By Rob Okun
Will Donald Trump change his attitude toward women?
After the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood video caught him admitting to sexually assaulting women, many citizens couldn’t believe he could receive enough Electoral College votes to become president. I was one of them.
On January 31, I was a signatory to an open letter to Mr. Trump in POLITICO calling on him “to support this country’s, and the world’s, women.” (An accompanying petition is gaining names). My co-letter writers and I challenged the president to set a high standard, to show that he is a man who believes in women’s equality and who opposes discrimination and violence of all kinds by men against women and girls. Continue reading »
By Rob Okun
Since Donald Trump took office, people have been taking to the streets—and airport terminals—by the thousands to defend democracy and welcome those from other countries. We are the majority.
Two weeks ago, we demonstrated in all 50 states. Several of the largest marches were in the hundreds of thousands. In total, millions of us here and abroad banded together to speak out for women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, a sane climate change policy, health care for all, and more. We are the majority.
Our list of issues is as diverse as we are: young and old; black, white and brown; gay, straight and transgender. Many roads, one path: We are the majority.
From the moment the first pundits began questioning whether marchers would go home or evolve into a movement—as the Tea Party did—I found myself saying, “Of course we will; we already have.”
Mark it down: January 21, the day of the women’s marches across the country and globally, was the official launch of what I call the MajoriTea Party, since by every measure, we represent the majority of voters, and not just because Mr. Trump lost the popular vote by a landslide. Consider: there were 235 million citizens eligible to vote. Of those, 137 million went to the polls; 98 million did not. And, of those who voted, 63 million voted for Donald Trump. That comes out to 26.8% of the total citizenry (63 million divided by 235 million).
We are working at the grassroots level and in the halls of Congress; in our living rooms, town and city halls, and in our state houses. One hundred days of resistance is only a beginning; we will resist every day of the 1,460 days in Trump’s term (if he makes it through four years).
Much of the country believes Trump doesn’t deserve to be commander-in-chief—whether because of the antiquated Electoral College system, voter suppression, a historic 2.9 million more citizens voting for his chief opponent or Russian interference in the election. Whatever your reason, consider this simultaneous truth: Trump is in the White House and, in the words of Georgia Congress member John Lewis, he is an “illegitimate” president.
In resisting our democratic values being trampled on by the new administration, we are following a long tradition in U.S. history. We are marching in the footsteps of those who worked so women could have the right to vote. We are marching in the footsteps those who championed the 40-hour workweek, who agitated for laws that would further equality among all people.
Our movement was in place long before the election. But since Nov. 9, affinity groups, political initiatives and organizing campaigns have sprung up around the country. The White House, Congress, corporations and the media take note: millions of people are mobilizing; speaking out against the dangerous agenda Trump has pledged to enact and begun to enact. His divisiveness unites us; his mean-spirited attitude inflames us. Our solidarity inspires us. We are the majority.
Trump’s ominous “America First” inaugural address was chilling. He personifies the worst aspects of human behavior, particularly, sadly, the behavior of too many men: bigoted, misogynist, racist, Islamophobic, xenophobic. But at the 650 plus marches on Jan. 21, negative comments about the new president were far less prevalent than were expressions of empathy, kindness and support for the most vulnerable members of society.
So where do we go from here?
In every corner of the country people have formed or are forming affinity groups to address a myriad of issues: from dialoguing with those with a different world view to protecting women’s reproductive rights; from being an active bystander challenging hate to engaging in direct action—including civil disobedience—to effect change; from running for office to working on congressional redistricting in 2020; from joining a group that challenges racism to supporting immigrant rights; from advocating for a healthy environment—including working to prevent the Keystone and Dakota access pipelines—to supporting courageous journalists speaking truth to power. We will and need to continue to protest and resist.
In the months ahead, many of Trump’s voters will discover that they were misled—that coal-mining jobs are not coming back, for example. When they see they’ve been conned, we must be ready to reach out to these citizens who voted against their own self-interest, who will need support. Repairing our frail spiritual and political infrastructure is essential work if we are to build bridges of connection sturdy enough to hold us all and ensure rights for all.
Voice Male editor Rob Okun is author of Voice Male: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement, a new edition of which is due out later this year.
