Author Archive

Review “OF BOYS AND MEN”   2 comments

I Just posted the following review of Richard V. Reeves “Of Boys and Men” on amazon and Goodreads. Beware the “opposite sex” syndrome.

I’m glad Richard Reeves wrote this book. I’m glad people are reading it. It’s important.

Having lived through the events of the late sixties and seventies as a woman and a professor of the psychology of women, I see him as the Marilyn French (the Women’s Room) or maybe the Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique) of the men’s movement. And I want to say up front I’m very optimistic that the men’s movement will be equally successful. But I want to talk about getting there.

I personally postponed reading the two books I mentioned because at some level I knew they would change my life. – and indeed they did. Painfully but fruitfully.  That’s why the consciousness raising groups were so important, because the first step had to be women’s recognition of the personal and community damage done by our blind acceptance of the patriarchy. And now the men are arriving at that point. Friedan identified the women’s issue as “The Feminine Mystique.” The identifier that seems to be sticking for the men’s movement is “Toxic Masculinity.” Both phrases summarize the fact that patriarchal assumptions have damaged us. I remember “way back then” hearing a talk by Warren Farrell on the advantages of the women’s movement for men. But that theme was too far ahead of its time. And for good reason. The women were fighting the power that kept them trapped on the “pedestal” while men seemed to have the power. Stepping off the pedestal seemed like a dangerous fall. It’s harder for men, I think, because, as possessors of the patriarchal power, it’s harder to see how damaging is that position at the top. But, as one man close to me said, they are living under the “sword of Damocles.” Just as women learned how destructive is “the feminine mystique” men, I hope, are learning the price they pay for “masculinity” as defined by the patriarchy.

And now I’m ready to talk about my reaction to Reeves’s book. The first part of it is impressive, necessary, and interesting with the factual and data inclusions. The impressive scholarship of the book is represented by the forty-seven some pages of “notes” at the end. But then the author falls into the ‘opposite sex” trap and I got my hackles up. First off, he declares – more than once – that people on the left “blame the victim.” I’m as far to the left on this issue as anyone I know of, and in no way do I blame the victim. My concern is how men have been victimized by the patriarchal culture, just as women were/are. And then, after a quick and subtle bow to the reality of what “significant differences” really means, he goes on to talk in generalized terms about men and women almost as if they are two different breeds. OK. I confess, maybe I’m reading it wrong, but that’s what hit me.  I remember, as a grown woman with a solid academic career, feeling shame and guilt when I read pompous declarations about women being, for example, nurturers. Yes, I have two children whom I have loved for almost sixty-five years, but, truth-be-told, I never felt a longing to “be a mother.” Even now I feel a smidgen of guilt about that. So how are men supposed to feel when told that “men are aggressive” If they aren’t. That’s the kind of thing that feeds the difficulty in assessing who one can be free to be.

No, those of us on the left in this issue do not “blame the victim.” We, or at least I, do look forward to the day when we can all be free to respect ourselves and others without feeling the need to dictate acceptable personality characteristics. Do I dare say I look forward to the day when we can be free to love without bumping up against the gender rules? As a matter of fact, I do believe that is happening. I remember Rosey Greer singing “It’s all right to cry” on the children’s record put together by Marlo Thomas back in the day.

So, as for Of Boys and Men, I’m glad Reeves wrote it. I’m glad people are reading it. I hope others will respond as emotionally and urgently as I did. And I hope they will realize he fell into the “opposite sex” trap when he suggested boys should start school a year later, as if all boys are behind the development of all girls. I hope this will be the beginning of the complex conversations, research, recommendations, and actions needed to refresh our systems to meet the genuine growth needs of all our people. And speaking of “all our people,” how about the men of color who have suffered such a different experience from the traditionally white subjects of psychological studies?

MY FIFTH HOLIDAY WISH   Leave a comment

My fifth wish, following from the 4th, would be recognizing the government’s obligatory provision of appropriate education beginning with professional child care freeing the parent(s) to earn appropriate incomes followed by growth facilitating education at all levels necessary for full utilization of the human potential whose creation has been required by government intervention.

