Tag Archives: males

‘Broga’ classes catch on with guys

More men are being drawn to yoga classes especially designed just for them called “Broga,” including at a studio in St. George, Utah.

The classes focus more on the exercises and strength side of yoga, instead of the mystical aspect of the discipline.

During a recent early morning class, instructor Wade Knight led students in warmups and asked who had done yoga before. One man answered that he had tried it, as part of a rigorous workout program marketed on TV, but didn’t like it.

“That’s a rough introduction to yoga,” Knight said.

Most of the other men only had marginal experience with yoga, prompting Knight to advise that he’d keep the class simple and focus on getting the correct posture.

“If I see this weird look on your face, I’ll come back and help you out, or just give me that look that says, ‘Dude, I’m stuck,’ and I’ll come back and help you out,” Knight told the class at the Summit Athletic Club, 

Co-founder Robert Sidoti told The Associated Press earlier this year that he created Broga to let men get a workout to accompany their other fitness routines.

In Broga, there are no candles, no spiritual music, no chanting and no spirituality — it’s about improving the body, he said. Pushups, squats and elongating stretches are added to make a more familiar regime for men, however the exercises still stress breathing, strength, flexibility and balance.

St. George class participants Tyrel Olsen and John Rice told the Spectrum that being able to try yoga without worrying about women around lured them to the class.

“I like yoga, but I hate taking it with women because it’s so intimidating,” said Olsen, a first-time participant. “They’re so good at it.”

Added fellow class participant John Rice: “I really like yoga, but a typical yoga class you get a little static from women; you get weird looks; it’s nice to be able to go a yoga class without that.”

Currency affairs: Campaign underway to place female face on $20 by 2020

Who’s in your wallet?

Unless traveling with cash from another country, the portraits on your paper money are all males. 

But they are not all dead presidents — that’s Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill, Ben Franklin on the $100 and Salmon P. Chase on the $10,000 bill.

So that’s one argument that can be set aside in the debate over whether Harriet Tubman’s portrait should be on the $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson’s mug.

A nationwide nonprofit grassroots group, Women On 20s, petitioned President Barack Obama to place a woman’s likeness on U.S. currency. The goal is to accomplish this by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.

Women On 20s conducted multiple rounds of online voting, from which Tubman emerged the winner on Mother’s Day.

Some 30 women were considered during the caucus phase of the selection process, which involved 100 historians, academics and museum curators as advisers.

Primary voting took place March 1–April 5, with voters selecting the top candidates from a field of 15: Alice Paul, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Tubman.

Voters nominated three women to the final ballot: Roosevelt, Tubman and Parks.

And, because of strong public sentiment to have a choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller was added to the final ballot. Jackson, who has been on the $20 since 1928, fought for the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and renewed a policy of military action to drive the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole and Cherokee nations from their homelands.

In the final vote, Tubman, the escaped slave, Union spy, abolitionist and conductor on the Underground Railroad, won the popular vote.

“Our paper bills are like pocket monuments to great figures in our history,” Women On 20s executive director Susan Ades Stone said in a statement. “Our work won’t be done until we’re holding a Harriet $20 bill in our hands in time for the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020.”

The group submitted the petition to the White House on May 12 and urged the president to instruct Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to change the $20 and have a new bill in circulation before the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, has introduced the Women on the Twenty Act. Senate Bill 925 would direct the treasury secretary to convene a panel to recommend a woman whose likeness would be featured on a new $20 bill.

“Our paper currency is an important part of our everyday lives and reflects our values, traditions and history as Americans,” Shaheen said. “It’s long overdue for that reflection to include the contributions of women. The incredible grassroots support for this idea shows that there’s strong support for a woman to be the new face of the $20 bill.”

Did you know?

The Secretary of the Treasury may order new portraits and designs on currency. The federal Commission on Fine Arts reviews all the designs.

By U.S. Code, the people featured on paper currency have to be deceased for at least two years.

They also must be recognizable to the general public.

