I noticed some optimism in Paul Elam’s recent fundraising article for the year ahead (Elam, 2012). Indeed, I get a feeling that there are some signs of change. I don’t see any walls coming down just yet, but I am seeing a few cracks in important places.
What has caught my eye recently is a new international journal called New Male Studies (New Male Studies, 2012). Over this year they have released three issues of papers from academics around the world on what they call the “male experience”.
Whilst the content is not as spicy, say, as AVfM, (the “fuck” count is pretty low) it nonetheless contains the same basic ingredients. I found myself nodding in agreement with much that was written in the articles; similarly to how I found myself “taking the red pill” when I first came across AVfM.
The importance of this is difficult to exaggerate. For the first time the men’s movement can look to authoritative, reliable information in one place on men as a basis for going forward.
It seems to me that much of MRA’s energies have been spent in debunking the various myths, damned myths and statistics of feminism. Whilst this is important, and I for one am glad people took the time to do this, it still left us with a few issues.
“Phineas Fembotcrusher” of “the manosphere” may have had reliable and accurate statistical methods proving that Dr. X.Y. Realname, a tenured Professor of Anactual University, was full of shit. But, quoting “Blueface” as your primary source doesn’t quite have that ring of gravitas.
Also, proving feminists wrong doesn’t, by itself, make anyone right.
However, real academics doing real studies of real issues is a different proposition altogether.
As an introduction, let me give you an insight into an article by Dr John Ashfield called “Towards an Integrated Perspective on Gender, Masculinity, and Manhood” (Ashfield, 2012).
The opening sentence to the article pulls no punches:
For decades our understanding of gender, masculinity, and manhood has arguably been bedevilled by uninformative pseudo‐academic gender ideology.
With this, Ashfield begins an appeal for a fresh look at gender. What he is calling for is an “explanatory and useful” perspective that is grounded in “the reality of men’s and women’s lived experience.”
He goes on to explain that the current academic climate is due for a change. “[T]his fundamentalism is being increasingly eclipsed by compelling evidence from a whole range of academic disciplines, including biology, anthropology, neuroscience, endocrinology, psychiatry, psychology, and others. “
Ashfield points out the obvious fact that inherent differences does not justify discrimination. What it does is provide some insight into, for example, the roles that men and women choose for themselves in society. What he hopes is that studying men with a new perspective might provide for “endeavours of human service and social enhancement that are equitable and grounded in reality.”
According to Ashfield, there are a number of topics to be considered in this new perspective on men.
Masculinity is presently seen as a social construct that, because the Patriarchal version is so deficient, should be modified or even eliminated by politically correct social engineering. This view is “detached from biological reality” as it requires “intellectual compromises” such as treating all men as identical in all cases and circumstance.
Ashfield would define masculinity as the blend of masculine potentials that stem from innate male traits that, shaped by culture and circumstance, are expressed in manhood.
Manhood, he goes on to define, is the fulfilment of some of these masculine potentials in the adult male as he takes his place within his culture. There is no one manhood, but different expressions of these potentials within different cultures and even sub-cultures.
Ashfield notes that men do not achieve manhood simply by becoming older, but more by taking a meaningful place within society. This manhood is also never fully achieved, because it can always be taken away. Therefore the bestowing and removal of manhood affects men’s behaviours and attitudes. AVfM regulars will be aware of shaming tactics and the power they have over men.
A practical example of the benefits of Male Studies is in the area of Men’s Health. Ashfield believes understanding manhood is the key to understanding men’s attitudes to health and well being. Only when we understand these can we encourage men to better health without the “blaming, shaming, or the patronising statements commonly exhibited in [current] health literature.”
All of these topics are clearly worthy of proper, rigorous study.
Male Studies is seen by Dr Ashfield and collegues as being a separate from the Men’s Studies that feminists have set up at many universities (Glover, 2012). The difference is distinct and deliberate.
Glover noted at a conference to discuss the curricula for a Male Studies degree course that it was felt by the participants that Men’s Studies advocates “resort to purely social constructivist views of gender…often at the expense of honesty. These views have leaked into popular culture helping to contribute to a climate of misandry.”
Ashfield himself believes that Male Studies should not allow itself to get bogged in debate with feminist ideologues. Instead they should forge independently ahead in the search for practical answers rooted firmly in reality.
The University of South Australia, with the Australian Institute of Male Health and Studies and the support of a group of American, Canadian, and European academics, are proposing to have a degree and postgraduate courses in Male Studies in 2014.
In his conclusions, Ashfield cites a conversation with a first year social sciences student at university. The student was feeling bullied by the feminist agenda to shame the male students for simply being male. This was what Ashfield explained to the young man:
Academe in the West, has, in certain of its disciplines, betrayed a sacred trust. It has acquiesced to a bullying pseudo-intellectual, self-appointed gender commentariat.
That, to my mind, is all red pill.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….
Ashfield, J. A. (2012). Towards an Integrated Perspective on Gender, Masculinity and Manhood. Retrieved December 21, 2012, from New Male Studies: http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms/article/view/15/10
Elam, P. (2012, December 12). Timeto refuel, march on. Retrieved December 12, 2012, from A Voice for Men: http://www.avoiceformen.com/a-voice-for-men/time-to-refuel-march-on/
Glover, K. (2012). Report on the Conference on Curricula for New Male Studies. Retrieved December 21, 2012, from New Male Studies Journal: http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms/article/view/49/46
New Male Studies. (2012). New Male Studies. Retrieved December 21, 2012, from New Male Studies: http://newmalestudies.com/OJS/index.php/nms
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