Posted December 29, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

MY FOURTH HOLIDAY WISH   Leave a comment

My fourth wish is nourished partly by the experience of any caring parent – including me. The truth is the idealized baby in the diaper ads develops rather quickly into a growing individual – and I do mean “individual.” One would hope that same eagerness to promote the birth of a healthy baby would follow through in the concern for the growth of a healthy person. My third holiday wish of 2022, then, is for every person born to have the chance to grow in physical, psychological. moral, and spiritual fullness. Now we’re talking sufficient incomes to maintain constant and safe homes, environments free of illness–causing-and-growth-stunting pollution, opportunities to learn and develop with the potential begun back when the sperm met the ovum. I’d like to think that’s what “pro-lifers” mean, recognizing that invoking government intervention in the beginning calls for government intervention in promoting the life that follows.

Posted December 22, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized


My third wish continues to recognize the desire for the health of the baby welcomed into a world of caring love. It’s no news to anyone that human infants require an early period of intensive parental care, ideally that of both the mother and the father. Basic, then, is the continuation of the best possible support of the health system, including parental care to foster both physical and psychological growth. And, by the way, don’t forget the importance of any siblings already part of the newborn’s family. My third holiday wish of 2022, then, is for recognition that the government that so treasures life that it intervenes in the very process of insemination and birth would provide for parental availability for stress-reducing parental leave.

Posted December 17, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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My second wish comes from recognizing the Importance of the birth process itself and the earliest post-partum stages. Assuming that the health of the newly birthed person is part of the loving care so urgently desired by those who would assure their development and birth, it follows that excellent maternal and post-partum care would be provided to both the owner of the womb and, one hopes, the father who will participate in their care. That would, of course, provide for any newborn who might suffer anomalies due to genetics or the long process of making it through the complex stages of zygote to birth development. My second holiday wish of 2022, then, is that the government that chooses to demand the process would accept the responsibility to support the health of the newborn.

MY HOLIDAY WISH LIST   Leave a comment

It’s that time — time to reveal my holiday list to those who care. Today it’s the first in a series of five (or maybe more if I think of them) developing out of recent government entries into reproductive concerns.

My first wish is addressed to all those life-loving people who want sperm cells to have clear access in the race to enter an ovum, allowing the resulting zygote to develop into an embryo, thence into a fetus, and ultimately a birthed baby. While invoking governmental intervention to assure nothing intervenes in that process, it follows they would want similar legislation to guarantee a healthy environment in which that development will occur. My first holiday wish of 2022, then, is for similar governmental concern to guarantee the health of all, male and female, involved in the process, especially the wombs that function to deliver healthy newborns. Basic requirements would be the best of prenatal health care and, equally important, sufficient financial support to maintain a healthy living and nutritional environment for both the developing individual and their carrier-and-nutrient- provider.


I’m so sick and tired of lies, lies, lies in this never-ending election season. When I first moved to Minnesota, one of the local TV channels had a fact checker who at least once a week could spot some of the most egregious lies. But now we don’t have even that. So here’s the scoop. “There are no pending bills in the House or Senate that would raise income taxes on those making less than $75,000 (or less than $400,000 for that matter.}” That’s the answer I got from my financial planner after finding that even google had a politically biased answer to my question.

And why was I looking for an answer? Because there was a shockingly dishonest commercial smearing Angie Craig, claiming she voted for an increase in taxes for people making under $75,000. She did not!  It’s a lie, folks. It’s a lie.

It certainly isn’t the only lie being told, but most of them are vague enough that it’s difficult to search for specific information to confirm or deny. In this case, the lie was so blatant it was easy to check

That’s all, folks. Just please don’t waste your voting power on a choice based on a lie.

(By the way, notice how often the accusation claims exactly the opposite of what the person has done.)


Why I’m no longer mad at Viking. Some of you let me know it wasn’t fair to leave it at that without telling you why. I’ve thought about it, and I think this is the answer.