— L.N.

image_news_20_tubman

With rescue near, Boko Haram stoned girls to death

Even with the crackle of gunfire signaling rescuers were near, the horrors did not end: Boko Haram fighters stoned captives to death, some girls and women were crushed by an armored car and three died when a land mine exploded as they walked to freedom.

Through tears, smiles and eyes filled with pain, the survivors of months in the hands of the Islamic extremists told their tragic stories to The Associated Press on May 3, their first day out of the war zone.

“We just have to give praise to God that we are alive, those of us who have survived,” said 27-year-old Lami Musa as she cradled her 5-day-old baby girl.

She was among 275 girls, women and their young children, many bewildered and traumatized, who were getting medical care and being registered a day after making it to safety.

Nigeria’s military said it has freed nearly 700 Boko Haram captives in the past week. It is still unclear if any of them were among the so-called “Chibok girls,” whose mass abduction from their school a year ago sparked outrage worldwide and a campaign for their freedom under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Musa was in the first group of rescued women and girls to be transported by road over three days to the safety of the Malkohi refugee camp, a dust-blown deserted school set among baobab trees opposite a military barracks on the outskirts of Yola, the capital of northeastern Adamawa state.

Last week’s rescue saved her from a forced marriage to one of the killers of her husband, she said.

“They took me so I can marry one of their commanders,” she said of the militants who carried her away from her village after slaughtering her husband and forcing her to abandon their three young children, whose fates remain unknown. That was five months ago in Lassa village.

“When they realized I was pregnant, they said I was impregnated by an infidel, and we have killed him. Once you deliver, within a week we will marry you to our commander,” she said, tears running down her cheeks as she recalled her husband and lost children.

Musa gave birth to a curly-haired daughter the night before last week’s rescue.

As gunshots rang out, “Boko Haram came and told us they were moving out and that we should run away with them. But we said no,” she said from a bed in the camp clinic, a blanket wrapped around ankles so swollen that each step had been agony.

“Then they started stoning us. I held my baby to my stomach and doubled over to protect her,” she said, bending reflexively at the waist as though she still had to shield her newborn.

She and another survivor of the stoning, 20-year-old Salamatu Bulama, said several girls and women were killed, but they did not know how many.

The horrors did not end once the military arrived.

A group of women were hiding under some bushes, where they could not be seen by soldiers riding in an armored personnel carrier, who drove right over them.

“I think those killed there were about 10,” Bulama said.

Other women died from stray bullets, she said, identifying three by name.

There were not enough vehicles to transport all of the freed captives and some women had to walk, Musa said. Those on foot were told to walk in the tire tracks made by the convoy because Boko Haram militants had mined much of the forest. But some of the women must have strayed because a land mine exploded, killing three, she said.

Bulama shielded her face with her veil and cried when she thought about another death: Her only son, a 2-year-old toddler who died two months ago of an illness she said was aggravated by malnutrition.

“What will I tell my husband?” she sobbed after learning from other survivors who used borrowed cell phones to try to trace relatives that her husband was alive and in the northern town of Kaduna.

Musa, who had been in pain and withdrawn after her arrival the night before, greeted a reporter with smiles on Sunday – and the news that her breasts were finally giving milk and nourishment to her yet-to-be-named daughter.

Another survivor, Binta Ibrahim, was 16 years old and accompanying her sister-in-law to the dressmaker when Boko Haram insurgents rode into their village of Izghe, firing randomly at civilians. On that day in February 2014, the AP reported at least 109 people were killed and almost every hut destroyed as the militants lobbed firebombs onto their thatch roofs.

Ibrahim, her sister-in-law and two of Ibrahim’s sisters were among scores of young women abducted.

Her two sisters escaped in the pandemonium that surrounded an air raid, but Ibrahim, who was caring for three children she found abandoned after the insurgents moved into the neighboring village of Nbitha, did not go with them.

“I had these three kids to care for and I couldn’t abandon them a second time,” she explained.

