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Gay Puerto Rican Men Article

Men's Emotional Well Being Neglected

Hobbes In The House/Mariposa Men's Wellness Institute
Dwight Hobbes
MN Spokesman-Recorder
You do not want to go in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, throwing the word mariposa around indiscriminately. It means butterfly and is commonly used as a derogatory term for gay men. That said, there is an organization called the Mariposa Men's Wellness Institute and it's about imparting positive messages for all men-gay, straight and in-between.
Mariposa Men's Wellness Institute is based in St. Louis but, of course, the beautiful thing about the Internet is that you can access pretty much anything from anywhere. Accordingly, the website is 3853008 mmwi-stl / mmwi-stl . The mission, which you'll find spelled out there is to "promote and educate the public about men's emotional wellness (positive, progressive mental health for males). We are dedicated to providing informational about a wide range of male experience and to challenge the prevailing paradigms about how to define ‘manhood' in American culture. Our goal is to suggest some potential alternatives to what we consider to be a very limiting and often destructive cultural construct, which will allow men to move toward a state of positive and balanced emotional and mental health. We want to assist in creating a society wherein men and women can live mutually caring egalitarian lives, which respect both our differences and similarities."
And there's a blog, called, sensibly enough, Mariposa Men's Wellness Institute Blog. The postings by MMWI executive director Donald B. Jeffries are on contemporary issues pertaining to men's emotional well being -- the very concept one that slips below most folk's radar. After all, we see women's emotional health as a viable issue and one that's often respectfully discussed inside and out, up, down and sideways. Men, however, are seldom viewed as even having emotions - at least outside anger and usually abusive anger at that.
To wit, a September 20th entry that asserts, among other ideas, "Our patriarchal culture is singularly unwilling and/or unable to display empathy toward males. The message is that boys and adult males, in order ‘to be men', need to 'tough it up', 'display courage' and 'be a warrior in the face of adversity'." Less a flesh and blood human being than an ideal, some sort of living, breathing indestructible object. Problem is, popularly romanticized a notion as that is - in a John Wayne-ish sense - it doesn't work in real life.
Men need space in which to be happy, be sad and fully experience a whole wide world of states in between. Or they wind up strait-jacketed by perception, walking around in an emotional coffin, to all intent and purpose dead except for when they get pissed off about something. And it doesn't take a shrink to figure out that when you've spent a lifetime learning the only way you're allowed to express yourself is through anger, you're a prime candidate to become a rage-aholic. All you really need is to have enough painful experiences that you stuff like ten pounds of crap crammed into a five-pound bag (because real men don't cry) and soon enough the only way you know how to relieve any mental or emotional discomfort at all is by lashing out - either yelling, hitting or both. It's only a hair's breadth from there to winding up a stereotypical domestic abuser, beating your kids, wife, lover over something innocuous as leaving the lid off the garbage can - and never even know how you got that way. If you really love those under your roof and feel bad enough long enough about regularly mistreating them and they don't leave, you might, in agonized confusion, decide the best thing for everybody is for you to find the tallest building in town and jump off the roof.
The blog runs a gamut, touching on a broad range of aspects about what man and boys are traditionally taught to be - by mothers as well as fathers - and what realistically can be expected as a result. Some of it's a little preachy in a beat-you-over-the-head-with-a-
bible sort of way, but the consistent idea is that wellness is something that hasn't been going on in most men's lives for quite sometime and it's a dangerous fact of life that really needs to be faced. For men's sake and for the sake of those whose lives they impact.
Now, we come to a real roadblock. It's one thing for well-meaning folk like you and me to realize millions of men need help to escape their emotional prisons and become real live, viable human beings. But who's going to tell them? And how the hell do you make them believe it? When the way they've grown up as kids, the way they've been all their grown lives is all they know how to know? Maybe the Mariposa Men's Wellness Institute has an answer for that one. I sure don't. Haven't the first idea where to begin.

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