10.18.2007

Boys in Their Forties

Today, I am posting a part of an article pertaining to the ManKind Project from The Republican in Springfield, Massachusetts. Go here to read the full text.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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A few good men; Young, bored and Springfield -- and the men who are trying to help

By Bill Peters

"But when I talked to Springfield resident Boysen Hodgson, the director of the New England Branch of the ManKind project, an internationally-known men's retreat group, it seemed noble, and right, to at least tinker with the code of of guyhood.

"We end up with guys who have been doing men's work for twenty-five years... and guys who are in complete crisis and have hit bottom, for whom this is their last-ditch effort," he says.

But despite differences in background, most men tend to be nervous about success, and fear being reduced by an opportunistic world. Hodgson says that most men "get stuck as adolescents. We end up being eighteen-year-old boys in our forties; we end up being eighteen-year-olds as parents."

Due to proprietary reasons, Hodgson wouldn't describe any activities of ManKind's retreats in detail, beyond "journaling, some physical challenges, and some emotionally challenging activities." But as a men's group, the Hemingway-meets-Yanni rhetoric is all there. The retreat is called the New Warrior Training Adventure. Mission statements contain passages like "The New Warrior is tough and loving, wild and gentle."

But does the very packaging of the ManKind Project risk alienating the men who most need the help? I asked Hodgson if the delicate way we talk about gender allowed any room for humor -- often a man's only raft in a lake of PC conversation.

"I'll answer with a joke: We're totally humorless," he deadpanned. But he went on with a smile: "But being aware of something doesn't mean that it's not funny anymore."

Sentimentality happens during the retreats, but ManKind's mission is anything but. Hodgson talks about self-ownership, admitting to failed ambition -- often the tender core of any man gone wrong. A ManKind bumper sticker says "Know Fear."

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