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)