Category: Editor’s Blog

The Elixir of Youth: Women, Men and Gender Injustice

Originally published in June 2007. Inspiration. How do you bottle it and keep it with you for those times when you’re feeling down?  I was wondering about that conundrum the other day after I participated in a rally for gender equality organized by a group of high school students. About 40 people gathered on the town common in Amherst, Massachusetts on a sunny late afternoon at the end of May for a Speak Out on Gender Equality organized by the Women’s Rights Club of Amherst Regional High School (a group of 60 students, more than a quarter of whom are male). I’ve written about this group before in this spot and in the pages of Voice Male magazine. The Women’s Rights Club, some may recall, is the group which, among its other activities, successfully staged the Vagina Monologues at an area arts center last February—and did so completely on their own. The movement for gender equality is growing on college campuses and in communities in pockets around the country. It is fueled, in large measure, by women and men who decry men’s violence against women. But it is also energized by the growing ability of younger women and men to communicate honestly and openly with one another about relationships, their different gendered experiences, and their hopes for a better world. If you want to feel hopeful consider this: one young...

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Through the Looking Glass of Violence: A Post-Virginia Tech Meditation

Originally published in Spring 2007. It’s happened again. Another male has shot up a campus, killing 32 people and himself. We are heartsick, angry, outraged—and strangely numb. Many of us are suffering from post-Columbinitis, a malaise that desensitizes people to violence. We distance ourselves from our feelings, passively consume television’s carefully packaged new infotainment program, “Tragedy at Virginia Tech.” Numbly, we watch the same footage, interviews with students, families and expert talking heads, or we tune out, overwhelmed by a culture that feeds on violence. All that temporarily awakens us from our torpor are touching photos and testimonials about the victims. At the men’s center I direct, we’ve worked with males for 25 years, including abusive court-mandated men. Our work both supports men and challenges men’s violence. The horrifying tape Cho Seung-Hui sent to NBC revealed a gruesome level of life-crushing violence. While he was an extreme case, a severely disturbed man who slipped through the cracks of a social net riddled with holes, there are way too many other men walking around stuffing their anger, ready to explode. Violence sells, renowned culture critic the late George Gerbner succinctly said. It’s an international commodity. Spoken language is almost irrelevant in the wake of so many brutal images, cascading from every nook and cranny of U.S. popular culture and hungrily rebroadcast worldwide. Not just Hollywood, the music biz, video games,...

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The Neglect of Our Veterans’ Trauma

Originally published in the Hampshire Daily Gazette in March 2007. Among the many men who walk through the doors of the Men’s Resource Center for Change are soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of these men have been ordered to attend one of the many batterers’ intervention groups we run for men who act abusively in their intimate relationships. We’ve been teaching men in these groups that there is never any excuse to abuse another person—and a lot more—since 1989. We give men tools to stop perpetuating domestic violence in their families. The truth is, many of these returning vets are haunted by much more, by deep and complex problems associated with being at war. These men need a lot more attention than a weekly two-hour, narrowly focused domestic violence prevention group can provide. Often husbands and fathers, these returning vets, along with demonstrating reprehensible behavior toward their wives or girlfriends, are also military men who, in too many cases, have been deeply traumatized by their time at war. Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress brought on by their wartime experience. Even if some were previously abusive before heading overseas, how futile, and shameful, that their plight is now being left, in many cases, to a weekly batterers’ intervention group. Where is the range of federal veterans’ services to be doing the heavy lifting? These...

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Believing in (Young) Men

Originally published in February 2007 In the trade I ply—encouraging men to explore options outside the constraining box of conventional masculinity—there’s certainly no shortage of bad news. Men’s violence against women (and other men) remains at catastrophic levels; there’s little chance the Men’s Resource Center for Change is going to be short of problems to address anytime soon. Nevertheless, my family and friends will tell you I’m a glass-half-full person—upbeat, optimistic. Even in the face of gloom and doom—the senseless, tragic war in Iraq, the criminal neglect plaguing the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, the indifference to the suffering in Darfur—I always seem to look for ways to connect the dots of possibility, the signs of hope trumping despair. So where is the good news? Let me cite three examples. Not long ago, I talked into the night around a fire pit in New Orleans with young men volunteering to help with the city’s renewal, shared Chinese food with an inspiring group of male college students challenging sexism and violence on an elite New England campus, and met in a classroom after school with male high school juniors and seniors, all members of a “women’s rights club.” It was hard to retain my glass-half-full demeanor after spending time in New Orleans before the holidays. My wife and I came to visit one of our daughters, part of the legion...

