The Uncommon Man

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June 30, 2006

How Often Are Men Victims of DV?

Well, this is my final post as the "official" webmaster of The Uncommon Man. The link I am offering up below is nothing especially new in the discussion on gender. But I thought I would use it as my last post because it is one of the issues that frustrates me the most in this work. The "discussion" about how often men are victims of domestic violence comes up a lot on sites like The Uncommon Man. And, when I was the director of a batterer's intervention program, I was also often asked about women's violence toward men. What I found frustrating about it is that I often heard those who believe that women are more often victims of domestic violence acknowledge that men are, at times, victims, too. And they also understand that there are barriers that prevent men from reporting. But, I rarely heard from those who are advocating for male victims, the possibility that the number of male victims were anything less than half. There was rarely any "conversation" about it. In fact, I was attacked several times in comment-threads at other sites for challenging those numbers. So, as my parting comment, based on personal experience and much practical knowledge:

Men can be victims of domestic violence. But, women are considerably more likely to be the victims of domestic violence - and when they are, are much more likely to be killed.

Now can we just move on and do the work of ending this problem?

Take care, I'll be visiting here again, I'm sure...

via Alas, A Blog - How Commonly Are Men Beaten Up By Intimate Partners?

Posted by Russell at 06:19 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2006

Carnival of Feminists

The Carnival of Feminists is a great resource. It is one-stop shopping for a series of posts at other sites focused around particular topics - a kind of virtual conversation. Come one, come all to the Carnival...

via Bitch Lab - The 17th Carnival of Feminists

Posted by Russell at 06:24 AM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2006

Bare Chests

More thought-provoking discussion on Bare Chests and Privilege from feminist blogger, Hugo Schwyzer.

Posted by Russell at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2006

New blogger in town

Hey folks – Daniel Coyne here. This is my first official post on Uncommon Man. I joined the MRI team as director of marketing and communications this spring, and have found this blog to be a great help in learning about gender sensitivity and male violence and the many different voices contributing to the discussion of these issues. Russell has done an amazing job at selecting thought-provoking articles framed with his sensitive and astute comments.

I have nothing profound to say in this inaugural post, nor do I have radical changes to announce for this blog. Initially, I will do my best to continue the work that Russell has done so well. One change that I would like to facilitate is to bring additional voices to this forum. MRI is fortunate to have an incredibly diverse family of supporters and allies with unique voices and perspectives. I would like to invite a handful of them to use this forum regularly to share their ideas.

I would also like to encourage all of our regular (and occasional) readers to contribute by submitting your comments. Discussion threads can really bring the nuances of issues and ideas to life. I look forward to hearing from you!

Posted by Daniel at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

A Television Producer and Feminism?

One of my favorite TV/Movie creators is Joss Whedon (Buffy-The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, writer of Toy Story). His creations are fun, smart, at times heart-rendering (see the second season of Buffy), and contain deeper ideas that are real, not just thrown in for the sake of being "deep". And Mr. Whedon, while in college, minored (I believe) in Women's Studies; thus, his strong female characters (as well as one of my only and favorite "pro-feminist" male characters: Oz on Buffy). Joss Whedon's creations also bring out a lot of smart people writing about the his work - and the ideas contained within. There are annual symposiums and conferences at colleges chewing on his creations. Which leads me to the excellent post below at Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty:

via Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty - The Politics of Firefly and Serenity

Posted by Russell at 06:49 AM | Comments (1)

Stepping Back...

This is my last week as the "web-master" of The Uncommon Man. It has been a fun year. I've loved bringing this site into fruition. I am turning the "web-master-thing" over to the very capable hands of Daniel Coyne. We've spent some time talking about The Uncommon Man - my vision and his. I feel very confident that he will take this blog in a great direction. In the meantime, you may still see me pop in for some guest blogging. Also, if you are interested I have a website featuring some of my creative endeavors - not particularly male-centric or feminist in focus. I call it All My Shoes and Glasses.

Both Daniel and I will be posting this week.

