Category: 2013 Summer

Reports of Feminism’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Maybe some women just don’t care. But how could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” —Ellen Page, actor   “If the word ‘feminist’ has negative connotations, running away from the word won’t fix that. Whatever new word you come up with will eventually take on the same negative connotations. Because the problem isn’t with feminists; it’s with those who demonize feminism.” —Rebecca Cohen, cartoonist   With such an onslaught of pressing issues facing those...

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Summer 2013 Edition

The End Days of Wayne LaPierre The White Maleness of Mass Shootings Invasive Procedures: Chasing High Tech Babies FEATURES  E. Ethelbert Miller, Shira Tarrant, and Stephen McArthur Is There a Future for “Man Up?” From time to time Voice Male has asked contributing editors, national advisory board members, and other colleagues to submit short essays. In Fall 2012, a number responded to the question “What Is Healthy Masculinity?” In the three pieces that follow, two advisory board members and a longtime contributor weigh in on the question “What comes up for you when you hear the phrase ‘Man up’?”...

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Protected: Poetry

The Taste of a Little Boy’s Trust By Richard Jeffrey Newman   Snow still falling this late, when each house framed by the window above my desk is dark, and even my wife’s breathing has grown indistinguishable from the quiet, snow still falling as a truck rolls by, big-cat-svelte on eighteen wheels, orange running lights spreading up and down my block a Halloween glow in mid-December, like a space vessel landing, bringing me the boy I was standing in the courtyard, searching the descending whiteness for the shapes of ships I longed to fly away on, snow still falling this late when I could be sleeping, the way I should have been the night I saw my mother nude, and her friend on his back, and them both too slow to hide what they were doing, and I told my brother and we tried it, and we tried to understand why grown-ups did it— how could you let someone pee in your mouth?—snow still falling this late is the whisper we tried to laugh in, breath the old man dropped, syllable— when—by syllable—will I see you?—into my ear, and I couldn’t move, wouldn’t, and so it wasn’t me who followed him upstairs, who listened to the lock click shut in the door, and it wasn’t me whose belt he unbuckled, and when his pants joined mine on the floor,...

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Protected: Books

Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom   By Leslie C. Bell University of California Press, 2013 262 pages, hardcover, $29.95   “We could have had it all,” Adele muses on her album 21, which she recorded at just that age. Can young women? For more than a generation, young women have been talking about the difficulties of trying to construct love, relationships, and sex, but few have listened to them. Feminist sociologist and psychotherapist Leslie C. Bell has now given them voice in her new book, Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom, a window into the lives of these women that is reminiscent of Lillian Rubin’s Worlds of Pain. The women in Bell’s book have more freedom than their mothers and grandmothers, but they are also living with mixed messages about motherhood, sex, careers, and marriage. Managing these freedoms, messages, and their own desires can be decidedly difficult. Bell takes us movingly through the lives of women in their twenties, college graduates and childless, from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and an assortment of sexual orientations. These are the women born after 1972 for whom Title IX, affirmative action, and Roe v. Wade helped to shape their consciousness and, in turn, hopes for their liberation. Bell reports that college-educated women now marry on average at 27, and...

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Protected: Film

Flirting with Danger: Power & Choice in Heterosexual Relationships   Media Education Foundation, 2012 52 minutes; colleges and universities: $250, nonprofits: $150. Produced, directed and edited by Sut Jhally and Andrew Killoy. Based on the book of the same name and featuring its author, Dr. Lynn Phillips.   Long before the town of Steubenville, Ohio, became synonymous with males raping females, the question of how young women need to think—and act—in navigating their sexual lives, especially in college, was underexamined. For straight women, as a new film shows, not asking can have dangerous results. In Flirting with Danger: Power & Choice in Heterosexual Relationships, psychologist Lynn Phillips explores the often-avoided gray area between consent and coercion found in college student hookups. The film explores victim blaming and victim denial, the effects of sexist media on young men and women in sexual relationships, and the “virgin/slut” dichotomy. Produced by the Media Education Foundation, Flirting with Danger presents a dialogue in which men and women, and perpetrators and victims, can begin to examine their own personal encounters. The result creates a unified conversation through which both men’s violence against women and victim blaming are addressed. Young women are perceived as playing with fire if they: go out drinking, wear revealing outfits, go to parties, or interact with males. In other words, live their lives as normal young adults. One interviewee says,...

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Protected: Notes from Survivors

Knowing Your Offender: Navigating Your Healing By Randy Ellison   What is the most complicated and least understood aspect of child sex abuse? That 90 percent of all perpetrators are known to the victims (www.childhelp-usa.com/pages/statistics). Only 10 percent are strangers. And as if that weren’t enough, 30 to 40 percent come from the victim’s immediate family. The other 50 to 60 percent of perpetrators include older kids, babysitters, teachers, ministers, coaches, and leaders in youth-serving programs. So to state the obvious: in most cases victims usually know their offenders and are related in some way before the abuse starts. Offenders take advantage of the trust placed in them. They can be so calculating, and the abuse so gradual, that it goes unnoticed or undetected. It is not uncommon for the victim to even think the behavior is “normal.” Even if they know on some level that something is wrong, it can be incredibly difficult for a child—a victim of power and control—to rationally separate the abuse from the normal parts of the relationship. Most abuse starts with what is called “grooming,” where the offender uses attention, flattery, and sometimes gifts to gain the child’s trust. The grooming behavior of the offender validates the victim just as the abuse invalidates them. As a result of the grooming and manipulation, most child victims think the abuse either is normal or was...

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Masculinity & Race

Why Every Black Man Should Wear Number 42 By E. Ethelbert Miller   I was born a few years after Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball. By the time I was gripping and throwing a ball, Robinson’s career was over. It was as if I were a black person being born one or two years after Emancipation. I would grow up never knowing the tip of the lash. I was taught about Jackie Robinson in the same manner I was told to associate peanuts with George Washington Carver. History has a sorry way of reducing events and individuals to footnotes. The fact that Jackie Robinson is also enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame is a reminder of how good a ballplayer he was. We tend to sometimes overlook this fact. We shy away from acknowledging Robinson’s temper and his racial pride. There are also things about Jackie Robinson’s career after baseball that we refuse to mention or take note of. Robinson is a key figure when it comes to the civil rights movement in America. He is also a key figure in a then-unnamed black masculinity movement. The life of Jackie Robinson, like the recent movie 42, embraces a wonderful love story. Would we have had a Jackie Robinson without a Rachel Robinson? Baseball is a game that begins and ends at home. More and more African...

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Protected: OutLines

Coming Out on the Court of History By Michael Kimmel   When the NBA’s Jason Collins became the first currently active professional male athlete in a major team sport to come out as gay at the end of April, the big story was, well…that the story was not really so big, argues Voice Male contributing editor Michael Kimmel. “First,” the sociologist and author of a number of books about men and masculinity says, “look at all the qualifiers in that description—‘currently active’ and ‘professional,’” noting that there are many athletes, professional and otherwise, who have come out after their playing days were over. Sure, it was a brave stance for Collins to take in 2013. Still, female tennis superstar Martina Navratilova came out in 1981 and was met with great hostility. Interviewed on Democracy Now! the day after his announcement, Navratilova praised Collins but noted that she received no congratulatory call from then-President Ronald Reagan the way Collins did from President Obama. Certainly times have changed for the better; still, homophobia remains widespread.   The reaction to Jason Collins’s coming-out interview in Sports Illustrated has been a single-note chorus of support. Current and former players lined up to offer their support (and express their slightly self-protective surprise—“Wow, I had no idea, and my locker was next to his, and we showered together, never had a clue…”). He’s going to...

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Protected: Men & Health

Under Armor: From Power and Control to Letting Go   I’m lying facedown on my chiropractor’s table. Soothing music wafts above me. Soft lighting lulls me. My chiropractor is doing her magic, helping my body reset. My spine has become more pliant under her hands; still, on her last pass we find a spot that remains clenched. She lightly touches one, two places mid-back. My breath deepens. She steps away. Like glass defrosting, something clears throughout my body; an armoring I wasn’t even aware of dissolves. My eyes moisten. I feel absolved, returned home. At the start of the session I mentioned I was feeling tenderhearted (I didn’t share the night of intense dreams I’d had). But my bad dreams had left me not just sore in the heart; I was guarded, hardened. Reevaluation counseling teaches that among our earliest hurts is to be taught that our innate healing response (the free discharge of emotions) is something we should interrupt—males get this in the form of “big boys don’t cry” and “real men are tough” (which for many means numb). So we men often mask our fear, shame, and sadness with anger or prickliness—the sanctioned male emotions. I see this tendency in myself and among many other men. I see my own armoring reflected in how as a nation we engage in “national dialogues” about the deficit, climate change,...

