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From Rio to Washington

Masculinitys Brave New World

By Rob Okun

ore than a thousand men are gathering over the next two months in Rio de Janeiro, Washington, and New York to say yes to a new day for masculinity, yes to new possibilities for men. Activists, educators, policy makers, researchersa veritable peace corps of committed men (augmented by equally committed women allies)are doing much more than sharing ideas, information and best practices to prevent mens violence against women and promote healthy masculinity (as vitally important as those efforts are). They are also sharing a vision: a vision of men reaching deep within ourselves to uncover ways to grow personally and to play a part in directing a societal shift in how we comport ourselves out in the worldin our families, workplaces, communities and governments. Central to that vision is listening to, and learning from, women. And that means acting responsibly and being accountable for our actions. Since visionaries in the modern-day womens movement first pushed open the portal to personal growth and social transformation for themselves, their mothers, sisters and daughters, tens of millions have streamed through on a quest for justice. There was no sign at the entrance saying men werent allowed. It has only been our fear, our resistance, our unwillingness to acknowledge our privilegeand our vulnerabilitythat held some of us back. And now our time has come. Over the past quarter century more men have stepped from the sidelines of silence onto the playing field of change. This springs conferences and symposia in Rio de Janeiro, Washington and New Yorkas well as other vital gatherings elsewhere around the worldare the culmination of years of work building a movement that not only rejects mens violence against women but simultaneously supports mens roles in crafting peaceful alternatives. In Rio, the conference is called Engaging Men and Boys in Achieving Gender Equality(; in Washington, its Men and Women as Allies in the Primary Prevention of Mens Violence Against Women (www.mencanstoprape. org); and in New York, its Stand Up and Speak Out to End Violence Against Women ( Whatever the name, the goal is the samepreventing violence against women and promoting healthy masculinity. I will be at the three conferences repreVoice Male

senting Voice Male, at the Global Village in Rio, providing magazines for participants, and sharing ideas on the future of new masculinity in Washington and New York. As men have organized among ourselves, particularly these last two decades, developing programs and organizations to address the twin aims of challenging our violence and supporting our growth, women allies have welcomed us. Today, new strategies for reaching men are being successfully tested in the marketplace of social change. Even in these economically treacherous times our market share is growing. Men from around the world have created and are creatingpowerful programs to engage men and boys. Mexico, Canada, Brazil, the United States, Norway, South Africa, India, and Sweden are among the countries where men are promoting gender equality and working to prevent violence against women and girls and supporting boys healthy development. Out of their endeavors have come calls to action for this year and beyond, calls that are centered around ratcheting up mens efforts to prevent violence and that encourage forging new alliances with womens and mens groups working worldwide. We have a lot to teach one another. The overarching theme of the four-day Engaging Men Symposium in Brazil offers a helpful framework for the week in, week out work men are doing around the world. Men

and Violence includes addressing mens use of physical violence against women, sexual violence, and the gendered dimensions of violence between men; Men and Health involves paying attention to sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, substance use, maternal and child health, and mental health; and Men, Caregiving and Fatherhood suggests focusing on the critical need for work-life balance and engaging men to more equally participate in caregiving. All those involved in mens work today will be well served by exploring these themes. Meanwhile, for anyone interested in seeing healthy masculinity promoted in the United States, the trio of major gatherings offers a connection to the changing culture in Washington. As President Obama charts a new course for the U.S. in its relations with the rest of the worldrecasting the country as collaborative, thoughtful, and sensitive, and choosing negotiating over bullyingthere is an opportunity for men of conscience to move our agenda of positive masculinity more squarely onto the international stage. The Obama-Biden brand of manhood seems more open to our message than any other administration in U.S. history. Among those with a significant global reach who are promoting that message of positive masculinity is MenEngage (www., the umbrella organization for the global network to involve men and boys in gender equality. Its missionto reduce gender inequalities and promote the health and well-being of women, men and childrenis the foundation of the collective work of all the organizations and all the projects that Voice Male is committed to regularly chronicling. As more men articulate a desire to balance inner growth and outer (social) action, new opportunities to connect will present themselves. Gatherings in places such as Rio, Washington, and New York remind us how far weve come from the old male buzz words of isolation and individualism. The watchwords for men today are collaboration and connection. Creating a new masculinity in this brave new world means letting go of flying solo in favor of taking the hand of another man. Look around. He may be right beside you ready to join in taking the next step. Voice Male editor Rob Okun can be reached at

