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And the way boys learn to be male almost inevitably leads them directly to some kind of obsession with sex as they grow older.All babies are considered okay to smooch and squeeze and hold close, female or male, but when they get old enough, boys stop being held and cuddled and stroked.Over time, the only ways boys keep from showing their feelings is to train themselves not to feel them, to dull their awareness of their own experience, numb themselves to emotions.In the course of doing so, they decrease their ability to feel any feelings, joyful, painful, or otherwise.Loving or tender relationships with other boys get them similarly marked as “faggots” and put them in danger of violence and being ostracized.Instead, boys are encouraged to develop relationships with other boys that are primarily competitive: playing sports, jockeying for higher rank in social hierarchies such as teams, clubs, and later on, gangs and fraternities.During the past several decades, screening – testing for cancer before symptoms develop – has reduced deaths from cervical cancer, as doctors have been able to find cancer early and treat it, or prevent it from developing.Have you ever encountered a baby whose gender is unknown to you? We barely realize how great the differences are in how we treat male and female people, in what we expect of them.

This is very different from the nurturing ease and satisfaction of a mutual, equal, fear-free relationship.The loving attention of another human being is necessary to feel these feelings and to heal the hurts that caused them.The isolation of boys keeps them from seeking out the attention they need, prevents them from even believing it’s okay to ask for help. Even worse, they are loaded down with messages that feelings are not something “real men” experience.A systematic enterprise of denied contact, humiliation and name-calling, being ostracized, sexist conditioning, homophobia, competition, and training for violence leaves boys more and more on their own. Isolation is a piece of the heritage of our conditioning as boys that we carry with us into our manhood.This description of male conditioning will not exactly match every boy’s experiences.

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