Will the men’s movement become political and activist?
The men’s movement is a misnomer. It Is neither political like the civil rights movement nor activist like the women’s movement.
Time, July 8, 199 V
Within the next ten years, Time magazine will doubtless eat those words Why? First, political structures are formed and forming. Second, the political agendas are concrete. Third, men’s emotional and economic pain is significant enough to motivate change
First, the political structures. The National Congress for Men and Children and the National Coalition of Free Men have for years been consciously – focusing on issues like fathers having access to their children after divorce and joint custody. The media often portrays these men as focusing on father’s rights, but these dads could just as easily be portrayed as focusing on loving children. The pain among these men emanates from dealing with the law when they want to be dealing with love.
The mythopoetic men’s movement is just on the verge of developing political consciousness. Its political consciousness is evolving more unconsciously, from the men’s personal discoveries. During the men’s weekends, many men explore what might be called the two Fs – fathering and feelings But as men discover they have been deprived of their fathers, they stan asking if they are also being deprived of being fathers. And as men stan seeing that other men have shared their personal experience, they slowly discover that the personal is political. This leads to fathers discovering their first right.
A father’s first right – fathering (sharing child care while his wife does her financial share) – requires renegotiating. Renegotiating requires men to speak up. That’s where the search for the second F – feelings – comes in
Until now, men invested all of their emotional eggs in the basket of the women they loved. So they feared speaking up for fear of losing their only source of emotional support. As men’s weekends provide an alternate source of emotional support, men gain the courage to say what they feel without fear of emotional isolation. Although some women find this new male courage threatening, others find it appealing. Many couples find it breathes life into a relationship dying of boredom.
But do men really want a change – do they want more time with their children? We have seen that almost 90 percent of men say that full time involvement with their children would be theirpnference for between six months and a year if they knew they wouldn’t be hurting their family economically and they knew their wife approved.
What are the implications of men becoming more fully invested in their children? Fathers and children who feel more loved and loving. And this has political implications: fathers will protest when judges assume a child is its mother’s first, its father’s second. Politically, fathers will seek to remove judges who award more than 60 percent of contested custody cases to either sex
Once a man allows himself to love a child deeply, he wants the right to love equally. He realizes that when a woman and he have created a pregnancy, the issue is not the rights of the female versus the fetus, but the rights of the female, the fetus, and the father. I le realizes that a woman who says, "It’s my body, it’s my business," and then chooses to have a child that she makes him pay for forces him to take a job he might like less just because it pays more, forces him to stress himself out and die early – and forces him to use his body for eighteen years. If it’s his body being used for eighteen years, and his body dying sooner, shouldn’t it be his business, too? Isn’t two decades of a man’s life worth nine months of a woman’s?
The issues of fathering and feelings are emerging from one portion of the political structure. But nothing affects men’s powerlessness more than the Issues of disposability Here is a concrete agenda for dealing with male disposability
The ten glass cellars of male disposability
just as women identified the glass ceilings which they believed prevented equality of opportunity, ten glass cellars might be thought of as creating men’s inequality of disposability. Instead of addressing these issues with the help of an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), men need to be developing an Equal Life Opportunity Commission (ELOC). Men’s issues are issues of life and death. The concrete agenda of an ELOC? For starters, to eradicate these ten glass cellars:
Suicide If a man is ten times as likely to commit suicide after the death of a spouse,2 then the ELOC has a mission to develop special outreach programs when a man’s spouse dies. On a deeper level, if boys commit
suicide 25,000 percent more as their sex roles become apparent,3 maybe we should be changing the male role before it becomes apparent.
Prisoners If an ELOC stops the rapes of men and boys in prison, fewer men will rape when out of prison. If imprisoned mothers are softened by contact with their children, would imprisoned fathers be?
Homelessness An ELOC would discover what leads to men becoming about 85 percent of our street homeless,4 and develop intervention programs before male hopelessness becomes male homelessness.
Death professions Socialization for the death professioas starts at an early age. An ELOC can provide grants to train mentor teachers to resocial ize boys to not have to pay for girls at an early age in preparation for taking hazardous jobs that earn more at a later age.
Disease The ELOC’s mandate would include research and early detection education to prevent men from dying earlier of all fifteen of the major diseases and causes of accidents.
Assassinations and hostage-taking An Equal Life Amendment implies foreign policy considerations. How should the United States respond to Saddam I lussein s releasing only women and children? Or to our taxpayer money financing the assassination of foreign leaders? Would we have allowed our government to make repeated attempts to kill Castro were Castro a woman?
Executions We give women the death penalty but in the final analysis, we execute only men. If we executed only women, would there be a protest?
Draft An Equal Life Amendment would acknowledge male-only draft registration as slave registration. An Office of Equal Male Life might organize a class-action suit on behalf of men who were drafted and are now – psychological ly handicapped. It would pressure the government to end the cover-up concerning MIAs and POWs – all members of the disposable sex.
Combat An ELOC would be certain that both sexes were about equally – subjected to direct combat obligations and that failure to be so exposed would result in decreased benefits.
Early deaths An ELOC’s mandate would also indude discovering non disease factors that lead to men’s early death – the pressure to perform, pay, and pursue, the loneliness, risks of rejection, lack of support.
y/e can think of every boy as being assessed at birth a 10 percent male disposability tax – symbolizing his 10 percent shorter life expectancy. Were men to create the equivalent of an Equal Rights Amendment to symbolically confront their disposability, it might be called an Equal Life Amendment. In reality, it would be nothing more than an Equal Rights and Responsibilities Amendment, since if men and women had equal rights and responsibilities, they would approach a much more equal life expectancy.