Category: Editor’s Blog

Turning a Gender Lens on Presidential Politics

Originally published in October 2007. Can advocating for a new brand of masculinity find a place in the national conversation about next year’s presidential election? Manhood—even with the presence of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race—is still a central aspect of presidential politics. In post 9/11 America, the question, “Who is the toughest and strongest, firmest and most decisive candidate to best protect me from the terrorists?” is one most voters would admit, on some level, they are asking themselves. For many, “Who is thoughtful, deliberate, compassionate and collaborative?” is not. It’s not a question we read about...

Read More

Women’s Equality, Men’s Liberation

A version of this September 2007 web editorial, “Women’s Equality, Men’s Liberation” originally appeared as “Men Also Share Fruits of Women’s Equality Day” in the cutting edge, online publication Women’s eNews (www.womensenews.org). On August 26, 1920, 72 years after the struggle had begun, women in the U.S. had at last won the right to vote. Eight days earlier, suffragist (Anita) Lili Pollitzer, a 25 year-old activist, had successfully persuaded Tennessee state legislator Harry T. Burn, 24, to cast the deciding vote. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally the law of the land and the nation’s 26 million...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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,...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Your Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.

Magazine Issues

Fall 2017

Books

Voice Male: the Book