She described trekking for two days from Nbitha to Boko Haram’s hideout in the Sambisa Forest with 2-year-old Matthew and 4-year-old Elija Yohanna strapped to her back and 4-year-old Maryam Samaila clinging to her waist.

“They were so weak from lack of food that they couldn’t walk. There was nothing to do but rest when I couldn’t take another step, and then press ahead when I had recovered,” she said.

The children are Christian and Ibrahim is a Muslim. While Nigeria’s northeastern Islamic insurgency has polarized many of Nigeria’s people on religious lines, that was the last thing in Ibrahim’s big heart.

“I love them as if they are my own,” she said, striking her breast with both fists to show the depth of her love for the children, who were rescued with her and still remain in her care.

What is sexual intercourse? That’s for the Florida Supreme Court to decide

What does “sexual intercourse” mean in Florida?

The state’s Supreme Court justices are pondering the question in a case involving a 1986 law requiring HIV-positive people to reveal their infection before having “sexual intercourse.”

A defense lawyer told the court last week that Florida’s laws have always used the term to describe heterosexual sex and not any other sexual activity by either gender.

The case involves a man charged with a felony after failing to tell his male sex partner that he carries the human immunodeficiency virus. His public defender, Brian Ellison, is simply trying to get the charge dropped, but told The Associated Press outside court that the same defense could apply to HIV-positive heterosexuals who engage in anything other than traditional sex.

“In the history of Florida law the specific term, sexual intercourse has always been interpreted to mean reproductive sexual conduct,” Ellison said. “It’s not the way that I’d want to define it, maybe — maybe not the way you’d want to define it —  but that’s the way it’s always been in Florida law.”

Ellison didn’t try to persuade the justices that his client, Gary Debaun, did nothing wrong; instead, he argued that Debaun didn’t violate the law as written.

The record shows that Debaun’s partner asked him to take an HIV test, and that Debaun, who knew that he was living with HIV, gave the man fake test results showing he was free of the virus. A lower court threw out the charge, but it was reinstated on appeal.

A number of states legally require people with HIV to disclose the infection to sex partners, but Ellison told the justices that other states’ laws use term “sexual activity” or specifically spell out sexual acts, rather than use Florida’s narrow language.

“But would you agree that when that statute was enacted, it was the intent to make sure that anybody that was going to have any kind of sexual activity that could transmit AIDS advise their partner?” asked Justice Barbara Pariente.

That’s exactly the point Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Geldens made in arguing that the charge should stand. He noted that the Legislature passed other laws at the time aimed at curbing the spread of HIV, including education programs on how to prevent its spread through sexual activity.

“It’s clear that the statute was intended to address the harms that are at issue in this case,” Geldens said. “That’s exactly what the Legislature intended to prevent, and they used the language of sexual intercourse because they wanted to do that.”

But if Florida lawmakers wanted to spell out exactly what it means by sexual intercourse, it’s had nearly a century to do so, said Ellison. The term has been used in state laws since 1919, when Florida first required disclosures to prevent the spread of syphilis, gonorrhea and other venereal diseases, he said.

“It’s always been defined as between a man and a woman,” he told the justices. “In all of that time, the Legislature has never expressed any intent to give it a more expansive meaning than it has always had, both in this court and elsewhere in this entire criminal code.”

Pariente agreed that lawmakers have had ample opportunity to clarify the law.

“This could be solved easily by the Legislature,” she said.

Dunham, Kohan, Wiig, Kaling talk ‘women in Hollywood’

Lena Dunham dreams of the day when a man might say, “It’s impossible to get into Hollywood. It’s an old women’s network.”

The creative force behind HBO’s “Girls” shared the stage with “The Mindy Project” creator Mindy Kaling, “Bridesmaids” star and co-writer Kristen Wiig and “Orange Is the New Black” show-runner Jenji Kohan for a discussion on women in Hollywood this past weekend at the Sundance Film Festival.

The four women weighed in how they broke into the entertainment industry and the challenges they face as its minority gender.

All said they realized early on that if they wanted to tell the stories they cared most about, they’d have to take the reins and do it themselves. And they found TV a far friendlier environment for female voices than film.