Posted by Russell at 06:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

The Afghan Women's Empowerment Act of 2006

Help Afghan women and girls: The Feminist Majority Foundation has a place to send emails to your senators and representatives, asking them to co-sponsor The Afghan Women's Empowerment Act of 2006. This act:

will authorize $30 million a year for three years for women-led nonprofits that are providing education, adult literacy and vocational training, and health care for Afghan women and girls. Additionally, the Act authorizes $5 million a year for three years for the Ministry of Women's Affairs and $10 million a year for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Funding for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Women's Affairs will assist these organizations in promoting and protecting women's rights and human rights at this extremely critical time.

Sign here

Posted by Russell at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 11


Saturday, June 17 – Lusaka to London

Simuyi, Stephen and his wife, Lucy, drove us to the airport for our early morning plane flight from Lusaka. After heartfelt goodbyes, invitations to the U.S., and promises to return to Zambia, we boarded the plane. After an extended delay, we began our 10 hour flight back to London, where we discovered we had missed our connecting flight to Brussels. The disappointment was softened by overnight and meal vouchers at the Hilton Hotel. We enjoyed the luxuries, while being struck by the dramatic contrast with life in Zambia.

Sunday, June 18 – London to Brussels

Back in the air again, we marveled at how quickly we are moving from country to country. Soon we were pulling our bags through the busy streets of Brussels, clattering over cobblestones and weaving through Sunday tourists, in search of our hotel. After settling in we began and extended stroll through the city.

James writes: So much has happen in such a short time, and all with blessings. Where am I today? Oh yah, Brussels. I am amazed at the architecture and history that is around me. Buildings full of history, fountains, palaces, and new design and use of space and shapes. The temperature and people are marvelous. The opportunity to be where I am continues to be just overwhelming and inspiring. I am looking forward to the next two days to making connections that will help to bring the work we’ve been doing to share with others who are working for the same cause. I’m looking forward to bring back all my experiences from the past two weeks back home, and make this world a little smaller by helping to bring people from around the world closer together to share their love, passions and hope with each other.

Monday, June 19 – Violence Prevention Alliance meeting

The day was spent in a hotel meeting room (basement with no windows), with 30 other people from around the world. It was a fascinating experience hearing about other violence prevention initiatives in Jamaica, Uganda, England, Germany, Scotland, etc. We even met two people who had lived in Northampton, Massachusetts. As a group, we worked on defining the structure and activities of the Violence Prevention Alliance, a difficult challenge given the great diversity of experience and focus (from governmental to grass-roots organizations addressing everything from torture to gun violence to domestic violence). The formal meeting will continue tomorrow morning. However, tonight all the members are being treated to dinner by the Belgium Health Department at a restaurant on Le Grand Place, and the informal networking has been very productive, with a number of people expressing interest in our work.

Update - Photos from Brussels

Posted by Russell at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

A Substantial Decrease in Rapes?

A recent Washington Post article reports that the reports of rape have decreased 85% percent since the 70's. Given that one of the problems with the issue of rape is the barriers to reporting in the first place, Men Can Stop Rape wrote a letter in response. You can read it below:

via Men Can Stop Rape - MCSR Submits Letter in Response to "Post" Article

Posted by Russell at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)

June 21, 2006

Domestic Violence in Military Families

The article below illustrates the high-level of domestic violence in the military. And after a series of high-profile domestic violence murders and an investigation that yielded almost 200 changes that needed to be made - only five had been followed through on. The writer of this article should received "bonus points" for including the fact that domestic violence is about sexism and not about a communication breakdown.

The New Standard - Domestic Violence in Military Families Growing, "Systemic" (Thanks to Masculinities in Media!)

Posted by Russell at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

Is Childcare Easier Than a Full-Time Job?