I wrote the book(s) on forgiveness and know I’m personally better off without the anger.

Also, my demands have been met. I did get a call from customer service and the young woman did very well at the job she was assigned. I still don’t know how they chose us to bump. I suspect she didn’t know either. But I did get the apology I sought and some practical satisfaction. Being mad is no longer functional.

So, at this point, I have respect for myself, for the customer service agent who called, and for the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General.  I strongly suspect that her call was in response to the letter from Ellison’s office giving Viking a limited amount of time to respond to my complaint.

In conclusion, I hope Viking learned something about treating clients with respect, and I’m feeling sufficient confidence in them to keep the cruise reservations we had already made, admittedly not with the same degree of joy and enthusiasm.

But I’m glad I’m not mad. Stress level is much better that way, as is sleeping.

I’m not mad at Viking Cruise lines any more   10 comments

I just completed a very pleasant conversation with Samantha of Viking Customer Relations and am totally satisfied with the apology and explanation. She does good work.

Posted October 20, 2022 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

PRO-LIFE?   9 comments

Every stage of my career has called for making complex things simple, but no matter how much sleep I lose, or how much thinking I do in between, or how much I focus on the issue when I do my daily half-hour walk, or how long I sit in front of the computer and try, there’s just no way I can make it simple. The killing of the right to abortion reaches into every aspect of life like athletesfoot creeping into the tissues. So I’ve decided to focus on just one piece of it, ignoring the women and their families who are impacted, the chipping away at freedom, the children who are threatened with the loss of a parent, the pain suffered by women denied palliative medication …. Nope, I’ll pretend the only thing that matters is that every zygote should be allowed to develop into an embryo, every embryo should be allowed to become a fetus, and every fetus should be allowed ultimately to be expelled from the uterus on its path to the outside world.

It seems to me that the first thing that matters is that the environment in which the development happens should approach an ideal if we want to reach our survival-to- birth goal. But there seems to be a problem when we look at the evidence.

“According to this year’s America’s Health Ranking Annual Report, the U.S. infant mortality rate is 5.9 deaths per 1,000 live infant births, while the average rate of infant mortality among the OECD countries is 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. Compared with other OECD countries, the U.S. ranks No. 33 out of 36 countries (Figure 62). Iceland is ranked No. 1 and has the lowest rate with 0.7 deaths per 1,000 live births. Mexico is ranked last with 12.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. New Hampshire and Vermont are tied for the top state in the U.S. with 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births. These two neighboring states have achieved an infant mortality rate equal to the OECD average. As the bottom-ranked state, however, Mississippi has an infant mortality rate more than twice that of the OECD average at 8.9 deaths per 1,000 live births and internationally ranks below all but two of the OECD countries. Over the past 50 years, the decline in the U.S. infant mortality rate has not kept pace with that in other OECD countries. When examining sex- and age-adjusted infant mortality rates from 2001 to 2010, the U.S. rate was 75 percent higher than the average rate in 20 OECD comparable countries.” (Copied from the web.)

If you’re curious, OECD refers to “the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) [which] is an international organization that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people worldwide” (Also copied from the web).

Since this kind of information is easily available for anyone dedicated to the “pro life” position, it’s obvious that the next step, after requiring every pregnant woman to give birth, is to press for the provision of ideal health care for pregnant (and potentially pregnant) women. That, it seems to me, would require lobbying on a federal level, or at the many state levels, for funding for universal maternal care.

Also, given that human infants are born helpless, requiring many years of care just to stay alive, one would assume that those who are pro the life of all fetuses would lobby to follow through with the project by funding parental leave for a sufficiently long period of time as well as providing perpetual support of the health of the parent(s)/caretakers with adequate insurance. And, of course, there would be the need for food and shelter throughout the years. That would require lobbying for sufficient affordable housing for all families as well as sufficient incomes to provide food and clothing.

I said I’d keep it simple. None of this says anything about the overall quality of life of the individuals as their lives develop. Just the basic demand that life be required.

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