Spring 2009 Changing Men in Changing Times

8 Hey Chris! Letter to a Young Brother
By Haji Shearer


9 For the Love of Women

By Bart Scott

10 The Secret Lives of Boys

By Malina Saval

12 Coaching Our Kids

By Michael Messner

15 What Do I Know About Men? Women Teaching Men About Feminism

By Shira Tarrant

18 Breaking Out of the Man Box

By Tony Porter


21 I Thought I Was One Of The Good Guys

Erasing Old Masculinitys Tapes
By Stephen Glaude

23 Masculine, Feminine or... Human?

By Robert Jensen

25 How Linda Steins Knights Safeguard Our Days

By Jann Matlock and Joan Marter

28 Steering into the Slide

Men and Women as Allies
By Patrick McGann


Columns & Opinion

2 4 5 17 30 31 32 34
From the Editor Letters Men @ Work Porn Watch Books Poetry Resources Men & Violence Masculinitys Brave New World By Rob Okun

Exposing the Price of Pleasure By Haji Shearer E. Ethelbert Miller Top 10 Lame Excuses Men Make to Justify Violence Against Women By Byron Hurt
Cover graphic: Lahri Bond Brave New Male: Jason L. Rhett

Spring 2009

Mail Bonding
Supporting Congo Sisters
I appreciated so much your piece on Ending Sexual Terrorism in the Congo in the Winter 09 issueas well as your longstanding focus on enlisting men in ending violence against women, while supporting men in so many different ways. VM is an invaluable resource for bringing men together with each other and as allies to women in creating a more just and peaceful world.

Voice Male Rocks My View of Men

As a black woman glancing through your publication for the first time, I wasnt sure what I was to do with it. Magazines geared toward the male population are about naked ladies, disassembled engine parts, motorcycle/biking hints, and every sporting event imaginable. So to have a magazine that challenged men to inspect the role their masculinity plays in a world where at least half of the population are women shook my senses. This type of magazine rocks my view that men are selfish, insensitive, and callous, and therefore the world is selfish, insensitive, and callous. I particular liked Tim Wises article, The Burdens of White Privilege. The author was so dead on pointing out that although we just elected a black president, shades of whiteness and privileges still guide our concepts and beliefs. Wise gives practical examples from the recent presidential campaign in this article. If he had not brought these points to my attention, I would have dismissed these as being the norm. I appreciate you challenging the what is image and presenting an image of what can be. ET. Knowles Long Beach, Calif.

Rob A. Okun

Lahri Bond
Art Director

Michael Burke
Copy Editor

NationalAdvisory Board Juan Carlos Aren

Family Violence Prevention Fund

John Badalament
All Men Are Sons

Byron Hurt
God Bless the Child Productions

Robert Jensen
Prof. of Journalism Univ. of Texas

Sut Jhally
Media Education Foundation

Jackson Katz
Mentors in Violence Prevention Strategies

Michael Kaufman
White Ribbon Campaign

Joe Kelly
The Dad Man

Michael Kimmel
Prof. of Sociology SUNY Stony Brook, N.Y.

Bill T. Jones
Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Co.

In addition to the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign, which you also highlighted, another resource readers could benefit knowing about is Women for Women International. This organization works with female victims of war in half a dozen or so countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, helping them deal with dislocation, lack of job skills, poverty, and surviving rape, violence, loss of family members, and all the other horrors of war. I am now sponsoring a sister in the Congo, which involves a monthly contribution for a year or longer, and provides the possibility of corresponding with the sponsored woman, as another type of support. This organization has a very high percentage of donated funds going directly to aid recipients in need. For more information, readers can visit Joy Kaubin Lake Pleasant, Mass.