The future is (still) female. The bumper stickers and T-shirts with that slogan that have long energized women and girls, and many male allies, are still alive and well. Continue reading »
The crisis in masculinity and the presidential election got hitched in an October surprise unintentionally engineered by Donald Trump. While a vast majority of men—the 2016 election season’s silent majority—reject Mr. Trump’s “locker room” ideas about manhood, many are reluctant to publicly say so. That may be changing.
Men, Masculinities and Climate Change
Transgender Rights Under Attack
An Apology for Sixties Anti-War Sexism
Black Men as Anti-Rape Activists
No cities or states that have passed legislation supporting transgender rights have witnessed increases in sexual assaults in public restrooms after the laws have gone into effect. Raising the specter of the sexual predator in debates around transgender rights should be unmasked for the multiple ways it can perpetuate gender inequality. Under the guise of “protecting” women, critics reproduce ideas about their weakness, depict males as assail-ants, and work to deny rights to transgender people. Moreover, they suggest that there should be a hierarchy of rights in which cisgender women and children are more deserving of protections than transgender people.
—Edited excerpt from a statement by the American Sociological Association
Millions of men will wake up Sunday to handmade cards, neckties and, maybe, a new electronic gadget. It’s Father’s Day 2016, a time to acknowledge dear old Dad.
But beyond this increasingly commercialized dof purchasing manly presents (often overwhelming sincere expressions of love), lies a deeper, more important question: where is fatherhood in the United States going today?
The massacre in Orlando was carried out as an act of rage. By a man. Who had access to military-grade weapons. And had unmet mental health and trauma needs.
Until or unless we make the murderer’s gender a central part of not just this story, but of the larger effort to prevent mass shootings (that have traditionally solely focused on gun control and mental health), we won’t succeed in preventing such horrors in the future. We have talked about nearly all those other factors: access to guns, his mental health, his homophobic views. What about the manhood part? Continue reading »
The editor of Voice Male magazine says he has come into possession of a letter God recently sent to real estate mogul and presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Rob Okun reports he received an email from the Lord requesting him to immediately and broadly distribute the letter.
After the Oregon Shootings
What if we treated every man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion? We’d require a mandatory 48 hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, and a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence. Then we’d close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town in order to get a gun. He’d have to walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot death, hear people call him a murderer begging him not buy a gun. It makes more sense to do this with men seeking guns than with women exercising their reproductive health care rights. No woman getting an abortion has ever killed a room full of people in seconds.
*Distilled from the writings of William Hamby. Continue reading »
Voice Male magazine, a publication chronicling the profeminist men’s movement, reports that it has come into possession of a memo from God to Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who has refused to issue marriage licenses to any couples since the Supreme Court ruling affirming gay marriage more than two months ago. She was jailed for her refusal, claiming she was acting on God’s authority. What follows is God’s memo to Ms. Davis, made available by the magazine’s editor, Rob Okun. Continue reading »
By Rob Okun
He’s gone. He’s gone. I kept repeating those unreal words on the half-hour drive home that rainy Thursday night. Since I’d been at a meeting, my wife was alone when she answered the door for the police officer who’d come looking for me. He had bad news: my older brother Stuart had suffered a heart attack and was dead. It was March 26, just a few days after we’d returned from New Orleans where we’d gone to meet our recently born second grandson.
Less than 24 hours later I was in the Tampa airport meeting my 27-year-old son Jonah who had flown down from New York to support me on what I came to call “a brothers’ journey.” I was walking the familiar but strangely new path of the mourner.
The sun was shining brightly Saturday morning when Jonah and I arrived in Stuart’s neighborhood. It hardly seemed like a place of death, this lush landscaped community on Florida’s west coast. Even though he’d died at home, when we stepped inside his cottage apartment, I could have easily convinced myself that Stuart was simply away for the weekend. “Sure,” he might have said, “you and Jonah can stay at my place.” Continue reading »
Major league baseball beginning domestic violence prevention workshops at Spring training. The White House launching the It’s on Us initiative to prevent sexual assault. Emma Watson and the United Nations spearheading the new HeforShe movement.
