N e w Vi s i o n s o f M a n h o o d
Voice Male The Magazine of The Men’s Resource Center for change
an Vir d gin of Ou ia Vi r C Te ol u ch en ltu ce re
HaD ENOUGH OF
P0RN CULTURE? HOW MEN CAN MAKE A DIFFERENT CHOICE
IN S I D E The Crime of Breathing While Black Iraq Vets’ Rocky Road Home My Prostate Cancer: There Were No Symptoms
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F rom T he E ditor
Virginia Tech and Our Culture of Violence
Through the Looking Glass of Violence
t’s happened again. A news report interrupts our lives: a man has shot up a campus, killing 32 people and himself. We are sick at heart, angry, outraged—and strangely numb. We have been stricken with a case of Columbinitis, a malaise that desensitizes people to violence. We distance ourselves from our feelings, passively consume television coverage of “Tragedy at Virginia Tech,” a new program broken into carefully packaged infotainment segments. Either we become numb by watching the same footage over and over, the same students and expert talking heads being interviewed, or we tune out completely, overwhelmed by a culture that feeds on violence. Violence is an international commodity; violence sells, as the late George Gerbner, the renowned culture critic, succinctly put it. Spoken language is almost irrelevant in the onslaught of brutal images, cascading from every nook and cranny of U.S. popular culture and hungrily rebroadcast worldwide. By popular culture I mean more than Hollywood, the music biz, video games, and the products of corporate media spinmeisters. Peek into the briefing room culture at the White House, and the Defense and State departments. War sells, too. Just ask the profiteers pulling the strings at Blackwater and Halliburton. From the first jazzy graphics displayed on TV when we began invading Iraq, through the start of this fifth season of the reality series “War in the Middle East” (will its run be longer than that of The West Wing?), the media keep colluding with the government in sustaining our most profitable export: the culture of violence. Whatever emotional trigger ignited the rage in Cho Seung-Hui, the man who killed all those people and himself,
“ Whatever emotional trigger ignited the rage in Cho SeungHui, our twisted culture provided plenty of matches. Like the rest of us, our twisted culture provided plenty of matches. Like the rest of us, he had opportunities every day to tune in to talk radio for a dose of vitriol to get the juices flowing. Or, like us, he had easy access to the latest release from the gangsta rapper of the month, or the latest shoot-’em-up-blow-’em-up playing at the local cineplex. We are so saturated with the stench of violence, is it any wonder we already feel full when called to the table for a 33-course killing fields feast? We can’t even smell the toxic sludge we’ve become so accustomed to the odor. The obligatory rumblings for gun control (which the National Rifle Association for years has so successfully fended off) will most likely morph into a new uproar, but don’t expect gun-toting politicians like Vice President Dick Cheney or presidential wannabe Mitt Romney to be leading the charge. The veep is still walking tall, even after shooting a friend on a hunting trip, and the former Massachusetts governor now preens as a born-again hunter. Anyone out there willing to take on the NRA now? But of course it is not just the NRA. Just as it’s not the tough-talking bluster from the current resident of the White House, as culpable as both the gun lobby and George Bush are in feeding and watering the culture of violence. Sadly, there is plenty of room at the table for many more violence vultures. Some claim that media violence causes real-world violence. Gerbner, who many believe was the country’s leading researcher on the social effects
of television, encouraged citizens to consider the issue more critically, “to think about the psychological, political, social and developmental impacts of growing up and living within a cultural environment of pervasive, ritualized violent images.” That is our current predicament and it is why so many of us are numbed by this latest horrific killing spree rather than stirred to action. But it is not too late. Our children, especially the younger ones who must, at all costs, be shielded from the details of what happened on April 16 in Virginia, need us to get this right and get it right now. In our work at the Men’s Resource Center for Change, helping men to overcome the damaging effects of conventional, tough-talking, violence-embracing manhood, my colleagues and I know that abusive and violent men can change if they want to. Even in the face of a society that keeps dishing out super-sized portions of violent pop culture. A question: Do we have the collective will to push back from the table where such poison continues to be served up? Are we ready to go on a violence-free diet, replacing its burnt offerings with fruit from the tree of peace? VM
Rob Okun is editor of Voice Male and executive director of the Men's Resource Center for Change. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents Features
Men Speak Out on Gender, . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Sex and Power By Shira Tarrant Real Men, Real Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 By Robert Jensen There Were No Symptoms . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 By Felicity Pool and Allen Davis Good and Bad News on . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Domestic Violence By Stephen McArthur A Vet for Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 By Eric Wasileski
The Shameful Neglect of Our . . . . . . . . . 15 Veterans’ Emotional Needs By Rob Okun Pop Culture and Pornography . . . . . . . . . 21 By Gail Dines
Columns & Opinion
From the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Mail Bonding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Men @ Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Color Lines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 The Crime of Breathing While Black By Christopher Rabb GBQ Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 OutLines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 My Gay San Francisco, Then and Now By Les K. Wright Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Thank You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 MRC Programs Services . . . . . . . . . . . 27 COVER PHOTOS: © & istockphoto.com/Sladjan Lukic/Alex Nikada
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VOICE MALE is published quarterly by the Men’s Resource Center for Change, 236 North Pleasant St., Amherst, MA 01002. It is mailed to donors and subscribers in the U.S., Canada, and overseas and distributed at select locations around New England. The opinions expressed in VOICE MALE may not represent the views of all staff, board, volunteers, or members of the Men’s Resource Center for Change. Copyright © 2007 Voice Male Magazine. Subscriptions: For subscription information, call (413) 253-9887, ext. 16, or go to www.mrcforchange.org and follow the links to subscribe to VOICE MALE. Advertising: For VOICE MALE advertising rates and deadlines, call (413) 253-9887, ext. 16. Submissions: The editors welcome letters, articles, news items, article ideas and queries, and information about events of interest. We encourage unsolicited manuscripts, but cannot be responsible for their loss. Manuscripts sent through the mail will be responded to and returned if accompanied by a self-addressed stamped return envelope. Send articles and queries to Editors, VOICE MALE, 236
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Mail Dear Gentle Men, It has come to our attention that you harbor some misconceptions about us and our intentions, ones which we most fervently hope to dissuade you of, because these misunderstandings and falsehoods are preventing us from working together toward a more balanced society. Allow us to reassure you: 1. We do not wish to castrate you. We have no desire to have your testicles in jars of formaldehyde on our nightstands. 2. You may rest easy. We are not asking for a complete role reversal in which we put you in the positions we have occupied these many thousands of years; we do not want to confine you to home, cooking and cleaning, caring for the children, and bringing us a beer while we watch the game after a long, hard day at the Senate. We admit to sometimes having playful revenge fantasies about it, but not really. 3. Some of us are lesbians, but most of us aren’t. Many of us are adamantly checking out your hindquarters as you walk by. Most of us can, in fact, “get a man” if we so wish. 4. A lot of us like lipstick and the occasional short skirt. It’s just that we don’t like to be expected to wear these items. 5. We want you to think we’re hot, just as you want us to find you physically attractive; it’s fine that you like our breasts. It’s just that we want you to realize there is a fully functional brain behind our long-lashed eyes, and a human heart beating beneath those jugs.
• Voice Male
National Advisory Board Voice Male Magazine Men’s Resource Center For Change
John Badalament, Boston Juan Carlos Areán, Boston Byron Hurt, New York City Robert Jensen, Austin Sut Jhally, Northampton, Mass. Jackson Katz, Long Beach, Calif. Joe Kelly, Duluth, Minn. Michael Kimmel, Brooklyn Bill T. Jones, New York City Michael Messner, Los Angeles Don McPherson, Long Island, N.Y. Craig Norberg-Bohm, Boston Haji Shearer, Boston
6. We like sex. No, really. We do. 7. Most of us appreciate that you’ve been opening doors for us. That’s very nice of you. But (contrary to some of the things we’ve heard you muttering) that really doesn’t make you the gender that is being oppressed and subordinated. We’re sorry, but opening an occasional door or even picking up the tab at Red Lobster does not “even the score,” and if you think that it does then you have not been paying attention. For example, we would gladly trade your chivalrous portal-opening skills and the $23.45 you just paid for dinner…for equal wages. 8. We’re not blaming you for everything (a good bit of it is our bad), and we don’t think we’re the only ones suffering from the current state of affairs. For example, we imagine it must suck that if you actually want to stay home with the kids instead of climbing the corporate ladder, then you’re labeled a big ol’ wuss who’s been whipped. We are also aware that since sexism is largely an unconscious social construct, only a very small number of you are ever actually consciously trying to “keep women in their place,” and an equally small number of you are even aware that there’s a problem to be addressed. But we give you kudos when you are willing to allow yourselves to be made aware of the issue and the proposed solutions to it. 9. The dictionary defines feminism as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” Feminism does not claim the superiority of women, nor does it involve man-hating. Indeed, it is not even an all-
girls club. Chicks dig feminist guys. 10. Actually, we are not particularly angry, and we are not perpetually PMSing. We just want change and we’re starting to get impatient about it because it’s been a really, really long wait for us. We cannot achieve equality without you. You are the other half of the equation, the other half of humanity, and we regret to assert that you are the ones in power. With power comes responsibility, responsibility that we are happy to share with you. We hope very much that you will consider dropping the baseless fears some of you hold about us, because we think of you as our allies, not our enemies. Ours is not a “war of the sexes.” Ours is a war on sexism. We invite you to enlist. Much Love, Feminists P.S. Please put the toilet seat down. Thank you. Erica Little-Herron Sharpsburg, Md. Erica Little-Herron writes a column for the Shepherd University newspaper in Maryland.
