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FROM THE EDITOR Life After grieving By Rob Okun

Dancing on Our Tears

Voice Male


nly after we had huddled under the canopy over Sherry’s and Cedric’s grave did the rain begin to fall. It was a dark Friday night. Sixty of us, holding candles in our gloved hands, stood silently in the cemetery as Yoko Kato, a woman in her sixties with silver bangs framing a kind face, thanked us for coming. It was the 20th anniversary of her daughter, and grandson’s murders. Sherry, a 23-year-old mother, and Cedric, her 18-month-old son, had been stabbed multiple times by the toddler’s father, on January 11, 1993. Before the police woke her before dawn to break the news, Yoko had not considered becoming an activist against domestic violence. True, she had survived abuse herself many years before; still, she saw herself as a wife and mother of two daughters. She had come to the U.S. from her native Japan in the mid-1960s and made a living as a dressmaker; her specialty was wedding gowns. Twenty-four hours after learning of the murders, the district attorney for northwestern Massachusetts visited Yoko at her home. The D.A.’s office would prosecute Sean Seabrooks for the murder of his own son and his former girlfriend. Over the ensuing years, now retired D.A. Elizabeth Scheibel would tell a story emblematic of who Yoko is. “It was only one day after the murders,” she recounted at the 10th anniversary memorial in 2003. “Yoko said, ‘What can I do to help make sure something like this never happens to another family?’” What Yoko has done with her life since her daughter and grandson were murdered has been an inspiration—speaking out against domestic violence in Massachusetts and across Japan. She has led several delegations to Japan and organized many in the U.S. She has served on statewide commissions and the boards of directors of battered women’s organizations and a men’s center that operated a batterer intervention program. She has spoken with men in batterers’ groups who sat listening to her story with rapt attention. “We have to help the men,” she would explain to those who questioned why she had joined the men’s center’s board. In short, she has done deep, inner work to transform her family’s personal tragedy into both public healing and social change. I thought about Yoko after the mass murders in Newtown, Connecticut. Lost to many in the horror of Adam Lanza’s killing spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School was his first victim: his mother, Nancy. Domestic violence was the spark that ignited into domestic terror.

Imagine if Vice President Biden had been heading a commission scrutinizing male socialization and contemporary expressions of masculinity. Other critical issues— like guns and mental illness— would, of course, be key issues to closely examine. President Obama can still create a commission on healthy masculinity.

Imagine if Vice President Biden had been heading a commission scrutinizing male socialization and contemporary expressions of masculinity. Other critical issues—like guns and mental illness—would, of course, be key issues to closely examine. President Obama can still create a commission on healthy masculinity. If there is a silver lining in the gash that ripped open our hearts after Sandy Hook, is it that gender has finally entered the conversation about gun violence. True, the entry portal is narrow and those working to redefine and transform masculinity must be vigilant to ensure it doesn’t close. We are at a crossroads. The Mayan calendar predicted this past December 21st not as the end of the world, but as the end of the world of ignorance. Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, described the new epoch in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly last September. He said it would be a time marking “…the end of selfishness and the beginning of brother [and sister] hood…the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism…the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a bio-centric life…the end of hatred and the beginning of love; the end of lies and beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the begin-

ning of happiness; it is the end of division and the beginning of unity.” Call it supersized idealism if you want. President Morales is giving voice to what people on every continent are yearning for—a world where love triumphs over fear; peace over violence. The signs are there: Indian men joining women in protesting the gang rape and murder of a medical student on a bus in Delhi; the pawnbroker in Tampa, Fla. who said “ethics trumps profits” in deciding to no longer sell guns. Wrenching to say: did it take seeing the faces of murdered six-year-olds to awaken closed hearts and minds? Yoko Kato regularly sees the faces of her young daughter Sherry and toddler grandson, Cedric. She says they have guided her throughout her 20 years working against domestic violence. Today, it may be the faces of the kids from Sandy Hook that guide citizens to work against violence—men’s violence. Few know that facing the violence in our world takes courage and perseverance more than Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and I Am an Emotional Creature—and founder of whose mission is to prevent violence against women and girls globally. Last year, Ensler, a member of Voice Male’s national advisory board, conceived of another campaign: One Billion Rising ( This February 14th, V-Day’s 15th anniversary, she has called for a billion women, and the men who love them, to “rise up” to say no to violence. Picture citizens on every continent, on the streets of the world this Valentine’s Day exhibiting “our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.” Twenty years later, Yoko Kato still remembers her painful loss; two months later, the families of those killed at Sandy Hook do, too. For some, the notion of boogieing for an end to violence may not feel right. That’s understandable. Others may be ready to quote Emma Goldman’s century-old line: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” For me, there’s a middle way found in an observation a special woman I knew made about transforming pain. What the late Lynn Dahlborg poignantly said was, “I danced on my tears.” So can we.

Rob Okun can be reached at

Winter 2013

Volume 17 No. 59

Changing Men in Changing Times

A Farewell to Arms: A Special Section on Men and Violence After Sandy Hook 8


Fatal Distraction: Manhood, Guns, and Violence By Allan Johnson




Letter to Adam Lanza


What Gender Commits Mass Murder?

By Cliff Leek and Michael Kimmel

By Phap Luu

By Paul Campos



Speaking Out After Sandy Hook


Moving Beyond Men’s Killing Fields


Media: It’s About Manhood More than Guns or Mental Illness


The Longest, Darkest Night of the Year


Yearning for Rites of Passage in a World with Too Few Mentors



By Carlos Santana, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Stephen McArthur By Rob Okun

By Jackson Katz

By Robin Morgan


By Frederick Marx

A poem by Alice B. Fogel

Columns & Opinion 2 From the Editor 4 Letters 5 Men @ Work 24 Boys to Men

The Feminine Gaze of Adolescent Boys By Patrick Tiernans

26 Overcoming Violence

Men: Which Side Are You On?

By Rahul Roy


Challenging Misogyny in India

By Leeza Mangaldas

28 Men & Creativity

Men Opening to Their Creative Selves By Alexander Kopelman

29 Women’s Voices

Men: Join Women to End Violence By Marisa Labozzetta

31 Books

Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive Review by Peter Pollard

32 Resources

male positive • pro-feminist • open-minded



Rob A. Okun Editor

Lahri Bond

Art Director

Michael Burke Copy Editor

Read Predmore

Circulation Coordinator

Rosie Hakim, Adam Leader-Smith Interns

VOICE MALE is published quarterly by the Alliance for Changing Men, an affiliate of Family Diversity Projects, PO Box 1246, Amherst, MA 01004. 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 © 2013 Alliance for Changing Men/Voice Male magazine. Subscriptions: 4 issues-$28. 8 issues-$45. Institutions: $40 and $55. For bulk orders, go to or call Voice Male at 413.687-8171. Advertising: For advertising rates and deadlines, go to 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 or mailed to Editors: Voice Male, PO Box 1246, Amherst, MA 01004.

Mail Bonding Priestly Blessing I have had a long interest in issues of gender and justice, mostly arising out of my own struggles to find a place in the male world since I was quite young. I am also an ordained Anglican priest and worked for nearly 20 years in various parishes in Melbourne, here in Australia. I am currently taking a break from that work, and this is partly because of my frustration about the church’s attitudes around gender and sexuality. I am working at the primary prevention end of preventing violence against women—trying to prevent it before it occurs. The work focuses on changing attitudes and practices around equal and respectful relationships between women and men. Research (as I’m sure you are aware) shows that inequality, gender stereotyping, and cultures of violence are the main drivers of men’s violence against women. In 2011, I coordinated a pilot project exploring ways to build the capacity of faith organizations to engage in primary prevention, and this year I commenced a three-year pilot project exploring how to build the capacity of workplaces to engage in primary prevention. The workplace selected to be the partner in this project is the YMCA in Victoria. One of my predecessors had amassed a large collection of resources, including a couple of copies of Voice Male—which is how I came to know about your magazine. A significant part of the work we are doing is encouraging men to explore the assumptions they carry about the role of men, and how these relate to sexism and stereotyping and inequality. So your magazine is right on the money. I’ll look forward to receiving issues of Voice Male each quarter, and I hope to encourage a few of the men in the head office to browse through them. Scott Holmes   Fairfield, Victoria, Australia

National Advisory Board Juan Carlos Areán

Just after the Newtown shootings, [Voice Male contributing editor] Jackson Katz was interviewed on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio, talking about the socialization of men as a factor in mass killings. I looked him up, and through “surfing,” I eventually came to the Voice Male website and magazine. I have always believed in principles of equality and equity. Retirement gave me the time, and other life events gave me the impetus, to delve into feminism again. Recently, when a friend told be about the documentary Miss Representation I watched it and was intrigued and pleased to see that some of the participants were men actively involved in feminist issues. The men in my life, even those with some knowledge about equality for women, carry some misunderstandings and feel a sense of threat of “reverse discrimination.” I believe a magazine like Voice Male, coming from a male perspective, can be shared more readily with men who, hopefully, will recognize and legitimize the male voice and move all of us toward equality and better lives. Pam Love Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

Letters may be sent via email to or mailed to Editors: Voice Male, PO Box 1246, Amherst, MA 01004.

Mike Messner

National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities

Novelist and author, The Gender Knot

Prof. of Sociology, Univ. of So. California

John Badalament

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co.

Bill T. Jones

E. Ethelbert Miller

Eve Ensler

Mentors in Violence Prevention Strategies

Tom Gardner

White Ribbon Campaign

The Modern Dad V-Day

Professor of Communications Westfield State College

Byron Hurt

God Bless the Child Productions

Robert Jensen

Prof. of Journalism, Univ. of Texas

Sut Jhally

Media Education Foundation

Allan G. Johnson

VM Antidote to “Ms.understandings”

Voice Male

Jackson Katz

Michael Kaufman Joe Kelly

Fathering Educator, The Emily Program

Michael Kimmel

Prof. of Sociology SUNY, Stony Brook

Charles Knight

Other & Beyond Real Men

Don McPherson

Mentors in Violence Prevention

African American Resource Center, Howard University

Craig Norberg-Bohm

Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe

Judy Norsigian

Our Bodies Ourselves

Chris Rabb


Haji Shearer

Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund

Joan Tabachnick NEARI Press

Shira Tarrant

Prof. of Gender and Sexuality Studies, California State Long Beach

Men @ Work

No Limit on Prosecuting Pedophiles Child sex abuse in the U.S. occurs at a rate of one every six minutes. In Oregon, 12 years after reporting—or, when the victim turns 30—the perpetrator can no longer be prosecuted. A survivors’

advocacy group aims to change that. Citing studies suggesting it is not uncommon for a survivor to take 20 years or more to be able to tell their story, the Oregon Abuse Advocates and Survivors In Service (OAASIS) has introduced a bill in the 2013 state legislature to eliminate the criminal statute of limitations on child sex crimes committed by adults. The organization is seeking to raise $25,000 to run a statewide campaign, including hiring a lobbyist. “Whether you live in Oregon or elsewhere, this is something each of us can do to make the world a safer place for children,” a spokesperson for OAASIS says. The group hopes that if enacted

the bill will be called the Survivor Law so child victims can seek justice even as older adults. To make a contribution, go to: http://

Detecting Date Rape Drugs A start-up called DrinkSavvy ( is hoping, with a little help from crowd-funding site IndieGoGo, to help stop drug-facilitated sexual assault right where it starts — in your cup. The tech company is currently seeking funding to complete a prototype for a line of cups, straws, and drink stirrers that can detect “date rape” drugs, instantly.

The new line of cups is designed to change appearance, from clear to red stripes, when they detect the presence of predator drugs like Rohypnol. This discreet color change technology might seem simple, but could be a breakthrough in prevention since a majority of these drugs [continued on page 6]

Egyptian Man Defends Women’s Rights hmed Awadalla’s a dude, Egyptian-style. A The young male activist, defender of women’s rights and anti-discrimination blogger, says he is part of a growing youth-led

Five years after his father’s death, Awadalla’s mother remarried because, according to her only son, “she felt that she had to fulfill that expectation from people around her.” movement to reclaim national dignity in Egypt. His mother’s experience is not uncommon. Women who lose “A lot of young people around me, people around my age are their husbands are expected to remarry within a certain timeframe, speaking up more, they’re defending women’s rights; also, they’re and it can be equally catastrophic for a woman’s reputation if she going to protests. They would write about these issues, also get remains single for too long. Egyptian women are simply not expected engaged in that struggle,” the young Egyptian said, to manage their lives independently for any substantial speaking to GlobalPost (, at a length of time. café just off Tahrir Square, where demonstrations draw And because Arab societies traditionally see a thousands still, two years after the historic overthrow of woman’s honor as intimately tied to that of her partner former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. (or her virginity), alternate lifestyle choices like being a Awadalla has large, heavy-lidded eyes prominently single parent tend to attract suspicion.   set in an almond-shaped face. “Being a male does not exclude me from observing He has one of those age-confounding natures, the injustice women are facing,” Awadalla said. “Women someone who can speak with the gravity of a man are not always given the choice to do what they want twice his 27 years without losing the bright enthusiasm with their lives.” of youth. So Awadalla got involved. For those Egyptians with His sister, Alaa Awadalla, said by e-mail that more conservative opinions regarding women’s role in growing up, her younger brother always managed to society, he says, “I challenge their views.” He says, “I’m “remain calm, even in the most aggravating circumalso a male who is forcing this issue, so sometimes they stances.” make fun of me, sometimes they get [to make] some A regular participant in women’s rights protests Ahmed Awadallah, Egyptian negative comments. That’s the downside.” activist and blogger around Cairo, Awadalla also regularly takes on taboo It doesn’t seem to faze him. issues like gender discrimination on his “Rebel with a “Ahmed in particular is exceptional,” said Heba Cause” blog ( Habib, a member of a new Egyptian initiative called HarassMap “I think more people in Egypt in general are demanding their (, which uses text messages to warn people about rights,” he said. “And more women are not afraid to say, ‘That is our high-harassment areas. Part of that is because “he’s been committed right to do this, or to have this,’ and more men are joining that move- for such a long time” to the “very unpopular cause” of women’s rights ment, and supporting their rights.” in Egypt, she explained. The son of a single mother and brother to four sisters, Awadalla “Any male activist, really, working for this cause is, to me, not just was inducted into the world of difficulty confronting many Egyptian a rarity, but obviously just an exceptional human being.” women at the impressionable age of 13, when his father died. —Kristin Deasy The event left his young mother vulnerable as a single parent A version of this article appears at, the alliance in Minia, a town in the country’s hyperconservative Upper Egypt region. Soon, there was talk. The townspeople gossiped. The pres- of nongovernmental organizations working to engage men and boys in effective ways to reduce gender inequalities. sure mounted.

Winter 2013

are odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It’s not a silver bullet, but it probably doesn’t hurt, either. According to DrinkSavvy founder Mike Abramson, the company’s mission isn’t just financial—it’s personal. “Why do I care about this topic? Within the past three years, three of my very close friends— and myself —have been the unwitting victims of being drugged. … And I want to prevent it from happening to anyone else.” Rape and sexual violence statistics continue to be staggering in the U.S., with more than 200,000 sexual assaults reported each year and an estimated 54 percent of rapes going unreported. Is this “smart” cup enough to make a dent in those kinds of numbers? Maybe, but as Jezebel. com’s Laura Beck suggests, it’s mostly a Band-Aid solution. “I wonder if the drinkware can test for all of the common predator drugs — from GHB to Rohypnol? And I worry that creepy kitchen chemists will evolve to create new drugs that can’t be detected by this technology.”

Rape in Syria A Strategy in War The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has described reported sexual violence against Syrian women and girls as horrific. Rape is a “significant and disturbing” feature of the Syrian civil war, with women and girls citing sexual violence as their main reason for fleeing the country, according to a recently published report ( Women and girls told the IRC of being attacked in public and in their homes, primarily by armed men. The rapes, sometimes by several men, often occurred in front of family members. “The stories we’ve heard, talking to Syrian women, are truly horrific,” said Sanj Srikanthan, IRC-UK emergency field director, in an interview with Mark Tran of The Guardian. “Many of these women have experienced rape and torture in Syria, but as refugees [they] can’t find the support 

Voice Male

they need to heal their physical and emotional scars—let alone provide food and shelter for their families.” During interviews with 240 Syrian women and girls in Lebanon and Jordan, IRC learned of attacks involving kidnap, rape, torture, and murder, with Syria’s many roadblocks a particular danger. The IRC said it was impossible to provide figures, but its report draws attention to the use of rape as a strategy in war. Sexual violence occurs in every humanitarian crisis, in recent years notably during the Balkan wars and in conflicts in parts of Africa. Syria, apparently, is no exception. In a report in June, Human Rights Watch said Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained in the conflict. ( global-development/2013/jan/14/ syrian-women-girls-sexualviolence).

Gabby Says Time for “Responsible Solutions” “Two years ago, a mentally ill young man shot me in the head, killed six of my constituents, and wounded 12 others,” wrote former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, announcing the launch of Americans for Responsible Solutions, an organization she founded with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. “Since that terrible day, America has seen 11 more mass shootings,” she wrote. To date, she noted, there has been no meaningful action to prevent gun violence by Congress. “After the massacre of 20 children and six of their teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary though, it’s clear: This time must be different.” Americans for Responsible Solutions pledges to encourage elected officials “to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership.” In an op-ed Giffords and Kelly published in USA Today in January, they wrote, “Special interests

Rob Schumacher, The Arizona Republic

Men @ Work

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords announced in January the launch of Americans for Responsible Solutions, an organization she founded with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, as a force to challenge the gun lobby.

purporting to represent gun owners but really advancing the interests of an ideological fringe have used big money and influence to cow Congress into submission. Rather than working to find the balance between our rights and the regulation of a dangerous product, these groups have cast simple protections for our communities as existential threats to individual liberties. Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction.” Noting that the NRA and the entire gun lobby’s “political contributions, advertising and lobbying have dwarfed spending from antigun violence groups,” they pledged that Americans for Responsible Solutions would change the playing field, engaging “millions” to discuss ways to reduce gun violence and fund political activity nationwide. The result? “[L]egislators will no longer have reason to fear the gun lobby. Other efforts such as improving mental health care and opposing illegal guns are essential, but as gun owners and survivors of gun violence, we have a unique message for Americans…We have experienced too much death and hurt to remain idle.” To learn more, visit

“Manly” Munchies? Ruffles is launching a line of Ruffles Ultimate potato chips “just for men.” It features deeper ridges and more “manly” flavors like Kickin’ Jalapeño Ranch and Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ. It’s being promoted as “man chips” that will satisfy the red-blooded appetite of the stereotypical male, according to the New York Daily News. New brands of dips with “masculine” flavors will also accompany the chips. A post on included the following: “Thank God this will finally put an end to that horrible problem of men complaining that their potato chips have been too girly.” Ruffles dip flavors include Beef N’ Cheese and Smokehouse Bacon, super stuffed with chunks of real bacon and cheese, apparently just the way men ignorant of high cholesterol and heart disease like ’em. Meanwhile, soft drink makers are getting into the manly snack act. Whether stereotyped jungletrekking, gun-toting musclemen in jeeps, a bevy of objectified women, or action-hero drama, Dr. Pepper 10, Pepsi Next, and Coke Zero all are now being pitched to male consumers. If there ever was a moment to mount a 2013 version of a “Real Men Eat Quiche” campaign, this is it. Gentle men, start your ovens.

A Farewell to Arms A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

Ernest Hemingway, after whose acclaimed novel,

A Farewell to Arms, this special section is named, has long been touted as a “man’s man.” Today, fewer and fewer people accept that description as the pinnacle of manhood. On the 16 pages that follow, a chorus of voices, including Voice Male contributing editors, respond with a shared message: move manhood and masculinity from the periphery to the center of the national conversation about violence. The news may be heartbreaking, and the response not enough. Still, the drumbeat of change is growing louder.

Winter 2013

Fata l D i s t r a c t i o n :


s I write this, it’s been only a few weeks since the mass murder of children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, less than 50 miles from my home. I have grandchildren of the same age as the children who were killed. So, I’m finding it especially difficult to listen to the latest national conversation about gun violence, because, like all the others, it’s being conducted in a way that guarantees that such violence will continue. The problem is not what we talk about— guns and the media in particular. Both are important. The problem is what we don’t talk about, for we are once again allowing ourselves to be distracted from the underlying cause of this epidemic of violence, and with fatal consequences. In the aftermath of the mass murder in Aurora, Colorado, for example, I watched the PBS Newshour display photographs of the four most recent shooters as the moderator 

Voice Male

By Allan Johnson posed to a team of experts the question of what the perpetrators all had in common. They looked at the photos and shook their heads. “Nothing,” they said, going on to explain that there were no significant overlaps in the men’s psychological profiles. All men, with nothing in common. I watched again after the massacre in Newtown as a PBS moderator expressed her exasperation at the steady stream of killings that seem to defy explanation, adding to her earnest question, Why is this happening? what seemed almost like an afterthought—that all of the shooters are young men and might this hold a clue. The expert replied as if he hadn’t heard, and she did not bring it up again. I pick on PBS only because they are so enlightened and serious compared with all the rest, and if they can’t see what’s right in front of them, then I don’t know who among the media can.

But of course, the thing is, they do. I used to think they actually didn’t on account of ignorance—fish not noticing the water because it’s everywhere. I don’t believe that anymore. They have eyes that see and they’re not stupid. We know this because if you point out to them that all the shooters are male, they don’t say, “They are?” They know what they’re looking at and, even more, some of them feel moved to ask about it. So why, then, do they—and just about everyone else of consequence, it seems—act as if they don’t, as if the question isn’t worth asking, much less a serious reply? Many are in a state of denial, or the willful ignorance that Martin Luther King saw as the greatest threat. But denial and willful ignorance are used for self-protection, which raises the question of what these educated, sensitive shapers of public policy and opinion are so afraid of.

Manhood, Guns, and Violence The most immediate reason not to ask about the connection between men and violence is, quite simply, that men won’t like it if you do. We are a nation tiptoeing around men’s anger, men’s ridicule, men’s potential to withhold resources (such as funding for battered women’s shelters and sexual assault programs), men’s potential for retaliation, violent and otherwise, men’s defensiveness, and the possibility that men might feel upset or attacked or called out or put upon or made to feel vulnerable or even just sad. In other words, anything that might make them feel uncomfortable as men. I have seen this again and again over the years that I’ve worked on the issue of men’s violence. Whether testifying before a governor’s commission or serving on the board of a statewide coalition against domestic violence or consulting with a commissioner of public health, when I point out that since men are the perpetrators of most violence, they must be included in naming the problem—as in men’s violence against women—the response has been the same: We can’t do that. Men will get upset. They’ll think you’re talking about them. Even when children are gunned down at school—shot multiple times at close range so as to be rendered unrecognizable to their own parents—people in positions of influence and power show themselves all too willing to look into the camera and act as though they cannot see and do not know. As a result, when men engage in mass murder, the national focus is on the murder but not the men, beginning with a nationwide outpouring of broken hearts and horror and disbelief that this is happening yet again. All of this is undoubtedly heartfelt and sincere, but it gives way all too quickly to this country’s endless debate about controlling guns. Yes, we must talk about guns because they do kill people in spite of what their defenders say. Killing someone (including yourself) with a gun is far easier and quicker (harder to change your mind) and more certain and therefore more likely than is killing someone with a baseball bat or a knife. The rest of the industrialized world shows clearly how limiting access to guns lowers rates of murder and suicide. So, yes, we must talk about guns. And we must also talk about violence in the culture, from movies to video games. Even the National Rifle Association wants to talk about that. But those debates are endless precisely because they are such effective distractions

from what just about everyone is working so hard to ignore, which is the obvious connection between men and guns and violence. It is much easier to argue the fine points of the First and Second Amendments than to take seriously the question of what is going on with men. Such distractions enable us to avoid talking about the underlying reality that is driving it all, which, strangely enough, isn’t strictly about guns or even violence. Or even, in a way, just about men.

That our culture is saturated with images of violence—from television and video games to the football field—is not the work of a lunatic fringe of violent men. Nor is the epidemic of actual violence. All of it flows from an obsession with control that shapes every man’s standing as a real man in this society. Guns and violence are not ends in themselves. People are not attached to guns because of guns. Nor is violence glorified for itself. Guns and violence are used for something, a means to an end, and it is from this that they acquire their meaning and value in the culture. It is that end that we must understand. Guns and violence are instruments of control, whether used by states or individuals. They otherwise have no intrinsic value of their own. Their value comes from the simple fact that violence works as a means to intimidate, dominate, and control. It works for governments and hunters and police and batterers and parents and schoolyard bullies and corporations and, by extension, anyone who wants to feel larger and more powerful and in control than they otherwise would. The gun has long been valued in this culture as the ultimate tool in the enforcement of control and domination, trumping all else in the assertion of personal control over others. Can anyone forget the scene in Indiana Jones when “our hero” is confronted with the huge man wielding an equally enormous sword, and the white man unholsters his gun and the crowd roars its approval as he calmly shoots the other man down? The gun is the great equalizer with the

potential to elevate even the most weak, shy, or timid above anyone who lacks equivalent firepower. What this makes clear is that violence in this country is not an aberration or a simple product of mental illness. It is an integral part of the American way of life. The key to understanding gun violence and the fact that all these shooters are men is this: an obsession with control forms the core of our cultural definition of what it means to be a real man. A real man is one who can demonstrate convincingly an ability always to be in control. Because violence is the ultimate and most extreme instrument of control, then the capacity for violence—whether or not individual men may actually make use of it—is also central to the cultural definition of manhood. Every man and boy faces the challenge of signaling either their own capacity for violence or their support if not admiration for that potential in other males, if for no other reason than to solidify their standing as real men (or boys), if not to deter acts of violence and ridicule directed at them. It is a dynamic that begins early—in locker rooms and schoolyards—and extends in one form or another throughout men’s entire lives. However men and boys choose to deal with it as individuals, deal with it they must. No one, no matter how powerful, is immune to this imperative of manhood as defined in this culture. Every presidential candidate must first and foremost demonstrate their qualifications to be the nation’s commander-in-chief, which is to say, their willingness and readiness to make use of and direct the U.S. military’s massive capacity for violence in the overriding interest of controlling what happens in other countries. The record is clear, for example, that Lyndon Johnson kept us in the Vietnam War long after he knew it was unwinnable, for the pathetically simple reason that he was afraid of being seen as a president who could not control the outcome of that war. The horrific cost of protecting his manhood and the nation’s identification with it was not enough to keep him from it. The choices he made have been repeated by every president since, with the electorate’s enthusiastic support, right down to the present day where drone strikes routinely take the lives of innocent women, children, and men who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, including weddings, family gatherings, and schools. Men’s acceptance of the cultural association of manhood with control makes them Winter 2013

complicit in its consequences, including the use of violence. Acceptance need not be conscious or intentional. Individual men need not be violent themselves. Mere silence—the voice of complicity—is enough to accomplish the effect, and to connect them to the violence that other men do. When a young man who is feeling wronged or is insecure in his manhood straps on body armor and takes up a gun, he is pursuing by extreme means a manhood ideal of control and domination that has wide and deep support in this society, including among men who would never dream of doing such a thing themselves. That our culture is saturated with images of violence—from television and video games to the football field—is not the work of a lunatic fringe of violent men. Nor is the epidemic of actual violence. All of it flows from an obsession with control that shapes every man’s standing as a real man in this society. It would be a mistake to end the analysis here, as if the problem of violence were simply a matter of men and manhood. The Newtown murderer, after all, used weapons belonging to his mother, which she had taught him how to use. She would not be the first woman attracted to guns because they made her feel powerful and in control. It might seem that this would nullify the argument about manhood, control, and violence. But in fact, the involvement of women merely extends the argument to a larger level. The argument, after all, is not that men’s violence is caused by something inherently wrong with men, but that such behavior is shaped and promoted by a social environment that includes women. A patriarchal society—which is what we’ve got—is, among other things, male identified, which means that men and manhood are culturally identified as the standard for human beings in general. Consider, for example, the routine use of “guys” to refer to both men and women even though the word clearly and unambiguously points to men (if you doubt this, ask people to raise their hand if they’re a guy and see how many women you get).

Or that for years, medical research on heart disease focused only on men, based on the (false) assumption that the male body could serve as the universal standard for the human being. In a male-identified world, what works for men, what is valued by men, is generally assumed to work for and be valued by human beings in general. So if the obsession with control associated with true manhood includes defining power and safety in terms of domination and control and, therefore, the capacity for violence that comes with owning a gun, then this is seen as not merely manly, but universally human. Cultural ideas that would preclude women’s being both feminine and interested in guns have been a device for excluding and marginalizing women and keeping them dependent on men for protection (from other men). As such limitations have been broken down by the women’s movement, it is inevitable that many women will adopt male-identified ideals about power and control as their own. But the analysis of violence rooted in an obsession with control must go farther still, beyond issues of gender, because the obsession shapes every social institution, from economics and politics to education, religion, and health care. Our entire history has been inseparable from a continuing story of control and domination directed at the earth and nonhuman species, at Native Americans, at enslaved Africans and other people of color, at those who resist the building of the American empire and its exercise of global power, at workers, at immigrants. As Richard Slotkin argues in his brilliant history of the making of the American mythology, violence has played a central role in that history. Although the heroes of that mythology have always been men, the larger idea of America shaped by it—of American exceptionalism and superiority, and freedom as the right to dominate and act without restraint—is about more than manhood. It has become the heart of who we think we are as a society and a people.

