still today we are looking at an effective rule by the few truly wealthy who hold the balance of control. We now refer to the oligarchs.

Struggle and Transformation in Cultural Transformation

There is a suspicion that a significant change in culture is upon us as we enter the information age and if we will employ vision it may be that we may have a new type of mature society. It will take work.

Struggle is always central among the animals of this planet. And that need not mean bloody struggle. Certainly we gain something from struggle and it simply needs to be combined with a vision of a future and possibilities. We have seen transformation in the past and a notable time was the Reformation which thrust us out of the dark ages. Are we near another such change. But It is my suspicion that fundamental to this transformation will be the empowerment of women.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Women In Power

 

Above is the true inner Luisa

Luisa the Kitten

Luisa Penza is one of the most prominent warrior women in Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power. Of all the women she is closest to Brigid Lynch, their leader.

Of course each of the characters in this series had a role to play and Luisa was on the list of prominent Andromeda women but her character developed considerably as the writing progressed.

Who She Came To Be

Luisa is from a prominent and wealthy Primal family in Italy. She could have simply accepted that position and reveled in the wealth and comfort. At one point she was sent to boarding school in Virginia. It featured a wonderful stable of horses but Luisa found other outlets. By the end of her second year the school considered her too “naughty” and sent her home. But sometimes people just have to be who they are and she wanted challenge. And so she came back to Italy to build a life she chose. In the Andromeda and the company of Brigid she found a true companion. In fact, she kept on surprising Brigid. Initially she was seen as a “sex kitten”. She was darling and irresistibly engaging to men. But, of course, her position demanded much more of her and she fulfilled her missions admirably. Her choice was to use her qualities of being sensitive, lush and smart to serve her people well.

Out of History

At the beginning of the series the Andromeda women took positions so common for such women in history. They became consorts for wealthy and powerful men. In doing so they made themselves vulnerable in a number of ways. Such women are often seen as compromised and despoiled. In history sex outside of marriage caused women to be shamelessly critiqued. Luisa knew better and one of her strengths was that she found ways to enjoy what she was doing, but at a personal price. There was an independence of thought and assessment which told her she was doing what needed to be done.

Sustaining Herself

Luisa’s inner self was powerful and surprising to people who truly got to know her. Yes, she was kitten-like and loved the passion with the men she was engaging and from whom she was extracting intelligence. Her belief in herself always sustained her. And in the end she could be dangerous and strike with brutality if necessary.

Where She Came From

Given the general form of the story, the women of the Andromeda were chosen to ensnare powerful, greedy men. And such men often are fools enough not to know how powerful women can be in their own right. Each of the women had their own characteristics and diversity was chosen. Luisa, as the sensuous gamine, was a logical choice. But after “hiring” her she proved to be surprising and took over her role in ways not designed initially. This was a process that often surprised this author. But I had to own it and develop it. After all I strongly support the empowerment of women and these women were perfect vehicles for demonstrating the independence of women and that they can make their own choices. Society may try to see them as despoiled. But if they choose not to be, then that is how it is whether others like it or not. They confront our errant prejudices and how our future must be to develop the potential of humankind. Diversity, strength and independence of choice must be available pathways for all of us. What I had chosen in these women was part of our essential future.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Issues For and From Men

 

Again I come back to asking men to examine themselves and their culture. The change there must be on the horizon is not up to women alone. While there were men who were wise and made crucial contributions in the past, there are also many men in history who had devastating effects.

Exercising Power to Dominate Others

One of the issues most often noted when we discuss abuses by men is the issue of power. We see efforts to dominate and control others. Certainly women see this especially in the way women are subjugated. When men introspect many often see this issue as a force in their own lives. It begins early and may be displayed in peer groups and in the form of “leadership” they exercise in such groups. And later certainly it comes up in business and military settings of all kinds. Bullies portray it and it comes out in sports. Less often it is at issue in school performance which has an objective measure.

Widespread Manifestation

Over a lifetime these themes are manifested in ever so many settings and is something that men suffer as well as women. But women have suffered more and it is still at issue. It may be domination in meetings, harassment by other workers in various forms. Thus, it comes out in competition of all kinds, even in adult life. It is rarely brought up but it is something that we all must contend with. Now is the time when it should begin to be highlighted.

Power as a display of sexual supremacy

But the primary issue placed before us now is the issue of sexual domination and harassment. The matter begins early. “Did you get any?” one boy may ask another. Real men are supposed to be preeminently successful in not just winning favor but in taking it. Certainly when this topic is brought up it is frequently greeted with insistent denial. But, no matter how we try to push it away, there is an implicit theme especially among men at a younger age. Of course, it then carries over to later in life. It may be a matter of competition and personal belief that a man should take sexual domination because power of all kinds is the province of men—supposedly. Too often it is not examined as a principle which is right or a valid pursuit.

Failure to Examine Supports Abuse

Of course, especially to the degree that it is not examined, it may support abuse of all kinds—even molestation and rape. It may feed issues of self esteem and perceptions of strength among male peer groups.

It cannot be overestimated how much there are underlying issues in male culture. Any attempt to raise them usually leads to denial, even anger at its mention. Certainly men don’t want to discuss it with and before women especially as we enter the era of empowering women. But they do not relish opening the issues with each other either. It is a touchy and difficult subject.

It Must Be Dealt With

But again I come back to the necessity for men to air it among themselves at last. Among each other is where it should begin in an honest environment. If there is resistance, then we must ask, in a forthright fashion, why and for what reasons.

These core issues lay the groundwork for our future. The power of men is eroding whether they like it or not and realignment for the future requires the retirement of denial.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Importance of Women Marching Is Being Overlooked

 

We are so proud of you!