“There’s just a lot more opportunity,” Kohan said. “It seems like film is really behind.”

Even with the success of “Weeds” and “Orange Is the New Black,” Kohan said the only scripts she’s been offered to write involve “weddings and moms.”

Dunham, too, said after earning acclaim for her first film, “Tiny Furniture,” she was given opportunities to pen such scripts as “Strawberry Shortcake.” She wasn’t interested, so she created “Girls.”

They hope their current successes help pave the way for other women with Hollywood dreams. All four rely on writing teams populated by mostly women, but they don’t count men out.

“You shouldn’t have to just limit yourself to one gender,” Kohan said. “You want to work with whoever is the best at what they’re doing.”

2 male porn performers test positive for HIV after film shoot

The California Department of Public Health’s Occupational Health Branch says that it documented the on-set transmission of an HIV infection from one adult film performer thought to be working out of state — in Nevada — to another performer.

The case involves a male performer who was filmed performing with other male performers.

The newly infected individual initially tested HIV-negative in California after on-set exposure out of state — shooting films without condoms or protective barriers.

However, two weeks later, the individual in question then tested HIV-positive.

“In this case, the actor and production company thought he was HIV-negative during filming,” the statement from the state health department said. “Shortly after his negative test, HIV levels in his body rose rapidly to where he could infect other actors through unprotected sex.”

In mid-October, the Free Speech Coalition, the adult industry trade group, instituted a moratorium on adult industry filming due to reports of an industry-related infection — most likely this latest HIV case. The filming ban was lifted by the FSC the following week.

California health officials confirmed the on-set transmission after sending blood samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which genetically sequenced the virus found and matched it to an adult film actor.

“This is not AHF or supporters of condoms claiming that an HIV transmission occurred on the set of an adult film. This is California’s Department of Public Health and OSHA Occupational Health officials who vetted the performers’ blood samples with the CDC and concluded after genetic sequencing that this HIV infection occurred on set,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “For years adult film producers have claimed that performers who have tested HIV-positive while working in the industry did not contract HIV in the industry, but became infected through exposure in their personal lives outside and away from adult film sets. This new case puts truth to the lie that the industry has promoted year-after-year, years that sadly saw several additional performers infected while working in the porn industry.”

The AHF pushed for a law requiring the use of condoms during adult film work in Los Angeles County.

The adult film industry concedes that it did have three confirmed on–set transmissions in 2004.

Since 2004 there have been numerous other cases of performers testing HIV-positive while working in California’s porn industry, including cases in 2010 and 2013.

“There is no proof that any of these HIV infections over the past decade have not occurred on set other that the porn industry’s word, with the general public and health officials relying on the industry’s own self-reporting,” said Weinstein. “This is a tragic repeat of last year, and of 2010 as well as previous years. Won’t we ever learn?”

Learning about commitment from gay male couples

Milwaukee jazz pianist Tim Clausen is not in a same-sex marriage — nor does he have a long-term male partner.

But he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the dynamics of such relationships, having conducted 103 interviews with gay men who are partnered or married. He turned the interviews into his first book, Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy & Communication.

Clausen, 54, selected couples who had been together between a decade and 65 years. He founded and led the Milwaukee Gay Fathers Group from 1995 to 2004, and one couple he interviewed met via the group a dozen years ago. Otherwise, he relied heavily on social networking to find his subjects, whom he interviewed separately in order to get more candid interviews.

The men were diverse on many levels. Included in the book is Larry Duplechan, an African-American California man in a biracial marriage. He’s the Lambda Literary Award-winning writer of Blackbird, a seminal work of gay black YA fiction. Also included is the first same-sex military couple in America to marry and a Hollywood film industry couple who met the day WWII ended. 

WiG recently spoke with Clausen about the project. 

Why pursue this particular topic? I’ve had a couple of longer relationships, but the whole sort of life-partner thing has remained sort of elusive. I’ve sometimes been mystified when I would meet certain long-term couples over time who seemed to have a good vibe. How do they get along together over decades in a harmonious way? I was interested in finding out.