We Want to Hear from You! Write us at: Voice Male, MRC, 236 North Pleasant St. Amherst, MA 01002 or Fax (413) 253-4801 email@example.com Please include address and phone. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. Deadline for Summer issue: June 5, 2007
M en @ W ork Four Honored at Men’s Center’s
11th Challenge & Change Awards Dinner
work advocating for women and women’s reproductive rights, including in her capacity as co-director of the Abortion Fund of Western Massachusetts. Her history of activism goes back to her days as a student in the 1940s at Bard College, where she worked for a group called “People’s Songs” whose members included Pete Seeger. The group was blacklisted in the frenzy of anti-Communist paranoia. She was later active in the boycott of grapes on behalf of farm workers, and in protests against the Vietnam War. “Susie began working on behalf of women’s rights, especially their rights of personal choice, right from the beginning of Roe v. Wade some Buford Chu 35 years ago. She became involved very early with the Abortion Rights Fund of Western Massachusetts, which was created to fill the significant gap women face if they are not on Medicaid, are poor, young, and have no or inadequate insurance,” Okun said. “She remains at the forefront of this aspect of women’s rights today. We are privileged to be honoring one of the mothers of this movement.” Receiving the MRC Ozzy Klate Memorial Youth Award are Aaron Buford and Malcolm Chu, both sophomores at Commonwealth College at UMass and co-leaders of the MRC’s Young Men of Color Leadership group. Aaron is coordinator of a UMass high school tutoring/mentoring program involving 17 student volunteers at Amherst Regional High School and is secretary for diversity issues at UMass, where he serves in the cabinet of student government. Malcolm is a member of the University Alliance for Community Transformation, a mentor/tutor in the Amherst High School program, and works with the Office of Programs and Services for students of color at the university. Said the MRC’s Okun, “Aaron and Malcolm are natural leaders whose efforts on behalf of younger students are not just admirable but also highly effective. Passionate, articulate, and visionary, they blend activism, academic excellence, and commitment to their roles in the college and greater community.” A number of area banks, businesses, and educational institutions collectively underwrote all expenses associated with the awards dinner so there was no charge to attend, Okun said. Those attending were invited to voluntarily make a contribution and all money raised at the event went directly to support MRC programs and services. To make your own contribution to the MRC, contact David Gillham at (413) 253-9887, ext.16, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring 2007 •
nationally known antiviolence activist and educator, a longtime champion of women’s rights and women’s reproductive health, and two college-age mentors and activists were honored at the Eleventh Challenge & Change Celebration, an annual dinner the Men’s Resource Center for Change (MRC) hosted on April 22 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, in Holyoke, Mass. Northampton mayor Clare Higgins served as honorary chair. The event marked the first in a series celebrating the MRC’s 25th anniversary. Award recipients were Jackson Katz of Long Beach, Calif., author of The Macho Paradox: LowensteinKatz Why Some Men Hurt Women Kitchell and How All Men Can Help, and co-creator of the video Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity; Susan Lowenstein-Kitchell of Amherst, co-director of the Western Massachusetts Abortion Rights Fund; and Aaron Buford and Malcolm Chu, co-facilitators of the MRC’s Young Men of Color Leadership group and student leaders at Commonwealth College at the University of Massachusetts. Jackson Katz is one of the nation’s leading advocates for men’s work in preventing violence against women. A former all-state high school football player and the first man at the University of Massachusetts to earn a minor in women’s studies, he is the founder and director of MVP Strategies, an organization providing gender violence prevention training to colleges, high schools, professional and college sports teams, community groups, corporations, and the U.S. military (including the first such program in the history of the Marine Corps). Tough Guise, the video he created with the Media Education Foundation of Northampton, Mass., has been screened around the country and overseas. He has lectured at hundreds of schools and colleges across the nation and is a member of the national advisory board of the MRC and Voice Male magazine. “Jackson tapped into his passion for justice for women, and his voice urging men to work for peace in our homes and communities when he was a student at UMass more than 25 years ago,” said Rob Okun, MRC executive director. “He has never looked back. We are glad he is in Amherst this year so we could honor him in his home away from home.” Susan Lowenstein-Kitchell received the Challenge & Change woman’s award in recognition of her decades of
Men @ Work continued from page 5
M en @ W ork
Reviving Ophelia: The Play
Confronting Homophobia in Kentucky
he landmark book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, has now become a play. That’s only appropriate for a book that adopted its central metaphor from Hamlet. Award-winning playwright Cherrie Bennett adapted Dr. Mary Pipher’s book into a gripping story of four teenage girls battling the corrosive influence of popular culture and searching for the personal North Star that will guide them home. The play has already toured through many urban, suburban, and rural schools and met with equal success. To learn more about Reviving Ophelia visit http://dramaticpublishing.com/catalogdetail.cfm?listcode=R79. Now we need Awakening Hamlet, the counterpart play for boys.
Men’s AIDS Awareness in Kenya
• Voice Male
magazine and it urges readers to donate books and articles to help the cause. To learn how you can help, write Justin List at the Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, jlist@lumc. edu.
ome medical students in the Chicago area doing HIV/AIDS work in Kenya are on a mission to assist that African nation in the fight against the deadly disease. According to Rishi Rattan of the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois Chicago campus, books are needed on masculinities, gender, and sexuality. While in Kenya, medical students Justin List, Andrew Loehrer, and Lisa Dunning learned that the organization MMAAK (Movement of Men Against AIDS in Kenya) is seeking books on masculinities, gender, and sexuality for their library. A campaign has begun to provide the books. Voice Male is assisting in the effort by donating a set of back issues of the
ay activists alarmed at an evangelical Christian leader’s extreme stance on homosexuality staged a sit-in at the office of the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, earlier this spring. A dozen members of the group, Soulforce, were arrested in late March, according to media reports. Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. wrote in a recent article that homosexuality would remain a sin even if it were biologically based, and that he supported a hypothetical medical treatment that could switch
an unborn baby’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. Twelve members of Soulforce were charged with criminal trespassing—a misdemeanor—and booked into jail, Louisville police said. The sit-in in front of Mohler’s office lasted about two hours, said Jarrett Lucas, a co-director of a Soulforce tour of Christian colleges. Lucas said group members wanted Mohler to rescind his comments and publicly apologize. “Some of us were raised in a southern Baptist tradition, so for him to deny his own constituents simply a conversation—we wanted to go have him hear our voice. We were denied that,” Lucas said. Soulforce, a nonprofit organization based in Lynchburg, Va., has organized several national tours to religious and military colleges to protest their attitudes about gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people. Members also were arrested in March at demonstrations staged at Oklahoma Baptist University. VM
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New Men’s Anthology Due Out in November
Men Speak Out on Gender, Sex and Power
By Shira Tarrant
Were there other guys “ out there also trying to make sense of today’s culture, finding past assumptions about both men and women no longer essays serve that are them? direct andThey expressive in their interrogation of masculinity and power, I posted my request to a number of relevant websites and listservs. I wanted to compile as diverse a selection as possible. Queries came from activist men, university men, men who used to be women, men from the South, men from the North, and men from places in between. I heard from queer men, straight men, and bi men; from young men, older men, Black, Latino, Jewish, and white men. E-mails of interest and support poured in from New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, Poland, Uruguay, Vietnam, Lapland—you get the picture. Many sent notes just to say thanks in advance for a book they’ve been waiting for. This response—awesome and humbling—was good news. There are many good men out there actively working to end male pattern domination and the abuse and misuse of power over others. There are so many creating new answers to old problems. Encouraged by the response, I hatched a plan while preparing for a cross-country move back to California. Armed with over 2,000 photocopied announcements explaining the book and inviting men to send in their written thoughts, I planned to leave
fliers behind at every college town and coffee house, truck stop and Bob Evans restaurant, coast to coast. This ambitious idea petered out somewhere around Indiana, where the road ahead looked longer and longer and the days and nights joined together as I drove with my family across the country. I did get the chance, though, to leave fliers at many places: at a corner bar in Athens, Ohio; a Starbucks in Cleveland; the Presbyterian Manor Senior Retirement Home in Salina, Kansas; at a down-onits-luck casino outside of Reno, Nevada. I papered the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Oakland before heading south to Los Angeles, and stuck my head into the kitchen at a Mexican restaurant along the way to share some fliers. To my utter surprise and delight, the cook there said he’d already seen the call for submissions online. The word was out and the response was tremendous. Some men in this book recount their personal challenges with living up to the demands of “traditional” masculinity. Others are quintessential guys’ guys who love sports and beer. But one thing brings these men together on these pages if not in their day-to-day lives: Each of them struggles, in his own ways, with the personal and political limits that conventional masculinity imposes. Their unflinchingly honest prose tackles the politics of domination and strategies for change. They deal not only with the difficulties of being a man, but also with the challenges of being a man who is grappling with sexism. What becomes immediately clear is an encouraging theme: that we have tremendous potential for personal and political change. Hank Shaw, a writer from Rochester, New York, a self-described “guy off the street who bangs out words for a living,” got his feet on the street when he took action against two local pornographers continued on page 25
Spring 2007 •
eminism is a dirty word. It conjures images of whiny, bitchy women with sanctimonious complaints about men. And the men who call themselves “feminist”? If they aren’t simply whipped, then it’s a cheap ploy at getting laid. Or so the story goes. But that’s an old version of the story. Fortunately, it looks like we’re in the midst of change. Recently, I was teaching in the women’s studies program at a small, East Coast liberal arts college outside of Baltimore. At first there were only one or two young men among the women enrolled in my classes. Soon there were more. They trickled in from the soccer team, the basketball team, the swim team, and the arts. They majored in physics, political science, mathematics, and dance. Who were these guys, I wondered. And how could I find more of them? Some answers came from conversations that I had with these same young men after class, sitting on the campus lawn. They wanted to know if there were other guys out there who were also trying to make sense of their experiences in today’s culture, finding some past assumptions about both men and women no longer serve them. They wanted to know that they weren’t alone in rethinking gender, and that it was possible to make a change. They wanted to know that they—and these other men—weren’t wimps. My response was to compile an anthology of essays by men who are speaking out about feminist issues. The result is Men Speak Out, a fresh look at gender, sex, and power—and feminism—a collection of essays about men making their way in a world that is struggling to rethink manhood and masculinity. This is a collection about men—written by men—who are willing to stare down these issues head on. Their voices are contemporary and vital. When I set out to collect a series of
Men and Pornography
REaL MEN, REaLCH0ICES By Robert Jensen
REAL MEN First, let me say what I don’t mean by the term “real men.” I am not
• Voice Male
referring to some concept of an “authentic” masculinity, to some notion of what it means to be a real man. In this sense, there are no real men. Masculinity, like femininity, is a trap, a way to constrain human beings—wildly variable in our capacities—into predetermined social roles that define and confine rather than open up and liberate.
But in shaping a political strategy, we must take note of where and how real male humans really live in the real world. After many years of talking to men, in formal research interviews and informally, here’s what I’ve concluded: Although we can never know who they are, there likely are some men who are beyond the reach of the call to love and justice, probably forever. Some men are so committed to dominance and male supremacy that they have, for all practical purposes, lost their souls. There are no doubt complex explanations for this, but in practical political terms, these men are not my target audience. The same can be said of some white people, some rich people, some Americans. For whatever reason, some people in positions of privilege and power seem beyond the reach of an appeal based in empathy and shared humanity. Coming to terms with that rather sad reality is difficult, but necessary. The good news, however, is that we Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of a talk given to the Pornography and Pop Culture conference at Wheelock College, Boston, March 24, 2007.
don’t have to win over every single man to change the culture. Our focus should be on the men who are struggling. These are the men I know and speak with often. That is the man I am. We struggle to make sense of our socialization. We struggle to be decent in a world in which it’s easy to simply accept our privilege and power. Often, we fail. But there’s a case that can be made to those men, a combination of an argument from justice and an argument from self-interest. The argument from justice is simple: Participating in the sexual exploitation industries—pornography, prostitution, strip bars—is incompatible with a serious commitment to our stated principles; there can be no gender justice in a world where some women can be bought and sold. But we also have to offer men a vision of the world that gives them a way out of the masculinity trap. Many men feel distress over the way in which patriarchy undermines our humanity. I emphasize this not to elevate men’s pain, but to argue that if we don’t take account of men’s pain we may not be able to change the world to end men’s violence against women.
I was slow to understand this, and ironically it was Gail Dines who helped me— or, perhaps, forced me—to see this. Gail has a son, and we have talked often about her hopes for a world in which her son, and boys and men like him, can find space to be fully human. Gail has often told me that I can be too hard on men, that in my anger—at men and at myself—I was missing an essential aspect of this work. I was missing the universal love that the late Andrea Dworkin expressed, not only for women but for men. It took me longer than it should have to fully understand that feminism—especially the most radical feminism—is rooted not in contempt for men but in holding men accountable out of a faith in human beings. That’s what I want for my son. Like Gail, I have one child, a boy. And, like Gail, I want my boy to be a decent person in a world where being decent is the norm. I don’t want him to be a man. I want him to be a human being. My boy came into this world as a human being. He deserves the chance to hold on to that humanity, as we all do. And if we don’t find a way to continued on page 10
Remembering andrea Dworkin—and 0ur Humanity
of that suffering is filmed and sold for the sexual pleasure of others, primarily men. That pain, and Andrea’s understanding of it, is for me at the heart of a message we must take to men. My brothers and I are capable of barbaric violence and of sexualizing that violence; we too often find pleasure in the abandonment of our own humanity. I say “my brothers and I” not to claim that all men are violent or use pornography but to emphasize that there is a common socialization that produces such behavior and a common responsibility to end it. And, just as important, there is a common humanity to which we can appeal. In a specific moment, a man might abandon this humanity, but that does not mean that no appeal to our humanity is possible. Although it may seem odd, I learned that most profoundly not from other men, but from Andrea Dworkin. Despite her reputation as a “man-hater,” Dworkin loved people and she saw men as people, refusing to give up on us. No one was fiercer in naming men’s violence and holding men accountable, but she did not abandon hope in us. “I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural,” she said in 1983, speaking to a group of men. “If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.” I think that faith is important to hold on to as we fashion strategies for talking to men, demanding that men end their use of pornography, and enlisting men as allies in a feminist movement for justice. —Robert Jensen
Spring 2007 •
he late Andrea Dworkin’s presence loomed over the Pornography and Pop Culture conference held at Wheelock College in Boston in March. If not for her groundbreaking work, I am sure I and many others would not have been there. Andrea shook the world, and after that shock we all had a choice: Would we duck and cover, and look for a way to avoid what she demanded that we face? Or would we have the courage to look at the world through her eyes and see where it led us? It wasn’t easy for me to do that. It took me more years than I want to remember to start that process, and it remains a difficult road to walk. But when I finally quit looking for a place to hide and stepped onto that road, the possibility of a new world opened up for me. Andrea’s work was my first entrée into radical politics, a way of seeing not just men’s oppression of women but also other illegitimate hierarchies, connected to race in white supremacy, to wealth in a predatory corporate capitalism, and to national identity in a world dominated by the U.S. empire. I am wary of canonizing individuals or ascribing to them too much power; coming to this with left/feminist politics, I believe in the power of people, not leaders, to change the world. But I want to recognize Andrea Dworkin, not because we all have to agree with every aspect of her analysis or political strategy. Instead, I simply want to honor her insight, dedication, courage, and—most of all—her humanity. In this world in which we live, there is suffering beyond description. Some of that suffering we see on the news, for example, when the consequences of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq become difficult for mainstream society to ignore. Some of that suffering is out of view, behind closed doors, where men’s violence is still too often hidden away as a private affair. And some
Real Men, Real Choices continued from page 8
allow our boy children to do that, I fear that our girl children have no chance.
EFFECTS ON CHILDREN
• Voice Male
The biggest group of Internet porn consumers are aged 12 to 17. (Boston Globe, 2005)
The pornographers and their apologists have done a masterful job of focusing the debate on the choices of women who participate in the industry. If women choose to perform in pornography, who are we to condemn them? I agree; I have never condemned the women in pornography, nor has anyone in the feminist anti-pornography movement. Many complex questions arise from women’s participation in pornography, none of which are my subject here. Instead, I want to refocus on men and our choices. The questions I want to ask are not about why women choose to perform in pornography, but why men choose to masturbate to pornography. What does that choice that a man makes mean for women, and what does it mean for the man? My argument is simple: When men choose to spend their money on pornography, they are (1) contributing to the subordination of women in the sexual exploitation industries; and (2) robbing themselves of the possibility of being fully human. On (1): For the sake of argument, let’s assume that some women who perform in pornography make completely free choices to participate, as women in the industry often assert that they do, with absolutely no constraints or limitations on them. That could be the case, though it doesn’t alter the unavoidable conclusion that some number of women in the industry—likely a majority—choose under conditions that make choice much more complex (histories of sexual abuse, economic hardship, perceived and/or actual lack of opportunities, within a culture that glamorizes the sex industry). In most cases, the consumer has no reliable way to judge which women are participating in the industry as a result of a meaningfully free choice. When a consumer plays a DVD at home, he has no information that could help him make continued on page 20
A therapist in Boston reports treating children as young as 10 for porn addiction. (Boston Globe, 2005) One researcher found that 87 percent of the molesters of girls, and 77 percent of the molesters of boys, reported regular use of hard-core pornography. (Marshall, 1988) It is estimated that 20 percent of all pornography on the Internet involves children. (NCMEC) EFFECTS ON USERS It is estimated that 15 percent of people using Internet pornography develop a compulsive habit that disrupts their lives. (Pamela Paul, Pornified, 2005) One psychiatrist specializing in treatment of sexual dysfunction estimates that 60 percent of his cases are directly related to the Internet. (The Sunday Paper, Atlanta) “I’ve definitely noticed that naked images that used to arouse me don’t anymore, so I had to move on. I found that I was getting numb to basic images. I needed to keep progressing to more explicit stuff.” (“Dave,” porn user, quoted in Paul, Pornified) EFFECTS ON RELATIONSHIPS At the 2002 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers convention, attorneys present reported that 56 percent of their recent divorce cases resulted from a spouse’s compulsive Internet porn use. (Paul, Pornified) Research has found that 41 percent of surveyed adults admitted they felt insecure and less attractive due to their partner’s pornography use. (Yarhouse, Marriage Related Research) “I don’t see how any male who likes porn can think actual sex is better, at least if it involves all the crap that comes with having a real live female in your life.” (“Frank,” porn user, quoted in Paul, Pornified) EFFECTS ON WOMEN’S SAFETY A 1984 research study found that the state of Alaska ranked first both in porn magazine sales and in rapes; Nevada was second on both measures. (Baron and Straus) A women’s crisis center serving Wahpeton, North Dakota, reported a 96 percent increase in domestic violence and sexual assault calls after a second strip club opened in town. (Not for Sale) In Phoenix, neighborhoods with a porn outlet had 500 percent more sexual offenses than neighborhoods without. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1988)
“We feel confident in our findings that pornography is harmful. Our study involved more than 12,000 participants and very rigorous analyses. I can think of no beneficial effects of pornography whatsoever.” —RESEARCHER DR. CLAUDIO VIOLATO, UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY
Diagnosis: Prostate Cancer
There Were No Symptoms By Felicity Pool and Allen Davis
In 21st-century America, one out of every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifespan, especially from age 45 on. That’s 218,890 new cases. This year 27,050 men will die from the disease, many unnecessarily. Routine physicals leading to early diagnosis and prompt treatment are highly effective. In the words that follow, Felicity Pool and Allen Davis invite Voice Male readers into a recent time in their lives when they were dealing with a dangerous and challenging episode for both of them—Allen’s diagnosis of prostate cancer. “PSA of 4.4,” reported his doctor this time around. “But your Free PSA is 16.9 percent. Come in to the office for followup.”
Each of the doctors we saw was male. The waiting-room chairs were occupied mostly by males. In so strong a samegender context, a person might look for camaraderie, an empathic sharing of stories or the gory anxieties of what-next. But no one in the chairs spoke or made eye contact.
We had more cancer language to learn. We’re including it here because we found it comforting when our friends and family understood what was worrying us, once we had the second set of Allen’s numbers. Imagining how many other men and their loved ones will be having to interpret PSA numbers, it feels helpful to spread the comfort of understanding. Prostate-Specific Antigen is found in the blood in two ways—molecularly bound up or unattached (i.e. running “free” in the blood). In general, to find a low percent of PSA free means that a high percent is bound up, an indicator of prostate cancer. Out of every 100 cases detected, 92 of the men had a Free PSA
score below 25 percent. At 16 percent, therefore, Allen was in an at-risk category. The frequent occurrence of the disease presumably explains why our language contains such an alphabet soup of prostate-related abbreviations. Next up were the terms DRE (Digital Rectal Exam), BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy), and Ca (medicalese for cancer). The rectal exam—insertion of a health practitioner’s gloved and lubricated finger into a patient’s rectum—is generally part of an annual checkup. Enlargement or other irregularities of the prostate can be detected via DRE, part of making the diagnosis between cancer and the noncancerous gland enlargement called BPH. Although Allen’s prostate was never found to be enlarged, a biopsy of the prostate gland was scheduled because of his PSA and Free PSA numbers. “We just want to be sure there’s nothing going on,” said the doctor, referring Allen to a urologist, “but I’ll be surprised if they find anything.” A referral to a new physician means getting directions to the office, scheduling time off work, arranging for the referral paperwork, and making sure it arrives at the new office when you do. So you’ve invested effort and energy just to get there, before you give your name to the receptionist, sit down and look around. At the three urologists’ offices we’ve been in by now the magazines have tended toward the stereotypically male-oriented continued on page 12
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There were no symptoms. Allen had none of the worrying capital-letter “Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer”—urinary discomfort, erection and ejaculation troubles, bloody urine or semen, pains in the pelvic area. No one in the family had had the disease, nor was any relative known to be African American or Native American (both additional risk factors). Allen was an apparently healthy 59 . . . but with a PSA of 4.6 (up from 3.5 the previous year). If you’re a person fortunate enough not to have had to learn cancer language and cancer numbers, you might not know that PSA stands for Prostate-Specific Antigen, a protein made in the prostate gland and routinely released into the bloodstream. The more of the antigen found outside the gland, the likelier it is you’ve got prostate trouble, and the biggest trouble is cancer. Blood drawn from the arm can be analyzed for PSA levels: a reading of 0–4 is generally considered normal, 4–10 is intermediate, 10 and above is high. Allen’s PSA had increased more than a point in one year—from 3.5 to 4.6. “Don’t worry,” said his friend Jonathan. “You get a lot of false positives with that test.” A colleague announced, “I’m not even bothering with a PSA—too many inflated numbers and false alarms.” The doctor explained, “A PSA is the most sensitive diagnostic test we have, and with more sensitivity comes more likelihood of false positives. But if we repeat it and do another test as well, the information is extremely accurate.” Back Allen went to the laboratory for more blood work.
There were no symptoms continued from page 11
(business, hunting and fishing, cars). Each of the doctors we saw was male. The waiting-room chairs were occupied mostly by males, with a few female partners. In so strong a same-gender context, a person might look for camaraderie, an empathic sharing of stories or the gory anxieties of what-next. But no one in the chairs spoke or made eye contact except with office staff or, in whispers, to a companion. A prostate biopsy is office surgery, an hour or less with a local anesthetic (like novocaine at the dentist), after a day of clear-liquids-only and some cleaning out of the patient’s bowels. Tissue samples are taken from up to 12 areas of the prostate and are then examined for signs of cancer. “Not bad—I really didn’t feel a thing” was Allen’s comment as he emerged back into the waiting room. The bad part was the five-day wait for the biopsy results. Even worse was the news: cancer was found in three of the tissue samples. No symptoms + No-higher-than-intermediate-range PSA scores + No palpable prostate enlargement = Prostate Cancer. Unreal.
his goal. But what kind of surgery? Traditional removal of the prostate gland via abdominal incision? Or laparoscopy, in which instruments are inserted via mere slits in the abdomen? Or robotic laparoscopy, where the surgeon works with the laparoscopic instruments in a remote-control sort of way, viewing the patient’s insides on a screen? How to choose? The surgeon who did the diagnostic biopsy had performed close to 500 abdominal prostate surgeries. He had recently switched to the robotic laparoscopic procedure. How recently and how many had he done? “My partner and I trained a year ago and we’ve done about 50 of them,” he replied. “But there’s a guy I can refer you to who’s done more than 300. That’s all he does.” We liked the man anyway, then liked him even more for his honesty and for the referral.
Contrary to the old saying “Ignorance is bliss,” we found that ignorance led to fear. The more we found out—especially about the high cure rates for prostate cancer— the more empowered and optimistic we felt.
• Voice Male
Deciding What to Do
“I want to be cancer-free,” Allen declared. So that was the goal of what-to-do-next: removing the cancer. It sounds obvious—who wouldn’t want to remove cancer from his body? But there are factors—age, general health, disease progression—that can limit a man’s options. Next to lung cancer, prostate malignancy is the most common cancer to strike males in America: good news in that much research is being done; bad news in that much research is required of the patient. Current treatment options for cancer of the prostate are, in alphabetical order: alternative (nonmedical) therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation, and surgery. (For more information about each, check the websites listed as resources at the end of this article.) For Allen, as for the majority of men with early-stage prostate cancer, surgery emerged as the likeliest way to get to
We made an appointment with the more-than-300 man, at the big-city hospital a two-hour drive away. His focus is on research, looking to perfect the robotic technique. A personable and competent guy, we decided, after an hour’s talk. We planned a surgery date for six weeks later, when Allen would be healed from the biopsy. We met with one more surgeon, a man who performs nonrobotic laparoscopy at a medical center roughly an hour’s drive away. He’s a professor of surgery with the empathic focus of a good teacher and the distinguished manner of the longtime department head. He put it all together for us: “I’ve been doing this surgery laparoscopically for a long time and we’re pretty good at the nerve-sparing
that gets you back to urinary continence and erectile function. The robotic results aren’t yet looking much different than our outcomes, although that could always change in the future. I think the main thing is to get rid of the cancer and get back to normal as soon as possible.” “Normal” for the doctor and for Allen includes vigorous squash games several times a week, and the discussion moved quickly to how soon after surgery could that be achieved? We scheduled a surgery date with this guy and canceled the time reserved with the robotic-research surgeon at the city hospital. Here’s what was most helpful in deciding what to do: Gather medical information—online (see website suggestions below); from people you know who’ve had similar diagnoses; from your doctor’s office. Contrary to the old saying “Ignorance is bliss,” we found that ignorance led to fear. The more we found out—especially about the high cure rates for prostate cancer—the more empowered and optimistic we felt. Gather insurance information. Will your coverage allow you a second opinion? Is coverage dependent on the procedure you choose? How much follow-up is covered? Do you have a choice of hospitals? Check out the hospital. If you’re going through this with a supportive partner, he or she will be spending a fair bit of time at the medical center while you’re having surgery (two to four hours) and then for the 24 hours before you’re discharged. It was helpful to us to be in as pleasant an environment as is institutionally possible, surrounded by friendly staff and comfortable waiting areas. Interview doctors, if you have the option of choosing among different practitioners. We found ourselves most comfortable with the surgeon Allen chose not just because of his excellent credentials but because he was at ease talking about the urinary “leakage” (his term) and infirm or absent erections that are initially a consequence of prostate surgery. continued on page 22
Report from Vermont
Good and Bad News on Domestic Violence
it really in men’s selfinterest to address gender violence? Don’t men care about the women and girls in our lives? How can we permit them to live in communities where they must constantly look over their shoulders? Violence against women has become so normal, we don’t even call it what it is—men’s to the attention of our media, our comviolence against munity organizations, ourwomen.” governments,
our schools, and our religious institutions. But now it’s time for men to stand up. Most men in this country are not violent, and most do not beat their wives and girlfriends. And yet, men commit 90 to 95 percent of domestic violence acts. Most men find it really hard to talk about male violence, much less do anything about it. Since they are not violent or it’s not happening in their family, they needn’t do anything. Most men believe domestic violence is a “women’s issue.” And aren’t there plenty of “women’s” organizations around to deal with it?
Given the prevalence of male violence against women, why has this not been a very public men’s issue? Isn’t it really in men’s self-interest to address gender violence? Don’t men really care about the women and girls in our lives? How can we permit them to live in communities where they must constantly look over their shoulders? Violence against women has become so normal, we don’t even call it what it is—men’s violence against women. How can we empower men to learn more, to stand up and be heard on these issues? Public acknowledgment can be a first step. Men need to stop being bystanders, especially men in positions of influence. More of us must start speaking out against the abuse of and violence toward women and children, not to mention male-onmale violence. Male law enforcement officers, state legislators, prosecutors, school administrators, coaches, teachers, business and religious leaders need to add their voices to this effort, an effort that has been carried forward for decades by women. I co-facilitate (with Meg Kuhner of Battered Women’s Services and Shelter) a program in local schools about domestic and dating violence issues. Some schools have invited us, some have not. It's encouraging to see how many students are relieved to be able to talk about it. Talking about some of the realities in their lives like bullying, violence at home, and dating and sexual violence is a first step. How significant would it be if more men in the community began to talk to them about these issues? Despite the bad news, there are four things we can be proud of here in Vermont: 1. Women in Vermont have founded and staffed an effective network of 16 organicontinued on page 25
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n Vermont, last year was a bad year for domestic violence. The Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault reports that its 16 member groups served an all-time high of 8,692 victims (mostly women). When it comes to children, the Vermont Network counted 9,119 children who were exposed to domestic violence at home. Many more women never report abuse for fear of retaliation from their abuser or family, or because of social pressures or fear of public embarrassment or rejection. Most fear economic hardship for themselves and their children. Because of the way some stories are reported and discussed (the Duke lacrosse case and the Kobe Bryant case come to mind), some women rightly fear being targeted for blame. Media reporting of domestic violence also often distorts what is really happening. In some of the local press reports about the murder of a woman in Lyndonville, Vt., by her boyfriend, this murder/suicide was described as a “domestic dispute.” Think about it. She wanted to break up with him, and in an act of ultimate power and control, he killed her and then himself. If a man rapes a woman on a date, is this a “dating dispute”? If a man rapes his wife, is this a “marital dispute”? The “domestic dispute” characterization minimizes and normalizes what is actually an ongoing epidemic of male violence against women. In the last 10 years in Vermont, half of the murders of women by men were directly related to domestic violence. Every 15 seconds in America, a man beats his wife or girlfriend. Every 2.5 minutes, a man rapes or sexually assaults a woman or girl, most often one he knows. Women have led the way in America working to bring the issue of violence against women
© istockphoto.com/ Mark Coffey
By Stephen McArthur
Building Bridges Between Soldiers and the Peace Movement
A Vet for Peace By Eric Wasileski
• Voice Male
do vigils for peace, never knowing the impact I might have on passersby or the effect they may have on me. I am a Persian Gulf veteran of Operation Desert Fox, a divinity student at Andover-Newton Theological School as a Quaker, and I serve as president of the Wally Nelson Chapter (95) of Veterans for Peace (veteransforpeace. org) in western Massachusetts. I’m also the father of a two-year-old daughter. In the nearly five years I have been vigiling I have seen the number of one-finger waves go down dramatically, replaced by the twofinger peace sign. But on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s weekend recently, I didn’t know what would happen at our weekly Saturday vigil in Greenfield, Mass. Because the banner I brought is too big to hold alone, I asked my friend “Ted” to help. We discussed Dr. King’s tactics. As a pacifist, I see the world differently from those who believe peace can be achieved by force. As Ted and I talked, a Marine private in uniform walked by our vigil. I blurted out a hello to him, then Ted yelled in his face, “Don’t recruit anyone today!” The private replied defensively, “Thanks for supporting me,” and moved on. I was dismayed, and told Ted, “Listen, when you hold a VFP banner you represent VFP. It is not okay to yell at active duty members while holding our banner.” It is difficult for civilians to understand that once you’ve worn the uniform you always remember how it feels—in a sense, veterans never take it off. As a former GI, it is not possible for me to be against the troops. Ted apologized and told me a story of being a hippie riding a bus in 1968. Four service members threatened to kill him on that ride, he said. He was petrified the entire trip, and thankful when they got off at the stop before his. Later, I was surprised to see the same Marine walking back past us, a brave young
man. Before I could think, my feet chased after him. I said, “Hey, Private, can I walk with you?” in the tone a sergeant would use, and fell into step beside him. Pointing to the logo on my ball cap, I said I was a Persian Gulf veteran and a member of Veterans for Peace. “I don’t want you to be angry at the peace movement,” I began. “That guy has other issues that have nothing to do with you.” He eased his posture as he looked at my hat. He said his name was “Chris” and he was just home from boot camp and doing recruiting work to save leave time (I had done this, too). A block up the street, at the Veterans Memorial, we stopped to talk. Chris said, “Those people don’t understand why I joined the military. I didn’t join to kill; I don’t want to kill. I joined to serve, get a career, do something with my life. I needed to get out of this town; my friends are either working at McDonald’s or are in jail. There is nothing here for me. I want something different.” “I thought the same things in 1991,” I told him. “That’s why I joined.” I pointed to the Gettysburg Address on the Civil War memorial and we read it silently together. I said, “It’s the best stay the course speech ever written. It identifies with the victims of the war and says ‘don’t let them be sacrificed in vain.’ ” I looked at Chris and said, “Do we owe our allegiance to those who have already died, like those named here, whom we can’t do anything for? Or do we owe our allegiance to those who are still alive, like you? “People die in war,” I continued. “I know what it is like to kill people, and it’s not something you ever get over. You can learn to live with it, but you can’t ever get over it. When you see war, after 10 minutes you’ll realize it’s horrible. There’s nothing manly about war. Being a man is about being emotionally connected. Hopefully you will figure that out.”
The author (at left) holds a banner at a recent peace vigil with Mary McClintock (right).
After a moment, Chris replied, “You know all this because you served. You did it. Why shouldn’t I?” I responded, “I wish I could go back and change what I did. I can’t, but I can talk to folks like you.” After a pause I said, “Look, as a Marine you will be going over in fourmonth rotations. Maybe on your second, third, fourth, or even your tenth time, if you reconsider, we will be here to support you. Veterans for Peace and this peace vigil will be here to support you.” Chris nodded and said, “Thanks for talking with me, it’ll give me something to think about when I’m over there.” On parting I said, “Remember your humanity.” Our conversation lasted just 15 minutes but the impact on me was beyond measure. I wonder where Chris is, how he is doing. Also, I wonder what might have happened if a veteran had said something like that to me. Being a member of the current peace movement and a veteran, I feel that I am a bridge between war and peace, between soldiers past and present and the peace movement. I believe as Americans we need to work together to move beyond our differences, for the good of our nation and the world. I pray that we, as civilized people, find our way. VM This article is dedicated to Mary McClintock. Eric Wasileski can be reached at email@example.com.
Violence and Trauma from the Battlefield to the Homefront
The Shameful Neglect of Our Veterans’ Emotional Needs By Rob Okun
Does the “ Department of Veterans Affairs even know of the incidence of vets’ showing up in batterers’ programs like ours? in its fifth year, grinds on, and too many returning vets feel ground down. Many citizens are working to end the madness; still many more need encouragement to break through the national torpor and sound the call of a farewell to arms. Just as it is too much to expect a batterers’ program to care for the complicated, wide-ranging emotional needs of our vets, it may also be naïve to expect the Democratic majority in Congress to strengthen its backbone enough to end the war on its own, despite recent laudable efforts to establish timelines for troop withdrawals. But it isn’t hard to connect the dots from the Bush administration’s bankrupt war policy to its bankrupt veterans policy for our psychically wounded military brothers. One need only look at the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to get an idea of the depth of the failure. From our perspective, any rallying cry to end the war must also include a demand that we help our returning vets begin to heal. Isn’t it time we proclaim more than just “Bring Our Troops Home”? Shouldn’t we also add, “...and tend to their inner wounds”? VM Rob Okun is executive director of the Men’s Resource Center for Change and editor of Voice Male.
Spring 2007 •
batterer intervention groups sat with me not long ago and described the pain he is seeing every week in these suffering vets. They feel duty-bound, he shared, not to talk about what they did (or saw) in Iraq and Afghanistan, adhering to an oath of silence. They may be sitting in numbed silence in group, but before they got there their pain, feelings of helplessness, and stomach-burning anger had boiled over, scalding the safest person they could direct their rage at: their partner, often the mother of their children. While their abuse must be confronted—and it is—it also must be understood as a symptom of the stress and strain they brought back with them from Iraq and Afghanistan. We wonder: Does the Department of Veterans Affairs even know of the incidence of vets’ showing up in batterers’ programs like ours? It would be a big step forward if the VA began coordinating its services with organizations like ours that work with men. They would better understand the work we do and how it could enhance their efforts. We know these men need more help than we can provide. (Women serving in the wars are, of course, experiencing the same stresses and emotional wounding as their male counterparts, and need complete and comprehensive services, too.) Meanwhile, this heartbreaking war, now
© istockphoto.com/ Joanna
mong the many men who walk through the doors of men’s centers around the country, attending groups like those the Men’s Resource Center for Change runs in western Massachusetts, are veterans 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. There is never any excuse to abuse another person, we tell participants, offering tools we’ve been teaching since 1989, tools both valuable and necessary to interrupt and, hopefully, end the domestic violence these men have been perpetrating in their families. But 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 men need in- and out-patient services, group therapy and individual counseling—along with support services for their families, employers, and coworkers—to assist them on the arduous journey of healing. Batterer intervention groups are only a small part of the equation. A longtime facilitator in several of our
â€˘ Voice Male
The Crime of Breathing While Black C olor L ines
By Christopher Rabb
© istockphoto.com/Maciej Korzekwa
This past Thanksgiving I was stopped by an Alabama state trooper for a minor, unintentional moving violation. Almost instinctively I knew what I had she sought to defend herself from police who had stormed into her home in search of drugs. This past Thanksgiving I was stopped by an Alabama state trooper for a minor, unintentional moving violation. It was late, my family and I were tired and we were driving through rural Alabama in a rental car. Almost instinctively I knew what I had to become and how I had to act when pulled over. But as soon as I knew that the trooper had no desire to use his discretion to let me off with a warning, I committed an inviolable act that I will not soon forgive myself for as a husband and father of two small children: I challenged the trooper, albeit politely. It was a stupid and potentially dangerous thing for me to do, as the stealthy punches to my thigh from my wife reminded me. Nothing is more important to me
than the safety of my family, and yet there was this dissonant part of me— that privileged, post-civil-rights-era, Generation X sensibility—asserting that “we’ve been niggers long enough,” as I recounted the generations and diversity of indignities my family has had to withstand with no recourse. Such indignities still abound in popular culture. Consider comedian Michael Richards, who recently unleashed a racist tirade after being heckled by a few black men in the audience. Worse, he made graphic reference to lynching when he explained what would have befallen them had they “mouthed off” to a white person 50 years ago. But whether or not we use the word “nigger” or discourage its use by others—or among black folk—the discrete continued on page 26
Spring 2007 •
here is no feeling like being treated like a nigger. Just having to verbalize it or commit such a thought to text is gut-wrenching. Janitor or journalist, if you’re black in America, that feeling is both unmistakable and more familiar than it ever should be so long after the visible successes of the civil rights movement. But despite the greater prospects, opportunities, and privileges earned for and by many of us over the decades, the default has remained the same: The power dynamics that exist in this country at any given time may render us niggers. I have often joked that if you ever want to see a modern-day Uncle Tom, look no further than me in the vicinity of a white police officer. The reality is, that is how I have been conditioned to behave around the police for pure self-preservation reasons, having grown up black in Chicago with parents who wanted their boys to live to adulthood. But the other reality is that whatever newfound liberties I have experienced, and all too often taken for granted, I don’t ever want to be made to feel like a nigger—something far, far worse than its utterance. It is a status whose roots form the tree from which we are lynched. Without the corollary lack of humanity and powerlessness, lynching could not occur, in all of its modern iterations, “contagious shootings” included. Two recent police shootings involving black victims have a deeper meaning and impact for those of us who are unwarranted, but nevertheless prospective, suspects. In New York, Sean Bell, a 23-year-old unarmed man, died and two of his friends were critically wounded—caught in a hail of 50 bullets fired by undercover officers—as the group emerged from a nightclub, where they had been celebrating Bell’s bachelor party. In Atlanta, 88year-old Kathryn Johnston was shot as
GBQ R esources
For more info or to submit new entries for GBQ Resources contact us at (413) 253-9887 Ext. 33 or firstname.lastname@example.org AIDS CARE/Hampshire County Contact: (413) 586-8288. Buddy Program, transportation, support groups and much more free of charge to people living with HIV.
hour crisis line provides emotional support, safety planning, crisis counseling, referrals, and emergency housing: (800) 832-1901. www.gmdvp.org or email: support@gmdvp. org
AIDS Project of Southern Vermont Contact: (802) 254-8263. Free, confidential HIV/AIDS services, including support, prevention counseling and volunteer opportunities. T.H.E. Men’s Program (Total HIV Education) Contact: Alex Potter (802) 254-8263, Brattleboro, VT. Weekly/monthly social gatherings, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. Email: email@example.com
Generation Q (formerly Pride Zone) A Program for GBQ youth. Open Thursdays, 4-9, for drop-in and a support group. Open Fridays, 4-9, for drop-in and pizza. Contact info: 413-582-7861 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bereavement Group for Those Who Have Lost Same-Sex Partners For individuals who have lost a same-sex partner. 2nd Thursday of each month from 7-9 pm at the Forastiere Funeral Home, 220 N. Main St, E. Longmeadow, MA 01028; year-round, walk-in group with no fee or pre-registration; bereavement newsletter also available. For more information, call (413) 525-2800. East Coast Female-to-Male Group Contact: Bet Powers (413) 584-7616, P.O. Box 60585 Florence, Northampton, MA 01062, email@example.com. Peer support group open to all masculine-identified, female-born persons – FTMs, transmen of all sexual orientations/identities, crossdressers, stone butches, transgendered, transsexuals, non-op, pre-op, post-op, genderqueer, bi-gendered, questioning – and our significant others, family, and allies.Meetings 2nd Sundays in Northampton, 3-6 p.m. Free Boyz Northampton Social/support meetings for people labeled female at birth who feel that’s not an accurate description of who they are. Meet 1st and 3rd Mondays, 7 p.m. at Third Wave Feminist Booksellers, 90 King St., Northampton.
• Voice Male
Gay, Bisexual & Questioning Men’s Support Group Drop-in, peer-facilitated. Monday, 7-9 p.m. Men’s Resource Center, 236 No. Pleasant St., Amherst, MA. For information: Allan Arnaboldi, (413) 253-9887, ext. 33.
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Provides community education and direct services to gay, bisexual, and transgendered male victims and survivors of domestic violence. Business: (617) 354-6056. 24-
GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression. Contact: 30 Winter St., Suite 800, Boston, MA 02108. Tel: (617) 426-1350, Fax: (617) 426-3594, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.glad.org. Legal Information Hotline: (800) 455-GLAD (4523). GLAD’s Legal Information Hotline is completely confidential. Trained volunteers work one-on-one with callers to provide legal information, support and referrals within New England. Weekday afternoons, 1:30-4:30; English and Spanish. GLASS (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Society) GLBT Youth Group of Franklin County Meets every Wednesday evening in Greenfield. Info: (413) 774-7028. HIV Testing Hotline AIDS Action Committee in Boston provides referral to anonymous, free or lowcost HIV testing/counseling sites: (413) 235-2331. For Hepatitis C information and referral: (888) 443-4372. Both lines are staffed M-F 9am-9pm and often have biand tri-lingual staff available. Men’s Health Project Contact: Bob (413) 747-5144. Education, prevention services, and counseling for men’s health issues, especially HIV/AIDS. Springfield, Northampton, Greenfield. Tapestry Health Services. www.tapestryhealth.org or email email@example.com Monadnock Gay Men A website that provides a social support system for gay men of Keene and the entire Monadnock Region of Southwestern NH. www.monadnockgaymen.com or email
firstname.lastname@example.org PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) of Springfield/ Greater Springfield Educational information and support for the parents, families, and friends of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgendered People. Contact info: MssEnn@aol.com, Judy Nardacci, 413-243-2382 or Elizabeth Simon, 413-732-3240 Safe Homes: the Bridge of Central Massachusetts Providing support and services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender youth via a weekly Drop-In Center, community outreach system and peer leadership program. Based in Worcester, serving all towns in region. 4 Mann Street Worcester, Massachusetts 01602 Phone: 508.755.0333 Fax: 508.755.2191 Web: www.thebridgecm.org/programs.htm Email: email@example.com SafeSpace SafeSpace provides information, support, referrals, and advocacy to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) survivors of violence and offers education and outreach programs in the wider community. P.O. Box 158, Burlington, VT 05402. Phone: 1-802-863-0003; toll-free 1-866-869-7341. Fax: 1-802-863-0004. www.safespacevt.org or email: safespace@ ru12.org The Stonewall Center University of Mass., Amherst. A lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender educational resource center. Contact: (413) 545-4824, www.umass.edu/stonewall. Straight Spouse Network Monthly support group meets in Northampton, MA, the first Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. For spouses, past and present, of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered partners. Contact: Jane Harris for support and location, (413) 625-6636; firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidentiality is assured. The Sunshine Club Support and educational activities for transgendered persons. Info: (413) 586-5004. P.O. Box 564, Hadley, MA 01305. www.thesunshineclub.org or email: rsteel@ att.net VT M4M.net Dedicated to promoting the overall good health of Vermont’s gay and bisexual men, as well as those who are transgender, by providing information, resources, and a calendar of events for gay, bisexual, questioning, and transgendered men. www.vtm4m.net
My Gay San Francisco, Then and Now
ing no such evolution, began very painfully. In 2005 I returned to the emotional scene as I had left it in San Francisco 12 years before—by 1993 I was subsisting on SSI, waiting to die of AIDS, with no future, nor even the capacity to dream of a future. Indeed, I had explicitly organized my life around not surviving. But I did; I completed a long doctoral program at UC Berkeley, and was hired out of permanent disabled status into a tenure-track college teaching post in Boston. I won tenure, settled down with a life partner, got a mortgage, and swiftly atrophied in this middle-class happily-ever-after. Then came a moment of clarity: the life I was living was not mine. It may have been someone else’s, perhaps the dream of a much younger me. But the longer I willed myself to stay on this path, the more miserable, insane, isolated, and despairing I became. The last time I had seen my life, it was still in San Francisco, among the AIDS ghosts and other debris of living life messily. Returning to San Francisco I found everything changed, and myself lost in a kind of time-and-space misalignment. My entire social reality had perished before I left in 1993, and now it was long forgotten. During my first six months back, I encountered the ghosts of my past at every turn. Old familiar places, sounds, smells would trigger them, reminding me of the future that never happened. As I had encountered while teaching about Holocaust survivorship in my Death and Dying humanities course, I too had come back from a world history had forgotten. Since then, I have sought out numerous support groups and fellow survivors. Recently I participated in a gay men’s community meeting on the “poz/neg divide” in gay San Francisco today. Profound healing has occurred through reconnecting with my fellow survivors. But, as the meeting facilitator commented to me privately, it is
The last time I had seen my life, it was still in San Francisco, among the AIDS ghosts and other debris of living life messily. Returning to the city I found everything changed, and myself lost in a kind of time-and-space misalignment. My entire social reality had perished before I left in 1993, and now it was long forgotten. The author in San Francisco, 1986.
still far too painful for the queer community at large to hear about or acknowledge our generation. Did you know, he asked me rhetorically, that when Holocaust survivors immigrated to Israel, they were asked to shut up about their experiences and get on with building a future? I first found re-engagement in the world by returning to the rooms of recovery. In this way I have been able to mourn and heal and move on. Like many gay men who unexpectedly survived the AIDS epidemic, I am now exploring my “middlessence”— how to be of service, to contribute meaningfully to the world, to earn a living again. Between the social services available to AIDS survivors returning to the workforce and the rich and diverse spiritual communities I participate in, I am reconnecting with my particular tribe. Falteringly at first, struggling to overcome a by then paralyzing social anxiety, I found my way back. After recurrent respiratory illnesses landed me in the hospital in October 2005, I found my way to support services for long-term poz folks. The AIDS Health Project provided me with psychological support, the Positive Resource Center helped with career change
continued on page 23
Spring 2007 •
It has been two years since I moved back to San Francisco. Living here now it is impossible, at least for me, to escape noticing the radical remaking of the world going on all around me. Post-dotcom-bust San Francisco is a boomtown again, reminiscent of postWall Berlin. An entirely new 21st-century urban high-density city is rising. Dire, street-survival poverty jostles up against an unprecedented exuberance of über-conspicuous consumption here. As gay community scholar Gayle Rubin remarked at a recent GLBT Historical Society presentation, our painted lady is being transformed into a “command city for the 21st century.” Like Hong Kong or Dubai, it is a “desirable” place for the new global corporate elite to build their personal homes. This, I sometimes think, is what expanding, Gilded Age Manhattan must have felt like. We San Franciscans tend to forget this is a uniquely diverse, world-class metropolis. “Downtown,” the nest of vast, impenetrable bureaucracies and corporations, has made but shallow incursions into our sense of living in a small town, a social space of perhaps two degrees of separation. And as cities have become desirable again, deeper-pocket interests have been gentrifying the gays out of their urban enclaves all across the country. The Castro, our own homegrown “ethnically” gay neighborhood and symbolic (if less frequently visited) gay capital of the United States, suddenly looks like the last “traditional” gay neighborhood. As the Castro has been turning a bit seedy, local queer pride and, increasingly, the city planning and tourism boards see it as the Gay Capital of the World. Herein lies the ironic paradox today: as gay folk have been disappeared by AIDS or sucked into the queer diaspora, gays and straights alike see this newly “ethnic” community through gently softening lenses, engulfed in cloud-shrouded images of quaint, nostalgic, queer white picket fences. My return nearly two years ago, portend-
O utlines • G ay & B isexual V oices
Part 2: Returning to “the Gay Capital of the World”
Real Men, Real Choices continued from page 10
such a judgment. Therefore, he likely is using a woman whose choice to perform was not meaningfully free. But what if he had information about the nature of the conditions, objective and subjective, under which the women made that choice? Even that is not so simple. So long as the industry is profitable and a large number of women are needed to make such films, it is certain that some number of those women will be choosing under conditions that render the concept of “free choice” virtually meaningless. When a man buys or rents a DVD, he is creating the demand for pornography that will lead to some number of women being used—that is, being hurt in some fashion, psychologically and/or physically—no matter what he knows or thinks he knows about a specific woman. So, a man’s choice to buy or rent pornography is complicated by two realities. First, he likely can’t know the conditions under which women made their choices, and hence can’t know how meaningful the choices were. And second, even if he could make such a determination about specific women in a specific film he watches, the demand for pornography that his purchase helps create ensures that some other women will be hurt.
sexual rush, men tend to turn off some of the emotional reactions that typically are connected to sexual experience with a real person—a sense of the other’s humanity, an awareness of being present with another person, the recognition of something outside our own bodies. For me, while watching pornography over the past decade as a researcher, I could feel it happen—that emotional numbness, that objectifying of self.
IN USING PoRNoGRaPHY,
person—a sense of the other’s ness with
outside our own bodies.
What is sex for?
• Voice Male
No “bad” orgasms?
On (2): During a discussion of negative sexual experiences, I once heard a man say, “There’s no such thing as a bad orgasm.” I assume that he meant getting off is getting off—no matter what the circumstances or methods, it’s always good. But there are bad orgasms. There are orgasms that hurt people, mostly women and children. And there are orgasms that keep men cut off from ourselves. In using pornography, we men not only objectify women but also objectify ourselves. In my experience, which is also the experience of many men I’ve talked to over the years, we feel ourselves go emotionally numb when viewing pornography and masturbating, a state of being “checked out.” To enter into the pornographic world and experience that intense
avoid, simply because our emotional lives cannot be completely controlled. When they feel those things they wanted to suppress, the johns lash out at the most convenient target—the women who they believe caused them to feel what they didn’t want to feel. If Baldwin is right—and, based on my own experience, I believe she is—we could say that men turn women into objects in order to turn ourselves into objects, so that we can split off emotion from body during sex, in search of a sexual experience in which we don’t have to feel. But because sex is always more than a physical act, men seeking this split-off state often find themselves having strong emotional reactions, which can get channeled into violence and cruelty. Again, the women in those situations endure the violence connected to men’s inability to be fully human. But this system also doesn’t produce truly healthy lives for men. Is an orgasm really worth all that? I think there are lots of bad orgasms in a world in which men are socialized to suppress the complex emotional realities involved in sex. Women suffer the consequences in dramatic ways. Men often suffer quietly, until they lash out. When we men can’t face our own pain, what are the chances we can empathize with women’s pain?
Meg Baldwin, a feminist law professor at Florida State University who left academia to run a women’s center, once gave me more insight into this process. Baldwin, who has worked for years with women who are prostituted, said one of the common experiences of those women is coping with the unprovoked rage and violence that johns will direct at them. Baldwin told me that after hearing countless stories about this reaction by men, she concluded the rage was rooted in this selfobjectification. She sketched this process: Men typically go to prostitutes to have a sexual experience without having to engage emotionally. Yet when they are in the sexual situation, they sometimes find themselves having those very same emotional reactions they wanted to
I want to conclude by talking about sexual morality. Before you all run for the exits, let me explain what I don’t mean by that term. I don’t mean sexual morality in the typical way the phrase is used in this culture, the “morality” of so-called family values. We must reject, of course, the patriarchal impositions of a traditional set of sexual norms that tend to be rooted in the control of women, the dominance of men, and the denial of the humanity of lesbians and gay men. Over the years many of us have shied away from any talk about the moral issues involved in sexuality out of a fear of being labeled reactionary. But we must not be afraid to talk about the need in any culture for there to be a continued on page 24
Pop Culture & Pornography By Gail Dines
Spring 2007 â€˘
s an anti-porn feminist, I have read about our death in a time when most pornography was in magazine form and porn porn magazines, in Cosmopolitan, and of course in a stores and porn theaters were the major distributors of pornography. slew of post-modern academic books and articles. The In those days there was a clear economic and discursive distinction sheer numbers of people at the recent pornography conference between pornography and pop culture. Today the pornography in Boston make clear that our burial was indeed premature as we industry is seamlessly folded into the mainstream pop culture are fully alive, energized, enraged at the pornography culture, industry. Reputable cable channels such as HBO, Showtime and and ready to do what it takes to reclaim that which is indisput- MTV often carry shows that look like ads for the porn industry. ably ours. Our lives, our bodies, our culture and our feminist The men who run the porn industry today have traded in their seedy image and mafia connections for Armani suits and economic conmovement. The conference, Pornography and Pop Culture, brought nections to international banks and media moguls. We are indeed now livtogether women and ing in a new pornographic men who are activists, age and to be effective anti-violence experts, We are indeed now living in a organizers, activists and academics, anti-racist scholars, we need to reeducators, students and new pornographic age and to be think our theories and citizens who feel in their effective organizers, activists and reframe our activism. soul that we are living scholars, we need to re-think our We need to address through a major cultural these new developments crisis. Everywhere we go theories and reframe our activism. and the ways in which the we are bombarded with feminist insights into porthe droppings of the pornography as misogynist nography industry. Our lives are overwhelmed by images that scream misogyny. Turn ideology writ large on the female body are even more critical than on the TV, surf the Internet, flick through a magazine, pass a ever before. The analysis, research, and theory building that we billboard and you are visually assaulted by images that encode focus on today, we apply tomorrow to activism as our theory is male visual entitlement to technologically perfected female only as good as our activism and our activism only as meaningful bodies. And then as if this isnâ€™t bad enough, we are told that as our theory. PowerPoint presentations are just one of our tools these images represent our sexual freedom, and to be angry or but a central one as they aim to interrupt the endless flow of proenraged is evidence that we are anti-sex, prudish, and hope- pornography messages that spew out from the pop culture. lessly old-fashioned. To that I answer that our rage is clear Feeling overwhelmed by this pornographic culture is why evidence of our refusal to be colonized or commodified by so many people are taking this issue on. In a pop culture corporate, patriarchal ideology that is reactionary, anti-femi- increasingly swamped with pornographic imagery and ideology, to be anti-pornography is to be an outsider. It means being nist and harmful to all our lives. Some reading this were involved in the feminist anti-porn ridiculed, mocked and derided both in and out of the academy. movement since its inception in the late 1970s, and some were And increasingly anti-pornography feminists are finding the in diapers during this period. Whatever our age though, we must feminist movement to be an inhospitable place. remember those incredible activists, authors and academics that But feminism has changed this world more than once with helped build the first anti-pornography movement. Women like its unapologetic, unflinching politics of radical social change. Andrea Dworkin, Catherine Mackinnon, Diana Russell, Robin We are now about to begin one more chapter in our on-going Morgan, Susan Brownmiller and many more who worked tire- struggle for a world where all of us are bathed in dignity, lessly but got little name recognition. Women who made it possi- equality and joy. As feminists, we should strive for nothing ble for us today to understand pornography as a form of violence more, and accept nothing less. against women that degrades, humiliates and debases. Looking back over the last couple of decades since this first Gail Dines is chair of American Studies at Wheelock College feminist anti-pornography movement, it is clear that we now live in Boston and coeditor, with Robert Jensen and Ann Russo, of in a very different world. We developed theories and activism in Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality.
R esources Men’s Resources (Resources for Gay, Bisexual & Questioning Men, see page 18) International Society for Men’s Health and Gender P.O. Box 144, A-1097, Vienna, Austria/ EUROPE Phone: +43 1 4096010, Fax: +43 1 4096011 www.ismh.org or email@example.com Montreal Men Against Sexism c/o Martin Dufresne 913 de Bienville Montreal, Quebec H2J 1V2 CANADA 514-563-4428, 526-6576, 282-3966 Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) (800) 749-6879 Referrals available for 12-step groups throughout New England. Fathers Fathers with Divorce and Custody Concerns Looking for a lawyer? Call your state bar association lawyer referral agency. In Mass. the number is (800) 392-6164. Here are some websites that may be of use to you: www.dadsrights.org (not www.dadsrights.com) www.directlex.com/main/law/divorce/ www.divorce.com www.divorcecentral.com www.divorcehq.com www.divorcenet.com www.divorce-resource-center.com www.divorcesupport.com Collaborative Divorce www.collaborativealternatives.com www.collaborativedivorce.com www.collaborativepractice.com www.nocourtdivorce.com Dads and Daughters www.dadsanddaughters.org
Men Can Stop Rape www.mencanstoprape.org Men for HAWC http://www.danverspolice.com/domviol9.htm The Men’s Bibliography A comprehensive bibliography of writing on men, masculinities, gender, and sexualities, listing over 14,000 works. It’s free at: http://mensbiblio.xyonline.net/ Men’s Health Network http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/ Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe, Inc. www.mijd.org Men’s Resource Center for Change www.mrcforchange.org Men’s Resources International www.mensresourcesinternational.org Men Stopping Violence http://www.menstoppingviolence.org/index.php Mentors in Violence Prevention http://www.sportinsociety.org/mvp National Men’s Resource Center www.menstuff.org National Organization for Men Against Sexism www.nomas.org; Boston chapter www.nomasboston.org National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women www.acalltomen.org 100 Black Men, Inc. www.100blackmen.org White Ribbon Campaign www.whiteribbon.com; www.theribbonlady.com XY Magazine www.xyonline.net Pro-feminist men’s web links (over 500 links) www.xyonline.net/links.shtml Pro-feminist men’s politics, frequently asked questions www.xyonline.net/misc/pffaq.html Pro-feminist e-mail list (1997– ) www.xyonline.