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Which may be why we are so ambivalent about guns and violence, and why we would rather focus on a few crazy individuals than on what this is really about, which is ourselves and an entire worldview that informs our lives, with cultural ideals about manhood at the center. The national silence about manhood and violence is about much more than either. It is about protecting a way of life even if it means failing to protect our children. Any society organized in this way is a frightening place to be—people afraid to go to the movies unless they’re packing heat, parents afraid to send their kids to school. And the solution offered by that same society is, of course, still more control. If someone has a gun, get your own. Arm the teachers. Arm yourself. Arm your kids. But every crisis is also an opportunity. Here we are once again. The prohibition against talking about violence and manhood in the same breath puts us in a state of paralysis which is where we find ourselves today. And it is where we will find ourselves when this happens again, as it’s all but certain to do if it hasn’t already. Unless we do something to break the silence. History is full of examples of the power of ordinary citizens speaking out—on slavery and race; on the rights of working people, gays, immigrants, Native Americans, and women; on the exploitation and abuse of children; on the degradation, exploitation, and destruction of the Earth and its species; on capitalism and the power of the wealthy. We have done it before and we can do it again.

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Voice Male contributing editor Allan G. Johnson is the author of several books, including The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy and the domestic violence novel The First Thing and the Last. www.

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A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

Suicide-by-Mass-Murder By Cliff Leek and Michael Kimmel


f your only sources were Facebook and Fox, tabloids and TV, you’d likely think that guns, mental illness, and violent media were the only things worth talking about to explain the horrific massacre at Sandy Creek Elementary School. Of course, any rational approach to this problem would indicate that these three factors are important. Surely, guns played some role in this. Although guns, by themselves, are not the cause of the rampage, they can help explain its horrific scale, its terrible scope. Consider two of our closest allies. In 1996, in Dunblane, Scotland, a single gunman killed 16 children and one adult in an affluent suburb before taking his own life. That same year, a gunman killed 35 people and wounded 23 more in a Tazmanian resort town; it was Australia’s worst mass shooting ever. Both countries immediately passed tough gun controls, making it effectively illegal to own a handgun in the U.K. And there hasn’t been another school shooting

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since in Britain; in Australia, homicides by firearms have declined by about 60 percent over the past 15 years. And yes, we believe Adam Lanza was mentally ill. Perhaps he was on the autism spectrum; he was perhaps manic-depressive. Pop psychologists will never have the opportunity to properly diagnose him (but that won’t stop them from trying). We do not know enough and he left few clues, but it is safe to say that he was mentally ill or developmentally disabled. And just as surely, the overwhelming majority of mentally ill people do not hurt other people (and the majority of violence is performed by people who would test as fully rational). And yes, of course, our violent media culture, of apocalyptic action movies and glorified graphic violence and first person shooter video games, has to have some cognitive impact. Even though the overwhelming majority of game players and media consumers will never commit a violent act in our lives,

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most research indicates that media images have some effect on our behavior. (Had they no effect, the entire advertising industry would collapse!) But these three factors are simply not enough. We need to broaden the conversation. Other elements must be considered. There are at least two more elements of this equation of what can only be described as “suicide by mass murder” that have to be weighed judiciously alongside guns, mental illness, and violence in media. These often unspoken elements are gender and race. The biggest surprise in the deluge of punditry about Sandy Hook is the sudden visibility of gender. The utter maleness of these mass murders is no longer being ignored (61 of the 62 perpetrators of mass murders in the United States in the last 30 years have been men). We are finally questioning how using violence to retaliate against nearly any perceived slight is accepted, and even encour-

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aged, for men in our society. Righteous retaliation is a deeply held, almost sacred, tenet of masculinity: if you are aggrieved, you are entitled to retribution. American men don’t just get mad, we get even. Both of us have been writing and researching this lethal equation of masculinity and righteous resort to violence for years, so we weren’t surprised that it plays a role in these events. But we were surprised to see a gender analysis becoming one of the central framing themes in the media coverage. It is long overdue. But a deeper, and perhaps more controversial, issue is race—or rather the combination of race and class and gender. (We academics call it “intersectionality”—the way that race or class or gender are not separate categories but rather “intersect” with one another in constantly shifting patterns.) Even as gender is finally making headlines in relation to this horrible violence, race and its intersection with class and gender has been left behind. Newtown is a white, upper, and uppermiddle-class suburb. Think of the way we are describing those beautiful children—”angels” and “innocent”— which they surely were. Now imagine if the shooting had taken place in an inner city school in Philadelphia, Newark, Compton, or Harlem. Would we be using words like “angels”? We don’t know the answer, but it’s worth asking the question. It is telling, though, that we do not see a national outcry over the far too frequent deaths of black-andbrown skinned angels in our nation’s inner cities. Now let’s talk about the race and class of the shooter. In the last 30 years, 90 percent of shootings at elementary and high schools in the U.S. have been perpetrated by young white men. And, 80 percent of the 13 mass murders perpetrated by individuals aged 20 or under in the last 30 years have also been committed by white men. There is clearly something happening here that is not only tied to gender, but also to race. This new phenomenon of suicide-by-massmurder has emerged as a corollary to the earlier suicide-by-cop as a phenomenon of those

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whose real goal is, at least in part, to kill themselves—and to take out as many of “them” as possible on the way. And this seems to be an entirely white male thing. In urban settings, when young men of color experience that same sense of aggrieved entitlement—that perception of victimhood despite everything men expect for themselves—they may react violently, and even with lethal violence. But the victims of their violence are usually those whom the shooter believes have

American men don’t just get mad, they get even. “If I’m going to die, so is everybody else.” That is certainly mental illness speaking, yet doing so with a voice that has a race and a gender. wronged him, and the unintended and accidental victims caught in the line of fire. And it rarely ends with his suicide. White men, on the other hand, have a somewhat more grandiose purpose: they want to destroy the entire world in some cataclysmic, video game and action movie–inspired apocalypse. If I’m going to die, then so is everybody else, they seem to say. Yes, of course, this is mental illness speaking: but it is mental illness speaking with a voice that has a race and a gender. One must feel a sense of aggrieved entitlement to pick up a gun and go on a rampage, yes. But that sense of aggrieved entitlement must also be grandiose if you are going to make them all pay. Even as we challenge ourselves to see the racial difference in perpetration, we must not ignore the way that our response to this kind of violence is also shaped by race. When we hear of a rampage shooting by a white guy, we immediately claim it is a result of individual pathology—mental illness. The problem is “him,” not “us.” When we hear of a rampage or gang murders in the

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inner city, we assume it is the result of a “social pathology”—something about the culture of poverty, the legacy of racism or some intrinsic characteristics of “them” or “those people.” This difference in treatment allows us to avoid talking about what whiteness might have to do with the violence while always talking about what blackness or brownness has to do with it. In both cases, though—individual mental illness or social pathology—it is not “our” story, but “their” story. And thus we miss the other variables in this equation—how the shooter is, indeed, one of us—shaped in the same culture, fed the same diet of images and ideas about the legitimacy of righteous rage, and given access to the same guns, subject to the same poorly diagnosed and under treated mental illnesses, regardless of their cause. Just as those innocent angels (no quotations marks this time, as they surely are that) are “ones of us,” so, too, is Adam Lanza. We, the authors, speak inside that frame; we, too, are white and male, and have drunk from the same glass of aggrieved entitlement. Unless we address all the elements of the equation in his horrific act, including race and gender, our nation will continue to produce Adam Lanzas, Dylan Klebolds, James Holmeses, Jared Loughners, arm them with a small arsenal, and then inspire them to explode.

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Cliff Leek is a PhD student in sociology at Stony Brook University, Long Island, N.Y. His studies focus on the intersections of whiteness, masculinity, and violence prevention. Voice Male contributing editor, and sociolo gist Michael Kimmel, is the author or editor of numerous books on men and masculinity including Men’s Lives, Guyland, and Angry White Men (forthcoming).

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A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

Letter to Adam Lanza

The Game Is Not Over, Though You Are Dead

(AP Photo/David Goldman

By Phap Luu

A mourner sits against the wall while listening to a memorial service outside Newtown High School, Newtown, Conn., December 16, 2012.

Editor’s Note: The letter below was written to Adam Lanza in the days following the December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook school murders. Its author is a 37-year-old Buddhist monk named Phap Luu, who grew up, like Lanza, in Newtown, Conn. Luu doesn’t emphasize the killer’s gender but his suffering. That a sensitive, raised-in-Newtown Buddhist monk is capable of acknowledging Lanza’s humanity is an example of men’s capacity for empathy. We do no one a service by perpetuating the profile of Lanza as only a monster or a demon. (There are some who don’t want to count him—still others, him and his mother—in the total number of the dead.) As Luu writes, “By killing yourself at 20, you never gave yourself the chance to grow up and experience a sense of how life’s wonders can bring happiness.”

Dear Adam, Let me start by saying that I wish for you to find peace. It would be easy just to call you a monster and condemn you for evermore, but I don’t think that would help either of us. Given what you have done, I realize that peace may not be easy to find. In a fit of rage, delusion, and fear—yes, above all else, I think, fear—you thought that killing was a way out. It was clearly a powerful emotion that drove you from your mother’s dead body to massacre children and staff of Sandy Hook School and to turn the gun in the end on yourself. You decided that the game was over. But the game is not over, though you are dead. You didn’t find a way out of your anger and loneliness. You live on in other forms, in the torn families and their despair, in the violation of their trust, in the gaping wound in a community, and in the countless articles and news reports spilling across the country and the world—yes, you live on even in me. I was also a young boy who grew up in Newtown. Now I am a Zen Buddhist monk. I see you quite clearly in me now, continued in

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the legacy of your actions, and I see that in death you have not become free. You know, I used to play soccer on the school field outside the room where you died, when I was the age of the children you killed. Our team was the Eagles, and we won our division that year. My mom still keeps the trophy stashed in a box. To be honest, I was and am not much of a soccer player. I’ve known winning, but I’ve also known losing, and being picked last for a spot on the team. I think you’ve known this too—the pain of rejection, isolation, and loneliness. Loneliness too strong to bear. You are not alone in feeling this. When loneliness comes up it is so easy to seek refuge in a virtual world of computers and films, but do these really help or only increase our isolation? In our drive to be more connected, have we lost our true connection? I want to know what you did with your loneliness. Did you ever, like me, cope by walking in the forests that cover our town? I know well the

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slope that cuts from that school to the stream, shrouded by beech and blasting fireballs down the school corridor, so he would fear and respect white pine. It makes up the landscape of my mind. I remember well the me. Did you dream like this too? thrill of heading out alone on a path winding its way—to Treadwell Park! The way out of being a victim is not to become the destroyer. No At that time it felt like a magical path, one of many secrets I discovered matter how great your loneliness, how heavy your despair, you, like each throughout those forests, some still hidden. Did you ever lean your face one of us, still have the capacity to be awake, to be free, to be happy, on the rough furrows of an oak’s bark, feeling its solid heartwood and without being the cause of anyone’s sorrow. tranquil vibrancy? Did you ever play in the course of a stream, making You didn’t know that, or couldn’t see that, and so you chose to pools with the stones as if of this stretch you were king? Did you ever destroy. We were not skillful enough to help you see a way out. experience the healing, connection, and peace that comes with such With this terrible act you have let us know. Now I am listening, moments, as I often did? we are all listening, to you crying out from the hell of your misunderOr did your loneliness know only screens, with standing. You are not alone, and you are not gone. dancing figures of light at the biding of your will? And you may not be at peace until we can stop all “I don’t think you How many false lives have you lived, how many our busyness, our quest for power, money, or sex, shots fired, bombs exploded, and lives lost in video hated those children, our lives of fear and worry, and really listen to games and movies? you, Adam, to be a friend, a brother, to you. With a or that you even By killing yourself at 20, you never gave yourgood friend like that your loneliness might not have hated your mother. I self the chance to grow up and experience a sense overwhelmed you. of how life’s wonders can bring happiness. I know But we needed your help too, Adam. You think you hated your at your age I hadn’t yet seen how to do this. needed to let us know that you were suffering, and loneliness.” I am 37 now, about the age my teacher, the that is not easy to do. It means overcoming pride, Buddha, realized there was a way out of suffering. and that takes courage and humility. Because you I am not enlightened. This morning, when I heard were unable to do this, you have left a heavy legacy the news, and read the words of my shocked classmates, within minutes for generations to come. If we cannot learn how to connect with you and a wave of sorrow arose, and I wept. Then I walked a bit further, into the understand the loneliness, rage, and despair you felt—which also lie woods skirting our monastery, and in the wet, winter cold of France, deep and sometimes hidden within each one of us—not by connecting beside the laurel, I cried again. I cried for the children, for the teachers, through Facebook or Twitter or email or telephone, but by really sitting for their families. But I also cried for you, Adam, because I think that with you and opening our hearts to you, your rage will manifest again I know you, though I know we have never met. I think that I know the in yet unforeseen forms. landscape of your mind, because it is the landscape of my mind. Now we know you are there. You are not random, or an aberration. I don’t think you hated those children, or that you even hated your Let your action move us to find a path out of the loneliness within each mother. I think you hated your loneliness. one of us. I have learned to use awareness of my breath to recognize I cried because I have failed you. I have failed to show you how to and transform these overwhelming emotions, but I hope that every man, cry. I have failed to sit and listen to you without judging or reacting. woman, or child does not need to go halfway across the world to become Like many of my peers, I left Newtown at seventeen, brimming with a monk to learn how to do this. As a community we need to sit down and confidence and purpose, with the congratulations of friends and the learn how to cherish life, not with gun checks and security, but by being approbation of my elders. I was one of the many young people who left, fully present for one another, by being truly there for one another. For and in leaving we left others, including you, just born, behind. In that me, this is the way to restore harmony to our communion. sense I am a part of the culture that failed you. I didn’t know yet what a community was, or that I was a part of one, until I no longer had it, and so desperately needed it. Phap Luu (né Douglas Bachman) grew up at 22 I have failed to be one of the ones who could have been there to sit Lake Road, Newtown, Connecticut. A Zen monk and listen to you. I was not there to help you to breathe and become teaching applied ethics and the art of mindful aware of your strong emotions, to help you to see that you are more living to students and school teachers, he lives at than just an emotion. the Plum Village Monastery in Thenac, France, But I am also certain that others in the community cared for you, founded by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. loved you. Did you know it? A version of this article first appeared in Patheos, In eighth grade I lived in terror of a classmate and his anger. It was first time I knew aggression. No computer screen or television gave a turns/2012/12/a-zen-monks-letter-to-adam-lanza/. way out, but my imagination and books. I dreamt myself a great wizard,