Time to Pay Attention

We have just had a second large and important women’s march. The coverage and analysis has not done it justice. The import needs to be writ large. It is time to look in depth on the public stage.

There’s Something Fundamental – Attention!

Much focus of news is on Trump and dreadful political dysfunction in Washington but something much more fundamental is happening. We can begin to see special importance when we ask, Why are women marching? There are some notes about equality and health care rights but there is clearly insufficient attention to the depth and meaning of this movement. The coverage is dreadfully superficial.

Time to Probe

I have to be insistent. Stop and ask why women are marching. Surely it is more than one focused issue or restlessness. I hear very little in terms of in depth questions. is it the young (millenials) or is there more to it? There has been a groundswell of a wave coming for decades now. Superficial attachment to one issue is common but surely there is depth and complexity. We may be surprised at what we find.

What Do Men Think?

And then there is the matter of men. What do men think about what women are doing now that they are on the streets? There are some men visible among the women but I hear no coverage or only a minuscule amount off coverage of what men think. Do they support women? Or what part of women’s demands? Why or why not?

Write Our Questions Large

I can’t emphasize enough the import of what is happening with women and it is not just in the United States. Honestly I’m not even sure if all the women know why they are in the streets. It doesn’t seem political. And I suspect it goes beyond ending subjugation. We may focus on visible issues but surely there are many others lurking.

Or if it is called political, why are we letting people get away with that because fundamentally that means the true meaning of the movement is being dismissed. We are throwing everything in the trash hopper of politics these days.

And What of Men

And with what is coming out we have a lot of questions of men. Who are these sexual abusers? Who are these power hungry men? We have to step back and ask in depth why they are doing these things. It is often dismissed as a matter of power. Yes for some. But that is insufficient. And does abusing women really satisfy a sexual need. The psychologist here is jumping up and down because he doesn’t believe those simplicities tell us what is happening or why it is happening. There is often a matter of compensatory functioning for felt inadequacies. People who have deep feelings of inadequacy or view the self as trash will often drive for power and abuse others. I can’t begin to open the depth of issues in this format but there are questions which must be asked. Things are often not what they seem.

And, of course, there is the matter of what the male culture has often done to men. Those set of issues need exploration.

Potential and More

Beyond issues of rectifying abuses there is the matter of potential. I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it over and over…we are missing the potential of half of our population and men are missing out on the full potential of women, of part of their own potential and the intriguing benefits of in depth partnership with women.

I’ve been following the women’s movement since the 1960s and we are seeing a deeply rooted cultural change. Women and men alike are struggling with it. And part of the reason is that we aren’t truly probing these changes. Some of it seems to be related to effective birth control coming under the control of women. And there are men who are working hard to snatch control back from them.

Benefits For Men and All of Us

In earlier posts I’ve said there is a lot about the male culture that I find offensive and ineffective if not stultifying. And so now women are offering us alternatives and new blending. This is an exciting opportunity to be seized. Can we take off our blinders and fight back against our denial? This is a fight to benefit every single one of us even those who would crush the women’s movement. Right now we need to probe what is happening and giving it true in depth coverage.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

A Stronger Focus on Men

 

The Times They are Achanging

We can sit back and simply observe some of the changes occurring before us or.…

Most of our attention seems caught by political dysfunction and our struggle to take charge of the future of our country again. But we must not lose sight of what is happening in terms of women. Over the reach of history it is my belief that these changes will have truly profound effects and what is happening bears discussion and serious attention. The only problem is we can’t be sure all the data is clearly in front of us. And so we have to explore.

Feminism and the Patriarchy

We understand perfectly well that men dominate government and business and so many other parts of our lives. But there is a long wave of change directed by women who are demanding not just change but an end to subjugation. Many men of the patriarchy are resisting, often in the most curious ways which serve none of us. Some other men are paying attention and it is time for us to truly examine this process in more detail. And it is going to take some time and I’m convinced it will take probing. But one thing is clear. We cannot separate the development of feminism from the insistence of the patriarchy.

A Different Landscape

The world for men and women is clearly stirring. If we look carefully, we see a recognition in regard to women warriors as they have been in history. Their presence is more than a footnote to history and they are appearing in our stories. We are looking at why we are the way we are and, over considerable opposition, demanding change. Some of this seems to go back to birth control. We now have a broader landscape of control of fertility. And that control is not the imposition of control on women. They are taking charge.

And across the world there seems to be a fundamental change in attitude about having children. They don’t just come because they come. When the agricultural revolution blossomed we needed more laborers. But now the question is how many children we need. It is causing a crisis as aging populations stress resources and the role of immigrants requires serious examination.

For the Moment

On the stage in America there is something that has come center stage—with vengeance. We have been hearing about it but now comes Harvey Weinstein. And he is in focus after the abuses of women by men such as Roger Ailes and Donald Trump. Rich and powerful men have been able to silence women with their threats but that appears to be changing. We have another dimension which is forcing our attention.

Adding Yet Another

But there is something else which is needed. Men are increasingly joining in the fight for the end to the subjugation of women and supporting a growing powerful place in our country and across the world for women. At the same time there is something else that is seriously needed and it will benefit all of us. It is time for men to seriously question, at another level, who and why they are. We need to be questioning how we are and who we are. It’s easy to simply say we need to change how it has been. We also need to know what it is and how it is for men. Clearly there is a male culture but as a psychologist I believe the issues go much deeper and one way to find out is for men to begin to look at themselves more closely in discussion with each other.

And so in I’m going to broaden the exploration in future posts.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt