FROM THE EDITOR
WOMEN’S RIGHTS MATTER TO MEN By Rob Okun
UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
n the struggle to ensure safety men and men’s organizations came for the women in our lives it’s together to speak with one voice. time for men who acknowl“A Call to Action: Men Speak Out edge how much we have learned— About Sexist Media Coverage of and gained—from the women’s Rape,” inaugurated by this coalimovement to find our voices, step tion, calls on the media to revamp forward and speak out. Women its coverage of rape and sexual and girls must be able to live lives assault. Rather than focusing on the free from sexual assault and must female’s manner of dress, as they no longer be challenged in making did in the Texas case, the media decisions about their reproductive should train its publishing and lives. Yet, in the midst of two broadcasting high beams where or three wars (it’s hard to keep they most appropriately belong: count), a federal budget proposal on the perpetrators. (To read the designed to reward the rich and full text of the call to action, and punish the poor—not to mention see the complete list of signatories, the rumblings of a presidential Actor Ed Harris speaks during a pro-choice rally in Washington on April 7. turn to page 20.) campaign that already has a toxic Republicans have declared a ‘surge’ in their war on women and Roe v. Efforts to circulate the stateodor to it—men who profess to Wade is under a multipronged assault. ment nationally began in April, the very maleness we purport to want to be women’s allies can’t allow our Sexual Assault Awareness Month. voices to be drowned out. We have to stand redefine. One way readers can help strengthen and As men we have a lot to ask ourselves sustain the campaign is to visit its Facebook by women when adversaries of their rights try to reverse decades of gains. For the sake about how we try to dominate women’s page (www.facebook.com/pages/MenSpeakof our daughters—and sons—we can’t allow lives—whether in seemingly innocuous forGenderJustice/194551133915620). conversations in our kitchens and living There you can read about the campaign and that to happen. The battle to protect Planned Parenthood rooms or pontificating in the halls of register comments. We hope you’ll begin funding may have been partially won—for Congress. Are we able to recognize our with “like.” now—but the assault on Roe v. Wade is blind spots—where, perhaps unwittingly, in The Texas story that sparked the outrage being waged with striking new tactics. And some part of our psyches we still believe our furnishes a powerful metaphor about silence media coverage of rape still smacks of victim views as men are “right”—that we are the and complicity. As the statement asks, since chosen gender? blaming. gang rapes can be stopped if only a single man Like other men engaged in profeminist, intervenes, how can we accept a world where Let’s begin with Roe. A state-by-state campaign to overturn the Supreme Court antiviolence men’s work, I have spoken out not one guy—or more—stepped in to stop ruling is being engineered by the same forces in support of women’s reproductive rights this attack? Are men so intimidated by one bent on restricting the freedom of union but have little concrete action to show for another that we can’t find our voices? Can’t workers to collectively bargain. As Amanda it. While I spent the better part of a week in find our hearts? Can’t think about our mothers Marcotte writes in her powerful article, South Dakota in the days before the 2006 or daughters, our sisters, our wives? “The Ten Worst States for Women” (page election when a no-exceptions ban on aborWomen have always done the heavy 22), “Republicans have declared a ‘surge’ in tion was on the ballot, I have not sustained lifting in the movement to prevent rape and their war on women. Roe v. Wade is under a the connection. All the “reasons” why end sexual assault—as well as in the movement multipronged assault and the day may not be up feeling like excuses. I know that I—and to protect women’s reproductive rights. far off when safe, legal abortion is no longer other men who care about these issues—can Of course, each is part of the same movepossible in many states.” It’s imperative that do better. Perhaps a new campaign that a ment—a movement for gender justice, a those of us who show up at demonstrations coalition of men recently initiated, and that movement men have a stake in, that more on behalf of our union sisters and brothers Voice Male played a role in promoting, can men are joining. But still not enough. Our understand that there is an unambiguous help to point the way. sons and daughters are counting on us. So After a horrific gang rape of an 11-year- are our brothers and sisters. connection between workers’ rights and old girl in Texas—in which no less a bastion women’s rights. For those, like me, who have long carried of so-called enlightened male thinking as an “ally to women” membership card, we The New York Times published a victimhave flagged in our efforts to be there for blaming front-page story about the young Voice Male editor Rob Okun can be reached at women in this arena, perhaps blinded by girl’s assault by 19 men and boys—many email@example.com.
Volume 15 No. 53
Changing Men in Changing Times www.voicemalemagazine.org
Features 7 Nuclear Manhood By Michael Kaufman
8 The last Hunt By Michael Messner
10 Violence was the Daily Bread of My Life By Pascal Akimana
12 Are More Men Embracing Gender Equality Today?
By Gillian Gaynair
16 A Son Defends His Lesbian Mom By Josh Kurtz
19 Will There Be Choice in 2011 and Beyond? By Sarah Buttenwieser
22 The Ten Worst States for Women By Amanda Marcotte
27 Going Soft By Andrew Reiner
Columns & Opinion 2 4 5 14 20 25
From the Editor Letters
28 30 31 32
Men @ Work OutLines
Gay Marriage Elicits a Global Shrug
A Call to Action
Men Speak Out About Sexist Media Coverage of Rape
A Modern Masculinity guide
The New Ages of Man
Now Dialing 202.456.1111
Why I’m Here
By Mark Morford
By Nick Clements By Rob Okun
by Jacqueline Berger
ON THE COVER Model: Jose Pepon Gonzalez Photo: Lahri Bond / www.myspace.com/lahribondgraphics
male positive • pro-feminist • open-minded Spring 2011
Mail Bonding Thank you very much for organizing the training in Northampton and managing to get so many people to participate, especially Jackson Katz. You have made my dream come true! The whole training was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting among all I took part in the three weeks we were in U.S. I am truly grateful for this. Thank you to Voice Male for your involvement and great help.
Rob A. Okun Editor
Michael Burke Copy Editor
Joanna Piotrowska Executive Director, Fundacja Feminoteka Warsaw, Poland
Zach Bernard, Maxwell Coviela, Chelsea Faria, Michael Wei Interns
National Advisory Board Juan Carlos Areán
It’s This Country, Not That One
Family Violence Prevention Fund
John Badalament The Modern Dad
Eve Ensler V-Day
God Bless the Child Productions
Prof. of Journalism Univ. of Texas
Media Education Foundation
Bill T. Jones
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co.
Mentors in Violence Prevention Strategies
White Ribbon Campaign
The Dad Man
Prof. of Sociology SUNY Stony Brook
Other & Beyond Real Men
Mentors in Violence Prevention
Prof. of Sociology Univ. of So. California
Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe
Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund
Prof. of Gender Studies, California State Long Beach
From Poland with Love In February, Voice Male organized a day-long training for a four-person delegation from Poland addressing domestic violence prevention in their country. A judge, lawyer, police officer, and director of a feminist foundation were traveling to the U.S. on a three-week tour to learn about best practices in domestic violence prevention visiting Washington, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Pensacola, Fla. While in Poland last fall, Voice Male editor Rob Okun learned their itinerary did not include plans to study men’s engagement in antiviolence work. Concerned, he contacted the State Department and proposed organizing a men’s training. They agreed and he invited Voice Male advisory board member Jackson Katz—whose book, The Macho Paradox is being translated into Polish—to conduct it. What follows is a letter the director of the Feminist Foundation sent upon her return to Poland.
Thank you so much for the most amazing story about your journey to uncover a bit of the early history of our family roots (Coming Home to Pinsk”, Winter 2011). Locating the house the Okun family lived in, where our respective fathers were born, was indeed spine tingling. I often asked my Dad if he ever had any desire to return to Russia to revisit the place of his early childhood, and his answer was always the same: “No, it’s not worth a visit. We were so poor and life was too difficult for me to want to revisit it. It’s this country that gave us a whole new life. This is the only life I want to remember. I’m only too happy to forget about those early extremely difficult years in Europe.” Edward Okun Tesuque, N.M. Letters may be sent via email to www.voicemalemagazine.org or mailed to Editors: Voice Male, 33 Gray Street, Amherst, MA 01002.
VOICE MALE is published quarterly by the Alliance for Changing Men, an affiliate of Family Diversity Projects, 33 Gray St., Amherst, MA 01002. It is mailed to subscribers in the U.S., Canada, and overseas and is distributed at select locations around the country and to conferences, universities, colleges and secondary schools, and among non-profit and non-governmental organizations. The opinions expressed in Voice Male are those of its writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the advisors or staff of the magazine, or its sponsor, Family Diversity Projects. Copyright © 2011 Alliance for Changing Men/Voice Male magazine. Subscriptions: 4 issues-$24. 8 issues-$40. Institutions: $35 and $50. For bulk orders, go to voicemalemagazine.org or call Voice Male at 413.687-8171. Advertising: For advertising rates and deadlines, go to voicemalemagazine.org or call Voice Male 413.687-8171. Submissions: The editors welcome letters, articles, news items, reviews, story ideas and queries, and information about events of interest. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcomed but the editors cannot be responsible for their loss or return. Manuscripts and queries may be sent via email to www.voicemalemagazine.org or mailed to Editors: Voice Male, 33 Gray St., Amherst, MA 01002.
Men @ Work
Fighting Campus Sexual Violence Schools must do more to prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus, Vice President Joe Biden announced recently, explaining that the federal government has decided to put its muscle behind efforts promoting safety and accountability. In April, he introduced new federal guidelines to combat the problem. “Students across the country deserve the safest possible environment
in which to learn,” Biden said in an article in the Los Angeles Times, in outlining new steps the government is taking to help the nation’s schools, universities and colleges to “end the cycle of sexual violence on campus.” Under guidelines drawn up by the Education Department, schools informed about sexual harassment or violence must take immediate action to stop the abuse and prevent it from happening again. Regardless of whether or not a victim files a complaint, the school must investigate the incident, even if a criminal investigation is under way. Schools must also have sex discrimination policies in place and an employee responsible for managing the institution’s compliance with Title IX, the law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs. Sexual violence is included in the definition of that discrimination.
Finally, schools must make procedures for filing complaints based on Title IX violations clearly available. Nearly 20 percent of women and 6 percent of men are likely to be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault while in college, according to an Education Department report.
Banning Sex and Gender Bias in the Workplace Can workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity be made illegal? U.S. Congressmember Barney Frank (DMA) certainly hopes so. Earlier this spring, Rep. Frank introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which, if enacted into law, would become the first-ever federal ban on employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans in most workplaces, according to
the American Civil Liberties Union, which championed the legislation. “ENDA’s passage is long overdue,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “No American should be denied the right to work based on his or her gender identity or sexual orientation,” Murphy said.” Additionally, she charged [continued on page 6]
Paternity Leave Not Men’s Work? The case comes amid growing awareness that men are a critical component in work and family conversations. According to Williams (who is not involved in the case) there is a profound shift in attitude under way, particularly among younger male lawyers Amiri (left) and Ariel Ayanna had to downscale who want to take a more their lives after he was fired from his law firm for active role in caregiving. taking paternity leave. “What’s interesting is we now have gender wars among men,” says Williams, author of Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter. The clash is often generational, with older men defining masculinity as being a “providing father” and younger ones shifting toward a “nurturing father” paradigm. “Work-family conflict stems from pressures on men to be the ideal workers who have someone else taking care of the kids,” Williams says. “When a woman doesn’t have that, people might not think she’s partnership material, but she’s a good woman. But a man—he’s not partnership material and, by the way, who wears the pants?” she asks, adding she knows of male lawyers characterized as “wusses” for asking to work parttime or taking leave. According to Ayanna’s attorney, Rebecca Pontikes of Boston, the case is “very important” from a feminist perspective. Experts say the bottom line is that these issues affect both genders.