Men promoting gender equality and decrying violence against women is “suddenly” the next new cause. Except it’s not. The issue is, though, finally getting some sustained media attention. That’s good news. Continue reading »
On the Road to Equality
By Rob Okun
The inaugural conference of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities is one sign. The global MenEngage symposium in India was another. The movement of men promoting women’s rights and men’s transformation is not just growing, it’s linking up in greater numbers than ever before. That two major international gatherings—one in New Delhi, the other in New York—took place within four months of one another is a welcome development. Some 2000 delegates—from every continent on the globe—convened in India in November and the U.S. in March for symposia with similar names: Men and Boys for Gender Justice in Delhi and Men and Boys for Gender Equality in Manhattan. Continue reading »
Standing in a sunny courtyard of the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, I am surrounded by a sea of delegates streaming into day one of the global symposium, Men and Boys for Gender Justice. Organized by MenEngage, an international network of nearly 700 NGOs operating on every continent, it is day one of a symposium that has attracted more than 1000 people from 93 countries. I am one, a member of the North American MenEngage Network (NAMEN). Continue reading »
From New York to New Delhi
By Rob Okun
Entitled menchildren in the National Football League spark renewed attention to the epidemic of domestic violence and child abuse. Brave young women speaking truth to power demand action to halt sexual assaults on college campuses. Pioneering profeminist men from around the world gather in India to engage men and boys to promote gender equality.
In the ongoing effort to transform manhood, the pace has been accelerating. From the White House to the 50-yard line, from Kolkata to Cape Town, the call for men to change, to be allies with women in the work of ending gender-based violence and redefining manhood, is growing louder. From the Obama administration’s ItsOnUs campaign to the Emma Watson–supported United Nations’ HeforShe, opportunities are also growing for men to add our voices to the global conversation about men and masculinities. By the time summer ended, I was feeling the need to slow down, to reflect on what’s been unfolding on the dizzying, windy road to gender justice.
I got my wish to decelerate on the weekend of the autumn equinox. I had been invited to participate in a weekend gathering at the Omega Institute, whose women’s leadership conference for the first time in its 12-year history included men. Continue reading »
“Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it.”
It’s way past time to put on the pads, guys. We’ve got to put our shoulders to the wheel of change if we’re going to stop domestic and sexual violence. Are you ready to suit up for the big game? Except, of course, it ain’t no game; the lives of our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers are on the line. Continue reading »
“A man’s got to do, what a man’s got to do. And a country’s got to do what a country’s got to do.” —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, July 21, 2014 interview on NBC News
Amid weeks of horror and unconscionable suffering in the Gaza Strip there is a truth hiding in plain sight: Wild West manhood is being played out in the Middle East. Shoot first; ask questions never. Tough talkin’ man up bluster, both from Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—poster boys for a strain of masculinity so toxic it’s infected thousands of young men on both sides. Continue reading »
At Father’s Day this year, it was hard not to think about the fathers whose children were murdered in mass killings. My thoughts turned to the fathers—and mothers—of those slain in Isla Vista, California in the aftermath of Elliot Rodger’s misogynist-fueled rampage. Just as the Sandy Hook fathers felt the ache in their hearts, so do these men. Continue reading »
I’ve long believed that those of us committed to social change—whether achieving gender justice, restoring a threatened democracy, or healing an endangered planet—have greatest success when we accentuate the positive. The bad news seems to take care of itself. At the same time, every day there are committed people around the world advancing a counternarrative—promoting what David Korten years ago dubbed “the great turning.” I’m not suggesting we ignore bad news—Steubenville and Sandy Hook, for example, make that impossible. Still, the media (Voice Male included) have a responsibility to strike a balance and for the most part good news is too often still under the radar.
In the years I’ve edited Voice Male, I’ve seesawed back and forth in search of that balance. As much as the magazine has reported on the bad news (a year ago we devoted half our pages to Sandy Hook), in every issue we’ve worked to incorporate the vision and values of a new possibility for men and masculinities as reflected in the work of the profeminist men’s movement. It is in that movement that I have long seen not just a “hope” to transform conventional ideas about manhood but concrete action to realize it. It’s what motivated me to write and edit the new book VOICE MALE: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement.