Over the last few years, I have frequently prophesied that just as the last 50 years was a time of revolution for women (one that continues to this day), a new epoch for men was near: a time when many men would exchange conventional masculinity of patriarchy, aggression, and aggrieved entitlement for an evolved masculinity of egalitarianism, conciliation, and peacefulness. That time is now upon us.
Holding Men Accountable
Especially in the last year, there’s been an explosion of events, films, news reports, and new national conversations.
- An emerging accountability for men such as Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Roger Goddell
- Important new films: The Mask You Live In and My Own Man
- New organizations such as the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University in New York
- Increased awareness of issues such as domestic abuse, sexual assault, and police violence
- Men speaking out: a diverse group including Terry Crews, Patrick Stewart, Jon Hamm, Seth Myers, and Prince William have each, in their own way, have made a point of loudly proclaiming support for feminism.
We haven’t exactly seen the development of an egalitarian and compassionate masculinity, but we have witnessed a time of new levels of accountability for men brought on by women—and more importantly—by men themselves.
A Watershed Gathering
Just recently, Randy Flood and I participated in the International Conference on Masculinities in New York City sponsored by the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities. This conference, attended by 630 men and women who are activists and researchers, sociologists and psychologists, is another indication that this is an eventful and hopeful time. There is much work to be done, but the commitment shown by the bright and grounded men and women at this conference to work together to define issues and goals as well as to create intersections between their various organizations and programs bodes well for the future of men and mankind.
None other than Naomi Wolf validated my hopes and predictions. Facilitating the final plenary session of the conference, in which various presenters offered summary comments she said, “This is the revolution I’ve been waiting for.”
The Deafening Majority
Our great friend and colleague, Rob Okun asks this important question in the Fall 2014 edition of Voice Male magazine: “We know,” he writes, “that only a minority of men act violently toward those they love, but the painful question is this: why are so many men a part of a deafeningly silent majority?”
I exhort you to step out of the silent majority and join the revolution. Here are steps you can take on a personal level.
- Do your inner work. Recognize that you are part of the world-wide man-pack. Its sordid teachings of hierarchy, competition, entitlement, and abusiveness are embedded in you. Stop, look, and listen to yourself. Think about it: If you look at porn, are you really supportive of women in their struggles? If you are a patriarch in your home or the king of the mountain at work, are you living the egalitarian life that you espouse? If you are self-aggrandizing with your time and money, are you contributing to the problems of injustice and poverty of women and children?
- Manage yourself to admit wrongs, affirm others, act in ways which are kind and necessary, and avoid externalizing behaviors.
- Join organizations such as the MenEngage Alliance, The White Ribbon Campaign, The Men’s Story Project, and Futures without Violence.
- Confront men who emotionally or physically batter women or who sexually assault them. Challenge men when they call a woman a “bitch,” or speak disparagingly about their partners; stop a man when he starts to tell a dirty joke, letting him know that you don’t want to hear it.
- Pledge to never lay a hand on a woman.
- Read Mike Kimmel’s Angry White Men, Robert Augustus Masters’ To Be A Man, Niobe Way’s Boys, Friendships, and the Crisis of Connection, Jackson Katz’ The Macho Paradox. Subscribe to Voice Male magazine.
Societal Actions for Men
On a societal and international level, the bad new these days is almost overwhelming. ISIL, climate change, and threats to undo progress for a more just and egalitarian world. But we also have seen the emergence of more open, relational, and respectful men. This is great news. Here are steps you can take to further the cause on a societal level.
- Support legislation that advocates for gender equality. For example, write to your Congress members in support of equal pay for women.
- Invest in companies that have women in positions of leadership and start-ups with women as founders.
- Fight pornography by not supporting businesses that profit from it. For example, when you call to make a hotel reservation, ask if the hotel is a “clean hotel?” If it is not, tell them that you only stay at motels and hotels that don’t have “adult” entertainment.
- Send an email to the Institute for the Prevention and Treatment of Mascupathy when you hear about or see a man or men doing good things: email@example.com.
- Join the concomitant crusades to end racism and to end prejudice against and oppression of LGBT people.
Finally, men, listen to Gloria Steinem’s words that echo Wolf’s pronouncement. “Women want a men’s movement. We are literally dying for it.” Women are dying daily at the hands of men in acts of domestic violence and in the wars and genocides that men create. Just as men came together for the masculinities’ conference, we must join forces together to create a real men’s movement. One that will speak for all men who work for men’s accountability and emancipation.
I hope you’ll engage in the revolution to liberate men as well as to promote social justice and gender equality.