J. Soltys's Weblog

June 30, 2009

Female Psychologist Advocates for Men’s Issues

In the process of advocating men’s issues, it becomes inevitable that I will wind up in a debate with those who feel advocating for men’s causes is a waste of time and resources because men are living in a state of blissful privilege. Instead, these people feel that valuable time and resources would be much better spent helping women’s issues, because according to them, it is obvious men are not the ones who have any real issues, rather it is women who are facing numerous personal and societal crises.
These same people are very creative and vociferous in minimizing the fact that males are failing in greater numbers than before in school, being incarcerated at record levels, likely to be victims of violence 4 to 1 over females, likely to commit suicide at rates 4 to 1 over females, and likely to be falsely accused of murder, rape, and domestic violence at a prodigious rate versus females.
This is called male “privilege and bliss”, and because of this biased and limited thinking, many men’s issues are ignored or placed into the low political/societal priority agenda.

But the tide is slowly changing. More people are starting to realize that recognizing men’s issues will have a positive effect on men, boys, women, girls, families, and society. As a matter of fact, some are saying that women’s issues could gain strength and greater respect, if they were to embrace men’s issues instead of denying and marginalizing them.

For example, the World Bank, a prestigious humanitarian organization which provides research, data, financial, and technological education to developing countries around the world had this to say about gender and men’s issues in a 2006 report:

What About Men And Gender? World Bank Publication Calls For “Menstreaming” Development

Accomplishing the goal of gender equality will be difficult, if not impossible, without considering men in the gender and development debate and focusing on the relations between men and women, according to a new book, The Other Half of Gender, released today by the World Bank.

While gains have been made over the decades, initiatives by government and development agencies that focused exclusively on women have in some cases inadvertently increased women’s work burden and violence against them, the book reveals and recommends applying a more inclusive perspective that also considers men’s gender issues.

The authors believe that while there is a long way to go making a more inclusive gender perspective a reality, the first step must be to move beyond the conventional gender paradigm that focuses exclusively on women and is based on the oppositional and two-dimensional “women as victim, men as a problem” attitude that has pervaded the gender and development debate over the decades.

“We believe that the time has come to better understand men from a gender perspective, for the benefit of men, women, future generations, and the society as a whole,” said Steen Jorgensen, Director World Bank Director for Social Development.

Empowering women has been placed at the center of the gender issue since 1970s when feminist advocates and academics brought attention to the special needs and potential of women in development. However, over the last decade, there has been a growing, but still timid, interest in understanding the male side of gender in development, that is, how gender norms and constructs in society negatively affect men themselves as well as the development processes.

“Despite this new understanding of gender, development practice on gender remained firmly focused on women— and to this day, when we talk about gender, we automatically mean women,” said Ian Bannon, Manager of the Conflict Prevention and Reconstruction Unit at the World Bank. “There has also been a concern that drawing attention to male issues will draw scarce resources away from programs focused on women. But this misses the point. Men and gender is not about transferring benefits or attention from women to men.”

Rather women’s well-being can generally not improve without including men because it concerns relationships between men and women, and these relations are subject of constant negotiations. Addressing gender issues, including those that disadvantage women, thus requires understanding gender as a social system that affects both men and women and their inter-relations, according to the book.

And now a female psychologist from Australia is advocating a greater respect and awareness for the development of men’s causes and concerns based on some of the same logic as the researchers from the World Bank.

Dr. Elizabeth Celi recently appeared on an Australian talk show to voice her concerns about how men and masculinity issues are devoid of the same value and respect given to women and femininity issues in modern society.

 

Thank you to Dr. Celi and the those at the World Bank. I hope we can sustain this more modern and compassionate way of thinking concerning our approach as a civilized society when discussing the problems and issues facing  men, fathers, and boys today.

 

Contact:

soltys.joe@gmail.com

https://jsoltys.wordpress.com

June 18, 2009

Some Good Things Happened Since I’ve Been Gone

ncfm

I took sort of a mini sabbatical from my blog. However, it should not be assumed that I wasn’t busy advocating for a greater male voice in gender politics.

