Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach who died in January just three months after a child rape scandal had stained his reputation, left behind more than a flock of adoring fans and a growing band of critics. His legacy now includes inadvertently energizing the movement to stop the sexual abuse of children. There’s more. That the heinous actions that came to light took place in the athletic world also offers a rare, national opportunity to raise questions about the culture of sports and the silence of men. Continue reading »
White Ribbon Campaign
It’s happened again. Another domestic violence death has rocked the Valley. We weep for Jessica Ann Pripstein, found slain in her apartment Feb. 20; her boyfriend charged with killing her.
How can we comfort her family and friends? For all the vitally important work that’s been done to prevent violence in our community for decades – first by women, later joined by men – we know we can’t stop every abusive act of malice. Continue reading »
If learning the truth about what had been going on for years at Penn State University won’t move men to challenge rape culture, what will? For men, it’s long past time to leave the sidelines of indifference in the face of grievous acts of troubled men. Continue reading »
For those men who still don’t understand how other men can describe themselves as “male positive and pro-feminist” (as this magazine and a movement of men here and abroad do), look no further than what’s happened in the 20 years since Anita Hill testified that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her when he was her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Continue reading »
In the drive to end violence against women, even well meaning allies can take a wrong turn. Continue reading »
To follow the news the last few weeks suggests there’s been a virulent outbreak of MBBS—Men Behaving Badly Syndrome. But behind the lurid stories of privileged men acting with an audacious sense of entitlement is another story—men who do the right thing. Father’s Day is a good time to engage in a more nuanced discussion of manhood. Continue reading »
In response to a horrific gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas this winter, a collaboration among antiviolence men’s organizations and individuals long associated with the profeminist men’s movement came together to speak with one voice. The campaign challenges the media to rethink what has been characterized as “victim blaming” coverage of rape and sexual assault, urging instead coverage which focuses on the perpetrators. Voice Male helped to draft the statement, reprinted below, which was sent out nationally at the beginning of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Continue reading »
There is a struggle underway to define manhood and masculinity. It’s playing out in the halls of Congress, in pop culture, and in desperate protests to maintain an outmoded view of what our country should look—and be—like. It’s a story not being covered much by mainstream media. Continue reading »
In the midst of the celebrations that a historic key first step has been taken to fix the horrific profits-over-people U.S. health care system, men’s voices need to ring out in protest against any efforts to limit a woman’s right to make independent decisions about her reproductive health. Simply put, I urge men to join a chorus singing “No!” to the back room deal-making cut by Michigan Congress member Bart Stupak exchanging a “Yes” vote on the health insurance overhaul for a pledge from President Obama to issue an executive order prohibiting paying for abortions as part of the new law. Continue reading »
March has already been a powerful month for men showing support for gender equality. As the temperature warmed and the snow drops and crocuses began peeking through the softening earth, I felt a lightness knowing how many men are putting their shoulders to the wheel of positive social change. Here’s a glimpse into the editor’s date book this first third of the month: Continue reading »
From members of the baseball team at the University of Massachusetts to the state’s Lieutenant Governor, Tim Murray, men are taking a pledge not to commit, condone or stay silent about domestic violence or sexual abuse. They are part of a week of activities that get underway statewide March 1 in advance of International Women’s Day on March 8th. A proclamation day gathering at the statehouse in Boston is being celebrated on March 2. Continue reading »
What an image. With tears in his eyes New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Blees held his son, Gaylen, aloft moments after the Saints stunned the Indianapolis Colts to win their first-ever Superbowl.
The boost to the city of New Orleans notwithstanding–even as the new energy that marvelous city feels can’t be overstated–there’s an important moment in the evolving definitions of masculinity that shouldn’t be overlooked in the midst of all the celebrating in the French Quarter and around the country. Continue reading »
Originally published in June 2008.
It was no accident that New Orleans was the site of the 10th anniversary of V-Day, a dizzying two-day celebration in April of the global movement to end violence against women and girls. The vibrant, pulsating city, though far from healed in the two and a half years since the levees broke, flooding the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, offered safe harbor for the slam poets, artists, writers, healers, hell raisers, and hope mongers—activists all in the struggle for truth, justice, and a new American way. I was part of the tribe that converged on the Big Easy, in my case to also speak at Tulane University and to visit one of my daughters. Continue reading »
Originally published in December 2007.
“From this day forward, I promise never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence.” — White Ribbon Campaign pledge
Is that a pledge you can sign onto? I hope so. Continue reading »
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 in the paper or hear a talking head on a television news program ever raise, and rarely see blogged about online. Continue reading »
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 voting-age women were at last enfranchised. Woman Suffrage Day (now named Women’s Equality Day), beyond commemorating the date women succeeded in getting the right to vote, also symbolizes women’s ongoing quest for equality. While acknowledging that pivotal anniversary, the day can be more than only a celebration for women. It affords men a chance to learn from women’s struggle for independence valuable tools we can apply to our own liberation. Continue reading »
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. Continue reading »
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. Continue reading »
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. Continue reading »
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. Continue reading »