Category: 2014 Summer

Summer 2014 Edition

Men Care In South Africa Matthew Shepard’s October Mourning Mastering Fatherhood * Love, Fury, Fathers and Sons College Guys and Healthy Relationships FEATURES Fifteen Years After Columbine: We’re Still Asking the Wrong Questions An Interview with Jackson Katz by Jeremy Earp On April 20, 1999, high school seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into the cafeteria and library at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, began shooting, and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher—and wounded dozens of others—before taking their own lives. Toxic Masculinity Unmasked: The Santa Barbara Tragedy Kevin Powell What exactly is a man?...

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The Broad Brushstrokes

  In his new book, When the War Came Home (Levellers Press), Bill Newman, a noted ACLU attorney, shows how the idealism of the anti–Vietnam War movement still lives—most importantly in the lives of the children of that generation. The title of the book refers to the spring day 44 years ago when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four. Following is an excerpt from Newman’s book that looks at fathering, and raising daughters. He wrote it in the summer of 1998. The painting consisted of two waveshaped watercolor brushstrokes—one a spectrum of purple—orchid or thistle melding into mulberry, then to lilac and violet; and below it, a second brushstroke consisting of a continuum of blue, from light to dark—turquoise and teal morphing into cerulean and cornflower and ending with the thinnest hint of midnight. Underneath, graceful calligraphy said, “The only things that parents should give children are roots and wings.” For five years that painting, a present from our friend Lynn to celebrate Jo’s birth, hung in the doorway to Jo’s bedroom. Ultimately the picture turned into part of a pile of ashes after our nook-filled Victorian home burned down, a fire in which, blessedly, no one was hurt. We rebuilt the house much as it was, and for years afterward, when I’d walk past the place where that painting...

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Ending the “Ordinary” Abuse of Young Men and Boys

By Charles Knight I was late that day on my way to the lunchroom in high school. The hallway was almost empty. A couple of older boys called me over to where they stood to one side. Suddenly eight other boys emerged from a nearby stairwell and grabbed my arms and legs. Despite my desperate struggle, they overwhelmed me. With my head restrained by many hands, one of the boys, his mouth coated in bright red lipstick, forced his lips to mine and then, for the finishing touch, inserted his tongue. The assembled gang chanted, “You know you like it!” followed by “Fag, Fag, Fag…” It was my first kiss.  No way did I like it! The assault didn’t last long, and when it was over I was left alone, very alone, with my anger, my hurt and my humiliation. I was young—only 14—but I knew two truths of my culture for a boy my age: 1) to be singled out as a “fag” by other boys was a deeply shameful thing and 2) there was no adult I could safely go to for comfort or really any kind of support. The author, at the time of the assault, circa 1961. (Courtesy Charles Knight)Fifty years later I can report there are changes for the better. Women organizing and the struggles of LBGTQ communities are responsible for much of the...

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male bonding for Adrian, J., Christopher, Matthew & Randall i want my sons to know men who smile i want my sons to know men who own their imperfections i want my sons to know men who listen i want my sons to know men who hear hearts, see words i want my sons to know men who honor women i want my sons to know men who appreciate the arts i want my sons to know men who adore their mamas i want my sons to know men who aren’t afraid of tears i want my sons to know men who respect their fathers i want my sons to know men who use fists in self-defense only i want my sons to know men who value and dignify men men who work hard, can’t spell quit, understand no i want my sons to know men who apologize i want my sons to know men who have relations with The Divine men who question everything men who know humility i want my sons to know men who read books i want my sons to know men who laugh at themselves i want my sons to know men who see possibility a father’s incantation after Aracelis Girmay here scraped knee and runny nose here open eyes, laughter here push swing, here chicken nuggets, here soccer ball, grace, here blue train...

