October 31, 2005
Gender Politics - The Effects of Feminism
There is an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times Magazine - Maureen Dowd examines the current role of feminism in women's lives. She does a great job of looking at the gains and losses and confusion as feminism has moved from Gloria Steinham to Carrie Bradshaw:
Maybe we should have known that the story of women's progress would be more of a zigzag than a superhighway, that the triumph of feminism would last a nanosecond while the backlash lasted 40 years.
Despite the best efforts of philosophers, politicians, historians, novelists, screenwriters, linguists, therapists, anthropologists and facilitators, men and women are still in a muddle in the boardroom, the bedroom and the Situation Room.
A good read - and left me thinking that there is now a place for an examination of the effects of feminism on men's roles: from Bogart to Rambo to Bono, perhaps.
via New York Times (free registration required) - What's A Modern Girl To Do?
October 28, 2005
Overview Of Men's Rights Movement
Over at the weblog, Pandagon, Amanda has written a very thorough overview of the men's rights movement. Well, worth checking out. It's important, I think, to have some understanding of those you disagree with.
via Pandagon - Overview of Anti-Feminist/Men's Rights Movement
October 27, 2005
Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with a woman named Imelda Marrufo Nava. She is the general coordinator of the Juvenile Citizenship Program of CASA (Juvenile Counseling Center)in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. She is visiting universities and social service agencies in the eastern U.S. through the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program to learn more about their programs around youth and women.
While we were talking, she mentioned that the area she lives in has a history of women "disappearing" - well over 350 in the last ten years - and that is not all that is reported. Some are found murdered, some are never found. She called this "femicide", and expressed frustration that it was not adequately being addressed.
I was surprised (and not surprised at the same time) that I had never heard about this. I decided to do a little internet research to learn more. Most of what I found was in Spanish (which I can not read). But I did manage to find one piece about it (one piece!!). Here it is below - for your knowledge and information:
via Crime Library - Body Count
October 26, 2005
Numbers of Stay-At-Home Dads Increases
Men learning that they have nurturing abilities - this is the great pay-off of the stay-at-home dad phenomenon. And, their numbers are increasing - 98,000 in 2003 to 147,000 in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The article below gives a good overview of this recent shift in the U.S. culture. It also points out the perspective-shift of both fathers who full-time parent and mothers who work full-time.
via The Chicago Sun-Times - Much More Than Mom
October 25, 2005
Stop The Silence - The Race
An event to check out - The Third National Race To Stop The Silence. April 15, 2006. Stop Child Sexual Abuse.
Info here: Stop The Silence
Gay Children At The Hand Of Bullies
An article from the Guardian newspaper in England focuses on the harm of bullying on gay children. For those of us who have worked with gay youth, it is not surprising. The important statistic named in this piece is that 40% of gay adults admit that they attempted suicide as a young person and 50% considered it.
The article also underlines (but does not name) one of the main factors, I believe, for bullying and homophobia in schools: administrators and teachers who ignore or condone the behavior. I believe teaching young people tolerance is very important. But, it means almost nothing if they see a teacher ignore or encourage homophobia. Start at the top in educating around this issue, then work your way down to the young people.
October 24, 2005
Breaking The Silence
PBS has just released a new documentary called Breaking the Silence. It is about the effects of domestic violence on children and the ways that the court system has not been successful at protecting children from their abusers.
I have not seen this documentary, yet. But I have heard alot about it. Apparently there has been a big father's right's campaign to contact PBS stations and ask that they not air this show. It has largely been an unsuccesful campaign - though in some areas they are airing it at times in which very few people will watch it (noon on a weekday, for instance). If you would like to get a sense of some of the controversy and discussion around this documentary and around this issue - check out Hugo Schwyzer's blog.
Finally, here is the press release (note: PDF form) for the documentary if you want to read the producer's words. And, if you want to see when your local PBS station is playing Breaking The Silence, here is the PBS Station Finder
October 21, 2005
National Men Make Dinner Day
Only 11 days left...until National Men Make Dinner Day. Actually, I believe this is a Canadian event, so maybe by celebrating it around the world, it will go international.
This is a tongue-in-cheek site about a tongue-in-cheek, but legitimate event. Personally, I have a few signature receipes that I make for dinner - breakfast is actually my speciality. But, I am going to honor this holiday this year and try something new, hopefully not to the detriment of my family.
Thursday November 3rd
National Men Make Dinner Day
October 20, 2005
A Good Coach
It does my heart good when I read about a "traditional" male who "gets" it around the issue of how men are socialized in the US culture. I especially like it when a sports figure is one of those who "gets" it, since sports figures are the heros of popular culture.