Nick at Alas, A Blog has a brief but clear post in response to the often-heard refrain from a working parent: "I would love to stay home and take care of the children, it is easier." Nick's response: "There’s a huge difference between 'spending time with' children and 'looking after' them."

via Alas, A Blog - The Burden of Childcare

Posted by Russell at 07:08 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 10

Victoria Falls to Lusaka – Friday, June 16

We rose early today, each taking walks to experience morning in Livingstone. In a small touring car with two guides from the guest house, we drove to the Great Falls. First stop was the Sun Hotel which sits at the top of the falls. Monkeys scampered around the grounds while guest sat eating and drinking on verandas. Affluence and privilege abounded.

Further down the road were the main trails to the falls where James saved us money by (proudly) passing for a Zambian, who have a significantly lower entrance fee. In rented raincoats we traveled along the embankment across from the massive falls. The experience was grand on every level. Vision, sound, and touch combined into an awesome soul shaking. Powerful downpours of water from the mist alternated with sunshine and rainbows. We were cleansed with libations from the gods. The spectacular bridge to Zimbabwe kept appearing and disappearing at different angles.

Because we were leaving Zambia early the next morning, and wanting to avoid another eight hours bus ride for our return trip, we booked the last plane flight back to Lusaka, and had to leave the Falls all too soon. As we drove toward the airport a family of baboons jumped through trees and followed us alongside the road.

The one hour flight brought us back to Lusaka with enough time to meet Simuyi and take him out to lunch in gratitude for all of his hospitality. We then went shopping at a “cultural village,” where local crafts people and merchants were eagerly selling us their products, At a final meeting with YWCA executive director, Mrs. Kaumba, we all affirmed our desire to continue the relationship and the importance of follow up to the MRI training with the Men’s Network. After a final dinner at Simuyi’s, we packed our bags in preparation for next day’s early departure.

Posted by Russell at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Zambia Trip - Entry 9

Lusaka to Livingstone

This morning we sang happy birthday (51st) to Patrick, before we drove him to the Lusaka airport for his return trip to Nigeria (via an overnight in Nairobi). We have found another deeply committed brother of the heart, and vowed to meet again in Nigeria as soon as we find sponsors for a training there. He was deeply moved by what we were able to accomplish in the Zambia training, and brings home lots of ideas about how to organize something similar in Abakaliki.

Our videographer captured images of Lusaka from the car as we drove to the YWCA. (He taped the entire training, and was so moved by what he saw, that he declared with gusto in the closing circle, “I am joining you!”) At the YWCA we met several training participants for debriefing and good-byes. They were obviously hungry for as much contact as they could get. We toured the YWCA ceramics shop where beautiful pottery and electric company insulators are produced, and fantasized about finding ways to bring some of their products to a world market.

In a last minute decision, we drove to the bus station to board a bus to Livingstone for an overnight visit to Victoria Falls. As we stepped out of the YWCA car, we left the relatively protected world of the training venue and our host family, and entered the life of Zambia in a new way. We sat in the small bus for an hour until it was packed with more people than we thought was possible. The journey to the southernmost city of Zambia, on the border with Zimbabwe, was twice as long as we expected, stopping at many of the small towns on the way. We were amazed that many passengers were wearing coats and wanted the windows closed, while we were sweating and breathing gas fumes for the entire trip. We arrived in Livingstone at midnight, and were quickly surrounded by aggressive cab drivers looking for our business. Thankfully, we were met by Stephen Mbati’s brother-in-law, who helped us find a comfortable guest house, and the first western style shower with substantial hot water we have had since arriving in Zambia.

Most recent patch of photos

Lusaka day three - the village 040[3].jpg

Posted by Russell at 06:15 AM | Comments (2)

June 16, 2006

Books On How To Get Women

Luke over at Real Men Are Not has a really awesome post clearly illustrating the various, easily found, pieces of popular culture that reenforce male rape fantasies. From "come-on" ads on late night television to prime-time "reality" shows to main-display books, the idea that men want (and should want) "easy" women to do whatever they want is literally everywhere.

via Real Men Are Not - Pimp Your/My Oppression

Posted by Russell at 06:12 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 8

Training Day One

This day has been an amazing experience. The room was filled with over 20 people, mostly young men. (In Zambia they refer to “youth” as people ages 18 to 35.) They were eager and very intelligent. We opened the day using a large bamboo pole cut from the YWCA executive director’s farm as a talking stick for each person to introduce themselves with their name, where they are from and expectations for the day. We explained that we would be joining together for a ritual of healing as well as a training. The power of the day continued to build, as the women shared their experiences to a circle of men who were supportive and caring. The men then began to share their experiences of violence, abuse and abandonment. We practiced saying to each other “I hear you. I understand you. I am with you.”