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A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

What Gender Commits Mass Murder? By Paul Campos


common demand made of socially marginalized groups is that they take responsibility for the bad acts of their members.  These demands come both from socially privileged people who marginalize social outsiders and from the socially marginalized themselves. For instance, if you Google “black on black crime,” the very first link that comes up is to a blog post by an African-American writer, discussing the relative lack of attention the writer claims the African-American community pays to crimes committed by black people against other black people. This is an example of how, in America, a white person who commits a crime is merely a criminal, while a black person who commits a crime is a black criminal.  In other words, being black in America tends to make one a member of what sociologists call a “marked category.” The easiest way to explain what that means is to contrast it with its opposite: If I ask you to picture a police officer, what does this person look like?  I’m pretty confident that, whatever other characteristics the person may have, he is a man —just as if I ask you to picture a kindergarten teacher, you almost certainly will conjure up an image of a woman. We don’t usually notice the gender of male police officers because we expect police officers to be men: in this context, maleness is an unmarked category. One effect of unmarked categories is that we don’t notice things that would seem both overwhelmingly obvious and socially significant if the category in question were marked. Suppose, for example, that African-Americans committed 100 percent of the mass murders and spree killings that happen in our unusually violent country.  We can be sure this fact would be considered the single most notable and important thing about such killings, and that an almost infinite number of words would be devoted to discussing the problem of “black mass murder.” Consider: virtually 100 percent of the mass murders and spree killings in America—and around the world—are committed by members of a very well-defined and particular social group: men.  Indeed it’s nearly impossible to find an example of a female mass murderer.  This illustrates how the likelihood that the gender of the perpetrator of an

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act can be predicted correlates almost precisely with how violent the act happens to be.  Men commit the large majority of violent crimes, the overwhelming majority of murders, and practically all of the most violent murders (98.2 percent of current death row inmates are men). Yet until very recently the fact that mass murder is an essentially all-male phenomenon got almost no attention.  Ironically, we are so accustomed to the idea that violence is gendered male that we don’t even notice that it is — unless we force ourselves to focus on something that seems so natural that it’s normally invisible to us. As feminists have pointed out, if we define “human nature” as “what men do,” we will treat male violence as merely violence, as opposed to a very gender-specific behavior.  If, when considering violence in our society, we were to turn being a man into a marked category, we would not ask questions like, “Why is America so violent?” but rather questions like, “Why are men so violent?” Some researchers do ask that question, and they come up with a number of answers, usually featuring a mixture of biological and social explanations:  testosterone makes men more aggressive, while boys are brought up to believe that a willingness to engage in physical combat is essential to being a man, and so forth. To the extent the latter sorts of explanations are valid, they suggest that levels of violence in general, and mass murder in particular, are culturally determined, and are related to the messages societies convey about gender identity.  Yet because men belong to a—or rather the—socially dominant group, they find it relatively easy to ignore demands (from people they dismiss as “shrill feminists”) that they take responsibility for male violence. But all this is too academic and abstract. In the wake of yet another unspeakable crime, I suggest that we men self-consciously mark the category to which we belong, and engage in some critical self reflection about why committing such horrors should be such quintessentially “male behavior.” Paul Campos is a professor of law at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A version of this article appeared in Salon ( com/2012/12/17/why­­_is_the_shooter_always_male).

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A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

Speaking Out After Sandy Hook We Are a Violent Country We are a violent country; that is our history and our present. It is internalized in all of us. We kill for money, for power, for influence, and for attention. I say “we” because I am a taxpayer and my money supports wars abroad as well as mass incarceration at home. Time to stop acting surprised when Americans kill children on our own lands; we do it abroad in the name of “antiterrorism,” “foreign aid,” and “democracy” every day. On every continent. Indigenous children are most often the ones under attack, simply because their existence challenges America’s reign of superiority. Until our culture learns to value human life over currency and power, this will be our reality. True, a country built on dehumanization is likely to perpetuate cycles of violence. There is hope though, because culture is not set in stone! We are subject to it, but we also shape it. Banning weapons is not culture shaping, it is just law. Shaping culture starts with how we educate our youth on how to place value on community, and our place in Mother Nature. We must speak truthfully about our history. Do not lose hope, fam. Let’s get educated on the issue of violence. Did you know that Obama has enacted a law that allows the military to determine any neighborhood in “terrorist regions” cleared for killing off all teenage-young adult males? We criminalize our youth before they even know how to read, destining them for a future in prison or six feet under. Do you value all life the same? Do you think children whose parents don’t like America’s policies of violence deserve to die? Let’s change what we teach children so they don’t have to wake up every day in the middle of war. All it takes is a willingness to change how we treat each other and how we perceive ourselves. Life is too beautiful to keep robbing children of their futures. — Carlos Santana Carlos Santana is the winner of 10 Grammy Awards and three Latin Grammy Awards.

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Newtown Is Not New In a free society, some are guilty; all are responsible . —Abraham Joshua Heschel  

Newtown is not new. What is old is our failure to change the American narrative.  Is anyone describing the incident in Connecticut as one of domestic terrorism?  How many parents are now afraid to send their children to school? How many of us will pay more attention to the quiet kid who has few friends? We keep asking ourselves…why?  How could so many young children be murdered by a lone gunman? Why did Adam Lanza go on a rampage?   Before we begin with the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School we should turn our attention to Lanza’s first victim.  Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother. This is another case of domestic violence.  Man against woman.  Why did Adam kill her?  Every house is a house of secrets.  Our struggle to find a narrative is dependent on finding “clues” and evidence that will help us build a story.  If there are no letters, suicide notes, diaries, then we might have to fall back on the guns themselves. Lanza’s mother was the owner of the guns her son committed his crimes with.  What would these guns say if they could talk? The hands that held them first belonged to a woman, not a man. Many women love guns, too. How many of us remember Annie Oakley?  With a gun was how the West was won. All hands today still remain on the trigger. —E. Ethelbert Miller Literary activist, author, and poet E. Ethelbert Miller is the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, and chair of the board of the Institute for Policy Studies

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It’s Not about Guns or Crazy People What I hear on right-wing radio: “The idiot liberals don’t understand that all the gun control laws in the universe will have no impact on the crazy or criminal people who want to get guns and use them.” What I see on the liberal/progressive blogosphere: “We have to ban assault weapons, highcapacity magazines, and the like. Gun control is imperative, and we have to prevent the criminals and mentally ill people from getting guns.” Generalizations? Yes. But also very common reactions to the Newtown massacre. Nowhere (with few exceptions anyway) is there mention of the violent masculinity we inundate our children with, channeled through just about every cultural institution we have —movies, television, music videos, video games, sports entertainment, and advertising. Unhealthy and abusive behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that so many men model for our children in their real, nonvirtual lives—sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, sexist jokes, the objectification of women, the sexualization of girls, and intimate partner abuse and murder—are normalized, simply routine now, numbing and enervating us. This is really not about guns or crazy people. It is about men getting in touch with their own hearts and facing the bitter truth about the deep damage we have done to ourselves and our children, and about un-teaching the violence. —Stephen McArthur Stephen McArthur is prevention education coordinator and hotline and court advocate for the Battered Women’s Services & Shelter in Washington County, Vermont. A member of Vermont Approach to Ending Sexual Violence and Vermont Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force, he can be reached at

Allison Wyatt, 6

A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

Moving Beyond Men’s Killing Fields By Rob Okun

There’s something happening here What it is ain’t exactly clear There’s a man with a gun over there Telling me I got to beware I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound Everybody look what’s going down “For What It’s Worth,” by Stephen Stills

profile to emphasize the role male socialization plays in how our sons and nephews navigate the passage from boyhood to manhood. We need broader measures to define manhood

We need a broader set of measures to define manhood. Let’s begin by cultivating boys’ emotional intelligence, making it as high a priority as is teaching math and reading. Men of conscience across the country: it is n the wake of Adam Lanza’s murderous rampage, men in particular time to speak out—as fathers and mentors, coaches and clergy members, must not stay silent. There’s an epidemic in “man culture” we can teachers and community leaders. Among our first acts must be to take ill afford to neglect, ceding center stage to the narrow gun control away the stigma of men undergoing psychotherapy.          Now is the moment for gun control advocates and those working to debate. redefine masculinity to join forces, to create It’s encouraging there’s momentum in a new coalition that recognizes the irrefutCongress to enact new gun laws. Let’s not able, long-standing relationship between miss the opportunity, though, to enlarge the men and guns, men’s mental health, and national conversation about better regulating men and power. At this early stage in Mark guns—including ammunition—to emphasize Kelly’s and Gabby Giffords’ new organizaboth how we raise boys and how we address tion, it is just the moment to do so! the mental health crisis facing many men. At the same time, we can no longer And we must pull back the curtain of denial ignore men’s underreporting their depresabout mainstream culture’s “patriarchal sion and men’s aversion to mental health masculine obsession with control,” as socicheckups (indeed, all health checkups, for ologist-novelist Allan Johnson puts it, control that matter). Too many men are at risk to “that defines ‘real’ manhood in this culture, themselves and others; their pain masked by with violence being merely its most extreme a toxic rage. Nor can we turn a blind eye to a instrument. It is that control that links all men society that venerates violence—from shootwith the violence that only some men do.” em-up movies to kicking Afghani butt. We As Johnson, author of the acclaimed Gender reap what we sow. Sadly, our thirst for Dad’s Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, blood and guts has always trumped our love notes, “When U.S. drones kill children, the of Mom’s apple pie. act springs from the same patriarchal roots as The Vice President Joe Biden–led the mass murder in Newtown.” An inconveWhite House commission on gun violence nient truth we cannot ignore. the place to launch a national program How many more lonely, alienated, The White House commission on toistrain early childhood education and care disconnected, (usually) white males perpegun violence is the place to launch providers, prekindergarten and elementary trating murder and then committing suicide a national program to train early school teachers to create new lesson plans that need we see before admitting the irrefutable emphasize boys’ emotional well-being.  And, childhood education and care fact that the shooters are all male? From providers, and elementary school let’s put men’s mental health on the docket, police detectives to forensic psychologists, too, beginning by asking the president to anyone studying mass killings in the U.S. teachers, to create new lesson charge the CDC with coordinating a national over the past two decades cannot ignore that plans that emphasize campaign to raise awareness about mental fact.  Still, too many, including much of the boys’ emotional well-being. health and males, focusing on creating treatmedia—continue to under-acknowledge this ment plans tailored to reach resistant males. achingly obvious truth. Is it because they The passage of time has done little to ease the pain at the unfathomdon’t see the killers’ gender, just as fish don’t see the water surrounding them? A Mother Jones review of the last 62 mass murders in the U.S. able murders deranged Adam Lanza perpetrated against 20 innocent children and six dedicated staff members killed at their school, as well revealed that males committed 61 of them. Absolutely, let’s continue the guns (out of) control conversation. as against his own mother. With the numbers of gun dead growing since Let’s not kid ourselves, though; it’s the masculinity, people.  Of course December 14, 2012, we have dozens and dozens more reasons to come there are women who own and love guns; Adam Lanza’s mother was together as a nation to honor the memories of the 27 killed that awful one of them. But the NRA and its allies have defined the gun as a symbol day. The families of the dead all have the same question: What are we of men’s potency and freedom. Even shooting victim former congress- waiting for?   woman Gabrielle Giffords, who just launched Americans for Responsible


Solutions (, owns guns. She and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly’s admirable effort to engage the nation in national conversation about gun violence prevention—and “pledge to raise the funds necessary to balance the influence of the gun lobby”—have missed a golden opportunity to use their high

Rob Okun is editor of Voice Male. Versions of this article appeared in newspapers in California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Texas, through syndication by Peace Voice, http://www.peacevoice. info, a project of the Oregon Peace Institute. Winter 2013


A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

Media: It’s About Manhood More Than Guns or Mental Illness By Jackson Katz

WISHFUL THINKING: Few media reports or commentary about Sandy Hook addressed manhood or masculinity. Above are TV tag lines we would have liked to have seen.


any of us whose work touches on the subject of masculinity and violence have long been frustrated by the failure of mainstream media—and much of progressive media and the blogosphere as well—to confront the gender issues at the heart of so many violent rampages like the one that occurred on December 14 last year in Newtown, Connecticut. My colleagues and I who do this type of work experience an unsettling dichotomy. In one part of our lives, we routinely have intense, in-depth discussions about men’s emotional and relational struggles, and how the bravado about “rugged individualism” in American culture masks the deep yearning for connection that so many men feel, and how the absence or loss of that can quickly turn to pain, despair, and anger. In these discussions, we talk about violence as a gendered phenomenon: how, for example, men who batter their wives or girlfriends typically do so not because they have trigger tempers, but rather as a means to gain or maintain power and control over her, in a (misguided) attempt to get their needs met. We talk among ourselves about how so many boys and men in our society are conditioned to see violence as a solution to their problems, a resolution of their anxieties, or a means of exacting revenge against those they perceive as taking something from them. We share with each other news stories, websites, and YouTube videos that demonstrate the connection between deeply ingrained cultural ideas about manhood and individual acts of violence that operationalize those ideas. And then in the wake of repeated tragedies like Newtown, we turn on the TV and watch the same predictable conversations about guns and 18

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mental illness, with only an occasional mention that the overwhelming majority of these types of crimes are committed by men—usually white men. Even when some brave soul dares to mention this crucial fact, it rarely prompts further discussion, as if no one wants to be called a “male basher” for uttering the simple truth that men commit the vast majority of violence, and thus efforts to “prevent violence”—if they’re going to be more than minimally effective—need to explore why. Maybe the Newtown massacre will mark a turning point. Maybe the mass murder of young children will force the ideological gatekeepers in mainstream media to actually pry open the cupboards of conventional thinking for just long enough to have a thoughtful conversation about manhood in the context of our ongoing national tragedy of gun violence. But initial signs are not particularly promising. In the days since the shooting, some op-eds and blog posts have spoken to the gendered dynamics at the heart of this and other rampage killings. But most mainstream analysis has steered clear of this critical piece of the puzzle. What follows is a brief list of suggestions for how journalists, cable hosts, bloggers, and others who will be writing and talking about this unbelievable tragedy can frame the discussion in the coming days and weeks.