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Beyond South Dakota: Men and the Reproductive Rights Movement

Originally published in December 2006. “I have a son, 18, and three daughters, all in their twenties. The thought that even one parent in South Dakota might face the news that his or her daughter was not only the victim of rape but was also pregnant and would be forced—by state law—to deliver the rapist’s baby, well, that was something I knew I had to challenge.” I shared those words with a lot of people last month when I spent the final five days before the November 7th elections campaigning in South Dakota to overturn the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation. As the director of a pro-feminist men’s center, as well as a father, I knew I had to go to South Dakota. Happily, by a more than 55% to 45% margin, we were successful and the law was overturned. I went to South Dakota because I couldn’t remain silent. I went to support those South Dakotans who worked tirelessly for months to protect women’s rights. In Sioux Falls, the state’s largest city (population 130,000), in Watertown, Madison, and in Brookings, smaller communities between 50 and 100 miles away, I met with voters as part of a massive canvassing effort. I talked to allies and opponents, fence sitters and those fearful to share their opposition to the ban with neighbors, let alone a stranger. I heard from...

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Teaching Peace to Our Children: Celebrating More than Dad this Father’s Day

Originally published in June 2006. Amid the barbecues and neckties that will mark Father’s Day on June 18, some dads are offering a gift of their own to their families—teaching peace. A growing number of fathers, father figures, and other male mentors are joining a national campaign aimed at increasing awareness, transforming attitudes, and encouraging men to teach the next generation that violence is wrong. One effort is being championed through a collaboration between the Men’s Resource Center for Change and the Northwestern (Massachusetts) District Attorney’s office, a public education campaign called “Coaching Boys into Men.” The brainchild of the Family Violence Prevention Fund of San Francisco, Coaching Boys into Men calls on fathers and other male mentors to contradict men’s heretofore mostly minimal involvement in challenging violence against women, children and other men. Since men play such a pivotal role in shaping the attitudes and social norms that other men conform to, a goal of the campaign is to invite men to take an active stand in opposing violence against women. The centerpiece of the Coaching Boys into Men campaign is a series of public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at encouraging men to carefully consider their attitudes about family violence and women’s safety. The Family Violence Prevention Fund produced the PSAs with the Ad Council. They are being widely disseminated in radio, print and television formats, all organized...

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Men’s Stories: From Stubbornness to Tenderness

Originally published in April 2006. You know how in some movies there’s a scene with a split screen where two characters are shown simultaneously? An image like that came to mind not long ago when I heard in the same evening two distinct stories, one about men’s stubbornness and one about men’s tenderness. Imagine on one side of the screen the captain of a U.S. Navy vessel standing in the ship’s radio room; on the other side, a man about his age, a spiritual seeker from the United States, visiting with children in a crowded Indian orphanage. Here are their stories: More than a decade ago, the following radio exchange occurred between the captain of a U.S. ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. The U.S. chief of naval operations released the transcript of the conversation. Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision. Canadians: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision. Americans: This is the captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert your course. Canadians: No. I say again, you divert your course. Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand you change your course 15...

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Uncovering Men’s Lives in the Shadow of Brokeback Mountain

Originally published in March 2006. For a society long noted for its simplistic characterizations of men, the film Brokeback Mountain may mark the beginning of a new awareness about the depth and complexity of men’s emotional lives. This stirring story of love unfulfilled, tenderly evoking Ennis Del Mar’s and Jack Twist’s relationship over a 20-year span is so artfully layered that it cannot be dismissed simply as a story about “gay cowboys.” Ennis and Jack are not so easily pigeonholed. Nor are the rest of us. Characterizations of any man as simply “the silent type,” “tough guy,” or “emotionally unavailable” are too shortsighted. Men’s yearning to connect, to not feel alone, to be visible for all of who we are, too long has been obscured by a guise of inscrutability, stoicism, isolation. Sadly, among those who have perpetuated that myth the longest are men ourselves, and often with the loudest voice. What’s behind our actions? Fear. Fear of being seen as vulnerable. Fear of being seen as weak. Fear of being seen as overwhelmed by the curves life throws us. If we choose to listen to its message, Brokeback Mountain will likely be remembered as a cultural milestone, a major work of art that triggered a shift in consciousness, the moment when countless men began lifting off our shoulders the burdens conventional masculinity would have us carry: being the...