We were very impressed with how well informed these men are about violence against women, and how deep their commitment is. Everyone left the day filled with a greater recognition of their potential for supporting each other and healing violence.

We’re off to a great start. We have been able to hire a videographer for the training, and know that we have documented many powerful moments to share with others.

Now we are eager to head back to our temporary home, collapse, and watch some soccer.


Training Day Two

Dear friends and colleagues,

We have spent another remarkable day with the Zambia Men’s Network and the leadership of the Zambia YWCA. This training is clearly making a tremendous difference, and the appreciation being expressed from everyone is heartfelt and enthusiastic.

The day began with remarks from the President of the YWCA board of directors, a representative of the Zambia Men’s Network, our colleague from Nigeria, and Steven. The President was clearly moved by our opening activities and hearing from participants about the impacts of our first day. The YWCA executive director has been very pleased by our approach and the learning and inspiration that is obviously happening for the members of the ZMN.

As we began working on developing action plans, the creativity and talents of the ZMN members continued to shine. They have developed plans for a Zambian men’s pledge against violence, community outreach, educational performances, outreach to men in prison, and a national membership campaign.

We ended the day with a ritual (of course) of “planting” the bamboo pole into a large flower pot with each person placing a stone into the base while saying what they are giving to the growth of the men’s network. (Those of you who attended our open house in Springfield will recognize the format.)

What is happening here in Zambia is truly pioneering work, and a model for the rest of the world. We have expressed the support of people from the United States for their efforts, and we feel your support for us.


Posted by Russell at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

Zambia Update

Sorry that there has been some "radio silence" from Zambia. As you will see below, the issue of electricity and internet availability has been a problem. Here is an update from James:

Sorry for being out of touch, but as you know it was out of our hands. The power we take for granted goes on and off at will. The running water come and goes at will and of course things just seem to not happen on our time frame. Such is the nature of things out here. I am home. Okay, Steven and I for the past two days have been trying to email out but just have not been able to do it. The internet cafe had to close down early because the network went down with no explanation. The best yet is that last night we had our graduation ceremony real Africa style with no electricity in the whole complex and again, no explanation. Our workshops went extremely well. The response was overwhelmingly positive. I know you'll be getting more updates from Steven soon. Well, if all goes as planned... James

Posted by Russell at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2006

The Sacred Feminine

I read the Da Vinci Code last year and was fairly-well entertained. But mostly I was impressed with Dan Brown's blatant attack on church doctorine (I also understand that the book was purposely kept in the fiction/fact gray-zone as a form of protection). In all of the written material that I either read or glanced at I was surprised that I didn't read more about the concept of the "sacred feminine" that is illuminated in the book (perhaps I didn't read the right material). The post below is an example of what I was looking for:

via Men Can Stop Rape - The Da Vinci Code and the Sacred Feminine

Posted by Russell at 07:05 AM | Comments (2)

June 13, 2006

Survey of Fatherhood

Rebel Dad has a brief overview of a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on fertility, contraception, and fatherhood. Some pretty interesting stuff. You can check out the whole study through a link on the post.

via Rebel Dad - Statistical Snapshots of Fatherhood

Posted by Russell at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2006

The "Fear of Faggotry"

Hugo Schwyzer has an interesting post dealing with "the fear of faggotry": a heterosexual man/boy's fear of being called "gay" or "fag". Hugo gives a personal account of growing up and his response to being called "gay" - a, sadly, typical story. But he also explores the same type of incidents as an adult pro-feminist male and the choices that need to be made:

As an adult, heterosexual, pro-feminist man, I don't spend time trying to disprove the charge of homosexuality. After all, to do so would suggest that I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with being homosexual. Young men who aspire to do pro-feminist work had better get over any internalized homophobia lickety-split! Running around saying "Look at me, I"M NOT GAY!!!" is not only unlikely to impress anyone, it also indicates a profound discomfort with the whole notion of diverse sexualities. If being called "fag" or "gay" makes you quake in your boots, my friend, you still have a considerable amount of work to do. I don't say that to be unkind or insensitive, but to be brutally honest. One of the litmus tests for whether or not a man is ready and willing to live as a pro-feminist is how he responds to the nearly-certain anti-gay slurs that will be thrown his way. If he reacts with frantic defensiveness (as I did in eighth grade), then it's evidence he's got a ways to go on his journey.

via Hugo Schwyzer - A Long Post On Pro-Feminist Men And The "Fear Of Faggotry"

Posted by Russell at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 7

From Steven Botkin, sent Saturday, June 10, 2006 8:01 AM

Lusaka Day Three

Last night we took our first bus ride in Lusaka, squeezing into a VW sized bus with many others returning home from work.

In the morning we went back to the University to meet several professors, the director of the gender studies department and a professor of sociology. We happened to be there at the dedication of a new HIV testing clinic, donated by a group from southern India, so we got to meet the vice-chancellor and assistant dean. Everyone expressed great interest in our work and the possibility of having us come back to work with undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty. They will also help us begin to make connections with some of the other international NGOs in Zambia.

We then met up with our friend and colleague Reverend Abednego Mambwe who we had met a few months ago when he was visiting the U.S. He is founder and director of New Vision For Africa, bringing donated computers to Zambian schools. We had a delightful visit at his home, meeting his family and seeing his office and warehouse. Our connection with him holds great prospects for the future.

This afternoon our the host of the home where we are staying is driving us out of Lusaka to his village. We are looking forward to seeing more of Zambia.

Message from Abednego:
Having met the two friends in the US has been a great delight and joy to my heart, and that now that they are with me in Zambia I want to participate even though I have a sister on her deathbed. Please continue to think about them, and also assistance in any way while they are with me in Zambia. Thank you very much.

Message from Abel, young brother to Abednego:
It is great to meet brother Steven and Brother James from America. Their brotherhood and smiles pleases my heart. I felt very glad to have met the two brothers. May the Lord be with them as they visit Zambia. It is my hope and prayer that this is the beginning of our great brotherhood. Thank you.

Here are the Zambia Day 7 photos

Posted by Russell at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

Zambia Trip - Entry 6

From Steven Botkin, sent Friday, June 9, 2006 1:50 PM


We’re sitting in one of the two shopping malls in Lusaka at the end of a long day. We began the day, after a round of tai chi and breakfast provided by our host family, at the Zambia Immigration Office, finalizing the visa for Patrick from Nigeria to join us in the training next week. Then we drove to the YWCA of Zambia, which has its own extensive compound of buildings. (We’ve been amazed at how frequently buildings and private homes are surrounded by high cement walls topped with barbed wire or electric fences, with large metal entrance gates, often staffed by a security person.) We spent time getting to know eight young men who were members of the Zambia Men’s Network. We were all excited to finally be sitting together. They described how effective the survey (see below) we had sent them was in reaching out to and starting conversions with their friends and family. They are all volunteer peer educators and have done presentations in schools, as well as going door to door. One of the many questions they asked of us was how to sustain their passion for this work and make it financially viable for themselves and their families.

Today was graduation at the University of Zambia. We were surrounded by proud families, bright smiles, and colorful clothes as we stopped to pick up our training handbooks from the printer. (See our photos)

The day was filled with driving through Lusaka traffic arranging logistics for the training. (One of our board members who has done international work warned us that many logistics would require last minute revisions, and he was correct.) We have great respect for Stephen Mbati, the Zambia Men’s Network director, for his patience and persistence in addressing all of these challenges.

We’re tired from the day, but very grateful for each experience, and each person we are meeting. After sending off this report, we hope to return to our “home” in Zambia in time to catch the end of the first game of the World Cup.