The Fathers Resource Center www.slowlane.com National Fatherhood Initiative www.cyfc.umn.edu/Fathernet
EuroPRO-Fem: European Menprofemist Network www.europrofem.org or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Counseling for Men and Women, Fathers & Justice of the Peace
Men Against Violence http://www.unesco.org/cpp/uk/projects/wcpmenaga.htm
Officiating at Weddings for Couples in Massachusetts & Beyond
• Voice Male
Brother Peace http://www.eurowrc.org/01.eurowrc/04.eurowrc_ en/36.en_ewrc.htm
(413) 687-8171 RAOkun@comcast.net
There were no symptoms continued from page 12
Other than learning that your body contains cancer, hearing that you’ll be leaking urine and unable to get an erection for a while has got to be among the worst pieces of news a man can get. After prostate surgery, a man goes home with a catheter in his bladder which drains into a bag strapped onto his leg. There’s a daytime bag and a nighttime bag, and we found the changeover and bag-emptying went better with two pairs of hands and as much laughter as possible. Even so, the procedures were definitely anti-erotic. After a week, we were back at the medical center for removal of the catheter. On the way home we found ourselves in the pharmacy’s diaper aisle, choosing a product called “adjustable disposable underwear” which promised “worry-free odor control, super absorbency and discretion.” To Allen’s surprise (he was dreading accidents) this diaper-like garment has worked very well. Do we need to tell you, though, that he has changed his routine after squash or basketball so as to avoid showering in the locker room? It’s one thing to show yourself to your partner decked out in a white “diaper,” and quite another to appear that way in front of sports buddies. The length of time a man has to wear disposable underwear or, alternatively, use a pad tucked into jockey shorts, is usually at least three months after surgery. Wanting to get back to padlessness and cotton as soon as possible, Allen had two matters within his control: first, to select the best possible surgeon to minimize nerve damage; second, to do a kind of butt-squeeze exercise called Kegels to strengthen his urinary retention muscles. The postoperative wait for erections to return can last even longer than the wait for total bladder control. “It’s hard to predict,” explained the doctor. “Patients who come into surgery having had erections and intercourse with some regularity regain function sooner and more fully than those who weren’t having frequent sex. We think a lot of men feel erectile performance pressure, so they end up lying to us about what was really going
on sexually before we operated. That makes it hard for us to predict what will happen as they heal.” We can see why predictions about post-prostatectomy love life are difficult. A man with a diaper and without an erection is not the stuff of romantic or erotic fantasy. However, as humans age our sense of touch becomes more acute. That means hugging, kissing, and massage—none of which has to be associated with diapers or erections—can be more rather than less pleasurable as a person passes the half-century mark. For older men in general, erectile function is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition, which is motivation to engage in sex-touch to help regain function. Viagra and Cialis, both medications to stimulate erections, are often prescribed following prostate surgery.
We can’t know the end of Allen’s recovery from cancer since we’re still living it. At his one-month checkup, blood was drawn for a PSA (even without his prostate, some of the antigen could be roaming, causing trouble) and the results came back as “undetectable.” No cancer! Two months after surgery, his belly shows only faint lines where the laparoscopic instruments were inserted. His spirits are recovering and our partnership continues. We’ve shared our story here because nearly every man of our generation or older has told us, in response to our news, that he’s “watching” his own prostate or knows he should be. One in six males in America getting hit with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, along with their partners, families, and friends, adds up to a lot of people concerned with the disease—a lot of people we want to encourage to take good care of themselves and one another. VM
Websites we recommend (in alphabetical order):
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
National Cancer Institute
www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/ prostate (for general information) www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/ factsheet/therapy/CAM (for information about alternative treatments)
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Books 100 Questions and Answers About Prostate Cancer by Pamela Ellsworth, M.D.,
John Heaney, M.D., and Oliver Gill— published by Jones and Bartlett, 2002, Dallas
Prostate and Cancer: A Family Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Survival
by Sheldon Marks, M.D.—published by Perseus Books, 2003, Jackson TN
OutLines continued from page 19
and employment retraining support. The State of California has deemed my choice of work as a grant writer supportable. I relish digging into my new field of employment, as a development specialist in the culture and arts nonprofit world. I’ve taken two semesters of intensive Spanish, have screened and penned reviews of a couple hundred films, and recently joined a writers’ group (all HIV-ers). I work daily with recovering alcoholics. The Bear History Project is rising from old cyber ashes. The Billy Club, a rural collective of socially engaged and spiritually awakened gay, bi, and queer men, has welcomed me with open arms. As I trudge my spiritual path, as ordinary and unconventional as it comes, I find the world makes sense when I live in San Francisco. I know that I am of this place. Les Wright is a newly minted grant writer, a published author, editor, and art curator, gay community activist and historian, and peace advocate. He continues to work in men’s communities as a practitioner of spiritual healing arts and is a former support group facilitator at the Men’s Resource Center for Change. Part 1 of this column appeared in the Winter 2007 issue.
Spring 2007 •
Allen Davis, Ed.D., is executive director of the Greenfield, Mass. Community College Foundation. He serves on the Men’s Resource Center for Change Advisory Committee, consults to nonprofit organizations, and is a life coach; he’s also a passionate basketball, squash,
Prostate Cancer Resources
Real Men, Real Choices continued from page 20
collective conversation about the simple question “What is sex for?” For liberals and libertarians, the question isn’t central; sex is for whatever any individual or group of individuals wants. For religious conservatives, the answer is dictated by patriarchal tradition, and sex is something dangerous that must be tightly controlled. That’s why pornography is so attractive to both liberals and conservatives. Liberals celebrate it and march into the adult bookstore proudly; conservatives decry it as they place their order online. It’s pretty clear what sex is for in the world of pornography. In an Adult Video News story on gonzo directors, the writer described the typical viewer as “the solo stroking consumer who merely wants to cut to the chase, get off on the good stuff, then, if they really wanna catch some acting, plot and dialog, pop in the latest Netflix disc.” In other words, sex is for simple physical sensation, delivered as efficiently and quickly as possible, with no concern
for who is used in the process or how they are used. In that world, pornography will always be attractive because pornography works: it delivers that orgasm. Once a man has accepted that understanding of sex, the quest is for the best pornography to deliver that orgasm with the most intensity, and other considerations—about the costs to the people who make pornography, the politics of the images, or the harms that may result from the industry—drop out of sight. The mystery of humanity For me, the question “what is sex for?” is one of those questions that is meant never to be answered. The point isn’t to try to take the mystery of sex and contain it. The point is to understand the importance of the question and create the conditions for an open, honest, searching—and likely unending—discussion of it. The goal is not to run from the complexity, but to understand how the joy in that mystery can be deepened by collective
You’re never far from Voice Male!
• Voice Male
Look for the magazine at these distribution points throughout the U.S.:
California: Black Oak Books, Berkeley; Center for Women and Men, USC, Los Angeles; Modern TImes, San Franscisco • Colorado: Boulder Cooperative Market, Boulder; Page Two, Boulder • Florida: Goering’s Bookstore, Gainesville • Illinois: Box Car Books, Bloomington; New World Resource Center, Chicago • Maine: Boys to Men, Portland • (Eastern) Massachusetts: Family Violence Prevention Fund, Boston; Jane Doe, Boston; Men’s Resource Center of Central Mass., Worcester; NOMAS-Boston, Westford • New Hampshire: Monadnock Men’s Resource Center, Keene • New Mexico: Community Against Violence, Taos; El Refugio, Silver City • North Carolina: Downtown Books and News, Asheville • Oregon: Breaking Free, Eugene • Texas: Men’s Resource Center of South Texas, Harlingen • Vermont: Everyone’s Books, Brattleboro; Healthy Living Market, South Burlington; Lake Champlain Men’s Resource Center, Burlington • Washington: Elliot Bay Café, Seattle; Twice Sold Tales, Seattle Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on distributing VOICE MALE in your area.
conversation aimed not at control and domination, but at liberation and equality. The feminist anti-pornography movement is, of course, fundamentally political—it’s about changing an inherently unjust distribution of power. But at the core of any politics is the most basic moral question: What are people for? What kind of animals are we? What does it mean to be human in the modern world? Part of that question is wrapped up in the meaning we make of male and female, part of which is coming to judgment about what sex is for. All these are fundamentally moral questions, and the long-term success of our politics depends on having answers that can speak to these questions, with which we all are struggling, or should be. VM Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and serves on the advisory board of the Men’s Resource Center for Change and this magazine. His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). He can be
Men Speak Out continued from page 7
whose willingness to denigrate women seemingly knew no bounds. Tal Peretz, a recent college graduate from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, describes the radical transformation of his friend Cliff from racist skinhead to feminist ally. For other men, complacency was never an option. Chongsuk Han calls out the gay community for its racism and white privilege while simultaneously attempting to stake a claim as oppressed sexual minorities. Nathan Einschlag takes on his college coach and basketball team for their upside-down expectations that place hooking up above personal ethics. Greg Bortnichak wonders out loud how he can remain true to his nonsexist ideals without falling into the trap of paternalistic protection when a much older man wants to hit on his girlfriend. Jacob Anderson-Minshall questions the expectations of straight men who assume he’s one of them, and lesbian women who assume he’s not. For all these men, asking soul-
Domestic Violence continued from page 13
zations across the state that work 24/7 to assist and support the victims of battering and sexual violence. The first rape crisis organization in Vermont started in 1973; the first shelter group in 1974. When no one else would, these women went to work for the victims of domestic and sexual assault.
