As few people could have missed, over the past 40 years or so, public characterizations of men and boys have undergone a dramatic transformation. It’s seems almost impossible that, in the 50s and 60s for example, men were not routinely denigrated in the news media, popular culture and academia. While far from invariable, respect for men as men was the norm.
By now, much has changed. After 40 years of supposedly raising public awareness of sexism, anti-male sexism seems perfectly acceptable in all walks of life.
That was brought home to residents of the UK recently when a couple of male sports commentators were caught making rude remarks about women when they thought their microphones were turned off. They were sacked with little fanfare.
But, when a female celebrity was asked on a television talk show what her favorite kind of man is, she replied “A dead one.” Forty years of consciousness-raising about sexism produced not a peep of concern about her flagrant misandry.
Not long afterward, The Guardian newspaper published a very long opinion piece on sexism. Well over a thousand words were written and not a single one betrayed the slightest awareness that there could be such a thing as anti-male sexism.
Over those same 40 years, the concept of gender violence has been raised and much done and written about it. Violence between men and women has been studied, legislated against, adjudicated, talked about, written about and above all, roundly condemned.
And yet in a society in which males make up about two-thirds of all victims of violent crime, popular culture still considers violence against men as comedic as here, affirmatively good or at the very least acceptable, when perpetrated by women.
When it comes to family court, the ways in which men get the short end of the stick are too numerous to mention. The big example is child custody and the big reason why fathers become visitors in their children’s lives post-divorce is that they persist in being the chief breadwinner for them during marriage.
Now it’s entirely possible to acknowledge the worth of dads who makes sure the rent is paid, food is on the table and the heat stays on in winter, but family courts from coast to coast haven’t figured out how. Many people understand that fathers love their children and express that in part by providing for them, but family courts are rarely among them.
One of the truly amazing aspects of our current-day American culture is an almost unquestioning acceptance of the notion that men as a sex have it easy. In vain do men’s and fathers’ advocates point to obvious facts: men live shorter lives than do women; 90% of those killed on the job are men; 97.5% of Americans killed in our two most recent wars are men; 80% of suicides are men and boys; 75% of the homeless are men; 55% of those without health insurance are men; only 16% of custodial parents are men; only 42% of college enrollees are men; 90% of incarcerated Americans are men and boys.
The list goes on and on, but who addresses any of those issues? A fair number of responsible academics do as well as a few advocates for men’s and fathers’ rights.
But against the backdrop of a culture that, after 40 years, appears happy to ignore both men’s problems and men’s valuable contributions, it’s hard to be heard or understood. The facts don’t fit the narrative we’ve heard and read for lo these many years and, as so often happens, when facts and myth collide, myth wins.
So it is again with great pleasure and anticipation that I report the second annual Conference on Male Studies will be held on April 6. Below is the announcement of same.
The movement toward a Male Studies curriculum at the college level is much needed and has been for a long time. As any attorney or politician will tell you, “framing the issue” goes a long way toward winning the debate. For far too long, those whose agenda is frankly anti-male have been allowed to describe, define and characterize men and masculinity. They have done so, not from a position of empirical accuracy, but in accord with their unique political ideology. Not surprisingly, they’ve gotten it wrong much of the time to the great detriment of us all.
So studying boys and men empirically is an exercise that is much needed and one that the Male Studies discipline promises to do rigorously and without bias. Doing so will, I believe, help to recreate the narrative of men and masculinity accurately and therefore, over time, supplant the misandric ideology so much in vogue these past 40 years.
In the process, it will also help to give us a better understanding of women than we currently have, and a firmer grasp of male-female relationships. Since time immemorial, men and women have worked together to produce society and culture; the popular notion of men and women as enemies is both new and flawed and must be replaced. A science-based Male Studies curriculum promises to be a good vehicle for doing just that.
Here’s the announcement. Take part in the Conference if you can.
Recently I learned about an organization that is the real deal when it comes to helping the boys and men of our present and future.
The Foundation for Male Studies, is a doctor’s constructive response to an almost global culture that devalues boys and men, causing a downward spiral that has resulted in diminished male college enrollment, an out-of-proportion male suicide rate, a biased legal system against men and a host of other problems facing males today – in countries including Australia, the United States, Canada, China, India and many others.
The Foundation seeks to bring solutions with an emphasis on adding classes, seminars, symposiums, workshops and conferences to the curricula of leading universities. Supporting the work of male studies scholars, the foundation communicates to the next generation, the scholarly, regional and national press, to the think tanks, and institutes and peer foundations that influence legislation.
On April 6, 2010, the foundation is having their Second Annual Conference on Male Studies, Looking Forward to Solutions. This global web-broadcast conference will gather scholars representing a wide range of academic disciplines including anthropology, education, history, medicine, politics and psychology – and have them present captivating findings at the New York Academy of Medicine. The current condition of males as well as real-time solutions will be laid out to a live audience in over 10 countries. Moderated by Guy Garcia, an award-winning journalist, novelist and multimedia entrepreneur, and author of The Decline of Men: How the American Male is Tuning Out, Giving Up, and Flipping Off His Future, this conference promises to capture the interest of many professionals including professors, students, physicians, psychologists, politicians, health care specialists, authors and educators.
Interested individuals can register for the conference online using this link, and I will be grateful if you can help me circulate this and increase participation.
Joseph M. Notovitz
Director of Communications
333 Mamaroneck Avenue – 444
White Plains, NY 10605
Into the bargain, here’s a link to an article on the site for the Australian Men’s Rights Agency headed by the redoubtable Sue Price calling for the establishment of a Male Studies curriculum in the land down under.