Below is an article (its a bit dated) about Joe Ehrmann a former NFL star who is the coach the Greyhounds of Gilman School in Baltimore, a high school football team. He calls his coaching principal - Building Men for Others. Ah, it does a heart good...
via Parade Magazine - He Turns Boys Into Men
October 19, 2005
Men and Women As Sexual Assault Survivors
Last month I posted a link to an article about Laveranues Coles of the New York Jets and his coming out as a survivor of sexual abuse. Today The Uncommon Man received a comment to that article that is a heartfelt response to Laveranues from a woman. She admits to having harbored a prejudice toward men who have been the victim of rape. She also reveals that after seeing Laveranues on Oprah, she has more understanding and empathy for men who have been assaulted. I encourage you to check out her commment here
This comment has me thinking about the power of empathy. It is obviously the key-link to working with any kind of victim. If you are going to talk to or work with a victim of sexual assault, you need to have empathy (and understanding) of her/his situation. It is also a key-link to working with any type of perpetrator - whether it is sexual assault, domestic violence, or violence in general. If there is any hope of getting a perpetrator to stop their behavior, they need to gain empathy for their potential victim.
It can also be a key motivator toward getting folks to become activists. In my work with men, most men I've had as colleagues have come to pro-feminist men's work because of their relationships with women who have been raped or assaulted.
Today, I learned of a college program that builds on this empathy that many men have and uses this to turn them into sexual assault peer-education leaders. It is a program that started at William and Mary and has been used at many other colleges. You can read more about it at the link below:
October 18, 2005
Men of Strength Club
Recently, I've been wondering - where are the young pro-feminist males? A few years ago I ran different youth programs for the Men's Resource Center for Change and worked with some great youth who understood how men are socialized in our culture. They were interested in re-examining that and to work against violenc against women. They were inspiring to me in ways that I hadn't anticipated when I stated these programs. I am aware that there are numerous organizations and programs that are working with young men and I've been searching for different models as well as talking to colleagues about what they know.
Below is a link to a program that is run by Men Can Stop Rape in Washington DC. It looks like a great model - and is starting a national presence this year.
October 17, 2005
The Churches New Policies
In an editorial written by Michael Kimmel, he examines the new policy of the Catholic church in ending pedophilia in the priesthood. He criticizes the confusion between pedophila and homosexuality. By focusing on ending pedophilia (which is usually perpetrated by straight males) in the priesthood by focusing on homosexuals is basing policy on a myth. Pedophilia and homosexuality are not the same thing.
In particular I like Kimmel's suggestions for reform in the church (reforms which he notes are unlikely to take place under the current Vatican administration). The second reform he offers is:
even if the church is unable or unwilling to examine the prejudices that guide its condemnation of homosexuality, it should continue to distinguish between homosexuals and homosexual behavior, in the same way that it currently distinguishes between heterosexuals and heterosexual behavior.
October 14, 2005
Are Churches More Feminine Than Masculine?
Here is an issue I never considered - the balance of men and women congregates in churches. In a thoughtful post at Camassia's weblog linked below she notes that there seems to be a trend for there to be more gender-balance in evangelical churches and more women than men in "mainline" churches. Amongst other points, she wonders if this is because of the patriarchal nature of evangelical churches or maybe because of the difference in how men and women relate - that somehow churches are too girly.
What is also interesting to me is that, according to this piece, some churches struggle with the question of how to engage men in the church - especially young men. This is the same question I get asked by social service agencies in my region all the time.
via Camassia - It's A Guy Thing
October 13, 2005
This could be the first place you heard about this...and also the last.
Well, since the term "metrosexual" is SO yesterday, someone has come up with a new term to describe a type of man - Ubersexual. Now this term may be of interest to pro-feminist men. According to the press release below the term refers to:
men who embrace the positive aspects of their masculinity or "M-ness" (e.g., confidence,leadership, passion, compassion)without giving in to the stereotypes that give guys a bad name (e.g.,disrespect toward women, emotional emptiness,complete ignorance of anything cultural outside of sports, beer, burgers, and athletic shoes).
Sounds kind of interesting, huh? Bono is named, in this press release, as the "Ultimate Ubersexual". I'm down with that, too. But then things start to fall apart: in the top ten list of Ubersexuals, you've got both Donald Trump and Arnold Schwarzenegger. You've begun to lose me there. Then, in a section of this piece entitled: Metrosexual or Ubersexual? How to Spot the Difference, you've got this bullet-point:
Both treat and respect women as equals, but the uber considers other men, not women, his best friends
I can't agree with that. Finally, it all becomes clear when one realizes this "news" piece is the product of an advertising agency.
So be wary if some product manufacturer comes to your men's center or group looking to sell you the latest in their exclusive ubersexual line...
via prnewswire - Bono The Ultimate Ubersexual
October 12, 2005
Resource: Fatherhood Sites
A briefer entry, today...
Below is a link to a page from Parents Magazine that highlights some helpful websites on fatherhood. They all seem to be good resources, worth checking out if you are or about to become a father.
via Parents Magazine - A Guide To Great Sites on Fatherhood
October 11, 2005
Immunizing Boys to Protect Girls
There is new drug called Gardasil which, given as a vaccine, will help guard against cervical cancer. The drug is to be given to young women before they become sexually active (the HPV virus, which the vaccine works against, is transmitted sexually and is the cause of cervical cancer). This is great news.