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Paternity Leave on the Diamond

Are we living in 2014 or decades ago? Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and sports radio commentator Mike Francesa trashed New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing opening day of the baseball season to be with his wife for the birth of their child. In case you missed it, Esiason opined, “I would have said, ‘C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day. I’m sorry, this is what makes our money. This is how we’re going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I’ll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to, because I’m a baseball player.’” Francesa was no better, commenting, “You’re a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse.” Francesa also called the paternity leave at his own company “a scam-and-a-half.” The pair were roundly criticized for their comments—MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who at the time actually was on paternity leave, made a passionate endorsement of fatherhood as a sign of manhood—and Esiason soon issued an apology. The Nation’s sports editor Dave Zirin, a father himself, immediately weighed in. What follows is a version of the column Zirin wrote. I spoke to my friend Martha, who is a midwife—and a Mets fan—about Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa’s paternity leave comments. She said simply,...

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What Every College Guy Oughta Know About Good Relationships

In the midst of growing outrage and deepening concern about sexual violence, sexual harassment, and the flourishing of rape culture on our campuses, Voice Male contributing editor Michael Kaufman has written a guide aimed at campus men. It takes an accessible and honest look at these issues and provides a positive approach to help young men learn about the consequences of their words and actions. The booklet applies to all relationships, although the particular emphasis is on men’s relationships with women because that’s where most (but of course not all) dating violence occurs. This excerpt about consent was inspired by Harry Brod’s lecture “Beyond, ‘But we were both drunk’: The Ethics and Erotics of Sexual Consent” ( For information on ordering ManTalk for your campus, visit  And if you purchase a license to distribute it on your campus, please put Voice Male on the order form under Partnership Code.  That way 20 percent of the proceeds will go to support the work of the magazine. Rules of consent: to make sure you both want to do it! We have a phrase for any type of sexual act when one person doesn’t want to do what the other person is doing to them: it’s sexual assault, or, simply, rape.  Consent is when both people agree to do the same thing and let the other person know. There are four...

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Men @ Work

Straight TV Host on the Hot Seat Alicia Menendez and Janet Mock. What happens when a transgender activist gets to turn the tables and ask her interviewer to prove her womanhood? Transgender activist Janet Mock grilled host Alicia Menendez about her identity, genitalia, and womanhood not long ago in a segment for Fusion TV’s AM Tonight. Menendez answered a series of invasive questions like “Do you have a vagina?” and “When was the moment that you felt your breasts budding?” The interview was a parody of typical media interviews with transgender people, with Mock asking Menendez—who is cisgender—many of the same questions she routinely has to deal with as a transgender woman. The segment highlighted the way that even trans-welcoming media personalities can objectify and dehumanize their transgender guests by focusing on their bodies and medical histories. In January, Katie Couric was criticized for an interview in which she asked a transgender guest whether she had undergone surgery on her “private parts” (Winter 2014). At the end of the AM Tonight interview, Menendez remarked that, even though she had helped write some of Mock’s questions, she “didn’t realize how awful and invasive some of them would feel.” The Kiss Seen ‘Round the World ESPN broadcast Michael Sam and his boyfriend celebrating his signing by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Who had trouble when openly gay newly drafted NFL...

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NOW Founder on Men Judy Norsigian, executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, left a flyer about Voice Male in the visor of my car when she was visiting me and giving a talk.  She had copies of the magazine that she distributed at New College.  I was glad to know about the magazine and the new Voice Male book about men who stand with women for gender justice. Sonia Pressman Fuentes Sarasota, Fla. The writer, 85, is author of Eat First: You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, and one of the founders of the National Organization for Women. Masculinities 101 Masculinities 101 is a blog project of the new Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, at Stony Brook University. A forum for activist scholars in the field of men and masculinities, it draws connections between social science research and everyday life. We aim to support activist work by providing a scholarly context to contemporary issues of gender, race, sexuality, and class. We promote critical race and feminist explorations of men and masculinities in order to engage activists and scholars in necessary conversations for social change. You can follow us on Twitter: @masculinities01 and like us on Facebook. Or, contact us via email: Cliff Leek Stony Brook University Stony Brook, N.Y....

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Male Privilege Redefined, Not Negated

by John A. McCarroll The sort of language used to assert men’s dominance over women has a pretty recognizable pattern across the cultural landscape. Men, we are told, are in charge of things because they have something women (supposedly) lack: physical strength, honor, higher cognitive facilities, or the mystique of the male organ itself. Women, sadly “lacking” these qualities, need to be “protected” from the all-consuming lusts of strange men. This can be spun as noble chivalry, brutal domination, or a playful battle of the sexes, but at the root it’s the same: women are denied the freedoms that men take as a God-given right, assigned subordinate status, and coerced into performative gender roles. In this dialectic, men’s protective abilities and ravaging urges come from the same place and are both aimed squarely at women. Language, of course, did not create the patriarchy, but language is a powerful method of inscribing the possible, shaping how and what we think, and justifying the status quo. Thus, perhaps it’s no surprise that feminist outreach toward the traditional opponents of women’s liberation —i.e., cis-gendered heterosexual men —utilizes the same language as that of domination. Rather than attacking the institution of masculinity itself, several recent campaigns have attempted a sort of masculinity triage, trying to eliminate violence against women, while still flattering men with the label of protector. These campaigns, such as “Real...

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Fathering Mastery

It’s a great time to be a father! For most of recent history, raising children has been the primary responsibility of women. In the last 30 years a new world has opened up for men to play more significant roles in bringing up the next generation. As more fathers became involved in raising our children, men realized what mothers have always known: children are amazing! Involved fathers report higher overall satisfaction in their own lives, not to mention the myriad benefits that an involved father brings to his children. Unfortunately, many families are not partaking in this cornucopia of benefits. According to the U.S. Census of 2009, 45 percent of African American children aged 6 to 11 grow up in single-parent homes predominately led by mothers. The rate is 17 percent in Latino families, 14 percent for white families, and 7 percent for Asian families. Those numbers represent pain and shame for millions of boys and girls, men and women. I’ve sat with emotionally armored urban men—adults with their own families—who cried hard and for a long time when given some quiet time to reflect on the loss of their own fathers. In order to lower incidences of father absence, to decrease the pain in homes across the country, to help fathers stay connected with their families—and aware of the joy and the pain that being a parent entails—in...

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Love & Fury

Prize-winning poet, essayist, and fiction writer Richard Hoffman is the author of Half the House, a memoir about coming to terms with the childhood rape he suffered at the hands of his baseball coach. In his new memoir, Love & Fury (Beacon Press, June, 2014) Hoffman grapples with the legacy of his boomer-generation boyhood in a rustbelt Pennsylvania town. Along the way, he explores the often unspoken values men inherit and draw upon as they navigate their roles as husbands, sons, fathers, and grandfathers. Tracing five generations of his family’s history, focusing particularly on his complicated relationship with his father, “a man given to extremes of grief and rage, to violent turns of emotion,” Hoffman asks difficult questions about how poverty and shame, faith and disillusionment, and sex and exploitation, affect men’s daily lives. Hoffman’s meditations on his family, past and present, are touched off during a tense time in his home life:  “The house was a stressful chamber of unspoken worries, recriminations, angers, misunderstandings and fears,” he writes.  “And although the house I’d grown up in was filled with angers more chronic, tensions more constant, the two situations made a rhyme I wished I could erase.” Taking readers back to that Allentown home, where his father and brother lived, Hoffman writes of his father’s decline and eventual death from a bone-marrow disorder.  He recalls his blue-collar upbringing, during...

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Profeminist Men’s Work: The Early Days

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, small groups of men began to mobilize, joining the women-led movement to end violence against women. The sociopolitical climate in which the battered women’s movement gained momentum, had been powerfully influenced by the social justice movements that had simmered and exploded during the preceding decades. There were major struggles including the fight for human rights for men and women of color, women in general, gays and lesbians, and survivors of poverty and war, among others. They were struggles in which members of different marginalized groups would sometimes unite to confront their common oppressors—and, sometimes, succumb to the divide-and-conquer tactics of those same oppressors, fighting amongst themselves. For the relatively few men who attended the biannual meetings of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the voice and soul of the battered women’s movement, it was alarming and enlightening to hear women tell the “herstories” of their brutal and widespread subjection to the wanton violence of men. The truth-telling was powerful, not only for its eloquence but for its stark revelations of the ways that race, gender, and class were used by men to both oppress and divide women in their efforts to unite against men’s violence. So, for example, women of color not only had to deal with the sexism of their brothers of color, they had to deal with the racism of...

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Men Care In South Africa

In the northern areas of South Africa’s Western Cape almost half of the population is jobless. Liquor stores in the towns provide a predictable outlet for people’s boredom and frustrations—and contribute to a range of social problems: fighting and aggression, substance abuse, domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and absent parenting. Lenie Januarie, acting supervisor for the Children and Families Program at the Department of Social Development (DSD), cites parental neglect as a major problem and says that cases of child abuse constitute the highest intake for her office. Assault is the most common crime in Vredendal, one of the biggest cities in the rural area, and there are many cases of sexual and domestic violence each year. Januarie says she has been living in this area for 30 years. She represents DSD in the Matzikama Men and Boys Network—a partnership between Sonke Gender Justice, the Gender Transformation Network, and DSD. It’s a new initiative in the area and the first of its kind. The network aims to promote gender equality and to encourage men and boys to play a positive role in their families and communities. “We have set a platform for men and boys and families and redirecting their vision in terms of their own lifestyle and how to go about their everyday living,” explains Andrew Julies, a local councilor, pastor, and chairperson of the Matzikama Men...

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Toxic Masculinity Unmasked: The Santa Barbara Tragedy

What exactly is a man? This is the question that has been pounding in my head since first watching Elliot Rodger’s chilling “Retribution” YouTube video posted right before he went on his stabbing and shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California. I was struck by his numerous references to being a “man,” his feelings of rejection by women, his frustrated desire to have sex with them. He was a man feeling absolutely powerless, enraged at being denied the gender privilege that men enjoy in a male-dominated world. Blend that warped sense of male grievance with mental illness, America’s abundance of guns, and the epidemic of violence against women and girls on our planet, and you get prime conditions for bloody scenes like that in sunny California. To simply say “he was crazy” or “gun control is the problem” is to ignore how different forces operate together, over and over, leading to horrific slaughters in places like Newtown, Columbine, and now Isla Vista. If we examine the perpetrators of American mass murders of the last 20 years, overwhelmingly they are men. Sooner rather than later we must ask ourselves when and how we are going to redefine manhood away from violence, retribution, guns and killing. When will we teach men and boys that power comes not from the barrel of a gun, that there are other ways to express or deal...

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An Interview With Jackson Katz

On April 20, 1999, high school seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into the cafeteria and library at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, began shooting, and killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher—and wounded dozens of others—before taking their own lives. The rampage shocked the nation and sparked a fierce national debate about gun control laws, youth violence, bullying, school security, and violent video games. But 15 years and scores of mass killings later, the national conversation about rampage killings seems to be stuck at an impasse—fixated almost exclusively on the issues of guns and mental illness. The result has been virtually no sustained analysis of the most glaring variable of all: the stunning fact that the overwhelming majority of rampage killings—including 99 percent of school shootings and 67 of the last 68 mass shootings overall—have been committed by men and boys. Recognizing the Columbine anniversary as an important opportunity to reflect on the tragedy 15 years later, Jeremy Earp, director of Tough Guise: Violence, Manhood & American Culture, interviewed cultural theorist and anti-violence educator Jackson Katz, a Voice Male contributing editor and creator of the Tough Guise films, about the acceleration of mass killings by men and boys over the past decade. Katz, whose work focuses explicitly on the relationship between violence and cultural ideas about manhood, has been in the forefront of the bystander-focused...

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Writing October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard has been a long journey, one that took me over 11 years and began with a terrible coincidence. My journey began October 12, 1998, the day I flew across the country to give a speech about the controversy over my children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies at the University of Wyoming, in celebration of National Coming Out Day. It was entitled “Heather’s Mommy Speaks Out: Homophobia, Censorship, and Family Values” and focused on the difficulties I had in getting my book Heather Has Two Mommies published, and how important it is for every child to see a family like his or hers reflected in a piece of literature. That was the day the world found out about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student killed in the most visible anti-gay hate crime in American history. I imagined Matt Shepard, whose picture had been splashed all over the newspapers, sitting in the front row of the auditorium listening to my speech. I knew he had planned on coming to my lecture. I knew he had attended a meeting of the school’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Association to finish planning Gay Awareness Week the night he was attacked. I knew he had been robbed, kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a fence, where he remained undiscovered for 18 hours, all...

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