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Protected: 2013 Summer: Men @ Work

Shedding Tears for the Decline of Men? Is the labor market in such bad shape that it’s deflating men’s chances of marrying—and causing a further fraying of the social fabric of the American family? Longtime business and economics columnist at The Washington Post Robert J. Samuelson thinks so. With nearly a half million people having left the labor force in the last six years, Samuelson believes the problem is only going to get worse: Even before the Great Recession, men who had only graduated high school faced lower wages and a harder time securing a job and as a consequence were not considered good marriage prospects. The result has contributed to an uptick in single-parent families. Additionally, unyielding high unemployment exacerbates these destructive trends. In a paper prepared for the liberal think tank Third Way (www.thirdway.org), economists David Autor and Melanie Wasserman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (economics.mit.edu/files/8754) attribute the decline of marriage to men’s economic weakness compared with ascendant women. Females are now seen as more independent economically than are men, and the days of marrying for a guy’s financial stability are over. In the past 35 years, hourly wages for men 25 to 39 have fallen 20 percent for men with only a high school diploma, while wages for their female counterparts have risen by 1 percent. During the same time frame, the number of male...

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Protected: Letters

Mail Bonding   Mom Museum’s Male Voices When the Museum of Motherhood of Motherhood (www.mommuseum.org) hosted a gathering on Valentine’s Day as part of One Billion Rising!, the largest global action in history to end violence against women and girls, we wanted Voice Male to be a part of the day. As a museum and teaching facility that focuses on women, mothers and families, we’ve been handing out copies of the magazine for some time to visitors who find our space on the upper East Side of New York. Editor Rob Okun was kind enough to speak at our “Rising” and we continue to distribute the magazine because we see this kind of partnership as a hopeful sign in the growing collaboration between disparate women’s and men’s organizations working for the common goal of gender justice. Joy Rose, founder Museum of Motherhood New York, N.Y.   VM: Compassionate Communication I am an 86-year-old woman who was fortunate to have a husband for 58 years who was kind, nurturing and seldom concerned himself with control issues. (He died in 2011.) In my faith group (Unitarian-Universalist) we just completed a course in Compassionate Communication. In so many violent situations, the couples are poor communicators. I was happy to read your writings. What a great movement you are helping to spearhead! Dorothy McKenna Green Valley, Arizona   From Grandma’s Heart This Winter...

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Floyd Dell

Backwards Glance: Feminism for Men in 1914   Floyd Dell was an American novelist, playwright, poet, and literary critic born a century and a quarter ago in 1887. His influence was felt in the literature of major American writers working in the first half of the 20th century including Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Carl Sandburg. In 1913 Dell became managing editor of The Masses, a socialist magazine founded in New York City. Dell was considered one of the leaders of the bohemian community in Greenwich Village before the outbreak of World War I. Despite his literary acclaim, including penning a Broadway hit in 1928, today he is remembered mainly for his fierce support of feminism. He details his beliefs in the article below, first published nearly 100 years ago in The Masses, in July 1914—six years before women got the right to vote. Although some of his depictions of marriage and family life fail to anticipate gay rights, his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of men’s options reveals a prescient insight into the evolution of the profeminist men’s movement that emerged six decades after Dell’s article was first read.   The Emancipation of Man Feminism is going to make it possible for the first time for men to be free. At present the ordinary man has the choice between being a slave and a scoundrel. For the ordinary man is prone...

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Protected: Miriam Zoll

One Egg, Please, and Make It Easy The Pursuit of High Tech Babies   I am an official member of the Late Boomer Generation. We grew up after the Pill and the Baby Boomers, in the socially transformative 1970s and ’80s, watching with wide eyes while millions of American women—some with children and some not—infiltrated formerly closed-to-females professions like medicine, law, and politics. This exodus from the kitchen into the boardroom created a thrilling, radical shift in home and office politics, in the economy, and in relations between the sexes. “Shoot for the stars,” some of the more thoughtful women advised us, “but don’t forget about the kids.” We are the generation that also came of age at a time of burgeoning reproductive technologies. We grew up with dazzling front-page stories heralding the marvels of test-tube babies, frozen sperm, and egg donors; stories that helped paint the illusion that we could forget about our biological clocks and have a happy family life after—not necessarily before or during—the workplace promotions. Each week newsstands brimmed with stories about older celebrities becoming mothers with the help of miraculous fertility treatments. A few years ago, photographer Annie Leibovitz birthed her first child at the age of 52, while actress Geena Davis delivered at 48 and supermodel Christy Brinkley at 44. More recently we read about singers Mariah Carey and Celine Dion delivering twins...