There are several concerns with the administration of this drug (one from the conservative-front about the use of the vaccine encouraging promiscuity), but also about the potential for the vaccine to be given to young boys before they become sexually active. There is a great overview and discussion in the comments-section of Hugo Schwyzer's blog.
Here is the quote from the LA Times that Hugo references:
If approved, the vaccine would probably be administered to children 12 or younger, before they become sexually active â€” including boys, who can be carriers of the virus.
Here are two quotes from Hugo on the implications of this:
But as a man interested in pro-feminist work with young men, I'm thrilled by the prospect of the vaccine being given to young men and boys. One of the most important things we in the pro-feminist movement try to do is teach young men to take an interest in, and to some degree, a responsibility for, the health of their current or future sexual partners.
Without dis-empowering girls, we do well to teach boys that there are some tangible and practical ways in which they can take care of the young women in their lives.
Right on! My only concern with this train of thought is - who is going to make clear the connection to young men that by taking this vaccine they are taking responsibility for their future sexual partners? Given that we seem to have taken some steps backwards in recent years in regards to responsible sexuality, I don't see how this would be clearly communicated. It would likely become just another of a series of vaccines that children get, often without much real information about the importance of receiving them.
If you want to read more about this and the stimulating conversation in the comment section - check out Hugo's post here.
October 07, 2005
Below is a very good, simple resource about homophobia. It includes a section on How to Recognize Homophobia in Yourself And Others and How Does Homophobia Hurt Heterosexuals? Good material for oneself or to refer others to.
via Campaign to End Homophobia - Homophobia
October 06, 2005
VAWA Update...we have reauthorization...
Yesterday, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act by unanimous consent. Now, their are difference between the version from the Senate and the one from the House. These differences need to be worked out in conference. Programs that are funded this year will continue to be funded, but the resolution of the two versions in congress will affect the future focus on this very important act. For more details and future updates, check out the link below.
via - janedoe.org - VAWA Reauthorization
October 05, 2005
What is porn? What is erotica? Is it possible to have pro-feminist porn? Well, one highly-touted site called Suicide Girls was supposed to be one. The website features non-traditional looking woman who sport tattoos and piercings. The Suicide Girls reported that it was female friendly and gave the models input into their photo-sets as well as gave them space to compose on-line journals so you are able to hear their thoughts as well as see them in the nude. The "porn site a pro-feminist could love" attracted lots of women and men who felt more comfortable posing and viewing a website that supported a "pro-woman" ideal.
Well, apparently this ideal is not at work at Suicide Girls. Upwards of thirty models have recently left the site and have been causing an uproar in the blogging/internet community. They claim that the models have been paid poorly and treated poorly. Claims of sexual harassment have been made. And, it turns out that the owner of the website is a man and it is connected with Playboy - not a company known for its pro-feminist ideals.
Pro-feminist porn - a possibility? In this case, apparently not. Below is an overview of the issue and a blog from one of the models who left Suicide Girls.
October 04, 2005
Yesterday, the Violence Against Women's Act expired. It had passed in the House of Representatives, but was held up in the Senate. There is still a chance that it will go through the Senate, but perhaps not without some changes to the House-approved version. I know of a lot of very important programs funded through this money. There are a lot of people - women, men and children - who are on the edges of their seats, and perhaps becoming fearful for their lives as we wait and see what happens.
Via Feminist.org - VAWA Expired Due To Lack of Senate Vote
October 03, 2005
Men's Walk To End Abuse
This past Saturday I finished a three-day walk to start off Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is the Men's Resource Center for Change's third annual Men's Walk to End Abuse. The walk moves through the communities of Western Massachusetts that the organization, and most importantly, their batterer intervention program works in. The goals of the walk are two-fold: 1) To raise money for the batterer program and to raise money for the five women's centers in the three counties we marched through. 2) To be a visible presence of men walking through the community showing that not all men are hyper-masculine aggressors. As well, and most important to me, we were a visible presence of men who do not stand idly by as other men either take part in violence against women, openly put women down, or even just laugh at a really demeaning sexist joke. My personal belief is that every time one of those acts takes place in the presenece of other men and no one says anything (though I believe that most men would like to) they have all just condoned that act.
What I enjoyed most about the walk this year was the amount of attention we received. Most of the area TV news and newspapers covered the event. We also had numerous people honking or waving at us. Even a few stopped to thank us personally. There were only a handful of "thumbs-down" or worse gestures (the "pro-domestic violence contingent" I guess).
I often think of the work of ending domestic violence, violence against women, and violence in general as my lobbying senators or writing large grants to fund comprehensive programs that work with perpetrators. Those are all important. But I often forget the power of being out in the community and talking to or being seen by individuals who may or may not be in need of our services. This is also a key aspect of the formidable job of changing a culture.
Local newspaper coverage of the walk - via Masslive.com - Men's Resource Center Holding Benefit Walk