1. Make gender—specifically the idea that men are gendered beings

—a central part of the national conversation about rampage killings. Typical news accounts and commentaries about school shootings and rampage killings rarely mention gender. If a woman were the shooter,

you can bet there would be all sorts of commentary about shifting cultural notions of femininity and how they might have contributed to her act, such as discussions in recent years about girl gang violence. That same conversation about gender should take place when a man is the perpetrator. Men are every bit as gendered as women. The key difference is that because men represent the dominant gender, their gender is rendered invisible in the discourse about violence. So much of the commentary about school shootings, including the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, focuses on “people” who have problems, “individuals” who suffer from depression, and “shooters” whose motives remain obtuse. When opinion leaders start talking about the men who commit these rampages, and ask questions like: “why is it almost always men who do these horrible things?” and then follow that up, we will have a much better chance of finding workable solutions to the outrageous level of violence in our society.


Use the “M-word.” Talk about masculinity. This does not mean you need to talk about biological maleness or search for answers in new research on brain chemistry. Such inquiries have their place. But the focus needs to be sociological: individual men are products of social systems. How many more school shootings do we need before we start talking about this as a social problem, and not merely a random collection of isolated incidents? Why are nearly all of the perpetrators of these types of crimes men, and most of them white men? (A recent piece by William Hamby is a step in the right direction: http://www.examiner. com/article/connecticut-shooting-white-males-and-mass-murder.) What are the cultural narratives from which school shooters draw lessons or inspiration? This does not mean simplistic condemnations of video games or violent media—although all cultural influences are fair game for analysis. It means looking carefully at how our culture defines manhood, how boys are socialized, and how pressure to stay in the “man box” not only constrains boys’ and men’s emotional and relational development, but also their range of choices when faced with life crises. Psychological factors in men’s development and psyches surely need to be examined, but the best analyses see individual men’s actions in a social and historical context.

3. Identify the gender subtext of the ongoing political battle over “gun

rights” versus “gun control,” and bring it to the surface. The current script that plays out in media after these types of horrendous killings is unproductive and full of empty clichés. Advocates of stricter gun laws call on political leaders to take action, while defenders of “gun rights” hunker down and deflect criticism, hoping to ride out yet another public relations nightmare for the firearms industry. But few commentators who opine about the gun debates seem to recognize the deeply gendered aspects of this ongoing controversy. Guns play an important emotional role in many men’s lives, both as a vehicle for their relationships with their fathers and in the way they bolster some men’s sense of security and power. It is also time to broaden the gun policy debate to a more in-depth discussion about the declining economic and cultural power of white men, and to deconstruct the gendered rhetoric of “defending liberty” and “fighting tyranny” that animates much right-wing opposition to even moderate gun control measures. If one effect of this tragedy is that journalists and others in media are able to create space for a discussion about guns that focuses on the role of guns in men’s psyches and identities, and how this plays out in their political belief systems, we might have a chance to move beyond the current impasse.

4. Consult with, interview, and feature in your stories the perspec-

tives of the numerous men (and women) across the country who have worked with abusive men. Many of these people are counselors, therapists, and educators who can provide all sorts of insights about how —and why—men use violence. Since men who commit murder outside the home often have a history of domestic violence, it is important to hear from the many women and men in the domestic violence field who can speak to these types of connections—and in many cases have firsthand experience that deepens their understanding.


Bring experts on the air, and quote them in your stories, who can speak knowledgeably about the link between masculinity and violence. After the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, CNN featured the work of the author Kevin Powell, who has written a lot about men’s violence and the many intersections between gender and race. That was a good start. In the modern era of school shootings and rampage killings, a number of scholars have produced works that offer ways to think about the gendered subtext of these disturbing phenomena. Examples include Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel’s piece “Suicide by Mass Murder: Masculinity, Aggrieved Entitlement” (appeared in Health Sociology Review, com/files/2011/04/suicide-Ten.pdf), Rampage School Shootings,” Douglas Kellner’s “Rage and Rampage: School Shootings and Crises of Masculinity” ( rage-and-rampage-school-s_b_1449714.html), and a short piece that I cowrote with Sut Jhally after Columbine, “The national conversation in the wake of Littleton is missing the mark” (http://www.jacksonkatz. com/pub_missing.html). There have also been many important books published over the past 15 years or so that provide great insight into issues of late-20th and 21st-century American manhood, and thus provide valuable context for discussions about men’s violence. They include Real Boys, by William Pollack; Raising Cane, by Michael Thompson and Dan Kindlon; New Black Man, by Mark Anthony Neal; Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft; Dude You’re a Fag, by C. J. Pascoe; Guyland, by Michael Kimmel; I Don’t Want to Talk About It, by Terrence Real; Violence, by James Gilligan; Guys and Guns Amok, by Douglas Kellner; On Killing, by David Grossman; and two documentary films: Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Byron Hurt; and Tough Guise, which I created and Sut Jhally directed.


Resist the temptation to blame this shooting or others on “mental illness,” as if this answers the why and requires no further explanation. Even if some of these violent men are or were “mentally ill,” the specific ways in which mental illness manifests itself are often profoundly gendered. Consult with experts who understand the gendered features of mental illness. For example, conduct interviews with mental health experts who can talk about why men, many of whom are clinically depressed, make up the vast majority of perpetrators of murder-suicides. Why is depression in women much less likely to contribute to their committing murder than it is for men? (It is important to note that only a very small percentage of men with clinical depression commit murder, although a very high percentage of people with clinical depression who commit murder are men.)

7. Don’t buy the manipulative argument that it’s somehow “antimale” to focus on questions about manhood in the wake of these ongoing tragedies. Men commit the vast majority of violence and almost all rampage killings. It’s long past time that we summoned the courage as a society to look this fact squarely in the eye and then do something about it. Women in media can initiate this discussion, but men bear the ultimate responsibility for addressing the masculinity crisis at the heart of these tragedies. With little children being murdered en masse at school, for God’s sake, it’s time for more of them to step up, even in the face of inevitable pushback from the defenders of a sick and dysfunctional status quo.

Author of the new book Leading Men: Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood, Jackson Katz is a founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, and a Voice Male contributing editor. A version of this article appeared on Huffington Post, Winter 2013


A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

The Longest, Darkest Night of the Year By Robin Morgan


he day before the Sandy Hook mass murders, a man in China crimes in this country. Moreover, nearly 90 percent of all homicides attacked 28 kindergarten students and three adults, stabbing among boys aged 15 to 19 are firearm-related. . . .unless we confront them with a knife. Though wounded and traumatized, none died. the lethal equation of masculinity and violence, the deeper truths about In Newtown, Connecticut, the gunshot murders totaled 27 people—20 school violence will elude us.” Naming the reality is the prerequisite to of them children, most as young as age six. (And the murderer then confronting it, changing it, healing it. Yes, a tiny percentile of gun lovers are women. Nancy Lanza, committed suicide.) the Sandy Hook gunman’s mother, was one, described by friends as These mass killings happen “a big, big gun fan.” Divorced, regularly now. And still getting she owned three weapons—for gun control laws passed is a protection, she claimed, in case struggle. But there’s an overof burglary—including a .223 looked, inseparable reason for Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, that. We haven’t faced the fact used by troops in Afghanistan, that armed violence is a heavily absurd for home security. She gendered phenomenon. Men took her sons to target practice make up almost 100 percent of for fun. She’s dead now. Shot in the buyers, sellers, and users. the face by her son, using one of Yet women are disproporher guns.  tionately affected by gun use, In my book The Demon through domestic violence, Lover I wrote about messages sexual violence at gunpoint, sent to boys and men that their threats, and other trauma. bodies are weapons and it’s All six adults killed at Sandy sexy to use them that way. One Hook School were women. of many examples I give is the In fact, men perpetrate suffiArmy training song, complete cient gun violence to give with lewd gestures: “Here is civilian women a higher death my rifle, here is my gun; one rate from guns than soldiers is for killing, one is for fun.” If in war. Studies show women society teaches males to confuse If society teaches males to confuse their experience the presence of their genitals with firearms, their genitals with firearms, their bodies become small arms in the household bodies become weaponized. By as threatening, while many weaponized. By encouraging self-identification encouraging self identification men feel more secure around with guns, we eroticize violence. with guns, we eroticize violence. a weapon.                     A weaponized self becomes one’s One journalist reporting very identity. Naturally, there’s the school shooting tragedy in Connecticut referred to the 20-year-old furious resistance to ever relinquishing one’s identity. shooter as a “youth,” and I thought, there it is again. Throughout the Meanwhile, shrines spring up more and more often—candles, 1990s and the first years of the new century, school slaughters, mostly by balloons, teddy bears—so people feel they’re doing something. But gun or automatic weapon, have been on the rise. The boldest headlines doing something would be creating an irresistible storm of protest to focused on Columbine High School (two shooters, age 17 and 18) or congressional representatives and senators and state legislators. Virginia Tech (shooter age 24). The following school shooters—all There are many gun control advocacy groups, from the Brady within a decade period—warranted smaller headlines. A 17-year-old in Campaign to the League of Women Voters.  The International Action Tennessee. A 16-year-old in Mississippi. Another 16-year-old in Alaska. Network on Small Arms has a women’s network, the only international 15-year-olds in Oregon, Georgia, California. 14-year-olds in Kentucky, network focused on the connections between gender, women’s rights, Washington, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Virginia. 13-year-olds in Okla- small arms, and armed violence. Enough teddy bears. This is a “women’s issue” and we need to homa and Florida. A 12-year-old in New Mexico. An 11-year-old and a 13-year-old in Arkansas. A 6-year-old in Michigan. These shootings intensify our activism on it. That may seem like a shot in the dark, but eventually dawn does were described and deplored as “children killing children.” Notice the language. These killings were done by little boys, often deliberately break, even on the longest night of the year. aimed at little girls and female teachers. What must we be teaching our daughters and sons about the expendability of female people and Robin Morgan has written or edited more than 20 the necessity to commit violent acts in order to be considered a real books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including boy or a real man? Sisterhood Is Powerful, which helped to catalyze A decade and a half ago, Voice Male contributing editor Michael the women’s movement. She was also an editor of Kimmel, professor of sociology at the State University of New York, Ms. A version of this commentary was featured Stony Brook, wrote, “Experts continue to seek the ‘deeper truth’ of by Women’s Media Center (which she cofounded school violence . . . But they continue to miss what is right in front with Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem on CBS radio of them: these are not troubled ‘teenagers,’ ‘youths,’ or ‘children,’ in Washington, D.C.) and on the center’s website, but boys. Men and boys are responsible for 95 percent of all violent 20

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A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence

YEARNING FOR RITES OF PASSAGE in a World with Too Few Mentors By Frederick Marx

As adolescence ends – if there is no effective initiation or mentorship – a sad thing happens. The fire of thinking, the flaring up of creativity, the bonfires of tenderness, all begin to go out.              —Robert Bly


hat would you do if someone told you your son would never become a man? That your nephew would never experience maturity? That your cousin or grandson would never feel from the inside the beating heart of what it really means to be an adult male? Well, it’s happening right now, in our country, today. Millions of boys—black, white, Asian, Latino, rich and poor boys, good boys— smart, sensitive, and loving boys, vulnerable and open boys, are not fully growing up, are not accomplishing the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Without initiation and mentorship, these boys will never know what is sacred about their own masculinity. They’ll never know their own unique mission in life, they’ll never know what it is to serve family and community rather than self, they’ll never know their place in the order of things, the depths of their own greatness or the true limits of their own reach, and they’ll never know what an empowering gift their own feelings can be – how they can learn to master them through acceptance; how their tears, their shame, their anger and fear can ignite the fires of passion, and can actually set them free. I relate to the plight of teenage boys. I myself was a confused and “difficult” teenager,

struggling with drug abuse and delinquency, living in a fatherless household and a mentorless social world.  This piece is I wrote this piece partly as the logical product of my professional and personal work to understand my own adolescent life and that of others. It is also an exercise in active mentorship, reaching out to “father” those who themselves may never have been fathered. Throughout history, across cultures, ethnicities, and religions, men have initiated boys into

manhood. (Of course, women have initiated girls into womanhood too, but the focus of this piece is men and boys.) Given all the residual harmful effects of patriarchal culture perpetrated by and on men and boys, this particular emphasis on males seems appropriate. Bar and bat mitzvahs, Catholic confirmations, Boy Scouts, urban gangs, fraternity hazing, team sports… they all reflect—some for better, some obviously for worse—this need a hunger for initiation. The structural similari-

The Right of Every Child Born If we do not initiate the young, they will burn down the village to feel the heat. —African proverb


cademy award-nominated filmmaker Frederick Marx (Hoop Dreams), founder of Warri­­­­­or Films (, is at work on a new documentary about initiation for young people. It’s called Rites of Passage: The Right of Every Child Born and will profile innovative programs from around the country for both young men and young women. To help launch the new film, Marx invited “26 of the leading lights of Teen Rites of Passage work to

share common challenges and victories, and to explore for ways forward as a collaborative community.” At a gathering he hosted some months ago, “many of the hugely varied modalities of rites of passage practice were represented,” Marx noted, “from indigenous traditions thousands of years old to the latest innovations in public school programs. It was a rich weekend of sharing, a deep exchange of bold visions from a collective 500 plus years of experience, a sustained opening of fearless hearts.” Utilizing the wisdom of these “soul warriors,” Marx is in production of the film. To see a trailer, go to: watch?v=FKp2Hq7GYHc&

Winter 2013


ties of initiation rituals are inescapable, and usually involve variations on three discrete stages: separation, ordeal, and return. • Separation usually entails the complete disruption of the youngster’s ordinary life, the removal from everyday affairs, surroundings, and support, and “replacement” into an isolated location, usually in nature. • The ordeal usually includes some test of physical stamina that induces a heightened emotional state. Initiates are instructed to seek an awakening to their life’s purpose or mission, a revelation of their place in the order of things, an illuminated direction for their lives. • Finally the return, often led by elders, reunites the initiate with family and community. With reintegration, the initiate’s new-found sense of purpose and his

Much of the exploitation, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, and warfare we face is a function of uninitiated men acting out their suspended adolescence, especially men in positions of leadership. emotional grounding now guides and deepens his connection to family, community and society. Our world today is in dire circumstances. Much of the exploitation, environmental destruction, racism, sexism, and warfare we face is a function of uninitiated men acting out their suspended adolescence, especially

men in positions of leadership. This kind of “leadership” is about domination. This domination, this dysfunctional leadership, is leadership from those—the uninitiated— who unconsciously act out their own fears, projecting all evil onto “the other.”  We need leaders who understand that real leadership starts with owning one’s own projections and “shadows,” facing first what is dark and scary within before looking without. Real leadership is also about service. Real leadership is conscious stewarding of the planet for the good of humanity. Real leadership comes from heart-centered mentoring. Real leadership is not about domination. Ultimately, initiation-mentorship is about creating a new kind of leadership where all are leaders are servant-leaders who steward the planet for the good of all—not just humanity but for all life on the planet.