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Compassionate Confrontation: A National Model

Originally published in December 2005. Never has the voice and message of the Men’s Resource Center for Change (MRC) been more needed than it is today. With the drumbeat of war still a loud and persistent part of each of our lives, the relationship between how boys and young men are socialized and the narrow, dangerous effect that training has on us cannot be overstated. From the misogyny and violence in some hip hop lyrics to key male government officials sanctioning torture, it is clear that work with men needs as many friends and supporters as ever before. In November, I was privileged to join six staff from the MRC in Detroit where 550 other men and women—leaders in domestic violence prevention work in 40 states and several countries—gathered for the first national conference on batterer intervention in more than a decade. MRC staff presented two key workshops. I was so proud, and moved, to hear their presentations. It was clear to those present just how powerful the MRC model of working with men truly is. “A Partners’ Program” and “After the 40 Week Group—Now What?” I wish you could have been among the hundred people each who crowded into our two workshops. Sara Elinoff Acker and Jan Eidelson detailed the quiet strength of our partners’ program, which sensitively and comprehensively supports women dealing with the reality of their...

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If a Son Could Return from the Dead

Originally published in September 2005. While Casey Sheehan, the 24 year-old soldier who was killed a year and a half ago in Iraq, isn’t the only deceased member of the military to put a human face on the Iraq War, the futility of the U.S. occupation there is now in sharper relief because of the efforts of his grieving, emboldened mother, Cindy. Throughout August, Cindy Sheehan took up residence outside of George Bush’s vacation ranch in Crawford, Texas imploring Mr. Bush to meet with her to explain what exactly her son died for. Mr. Bush refused. Now Casey’s mom is on a 25-state peace tour in her quest for answers about the continuing bloodbath that has taken the lives of nearly 1,900 U.S. military and uncounted thousands of Iraqis. Cindy Sheehan’s maternal voice awakened in MRC Executive Director Rob Okun, a father of four, thoughts about Casey. Rob found himself wondering recently what Casey would have to say if he were alive today. I looked up from the table where my family and I were eating supper on our cozy deck and spied Casey looking healthy and relaxed. He had on a t-shirt bearing the legend “Camp Casey: Where We Patrol for Truth.” On his chest he wore a button featuring a smiling photo of his mother. On its inner edge were the words “Stop Hijacking Our Democracy!” He...

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A Missed Opportunity: The Globe Strikes Out

Originally published in Summer 2005. A headline in The Boston Globe on Father’s Day, “Daddy, What Did You Do in the Men’s Movement?” caught my eye with its catchy if cynical play on the phrase, “Daddy, what did you do in the war?” Expectantly, I began reading, eager to see how New England’s largest newspaper would report on the “personal growth, challenging violence” component of the movement that the Men’s Resource Center for Change has been championing for nearly 25 years. What a letdown the article turned out to be. The cover story of the Sunday Globe’s “Ideas” section, the piece was written by a Boston writer-editor named Paul Zakrzewski. Inexplicably, instead of shining a spotlight on what is really happening in the many men’s movements active in the United States today, Mr. Zakrzewski recycled outdated information about Robert Bly’s Iron John, which he termed “a cultural exegesis on wounded masculinity”—published a decade and a half ago—along with references to the Promise Keepers, the evangelical Christian group advocating a kinder, gentler patriarchy whose heyday also passed years ago. A growing number of men in the United States and around the world subscribe to the twin aims of “supporting men” and “challenging violence,” values the MRC has chrampioned for more than two decades. We’ve long followed men walking that talk, chronicling the rise of community-based men’s resource centers in Taos,...

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Manhood in a Time of War

This article is excerpted from a talk Rob Okun gave in Portland, Maine, on March 2, 2005, to the group Boys to Men. Recently, despite my having filled out a form authorizing my son’s high school not to release his name and address to military recruiters, Jonah, who turns 17 this spring, has been getting mail from the Marines. Already a progressive young man with three older feminist sisters, Jonah is highly unlikely to enlist. Nevertheless, he still feels the pressure conventional masculinity continues to exert on young men—40 years after the Vietnam antiwar movement began to shape alternative ideas about manhood. In the ensuing decades, questions about masculinity’s direction have continued to be asked. Today, nearly two years after the U.S. launched the war on Iraq, there are many who believe understanding masculinity—and redefining it—is the central question society needs to try and answer. And as the war grinds on thousands of miles from our shores, the struggle over the future of masculinity is being joined in town squares from Maine to Massachusetts, and from Texas to Tennessee. The interests battling to keep old-style, conventional masculinity in place at the head of the American family and at the head of the American government are pulling out all the stops. George W. is among their most passionate (if least articulate) proponents. And he has Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, new...

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Fathers’ Rights, Children’s Best Interests: Massachusetts Questions Undermine Family Safety

Originally published in January 2005. By Marian Kent, Becky Lockwood, and Rob Okun On Election Day 2004 citizens in more than 100 Massachusetts communities had an opportunity to express themselves about an issue affecting the lives of tens of thousands of children in the Commonwealth—custody rights after separation or divorce. While the ballot initiative was non-binding, if they were ever enacted as law, their terms suggest a likely damaging impact on the lives of children living in post-nuclear families. The questions “passed,” drawing strong support statewide even though many who supported their recommendations later said they weren’t sure exactly what they were voting for. Two groups described as advocating for “fathers’ rights” drafted the ballot questions calling for “shared custody”—legislation that if later adopted would require joint custody be awarded in all custody disputes. On their surface, the questions are simple, feel-good initiatives, but they’re not. In reality, they may be seen as a planned effort to undermine current custody laws. With far-reaching implications, the proposed laws could have painful and even dangerous consequences for children caught in the middle of high-conflict divorce cases and, in particular, in cases where domestic violence is a factor. Children enjoying love from, and connection with, both parents is of course a cherished value, one that no legislation or judicial ruling can mandate. But trying to create new law, putting parents’ rights over...

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MRC’s Signature Ad Honoring International Women’s Day

From March 2004. The Men’s Resource Center organized a signature ad campaign to celebrate women and the ongoing, significant contributions they continue to make in the service of creating a safe, egalitarian society. The full-page ad (text below) ran March 8th, International Women’s Day, in the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts with 170 men’s names. Thank you to all who signed the ad and contributed to our costs in running it. Men Celebrating International Women’s Day As men committed to a peaceful, egalitarian world where every woman is safe from violence in her home and from assault on the streets of her community As men committed to a peaceful, egalitarian world where every woman’s right to control her own body is a freedom fiercely defended by all As men committed to a peaceful, egalitarian world where every woman can realize her dreams for a career and economic independence As men committed to a peaceful, egalitarian world where every girl can grow up to achieve her full potential as a woman and a citizen Today, International Women’s Day 2004, the undersigned men wish to publicly celebrate the strong leadership, unflagging determination and steady vision of mothers and daughters, wives and partners, sisters and aunts, nieces and cousins, friends and neighbors on every continent around the globe working to create that peaceful, egalitarian world for women and girls, for boys...

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The Vagina Monologues: A Wake-up Call for Men

Broadcast on Public Radio Station WFCR-FM, Friday, February 13, 2004 Will men ever “get it”? Will we ever recognize that the days of trying to limit women’s freedom of expression are long over? WFCR INTRO: Those thoughts were on the mind of commentator Rob Okun after he learned that an Amherst businessman was spearheading a drive to try and stop female students from performing The Vagina Monologues at the town’s high school tonight. Those supporting both women’s empowerment and men redefining masculinity owe the play’s critic, Larry Kelley, a thank you for illuminating the need to bring more men into this crucial conversation. Certainly, Eve Ensler’s play is about women’s lives. But it’s also about men waking up to women’s reality. Mr. Kelley’s discomfort with the “C-word”—”I can’t say it out loud,” he told a school committee meeting last month—symbolizes men’s discomfort with admitting how little we know about the dangerous world our mothers and daughters, wives and partners, sisters and nieces live in: a world where sexual harassment and sexual assault are commonplace. A world where personal security means checking the backseat of your car before getting in it. A world where going out at night means carrying a whistle, or a can of Mace. A world most men, myself included, find it hard to personally feel. It’s not easy for men to acknowledge how widespread violence against...