Mike Messner
Prof. of Sociology Univ. of So. California

Don McPherson
Mentors in Violence Prevention

VOICE MALE is published quarterly by the Alliance for Changing Men, 33 Gray St., Amherst, MA 01002. It is mailed to subscribers in the U.S., Canada, and overseas and is distributed at select locations around the country and to conferences, universities, colleges and secondary schools, and among non-profit and non-governmental organizations. The opinions expressed in Voice Male are those of its writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the advisors or staff of the magazine, or its sponsor, Family Diversity Projects. Copyright 2009 Alliance for Changing Men/Voice Male magazine. Subscriptions: 4 issues-$24. 8 issues-$40. For bulk orders, go to or call Voice Male at 413.687-8171. Advertising: For advertising rates and deadlines, go to or call Voice Male 413.687-8171. Submissions: The editors welcome letters, articles, news items, reviews, story ideas and queries, and information about events of interest. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcomed but the editors cannot be responsible for their loss or return. Manuscripts and queries may be sent via email to or mailed to Editors: Voice Male, 33 Gray St., Amherst, MA 01002.

Craig Norberg-Bohm
Mens Initiative for Jane Doe

Chris Rabb

Haji Shearer
Massachusetts Childrens Trust Fund
4 Voice Male

Men@ Work

One Fathers Love for Daughters Worldwide

oncerned that girls account for more than half of the approximately 75 million children out of school worldwide, a Virginia father has launched the Father and Daughter Alliance (FADA). Pedro Moreno is founder and president of FADA, a Virginia-based international movement of family men and fathers mobilizing other fathers to support their daughters education and close the gap in educational opportunities between boys and girls. FADA was launched in New Delhi, India, in February in partnership with Deepalayaa well-established non-governmental organizationand the Office of the Chief Minister of New Delhi. Moreno reports that FADA will also work in Afghanistan, Benin, Guatemala and Yemen, countries where girls not attending school outnumber boys three or four to one. Moreno describes himself as a traditional, religious family man who, after having some hard-headed ideas about these topics for many years, came to see the light, and the critical importance of girls education and full participation in all aspects of society. Though major gains have been made to narrow the gap in girls education and in some parts of the world girls are doing

even better than boys (mostly in the United States, parts of Europe and the Caribbean), according to the World Bank in developing countries, girls lag behind boys and many more girls drop out along the way than boys. For example, for every 100 boys out of school in Yemen there are 270 girls, in Iraq the ratio is 100 boys to 316 girls, in India, 426 girls, and in Benin, 257 girls, according to a 2007 report by UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Moreno says reasons why include girls taking care of relatives, cooking for, serving, or working for their families, lack of appropriate sanitary/bathroom facilities, sexual harassment, adverse cultural practices and distance to schools. Partly because of this lack of education, too many girls end up in domestic servitude, early marriage, abused and/ or neglected, trafficked and prostituted, genitally mutilated, unable to access opportunities and continually dependent on others for all their needs. Of the 774 million illiterate adults worldwide, 64 percent are women. Thus the vicious cycle continues, particularly as countries move toward a knowledge society, since an illiterate mother is far less likely to send her daughters to school. that these days American men do about 16 hours of housework each weekan increase from the 12 hours a week they did in 1965, but much less than the 27 hours women put in each week.

FADAs goal for the first year is to microtarget and help 5,000 girls get back to primary school in five countries from geographic areas with stubbornly low rates of completion of primary school by girls. The five countries selected include: Afghanistan - literacy 51% male, 21% female Yemen - literacy 70% male, 30% female (80% of boys in primary school and 50% of girls) Benin - literacy 48% male, 23% female Guatemala - literacy 75.4% male, 63.3% female India - literacy 78% male, 55% female Moreno has served in the private and public sectors for over 15 years, including the White House Drug Policy (working on demand reduction among youth), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Administration for Children and Families), Prison Fellowship International, The Rutherford Institute, and the Social Emergency Fund (in cooperation with the World Bank). He says his lifes mission is to help mainstream marginalized individuals and communities, including religious and ethnic minorities, ex-prisoners, trafficked women and girls, Recognizing there were no options for men to wear traditional-looking underwear that provided slimming and shaping qualities, designer Stephanie Thibeaux created Sculptees. Men want to look good but they definitely dont want to feel like theyre wearing a girdle, Thibeaux said. I knew if I could create a line of underwear in familiar styles, like ribbed tanks and boxer briefs, that offered smoothing properties and a just back from the gym look, guys would really respond. Prices range from $26 to $75 and

low-income and refugee populations and out-of-school boys and girls. Moreno, who served as a U.S. delegate to the Executive Board of UNICEF, attended and spoke at the NGO Forum of the UN Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, helped negotiate the outcome document for the UN General Assemblys 2002 Special Session on Children, and was a delegate to the World Health Organization WHO-UNICEF Consultation on Child/Adolescent Health in Stockholm. During his six-plus years at the Administration for Children and Families, Moreno actively promoted responsible/involved fatherhood programsmen respecting their wives, helping at home, and nurturing their children. Moreno and his wife have two sons and a daughter. He says his focus now is to make sure that [she]and other daughtershas all the opportunities available to his sons. To learn more, visit www.

Men Still Arent Doing Their Share

Are gender roles shifting? Before accounting for race, men still earn about 25 percent more money than women. According to information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, men spend 50 percent less time grocery shopping than do women. And, although men are doing more housework than they used to do, women still shoulder the bulk of it. Diane Swanbrow, of the University of Michigans Institute for Social Research, reports

Mens Underwear Goes Undercover

In what is being touted as a breakthrough in gender equality, a Houston underwear maker has come up with something few males have been holding their breath waiting for: girdles for men.

include five styles in multiple colors: the Slim seamless ribbed tank; the Pex tank with relaxed body and ribbed waist; the TSlim seamless crew neck mesh tee; the Bandit seamless waffle knit waistband; and the Jimmy high-waisted boxer brief in 6 and 9 inseams. The size range on all products is Medium to XXL. To learn more, visit www. Voice Male could not confirm rumors that talk show host Rush Limbaugh had signed a contract to serve as the companys chief model.
Spring 2009 5

Men@ Work
designed to bring fathers into the classroom and is being used in 800 schools in 30 states. Figuring out how to reach dads is crucial. At the Monroe Trotter School in the Dorchester section of Boston, according to Belkin, few fathers were coming to a coffee hour scheduled especially for dads. Once the school renamed it Dads Club, and had children hand-print notes asking their father, uncle or other adult male in their life to come, more than 50 men began showing up. Why all the effort? Because it is good for children. They do better in school and in life when their fathers are involved. The National Household Education Survey by the federal Department of Education found that: Students whose fathers were highly involved at school were 43 percent more likely to receive As. Children of highly involved resident fathers were 55 percent more likely to enjoy school than those with uninvolved fathers. Students with nonresident fathers who participated in even one activity at school were 39 percent less likely to repeat a grade and 50 percent less likely to experience serious disciplinary problems. Now that more dads are becoming involved at school and in the PTA, the only question that remains is, how good will their chocolate chip cookies taste at the next bake sale?

Snipping Before Halftime?

Is it true more men get vasectomies around major sporting events than at other times of the year? According to publicists at the Loomis Group in San Francisco, some urology practices have promoted the idea with such catchy slogans as Snip City 2009. Since vasectomies require several days of bed, rest some practices suggest it as a perfect opportunity for men to catch up on watching basketball, football, baseball or other sports events while recuperating. March Madness may be over, and t h e Wo r l d Series and Super Bowl months away, but enterprising sportsm i n d e d doctors seem to be pushing the idea of mixing birth control, bed rest and sports. Is this a sign of the new masculinity weve been looking for? weekend of November 6-7 at St. Johns University in Collegeville, Minn., will bring together for the first time men working around the country who reject ideas of manhood and relations between the sexes that are harmful to women and men both. Across the country, groups of male students are finding the courage to speak out against date rape and other acts of violence against women, said one of three conference organizers, Michael Kimmel, the author of several volumes examining masculinity and a sociology professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. These young men support gender equality. Some work through residence life or student activities offices, others through womens centers and counseling programs. Some are campus branches of national organizations but all face common problems: How to have an impact? How to find positive ways to get their message to other campus men? How to deal with backlash, to work in partnership with womens groups, to recruit new members, and sustain their groups? Along with Kimmel, the conference is being organized by St. Johns Universitys longtime mens programming administrator Gar Kellom, and internationally known mens work speaker and trainer Michael Kaufman. The gathering will allow participants to share resources, trade best practices, discuss strategies, and learn whats happening on other campuses. For more details, including costs, visit: www.

Dads Coming to School and the PTA

Even though it was founded 112 years ago as the National Congress of Mothers, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) will soon be headed by a dad. Men may make up just 10 percent of the membership of the PTA, but come June Charles J. Saylors will take over as president of the 5.5 million member organization. Fathers, stepdads and father figures have been joining in increasing numbers of late, adding about one percent to the PTA rolls in each of the past five years, according to Lisa Belkin of the New York Times. That growth is consistent with other evidence that men are becoming more involved in the schooling parts of their childrens lives. A report on a survey conducted recently by the National Center for Fathering ( found that more dads are walking their kids to school, attending class events, helping with extracurricular activities and talking about education with other fathers than in a similar study nine years ago. On their website,, is news about the Watch D.O.G.S. programDads of Great Studentswhich is
6 Voice Male

Orange County PTA

Campus Gender Equality: Where the Boys Are

Boys say yes to other boys who say no. That sentiment could be a whimsical subtitle to an upcoming nationwide gathering of campus males working to prevent violence against women. The National Conference for Campus-based Mens Gender Equality and Anti-Violence Groups, scheduled for the

Men@ Work
ruling reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that would have created the potential for serious danger to victims of domestic violence by allowing convicted abusers to maintain firearms. Batterers should not have access to guns. This decision is a major victory for victims of domestic violence and their families, said Sue Else, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (DNJ), a leader in the fight to reduce gun violence and the author of the domestic violence gun ban, said, Since it was enacted, my domestic violence gun ban has kept more than 150,000 guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. The National Network to End Domestic Violence provides education, training and technical assistance to maintain and develop professional expertise among advocates working to end domestic violence. For more information, go to more comfortable being who they are, wherever they are. It also opens up avenues for students to join a wider dialogue around issues of gender and masculinity. Check out Masc at

Supreme Court: No Guns for Convicted Abusers

Opponents of domestic violence applauded the recent U.S. Supreme Courts 7-2 decision to uphold the federal Lautenberg Amendment that prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms. The United States v. Hayes

Who Is That Masked Man?

Whos the Man? Thats the question asked by Masc, a new cyber-magazine for young men to connect on a range of issues they face in a changing social environment. Masc explores gender, sexuality, ideals, health and personal stories to help young men feel

Visit our new website:

Spring 2009

Hey Chris! Letter to a

Young Brother
by Haji Shearer

Singers Chris Brown and Rihanna

ey Chris, Congratulations! Heard you got married. Welcome to the club. Ive got 20 years in this summer. My wifes a performing artist as well. Not as well known as yours, of course, but, hey, those divas can be something, huh? In my experience, and Ive talked to hundreds of men about this, relationships are challenging. It would be hard not to notice you guys started matrimony under a bit of a cloud. I dont follow pop music closely anymore, but I have a son about your age and I did hear about your arrest. Im so off the scene, at rst I was like, What, Chris Rock beat up Rihanna?! Then my wife explained to me that it was you who was dating Rihanna. I knew of her a little from the Umbrella song. Man, thats a catchy tune. Ella, ella, ella, hey, hey, hey Does she ever think of Ella Fitzgerald when she sings that? I always wondered. When my wife explained to me that you were Rihannas boyfriend, I remembered seeing photos of you guys together. And I have seen a YouTube video of you dancing. I know you must get props all the time for your moves, but I gotta give respect where due. Youre a hell of a dancer! Im sure people make comparisons between you and Michael Jackson. Although you make it look so easy, I know you both have incredible discipline to move like that. However, as you know from Michaels life, just because youre disciplined in one area, it doesnt mean youre gonna make good choices in others.

Id hate to see you end up a dancing laughing stock whos the butt of jokes like Michael Jackson or Bobby Brown. Im sure theres another way out of this for you and thats why Im writing. This is a moment of great crisis and great opportunity. I can only imagine the intense pleasure youve enjoyed in the past and the intense pressure youre under now. Youre a young man living under a microscope while going through a very difcult situation that many couples experience. And thats why I wanted to write you. I know you may never see this, but if my words encourage another young brother, or older man, to choose love over confusion, my time is well spent. I dont have to tell you a lot of couples experience partner violence. I heard that you watched your mom get beat by a man she was dating. Its fucked up that a kid has to see that. It teaches so many wrong lessons about relationships. A child who witnesses a parent getting beat grows up with scars. His or her risk of becoming a batterer or a victim is higher than adults who didnt witness violence in the home. You can break the cycle but youve got to get help. I heard you were getting counseling from your pastor, but unless hes had specic training in working with men who batter, I gotta say thats a bad idea. It could even cause more harm in the situation. Unskilled counselors tend to treat intimate partner violence like anger management and theyre not the same.