Resources At Voice Male’s request, Frederick Marx compiled the list below of Rites of Passage for Teen Boys in the United States. By no means definitive or exhaustive, he said, “many of these organizations are only based at addresses below but may actually hold events nationally or even internationally. Many also hold events for girls, with or without boys.”


(non-denominational) · Rites of Passage Journeys, Seattle, WA · School of Lost Borders, Big Pine, CA http:// · Wilderness Reflections, Fairfax, CA http:// · Stepping Stones, Mill Valley, CA http:// · Men’s Leadership Alliance, Boulder, CO  

African-American and African-centric

· Rites of Passage Institute, Cleveland, OH · Oriki Theater, Mountain View, CA http:// · Vision Quest Intl., Atlanta, GA  http://    


·Ed Featherman, Kyle, South Dakota · Buffalo Visions, Montana http://www. · Youth Struggling for Survival, Chicago, IL · La Plazita Institute, Albuquerque, NM http:// 22

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Christian  · Passage to Manhood, Peregrine Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO  · Band of Brothers, Colorado Springs, CO · Passage, Arcata, CO http://www.passage. org

Jewish (Rabbis reinvigorating Bar/Bat Mitzvah practice with initiatory intent)  · Rabbi Goldie Milgram, Philadelphia, PA.·      · Rabbi Stephen Booth-Nadav, Denver, CO · Rabbi Mandel Dubrowsky, Dallas, TX · Rabbi Steven Gross, Houston, TX  · Rabbi Gary Gerson, Oak Park, IL  

Weekend workshops (non-denominational)

· Rites of Passage VisionQuest · Boys to Men, San Diego, CA http://www. · Young Men’s Ultimate Weekend, San Rafael, CA    · Spiritual Warfare Effectiveness Training, Philadelphia, PA  

Public School Programs (non-denominational) · Challenge Day, San Rafael, CA http://www. · Lifeplan Institute, Tiburon, CA http://www. · Community Matters, Santa Rosa, CA http://

Freelance initiators of boys

· Luis Rodriguez http://www.luisjrodriguez. com/ · Malidoma Some main/ · Michael Meade http://www.mosaicvoices. org/ · Orland Bishop · Imam Dawud Walid http://dawudwalid. · John Eldredge · Dr. Maka’ala Yates http://www.manalomi. com/ · Kalani Souza watch?v=am7-OGnGhis · Aaron Ortega

A Farewell to Arms: A Voice Male Special Section on Men and Violence Mark Edson, a New Hampshire carpenter-blogger, wrote Voice Male just days after the mass murder in Newtown, Connecticut. “I had received a phone call from a man in North Carolina who had met Alice B. Fogel when she was in residence at the Carl Sandburg house, heard her do a reading, and bought her books.” (Edson is the poet’s husband.) He called, Edson wrote, to share how he had been “filled with emotion, [and wanted] to tell her that he had sent her poem ‘Grief’ to his daughters, who have school-age children.” He also sent it to many friends, “as a way for them all to cope with the Newtown tragedy.”  He wanted her to know how important her words had been to so many people, and how her poem was helping them to carry on.  “It was an incredibly kind and thoughtful act for him to call, and further evidence,” Edson wrote, “of our innate need for connection.”

Grief I am ashamed as I try to sleep, counting the wounded and the dead in this old day’s news,

I am not strong enough to bear the grief of so much loving, the burden of our survival from day to day,

the grieving ones they leave behind. Counting stones and bullets, averted needs, the pretty breaths of my family beside me, counting on a world that I don’t trust to keep my children safe.

or of what we can’t live without, but will. How each of us fends off despair— that is what we are made of when all else is dust or luck. Each stranger’s grief is not my grief

What was I thinking? Did I forget those others, the rubble of their troubled worlds and mine?  Does it fill their days— their remembering?  Or do they remember too to choose their favorite breakfast bowls, that red dress, the time to step out of doors? When I lean my body over the fragile forms of my husband and children, I am afraid

but it lies under everything, like ice. Sometimes I fall through it. Sometimes I walk achingly. I am not saying their voices rise above the hum of comfort here and now. I’m saying I believe that even sweet blue skies will break away, leaving nothing between my eyes and the face of a god who says, Look down into that dark place, meet your own shadow there. Go on, take it, take it on.  Grieve: Go down into the dirt. I want to have already known its taste. I want to have swallowed it alive. If I fall asleep tonight, If I do not die before I wake, what will have lifted me back to perfect that other thing that we call hope is more love:  the leaven of all sorrow.

—Alice B. Fogel Alice B. Fogel is the author most recently of Be That Empty, a bestselling poetry collection, and Strange Terrain, a handbook for readers and teachers on how to forge their own personal relationships with poetry — whether or not they “get” it. She teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire and Landmark College in Vermont.  “Grief” first appeared in Ploughshares and in I Love This Dark World (Zoland Books); it is reprinted in Strange Terrain. Winter 2013


Boys to Men

The Feminine Gaze of Adolescent Boys By Patrick Tiernan


eaching at an all-boys high school provides a unique window into the lives of adolescents. You are invited to participate in a culture with a language and moral code all its own. I was reminded of this recently when one of my seniors jokingly accused me of “swagger jacking,” the urban term for the act of trying to steal someone else’s popularity. It speaks to how young men constantly work to ensure that they are acting in the “right” way, following the bro code. In a school setting, this proves especially true when young men find themselves competing for the attention of female adults who serve as a pseudo-psychological experiment of sorts. They can gaze upon women in a school setting as a limited substitute for their own mother or as an ideal image of what they desire in an intimate relationship. A woman who is physically attractive and more intelligent than a student is simultaneously a threat and an object of desire to young men. In short, there is a fine line drawn in the sand between “being a babe” and “acting like a bitch.”

Through the (broken) looking glass The increased presence of technology in the classroom has created a new dynamic in education for how one is seen. The new arena of adolescent competition is now through a screen where a teen can create and manipulate images in a matter of seconds, naïvely unaware of what is real and what is fantasy (after all, if it’s on the Internet it must be true). The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan echoed this idea in what he called the “mirror stage,” where infants first begin to look at their reflection and have a desire to see themselves as distinct individuals. They are beginning to distinguish between their real and imaginary self, between what is and what could be. Many teenage boys are aware of the seductive nature of media and its idyllic portrayal of women. As one of my students, Zach, a precocious 17-year-old drama actor, observed, “Obviously, with technology and media you get these doctored photos of women that make them look stunning. But then when I go out in real life I see women and 1) I don’t compare them to these ‘goddesses’ and 2) I don’t objectify them because of the photos I’ve seen.” An ideal image gives the appearance of looking back without hesitation, blinding their awareness to what is near. Another student, Mark, also 17, who plays 24

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lacrosse competitively but has a gentle demeanor, remarked, “Looking for the ‘perfect’ woman can cloud [being able to see] a perfect woman you already know.” The emotional frailty of boys is clouded by the illusion of anonymity that the Internet provides—to look upon women as if they themselves cannot be seen. The deception behind technology leads young men to believe they are in control, immune from rejection. This can feed the addictive nature of some boys because even the potential for losing control or power is seen as passive and weak. The negative connotations attributed to this perception in the dominant male culture are well known.

The other woman When students have access to various forms of technology, they need to be empowered to utilize them appropriately. I have half-joked with my students that having iPads in class is like being in the proverbial candy store without touching anything. The allure of visual media beckons our attention seemingly around the clock, and yet we are unsure how to proceed in an appropriate way. However, rules that govern the ethical use of technology, colloquially referred to as “netiquette,” can establish a particular set of parameters that liberate young men to be free from the social temptations that can snare their malleable consciences. For example, the accessibility of Internet pornography presents boys with a literal window into a realm of misguided sexual exploration. Gender becomes commodified to the extent that advertisements and videos depicting a breast or thigh supposedly constitute a real woman. Meanwhile, boys unwittingly objectify themselves. As Chris, an introverted 18 -year-old observed, “I see no downside to porn, it just helps to flesh out your teenage urges…instead of raping other people I just rape myself…I am more eager to know [the woman I see] as a person rather than as a sex doll.” It is in this way that many adolescent boys struggle with the tension of sexual development as if it’s an either/or proposition, to objectify or not. Sexual climax merely becomes another adolescent social checkmark. The images students encounter online arrest their ability to embrace the complex nature of relationships—the social challenge of monogamy, financial disagreements, and professional aspirations, among others. Their gaze becomes stagnant—because to see the sexual-

ized woman as intelligent and in control risks exposing the insecure boy gazing at her. This interaction occurs primarily within the private realm (alone with his computer) and is juxtaposed with the public nature of the classroom (where boys are required to foster intellectual relationships with women). The allure of the older and attractive female teacher is understandable (if not condoned) at a subconscious level because she can embody the attributes so lacking in many young men—academic confidence and mature sociability.

(Re)defining masculinity The challenge is to present adolescent boys with a variety of social roles that allow them the psychological space to safely explore what it means to be a man. To do so, we need to deconstruct masculinity, to better understand the moral and emotional needs of young men apart from the absurd reductionism that shrugs and says, “boys will be boys.” Interestingly enough, many of the young men at my school are quite aware of how artificial and dangerous the social construction of masculinity is, particularly as drawn in popular media outlets. While they view it as one-dimensional and limiting, most are often unable to see women in the same vein. I often tell my colleagues that the men at our school need to be the most ardent feminists. By modeling respect and care, they can promote solidarity as a tangible virtue quite differently from their female colleagues, given the single-sex learning environment. Being a man is not a singular thing; it is a spectrum of opportunities. One way of redefining masculinity is to affirm those who occupy diverse roles in school. A student of mine several years ago, Steve, was a husky kid who played on the football team and sang in the choral choir on campus. It was a dichotomy that contradicted the expectations of his peers. Even for all of the eyebrows it raises, the “Brony” phenomenon—the male cultural fascination with the rerelease of the “My Little Pony” cartoon series—can be taken as a humorous yet genuine response to the strict social categories that limit emotional sensitivity.

Another approach is to uphold the dignity of individuals above all else. While this may appear a bit pious, it’s important to recognize our own prejudices and how they impact the ways we talk about gender. I take solace in the fact that I am privileged to be with young men who demand accountability. As Jake, a creative writer who is never reticent to speak his mind, recently wrote, “Being a man is not portrayed that well in the media because being a man [means] taking responsibility for your actions and thinking about others before yourself.” There is a real need to be mindful of the unique and complex lives contemporary young men are living. Many boys may be questioning their sexuality or come from households that do not subscribe to a particular image of family. Since schools serve the legal obligation of being in loco parentis—literally, “in the place of a parent”—it is the obligation of schools to act accordingly. To walk with boys in the spirit of care and concern along the path to greater emotional intelligence is paramount to an authentic education. So when adolescents gaze back at us, we have to ask ourselves, how will we guide them as they look within? Patrick Tiernan is a member of the religious education department at Boston College High School in Boston, where he has taught for the last 10 years. He is currently a doctoral candidate in educational administration at Boston College and can be reached at BC High is a Jesuit Catholic college-preparatory school for young men founded in 1863. The school enrolls approximately 1600 day students in grades 7–12 from more than 100 communities in eastern Massachusetts; more than 15 percent are minorities. The school annually gives more than $4,000,000 in financial aid to more than 40 percent of the student body.

Winter 2013


Overcoming Violence

Men: Which Side Are You On?

Khalid Jaleel /

By Rahul Roy

More men are joining protests against rape in India, like this peace walk on Dec. 21, 2012 at Jamia Millia Islamia (National Islamic University) in New Delhi.


he last two weeks have provided an opportunity of re-narrating the sordid history of rape and rape trials in India. To me personally the only way to understand this sexual violence is that this is a war declared on women to achieve a range of effects that include masculine supremacy, communal revenge, caste subjugation, and even which territories are deemed part of India. As feminist scholars and activists have argued, rape is not just about sex, but an assault with the intention of marking bodies with a set of messages that can speak not just through the personal trauma of what the woman will endure, but through what will be visible to others. Rape is the memorializing of what can be achieved through the practice of our dominant forms of masculinity. The inability of the phallus to live up to all its myth-making capabilities sometimes requires the use of phallic replacements, harder metallic instruments (such as in this most recent assault and murder) that are more capable of performing feats that masculinities push men to achieve through their phallus. The use of metal rods, guns shoved inside mouths, stones inserted into the rectum, or knives used to carve the skin are all expressions that have erroneously been analyzed as emanating from a crisis of masculinity. Rather, it is in the nature of our dominant forms of masculinity, within which misogyny, or hatred of women, constitutes a critical building block. Masculinity is a policing system that ensures the clockwork functioning of all hierarchies. It comes in khaki (the police), it comes in saffron (the Hindutva right wing), it comes in red (the political left), and it comes with the threat of violence, always and without fail. It is utilized as much by patriarchy to punish errant women as by state authorities to subjugate protesting tribal populations in Chattisgarh and Orissa. It is used to remind rebellious people in Kashmir that they are a subjugated lot and it is used by men on Delhi streets to remind women that they are transgressing the boundaries our male-dominated culture has placed around them. 26

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The protests in Delhi and beyond became an opportunity for a collective catharsis, a moment that is allowing the quotidian violence that women face to get a voice, an ear. They are a cry for help and an angry assertion of the right to free movement, a life of dignity, and freedom from fear of rape. But what will these protests change? The irony is that if the protests had been organized and controlled by established political groups or even sections of the women’s movement, they would never have achieved the sheer numbers and passion on display. However, their unorganized nature may also be a stumbling block, though it is difficult to predict how these protests will influence individual lives. The young men joining the young women in protest have provided a glimmer of possibility that men can be men and defend the rights of women to be safe. They show that men can stand shoulder to shoulder with women against an indifferent administration. The protests until now have been significant because they have seen participation by young women who have taken to the streets in such large numbers for the first time—and also because hundreds of young men have joined them in support and empathy. However, many of these young men need to realize that they should learn to follow rather than assume leadership in this movement. Protest marches, coupled with the deepest possible questioning of the dominant masculinities in homes, offices, and political groupings, could still make the current emergence of young people the most significant protest in post-independence India against gender-based violence. Rahul Roy, a Delhi-based filmmaker, has for many years worked with men to support women’s rights and transform manhood in India and internationally. This article also appears as a guest blog on Voice Male contributing editor Michael Kaufman’s website, To read the author’s longer examination of these themes, visit

Overcoming Violence

Challenging Misogyny in India By Leeza Mangaldas


isogyny is so deeply rooted in India’s collective psychology that even the president’s son—Parliament member Abhijit Mukherjee—could entangle himself with a remark against women protesting gang rape. He called the women protesters of the medical student gang-raped on a bus in December “dented and painted women” who go to discos, have little connection with ground realities, and are making candlelight vigils fashionable. After an enormous backlash, he apologized and retracted his comments, but many are not satisfied and want his resignation. Misogyny has long permeated Indian textbooks, pedagogy, and parenting. In fact, it runs so deep that it reflects itself even in our linguistics. The Hindi phrase most commonly used to describe sexual violence—or rape against women—is izzat lootna, which means “to steal the honor of.” Another Hindi word used for rape, “balatkar—bad act—is considered so erudite and technical that it’s barely ever used. (Its English equivalent would be “coitus” instead of “sex.”) So, for the most part, we’re stuck with “izzat lootna” and the necessary question: Why should a rapist be given so much credit? Rape is a criminal act of force and perverse subjugation. When a woman is raped, her most fundamental rights as a human being are violated. Yet she is just as honorable as she ever was. Honor cannot be stolen. It can only be surrendered. Surely in the act of rape, it is the perpetrator, not the victim, who surrenders honor. The brave young female medical student from Delhi died with her honor intact. Her rapists will live in ignominy. Unfortunately, in India rape is inextricably linked by men—and women—to shame: the ultimate desecration. Many victims are murdered by their rapists or choose to commit suicide. It is also not uncommon for the parents of rape victims to kill themselves. Thus, most victims don’t speak up about what happened to them, lest their families be ostracized, lest they never find a husband or be shunned by their friends. About a year ago, I was offered the role of a young, urban woman who gets gang-raped. The film explores how she chooses to deal with what happens to her. It is a very powerful script, and most of me wanted immediately to accept the role. But a gnawing part of me worried about how I’d be perceived by the general public were I to take it.

