Male Initiation Rites for Moderns

On the same day that I read Charlie Geer’s superb essay on the difficulties of attempting to educate girl-crazed Andalusian pubescent males, I ran across this eye-catching headline on the Internet: Man arrested again for sex act with inflatable pool raft.

As it turns out, yesterday, once again, one Edwin Tobergta of Hamilton, Ohio, succumbed to his compulsion to fornicate with pool rafts of various shapes, sizes, and colors.

The story, reported by the Hamilton Middleton Journal-News includes these highlights (or lowlights) from Tobergta’s rap sheet:

  • Last November, Tobergta was sentenced to prison for 11 months . . . for also having sex with a pool raft while in public view.
  • Tobergta was arrested in June 2013 after stepping out of his back door naked and having “sexual relations with a rubber float,” according to a Hamilton police report.
  • In August 2011, Tobergta was arrested at his home after he was seen engaging in sexual conduct with a pink inflatable swimming pool raft.
Edwin Tobergta looking dashing in prison orange

Edwin Tobergta looking dashing in prison orange

Of course, Tobergta’s behavior seems almost whimsical compared to even more sexually frustrated assailants like Elliot Rodger who killed six people and injured 13 because he was fairly sure they wouldn’t go out with him on a date if he ever could muster the courage to ask.

In addition, incidents of males assaulting females on college campuses, if what I read is accurate, have reached epidemic proportions.


What can we do to protect ourselves and our pool toys from the onslaughts of these maladjusted males? Certainly, Congress’s moderating guns laws seems about as likely as People anointing Pee Wee Herman as the sexiest man alive, and even though some colleges are disassociating themselves from Greek organizations, sexual assault certainly isn’t exclusively a fraternity phenomenon. It seems truly pathetic for Americans to sit around helplessly awaiting the next inevitable outrage.

It seems that at least we have to try to do something.

Well, I’ve spent the better part of today puzzling over the crisis of males in our society and have come to the conclusion that much of their problem lies in our culture’s lacking effective male initiation rites.

Let’s face it, unless you’re Jewish and go through a Bar Mitzvah, if you’re a male, your ultimate initiation rite has been sitting through your high school graduation listening to boring speeches and watching other people besides yourself get awards, and although I realize this experience can be grueling, it is in fact nothing compared to the initiation rites of primitive cultures. In your case, some old man hands you a diploma (sometimes rolled in a phallic tube, other times in the form of a book), and presto, you’ve supposedly been changed from a boy to a man.

Compare that ritual to this:

The Okipa ceremony of the Mandan Indians opened with a Bison Dance, followed by a variety of torturous ordeals through which warriors proved their physical courage and gained the approval of the spirits. The Okipa began with the young man not eating, drinking, or sleeping for four days. They are then led to a hut, where they had to sit with smiling faces while the skin of their chest and shoulders was slit, and wooden skewers were thrust behind the muscles. Using the skewers to support the weight of their bodies, the warriors would be suspended from the roof of the lodge, and would hang there until they fainted. To add agony, heavy weights were added to the initiate’s legs. After fainting, the warrior would be pulled down and the men (women were not allowed to attend this ceremony) would watch the warrior until he awoke, proving the spirits’ approval. After awakening, the warrior would sacrifice the little finger on both hands, each finger being severed by the initiate with a hatchet. Finally, the warrior would be taken outside where he would run around the central plaza of the village a number of times.

 The okipa ceremony as witnessed by George Catlin, circa 1835.

The okipa ceremony as witnessed by George Catlin, circa 1835.

Now, there’s a ritual that kills the boy and births the man. What if we could fashion something similar for our twelve and thirteen year old boys? I’m sure a professional anthropologist could come up with something more scientific, but here’s one idea.

In the summer of their twelfth year, boys would think they were going by school bus to summer camp, but the bus would be “hijacked” by ninja clad elders who would immediately confiscate the boys’ cell phones and erase all the data before the eyes of the terrified tweens (this would, of course, symbolize the erasure of childhood).

Then the boys would be taken to a building of complete, utter darkness, stripped naked, seated on toilets, and told if they make a sound, they’ll be taken out and shot. In the completely darkened room, a young male not with the group and unseen by the boys would whimper and be dragged out screaming. An elder would fire a gun in the air outside the compound to signal the whimperer had been executed.

For the next three days the boys would be forced to fast seated on the toilets while listening to the elders read the complete works of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Finally at dawn on the fourth day, they would rise from the toilets, be escorted outside (i.e. leave childhood’s womb) where a nutritious breakfast awaits. Then each boy would receive a tattoo on his inner thigh of the male symbol and be issued new, cool camp clothes.  Of course, they would be sworn to secrecy about the ritual with the warning that anyone who squealed would undergo a much more harrowing ritual in the future.

Like I said, undoubtedly a professional could come up with something better, but, by God, something needs to be done!

One thought on “Male Initiation Rites for Moderns

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