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What I’ve Learned at the Men’s Resource Center for Change

In June 2008, Rob stepped down as executive director of the Men’s Resource Center for Change. A central part of the organization since 1992, Rob delivered a “farewell address” at the MRC’s 12th annual Challenge & Change awards dinner on May 4th. What follows is an edited version of his remarks. Yesterday, a number of MRC staff and volunteers marched with our banner in the annual Northampton Pride March where we celebrated the rights and lives of the LGBTQ community. It was, as it is each year we march, heartwarming to be among the thousands celebrating gay rights. And it was heartwarming to hear recognition for the MRC from the throngs along the parade route. Today, May 4th, is another important date to mark. On May 4, 1970—38 years ago—four students were shot and killed and several others wounded at Kent State University in Ohio. National Guard troops had opened fire on an anti-war protest staged after then-president Richard M. Nixon reported he had secretly ordered a bombing campaign on Cambodia, widening the illegal Vietnam War. Days later, Mississippi State troopers killed two students and wounded 12 others at Jackson State University. The war had come home. Here we are today, 40 years and one month after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—whose spirit I invite into this room. Here we are today, five years and counting into...

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The Transformation of Eliot Spitzer

Note: Originally published April 2009. What has become of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer? In the weeks since his forced resignation following revelations he had been routinely hiring prostitutes, Mr. Spitzer has largely disappeared from the headlines. The media—not so much out of goodwill as out of the insatiable needs of the news cycle—is apparently leaving the Spitzer family alone. That’s a good thing. However, after receiving an unmarked package containing a crystal ball, MRC executive director, Rob Okun offers a glimpse of Spitzer’s life as of Mother’s Day 2009. ALBANY, N.Y. — At a Mother’s Day press conference in the rotunda of the state capitol, with his wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, by his side, the humbled fiery anti-crime crusader and ex-governor Eliot Spitzer addressed a throng of reporters, legislators, and well-wishers, while a band of protesters stood by. Standing at a podium, Mr. Spitzer gave an update of his activities since his resignation as governor of New York on March 16, 2008. “A year ago I stood before you and offered an apology for my actions, first to my family, and then to the public which had given me its trust. I announced at the time that after a period of atonement I would devote myself to ‘the common good’. ‘From those to whom much is given, much is expected,’ I said then. ‘I have been given...

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My Father Is Still With Me

Originally published in January 2009. Were he still alive, my father would have turned 100 on New Year’s Day. At least that’s when we would have celebrated his birthday. Accurate record-keeping was rare in the village he came from in Pinsk, Russia. Growing up, Dad said his birthday may have been in mid-November since he was named Joseph, after the biblical figure whose Torah portion is chanted in synagogues at that time of year. You may recall from Sunday school—or the hit musical Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat— that Joseph was sold to a neighboring tribe by his brothers, jealous that he was their father’s favorite. His brothers also didn’t like the dreams Joseph had suggesting, that he, their much younger brother, was destined to lead them. When he went to find his shepherd-brothers tending their flock, they stripped him of his rainbow-colored tunic, threw him in a pit and prepared to slaughter him. Persuaded by another brother not to kill him, they settled on selling him to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. The betrayal Joseph experienced may have been more dramatic than many of us have experienced—or have heard of—but his story still serves as a cautionary tale. Indeed, during his lifetime, my father and his family were betrayed by one of his brothers. Biblical Joseph, although he arrived in Egypt as a slave, landed on...