Indian actor-activist Leeza Mangaldas.

Female sexuality in Hindi cinema is extremely fraught, especially because audiences seem unable to comprehend the distinction between what a role demands from an actor and that person’s conduct off screen. In the script the woman is attractive, confident and self aware; she’d had several consensual relationships with men and enjoyed her sexuality. Truth be told, her character is not too different from me in real life. Still, in patriarchal, judgmental, misogynistic Indian society, these are labels most women are afraid to carry publicly. On top of everything else, the character gets raped. I was afraid to accept the role. Afraid of whether audiences and the media would think I was promiscuous, desecrated. I was embarrassed at the prospect of saying I’m doing a film in which I get raped. I didn’t want aspersions to be cast on my character. There lay, in my own mind, the seeds of the same misogyny that makes Mr. Mukherjee’s remarks in the wake of the student’s gang rape so deplorable. Seeds I had to uproot at once. I accepted the role. At the time I was offered the film, rape wasn’t getting the sort of national attention it is getting right now. It was still a topic that makes

most people uncomfortable, a topic that women and men alike are not able to freely express their opinions on. That India’s young public is today demanding so vocally the need to address the way we view sexuality and gender equality is empowering. People are sharing their own experiences of sexual violence on blogs and social media. Men and women are collaborating to seek legal reform, to challenge the societal perceptions they have been force-fed. We now understand that to remain silent bystanders of a crime is to collude with the criminal. It is clear to me that as actors, filmmakers, artists, journalists, activists—people who use a medium that has the potential to reach so many minds—it is our responsibility to educate and mobilize, while we entertain. For the last 10 months, as we have been rehearsing and shooting, the subject of rape has been among my foremost preoccupations. Two points have struck me in particular: First, the director, who also wrote the script, is male. His cowriter, the music composer, is also male. These two artists, Tarun Chopra and Daboo Malik, chose to champion a cause that almost always gets packaged as a women’s issue. In India, sexual violence is perpetrated almost entirely by men. Rapists are male. Should men not feel responsible then to prevent the occurrence of this crime? Shouldn’t men be disturbed that their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters constantly feel unsafe or feel they have to dress and behave in a particular way to avoid getting raped? Isn’t it time men educated other men about consent? Second, and this point took me longer to acknowledge, women are as guilty as men for the mindset that breeds the crime. We kill our own infant daughters, we immolate our sons’ wives if they bear female children, we disapprove of women who make an effort to be attractive—and doubt their character. We still look at marriage as if it’s the purpose for which we were born. But misogyny is no longer misogyny when expressed by a woman—it’s self-loathing. And while it is easy—and justified—for women to point fingers at men for the chauvinism in our society, don’t we owe it to ourselves to look within?

Leeza Mangaldas, an actor based in Mumbai, is the founder of Evoke India, a forum for idea sharing and open dialogue in India. A version of this article appeared on Winter 2013


Men & Creativity

Men Opening to Their Creative Selves By Alexander Kopelman


ad is a man who is asked for a story/ and can’t come up with one,” begins Li-Young Lee’s poem, “A Story,” which describes the pain of a man who can’t respond to his five-year-old son’s request for a story. The poem evokes poignantly the emotional bind in which most of us as men find ourselves. The world has changed enough to demand a different masculine involvement. And yet, a great majority of men fall silent in the face of this demand, unable to recognize the tools we have at our disposal to respond. In the course of participating in a weekly men’s group for more than 17 years, I’ve come to believe that creativity is the critical missing tool necessary for developing a personal, workable way of being a man in the world. It’s not that men are not creative. Most of us just don’t recognize our own creative skills and do not use them to shape our understanding 28

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of who we are. Ask a man to sing, to draw, to dance, or to tell a story, and chances are he’ll say something like, “I can’t. I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” “For most men,” says Voice Male contributing editor Michael Kimmel, Ph.D., one of the leading researchers and writers on men and masculinity, “creativity is antithetical to masculinity. And I think it’s because we are afraid. Men shut themselves down, put their hands to their sides, and sway to the music rather than dance, because they are afraid of what other guys will say about them. And it starts really early.” Our entire social construct of masculinity seems to exclude creativity. At a recent presentation to staff and parents at a progressive public elementary school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, I asked the participants to do a variation of the “Man Box” exercise by

giving voice to their ideas of what are the socially acceptable qualities of men and boys. After a lively discussion, we had two flipchart pages filled with adjectives describing inside-the-box and outside-the-box attributes of masculinity. Sadly, and tellingly, the word “creative” was nowhere on either of the pages. Paradoxically, for much of human history men have dominated the creative professions and have actively prevented women from participating in them. “Real men don’t cook, but the great chefs are men. Real men don’t sew, but most tailors are men,” points out Dr. Kimmel. “We allow for professional creativity, but see it very differently in the mainstream.” This paradox, in fact, provides a clue to the exclusion of creativity from the construct of masculinity. In “Locating Significance in the Lives of Boys,” the report from his qualitative study commissioned by the International Boys’ School Coalition, Adam J. Cox, Ph.D., notes, “The 11th and 12th years of education appear to represent a key fork in the road for boys’ creativity. A majority of boys allude to taking flight from creativity during these years, feeling as though they need to focus on ‘higher priority,’ outcome-oriented activities such as university preparation coursework and university applications.” “All of the energy of society moves toward vocational independence for boys,” Dr. Cox elaborated in a telephone conversation. “Everything is focused on the notion of economic autonomy. A 16-year-old boy will say that one of the main things that makes a boy a man is his ability to support himself. That is a primary marker. So, quite naturally, when they begin to make their choices, they are moving toward what they believe is manly. That’s their idea of masculinity.” In other words, except for those few who see creativity as important to shaping their vocational futures, boys begin to regard it as a luxury of childhood that has no place in a man’s life. And it is at this point that most of us start to constrict emotionally and spiritually. “It is an essential loss of a part of yourself,” says Dr. Cox. “It’s a kind of fragmentation of your own selfhood and a suppression of something that’s very important. And this is a recipe for what many boys in the study describe as the unhappiness of manhood.” If we abandon our creativity at 16, how do we find the words to tell our five-year-old boy a story when he asks for one, as the father in Li-Young Lee’s poem is called on to do? How do we respond with flexibility and ingenuity to the everyday challenges of life? And how do we adapt to a world of changing gender roles and economic realities? “We have to de-gender creativity in some way,” says Kimmel. “The key is to help boys and men understand that it is a part of our

humaneness to want to create. Every culture finds ways to express its commonalities. It’s one of the things that brings people together.” Remarkable things begin to happen when men push past the prohibition against creativity. If you want to see it first hand, get a group of guys together and find a way to convince them to do the Hokey Pokey. They’ll groan and resist. Some will plain refuse. But once you start, new men will emerge right before your eyes. We’ve been doing it in our men’s group for years, and the sheer joy of being silly together never fails to bring out a fresh energy and a conviction that we are capable of magic. We’ve used that energy and conviction to sing, make art, play music, dance, and cook together. Most importantly, we’ve used them to support each other in becoming the men we want to be. Out of this work has come the Children’s Arts Guild, the nonprofit organization that my group brother Mark LaRiviere and I cofounded with Jim Gaines, a friend in California who has also been involved in men’s work for a couple of decades. Our aim is to help boys, through the active exploration of creativity and the arts, to develop a personal concept of masculinity that does not require them to cut off from a vital part of themselves. In the two years we have been developing Boys’ Arts Express, our core program, we have worked with groups of boys as young as

six and as old as 15. We have worked with boys who attend public and parochial schools in some of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City and with boys who attend one of the premier private schools in Manhattan. Everywhere, we have found common threads.

“Real men don’t cook, but the great chefs are men. Real men don’t sew, but most tailors are men,” Michael Kimmel points out. “We allow for professional creativity, but see it very differently in the mainstream.” Educators and teachers are concerned because they see boys failing to thrive academically and socially. And the boys themselves feel that they are misunderstood and marginalized—a disruptive force the adults try to contain and tame. In our after-school programs, boys create self-portraits and portraits of each other. They dance, sing, drum, sculpt, build birdhouses, bake cookies, and make ice cream—among myriad other age-appropriate creative projects. They learn how to sit in a circle and listen to each other. They learn how to give each other the respect of honest, constructive feedback,

how to resolve conflicts, and how to support each other. We’ve found that as much as boys love to run around, play-fight, kick a ball, or just goof on each other, they are serious about finding ways to communicate with each other and adults in meaningful ways. They love big complex projects that test their ingenuity and skills. They want time and space to get to know each other and build a community where it is safe to show who they really are. They want to learn the skills necessary to explore their inner worlds and those around them. More than anything else, they want support from adults and peers to imagine the men they want to be and to find the courage and strength to become those men. What we hope the boys are learning during their time with the Guild is that their creativity is an essential part of preparing for and leading an authentic, full-throated life as a man. Alexander Kopelman is a cofounder of the Children’s Arts Guild, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping boys build social and emotional skills through active exploration of creativity and the arts. A writer and socialchange advocate, Alex lives with his family in New York City.

Winter 2013


Women’s Voices

Men: Join Women to End Violence By Marisa Labozzetta

“I resent that every time I pass a woman in the street, she regards me with suspicion, like I want to drag her into an alley. She hates me just because I’m a man.”

When I lived in Washington, D.C., I signed up for a self-defense program for women. “Only when the knife is at your throat, when the gun at your head is cocked, should you try to fight,” the male instructor told us. “Otherwise, just submit and hope he doesn’t kill you, because nine out of ten times, you’ll y husband said those words to me one day about 20 years ago, never be able to fight him off. In fact, your efforts will only enrage him,” when the news was full of stories of females being raped—from were his parting words after six sessions of drilling us in numerous karateyoung girls to old women. Rape was actually being used as like maneuvers. Yes, we women enter the boot camp of self-protection at a form of warfare from the Balkans to the Sudan, when the world began an early age and live with the fear of being overpowered by the physically to acknowledge that the violation of stronger gender forever. women had indeed always been a bad So what about the kind, gentle, proside effect of male aggression—from feminist ones like my husband—and grassroots revolutionary movements all the fathers, brothers, boyfriends, to wide-scale military invasions and and sons who don’t act violently occupations. We only need to look at toward other men, let alone women? the Democratic Republic of Congo to Why should they bear the stigma of see how brutal rape as weapon of war the minority of males who are violent? has become. Why should they be made objects of I recently read about a report cynical looks cast by women who pointing to a dramatic rise in rapes of take a step away from them when they women and girls in Somalia, where cross their path on a lonely street at severe drought and famine have killed night? “I’m a good guy,” the men cry tens of thousands of people and forced out. “Why should we believe you?” countless more, especially females, the women respond. Unless the “good into refugee camps notorious for rape guys” are willing to speak out about and female brutality. I am particularly those males who aren’t—are willing sensitive to this issue; I spent several “Yes, we women enter the boot camp of self protection at an early age.” not necessarily to become activists but years researching and writing a historvow not to stay silent in the face of any ical novel, Sometimes It Snows in America, based on a Somali woman I came kind of abuse—why should women believe they’ll be allies? to personally know quite well. She had suffered domestic abuse in her native That day two decades ago I did answer my husband when he expressed land, and much more in the United States. being offended by the antimale attitude that seemed to be hovering over Violence against women is not limited to conflict zones overseas. A him like a giant pall. “Don’t look to us to clean up this mess for you too. brutal rape and beating of a 28-year-old woman in New York City’s Central Women can’t do everything,” I said. “Only when men make an effort to Park made daily headlines around the time my husband became despondent get the situation in hand and show that you won’t put up with other guys’ about the minority of men who are violent some two decades ago; just about criminal behavior any longer—when you teach them how to act, how to be the same time a young intern at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Chandra Levy, respectful—will men stop behaving badly.” went missing in Rock Creek Park. Groups of men felt the same way and organized men’s centers in pockets In 2000, western Massachusetts, the region I live in, saw its share of around the country. In my community there is the Men’s Resource Center horrific crimes against women. Molly Bish, 16, from rural Warren, was for Change which for years has been known as an antiviolence organizaabducted and murdered while working as a lifeguard at a local swimming tion offering programs that help men to channel their violence and develop hole. In a nearby town, a nine-year-old girl was abducted and murdered healthy self-awareness and meaningful personal relationships with women, while walking to a neighbor’s home to see new puppies. A 12-year-old girl children, and other men. Voice Male, which began at the same time, grew riding her bike in the Berkshires was also kidnapped and killed. And in the out of the center and chronicles the changes in men and masculinity. Their city of Springfield, female drug addicts were being assaulted and killed by work, and that of others like them around the country, must grow bigger a serial rapist. Need I go on? and stronger. Anger, resentment, and fear spread to Northampton, where I live, a city Domestic violence in the U.S. is still the leading cause of injury to filled with so many capable women the entrance to the city’s parking garage women between the ages of 15 and 44. According to a recent United Nations sports the slogan, “Where the coffee is strong and so are the women.” That report, violence against women remains widespread across the world, exacyear I enrolled my 12-year-old daughter and myself in a self-defense course erbated by traditions and customary practices that determine the way women at the local YMCA. are treated in families, places of work, and communities. We women are used to living with fear. We are taught early to be streetThe horrifying story of the gang rape of a medical student in New Delhi smart. To walk close to the curb and traffic, away from alleys, car keys in December—the woman later died of injuries suffered during the assault by positioned between each finger, poised for attack to a male throat, high heels six men on a moving bus—served as a tragic wake-up call to many Indians. ready to stomp on the accessible and more fragile metatarsals of the foot, It only redoubled my resolve that “good men” must speak up—and act. knees prepared to aim at a man’s groin and hit him where it really hurts. Therefore with more conviction than ever, I ask: Where are the Lancelots of We’re taught to survey the area around our car when returning to a parking our day? Gather together. Stand as allies with women. Change yourselves lot or garage. To check the backseat of a vehicle, making sure no one is to save yourselves. lying on the car floor, before entering. To take the elevator rather than the lonely stairwell. “If a man tries to get into your car, just step on the gas and run him over,” my father told me when I learned to drive. “And don’t look Marisa Labozzetta’s latest novel, Sometimes It Snows back,” he added. “Don’t trust anyone—not even your uncles,” my mother in America, has just been published in paperback by said when I was a little girl, having certain family members in mind but Guernica Editions. To learn about her work or to covering all bases. How sad—though realistic—that my mother wanted me contact Marisa, visit her website at www.marisalto be on guard around men. I want to live in a world my daughters—and yours—expect more of the men in their lives.