Scott Lapierre/Globe Staff
hat can happen to male attorneys who want to exercise their federally sanctioned rights as fathers? They are marginalized, have work withheld and, in the case of a Boston lawyer and father of two, they get fired. When attorney Ariel Ayanna sued his former law firm alleging a “macho” work culture, the firm retaliated against him for taking paternity leave. In his complaint Ayanna says he received a clear message from Dechert LLP, the 20-office international law firm, that taking paternity leave is not condoned. Ayanna, who worked in Dechert’s Boston office, filed his suit in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts. After his second child was born and he took time under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for his children and his mentally ill wife, his work life deteriorated. “Ayanna was derided for taking on a traditionally female role” and the firm withheld work after he took the leave, according to an article in the March issue of the American Bar Association Journal. Four months after his return, he was fired. For Joan C. Williams, founding director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, it was only a matter of time before a case like this one was filed. “If you talk to young people in law firms, they don’t take parental leave, it’s not done. …[Often] men are sent…very clear unspoken messages that they are not to do this.” Ayanna’s complaint says “two of the top and most senior associates in Ayanna’s group—both of whom later became partners—regularly bragged about how little time they spent on family obligations.” But, said Dechert spokeswoman Beth Huffman, “The claims are baseless.”
Men @ Work that employment discrimination forces an entire “group of Americans to deny and hide their families and loved ones in order to hold a job. This is simply unacceptable. Congress should make this bill a priority.” Gaps in existing state civil rights laws leave many LGBT people and their families vulnerable to employment discrimination based purely on who they are. Currently, it remains legal to fire or refuse to hire someone for being lesbian, gay or bisexual in 29 states, while transgender workers can be denied or refused jobs in 37 states. ENDA would create a federal protection that would make certain that all LGBT Americans can exercise their right to make a living free from discrimination. A copy of an ACLU report, Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans, documenting widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers, is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt/discrim/ 31836pub20070917.html.
Stop Deporting Same-Sex Partners
same-sex marriage is legal, to Henri Velandia, 27, a Venezuelan and professional salsa dancer. Velandia has faced deportation since his visa expired. To date, he’s been unable to get permanent resident status and, because the government doesn’t recognize their marriage, Vandiver cannot sponsor his spouse as a heterosexual could. “In light of Attorney General Holder’s new guidance…suspend deportation of all spouses of citizens in a same-sex marriage until a decision is reached on DOMA,” Holt urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. “This is the right thing to do for Henri, Josh and countless others…being victimized by this discriminatory and unconstitutional law.” Homeland Security did not immediately respond. The couple’s Facebook page (facebook.com/HenriVelandia) has 10,000 supporters.
“BUYcott” Promotes Anti-Gay Agenda The anti-gay hate group the American Family Association (AFA) released a YouTube video in April calling on its followers to “buy from Chick-fil-A and shop there and eat there” in order to participate in a “BUYcott” of the anti-gay fast food chain. The “BUYcott” is likely meant to be a response to a number of student-
led protests against Chick-fil-A that sprang up on college campuses across America, most notably at Indiana University South Bend. In March, Equality Matters (a project of Media Matters Action Network, equality matters.org) uncovered Chick-fil-A’s long history of supporting and collaborating with some of the country’s most powerful anti-gay groups and activists, including the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defense Fund. The American Family Association is currently labeled as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for engaging in baseless name-calling and spreading known falsehoods about LGBT people. The AFA’s director of issues analysis, Bryan Fischer, is notorious for blaming gay men for the Holocaust, calling gay sex “domestic terrorism,” and saying that the solution to gay teen suicides was having “fewer homosexual students.” Anyone who remains unsure about whether to continue buying
U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) is pushing the government to halt deportation proceedings against same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens. The legislator requested the Department of Homeland Security make the change on behalf of a couple who live in his district. An estimated 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples are in the U.S., and all have reason to be worried if deportations aren’t stopped, the couple’s lawyer says. The case underscores the ambiguous status of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder said the government would no longer defend the law in court, yet it continues to enforce it. Princeton University political science graduate student Josh Vandiver, 29, was married Despite Joshua Vandiver (left) marrying Venezuelan Henri Velandia in Connecticut, his last year in Connecticut, where husband faces deportation because the feds don’t recognize their marriage.
from Chick-fil-A should see AFA’s endorsement as a good sign that it’s time to start looking for a new place to eat.
New Magazine for Military Gays OutServe, the underground network of nearly 3,000 LGBT military personnel has begun a worldwide publication for gay military members. The magazine, also named OutServe, will feature articles including how the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will be implemented, and news stories and resources for currently serving LGBT military members. “Our first objective with the magazine is to let all the gay, lesbian, bi, and trans members currently serving know that they are not alone,” said OutServe’s codirector, an active-duty officer who goes by the pseudonym JD Smith. “And we also want to communicate to all troops that there are capable gay military members serving honorably, and that accepting that and moving on will make our military stronger.” Plans are to make upcoming issues available in print at some of the larger military bases, Smith said, noting, “visibility is key. We are not about highlighting our differences, but demonstrating how LGBT troops are proud soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coasties, and Marines—just like everyone else.” OutServe is an underground network of actively serving members of the United States Armed Services who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The organization is led by “Smith” and civilian codirector Ty Walrod. For more information, go to www.outserve.org. To download the magazine go to www.outserve.org/media/ OutServeMag_Apr2011.pdf.
A young evacuee is screened at a shelter for leaked radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
AP Photo/Wally Santana
Nuclear Manhood By Michael Kaufman
he catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan seems to speak to us about many things: its owner has been convicted of falsifying safety data in a singular pursuit of enriching itself even if its workers and perhaps countless others might die. It speaks of generations of Japanese governments that have pumped billions of yen into larger and larger construction projects, as if their eventual goal was to encase the whole island in concrete. It speaks of the sheer power of nature. It also speaks of hubris. Of a blind arrogance that we can tame nature and that human-built and human-run technologies can all be safe – not a bad assumption if one is building a toaster but less reassuring when the machine has the capacity to cause widespread death. Where did these twin beliefs come from: conquering nature and the ability of humans to be godlike, beyond fault? Hint: It has something to do with male-dominated societies. Not with men—for I don’t think males by nature are any more prone to stupidity or human frailty than females—but with the underlying belief systems common to male-dominated societies and the ideas we have inculcated in generations of men. Many years ago, philosopher Mary O’Brien wrote a wonderful book called The Politics of Reproduction. Among other things she speculated that the urge by men to dominate women and dominate nature had something to do with a collective wonder, amazement, and jealousy for the amazing gift that women had: to bring life into the world. Controlling women was the way to control reproduction, to ensure that a child was your child. (Adding to this, there was another life-giving force that women seemed to control: in many cultures, women likely had chief responsibility for the domestication of animals and the development of agriculture—he so-called Neolithic revolution which was the single greatest technological leap in the history of humans.) With the rise of male-dominated societies, the locus of life and death could shift from women to men. It is no surprise that the great
monotheistic religions (Judaism and then Christianity and Islam) were modeled on the image of an all-wise, all-knowing, and punishing father figure. In the common foundation story of these religions, it is a malelike God who creates all life, including a male human from whom is made the first female. Step aside, girls. We’ve got the whole creation and life thing under control. What, you ask, does this have to do with a nuclear catastrophe? It is because, over the millennia, male-dominated societies have been in a relentless quest to perfect and control nature. When the scale was small, the results were (and still are) pretty exciting. True, as Ronald Wright eloquently describes in his important book, A Short History of Progress, some of our societies got caught in “progress traps” and created agricultural technologies that led to environmental (and human) disaster, but this was confined to local areas or regions. But harnessing fossil fuels and releasing the energy bound in atomic nuclei not only unleashes staggering potential but staggering levels of danger, as we see in the relentless march of climate change and the absurdity of the nuclear industry where we are creating not only deadly waste that we have no safe way of transporting, storing, or disposing of, but which repeatedly has led to catastrophic breakdowns. All because part of the project of male-dominated societies is to control nature. All because of our foolish belief that our little brains and clever tools are greater than the forces of tectonic plates, of the complex interaction of gases in the atmosphere and currents in the ocean, and of the deepest and most fundamental power of the atom. Voice Male contributing editor Michael Kaufman is the author of six books on gender equality, democracy and development, as well as an award-winning novel. His work has taken him to 49 countries where he’s worked extensively with the United Nations, governments, and nongovernmental organizations. He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. Spring 2011
King of the Wild Suburb
The Last Hunt
By Michael Messner
Fess Parker in the title role of the 1955 Walt Disney film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.
Mr. Roosevelt, when are you going to get beyond the boyishness of killing things? — John Muir, to Teddy Roosevelt, 1903 For it is not in giving life but in risking life that man is raised above the animal; that is why superiority has been accorded in humanity not to the sex that brings forth but to that which kills. — Simone de Beauvoir, 1949
he last time I went hunting with my dad, I didn’t carry a rifle. A few years earlier, I’d realized that I hated killing animals. Now in college and living away from home, I’d come to associate deer hunting with the Vietnam War culture that I’d turned so virulently against. The Beatles seemed to speak to me when they sang, “Hey Bungalow Bill, What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?” But on some other plane of consciousness, somewhere deeper than my political views, I still knew that neither Dad nor Gramps was the crass, trophy-hunting “All American bullet-headed Saxon Mother’s son” mocked by John Lennon’s dripping sarcasm. I’d hunted with Dad and Gramps since I was a seven-year-old boy. I knew they approached the activity safely and with an ethical reverence for the animals they hunted. And I knew that hunting was the main way Gramps connected, father-to-son, with Dad; and they, eventually, with me. But this was 1973, and I had now denounced hunting—at least to my friends at college—as a violent proto-military activity through which
men bonded with each other, excluded women, and subjugated nature. Hunting was part of everything that was wrong with the world, everything I was fighting to change. Nevertheless, here I was, a 21-year-old commie peacenik, my long hair tied back with a paisley headband, coaxing my beat-up powder blue Corolla with the “Question Authority” bumper sticker 200 miles south in the scorching August sun of the Sacramento Valley, to hang out with a bunch of short-haired middle-aged Nixon-loving gun-toting men. Dad had phoned a couple of weeks earlier to invite me to join him at his new hunting club near Los Banos. His voice sounded thin, uncharacteristically tentative on the other end of the line. “I figure it’s been what, three or four years, Mike? Why don’t you drive down for the weekend? I can bring your rifle.” I wasn’t so sure about this. “Will Gramps be there?” “No, Gramps had to give it up a couple of years ago. He’s 77 now, you know.” That was the kicker, picturing Dad hunting without Gramps. “Okay,” I said, my voice likely conveying my mixed feelings. As soon as I hung up, I decided I would go, but I would honor the secret promise I had made eight years earlier never again to shoot a deer. And this time, I would not hold to this vow through subterfuge. This time I would do it straight up, publicly, by not carrying a gun. This had seemed a noble idea in the comfortable privacy of my college apartment the night I hung up the phone with my dad. But now, as I shot down the arrow-straight stretch of I-5, my cassette player
blasting Derek and the Dominos, Clapton’s subject of the letters they exchanged when Dad guitar lacerating the hot air buffeting through was in the South Pacific during World War II. my open windows, a knot of worry swelled in During the decades following the war, Dad my stomach. How would Dad react to my decireturned the favor by taking Gramps hunting, sion to join the hunt with no rifle? This would be until Gramps was too old to continue. These awkward, at the very least. I didn’t expect Dad hunts made them the best of pals for life. By the to be pissed at me; worse, I feared I’d embartime I was seven, Gramps and Dad had placed rass him in front of his longtime hunting friend a rifle in my hands, and had begun to initiate Bob Shackelford, not to mention the guys I’d me into a men-only world of hunting for quail, never met in his new hunting club. I doubted pheasant, and especially deer. Hunting worked that anybody had ever walked a hunt unarmed well for Gramps and Dad; ultimately, it did not with those guys. As my car tires ground to a work so well for me. By the end of my teen halt on the rocky dirt road of the campsite, I years, I had decided to lay down my rifle, and dropped the volume on my stereo. Through my had taken a path to manhood that I saw as very bug-splattered windshield I spied Dad and Bob different from the roads taken by Gramps and laughing with two burly men as they unloaded Dad. But in rejecting hunting, I was letting go sleeping bags, coolers and rifles from their jeeps of an emotionally salient lifeline that had been and pickup trucks. And I wondered, not for the extended to me, from my grandfather through last time: What in the hell am I doing here? my father. Years after Dad’s and Gramps’ Over the past four decades, starting in my deaths, I continue to poke at the scars left by this college years, I have been preoccupied with self-imposed wound. And I wonder: what kind the question, “What is manhood?” Inspired by of a father am I? I have offered my two sons a feminism, I have interrogated my own life, and different model of manhood. Is it better? the broader social world around me, wondering The day of the hunt, I tromped loudly down how it is that men commit so many horrible the bottom of the ravine, flanked on the left and In rejecting hunting, I acts of violence against women, against other right ridges by several armed men. With no rifle let go of an emotionally men, against ourselves, and indeed, against the in my hands, my usefulness on this hunt was salient lifeline extended essentially to play the role of a dog, fighting natural world. In my teaching, public lectures and books about boys and men, I have rejected to me from my grandfather blindly through thick shrubs and brush, hoping the simplistic but popular idea that males are flush out a buck for the men. We didn’t see a through my father. Years to naturally hard-wired to dominate others—that single deer that day, and as we returned to camp after their deaths, I still “all that testosterone” predisposes us, like and started preparing dinner, I wondered again if the positive ends of two magnets, to repel poke at the scars left by I’d embarrassed Dad, showing up from college away from human intimacy, and to be drawn this self-imposed wound. with my long hair and my bizarre insistence on instead to guns and violence. Instead, I ask walking a hunt unarmed. Maybe I shouldn’t What kind of a father am have come at all. Dad, who would die four years different questions about boys and men: How I? I have offered my two later, walked up and handed me a can of Burgie, does our immersion in cultures of domination and violence distort our humanity? How do sons a different model of still dripping chips of ice from the cooler. We we nevertheless manage to connect with each each took a welcome slug of the cold beer. And manhood. Is it better? other, to find and express love and intimacy he said, “Thanks for coming, Pal.” with others? After the group polished off a dinner that A boy’s developing sense of masculinity is insecure and tentative, included an industrial-sized vat of delicious rigatoni, Dad passed a and most of us learn early on to hide our self-doubts beneath a veneer of bota bag to me, and showed me how to extend my arms fully as red bravado. I know I did. As a young boy, I was very aware of the daily risks wine streamed directly into my mouth. Later that evening under stars to my fragile sense of self, as I watched other boys and men routinely made opaque by hissing Coleman lanterns, one of the guys took up his suffer humiliation—or worse—for showing any sign of vulnerability or accordion, and played an upbeat Italian tune. Dad, clad only in his white weakness. I learned from the adult men around me, and through a succes- boxers, tucked-in white T-shirt and a smile, climbed on top of his cot sion of popular culture images of male heroism—Davy Crockett, John and performed a graceful tango as all of us exploded into laughter Wayne, John Glenn and Willie Mays among them—that the world prom- and cheered him on. ised to heap status, glory and love upon me if I grew up to be tough, if I suppressed my empathy for others, and especially if I became a winner. I swallowed this idea of male heroism hook, line, and sinker. Voice Male contributing editor Michael A. When boys like me buy into the myth of male heroism, what happens Messner is a professor of sociology and gender to our very human needs for connection, intimacy, and love? After we studies at the University of Southern Calishut boys down emotionally, after we scare the crap out of them with the fornia. The author of several books including knowledge that it is grown-up boys who fight and die in wars, after we Sex, Violence and Power in Sports: Rethinking convince them they will be viewed as failures if they lose in the competiMasculinity and Power at Play: Sports and tive marketplace of manly success, what kinds of ways do we offer these the Problem of Masculinity, he teaches and boys to connect with others? What situations do we put them in, and speaks publicly on issues of gender-based what kinds of opportunities do those situations offer them to experiviolence, the lives of men and boys, and gender ence closeness with others? For Gramps and Dad, hunting provided this and sports. Excerpted with permission from means of connection. his forthcoming memoir, King of the Wild When Dad was a boy, Gramps took him hunting several times a Suburb © 2011, Plainview Press, Austin, Tex.. year to Lake County, in Northern California. These and imagined future wwwplainviewpress.net. hunting trips became the foundation of their relationship, and a major Spring 2011
From Survival to Renewal
Violence was the Daily Bread of My Life By Pascal Akimana Pascal Kelvin Akimana was born 30 years ago in the village of Gatumba,15 kilometers from Bujumbura in the African nation of Burundi. The child of a teenage mother who was forced to marry the man who impregnated her, Pascal was raised “in a very violent home…[where] gender-based and sexual violence was the daily bread of my life,” Pascal recalls. He arrived in the U.S. in 2009 and works as an intern at Men’s Resources International, a Springfield, Massachusetts-based organization which trains men in gender-based violence prevention. What follows is Pascal’s story of survival and renewal.
y father used to assault my mother every day, in front of the entire family (my mother had three more children by him). No one said anything. Sometimes he would force my mother to have sex in front of me. This would happen often. It puzzled me because it didn’t seem normal, nor did my mother like it. As a child I asked myself why my father continued to fight with my mother every day. I could not get an answer. Then I found out that my father was cheating on my mother; that was the main cause of the fighting. 10
Later, I realized that women in the entire village were experiencing gender-based and sexual violence. To my father, beating and assaulting my lovely mother was the way of proving his manhood. He used to say every day that he was the man; all decisions should be directed to him and he would have the final say. He used to beat my mother nearly to death; but when she talked to her family and elder women they used to answer her, “That’s how you build the house! You must stay, he will change.” Sometimes she would wake up with a swollen face and fear telling the truth. She would say that she fell during the night because it was dark. All this beating that my father was doing to her, many times he would kick her against the wall or beat her with sharp objects. He would insult her in front of us, telling her that she was less than a woman; she was nothing, stupid, ugly, she didn’t know how to cook. It affected me a lot because when he started beating my mother he would turn to me and my sisters, beating us, chasing us away, saying that we were ugly like my mother, stupid, nothing... I grew up with a lot of anger, wanting to hurt my father, and even today I’m still finding ways of dealing with it and forgiving
my father. At the end, my father finally chased my mother away naked. I remember that night he took all my mother’s clothes. He burnt them, saying that he was the one who had bought them. Burundian culture says that if a woman separates from her husband she may not take the children with her, so my mother was forced to leave me and my two sisters behind. That same night, just two hours after my mother had been kicked out of the house, my father brought in another woman who then became my stepmother. I know that some people have a good chance of having good and kind stepmothers, but it was not the case for me. This stepmother came with full information about what had happened between my mother and father. She started harassing and abusing me a lot. Many times she would report me to my father and when he came home he would punish, torture and discipline me—as he used to call it, “like someone who had killed.” This continued for a long time. I remember I went to visit my mother and later my father found out. I was beaten up as if I had committed a crime or unforgivable sin. He did all this to cut the ties that might have existed between my mother and me. Then, in 1993, after the democratically elected
Burundian president was killed, didn’t know about. When they the whole country fell into havoc. realize what is happening, many Burundi started dividing in two, men join in reaching other men some calling themselves Tutsis and boys. and others Hutus and killing one Even though I have changed another. I was forced to leave my I still find difficulty dating girls. country; I was 12 years old. Many girls expect me to be violent Many people fled to different or to behave in a violent manner. countries. My sister and I found our When I behave the way I want to, way to the Democratic Republic of they keep pushing me back in the Congo (DRC). My father, stepgender box. They drop me, saying mother, and two other children that I’m a confused young man, had taken a different direction, or that maybe I am gay or I don’t so we joined a crowd heading to know what I want. I know I will DRC. Just when we had crossed make a good partner, but many the border, we were stopped by girls are still in their gender box Congolese soldiers. They started and they want a man who abuses raping my sister in front me. I was or does bad things. I would find it screaming, shouting, but could difficult to be with such women. not find anyone or get any help. The situation in my country is Instead, they brutally beat me. not good. People are still dying just After they left my sister was taken because of their ethnic differences. to the hospital by United Nations Because Burundi is now a “postofficials. conflict country,” the government is finding it hard to disarm civilI’m writing this down as a part ians. Almost everyone has a gun of my healing. It’s also important and women and children are raped for me to share my story with every day. The government has others, especially those who work done little to deliver much-needed with displaced people, refugees, services and to speed up develwomen and children in abusive To my father, beating and assaulting oping the country. There is one relationships. My story can be an rebel group that hasn’t stopped my lovely mother was the way of eye-opener for other people; it can fighting or been involved in help them to take the necessary proving his manhood. He used to say building peace. I’m very concerned measures to change their situation. every day, he was the man. He would about the situation in my homeIt was because I experienced have the final say. land. After I complete my studies, all this violence and abuse in my I want to return home to contribute family, in my community and in my I decided to work with men and boys to the work of ending sexual and whole country that I decided to work on advo- to address men’s violence toward women gender-based violence, as well as working cating for women’s rights. Whenever I hear and children and the impact it has on them, on peace building, conflict resolution and or see an abused woman I see and remember drawing on my own experience. I believe community development. my mother, and I remember what my mother men can change and that men are actually I have dedicated my life to this work, and I went through. It is for this reason that changing. I have changed and I know others all based on the principle of honoring my I advance human rights—embracing gender who have changed. I work with colleagues mother’s experience, as well as my sisters’ equality, promoting healthy relationships who have changed. and mine. As a man I will use my voice to I have seen women that we trained, who bring change. and striving to end sexual and gender-based violence in my community, society and the went home, excited to share with men the information that they learned in the training. After working in Ivory Coast as a genderentire continent. Before I started doing this work, I was a Then the violence started because the men based violence prevention associate with the dangerous young boy. I think this is because felt threatened. But when we trained those International Rescue Committee (IRC) Cote of the violence that I experienced growing men, they pledged to change and they prom- d’Ivoire, Pascal Akimana came to the U.S. as up. I remember I used to be very angry. I ised to communicate better with their part- an intern for Men’s Resources International. fought a lot and this led me to join a bad ners. I realized that the problems are with Akimana has also worked with Engender group who were abusing women and girls. the men, and if we engage men more it will Health’s Men As Partners program in five But I realized that was not what I wanted. lead to solutions in ending violence against provinces in South Africa. Whenever I reflected on my mother’s situ- women. What’s shocking is hearing men whom A version of this article appeared in an ation, I remembered that what my father I conduct trainings with say they “didn’t online publication of Working with Men did to my lovely mother had become what I know” about violence against women. and Boys: Emerging strategies from Across was doing to girls. I became conscious and Later, they recognized that their own sisters, Africa to Address Gender-based Violence started to think about how I could change, mothers and daughters were going through and HIV/AIDS. though it was very difficult. the very abuse and violence they said they Spring 2011
Encouraging Answers from a Six-Country Survey
Are More Men Embracing Gender Equality Today?
