Saturday, July 9, 2016

Table Talk: Why Men's Rights Groups Matter

When talking with my partner about the existence of a ManKind group in our area, his response was a little patronizing. He wondered if a men’s activism group was really required if overt retraining of behavior is not needed, vis. the rehabilitation of batters and those aggressively engaged in promoting and enacting a jock culture.
This was a great opportunity for me to look at why feminism matters to us all, as a nuts-and-bolts toolkit for daily living. I told him about how the issues taken up are not predominantly ones of rehabilitation at all, but rather areas that he and I talk about all the time and in which he seems pretty interested: How to be a good father, husband, and friend; how to be communicative, supporting and interdependent as opposed to isolated and self-contained, disconnected from a family unit.
My response deserves repeating : “When  we have a group of people over for dinner and cards and one of the men says of the drubbing received, ‘You guys totally raped us,’ it’s important for the householding leader of the group, the man and the closest friend of the offender, to take a stance, publicly for the sake of the underage men and the adult women at the table, and say ‘That’s unacceptable.’ Silence is violence, and, worse, silence educates everyone that such comments are not actually offensive. Silence strengthens rape culture and entrenches its attendant message to everyone present:  adult men can say and do whatever they want without regard for anyone else and without limits or consequences.”
We need to do better about communicating, all of us as a society and as individual men and women. We need to acknowledge our needs, and to do our best to help others identify and acknowledge their own needs, all in a creative and supporting environment.

ManKind and men’s pro feminist groups around the country can help us get there, giving us tools, creating conversations, and helping us look in ways we never have before at some of the most important issues of our day. Through this supportive, creative, inclusive environment, we can begin to stop shooting, start talking, and open the path to loving ourselves and each other.