Here are the Zambia Day 6 photos


Posted by Russell at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 5

Blog entry from Steven, sent Thursday, June 8, 2006 18:29

We arrived in Zambia early this morning, safe and sound.

It's been a day of driving around Lusaka, trying to figure out how to deal with phone, money, accommodations, printing. The logistics were a pain, but the experience of driving around an African city has been amazing. Check out our photos on Snapfish (I'll send the link soon). The people have been warm and friendly. Humanity is so similar, and so different, around the world. Definitely lots of views of people literally scratching out a living - breaking stones on the side of the road, selling things to cars at intersections.

One stop in our travels today was particularly poignant. We visited Stephen Mbati's father in a small hospital. He is very sick with prostate cancer. His mother maintains a constant vigil at his bedside, along with other family members who come and go. The conversation turned to U.S. politics, of which they are very knowledgeable. The feelings are clearly frustration and confusion about the role of our country on the world stage. We empathized and agreed.


Posted by Russell at 07:58 PM | Comments (1)

Zambia Trip - Entry 4

Blog Entries from James and Steven, sent: Thursday, June 8, 2006 1:54 PM
Photos at Snapfish

From James Arana
As we board the plane for Zambia, I pointed to Steven the beam of lights shooting from the sky in anticipation of our arrival. (Look for that picture.)

After taking a well overdue nap, I got up right on time as our plane found land, mother Africa called me with open arms and welcome. I gave my praise to the supreme creator and my ancestors for carrying me on their backs, and on their wings. I gave thanks to my mother, for I know it is through her guidance that I am here. I gave thanks and praise to my family, for they are with me. Upon getting off the plane, I stumbled and it felt good to catch myself, because I had to be present to this profound experience. I stood, looked around me, and took in the sights, sounds and textures of Zambia, and my soul felt good. Again, I gave thanks for everyone who is present in my life.

Oh, how time stands still when you don’t know where you are going. We stood at the airport entrance for two hours, waiting to be met by our host, who, like me, continues to experience car trouble. And, it was good, giving up the immediate access to control that we have grown so accustomed to in the U.S. And, it was good, to wait and watch the flow of people coming and going. Looking at the facial features that are so familiar to me is like looking in the mirror and finding my long lost brothers and sisters.

The question I am being asked as we meet people throughout our day is, “Is this my first time to Zambia or Africa?” And yes is my answer. And I continue to be welcomed and informed about how glad they are that I was able to make it. They know that many more of our Black brothers and sisters from the Caribbean and the U.S. would like to, but can’t.

After being picked up by Stephen Mbati, we got to experience the pace of Zambia, and it reminds me of being back home in Belize. As we drove towards the city of Lusaka, I am pointing out to both Stephens and Steven the trees I recognize fondly. Yes, in so many ways, I am back home.

Long Lost Son – James


From Steven Botkin
Waiting in the London airport, we struck up a conversation with a young man from Kenya. He was returning home for the summer after spending two years in college in the U.S. He told us about his goal of writing a book about how to improve Kenyan secondary education to better prepare students for college in other countries. When told him about our work with the Zambian Men’s Network, his eyes lit up. He proudly explained how his friends call him a feminist, because he supports women’s equality. And he eagerly listened as we described how there are many men around the world, like himself, who are connecting with each other and learning how to have a stronger voice for equality.

It is in these simple connections that we plant the seeds of inspiration and build the long-term relationships upon which a movement is built.

—Steven Botkin

Posted by Russell at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

Zambia Trip - Entry 3

Blog entry from James Arana, Program Director, Men’s Resources International

Coming Full Circle

Today from yesterday so long ago, I come back to you who never lost track and carried me across the sea and put me in the hands of your people who held me and nurtured me, who guided me.

Never lost or abandoned for you paved the way for me to be safe, to survive for nothing, no man could interrupt your direction, your intention.

I am living proof that your child has come back home.

You watch over me and put me in the hands of native people when I was taken away from my native land.