Cover of Evolving men – Initial Results from the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES)
By Gillian Gaynair
recently completed three-year, sixcountry household survey offers a comprehensive analysis of men’s attitudes and practices on a variety of topics related to gender equality, including women’s opinions of men’s behavior. The survey, conducted by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW, icrw.org) and Promundo (promundo. org), interviewed more than 8,000 men and 3,500 women about their intimate relationships, health practices, parenting, sexual behavior and use of violence for a pioneering International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES). The questionnaire was in one to three cities in Brazil, Chile, Croatia, India and Mexico and in urban and rural settings in Rwanda. “This is the first survey of its size to offer a comprehensive picture of what men think and do,” said Gary Barker, who spearheaded IMAGES and is working on the ongoing 12
survey through Promundo. “These initial results really just scratch the surface. But it provides a needed starting point—one that uses statistical rigor and evidence—to help inform practitioners’ work with men as allies in women’s empowerment and gender equality.” Initial findings from IMAGES suggest that men in all countries except India and Rwanda support more equitable relationships and opportunities between women and men. Age plays a factor, too, with young men showing more support for gender equality and more just treatment of women. Among its results, the study also found men who view women as their equals are more likely to be happy, communicate well with their partners and have better sex lives. Overall, IMAGES results demonstrate the complex—and at times contradictory — nature of men’s behavior. And they suggest that while most men accept the notion of
gender equality and understand it intellectually, they don’t necessarily change their behaviors—at least not quickly. “Men’s ideas about gender are far more complex than what we think,” said Ravi Verma, director of ICRW’s Asia Regional Office and an author of the report. “By having a better understanding of their attitudes and factors that determine these practices—and IMAGES helps with that—we’ll be able to design more relevant programs that meet men where they are in terms of living a more ‘gender equitable’ life.” For IMAGES, 250 questions were posed to men and slightly fewer to women ages 18 to 59. They were framed around an understanding that gender is not only about women, but rather the relations and power dynamics between and among women and men. Through the survey, researchers sought to learn more about how men are socialized into certain roles, and how those roles may change over time and in different social contexts—all while men interact daily with women. Within that vein, the survey also examines men’s perceptions of manhood and the pressures they feel to adhere to societal expectations. The study pays particular attention to the stress men feel from the expectation that they must be financial providers for their families. Questions covered intimate and family relationships between men and women and issues related to men’s health and lifestyle— employment, education, attitudes toward women, parenting and use of violence, among others. Primarily to protect women, men and women from the same neighborhoods, but not the same households, were interviewed. The survey contains numerous questions about violence asked of both men and women and was carried out in countries that represented diverse geographic regions. Although new policies and laws have been enacted over the last decade to help create more equitable societies, ICRW researchers say that initial data from IMAGES demonstrate that laws alone don’t lead to behavior change. “Men are increasingly aware of shifts toward greater gender equality in their countries and communities—they are aware of laws against domestic violence, for instance, and generally feel that ‘men don’t lose out’ in the pursuit of gender equality,” said Manuel Contreras, an ICRW gender and public health specialist and another of the authors
of the report. “At the same time, this awareness does not always coincide with changes in men’s individual behaviors.” Among the survey’s key findings: • Younger, more educated men adhered less to restrictive social norms around manhood and demonstrated behavior supporting women as equals. • Men who felt stress or depression about work or income harbored more suicidal thoughts and reported more use of violence against women. This occurred at a statistically significant level in four of the countries studied. • While women continue to do more child care work and domestic activities, unemployed men and younger men are participating more than is commonly acknowledged. • In Brazil, Chile, Croatia and Mexico, men with higher education levels were more likely to accompany their partner to prenatal visits.
• Women with partners who share in domestic duties reported that they are more sexually satisfied. • Rwandan and Indian men showed the most inequitable attitudes. For instance, 61 percent of men in Rwanda and more than 80 percent of men in India agreed that changing diapers and feeding children are the mother’s responsibility. • In all six countries, men reported more use of violence against their intimate partners if they experienced violence in their childhood, are stressed at work, abuse alcohol and view women as subservient to them.
Throughout 2011, IMAGES also will be conducted in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, an effort coordinated by Partners for Prevention, a joint program of the United Nations. Yet even as the results from more countries will expand researchers’ understanding of men’s attitudes and behaviors, experts say a deeper comparative analysis is needed of the initial data. “IMAGES gives us a good sense of where men are at the moment, which seems to be one foot toward accepting gender equality and one foot stuck in rigid, inequitable views,” Barker said. “We need more research like this…to assess how much men are truly changing…and how we can speed up that change.” Gillian Gaynair is a writer and editor for the International Center for Research on Women. For a full copy of the report, see http:// www.promundo.org.br/en/wp-content/ uploads/2011/01/Evolving-Men-IMAGES1.pdf. IMAGES will be implemented in six more countries this year and next. For more information, contact g.barker@promundo. org.br.
Men at Work Training August 10th - 12th, 2011
Gay Marriage Elicits a Global Shrug By Mark
rgentina, at last check, is not yet writhing in flames. Canada, as far as I can see from my window, is still right up there, stoic and mild, smelling of pine trees and bitumen, watching lots of hockey, shooting guns, being Canadian. The Netherlands? Why, still crisp and clean, efficiently blond as ever. It’s shocking, really. After all, you’d think they’d be downright miserable. You’d think they’d be in countrywide group therapy, hating and hurling and spitting, maybe a few riots, some stabbings, panic in the streets, the very fabric of their various shell-shocked societies unraveling like Mel Gibson at a bat mitzvah. In fact, it would appear that millions of people across a surprisingly large number of dashing, industrious countries all over the world—including Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and even adorable little Iceland—are still not yet imploding, not yet suffering the furious wrath of God, not yet dying in unchecked anguish before our very eyes. What to make of it? After all, in each and every one of these sinful nations, gay people 14
have been happily and legally getting married (and, presumably, divorced, remarried and tossed about on the same socioemotional rollercoaster as their straight brethren) every single day, for months and years and—in the case of the Netherlands—nearly a decade now. What the hell is wrong with them? Didn’t they get the newsletter? Don’t they know how very wrong, sinful, sick and perverted they all so obviously are? Haven’t they heard the hoarse wails of the terrified Mormon elders, the raspy screams of the obsolete Vatican, the tightened bowels of confused fundamentalists of nearly every major religion worldwide, all of them absolutely positive that allowing certain kinds of consenting adults who love each other to get married will spell the end of civilization, families, innocence, the military, God’s bitter and judgmental love as we know it? Someone should send them a pamphlet. Meanwhile, back here in the land of fear and rainbow flags and rivers of fundamentalist misinformation flowing like Coors Light at a NASCAR rally, we still can’t seem to figure anything out. The stillborn bastard troll known as Prop 8 has finally been overturned by a
fine federal judge, deemed unconstitutional by a mile, not to mention unconscionable, unrealistic, not a little bit hateful, and just plain dumb. No matter. It has, of course, already been appealed by tiny groups of angry people who really hate other groups of people, and will be contested and argued over, debated and slapfighted for months on its way to the wonky Ninth Court of Appeals, all possibly culminating in a grand and furious finale as the case finally stumbles into the conservative, uptight U.S. Supreme Court by 2012 or so, just in time to induce/commemorate the apocalypse. Perfect. And then what? Where will we be by then? Or, more important, will any of it matter? I’m not so sure anymore. Let’s ask it this way: If the high court doth indeed snicker, snarl and follow the Scalia/ Alito roadmap to conservative backassedness and overturns Judge Walker’s powerful, intensely worded ruling, or even if some miracle of fairness and progress occurs and Prop 8 is ruled to be exactly as ugly and as ignorant as anyone with an open heart knows
it to be, well, will the world even blink? Shrug? Will we all die and be reborn in a laughing, sweating heap of what the hell were we thinking? Or will America be like the very last virgin Catholic schoolgirl, the drunken snail to crawl across the finish line, long forgotten and nicely obsolete, 10 years late and an ideology short, with the rest of the world sighing and smiling and saying “Geez, what the hell took you so long?” This is what we are learning: The U.S. matters less and less in the grand public debate, the global shift, the Great Understanding. In the past few decades we’ve seen nation after nation fly right by us in many a happy category, from humanitarianism to education, health care to drugs, sexuality to the arts, prison systems to pollution, transportation to spiritual awareness. What a sad, strange trip it’s been. Perhaps you recall that impossible, rosecolored time when all eyes were on America, when we largely set the (wobbly, inconsistent, but still somehow noble) standard for the world’s cultures, governments, arts? How we once represented, at least on paper, at least in our own adorably egomaniacal minds, a kind of delirious, experimental, rough-hewn freedom? No longer. Our educational system, once the best in the world not 25 years ago, now ranks near the bottom. Our health care system, despite Obama’s brutally fought-for reforms, has a long way to go to be anywhere
Around the world, America’s “really big deal”—gay marriage and gay rights—isn’t such a big deal after all. near efficient and beneficial. Our military is insanely bloated, absurdly out of scale for our actual needs, and the single biggest drain on the U.S. economy, by far. What’s more, our own U.S. Congress is more fractured and acidic than at any time in recent history; it can barely move, breathe, speak, make a decision without members’ clawing each others’ eyes out. The divisions are deep and wide, the scar of Bush disgustingly permanent. In short, we ain’t what we once were. That’s the bad news. The good news is, the world doesn’t really need us anymore. Our melodramas and majestic decisions, our nasty wars and our religious pulings do not make the world start, shake the universe, terrify all comers, reshape global consciousness on a dime. Ain’t it grand? Do not misunderstand. Should gay marriage finally be released from its cage of ignorance and fear here in America, the rush of
positive energy and emotion that will explode all over the land of milk and money will be like few other love bombs in recent memory. It will indicate no less than a grand upheaval, the last, great civil right finally realized. It will not merely be the end of an ignorant and outdated law, nor merely a proper slapdown to a silly, cult-like religion that can’t deduce its way out of a coffee mug. It will be no less than a new way of understanding ourselves, our genders, our culture. But at the same time, much of the civilized world will already have passed us by, long ago. Gay rights is and will be a foregone conclusion in a dozen nations, a widely accepted, almost yawningly obvious non-issue. America’s really big deal really won’t be such a big deal after all. Which means that maybe, just maybe, we can finally get over ourselves, and move the hell on. Mark Morford is a columnist and culture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. com. He has also taught Vinyansa yoga for the past decade. His topics vary from sex and deviance to popular culture, technology, spirituality, music and politics. Reprinted with permission, © 2011 Mark Morford.
Equality for All ?
A Son Defends His Lesbian Mom By Josh Kurtz
Elli Ross and Lynn Kurtz display their wedding license.
KURTZ—Lynn. Died at home March 30. A musician and educator, she is survived by her spouse Elli Ross, daughter Eliza Kurtz, son Josh Kurtz, daughter-in-law Caryl Ashrey and granddaughters Haley Beidel, Zoe Kurtz and Genevieve Kurtz. What appears below is the text, verbatim, of the paid death notice for the author’s mother that appeared in the March 31 New York Times.
hat’s not a typo in there. Her spouse is not a guy named Eli. It’s a woman named Elli. Yes, my mom was a lesbian. She and Elli were married in Connecticut last year. It was a beautiful event, at an inn overlooking the Long Island Sound. And so the demise of the gay marriage bill in the Maryland General Assembly is very personal to me. I never told a lot of people that my mom was gay. It’s not that it was a big secret—it’s 16
just that it was never a big deal. She was my mom, and I loved her. Any issues I had with her through the years were typical conflicts between parent and child—they had zero percent to do with her sexuality. My mom never really “came out.” That wasn’t her style. She just went about her business and lived her life the way she wanted to. But Mom and Elli’s love story is an inspiring tale worthy of a novel. They first became lovers in graduate school in the late 1950s. Luckily for my sister and me, and for Elli’s kids, mom and Elli were products of their era who felt intense pressure to marry and have families. But they never stopped loving each other. Through marriage and divorce, through long-term relationships with other women, they stayed in touch—sometimes regularly and intimately, other times less so. They finally found their way back to each other permanently in 2007. That they could rekindle a romance that first blossomed half a century earlier—that my mom at age 70 was embarking on a new romantic adventure—made it seem like a fairy tale.
On their wedding day last October, Elli recalled how my mom had said to her, 50odd years earlier, “If you were a man, I’d marry you.” Most people would probably agree that there are aspects of their parents’ marriages that remain a mystery, whether the marriages were good, bad or indifferent. My marvelous parents stayed married for more than 22 years, and I’ve never been quite sure how or why they sustained it for so long. I can only imagine the turmoil both were going through for so many of those years, and it pains me to think that they were in pain. Though my sister and I deduced by the mid-1970s that Mom was a lesbian, my parents did an incredible job of keeping things together and shielding us from the problems they were having. They were more than civil to each other—they had similar interests and worldviews, and they had a lot of laughs, so we did, too (that point was reinforced exactly four weeks before my mom died, when my folks had a very tender visit in my mom’s hospital room). With musicians for parents, and growing up in an apartment on the Upper West Side
of Manhattan, we were never going to have the typical Ozzie and Harriet upbringing. But we did all right. To me, the case for gay marriage always seemed like a no-brainer. Why shouldn’t two people who love each other be able to make a lifetime commitment that’s recognized by the state? Why shouldn’t they enjoy the same rights of community property, and have the same ability to make end-of-life decisions, that straight couples possess? Why should they be considered less than equal in the eyes of the law? Obviously, some churches preach that homosexuality is a sin, or that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, largely for the purpose of procreation. I’m not going to attempt to argue with teachings that are thousands of years old. If people continue to believe them in this day and age, I suppose they’re entitled. But no one was asking churches that have reviled homosexuality to suddenly start marrying gay couples. What couple would want to be married by a hostile institution? Through the years, I have watched the national conversation over gay marriage with dismay. It outrages me that conservatives have demagogued the issue for so long—that gay-bashing is an old reliable for Republican strategists, to gin up the base vote. The very title of the Defense of Marriage Act is an insult. What’s there to defend? Many gay couples want to be married—they’re not attacking the institution. It’s hardly a secret that gay men and lesbians have an image problem in this country. There are well-established stereotypes that the media perpetuate, even as they increasingly celebrate gay culture. You’d think that all gay men are wealthy, limp-wristed white guys who enjoy only the finer things in life. All lesbians are ugly and unfeminine, sporting plaid shirts and crew cuts. In reality, of course, lesbians and gay men come from all walks of life, and are all races, creeds, economic classes, physical specimens and personality types. But the stereotypes undoubtedly hurt the gay community’s ability to forge political alliances. It’s hard to make the argument that you’re being discriminated against when the perception is you’re all pampered and privileged. Some people argue that gays, unlike racial minorities, who can’t hide who they are, wouldn’t be feared and discriminated against—if only they would
Elli Ross and Lynn Kurtz on Long Island Sound the day after their wedding in October 2010.
stay in the closet and stop making people feel so uncomfortable. One of the most painful aspects of the recent debate over gay marriage in Maryland was the ambivalence or downright opposition of certain African-American legislators and the pressure some black churches put on them to vote against the legislation. My friend Blair Lee, in a column in The Gazette
The very title of the Defense of Marriage Act is an insult. What’s there to defend? Many gay couples want to be married—they’re not attacking the institution. of Politics and Business, took delight in seeing the discomfort of white liberals on this divide. But there was no dilemma for this white liberal. Nothing can erase the four centuries of slavery, discrimination and horror that black Americans have endured. No one is naïve enough to think this country’s race problem has been “solved” because Barack Obama is president. But to me, opposing gay marriage is supporting discrimination, plain and simple, and in my mind, it’s awfully hard for politicians—of any race—to justify that. Minority officeholders, it seems to me, ought to be particularly sensitive to
discrimination of any sort. No matter what their churches say, their constituencies also include gay people, and these politicians should be extending a hand of solidarity, not turning away. I obviously don’t know what it’s like to be a racial minority in this country. I am not going to lecture anybody here. But I believe that minorities who vote against gay marriage are like the successful policymakers who benefited from programs to help the underprivileged and then vote to eliminate them. It happens all the time. The failure of gay marriage in Maryland this year can’t all be placed at the opposition’s feet. Advocates spent too much time focusing on the state senate and didn’t do a proper head count in the House of Delegates. They took things for granted. They never adequately made the case. They should have anticipated Tiffany Alston’s freak-out. Sen. Allan Kittleman (R) was a hero for supporting the measure. The opposition of many moderate and conservative Democrats was a major disappointment. The performance of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D)—saying he’d sign the bill if it passed even though he preferred civil unions and then not lifting a finger to help the bill in its hour of need—was bizarre. A moment has been lost. There’s no guarantee the legislation will be back—or do any better—next year. When the Senate passed the gay marriage bill, I proudly told my mom about it, and joked that she and Elli should have waited to get married here. When the legislation died its ignoble death in the House, I didn’t know what to say. During my years covering Maryland, I have prided myself on offering wry, detached—and with luck, insightful— commentary on the issues of the day. I’m not comfortable talking about myself and my family. I apologize to them—and to readers—for doing so. But you see, gay rights opponents insult my mother. And I will not forget. Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at joshkurtz92@ gmail.com.
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(The Vagina Monologues)
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The Future of Reproductive Rights
Will There Be Choice in 2011 and Beyond?
By Sarah Buttenwieser
hen I was a senior in high school, my mother did not want me to have sex. This did not stop me. So, I didn’t tell her. And here’s a little more: It was 1981. Once I finally admitted, a few weeks after becoming sexually active that I was indeed sexually active, I could make an appointment—for free because I was under 18—at Planned Parenthood, where I could obtain contraception. Fortunately, there was a place to go for reproductive health care. Unfortunately, shortly after the appointment I received a phone call from Planned Parenthood to inform me that I was already pregnant. Fortunately, a counselor at Planned Parenthood informed me about my choices. When I said, “abortion,” she handed me an accordionfold brochure with perhaps ten clinics I could choose from. Unfortunately, I was completely overwhelmed (and nauseated, throwing up daily). Fortunately, my best friend’s mother got me in to see her gynecologist—and fortunately, he was happy to set up the procedure, and fortunately—again, because I was under 18 -- there were federal funds to pay for my procedure—and most fortunately, the gynecologist, upon hearing that my mother was chair of the board of an agency called Choice advised me to tell her I was pregnant. He said, “I think she’d want to know.” Fortunately, she did want to know and was hugely supportive. Unfortunately, in the coming years—my sons are 15, 12 and eight and my daughter’s three—this story is not replicable. Getting pregnant at 17 wasn’t so fun. That said, I was treated with compassion and respect—medically and emotionally—at two clinics and one doctor’s office. Still, as supported as I was by a system that offered me an accordionfold brochure filled with choices, I was simultaneously overwhelmed and embarrassed and ashamed. I was hormonal and my breasts were tender and I was throwing up. I hadn’t really thought about having babies before that beyond a childhood fantasy, in which most importantly I was not divorced (like my parents). Suddenly, I was thinking about how maybe I did want babies someday—in a relationship with a forever partner. More immediately, I was thinking about how different it was to be female, how vulnerable a gender this was and how unfair it was that my body alone had to go through all this. And how amazing it was that my body could do this incredible thing -- grow a baby. I only told my inner circle about the pregnancy. I felt very secretive, even in 1981, when the federal government wasn’t shaming me and no protesters gathered outside abortion clinics. I felt isolated. I cried, a lot. I wasn’t telling many people why I was crying, and so I cried more because I couldn’t tell.
I got it: the brunt of how crushing silence is. It’s this, as much as anything, that makes me fear for my children and their friends, the threat of that crushing silence all the more crushing when denial might mean that becoming sexually active before getting contraceptives the way I did becomes a much bigger, scarier deal. What if, at 17, you really couldn’t tell your mom? What if your insurance wouldn’t cover abortion? What if you couldn’t afford contraceptives after you figured out what to do with your crafted-in-denial pregnancy? Your sense of dread is going to be greater than mine was. Abortion clinics have metal detectors and armed guards— if you can reach them and navigate the consent laws and waiting periods and pay for the procedure. Meantime, so many programs that supported younger parents have been cut that it’s a taller order to raise a child while trying to complete The author and daughter Saskia. your education and work. Then, there’s adoption. Our youngest child is adopted. It’s an open adoption. The rationale behind open adoptions for first parents is that they do not have to lose touch with their children. They can know, through letters and photographs and possibly visits, how their child is doing and where the child is. This takes away the sense that somewhere way out in the giant world is someone they’d automatically recognize if they were to stumble upon him or her. In the more open scenarios, like ours is, we see each other every few months. Nothing, even with that sweet little girl in her life, takes away the loss for her first mama. As an adoptive parent, I know that she came to me at an incalculable cost to another woman. I am pro-choice, pro all choices, yet I’d hope my children can avoid enduring this particular loss. The other side, being an adoptive parent, is really the other side; the most sacred trust was placed in my arms three years ago, and I love this little girl to the moon and back. Even turning three, she’s integrating adoption into her sense of identity. I believe my daughter’s going to feel whole and comfortable. When I think about adoption, I imagine it’s changed—opened up —in part because legal abortion exists. Adoption can be a more freely chosen option than it was during those back alley days. That’s why I’m so scared, now. In 1981, when I was 17, those days seemed much farther away than they were or than they are now. I am scared of fewer options. I am scared of secrets and silence and shame. Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser is a writer and mother of four who is unable to stop community organizing. She lives in Western Massachusetts. Her blog, Standing in the Shadows, focuses on parenting, politics, pop culture and the planet. It appears on the website of the weekly Valley Advocate newspaper, www.valleyadvocate.com/blogs/standingintheshadows. Spring 2011
A Call to Action
Men Speak Out About Sexist Media Coverage of Rape In response to a horrific gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas this winter, a collaboration among antiviolence men’s organizations and individuals long associated with the profeminist men’s movement came together to speak with one voice. The campaign challenges the media to rethink what has been characterized as “victim blaming” coverage of rape and sexual assault, urging instead coverage which focuses on the perpetrators. Voice Male helped to draft the statement, reprinted below, which was sent out nationally at the beginning of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
n the struggle to stop rape and all forms of men’s violence against women, it is time for men to leave the sidelines and get in the game. One important step we can take is to raise our voices and insist that the spotlight in media coverage of rape turns away from a fixation on victims and their behavior and instead focuses on abusive men and boys—and the culture that produces and makes excuses for them. We make this demand not only as concerned citizens and responsible members of our communities—but as men from virtually every cultural/ racial/ethnic/religious background. There is some progress to report, albeit progress in response to yet another depressing reminder of how far we still have to come. Consider this: reaction to the victim-blaming in a recent New York Times story about a brutal gang rape in East Texas has been fast and furious. Over the past several weeks, columnists, bloggers, victim advocates and anti-rape activists—women and men—have criticized the March 8 Times story for the way its use of selective quotes suggested that an 11-year-old girl in effect contributed to the assault against her by “wearing make-up and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her twenties.” In addition, critics have responded to the perception conveyed in the article that among the residents of Cleveland, Texas, there is greater concern for the nineteen men and boys facing allegations of rape than for the young girl. The Times’ public editor Arthur Brisbane agreed with much of the criticism of the piece: “My assessment,” he wrote just a few days later, “is that the outrage is understandable. The story dealt with a hideous crime but addressed concerns about the ruined lives of the perpetrators without acknowledging the obvious: concern for the victim.” (The Times, front-page follow-up story on March 28 did a lot better, offering an extended portrait of the girl, whom they described as having been “an honor roll student, brimming with enthusiasm.”) This tragic case will provide lessons for future news writing classes and journalistic ethics seminars. Clearly, news operations need guidance about how to cover sex crimes without perpetuating misogynous cultural attitudes. But for those of us who work to end men’s violence against women, this incident is less about the specific details of one horrific act of rape in a distressed community in Texas, and more about the broader themes of power, privilege, misogyny, class and race that the act itself—and the coverage it generated—so poignantly exemplify. We have to ask some difficult questions: why would a group of men and boys sexually violate a vulnerable 11-year-old girl? What does this say not only about them or the small community where they live, but about the society—our society—that raised them? What are we teaching men and boys about their attitudes and behavior toward girls? and even further... What are we teaching men and boys about themselves? Because of the class, ethnicity, and race of those involved, some people will predictably attribute this atrocity to the effects of poverty 20
and fatherlessness, which is a coded reference to family dysfunction in communities of color. But gang rapes and the attitudes behind them are perpetrated by wealthy and middle-class white men and boys, too, including boys from “intact” families with present fathers. Just last October at Yale University, DKE pledges marched on Old Campus— home to the majority of Yale’s first-year female students—chanting “No means yes” along with graphic sexual slurs that both demeaned women and glorified sexual violence. White men with privilege routinely perpetrate unspeakable sexual crimes against women in their own families, as well as other women and girls. What’s the explanation for their sexist violence? It seems to us that while questions of class and race are germane in this and many other cases, they are far less relevant than questions of gender. In particular, unless we believe that males across the board are born genetically deficient, we need to ask some fundamental questions, i.e.: How do we socialize our boys? How do we assign certain attitudes and behaviors as “normal”? And, ultimately: What does it mean to be a man in 21st century America? For too many young men, communal rituals of sexism perpetuate negative notions of manhood. Most of us are rightly horrified when we read about gang rape. But group sexual assault is best understood as being at the extreme end of a continuum of behaviors that normalize men’s sexist treatment of women. What about college guys hiring strippers for private parties and openly calling those women “bitches and hoes”? And let’s not forget—an entire genre in pornography is devoted to simulated scenes of gang rape which in many quarters is considered socially acceptable entertainment for men, who sometimes watch it in groups. One of the most disturbing aspects of this gang rape (as in others) is how often the alleged perpetrators videotape the event. In the Cleveland, Texas, assault, the police investigation was prompted, according to the Times, when an elementary school student alerted a teacher to a cell phone video that included one of her classmates. Why would men videotape an incident that literally documents their commission of a first-degree felony unless they thought 1) there was absolutely no chance of their being caught or 2) they weren’t doing anything wrong? It is this last possibility that is most disturbing, because it implicates not just the men and boys who have been charged with the crime, but all of us. What role does each of us play in defining and perpetuating social norms? Moreover, what is the responsibility of adult men not only to girls, but to boys? What is the responsibility that each of us has to teach, mentor and model for younger men and boys non-sexist attitudes and behaviors toward women? It is important to emphasize that we can primarily be concerned about the actual victim in this case and be empathetic with the boys and young men who are charged with this awful crime. How many of them were coerced to participate by older adolescents and young adults? How
many of the younger boys acquiesced because they wanted to fit in and be respected as “one of the guys”? Like other gang rapes, the East Texas case furnishes a powerful metaphor about silence and complicity, because gang rapes can often be prevented if just one guy takes a stand. Can it really be true that there wasn’t one guy—or more—in the group who knew this was terribly wrong? If so, then what were the internal dynamics of the group that prevented anyone from interrupting or stopping the process? Are men (and boys) so scared of each other that no one will speak out for fear that other men will think less of them, or worse, turn the violence on them? April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. But while awareness about sexual assault is a crucial first step, it is not enough. For men in particular, we need more of a willingness to act—both locally and globally. When men speak out about rape and other forms of violence against women, we make it clear to other men that we do not tolerate or condone the mistreatment of women. We also send the message that men who mistreat women will face seriously negative social consequences for doing so—not just legal consequences. Join us and the women who have been doing this work for years. Stand up and speak out for an end to sexual violence.