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Time for a National Teach-in on Men and Masculinity

This opinion piece from two years ago Valentine’s Day speaks about the need to organize a national teach-in on men and masculinity. While it was prompted by the senseless killings of five people by a troubled man perpetrated on a college campus near Chicago, the urgent need for a frank discussion of men—and not just those who are isolated, angry, and alone—can, perhaps, begin. With an administration in Washington more sensitive to these issues than ever before, to coin a phrase, this is our time. Truth be told, at one time or another many men in our society feel isolated, angry and alone. I am no exception. Even though it was again a man who went on another campus shooting spree, the national conversation has so far failed to focus on the root causes of this latest lethal outburst: men’s depression and how men are socialized. Until we acknowledge those issues, we can only expect more tragic bloodlettings. The Valentine’s Day massacre at Northern Illinois University ended with five dead and 16 wounded before Steven Kazmierczak fatally turned one of his guns on himself. The multiple murders are the latest example of an expression of masculinity society continues to ignore at its peril. While a horrifying tragedy was unfolding on a campus 65 miles from Chicago, troubled men in tiny hamlets and big cities across the U.S. also were...

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Generation’s Next Egalitarian Monologues

Originally published in February 2008 for the Men’s Research Center for Change. Good news! The Vagina Monologues, a big story locally and nationally when a production of the play debuted at Amherst (Mass.) Regional High School in 2004, is coming back. The performance in the high school auditorium on the night after Valentine’s Day, is one of the thousands being presented around the world to raise consciousness and money for the movement to end violence against women. The local performance, organized by members of the Women’s Rights Club, a student group that blends activism and education about gender violence into an inspirational mix, is a powerful beacon of possibility spotlighting what young people can do. While working to end domestic and sexual violence remains a daunting task, there is cause for hope thanks to students like these, members of Generation Next. Despite coming of age amid a perpetual onslaught of violence-laden and sexualized pop culture imagery, these emerging young adults are challenging a society reluctant to admit it still sees male dominance as essential to a functioning social order. The 2004 production of the play at Amherst High drew national media attention, including an appearance by the play’s student director on the Today show along with playwright Eve Ensler. A small firestorm of protest questioning the production being performed at a high school long ago died down. Consciousness about...

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The Need to Reinvent Father’s Day

In a world where too many fathers and men are angry, hurt, and hurting others, maybe it’s time for a moratorium on conventional Father’s Day gift giving. Maybe some of the millions going to Hallmark and Wal-Mart could be better directed to a fund supporting women’s and children’s safety. How can we comfortably celebrate Father’s Day in the middle of a domestic violence epidemic? Yes, suffering and celebrating are simultaneous truths in life. But there is an urgency—and opportunity—right now to transform this holiday. Fatherhood has perhaps never been more visible than today, in part because of the current occupant of the White House (and the vice-president, who for many years was a single dad). Let’s seize the moment to transform the day from one of consumerism to one of activism. Even though it’s a minority of men who perpetrate violence against women, the results are devastating. Think what it could mean if Father’s Day became a time men stepped forward as peacemakers in our families. Grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, cousins, and neighbors could all be involved. There would be plenty of time for suppertime barbeques if we spent Father’s Day advocating on behalf of women’s and girls safety and, as a byproduct, for boys and men’s growth. If we can’t work to achieve peace in our homes how can we expect to end violence between nations? Scan...

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Cracks Spreading in Patriarchy’s Great Wall

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and the Supreme Ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei—two men who, as symbols of manhood, couldn’t be further apart. And while no pair of males could represent the full spectrum of masculinity, the Thriller and the Chiller are strong contenders. Jackson’s death June 25, encroached on the headlines Khamenei was making, warning he’d had enough of the massive protests democracy-hungry Iranians were staging in Tehran. Jackson, whose difficult gendered life seemed to be an attempt to be male, female and all points in between, inadvertently invited us to stretch our thinking about manhood. Not so for the Ayatollah, whose adherence to an extreme and rigid patriarchal masculinity precluded any such yoga of the mind. For all his bizarre behaviors, Jackson broke down stereotypes and broke through barriers of how a black male was supposed to act. Long before allegations began surfacing about his sexual inclinations, an adoring public gave him wide berth to explore his attraction to whiteness and androgyny. That his later years were marked by accusations of pedophilia suggests someone literally uncomfortable in his own skin (whatever its color). Despite gender bending behavior, it was business as usual—male aggression—in many of his music videos. In “The Way You Make Me Feel” he stalks a woman, egged on by a group of men. In “Thriller”, his signature song, the story line...

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