3. Vermont has the most intensive program for domestic violence offenders in the country. The Intensive Domestic Abuse Program (IDAP), a program of the Department of Corrections administered
unique lens of individual experience. There may be points of discomfort, and there are certainly questions raised but left unanswered, or only partially answered. There will be women who distrust men writing about feminism, and doubtless there will be men who are suspicious about a woman editing the voices of men. But as I see it, this discomfort can be productive. It is part of a process of discovering the personal and political meanings of progressive manhood and feminist men. This process of discovery is certainly not a destination but it is a solid beginning. VM
by Spectrum Youth and Family Services, requires male offenders to attend 169 group sessions, usually over the course of more than a year. There is a very low tolerance for breaking the rules of the program, and offenders are held directly accountable for their behavior and attitudes.
their male players as a “bunch of ladies,” how can that contribute to healthy images of girls and women? When pornographic images are everywhere in our society depicting the denigration of women, how can we hope to reverse male beliefs about the social, economic, and religious suppression of women? And when violence is represented in the media as the best and easiest way to resolve conflicts and solve problems, how can we expect young men to think and behave differently? Margaret Mead warned: “No society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded.” The challenge for Vermont men, as for men around the country, is to figure out how we can stop tolerating and, thereby, encouraging the culture of male violence in our society. VM
4. On January 18, 2007, the Vermont State Senate declared that it is making domestic violence prevention a major focus of the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations committees. A central theme of this effort is addressing the problem of children living with domestic violence. (I urge Vermonters to let their state legislators know how much they support this effort.) We still have a long way to go. In fact, some experts worry that the increase of violent images in the media is contributing to a growing culture of male violence and misogyny. How can watching mock sexual assaults against women on “professional” wrestling and assaults on black female prostitutes in video games be healthy for men and boys? When coaches refer to
Shira Tarrant, Ph.D. is a political scientist who teaches in the Women’s Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach. Her first book, When Sex Became Gender, was published by Routledge in 2006. The essay above is excerpted from her forthcoming anthology Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power (Routledge, November 2007).
Stephen McArthur is a hotline worker for Battered Women’s Services and Shelter, and co-facilitates programs in Washington County, Vermont, schools on bullying, dating violence, domestic violence, and healthy relationships.
Spring 2007 •
2. In an effort to address violence in our schools, the Vermont legislature passed “An Act Relating to Bullying Prevention Policies.” There is a direct continuum between bullying and dating violence and domestic violence. If every school administrator, teacher, and coach in the state fully embraced the provisions of this law, we could help our children grow up to believe that violence is unhealthy and unacceptable.
searching questions is a moral imperative, even if doing so leads to danger, rage, distress, or initial alienation from their peers. We learn from Tomek Kitlinski and Pawel Leszkowicz that being out and gay in Poland is a risk far greater than we in the United States might imagine, with members of the far-right youth militia hurling stones and threatening their lives. Essays by Byron Hurt, Haji Shearer, Ewuare Osayande, and Amit Taneja teach us that there are multiple ways of understanding the intersections of race, nation, identity, and change. On fatherhood, we begin to imagine a world in which men are actively engaged parents, and to consider why some versions of fathers’ rights groups do not work in the best interest of women, children, or men. Michael Kimmel and Voice Male editor Rob Okun remind us where we came from so we can better see where we’re going. These essays, and the others in this collection, bring personal insight and critical awareness to our ideas about masculinity and feminism. Each is written through the
T hank Y ou ! The Men’s Resource Center for Change, publisher of Voice Male, receives community support from near and far. Voice Male allows us a public forum in which to thank the hundreds of people who have shared our inspiration and commitment, and contributed their time, services, and money toward a vision of personal and social transformation. We are filled with deep gratitude at the generosity of these individuals and businesses: Donated Space Network Chiropractic, Greenfield In-Kind Donations Henion Bakery, Amherst MRC/Voice Male Volunteers Drew Katsik, Joel Kaye, Steven Lam, Joe Leslie, Dean Toulan, Maggie Wong As always, we extend our gratitude to the MRC Board of Directors for the ongoing guidance and support they give to this
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Men’s Support IN NORTHAMPTON
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Crime of Breathing While Black continued from page 17
events that trigger that visceral feeling in us will remain as long as black lives continue to have less value than white lives. Because they do. To invoke a newer, insidious rhetorical tool of conservatives, it is white “innocent life” that is sacrosanct, not society’s moral outrage against violence and brutality, physical or psychological. More than a decade after the O.J. Simpson verdict, Simpson is still the poster boy for brutality and injustice, whereas former detective Mark Fuhrman is all but legitimized as a best-selling author despite his long history of admitted brutality as a member of the LAPD. For many African-Americans, whether or not they believe a guilty man was nearly framed, to cast Simpson as a symbol of brutality gone unpunished is not only bizarrely misplaced and insulting; it is also symptomatic of a society intentionally blind to the daily realities of what it feels like to be seen more as a problem than as a person. Every day we are made conscious of our own race and status in society by a host of peers and judges in a range of venues. And even if we never have to endure an altercation with the police, we still are acutely aware of how easily we can be made to feel like niggers: our gait, tone, behavior, our proximity to valuables (or more valuable people) is scrutinized. And our choice to accept this reality and conform to earn that eye contact, that begrudging customer service, or that success in hailing a cab is related to this issue
of brutality, because it is an assault on our citizenship and our very humanity. “Contagious shooting” may very well be a legitimate assessment of the events that culminated in Sean Bell’s death hours before his wedding. But it is symptomatic of something larger that undoubtedly correlates to when such contagions most often occur and to what degree. If there is a presumption of guilt or reason to fear or distrust someone irrespective of context, that itself is a crime; it represents the psychological brutality and ubiquity of institutional racism. But perhaps “institutional racism” sounds a bit too harsh for the thin-skinned mainstream media, the proxy of our willfully ignorant body politic. Society prefers what is in essence “situational racism” that dissolves with a well-placed, well-timed apology to the right brokers of contrition. “Some of my best friends are black.” “I was drunk.” “He had a wallet.” All socially acceptable mitigators of brutal speech are deftly untethered from their more vile origins, too shameful and heavy for those most complicit to bear. But the weight of its impact never lessens on those of us who do not have a choice as long as we’re breathing while black. VM
Chris Rabb is a new media consultant, writer, social commentator and netroots activist. A regular public speaker, Chris discusses issues of race, politics, culture, family, technology, media and entrepreneurship. Originally from Chicago, Chris lives in northwest Philadelphia with his wife and two boys. © 2006, 2007 Christopher M. Rabb. All rights reserved.
Men’s Resource Center for Change Programs &
Administrative Staff Executive Director – Rob Okun Financial Manager – Paula Chadis Executive Assistant – David Gillham Office Manager – Allan Arnaboldi Japan Foundation Fellow – Hiroko Matsubara Moving Forward Director – Sara Elinoff-Acker Intake Coordinator/Court Liaison – Steve Trudel Administrative Director – Jan Eidelson Partner Services Outreach Counselor – Barbara Russell Anger Management Coordinator – Joy Kaubin Hampden County Coordinator – Scott Girard Group Leaders – Sara Elinoff-Acker, Karen Fogliatti, Scott Girard, Steve Jefferson, Joy Kaubin, Dot LaFratta, Susan Omilian, Bill Patten, Tom Sullivan, Steve Trudel Support Services Coordinator –Tom Schuyt Support Group Facilitators – Allan Arnaboldi, Michael Burke, Jim Devlin, Michael Dover, Carl Erikson, Tim Gordon, Jerry Levinsky, Gábor Lukács, Bob Mazer, Joe Rufer, Tom Schuyt, Frank Shea, Sheldon Snodgrass, Roger Stawasz, Bob Sternberg, Gary Stone, Claude Tellier Youth Programs Supervisor – Allan Arnaboldi Group Leaders – Aaron Buford, Malcolm Chu Board of Directors Chair – Peter Jessop Clerk/Treasurer – Tom Schuyt Members – Charles Bodhi,Tom Gardner, Yoko Kato, Gail Kielson, Jonathan Klate Executive Director Emeritus – Steven Botkin
The mission of the Men’s Resource Center for Change is to support men, challenge men’s violence, and develop men’s leadership in ending oppression in our lives, our families, and
Fathering Programs ■ A variety of resources are available — Fathers and Family Network programs, lawyer referrals, parenting resources, workshops, presentations and conferences. Contact: (413) 253-9887 ext.10 Youth Programs ■ Young Men of Color Leadership Project Amherst ■ Short Term Groups, Workshops, Presentations and Consultations for Young Men and YouthServing Organizations Contact: (413) 253-9887 ext.33 Moving forward Anger Management, domestic violence intervention, youth violence prevention ■ Anger Management Various times for 15-week groups for men, women and young men at the MRC. For more information, call (413) 253-9887 ext. 23 ■ Domestic Violence Intervention A state-certified batterer intervention prog ram serves both voluntary and courtmandated men who have been physically violent or verbally/emotionally abusive. Fee subsidies available. ■ Basic Groups Groups for self-referred and court-mandated men (40 weeks) are held in Amherst, Athol, Belchertown, Springfield, North Adams, and Greenfield. ■ Follow-up Groups for men who have completed the basic program and want to continue working
on these issues. Call (413) 253-9588 ext 12. ■ Partner Services Free phone support, resources, referrals and weekly support groups are available for partners of men in the MOVE program. ■ Prison Groups Aweekly MOVE group is held at the Hampshire County Jail and House of Corrections. ■ Community Education and Training Workshops and training on domestic violence and clinical issues in batterer intervention are available. ■ Speakers’ Bureau Formerly abusive men who want to share their experiences with others to help prevent family violence are available to speak at schools and human service programs. ■ Youth Violence Prevention Services for teenage males who have been abusive with their families, peers, or dating partners. Contact: (413) 253-9588 ext.18 Workshops & training ■ Workshops available to colleges, schools, human service organizations, and businesses on topics such as “Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response,” “Strategies and Skills for Educating Men,” “Building Men’s Community,” and “Challenging Homophobia,” among other topics. Specific trainings and consultations also available. Publications ■ Voice Male Published quarterly, the MRC magazine includes articles, essays, reviews and resources, and services related to men and masculinity. ■ Children, Lesbians and Men: Men’s Experiences as Known and Anonymous Sperm Donors A 60-page manual which answers the questions men have, with first-person accounts by men and women “who have been there.” Contact: (413) 253-9887 ext.16 Resource & Referral Services ■ Information about events, counselors, groups, local, regional and national activities, and support programs for men. Contact: (413) 253-9887 ext.10 Speakers and Presentations ■ Invite new visions of manhood into your university, faith community, community organization. Many topics including: “Manhood in a Time of War, Fathering, Male Socialization, Men’s Anger, Creating a Men’s Center, The Journey to Healthy Manhood, and more.
Spring 2007 •
Main Office: 236 North Pleasant St. • Amherst, MA 01002 • 413.253.9887 • Fax: 413.253.4801
Support Group Programs ■ Open Men’s Group Sundays 7-9 p.m. at the MRC Amherst office Tuesdays 6:45-8:45 p.m. at the Council on Aging, 240 Main St., Northampton. Wednesdays 7-9 p.m. in Greenfield at Network Chiropractic, 21 Mohawk Trail (lower Main St.). A facilitated drop-in group for men to talk about their lives and to support each other. ■ Men Who Have Experienced Childhood Abuse /Neglect Specifically for men who have experienced any kind of childhood abuse or neglect. Fridays 7 - 8:30 p.m. at the MRC. ■ Gay, Bisexual & Questioning Mondays 7 - 9 p.m. at the MRC. A facilitated drop-in group for gay, bisexual and questioning men to talk about their lives and support each other (not a discussion group).
A Benefit Film Screening for
Voice Male the magazine of the Men’s Resource Center for Change Featuring Remarks and Q & A with Filmmaker Byron Hurt Beyond Beats & Rhymes: Hip-Hop & Manhood Sunday, June 3, 7 pm Academy of Music, Northampton, Mass. General Admission Tickets: $15 Producers’ Circle Tickets: $25-50
[includes a reception with the filmmaker] Tickets Available at: Food for Thought Books, Amherst World Eye Books, Greenfield Odyssey Book Shop, South Hadley Men’s Resource Center, Amherst Montague Book Mill, Montague Broadside Books, Northampton
For more information, contact: Men’s Resource Center for Change at mainoffice.mrcforchange.org (413) 253-9887 Ext. 16