How did most of the couples find each other? One of the questions I looked into is, “Do we choose our life partner or is that person brought to us as destiny or fate?” A
lot of meetings between the partners who’d been together many, many years seemed to have a serendipitous quality.  Life often kind of brings us together through mysterious ways. And there’s no time limit on when it can happen. 

How did you organize the book? One of the nice things about the book is its structure. I created sections by the couples’ longevity. 

The last couple in the book are particularly remarkable. They’re from Portland, Oregon, and they’d been together just shy of 60 years when we interviewed. We continued to stay in touch after the initial interviews. Eugene (one of the men) died of congestive heart failure four days before Christmas last year. Eric (his partner) is a Buddhist teacher and is a brilliant, remarkable man. I asked Eric after Eugene passed away if he’d be open to talking about losing a partner of 60 years. We had an interview 10 days after Eugene’s passing and then another interview a month later and then a third six months later, which was the day after what would have been their 61st anniversary. The book basically ends with that three-part interview.

What sort of questions did you ask the men in the book? It was all across the board. “How do you deal with conflict?”  “Have you been to counseling together?” And, “Did you ever consider ending the relationship?” Not all of them had, but most of them had gone through difficulties at some point.

The monogamy/non-monogamy issue was a big topic. Couples ran the gamut in terms of sexual exclusivity. Many started out as totally exclusive, then opened up the relationship to being sexual together with others or separately. Couples varied from being exclusive to opening up the relationship to opening up and then going back to monogamy. There was no one-size-fits-all approach that worked for every couple.

But in every case communication around the issue was important. 

How did most of them feel about marriage? A lot of guys thought that getting married is just a formality, but then they found going through the experience was very profound. It helped deepen the bond.  After getting married, people realized how important same-sex marriage was.

What will heterosexual couples find the most surprising about male couples? They’ll be surprised by the very open communication that male couples have, especially the freedom to talk about sex and who they find attractive. It’s just assumed that straight couples will be exclusive, whether it happens or not. But gay couples as a rule talk more openly with each other about that. For gay couples, there’s not a standard script handed to you about how marriage should be as you’re growing up, and you kind of have to make it up and find the way that works best for you.

What did you learn? Some of the key themes that emerged were having as absolutely as open and honest communication as possible. Anything and everything needs to be on the table for discussion. Communication is huge.

People have real different backgrounds and experiences family-wise. One’s family background might be very open and expressive: You scream and throw the crockery and five seconds later it’s over with. And the other partner might have trouble learning how to communicate his feelings at all.  So the first partner would have to learn how to tone down his communication style. (Many couples) had to learn that after a fight everyone still loves each other and they’re going to move on together.

Anything else? People grow and change over time, and allowing your partner to grow and change and understanding that you grow and change also is going to make for long-term success. If you allow for personal growth and you’re willing to support your partner, that’s going to help your relationship succeed. About half the couples sought some sort of counseling and almost always found it helpful.

Eric and Eugene had a practice in which they had two marriages — on their 24th and 40th anniversaries. And Eric recommends that couples repeat their marriage vows out loud to each other once every quarter or six months just to reaffirm their commitment. When they’d find themselves in conflict, they’d say, “We need to go and repeat our marriage vows,” and they’d find the bigger picture (again).

ON STAGE

Tim Clausen reads from and signs his book Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy & Communication from 2-3:30 p.m. on Dec. 13, at Whitefish Bay Public Library, 5420 N Marlborough Drive.

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FBI turns animal torture into top-tier felony

Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of dogs, frogs and cats on sticks.

David Berkowitz, known as the “Son of Sam,” poisoned his mother’s parakeet.

Albert DeSalvo, aka the “Boston Strangler,” trapped cats and dogs in wooden crates and killed them by shooting arrows through the boxes.

Studies have shown that young people who torture and kill animals are prone to violence against people later in life, if their behavior goes unchecked. A new federal category for animal cruelty crimes could help root out those pet abusers before their behavior worsens and provide a boost to prosecutions, an animal welfare group says.

