Some time ago I issued a respectful challenge to the American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA) to explain how they could claim to advocate for men and boys when their literature and activism appears so completely based on negative and misleading male stereotypes. I also invited them to support the still ongoing initiative to further the idea of “male studies,” a move toward a scholarly understanding of men and boys outside any political or ideological control.
What I got back was a dismissive and condescending reply from Michael Kimmel in which he claimed intellectual ownership of the study of males, and laid out AMSA’s alleged objectives using the four legs of a table as a metaphor.
We are pro-feminist, which means we believe in gender equality. (2) We are gay-affirmative, which means we support the rights of all men to live lives of dignity and love, free of all discrimination, regardless of their sexuality. (3) We are anti-racist, which means that, again, we support the rights of all men to live lives of integrity and love, free of all discrimination, regardless of their race. (4)And we believe in “enhancing men’s lives” by which we mean that we want to enable all men to live lives of integrity and happiness.
These are the four legs of AMSA’s table; four statements which they proudly hail as guiding principles. But what do these statements say about their perspective on men as a whole? Where is any statement addressing the plurality of men? Do we not exist unless we are gay or black or feminist? And if we are one of those things, do we exist at all, as men?
The answer is no. To AMSA, to be male is to be privileged, and if you are male the only way to prove you are not privileged is to prove that you belong to some other disadvantaged group.
Those four legs are just four divisive postmodern guises; four attempts to attract those that feel disenfranchised and help them feel included, not as men, but as whatever other demographic makes them acceptable.
That is the wobbly intellectual infrastructure of AMSA’s agenda, which is not to further service to men and boys, but to further feminist doctrine – predominately for the benefit of white, middleclass western females, who currently hold more privilege than any of other class of people in human history; much of it with no compensatory obligations or responsibilities.
This is the “equality” AMSA is selling, and they need “men” to pay the invoice. AMSA’s so called table is just something to stand on and characterize anyone who opposes them as racist, homophobic, regressive and misogynistic.
Now, as recent developments are bearing out, the 50 year reign of cultural denial about their real agenda is coming to an end. The cat’s head is poking out of the bag and the countdown has begun till more reasoned, less hateful voices dominate social discourse on the sexes.
One of those voices is this one; A Voice for Men, a growing collection of diverse and sometimes divergent individuals bound primarily by a passionate concern for what is happening in the world of modern men and boys.
We also subscribe to a set of principles that have been shaped by our common beliefs, and they have been expressed in a number of ways on the pages of this website.
I’d like to do so again because AMSA’s metaphorical “table” provides a succinct backdrop against which to illustrate our differences, and because of late certain elements in the mainstream have been peddling lies about our nature.
Let’s take a look at the legs of AMSA’s table again and compare it to our own bit of woodwork around here.
(1)We are pro-feminist, which means we believe in gender equality.
We believe in gender equality, which means we believe in gender equality. We also happen to think men are a part of that picture; an equal part. This is what makes us distinct from feminist organizations like AMSA, and also addresses the recent rash of disinformation about the MRM, part of which is the fallacy that MRA’s support traditional gender roles and want to go back to the 1950s. Try to find any significant writer or activist in the men’s movement who has ever said such a thing. You will fail. Those voices don’t exist in the MRM. We don’t want to turn back the clock or force anyone, anyone, into a life of expectations based on gender. Those obsolete ideas are a great part of what we are fighting to end. If you have come to this website because you have been told otherwise, you have been lied to.
(2) We are gay-affirmative, which means we support the rights of all men to live lives of dignity and love, free of all discrimination, regardless of their sexuality.
We support the rights of all men to live lives of dignity and love, free of all discrimination, which means that we support the rights of all men to live lives of dignity and love, free of all discrimination.
One of the most outlandish claims against the MRM is that our agenda is homophobic. Admittedly, we don’t have an AMSA-like, special interest designation like “gay affirmative,” on the masthead of our website. Nor will we ever. We do, though, offer gay men what places like AMSA never can; We accept them first, and only, as men. Their sexuality is not a qualifier or a disqualifier. It is not really cared about in any way. It’s blind inclusion. They are men. No politics, no shame, no patronizing.
And many of us believe that is curative. If there is a single wound that society has long inflicted on gay men, it is the ostracizing message that they are not men (because they are largely free from taking care of women). Even supposedly progressive organizations, like AMSA, draw lines according to sexuality, creating not a table, but another wall between heterosexual and homosexual men.
(3) We are anti-racist, which means that, again, we support the rights of all men to live lives of integrity and love, free of all discrimination, regardless of their race.
We support the rights of all men to live lives of integrity and love, free of all discrimination, regardless of anything.
This is where, as with sexuality, the men’s movement has forged ahead of the shopworn divisions of the past. While organizations like AMSA put race and sexuality concerns ahead of the general concerns faced by men, we search here for ways to do the opposite. We fully recognize the fact that the policies and legislation against men (which AMSA supports) are applied disproportionately. Even feminists know it.
Criminalization of social problems has led to mass incarceration of men, especially young men of color. ~ Ms. Foundation for Women
Sadly true, society perpetuates this is by failing to see that this is a men’s issue more than a racial one. Black men face more injustice than White men, but they are facing much, much more injustice because they are men than because they are Black.
Thankfully, the men’s movement has evolved into the first social movement where all kinds of men, and women, regardless of any previous divisions, have come to advocate for themselves and each other, and moved beyond the male disposability expected by our culture. It is a great example of racial harmony because race neither unites nor divides us. Race, like sexuality, simply does not count in the scheme of things. It is the best kind of integration there is.
(4)And we believe in “enhancing men’s lives” by which we mean that we want to enable all men to live lives of integrity and happiness.
We believe in “enhancing men’s lives” by which we mean that we want to enable all men to live lives of integrity and happiness, not just those that are feminist, gay, black or some combination of those things first, and men second.
We do not ask other men to engage in a cause that also makes them the identified enemy. We seek to address corrupt power, and we have never known it to have a sex or a color or a sexual orientation. We work in the name of men and boys, a grossly underserved and under recognized group, which is ironically what has organizations like AMSA so upset.
These are our values, and that is actually the most significant problem for all the people that are now trying to organize against us.
The MRM is growing in numbers and in influence because things for men and boys are bad and getting worse, and because the message we carry is unassailably justified and resonates cleanly with more and more men. The strength in our position is something that has been demonstrated by the embarrassing feebleness of the attacks against us.
The problem for our opponents is not that we are a bunch of angry white guys who want every woman to be June Cleaver. The problem for the opposition is that they don’t have a morally or intellectually sound rebuttal to our case, because there isn’t one. That will eventually become the shepherd’s hook that yanks them off the world stage for good.