Bernardo Villafane, New Start Services ▪ Byron Hurt ▪ Charles Knight, Other & Beyond Real Men ▪ Craig NorbergBohm, Jane Doe Inc. ▪ Dasan Harrington ▪ David S. Lee, PreventConnect / California Coalition Against Sexual Assault ▪ David J. Pate, Jr., Ph.D., Center on Family Policy and Practice/University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ▪ Dick Bathrick, Bathrick Consulting ▪ Don McPherson ▪ Ed Gondolf, Ph.D. ▪ Emiliano Diaz de Leon, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault ▪ Etiony Aldarondo, Ph.D. ▪ Gary Barker, Ph.D., Promundo and MenEngage Alliance ▪ Greg Jacob, Service Women’s Action Network ▪ Horace Campbell ▪ Ivan Juzang, Mee Productions ▪ Jackson Katz, Ph.D. ▪ Jeff O’Brien & Daryl Fort, Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) ▪ Jeffrey L. Edleson, Ph.D., University of Minnesota ▪ Joe Ehrmann, Coach for America ▪ Joseph Maldonado, CONNECT Men’s Roundtable ▪ Joshua Bee Alafia, Filmmaker ▪ Juan Carlos Areán & Feroz Moideen, Family Violence Prevention Fund ▪ Juan Ramos, North Brooklyn Coalition Against Family Violence ▪ Kevin Powell ▪ Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele ▪ Michael Kimmel, Ph.D. ▪ Michael A. Messner, University of Southern California ▪ Michael Shaw, Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services, Waypoint ▪ Neil Irvin & Pat McGann, Ph.D., Men Can Stop Rape ▪ Paul Kivel ▪ Quentin Walcott & Marlon Walker, CONNECT NYC ▪ Rob Okun, VOICE MALE Magazine ▪ Rus Funk, MensWork ▪ Dr. Stephen Jefferson, UMass, Amherst ▪ Steven Botkin, Ed.D., Men’s Resources International ▪ Sut Jhally, Media Education Foundation ▪ Ted Bunch & Tony Porter, A CALL TO MEN ▪ Ulester Douglas & Sulaiman Nuriddin, Men Stopping Violence ▪ Victor Rivas Rivers, Actor, Author, Spokesperson/National Network to End Domestic Violence & Verizon Community Champion
Help the CALL TO ACTION go Viral http://www.facebook.com/pages/MenSpeakforGenderJustice/194551133915620 As Voice Male went to press, media response to the call to action challenging how print and broadcast journalists cover rape and sexual assaults had been minimal, but interest in the new Facebook movement, MenSpeakforGenderJustice, continues to be gaining momentum. Virally, this new movement can create a moment of truth, spreading the word that victim-blaming coverage must be replaced with stories that hold perpetrators accountable. The 40 signatories of the Call to Action can mobilize others to get involved in a number of ways, but so can you. Consider what you can do, including: • Share the Facebook link with colleagues in similar fields or advocates for the cause. • Add a tag for this Facebook page to relevant documents you send out. • Compile a list of businesses/government agencies/ universities/health care systems engaged in anti-violence initiatives and “like” them. Become fans of organizations doing work in this arena—including Voice Male—and check the websites listed with all the signatories to the statement. • Add a link to this Facebook movement in your e-signature. It is an effective way to reinforce the views on this important topic, and encourages dialogue among target audiences. • Keep the content fresh and relevant – Facebook is about two-way conversations so continue the dialogue. • Share photos of folks doing the work. Team/group meetings, lectures, newspaper clips, etc., because this will help illustrate activity. • Post tips and bylines to relevant writers; offer information and statistics that drive an emotional response to promote additional coverage on other sites. Such insights may encourage a reporter to do a piece. • Search other Facebook pages related to the cause, post on their wall and invite them to become involved with MenSpeakforGenderJustice. Comment on their post and invite dialogue. • Video an ally speaking on the topic and place the video on YouTube and link to the Facebook page.
The Ten Worst States for Women By Amanda Marcotte
he outrageous state-based anti-woman legislation many have feared turns out to be far worse than ever. A review by writer Amanda Marcotte says Republicans have declared a “surge” in their war on women. Roe v. Wade is under a multipronged assault and, she says, the day may not be far off when safe, legal abortion is no longer possible in many states. What follows is a sample of 10 states in which access to reproductive health care (and, in one case, any kind of health care at all) is severely threatened. 22
Protestors photo: http://gregorykoger.com/
More than 100 women and men traveled from 16 states to defend Dr. LeRoy Carhart, his clinic, patients and staff from anti-women organizations who called for a mobilization to shut down Dr. Carhart’s clinic in Bellevue, Nebraska. After the murder of Dr. George Tiller, Dr. Carhart has become a target of anti-abortion forces.
1. South Dakota
There’s only one clinic in the entire state of South Dakota that offers abortion, a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls. No doctors who provide abortions at the clinic live near it, so they all have to fly in from where they work full-time elsewhere to provide this service. A new abortion restriction signed into law in March now threatens even this weak access to abortion. While most media attention has been directed at a religious freedom-violating requirement that women who want abortions have to suffer a Christian fundamentalist anti-choice lecture at a crisis pregnancy center first, it may be the newly mandated 72-hour waiting period that makes it impossible for Planned Parenthood to continue offering abortions.
Arizona has upped the ante by passing a law that uses race-baiting to give angry, abusive men control over women’s bodies. The law allows the would-be father to claim that an abortion was done for “race or gender” reasons, meaning that men who are bitter because they were dumped by wives or girlfriends can lash out at the doctor who performed the abortion. This could make clinics hesitant to perform abortions on women who often need them the most, i.e. women in abusive relationships.
The law requires the doctor performing the abortion to personally meet with the patient at least three days before her appointment. Despite the lip-smacking claims from backers of the law that this is about making sure women are making “informed” choices, it’s obvious the real aim of the bill is to multiply the number of times the doctors have to fly into the state. The likelihood is high that the demands on their time will prove too much, and the doctors providing abortions in South Dakota will simply quit, leaving the state without a single legal, safe abortion provider.
2. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and the anti-choice coalition in the state legislature have a two-pronged strategy for the women of their state: attack both their ability to pay for abortion and their ability to find a safe, legal provider in the first place. McDonnell amended a bill establishing Virginia’s health insurance exchange that banned women using the exchange from having insurance coverage for their abortions. Most of these women would struggle to pay for abortion out of pocket, since the exchanges are set up to handle people who aren’t covered by their employers, usually because they’re part-time, underpaid workers or unemployed. But even if you can get the money together, Virginia wants to make it hard for you to find a doctor. McDonnell also signed into law a bill requiring that abortion clinics meet hospital regulations in order to stay open, which is similar to requiring your dentist to work out of a hospital if he wants to drill your cavities. The move has nothing to do with safety, but will likely end up causing 17 clinics to shut their doors, leaving only four abortion providers in the entire state of nearly 8 million people.
Gov. Jan Brewer also signed into law a bill that requires medical abortions to be administered only by doctors. Currently, many abortion services in Arizona are performed by nurse practitioners who have the ability to prescribe RU-486. This move means the end of abortion access in at least three clinics in Flagstaff, Yuma and Prescott.
4. Minnesota Giving abusers more control over their victims is a theme in Minnesota as well. Lawmakers there are considering requiring minors to get parental consent for any medical care, unless they get a judicial bypass proving they’re victims of incest. This is about more than abortion; minors who want contraception, STD testing or treatment, or pregnancy testing would have to inform their parents. So if it burns when you pee, but you can’t tell your parents because Jesus told them they have to beat the ever-living crap out of you for being a sinner? The price you’ll have to pay in Minnesota is infertility, sickness and possibly even death for the “crime” of being a minor with abusive parents.
5. Indiana The war on women’s rights in Indiana, already one of the worst states in the country for reproductive rights, is notable for the viciousness of the misogyny that marked the debate. When pro-choice legislators attempted to amend a ban on abortions after 22 weeks for rape or incest victims— knowing that victims, especially very young ones, are often in denial for months about what happened to them—Rep. Eric Turner stood up and insisted that many women would wait until they were six months pregnant, capriciously change their minds about having a baby, and falsely claim to be raped in order to get an abortion that’s exponentially more expensive than one obtained early in the pregnancy. The majority of Indiana representatives agreed with this view of women as fickle-minded liars, passing the bill 72-23. Spring 2011
The Indiana House also passed a bill requiring doctors to read scripted anti-choice propaganda to patients before the abortion. The Senate committee killed an amendment offered by a Democratic senator that would require the propaganda to be scientifically accurate. It appears that Indiana legislators, having convinced themselves that all women are liars, believe lying is just fine when they do it.
6. Florida Florida only got a D on the 2011 report card for the states, and I guess they’re eager to play catch-up in the Misogyny Olympics, because the legislature filed 18 separate bills restricting abortion rights. The bills are the usual scattershot of restrictions, including mandatory ultrasounds, a ban on post-20 week abortions, a First Amendment-violating law banning discussion of drugs or herbs that could induce miscarriage, and restrictions on private insurance funding for abortion. The overwhelming number of bills caused state representative Scott Randolph to crack that his wife should incorporate her uterus if she wants to have basic privacy rights, which in turn caused the censorship-happy Republican caucus to censure Randolph and attempt to silence his telling jokes in the future.
7. Missouri Heavily Catholic Missouri, which has received an F from NARAL for all 20 years it has had state grades on abortion laws, only has abortion provisions in 4 percent of its counties. The legislature is desperate to find a way to get rid of even those few stalwarts. Missouri is trying to join the field of states that have banned post-20-week abortions, even after hearing testimony indicating that most of these very rare abortions are performed for medical reasons. Missouri is eager to ban abortions but also force women into situations where they have to have abortions. The House passed yet another law allowing pharmacists to deny women emergency contraception, with the hopes that given enough runaround, many women will become pregnant who otherwise could have avoided it. (EC works by preventing ovulation, therefore pregnancy.) The catch-22—can’t have an abortion, can’t avoid the need for one—is a common theme of anti-choice legislation.