For years, the FBI has filed animal abuse under the label “other,” along with a variety of lesser crimes. That makes incidents of cruelty hard to find, hard to count and hard to track.

The bureau announced recently that it would make animal cruelty a Group A felony with its own category. The change puts animal cruelty on the same level as such crimes as homicide, arson and assault.

“It will help get better sentences, sway juries and make for better plea bargains,” said Madeline Bernstein, president and CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles and a former New York prosecutor.

The category also will help identify young offenders, and a defendant might realize “if he gets help now, he won’t turn into Jeffrey Dahmer,” she said.

Law enforcement agencies will have to report incidents and arrests in four areas: simple or gross neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse, including dogfighting and cockfighting; and animal sexual abuse, the FBI said in statement. The bureau didn’t answer questions beyond a short statement.

“The immediate benefit is it will be in front of law enforcement every month when they have to do their crime reports,” said John Thompson, interim executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. He worked to get the new animal cruelty category instituted. 

Officers will start to see the data are facts and “not just somebody saying the ‘Son of Sam’ killed animals before he went to human victims,” said Thompson, a retired assistant sheriff from Prince George’s County, Maryland. He said some 70 percent of school shooters abused animals prior to attacking people.

It will take time and money to update FBI and law enforcement databases nationwide, revise manuals and send out guidelines, Thompson said. So there won’t be any data collected until January 2016. After that, it will take several months before there are numbers to analyze.

The new animal cruelty statistics will allow police and counselors to work with children who show early signs of trouble, so that a preschooler hurting animals today isn’t going to harm people two years from now, Bernstein said.

The FBI’s category will track crimes nationwide and is bound to give animal cruelty laws in all 50 states more clout. Many states are seeing more of those convicted of animal cruelty being sentenced to prison, in marked contrast to years past.

Whether talking about state laws or the FBI change, it is clear “that regardless of whether people care about how animals are treated, people — like legislators and judges — care about humans, and they can’t deny the data,” said Natasha Dolezal, director of the animal law program in the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

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Study confirms bisexual males equally aroused by both sexes

A new study from Northwestern University concludes that men who describe themselves as bisexual are both genitally and subjectively aroused by watching both films of men having sex with men and of women having sex with women. The same study found that homosexual and heterosexual male participants in the study were not aroused by both.

Medical News Today describes the landmark study as “a scientific U-turn” because in 2005 Northwestern researchers published a report saying that bisexuality did not exist. The new study suggests that previous research was not stringent enough in how it recruited participants.

A research team lead by Allen Rosenthal, a doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern, recruited a racially and ethnically diverse group of men from the greater Chicago area, 35 of whom were bisexual, 31 homosexual and 34 heterosexual.

Unlike previous studies, the recruiting methods for bisexual men in this case focused specifically on men likely to have bisexual erotic interests. Researchers recruited through advertisements in which men sought to have sex with both members of heterosexual couples.

To be eligible for inclusion in the study’s bisexual group, the men “were required to have had at least two sexual partners of each sex and a romantic relationship of at least three months’ duration with at least one person of each sex.”

The researchers showed participants three-minute videos. Two of the videos were neutral, showing landscapes and playing soothing music. Two videos showed two women having sex, and two showed two men having sex. The sexual videos showed both oral and penetrative scenes.

Researchers measured genital sexual arousal by continuously recording changes in the thickness of the penis using a gauge attached to a computer as participants watched the films.

Subjective arousal was measured by self-report on a rating scale, with 0 designating no arousal and 10 meaning extreme arousal.

The results showed that, on average, the bisexual men had distinctly bisexual patterns of both genital and subjective arousal. “Their arousal responses to their less-arousing sex tended to be higher than those of homosexual and heterosexual men,” the researchers concluded.

Rosenthal and his colleagues suggested that while bisexual men appear to have a preference for one sex, they are aroused by both. And for some, their preference could change back and forth over time.