One of the things I’ve been working on – for quite some time now – along with another masculinity writer, Tim Goldich, has been the formation of a Chicago chapter of the National Coalition of Free Men. It took time to put all the pieces in place, but we were finally approved by the national office, and conducted our first meeting last month. We have a lot of work to do in building the foundation of our chapter, recruiting members, holding future meetings etc., but we look forward to the challenge.

About the same time that this was happening, another interesting thing happened. A men’s advocacy group calling itself Men in Power was formed at the University of Chicago. The formation of this group made national news, with founder Steve Saltarelli appearing on many media outlets including Good Morning America and National Public Radio to name a few. Steve was also contacted by Warren Farrell, who is considered one of the founding fathers of the men’s movement, and he offered his support. I also contacted Steve and the Men in Power members offering my support and the support of the NCFM Chicago chapter.

MiP held their first open forum at the University of Chicago earlier this month. The format was designed to allow others to hear and discuss MiP’s mission and intentions on campus. Tim and I attended this forum to observe the students reaction concerning the university’s first men’s organization (there are 11 women organizations already established on the campus), and to meet Steve and the other members.
Unfortunately it was a rude wake-up call for these young men, all men advocates, and for the progress of true equality between the sexes. The panel consisted of three MiP members going up against two campus feminist members, within a room which was lined with protesters holding signs that displayed anti-male, and anti-white male wording and symbolism.
The MiP members spent the whole night defending themselves against what the audience saw; a group of white male students trying to reclaim power for white males in this country.
It was a futile attempt because the opposition saw and heard what they wanted to hear, not what was actually being said. The MiP members were assiduously explaining that this was not their intentions, but it fell on deaf ears. Every misstep they took in defending their position was seized by the opposition with resounding sarcasm, taunting, shame, and ignorance. The opposition came looking for a kill and they got it.

It was apparent that the MiP organization had good intentions, but they went about it the wrong way. The members admitted to being new to men’s issues and male advocacy – and it showed. The opposition consisted of student activist who have studied and debated various forms of feminist, gay, lesbian, and transgender literature. They were the veterans, and the MiP members were the rookies. I myself was not sure what their purpose was by the time it was over, but in hindsight, they could never advocate their mission because they were constantly on the defensive. It takes the skill of a seasoned politician to absorb an attack, defend it, and then launch it back towards your opponent as a counter-attack. And considering the hostile crowd, I’m not sure if a seasoned advocate for men’s issues would have gotten the pertinent points across anyway.

The biggest issue appears to be their name, Men in Power. And I have to agree that this was a bad choice. For someone to be in power, it means someone has to be subservient. And given the history in this country, it’s understandable why some people are going to be offended.
I think MiP is distracting the true nature of their mission with that name. Their mission is not about reclaiming power, but trying to help those men who have been ignored or ostracized by society such as homeless men, men with addictions, men who are incarcerated, men who are mentally unstable, etc. And they know that part of this mission is going to be to reverse the downward spiral in education that has been affecting males for years now.

The good news is Steve has talked to Warren Farrell, and Warren has advised Steve that his group should accept the offer of working with myself and Tim, and Steve has accepted our offer. Within a few weeks we hope to get together and begin the process of establishing MiP as a legitimate, resourceful, men’s advocacy group – minus the name. We have already advised the members to change their name. Male advocacy work is hard enough, but with that name, it is almost impossible.

Aslo, Steve has told us he has received numerous requests from other universities wanting to know if they can affiliate with MiP. This is good news for male advocates. It shows a surge of interest in our message and arguments. And it should be noted that at the MiP forum, there was a handful of comments made in which males and female expressed a desire to know more about men and father issues.

That’s about all for now. Once the NFCM Chicago chapter website is established, I will post it on my blog. In the meantime, I will begin writing again. I’m thinking of changing my blog by using a mix of my writings and along with important news stories that concern or affect men and fathers. I guess I’ll try it and see how it feels.

So with that being said, I want to wish all fathers out there a wonderful Fathers Day. Regardless what President Obama says I think you guys are great. (I know it’s three day away, but I know his scolding of fathers is coming. Sadly, he’s clueless on men’s and father’s issues)

Contact:

soltys.joe@gmail.com

https://jsoltys.wordpress.com

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