You show the world that the spirit of thru Native and natural is strong, unalterable relevant and strong.

I go back home under the continual protection and guidance of you, my ancestors.

Going Back Home

This opportunity of a life time to go back home to a place I left five hundred years with no opportunity to know, or to say good by to my loved ones because of the greed from the new world, across the sea.

I go back home with dignity, pride, love, desperation, and depredation of the soul of my people who are lost in the inner city of the concrete jungle of inequity.

I am going back home for all my brothers and sisters who don’t remember they have a home.

I go back home to share the universal connection that years of injustice could not extinguish hope.

My going back home was by no means a smooth road for I am still run into slave traders on my way home, slavers who continue to round up my brothers and sisters in a system of incarceration of destruction
I feel and see slave traders reaching out for me and those who look like me, and at times I barely make it out of their grip, their smear
Hyper vigilant I must be for their traps are everywhere, speed traps for those who look like we, me. Trappings that entangle every time I move and give me no room to breath.

Continually I climb up hill like in quick sand, barely being able to keep my head above water ands feeling the seaweed entangling my leg pulling me down.

I reach out for home and feeling it just outside my grasp, slipping like sand through my hands.

Barely making it here for my hands always seems to be tied behind my back.

Posted by Russell at 07:04 AM | Comments (1)


A call out, from Masculinities in Media, for feminists to connect to transgender issues - very important - as well as some good links:

via Masculinities in Media - Transfeminism

Posted by Russell at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 2

Blog Entry 2: Sent from Steven Botkin on Wed 6/7/2006 7:27 AM

We made it the first leg of our journey - London. It is becoming more tangible that in a few hours we will be meeting in person with people we have been communicating with by phone and email. To say that we are excited in anticipating this meeting is an understatement;

The journey began with an auspicious meeting in the Boston airport. One of our long-term MRC colleagues in men's work, who has become a leader in the field through his work at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Juan Carlos Arean, was arriving at the airport at the same time that we were preparing to depart. We had a wonderful send-off and blessings on our travels. The synchronicity of this experience affirmed for us the power of relationship and how the forces of connection will continue to support our efforts.

Right now, we are enjoying a few hours in London, taking in the sights and feelings of being in a new city, and beginning to get used to the new time zones. In a few hours we head back to Heathrow Airport for the 10 hour flight to Lusaka.

Snap fish photo album

London 022.jpg

Posted by Russell at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

Male Privilege Checklist

Ampersand over at Alas, A Blog (twice in one week!) wrote a fantastic male privilege checklist based on Peggy McIntosh's White Privilege checklist. Then she responds to some of the feedback it generated. Good stuff:

via Alas, A Blog - Men Are Much Less Likely To Be Victims of Rape

via Alas, A Blog - In Defense of Generalizations and "Petty" Complaints

via Alas, A Blog - Male Privilege Checklist: Car Sale, Harrassment, House-cleaning, and Weight

Posted by Russell at 07:52 AM | Comments (2)

June 07, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 1

Blog Entry 1: Sent from Steven Botkin on Tue 6/6/2006 2:06 PM

This evening, James Arana and I will get on a plane in Boston and travel to Zambia. The journey will take us 8000 miles, over 27 hours (with an 11 hour layover in London). James, Daniel and I (the MRI staff) have been working very hard over the past several weeks to prepare for this trip, but it is also a journey across an ocean of unknowns...

Even though we have known Stephen Mbati, Zambia Men’s Network founder, for more than a year, spending almost two weeks together in March 2005 hosting his U.S. study tour, we do not know the realities of life in Zambia for men and women. Although we know Stephen and others from the YWCA of Zambia are committed to engaging men in positive masculinity and violence prevention, we do not know how our approach to men’s work will be received in this cultural context.

What we do know is that there are many men and women in Zambia who are eager to participate in the four days of leadership training we will be facilitating. We know that, together with the training participants, we will be delivering computers and making presentations to local schools. And we know that many men and women in the United States have supported us in making this journey happen.