8. Kansas Things have been especially ugly in Kansas in the past few years, starting with the brutal murder of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, the subsequent victory dance of anti-choicers, and the vicious harassment campaign of Dr. Mila Means that resembles the one that led up to Dr. Tiller’s murder. Instead of discouraging the violence and threats, the Kansas legislature has signaled its approval, passing a ban on post-22-week 24
abortions and a law requiring both parents to sign off on a minor’s abortion, a law that unfairly punishes young women for having a negligent or imprisoned parent.
9. Alabama Alabama, considered by NARAL to be at the bottom of the list in reproductive rights, has decided that worst isn’t bad enough. The legislature is considering a “personhood” law that would define fertilized eggs as persons. Laws like this not only threaten abortion rights, but could also be used to ban in-vitro fertilization, prevent non-sterilized women from holding certain jobs, be used to prosecute pregnant and potentially pregnant women for drinking and smoking, and be used to deny even lifesaving medical care to women. (North Dakota’s similar bill bars doctors from killing fertilized eggs, even during medically necessary care.) One of the most likely results of bills like this is that doctors will be forbidden from treating ectopic pregnancies with drugs, and will be forced to wait until a patient’s ovary explodes before administering treatment, putting the patient in danger of death. Anti-choice activists also hope to use misinformation campaigns that claim the birth control pill is “abortion” (actually, it works by suppressing ovulation) in order to use personhood bills to ban the pill.
10. Idaho Idaho is one of the many states that is using fake science claiming that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain in order to ban abortions after 20 weeks. But what makes the legislature’s attempts to ban abortions after 20 weeks stand out in the crowd is that the legislature has a vendetta against one man, Dr. Leroy Carhart. State legislatures, even in small states, don’t usually write their laws to target individuals for harassment, but Dr. Carhart is the exception, since he offered to help patients in need of late-term abortions after Dr. Tiller’s assassination left a gap in nationwide services. Idaho is hardly the only state siding with anti-choicers against Dr. Carhart. Last year, the state of Nebraska was the first to ban post-20-week abortions in a law aimed directly at Carhart, who moved his practice to Maryland in response. The ban in Nebraska has already left tragedy in its wake. Sadly, this is just a sample of the number of bills that have cropped up across the country in a nationwide attempt to wipe out women’s right to abortion--and in some cases, contraception—once and for all. Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments. This article first appeared in AlterNet (www.alternet.org).
A Guide for Modern Masculinity
The New Ages of Man By Nick Clements
o be a man is to perform a balancing act on a wide scale—with the oppressive tyrant at one end and the caring, feeling gay men at the other. My father’s generation spent most of their time at the tyrant end of the scale. My sons’ generation of men will spend much more time at the metrosexual end. This is a good move, not just for men, but for women and children and humanity as a whole. Feminism was a reaction against the tyrant; women wanted to change the balance of power. It has taken a couple of generations for men to react to this change, but they are now slowly coming around to accepting the challenge. Men are in crisis…hurray! For me, this shift can be characterized as a step toward positive masculinity. I am trying to identify what positive masculinity looks like, and how we can all encourage the next generations to embrace it. In my book, The New Ages of Men, I outline a typical journey for a man from conception to death. It depicts the ages and stages he is likely to undergo, and the rites of passage he may well encounter along the way. I include lessons which link to these rites, and that will engender a specific type of responsible development. In our postmodern culture it is easy to be fearful and cautious about the future; nevertheless, I am seeking to encourage imaginative, risktaking men who are both in touch with their emotions and act out of bravery and responsibility when necessary. Positive masculinity is a new mind-set. It challenges the selfish, materialist model and includes collaboration, mutual aid and support. Positive masculinity is at the forefront of human evolution, and it allies itself with the knowledge that creativity and imagination are the keys to finding the solutions to our present global problems. It links to the spiritual concept of all people having a purpose and the importance of spending our lives seeking it as a way of finding joy and satisfaction. It also promotes an understanding of the shadow aspects of our culture, and an examination of our past being necessary for change in the future. Positive masculinity allies itself with an increased understanding of our responsibility as individuals and as a species. Positive masculinity opposes the old tyrant and violent role model, without losing a sense of adventure, challenge, risk and bravery. The new paradigm for men is a diverse, complex and changing form, which encourages men to be both emotionally intelligent and risk-taking. The
new man has to experience a wide range of places on the scale of masculinity, and eventually settle at a place that is comfortable for him, yet doesn’t impinge on others’ freedom. This is not a return to any previous state, it is also not a weakening or diminishment of masculinity, it is the development of a new state of mind. It will take time. Such actions will actually strengthen masculinity—and humanity—in the long run. To behave in such ways we will need guidance and assistance, and role models, mentors and elders to be present in our male lives. Having them will ensure continuity and the aspirational development of young people. We need to encourage our boys to want to become mature men. At present, too many want to remain forever young. They can see no advantages in growing old. They don’t know what ages (and stages) a man will go through, and how going through them can be beneficial. They need to be encouraged to spend time with older men to appreciate how diverse and interesting they can be. Within the concept of ages as outlined in the book, as a species, we could be described as being in the later stages of teenagehood. We have spent a lot of time recently asking the question “Why.” We are rebelling, kicking and fighting against our parents (the planet). We need now to move toward responsibility, realizing the consequences of our actions and not blaming others. As a species we are about to give birth to a new inclusive, compassionate and imaginative mind-set. The years ahead will mark a rite of passage; let’s hope we can learn the lessons that accompany it. Nick Clements is the father of two children. An author and filmmaker, he is a workshop leader on a diversity of subjects including creativity, masculinity studies and rites of passage. He serves as a mentor and trainer for social service organizations, health and youth workers, artists and entrepreneurs throughout Britain and Europe. He is visiting professor at the Creative Communities Unit of Staffordshire University. (www.thenewagesofmen. com; www.soundoftheheart.com.) Spring 2011
Going Soft Why Vulnerability Will Make Men Stronger in Tough Times By Andrew Reiner
hile watching the ABC comedy Modern Family recently, I thought of my friend Tim and his family. Tim has been out of work for nearly a year now. Like many men in their late 40s and 50s these days, he has little interest in working at Home Depot or Starbucks and would rather collect unemployment. He divides his time between job hunting, taking over domestic duties while his wife Kaitlyn works, keeping his 17-year-old son (whose motivation level rivals Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski) in school and agonizing about his future. Tim’s life, more than any sitcom, is the closest thing to a real modern American family I know of. And it’s no laughing matter. Just like Tim and The Dude, Jr., males of all ages increasingly are opting
out of an educational system and workplace men created and have ruthlessly protected since, well, as far back as we can go. For the first time in history, women are surpassing men on these telling fronts—they now make up more than half of the work force; more women than men hold managerial positions; and, since the Great Recession kicked in, men have been three times more likely to lose their jobs than have women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (This in no way suggests that women have it easy; women still, by and large, earn less than men, and they haven’t exactly been embraced by the Fortune 500 CEO old boys club.) On the educational front women now hold a nearly 60 percent majority of degrees earned all the way up the academic ladder, from community colleges to graduate schools. According
to the U.S. Department of Education, women are earning 159 master’s degrees for every 100 men earn. The takeaway here isn’t about blaming women for anything, nor is it a rallying cry that men have to reclaim some lost mantle to save face. That fear-based mentality is part of the problem. The point is that whether or not women had ever made these strides, American males of all ages are losing their way. The compass seems off when we start defining manhood through toys from without—from NFL team jerseys with our favorite players’ names across the back to video games where we slay the enemies we wish we could confront in real life to online porn where we imagine ourselves the throbbing recipients. We are facing an identity crisis that will have deeper, Spring 2011
Poetry Now Dialing 202.456.1111 And when the water dropped from the helicopters misses the reactor and falls into the sea And when the apologists denounce predictions the accident will be worse than Chernobyl And when the Emperor goes on national television awakening shadowy memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki And when traumatized villagers around Sendai cry out for safe water, rice, an electric utility that tells the truth And when 600 New Englanders hold a vigil for Japan at the gates of Vermont Yankee, evil twin of the dying Fukushima-Daiichi reactor complex Only then do two weeks of tears turn to an anger rising to red alert Dialing 1.202.456.1111—the President’s comment line—I take a breath “Mr. President,” I say, “Find your backbone before it becomes irradiated with fear, before your moral Geiger counter clicks out of control, before there is a meltdown of what remains of your political imagination.”
by Rob Okun
far more permanent, repercussions answers. There’s a reason why so than even the Great Depression many American movies, novels and had on men eight decades ago. If plays since the 1950s have explored American men are going to face the same old clichéd theme of men this impending crisis and start to like Death of a Salesman’s Willy turn things around, then we need to Loman, breaking under pressure. embrace the very quality that has The expectations for what it means always struck fear and hostility in to be a self-made man in this culture our hearts. We need to get in touch are still crushingly confining. with our vulnerability. Sure, there’s been talk in the I can hear it now. The laughing. media about expanding roles for The jeering. The sarcasm. You want men in the form of gender converme to do what? You might as well gence. But, c’mon, are we really suggest I take up crying as a hobby. embracing this gender blurring Or act like a woman. This much is beyond the pragmatism of husbands true: If we would start acting and (finally) pulling their fair share of thinking like women we wouldn’t domestic duties? I used to believe be in the mess that we’re in. Let’s that once women achieved greater Embrace our inner pain? take the economy, for example. power they would encourage men to Show our soft underbelly in a trade their macho yoke for the same Women excel in our knowlhyper-competitive, hyper-violent brand of emotional honesty women edge-based economy because swapped with each other. Four culture? Nothing sounds more counwhether they inherited them years of online dating convinced me genetically or worked to develop terintuitive. Yet that is precisely otherwise. Many women talk about them, they have the requisite what men need. wanting “sensitivity” and “thoughtliteracy skills. And they succeed fulness” in their partners. In the in the service economy because, and, in turn, with others. It’s a courageous same breath they gush about men as anyone paying attention knows, women stand against the culture of lying and deceit (bad boys, really) who are “confident” to listen; they collaborate well and they’re that surrounds us and against the bullies the point of cocky and “strong” to the point flexible employees because they’re more who evade their fear by attacking emotion- of emotionally unavailable. I’d like to think interested in keeping the machine humming ally honest males with such cagey labels as that it’s just the 40-and 50-somethings who than in gumming it up with ego. What’s “Wussy.” are still dealing with this confusing koan. But In reality, little is less wussy than I’ve learned from teaching a college-level more, women embrace education at all stages of life. They are willing to re-learn, re-train, expressing vulnerability. Nothing demands masculinity class that 20-something men are re-think all of their previous conceptions, a more strength or strengthens us more. As just as prone to it as they and their female Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher, says in counterparts ingest endlessly conflicting crucial disposition to have in an age when her renowned book, When Things Fall Apart: images of supernatural male ideals—from information and technology change rapidly. Heart Advice for Difficult Times, “When cocksure buff X-Men to unassuming, tenderStill not convinced? Then consider the 2008 things are shaky and nothing is working…we hearted vampires. Guess which superghoul study conducted by researchers at Columbia are on the verge of something. We might typically wins my female students’ hearts. So Business School and the University of Mary- realize that this is a very vulnerable and much for scrapping the Stetson. It’s time for land. The study, which focuses on the top tender place…We can shut down and feel men to stop escaping from and start escaping 1,500 U.S. companies, finds that firms with resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing to. It’s time we man up, close off the exits women in top management perform better. quality.” It’s only when we board up our well- and face our fears. We could start with one In other words, women have the chops to worn escape hatches—when we embrace the simple but powerful gesture—by lifting our stay atop the evolutionary food chain in pain of our situation—Chodron says, that we NFL team jerseys and baring our beerbloated, soft bellies. this post-industrial era because, whether or will grow stronger, more resilient. Embrace our inner pain? Show our soft not these skills are innate, they embrace the underbelly in a hyper-competitive, hypermost important quality for survival: vulnerAndrew Reiner teaches violent, hyper-ironic culture? Nothing ability—a softness, a malleability. writing and cultural sounds more counterintuitive. Yet that is Let’s get one thing straight from the studies, including a precisely what men need. Because the Marlstart. When we talk about vulnerability we course on masculinity, at boro Man metaphor most middle-age men aren’t talking about biblical floods of crying Towson University in are still burdened with which tells us how to (although giving men the same permission Baltimore. His essays and stoically tough out the stresses and rigors of women have to express their pain, sorrow or articles have appeared in AARP magalife just ain’t working. We may have stopped frustration through tears if they choose to is zine, the Urbanite magazine and the smoking cigarettes, but we’re still breathing a good start). Vulnerability is about opening Baltimore Sun, among other places. in the old toxic mentality—a real man sucks up; it’s about getting real with ourselves it up like a cowboy and always has the Spring 2011
by Jacqueline Berger
Why I’m Here but no, melancholy must be battled through, so the skirt, the cinched belt, the shoes, and a life is changed. I’m here because Jews were hated so my grandparents left their villages, came to America, married one who could cook, one whose brother had a business, married longing and disappointment and secured in this way the future. It’s good to treasure the gift, but good to see that it wasn’t really meant for you. The feeling that it couldn’t have been otherwise is just a feeling. My family Because my mother was on a date with a man in the band, and my father, thinking she was alone, asked her to dance. And because, years earlier, my father dug a foxhole but his buddy sick with the flu, asked him for it, so he dug another for himself. In the night the first hole was shelled. I’m here because my mother was twenty-seven and in the ’50s that was old to still be single. And because my father wouldn’t work on weapons,
around the patio table in July. I’ve taken over the barbequing that used to be my father’s job, ask him how many coals, though I know how many. We’ve been gathering here for years, so I believe we will go on forever. It’s right to praise the random, the tiny god of probability that brought us here, to praise not meaning, but feeling, the still-warm sky at dusk, the light that lingers and the night that when it comes is gentle.