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Charlotte and Harriet Childress

Why White Men Keep Mum about the White Maleness of Mass Shootings   The national conversation about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects shows again how important it is to continue to write about the effects of white male culture on violence (see Voice Male Winter 2013), say Charlotte and Harriet Childress, researchers on social and political issues. Despite the Tsarnav brothers being immersed in U.S. white male culture for 10 years, virtually all discussion about their actions focused on their religion. The suspects were clearly white men of European descent. Nevertheless, the overwhelming response to what happened dismissed their race. Why? The Childresses noted that many conservatives essentially said the men weren’t white; they’re Muslim. “The column we published in The Washington Post on March 29 (‘White men have much to discuss about mass shootings’) caused a firestorm of protests from conservatives, including Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and The Wall Street Journal” the Childresses recounted. “Most of the tens of thousands of comments that followed, the response found on 300 websites, and on talk radio shows offered no logical conversation about solving the violence problem. The comments we saw appeared to be from white males. Their primary goal was to shift accountability away from their group and their leaders.”   Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and...

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Protected: Gregory Jaquet

Breaking the Mold: Working with Violent Machistas in Costa Rica   David is 32. He was a policeman. Then he went to jail for committing domestic violence. “I experienced true solitude. The prison had become my world. I stayed in my cell 23 hours a day for nine months. At the end, I was afraid to go out,” he recalls. Now a free man, David speaks to 70 men who listen to his confession in the sitting room of the Instituto WEM in San Pedro, a neighborhood east of San José, Costa Rica (www.institutowemcr.org). The institute provides counseling to violent men and helps them work through their personal issues to confront the causes of gender-based violence. Forced to attend by the courts after an episode of domestic violence, forced by their wives, or simply joining of their own free will, these men represent part of Costa Rica’s male society, and they are here to talk about what they’ve done and what they’ve learned. David wears jeans and a dated training jacket. His hair is short, and he doesn’t know what to do with his arms in front of such a large audience. He seems uncomfortable. His lip trembles and his eyes are wet. “A year ago, I was violent with my wife,” he begins. “I was sentenced to nine months. After the sentencing, I came to WEM workshops to...

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E. Ethelbert Miller, Shira Tarrant, and Stephen McArthur

Is There a Future for “Man Up”   From time to time Voice Male has asked contributing editors, national advisory board members, and other colleagues to submit short essays. In Fall 2012, a number responded to the question “What Is Healthy Masculinity?” In the three pieces that follow, two advisory board members and a longtime contributor weigh in on the question “What comes up for you when you hear the phrase ‘Man up’?”   Man Down I seldom use the term “man up” in conversation. I do recall my wife saying it to me after a silly argument earlier this year; so I guess the expression has a washcloth and towel in my house. The words however sound so militaristic or perhaps what a football coach might say at halftime to a losing team in a losing season. What are you supposed to do when you man up? Check your jockstrap?  Punch someone? Pay the bills? Help a woman you don’t even find attractive? Is “man up” something you tell your son? Since I don’t know how to drive a car or repair things around my house, I’ll never be able to man up. I’ll be a failure in the eyes of other men. It also means my wife will look at me with pity and the shaking of her head that secretly means she made a mistake when...

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The End Days of Wayne LaPierre

I suggest putting a teacher in every gun store. —Jef Johnson The National Rifle Association’s public face, Wayne LaPierre, woke me up the other night. No, it wasn’t a midnight phone call; it was a dream. He wanted to know what I’d thought of “the speech.” You know, the insensitive one he delivered last December 21, just seven days after Adam Lanza shot his mother in her bed and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 20 first graders and six school staff before turning one of the weapons in his mother’s arsenal on himself. In the dream, I could hear him reciting the oft-repeated line from his arm-the-schools diatribe: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” My dream self kept responding: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a cream pie is a good guy with two cream pies.” What I remember next is LaPierre and me watching him on television delivering “the speech.” It was really creeping me out. Just as he came to the “good guy with a gun” line, out of the shadows a guy I couldn’t quite make out (me?) pied him. Twice; cream pie all over his sour puss. As Wayne-LaPierre-on-television wiped his face clean, an off-camera voice called to him: “Wipe the smirk off, too, Mr. LaPierre.”...