Anger management, for what its worth, works best with men who are indiscriminately angry. Think of someone experiencing road rage, going off on co-workers, having constant ghts in the club, then going home and kicking the wife and dog. Intimate partner violence is more targeted than that. Many people see the perpetrator as a nice guy, charming even. He holds it together everywhere else, but he ies off the handle if he cant control his woman. You can turn this crisis into the beginning of a healing opportunity, but youve got to do more than go see your pastor. You need to get help not just for Rihannas sake, but for your own self. This is something you will have to live with for your whole life. How you handle this situation will go a large way to determining what kind of a man you will be. How will you carry this? Think of all the young people who look up to you. What message do you want to send them? If you have children one day, they will surely hear about the assault. How will you answer their questions? You may be focused on your career or staying out of jail now, but your next actions will reverberate widely throughout society and for generations to come. You can still do good for society. In fact, you have an opportunity to be a bigger star than you ever would have been. But, you got to come correct. Look at O. J. Simpson: even though he got off the murder charge, his football career will always be overshadowed by what happened between him and Nicole. And Ike Turner made some great music, but today hes remembered as the man who beat Tina Turner. How do you want to be remembered, Chris? You deserve the best treatment, brother. Go see people who can really help you change your attitude and your behavior. Trained professionals can help you become the kind of man we can be proud of. The kind of man I believe you truly want to be. Folks familiar with intimate partner violence were not surprised to see you and Rihanna reconcile because they understand the cycle of violence: injury, apology, reconciliation, calm and then more violence. Its well documented. Because of your fame, you can be a powerful example of mans ability to change. You can help others by demonstrating redemption, but the stakes are high and youve got to come clean and do it now. Weve all seen the photo. Its not enough to apologize. You need to change how you interact with women. Or you can choose to go down in history as Chris Brown, wife beater.
Voice Male contributing editor Haji Shearer coordinates a statewide fathering program for state of Massachusetts. He thanks Fernando Mederos and Satya Montgomery for contributing to this letter. He can be reached at

Voice Male

Ben Watson, New England Patriots player and anti-violence activist.

For the Love of Women

By Bart Scott
rom the time I was a little boy I was taught to love and respect women. What choice did I have, being raised in an estrogen dominant atmosphere? When Mom left for work every day, I was left at home to endure whatever abuse my two older sisters thought necessary to inflict on me that day! They undoubtedly thought it was funny to fold me up in the pull-out sofa, lock me in the basement for hours, terrorize me with fake-haunting sounds through the heating vents. Ah, the love of older sisters. It wasnt always easy being a male minoritybut it did teach me appreciation for the real essence of what makes a woman. Even after there came the point that I was physically bigger than them, I continued to respect them; no amount of their pushing me around could incite me to raise a hand against themand they werent small females, both were 5 9. To me, both are a representation of my mother, the strong, independent, loving woman who birthed me, who sacrificed so much of herself in order for her kids to thrive. The slightest strike of my hand would disrespect that love, tarnish the gratitude I still feel for the exhausting workdays and sleepless nights my mother gave to help me become the man I am today. Every woman in my familyfrom my mother, to my grandmother, to my sisters, to my wifeis a symbol to me of this same strength and dignity. Each of them has overcome great hardship to earn the grace that makes them such phenomenal women. When I hear about violent acts against women, Im left with a powerful question: Why? Did these men not have the kind of examples of female strength that I have been fortunate enough to live with? Are they unaware of the beauty that lies at the heart of a woman? A couple of months ago, a colleague brought to my attention one of the most grotesque situations I have ever heard about. Sevenyear-old Alexis Goggins, a girl from my hometown of Detroit, was shot six times at point blank range while trying to protect her mother. After Alexiss mom had ended things with a man shed been in a relationship with, he kidnapped Alexis, her mother and her mothers friend from their home and drove them to a gas station. The friend tried to stall for time, attempted to call 911 from inside the station but was told that there were no patrol units in the area to assist them. She continued to stall, made her way back into the station, and when the attendant saw her tear stained cheeks, she asked her what was wrong. Just as the attendant was calling 911 they heard the hail of gunfire. The boyfriend had become suspicious and began to shoot Alexiss