though he was an atomic engineer. My mother, having gone to Berkeley, liked that. My father liked that she didn’t eat like a bird when he took her to the best restaurant in L.A. The rest of the reasons are long gone. One decides to get dressed, go out, though she’d rather stay home, 30
“Why I’m Here” by Jacqueline Berger appears in her collection The Gift That Arrives Broken. © Autumn House Press, 2010.
Being a Father, Being a Son Internal Exposure: A Personal Documentary About Fathers & Sons Directed by Fivel Rothberg In a new autobiographical documentary film, Internal Exposure, filmmaker Fivel Rothberg looks at his connection with both his son and father in order to address the root causes of abusive relationships and mental illness in his life and open up possibilities for change. At first, the filmmaker tries to pin the blame for his behavior and depression on a cycle of abuse, but he comes to realize through the making of the film that reality is far more complicated. Eager to be a different
kind of father from his own, the filmmaker investigates his past and present situation as a parent. An intensely personal experience, Internal Exposure: A Personal Documentary About Fathers & Sons asks viewers to question notions of abuse, fatherhood and masculinity as multiple generations of fathers and sons pursue their own directions. Rothberg, who recently received an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College in New York, has been, for the past decade, presenting independent media to encourage progressive social change and bridges cultural divides. At a recent screening of a rough cut of the film, 14 fathers attended. All are members of NYC Dads Group (www.
nycdadsgroup.com), a diverse community of some 350 members “providing at-home dads and other involved fathers an opportunity to socialize and support each another” as they navigate parenthood. According to NYC Dads group member Lance Somerfeld, Internal Exposure “is a powerful, reflective, and brutally honest account of how a new father was thrust into the role at too young an age. Rothberg struggles with numerous challenges, and perseveres at the end as a better man…I recommend to all fathers (and all parents for that matter): see this gritty and amazing film that makes one reflect on one’s own parenting—no matter what background you come from.” For more information, or to offer support—from time and talent to a financial contribution—go to www.internalexposure.com.
Resources for Changing Men Family Violence Prevention Fund Working to end violence against women globally; programs for boys, men and fathers www.endabuse.org Healthy Dating, Sexual Assault Prevention http://www.canikissyou.com International Society for Men’s Health Prevention campaigns and health initiatives promoting men’s health www.ismh.org Paul Kivel Violence prevention educator http://www.paulkivel.com A wide-ranging (but by no means exhaustive) listing of organizations engaged in profeminist men’s work. Know of an organization that should be listed here? E-mail relevant information to us at firstname.lastname@example.org 100 Black Men of America, Inc. Chapters around the U.S. working on youth development and economic empowerment in the African American community www.100blackmen.org A Call to Men Trainings and conferences on ending violence against women www.acalltomen.org American Men’s Studies Association Advancing the critical study of men and masculinities www.mensstudies.org Boys to Men International Initation weekends and follow-up mentoring for boys 12-17 www.boystomen.org Boys to Men New England www.boystomennewengland.org Dad Man Consulting, training, speaking about fathers and father figures as a vital family resource www.thedadman.com EMERGE Counseling and education to stop domestic violence. Comprehensive batterers’ services www.emergedv.com European Men Pro-feminist Network Promoting equal opportunities between men and women www.europrofem.org
Lake Champlain Men’s Resource Center Burlington, Vt., center with groups and services challenging men’s violence on both individual and societal levels www.lcmrc.org Males Advocating Change Worcester, Mass., center with groups and services supporting men and challenging men’s violence www.centralmassmrc.org ManKind Project New Warrior training weekends www.mkp.org MANSCENTRUM Swedish men’s centers addressing men in crisis www.manscentrum.se Masculinity Project The Masculinity Project addresses the complexities of masculinity in the African American community www.masculinityproject.com MASV—Men Against Sexual Violence Men working in the struggle to end sexual violence www.menagainstsexualviolence.org Men Against Violence UNESCO program believing education, social and natural science, culture and communication are the means toward building peace www.unesco.org/cpp/uk/projects/ wcpmenaga.htm
Men Can Stop Rape Washington, D.C.-based national advocacy and training organization mobilizing male youth to prevent violence against women. www. mencanstoprape.org MenEngage Alliance An international alliance promoting boys’ and men’s support for gender equality www.menengage.org Men for HAWC Gloucester, Mass., volunteer advocacy group of men’s voices against domestic abuse and sexual assault www.strongmendontbully.com Men’s Health Network National organization promoting men‘s health www.menshealthnetwork.org Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe, Inc. Statewide Massachusetts effort coordinating men’s anti-violence activities www.mijd.org Men’s Nonviolence Project, Texas Council on Family Violence http://www.tcfv.org/education/mnp. html Men’s Resource Center for Change Model men’s center offering support groups for all men www.mrcforchange.org Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan Consultations and Trainings in helping men develop their full humanity, create respectful and loving relationships, and caring and safe communities. www.menscenter.org Men’s Resource Center of South Texas Based on Massachusetts MRC model, support groups and services for men email@example.com Men’s Resources International Trainings and consulting on positive masculinity on the African continent www.mensresourcesinternational.org
Men Against Violence (Yahoo e-mail list) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/menagainstviolence/
Men Stopping Violence Atlanta-based organization working to end violence against women, focusing on stopping battering, and ending rape and incest www.menstoppingviolence.org
Men Against Violence Against Women (Trinidad) Caribbean island anti-violence campaign www.mavaw.com.
The Men’s Story Project Resources for creating public dialogue about masculinities through local storytelling and arts. www.mensstoryproject.org
Men’s Violence Prevention http://www.olywa.net/tdenny/ Mentors in Violence Prevention—MVP Trainings and workshops in raising awareness about men’s violence against women www.sportsinsociety.org/vpd/mvp./php Monadnock Men’s Resource Center Southern New Hampshire men’s center supporting men and challenging men’s violence mmrconline.org MVP Strategies Gender violence prevention education and training www.jacksonkatz.com National Association for Children of Domestic Violence Provides education and public awareness of the effects of domestic violence, especially on children. www. nafcodv.org National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Provides a coordinated community www.ncadv.org National Men’s Resource Center National clearinghouse of information and resources for men www.menstuff.org National Organization for Men Against Sexism Annual conference, newsletter, profeminist activities www.nomas.org Boston chapter: www.nomasboston. org One in Four An all-male sexual assault peer education group dedicated to preventing rape www.oneinfourusa.org Promundo NGO working in Brazil and other developing countries with youth and children to promote equality between men and women and the prevention of interpersonal violence www.promundo.org RAINN—Rape Abuse and Incest National Network A national anti-sexual assault organization www.rainn.org Renaissance Male Project A midwest, multicultural and multiissue men‘s organization www.renaissancemaleproject
Resources for Changing Men The Men’s Bibliography Comprehensive bibliography of writing on men, masculinities, gender, and sexualities listing 14,000 works www.mensbiblio.xyonline.net/ UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women www.unifem.org VDay Global movement to end violence against women and girls, including Vmen, male activists in the movement www.newsite.vday.org Voices of Men An Educational Comedy by Ben Atherton-Zeman http://www.voicesofmen.org Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence http:// www.walkamileinhershoes.org White Ribbon Campaign International men’s campaign decrying violence against women www.whiteribbon.ca XY Magazine www.xyonline.net Profeminist men’s web links (over 500 links) www.xyonline.net/links.shtml Profeminist men’s politics, frequently asked questions www.xyonline.net/misc/ pffaq.html Profeminist e-mail list (1997–) www.xyonline.net/misc/profem.html Homophobia and masculinities among young men www.xyonline.net/misc/ homophobia.html
Fathering Fatherhood Initiative Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund Supporting fathers, their families and theprofessionals who work with them www.mctf.org Fathers and Daughters Alliance (FADA) Helping girls in targeted countries to return to and complete primary school fatheranddaughter.org Fathers with Divorce and Custody Concerns Looking for a lawyer? Call your state bar association lawyer referral agency. Useful websites include: 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 The Fathers Resource Center Online resource, reference, and network for stay-at-home dads www.slowlane.com National Center for Fathering Strategies and programs for positive fathering. www.fathers.com National Fatherhood Initiative Organization to improve the wellbeing of children through the promotion of responsible, engaged fatherhood www.fatherhood.org
The Prison Birth Project
working to provide support, education and advocacy to women and girls at the intersection of the criminal justice system and motherhood.
Gay Rights Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Works to combat homophobia and discrimination in television, film, music and all media outlets www.glaad.org Human Rights Campaign Largest GLBT political group in the country. www.hrc.org Interpride Clearing-house for information on pride events worldwide www.interpride.net LGBT Health Channel Provides medically accurate information to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied communities. Safer sex, STDs, insemination, transgender health, cancer, and more www.lgbthealthchannel.com. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force National progressive political and advocacy group www.ngltf.org Outproud - Website for GLBT and questioning youth www.outproud.org Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays www.pflag.org
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General Support Groups: Open to any man who wants to experience a men’s group. Topics of discussion reflect the needs and interests of the participants. Groups are held in these Western Massachusetts communities: Hadley, at North Star, 135 Russell Street, 2nd Floor: Tuesday evenings (7:00 – 9:00 PM). Entrance on Route 47 opposite the Hadley Town Hall. Greenfield, at Network Chiropractic, 21 Mohawk Trail: Wednesday evenings (7:00 – 9:00 PM). Group for Men Who Have Experienced Childhood Neglect, Abuse, or Trauma: Open to men who were subjected to neglect and/or abuse growing up, this group is designed specifically to ensure a sense of safety for participants. It is a facilitated peer support group and is not a therapy group. Group meetings are held on Fridays (7:00 – 9:00 PM) at the Synthesis Center in Amherst, 274 N. Pleasant Street (just a few doors north of the former MRC building). Group for Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Men: Specifically for men who identify as gay or bisexual, or who are questioning their sexual orientation, this group is designed to provide a safe and supportive setting to share experiences and concerns. Gay or bi-identified transgendered men are welcome! In addition to providing personal support, the group offers an opportunity for creating and strengthening local networks. Group meetings are held on Mondays (7:00 – 9:00 PM) at the Synthesis Center in Amherst, 274 N. Pleasant Street (just a few doors north of the former MRC building).