You are herePhearing the Phallus - Sexuality and Nudity on the NWTA

Phearing the Phallus - Sexuality and Nudity on the NWTA


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With tongue firmly in cheek in the title above, let's look at the idea of nudity on the New Warrior Training Adventure.

There is some nudity on the New Warrior Training Adventure. It is about 5% of the total experience. About 2 hours out of 50. For all of this time, nudity is secondary to the primary intention, not the focus.

Here are the two biggest facts to know:

This nudity is not required. Any man may choose not to participate in any process. This is part of the foundation of creating a safe environment for men to look with honesty at their lives. If a man chooses to opt out of a process, or to participate while clothed or wearing shorts, that's fine. The vast majority of men choose to participate.

By this time during the training, the participants have come to realize just how safe the environment that we create is, that the men are trustworthy, and that such vulnerability will not be exploited. Most men find the experience to be very freeing and fun, and get over their initial discomfort quickly. But we know that it doesn’t fit for everybody, and that it’s a bit odd to imagine in today’s world. Still we rather like that our being a bit odd offers men the chance to, even for 48 hours, break out of their shells a bit.

This nudity is never sexual. There is no sexual touching on the New Warrior Training Adventure. It has always been forbidden and this is strictly enforced. It's one of the first rules of the weekend that men will hear on Friday. No man will ever be asked to let another man touch his genitals or to touch another man's genitals. The assertion that this ever happens is ridiculous and slanderous. This rumor was alleged in an article in 2007, which we responded to. The ManKind Project will take swift action in response to any report of sexual impropriety on our training weekends. We trust the journalistic integrity of reporters who read this story. We're confident that reporters will represent us fairly and not report false information.

Why do we do this?

The male body, in its many forms, is beautiful, normal, ridiculous, natural. We use nudity on our training to reveal and confront shame about the male body and to challenge our negative self images. In North America, this is seen as controversial in some communities. At our trainings in Europe, this is almost never an issue. In fact, in many parts of the United States, this is not an issue. Specifics of class, religious beliefs and ethnic culture play a large role, and we respect these differences. And as we said above, nudity is not required.

We don’t pretend that our workshop is the be-all, end-all personal growth experience for men, or that it will match up with every man’s expectations of what it should be. But for a large group of guys who want to make the world a better place, we have enjoyed tremendous success over two and half decades of these weekends and we will keep on providing a place for men who want to step outside of their comfort zones and grow.

The Fear of the Phallus

Honest and affirming dialog about male sexuality is still taboo. Today's young men are raised in a stilted, secretive culture where their expectations of the male body may be almost exclusively formed by viewing pornography. This presents a deeply warped view the male body. (And we cannot help but also notice and confront the often harmful, degrading, warped and objectified view of the female form and female sexuality.) The rest of the time we see men in the media who are either the 'idealized' athlete, soldier, comic book hero, or the ridiculed overweight slob. None of these are healthy or typical representations. Deeply ingrained homophobia, self-hatred, and fear of being ostracized or teased has fundamentally altered the fabric of male development. Many men carry painful memories of locker-room torment, self-consciousness and shame. As adult men, the preoccupation with sexual prowess, sexual function (E.D., penis enlargement) or sexual orientation forms a constant stream of meta information in our culture (not to mention spam!). And the message is usually that we're not OK, not good enough, or not acceptable to society. Our intent is to create safety to reimagine a man's relationship to his own body and to his sexuality.

Men have the opportunity to begin constructing a sexuality that will help them deepen their relationship to themselves and their wives or partners. This exercise helps men create the intimacy that they want in their lives.

Why a Phallus?

Men have penises. The penis will be a part of any candid discussion about male sexuality. Men have unrealistic expectations and fears about their bodies, and especially their penises. A phallus is a metaphorical representation of that fear and insecurity. The fact that entire articles have been written about the ManKind Project with the focus on this symbol is evidence of just how frightening it is to many. The use of a wooden phallus as a 'talking stick' for a single process dealing directly with male sexuality on the NWTA has become sensationalized in some articles as if there is something unseemly or sexual going on, when in truth it is used simply as a metaphorical anchor for a very necessary discussion.

If a man is uncomfortable holding a wooden representation of the very part of his anatomy that makes him male, what does that say about his relationship to his own body, or to his manhood? What does it say about our culture that this single object comes to represent an entire training experience, when this discussion is only 2% of a much larger and carefully designed framework? By the time a man reaches 21 in American culture, it is likely that he has seen hundreds of dildos, phallic representations and actual penises (not to mention his own!). He has heard thousands of masturbation, sex, homophobic, misogynist and misandrist jokes. He has probably been teased, harassed or even assaulted about his body or his sexuality.

The phallus has also come to represent the worst of what men perpetrate against women, each other, children, and against the planet. The phallus is a weapon of war where rape and torture of women and girls occurs. The phallus is a deeply frightening symbol of what men in prison face at the hands of other inmates or guards. It is a symbol of immature masculinity, a man 'using his little head' to do his thinking. All of these aspects of the male sex organs are hidden in popular culture. The ManKind Project is committed to facing both the positive and the negative associations, and helping men to form healthy relationships to themselves and others.

The fact that this is not talked about openly is symptomatic of a deeply rigid, frightened and homophobic male culture. Men deserve a safe place to deal with this. And we provide it.

The Phallus in Human Culture

In many of the earliest carvings and statues on the planet, both the male and female body were depicted in outrageous ways. The woman's vagina was sometimes represented larger than her torso, her breasts huge and potent. The male phallus was a symbol of power, fertility, action and order in the world. It was represented in all kinds of ways, often ridiculously huge. This was meant to honor the form, not degrade it. Today, that same symbol is viewed as an object of perversion or fear. This isn't true everywhere ... in modern Japan there is still a national festival celebrating this older symbolism.

It is our intent to stir up the disquiet that comes from both of these metaphorical worlds - the sacred and the profane. You may think it's odd, and many men find it uncomfortable to think about, but our experience is that men are tremendously grateful when they can, finally, stop running from and fearing their own sexuality.

The ManKind Project has helped tens of thousands of men look at this - a subject that is too rarely honestly confronted in our culture. If you are a man finally ready to deal with your sexuality - as well as every other aspect of your life - in a safe and affirmative way, SIGN UP.




Missions of Service

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Personal Mission:

I create an enlightened world through love, passion, service and fun.