mother right in front of the little girl. She flung her seven-year-old body across her mothers and screamed Dont hurt my mommy! Thats when this madman filled Alexis Goggins with bullets. Since then, she has endured numerous surgeries, had one of her eyes replaced, and spent months in the hospital. Today she is undergoing physical therapy and learning how to simply live again. Where are we as a society, I wonder, when stories like this appear in the paper? How can it be so easy for men to devalue women? How is it possible we have become so desensitized to such violence? My chosen sport, football, is based on physical might. My job as a defensive player is to stop the other team from scoring no matter how physical I have to get. I have had some pretty big hits in my career. (I play with such reckless abandon that Ive earned the nickname The Madbacker.) Im known for putting everything I have into each hit. But even with that mentality, I still cant fathom what could drive a man to cross the line and hurt a woman. No matter how heated the situation gets, its your job as a man to walk away. If you feel like you are being driven to the point where the only way to get your point across is to get physical, walk away. If you feel like you are at the point where the only thing left you can think to do is to put your hands on her, walk away. Its that simple. This mantra became even more important to me with the blessing of my first daughter this past January. I worry that there is a little boy out there who isnt being raised to honor women. I have to worry that there is a little boy out there who will grow into a man who thinks no such taboo line exists, protecting the women around him. Thats why Im working even harder now to instill the values of cherishing women into my son BJ. Hes got a little sister to look after nowthe way my sisters watched out for me. Though my sisters were tough on me sometimes, they are the reasonalong with the other beloved women in my life and a young hero named Alexisthat I have joined this fight to stop the violence. They are my inspiration for wanting to teach men, young and old, that our power lies not in our superior physical strength but in our ability to connect, empathize, and protect. That is the strength that makes us men. Bart Scott is a linebacker for the New York Jets in the National Football League. A version of his essay appeared in the V-Men section of, the website of Eve Enslers organization.
Spring 2009 9

By Malina Saval

Teens are notoriously silent on the subject of their lives. Teenage boys, in particular, are often considered the most inscrutable characters of all. Questions are dodged, curt answers mumbled. Miraculously, journalist Malina Saval managed to get teenage boys from across the socioeconomic, racial, and personality spectrum to open up and share their innermost thoughts and feelings about school, parents, friends, the opposite sex, and their own shaky sense of identity. In The Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens (Basic Books, due out this spring), Saval shatters stereotypes of the male American teen as unemotional, unknowable, and in crisis. She finds boys have deep and complex feelings about everything from girls to politics to the environment, that they want to be understood by their peers and parents, and that despite alarming rates of attention deficit, oppositional defiant, and other disorders, boys are remarkably aware and precocious in ways unseen in previous generations. Unlike many other books that study boys today from a medical or psychological viewpoint, The Secret Lives of Boys simply allows boys to tell their own stories. What they really think about everything from sexuality to the burdens of homework to their parents life choices is explored, revealing surprisingly sophisticated and subtle views we rarely give young people credit for. Savals probing interviews open up a world rarely glimpsed that parents, teachers, and anyone interested

in teens today will find compelling. What follows is an excerpt from the book. espite a recent urry over the past ten years of junior chick lit manifestos on everything from anorexia to rape to promiscuity to depression to shopping, theres little to match it from the guys perspective. Young women get most of the press; the scant material on teenage males tends to focus on the white upper-middle class; and books on minority male teens often reduce them to thug-like stereotypes. Such groundbreaking books as Reviving Ophelia and Queen Bees and Wannabes presented young women as multidimensional gures with a range of personal characteristics. These catalytic works paved the way for tomes that took the discussion one step further, a veritable glut of girl power books focusing on issues of female selfworth, fostering autonomy and strategies on how young women of every social grouping and possessing a range of varying talents can succeed in high school, college and in the work force. Yet most books about boys, the odd cover story in Newsweek, and featured segments on 20/20 focused on young men as a homogenous whole. Somehow, boys are often thought of as amorphous, unknowable enigmasand they all seem to need help: Boys are in crisis. Boys have ADD. Boys are unemotional. Boys dont talk. Boys are all on the verge of apocalyptic self-destruction. Over the course of the past decade, boys

