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28.14 Men's Movements:




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This article is from the Feminism References FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore tittle@netcom.com with numerous contributions by others.

28.14 Men's Movements:

[Largely contributed by Dave Gross. Exceptions noted.]

It may seem odd to include some notes on men's movements in a
description of feminism. However, many of these movements were
started in reaction to feminism: some inspired by and others in
contra-reaction to it. In this context, examining men's movements
tells of some specific reactions to feminism by men. [CTM]

Most men's movement historians date the men's movement back to the
early seventies. In 1970, according to Anthony Astrachan ("How
Men Feel" p. 291) the first men's center opened in Berkeley, Calif.
and the magazine "Liberation" published an article by Jack Sawyer
entitled "On Male Liberation."

The men's movement equivalent to the catalyst provided to the
women's movement by Betty Friedan, was "The Male Machine" by Mark
Feigen Fasteau in 1975. My edition has a forward by Gloria
Steinem in which she writes: "This book is a complement to the
feminist revolution, yet it is one no woman could write. It is the
revolution's other half."

But a reexamination of the male gender role certainly predates the
1970s. In fact, the book "The American Male" by Myron Brenton,
complained that "when the plight of woman is given such intense
scrutiny, a curiously distorting effect tends to be created.
Suddenly the world is seen only through the feminist prism." This
quote, which would be comfortable coming out of Warren Farrell's
mouth in the 1990s, was published in 1966. The book was essentially
a male-friendly, pro-feminist examination of the male sex role,
and started a theme of portraying masculinity as dangerous and
destructive (physically and emotionally) to men -- a theme that was
to also provide the basis for the works of Fasteau, Goldberg and
Farrell in the 1970s.

And R.F. Doyle, who was to form one of the rare traditionalist men's
groups, was already fighting for male-friendly divorce reform in
the early 1960s (his Divorce Racket Busters in 1960 is in a direct
line of parentage to his Men's Rights Association in 1973).

Barbara Ehrenreich in "The Hearts of Men" traces the men's movement
back even further. She believes that the current men's movement
is only the latest representation of a long-term male revolt against
the "breadwinner ethic:"

"I will argue that the collapse of the breadwinner ethic had
begun well before the revival of feminism and stemmed from
dissatisfactions every bit as deep, if not as idealist-
ically expressed, as those that motivated our founding
'second wave' feminists." -- p. 12

Furthermore, she writes that

"The great irony... is that the right-wing, antifeminist
backlash that emerged in the 1970s is a backlash not so
much against feminism as against the male revolt." -- p.13

In the mid- to late-1950s (although she traces the roots even
further back than this), non-conformity becomes a hip topic.
Playboy magazine started publishing in 1953, and by the early
sixties had started offering "something approaching a coherent
program for the male rebellion" (p. 50). The magazine's
trademark T&A was only a side-issue, designed to make the rebellion
against the male sex role (aka The Playboy Philosophy) a safely
heterosexual one.

The Beat movement "establish[ed] a vantage point from which the
'normal' could be judged, assessed and labeled -- square" (p. 67)
and then "cardiology... passed its own judgement on the 'normal'
masculine condition, and [came] down, without fully realizing it,
on the side of the rebels" (p. 87).

The Human Potential Movement combined with cardiological concerns
encouraged a change in men's lives; the Vietnam War further
tarnished the image of masculinity; the 60s counter culture
allowed androgyny; the second-wave of the women's movement pushed
for a critique of gender roles; gay liberation groups differentiated
themeselves from heterosexuals, allowing straight men to change
their roles without being accused of homosexuality.

Voila! The genesis of the men's movement in a nutshell!

The men's movement, as a movement, has from almost the beginning
been split into various camps based both on ideology and on
what concerns the members most wish to concentrate on. What were
once scattered "consciousness raising groups" have evolved into
the following sub-movements:

 

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