This article is from the Feminism References FAQ, by Cindy Tittle Moore firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
These are the ones you see on TV and in magazines wearing masks
and beating drums. Robert Bly, the father-figure of this
"I see the phenomenon of what I would call the 'soft male' all
over the country today. They're not interested in harming
the Earth, or starting wars, or working for corporations.
There's something favorable toward life in their whole
general mood and style of living. But something's wrong.
Many of these men are unhappy. There's not much energy in
them. They are life-preserving, but not exactly
"Men are suffering right now -- young males especially. But
now that so many men are getting in touch with their feminine
side, we're ready to start seeing the wild man and to put its
powerful, dark energy to use. At this point, many things can
-- interview by Keith Thompson
Utne Reader, Nov/Dec 1989
This talk of "powerful, dark energy" worries some, including Bly's
ex-wife, who compared this movement to fascism:
"The men's separatist movement is frightening. Separatism,
breeds feelings of superiority and imbalance -- male bonding
usually offers permission to regress."
-- "The danger in men's groups"
Utne Reader, Nov/Dec 1989
A more common reaction to these groups by outsiders is
bewilderment and ridicule. "[T]heir words revealed a kind of
gooeyness wrapped in clinical psych jargon," wrote Jon Tevlin of
his Wild Man Weekend. It's possible though, that these groups
outnumber all other men's groups combined. There are a surprising
number of magazines, books, journals, retreats and gurus
associated with the mythopoetic men's movement. "Iron John" led
sales of hardcover nonfiction longer than any other best seller in
1991, according to the 1993 Writer's Market.
"What I'm interested in is the return of mythology, and he
timportance of initiation -- I think that's essential...
I'm not interested in all the men having opinions on men's
rights, and attacking women. I'm not interested in a
national men's movement."
-- Robert Bly, quoted by Tim Warren in
the Baltimore Sun, 28 October 1990
On the other hand,
"I don't want to omit people like Warren Farrell and Herb
Goldberg who are doing men's stuff; they get omitted far oo
toften when the Men's Movement is discussed. If Robert
[Bly] is one of the leaders and perhaps the father of the
mythopoetic Men's Movement, then Goldberg, Farrell and
Pleck are the Grandfathers..."
-- John Lee, quoted by Woody Harper in the
Men's Council Newsletter, August 1990
This movement is less political than spiritual, and it's difficult
to identify just what these folks stand for. But if you want to
try, check out the interviews with Bly and with Shepherd Bliss in
the Nov/Dec 1989 Utne Reader, or pick up "Men's Council News" or
Robert Bly's surprise best-seller "Iron John."