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Men @ Work

Penn State Pledges to Combat Sexual Violence Too little, too late? Smart politically? Whatever the reason, a glimmer of light is coming out of State College, PA. Penn State has pledged $1.5 million to prevent sexual violence. The beleaguered university is collaborating with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) which will share their expertise and resources with Penn State in a three-year partnership. “We value [the university’s] pledge to support efforts in prevention, advocacy, education, and treatment,” said Delilah Rumburg, chief executive officer of both PCAR and NSVRC. “This is a unique opportunity to work together to end sexual violence.” Referring to former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, accused of sexually abusing at least nine young boys, and allegations that community leaders did not take appropriate actions when informed, Rumberg said, “This case is not unique. We know that adults see or hear things that make them uncomfortable, or may even have a child disclose sexual abuse, but they don’t get involved. We want to prevent abuse by equipping people with information, skills and resources.” The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape represents 51 sexual assault centers annually serving 30,000 men, women and children affected by sexual abuse in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Founded by PCAR in 2000, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center identifies, develops and disseminates resources regarding all aspects...

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Letters

Mail Bonding   Celebrating Different Roads to Changing Men I find much to agree with and celebrate in Frederick Marx’s essay “Defining Masculinity in Our Own Terms,” (Fall 2011) especially with my “movement” lenses on. He finds that feminist men who are doing the important work of standing against the domination of and violence against women too often “end up speaking to only half of why we as men should join these worthy battles.” This seems right to me. Many more males will join in the transformation of gender relations when they know by example and from experience that their lives will improve with that change. This is the promise of liberation for males from the confines of conventional masculinity and patriarchy. It is a path subject to wrong turns, in part because it is so easy to rationalize new ways of performing privilege. Michael Kimmel (in his sidebar response) is correct to point out that “opting out of systemic privilege is … not an option.” The systemic is not a personal choice. Yet, each individual must make the personal choice to join in (“political”) action with others to change the system. I believe that more men will join in feminist action and in changing their performance of masculinity when they know what is in it for them and they opt for those rewards over privilege and domination. It...

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Jackson Katz

Sports & Hypermasculinity Violence, Male Culture and the Jovan Belcher Case   An Interview with Daryl Fort, senior trainer, Mentors in Violence Prevention         Just two weeks before the Newtown massacre, another high-profile murder-suicide dominated the 24/7 news cycle and—briefly—captured the public’s imagination. On December 1 last year the news broke that 25-year-old Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had murdered his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then drove to Arrowhead Stadium where he committed suicide in front of his coach and other Chiefs staff. Until Newtown pushed that story off the front pages, there had been an outpouring of commentary from people in the gender violence prevention field, sports journalism, and the cultural mainstream. Much of the conversation revolved around men’s violence against women as an ongoing national tragedy, and the specific aspects of professional football culture and its unique and often combustible mixture of hypermasculinity, bodily self-sacrifice, and misogyny, along with the stark reality that the players—many of them young African-American men—are under intense pressure to perform in an industry where they can become famous and make a lot of money, but where their physical and emotional health takes a backseat to the demands of the business.       In the wake of this tragedy, many people in the gender violence prevention field called on officials of the National Football League to respond by increasing their...

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I’m Mad as Hell at Conventional Manhood

By Rob Okun There are too many damn tragic anniversaries of men killing women. Pick any month and you’ll find them. Take December 6th— it was the 23rd anniversary of the Montréal Massacre. A man stormed into the city’s École Polytechnique on that date in 1989 and murdered 14 women and wounded 10 others. The mass-murderer who then killed himself, was Marc Lépine, 25—same age as Jovan Belcher, the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker who murdered his girlfriend and himself December 1st. Most of us expressed horror at this latest tragedy, but distracted ourselves with cries of “Gun control now!” “Reform violent sports culture” or “Shame on the NFL.” (Kansas City decided to play its regularly scheduled—and highly lucrative—game the day after the murder-suicide.) The old adage, “Follow the money” comes to mind, but let’s put a bookmark there; I don’t want to get distracted, too. Let’s stick with the facts: It was domestic violence. It was murder. Belcher killed his “beloved” Kasandra Perkins, 22 year-old mother of his three month-old daughter Zoey at their home and then drove to team headquarters and killed himself in front of his head coach, general manager, and other staff. Missing from the news accounts? It’s the masculinity, people. In the aftermath of the murder-suicide, I can’t get the anti-mantra, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” out of my head. That famous line from...

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