As we prepare to leave for the airport, I have been realizing that this is more than a business trip to present a training to colleagues in Africa. We are also working to create the opportunity for a powerful ritual of healing. This paradigm of healing ritual, which has always been central to my approach to men’s work, helps me to remember that we are in this together, and that there are sources of support and guidance that can be invoked to increase the power and effectiveness of our efforts. From this perspective, I welcome the unknowns as a source of guidance, I feel comforted by the presence of human and spiritual companions on this journey, and I know that I am not doing this alone. Every step in the journey becomes part of the ritual, another opportunity for invocation and connection.

Thank you for your presence on this great journey. I will take you with me, and, through the wonders of technology, will be sending regular reflections and reports (and hopefully photos) via the weblog.

May we all know peace,



Posted by Russell at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)

Introduction to Zambia Trip

Men's Resources International, the main sponsor of this site is involved in a great project. We thought that readers of The Uncommon Man would be interested in it...

At this writing, MRI Executive Director, Steven Botkin, and Program Director, James Arana are on route to Zambia, Africa to conduct a 4-day leadership for the Zambia Men’s Network, hosted by the YWCA of Zambia. Additionally, in cooperation with New Vision for Africa, MRI will facilitate the delivery of computers to local schools by the MRI training participants.

For some background on the Zambia training, click here.

For the duration of their trip, we will post updates from the field on The Uncommon Man Weblog. Entries may be in the form of e-mails from Steven or James, or may be a recap of a phone call we receive. We’ll post any photos we receive, and include any relevant links. We expect to distribute a more comprehensive report of the training upon Steven and James’ return. In the meantime, we hope these informal updates provide an interesting glimpse into the process of this exciting work.

Here is a photo of the Men's Resources International staff:

MRI office 003.jpg

Posted by Russell at 08:40 PM | Comments (0)

Patriarchy Hurts Men, Too?

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I have not been near a computer for the last thirty-six hours.

Below is a great post that will make you think differently about those spam emails that men tend to get. Penis enlargements? Last longer? Are these messages that are both patriarchal and hurtful to men at the same time? Think about it...

Also, starting tonight, we will feature a series of posts that will be exciting to feature on this site. Check it out...

via Feministe - What Was That About Patriarchy Hurting Men, Too?

Posted by Russell at 01:49 AM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

Feminist Books for Teens

Ampersand at Alas, A Blog posts an email she got from a junior high/ high school teacher wondering what feminist books could be recommended to encourage discussions about sexism after an incident at the school. Ampersand posted and the readers commented. A good list:

via Alas, A Blog - What Feminist Book Would You Have 12-18 Year Olds Read

Posted by Russell at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Dads and Daughters Success

The Dads and Daughters story below came as an email, and is ultimately a fundraising letter (nothing wrong with that). I thought it was a story worth sharing here (and if you want to contribute to Dads and Daughters...nothing wrong with that, too).

Our goal is to make the world safe and fair for daughters everywhere - and we'd like to share with you just one of our most recent successes in doing this.

Hasbro recently announced they would be marketing-to girls as young as six-a line of dolls based on The Pussycat Dolls, a six-woman music group that performs highly eroticized dance routines and songs.

Our online campaign made it easy and quick for parents to contact Hasbro executives and ask them to put their own young daughters' and granddaughters' faces in the picture. We asked a simple question: would they encourage the six-year-old girls they care about to play with such hypersexualized dolls? Not surprisingly, their answer was no.

Within only 2 days, Hasbro contacted DADs to let us know they were halting production of the dolls! They made the right decision for their families, our families, and the company. And everyone who participated in our action helped make the world a bit more safe and fair for our daughters.

Successes like this can happen only with your continued financial support. Please help us meet our fiscal year end goal (June 30) of $50,000 by donating today!

Joe Kelly, President

Posted by Russell at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2006

Women In Kuwait Run For Parliment

After a 44 year ban, women were given the right to vote last May. Now there are five candidates running for Kuwaiti parliment seats - a first for this country. Excellent news...

via BBC - Electoral First for Kuwaiti Women

Posted by Russell at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)

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