Voice Male


Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive By Dr. Howard Fradkin Hay House, 2012, 330 pages; $27.95 (hardcover)

Finding safety and restoring a sense of community are undoubtedly two of the most critical elements in any effective strategy for healing from sexual abuse, especially for men. Sadly, norms of masculinity tend to inhibit men from revealing experiences that might make them appear weak, or from expressing feelings of vulnerability that commonly follow abuse. And so men who’ve had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences, either as children or as adults, often end up trying to manage or suppress the resulting feelings, alone and in isolation. From the opening page of Joining Forces: Empowering Male Survivors to Thrive, Dr. Howard Fradkin’s guidebook for recovery from sexual victimization, these fundamental concepts of safety and community are skillfully woven into the narrative, reappearing again and again. Even the “Joining Forces” of the title invites a collective process of healing. The second half of the book is devoted to thoughtful strategies and precise techniques for living a healthy life —“thriving” in safe, nourishing, intimate relationships; learning how to ask for and get the love and support you need;

restoring trust and regaining emphatically presents the book’s control over the direction of recommendations as a progresyour life—the true measures of sion of small steps to be taken recovery. with care. In the introduction he Fradkin, himself a survivor, describes a process of healing that appeared in 2010 as Oprah should be “nurturing, comforting, Winfrey’s guest expert on affirming and at the same time her groundbreaking televi- challenging.” Still, he cautions: sion shows featuring 200 male “it’s not a race to the finish line. survivors of sexual abuse and It’s okay to read one paragraph, their family members. One of page or chapter at a time and to the more powerful aspects of allow yourself time for reflection. that show was witnessing those Speed reading is neither expected 200 courageous men, unified nor recommended.” in rejecting social standards of Deep shame and self-blame masculinity that would impose are common responses for men silence and shame on them who have been sexually victimbecause of their experiences of ized. And Fradkin believes that sexual abuse or assault. Fradkin speaking openly about abusive uses a clever device to replicate experiences is a critical step in that sense of community in his breaking out of the isolation survibook. vors so often impose on themselves As one of the founders of because of that shame. That doesn’t the national organization Male- mean speaking to just anyone, Survivor, and a or anywhere, longtime leader he advises. of that organiza- The biggest hurdle Several chaption’s “Weekends for many men who ters are devoted of Recovery” to thoughtful retreats, Fradkin have experienced strategies for abuse is making p r e p a r i n g t o draws from the experience of the initial decision talk about the more than 800 for to explore how the experience; participants in the choosing when, abuse affected weekends. In the where, and first chapter, he their subsequent what to say; for introduces 20 of considering what life choices. those men, whom kinds of support he calls “Silence and responses to Breakers.” In each chapter, they ask for; and for protecting oneself share personal reflections on their and continuing to move forward if own experience with the exer- the desired response isn’t given. cises and insights Fradkin lays out. Many believe that modeling that Rather than only his single voice, level of honesty empowers others Fradkin orchestrates a chorus of to also decide to speak out. voices describing successful steps In what even Fradkin acknowlto recovery. He encourages readers edges is one of the more chalto confidently imagine that “these lenging chapters in the book, the men, and a whole group of other Silence Breakers offer (sometimes male survivors, stand ready to join very graphic) testimony about their forces with you on your journey, own abusive experiences. Here, [so] you can empower yourself the cathartic value of shedding not only to survive your abuse, but the shame through self-disclosure to thrive.” runs up hard against a wall, if The biggest hurdle for many you consider possible unintended men who’ve experienced abuse is effects on those who might be making the initial decision—often listening. Fradkin offers emphatic long delayed—to begin exploring cautionary notes about the intenhow abusive encounters affected sity of the stories in this section, their subsequent life choices. including a suggestion to consider Excuses to postpone the inquiry skipping the chapter altogether. are easy to find. And while at first The warnings underscore the very glance the 330-page hardcover real potential for a reader, sitting book may seem like a daunting alone, to be negatively triggered hurdle to overcome, Fradkin by the vivid details provided or to

be painfully reminded of his own experience, especially true for those in early stages of recovery. Some will undoubtedly think such disclosures are better left for a safe, group setting, where whatever reactions are stirred can be immediately addressed. The wisdom Fradkin has gleaned during his 30 years working with male survivors is apparent in his frequent emphasis on well-being and the desirability of establishing a strong system of support as one embarks on a journey of recovery. He advises men to find a therapist who feels “right” to work with individually, in addition to any self-help or peer-group work a survivor might do. Much of the book is devoted to exercises and techniques Fradkin has used successfully with men over many years. He explores methods of addressing lingering, self-protective responses that might have been useful at the time of the abuse but now may be self-limiting. He acknowledges up front that some men may find the exercises—like learning to breathe deeply or writing in a journal—“silly and stupid” or “too New Agey” at first. But, by both validating the discomfort and showing the value of trying something challenging (or even of adapting the exercises to a more acceptable form), Fradkin demonstrates how to slowly establish a safe environment where men can feel comfortable taking risks. The messages in Joining Forces are positive, hopeful, and uplifting. Howard Fradkin has laid out a detailed roadmap for recovery, showing male survivors, and those who care about them, the very real potential to lead healthy, happy lives. — Peter Pollard Peter Pollard, director of communications for 1in6, a male survivors organization (www.1in6. org), worked for 15 years as a child protection social worker. He is coordinator for SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) in western Massachusetts, and facilitates weekly batterer intervention groups. To contact him, write Winter 2013


Resources for Changing Men Menstuff: The National Men’s Resource National clearinghouse of information and resources for men

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

For Young Men Advocates for Youth Helps young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health Amplify Your Voice A youth-driven community working for social change Boys to Men Initiation weekends and follow-up mentoring for boys 12-17 to guide them on their journey to manhood The Brotherhood/Sister Sol Provides comprehensive, holistic and longterm support and rites of passage programming to youth ages 8-22 YCteen Magazine A magazine written by New York City teens that helps marginalized youth reach their full potential through reading and writing

On Masculinity American Men’s Studies Association Advancing the critical study of men and masculinities

The Men’s Story Project Resources for creating public dialogue about masculinities through local storytelling and arts XY Profeminist men’s web links (over 500 links): Profeminist men’s politics, frequently asked questions: html Profeminist e-mail list (1997– ): www.

Prostate Health Guide Offers a guide to the prostate and various conditions that can affect men’s health

100 Black Men of America, Inc. Chapters around the U.S. working on youth development and economic empowerment in the African American community

National Fatherhood Initiative Organization improve the well-being of children through the promotion of responsible, engaged fatherhood

Concerned Black Men A national organization providing mentors and programs that fill the void of positive black role models and provide opportunities for academic and career enrichment

National Latino Fatherhood & Family Institute Addresses the needs of Latino communities by focusing on positive Latino identity while addressing issues faced by Latino fathers, families, and communities

Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community Working to enhance society’s understanding of and ability to end violence in the African-American community

Men and Feminism

National Compadres Network Reinforcing the positive involvement of Latino males in their lives, families, communities, and society

ManKind Project New Warrior training weekends

Dads and Daughters A blog of thoughts and reflections on father-daughter relationships by Joe Kelly

Voice Male

Fathers and Family Law: Myths and Facts Debunking common myths regarding fathering and family law and providing facts directly from the research site-index-frame.html#soulhttp://www.

For Men of Color

For Fathers


Malecare Volunteer men’s cancer support group and advocacy national nonprofit organization providing resources in multiple languages

Feminist Fathers Resources for dads seeking to raise fully realized human beings with a mindfulness to how gender socialization affects parenting and children

Homophobia and masculinities among young men:

EngagingMen A public resource for anyone committed to gender justice and overcoming violence against women

Masculinidades Pro-feminist blog about the anthropology of masculinity. In Spanish

Fathers with Divorce and Custody Concerns Looking for a lawyer? Call your state bar association lawyer referral agency. Useful websites include: (not

Dad Man Consulting, training, speaking about fathers and father figures as a vital family resource

Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog An information resource, for both feminists and those questioning feminism Guy’s Guide to Feminism Website companion to a book by Michael Kimmel and Michael Kaufman which illustrates how supporting feminism enriches men’s lives

Men’s Health Network National organization promoting men’s health

World Health Organization HIV/AIDS Provides evidence-based, technical support for comprehensive and sustainable responses to HIV/AIDS

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault 1in6 Provides resources for male sexual abuse survivors and their family members, friends, and partners Black Sexual Abuse Survivors A national online support system for African-Americans Giving and Receiving Guidance & Hope A page of brief stories written by men who were sexually abused. MaleSurvivor National organization overcoming sexual victimization of boys and men Men Thriving A peer-resource offered to male survivors by male survivors.

Overcoming Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

National Organization of Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) Pro-feminist, gay-affirmative, anti-racist activist organization supporting positive changes for men

1in4: The Men’s Program Offers workshops that educate men in women’s recovery and lowers men’s rape myth acceptance and self-reported likelihood of raping

Men’s Health

A Call to Men Trainings and conferences on ending violence against women

American Journal of Men’s Health A peer-reviewed quarterly resource for information regarding men’s health and illness

EMERGE Counseling and education to stop domestic violence; comprehensive batterers’ services Futures Without Violence Working to end violence against women globally; programs for boys, men and fathers - Gloucester Men Against Domestic Abuse Gloucester, Mass. volunteer advocacy group of men’s voices against domestic abuse and sexual assault Healthy Dating Sexual Assault Prevention Mending the Sacred Hoop Works to end violence against Native American women and to strengthen the voice and vision of Native peoples MenEngage Alliance An international alliance promoting boys’ and men’s support for gender equality Men Against Sexual Violence (MASV) Men working in the struggle to end sexual violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) A national information and resource hub relating to all aspects of sexual violence National Resource Center on Violence Against Women An online collection of searchable materials and resources on domestic violence, sexual violence, and related issues PreventConnect Uses online media to build community among people engaged in efforts to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence Promundo Brazilian NGO seeking to promote gender equality and end violence against women, children, and youth Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) A national anti-sexual assault organization Sexual Violence Prevention 101 Sexual assault and domestic violence prevention workshops by Todd Denny

Men Against Violence Yahoo email list

Stop Porn Culture A group for those willing to question and fight against pornography and porn culture

Men Can Stop Rape Washington, D.C.-based national advocacy and training organization mobilizing male youth to prevent violence against women

Students Active For Ending Rape Organization dedicated to fighting sexual violence and rape culture by empowering student-led campaigns to reform college sexual assault policies

Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe, Inc. Statewide Massachusetts effort coordinating men’s anti-violence activities Men’s Nonviolence Project Texas Council on Family Violence Men Stopping Violence Atlanta-based organization working to end violence against women, focusing on stopping battering, and ending rape and incest Mentors in Violence Prevention Gender violence prevention education and training by Jackson Katz National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Provides a coordinated community response to domestic violence

V Day Global movement to end violence against women and girls, including V-men, male activists in the movement White Ribbon Campaign International men’s campaign decrying violence against women

LGBTQIA Resources Ambiente Joven An advocacy project and LGBTQ community for Spanish-speaking LGBTQ youth Beyond Masculinity Collection of essays by queer men on gender and politics

COLAGE National movement of people with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer parent working toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Works to combat homophobia and discrimination in television, film, music and all media outlets Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project Provides crisis intervention, support and resources for victims and survivors of domestic abuse Hear My Voice Educates and engages young people in the LGBTQ community to create safe and healthy relationships, and connect victims of dating abuse to help and legal services. Human Rights Campaign Largest GLBT political group in the country Interpride Clearinghouse for information on pride events worldwide Intersex Society of North America Devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female National Resource Center on LGBT Aging Resource center aimed at improving the quality of service and supports offered to LGBT older adults Oasis Magazine A writing community for queer and questioning youth Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Promotes the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ persons and their parents, friends, and families Straight Spouse Network Provides personal, confidential support and information to heterosexual spouses/partners, current or former, of GLBT individuals

Survivor Project A non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of intersex and trans* survivors of domestic and sexual violence Transgender Resources Dedicated to educating those unfamiliar with or curious to learn more about the transgender community

Men’s Resource Centers Austin Men’s Center – Austin, TX Provides counseling, psychotherapy, and classes helping men with their lives, relationships, health, and careers Lake Champlain Men’s Resource Center – Burlington, VT Center with groups and services challenging men’s violence on both individual and societal levels Males Advocating for Change – Worcester, MA Center with groups and services supporting men and challenging men’s violence Men’s Resource Center for Change – Amherst, MA Model men’s center offering support groups for nonabusive men and batterers’ intervention groups, services, trainings and consulting for men overcoming violence Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan – West Michigan Consultations and training in helping men develop their full humanity, create respectful and loving relationships, and caring and safe communities Redwood Men’s Center – Santa Rosa, CA A mythopoetic gathering dedicated to filling the need for men to come together in community healing Saskatoon Men’s Center – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Pro-feminist, male-positive, gay-affirmative center dedicated to offering a safe environment where men may explore their true natures and improve their health Twin Cities Men’s Center – Minneapolis, MN Provides resources for men seeking to grow in mind, body, and spirit and advocates for healthy family and community relationships

Winter 2013


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. 34

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Voice Male Winter 2013  
Voice Male Winter 2013