have become one long, anxiety-manifesting, bold-faced headline. The general consensus is that American culture has failed our boys. And that boys have failed us. We hear that they are falling behind in every possible wayin grammar school, in high school, in college. In countless articles and books they are portrayed as veritable limp spaghettis, verbally challenged (verging on mute) creatures lacking the emotional resolve or innate intellectual wherewithal to react and respond to societys demands on them. So now, were instructed that we must teach them how to be emotional before its too late. Its not just that boys dont cry, we are now toldits that they dont know how. Having tracked the lives of boys over the past several years as both an educator and journalist writing articles about teens, Ive found that many of our views of boys are nowhere close to reality. Boys cry. Boys emote. Some dont, of course, but then again, some girls dont either. Some boys talk more than girls. Many of the boys I spoke with gabbed non-stop for hours. As a teacher, I have been privy to a perspective on boys that most parents dont always get to see. For the most part, in fact, in the classes that I have taught at the high school, junior high and elementary school levels, boys have been among the most articulate, contemplative and enthusiastic students. I began my eye-opening, patienceexing, awe-inspiring and sometimes downright disconcerting journey into the


Voice Male

photos: Lahri Bond / model: Dagnet Rodriguez

inner sanctum of American boyhood culture. I interviewed people who worked in high school education, contacted graduate school professors, and blind-called student religious organizations. I contacted the parents of former students. I talked to the younger siblings of colleagues and friends. I sought out boys through every possible outlet that would allow me the opportunity to spend time with them that was not conned to a classroom or any clinical setting. My goal was to secure a small group of boys and spend months focused on each one. I selected the ten boys in this book for their insight and for their courage to speak candidly about topics ranging from depression to sex to drugs to parental resentment. The reality is that boys today face many complex situations and problems that are vastly different from issues earlier generations have faced. Teenage boys 20 years ago didnt have to worry about cybersex or cyber-bullying. They didnt have to deal with the threat of international terrorism in quite the same way. They didnt have to deal with other kids slamming their reputations on Facebook. The constant stimulation of mass media and in-your-face popular culture means that boys have to adapt to a veritable maelstrom of accessible inuencessome good, others detrimentaland learn new ways of dealing with the overwhelming opportunities in the way of sex, drugs and mental stimulation available to them. The great irony of teenagers not telling their parents everything is that there are countless media outlets through which they can openly (and often anonymously) communicate with the world. Courtesy of the Internet, society has become one big emotional free-for-all. This can weigh heavily on a teen who might not be emotionally ready to handle it. Despite the various media outlets available to teens to air their feelings, many of the boys I spoke with felt steeped in loneliness. When the boys expressed how lonely they felt at times, they stated that it was because they didnt believe that there was anybody out there who understood them. They felt different from everyone else and lacked soul mate gures with whom they could share their innermost thoughts. They didnt always feel like they had close friends to talk to, and their parents, they told me, didnt always want to know the truth, about their children and about themselves. It wasnt that they were so intentionally elusive when it came to what they told their parents. It was that often their parents just werent ready to hear what they had to say. I wished that the boys I spoke with could meet one another and discover for themselves that despite how different they all thought they

were, they actually shared a great deal in common in terms of their feelings and the aching desire to connect to other people. There were so many boys. There was a boy with HIV and a boy who was a pre-operative transsexual. There was an Evangelical Christian boy active in a youth ministry that crusades against what it calls the corrupting inuence of popular culture. There was a boy who sat in the school library and wept over the brother who took a bullet in the chest and died in his arms. There was a boy whose mother had passed away and whose father didnt know that he was gay. There was a boy whose parents thought that he was gay because he was a virgin. There was a straight boy who was a gay rights activist. I wanted to write about all of them. But I also wanted to engage boys in such a way that they could open up and explore their feelings and lives in depth, without any spectrum (relatively speaking) of space or time limitations. Truth was, some of the boys I initially met werent ready to reveal their personal lives in print. Some of the parents werent ready for their sons to be highlighted on the pages here. Some of the boys simply disappeared on me. My goal was to find a well-balanced cross-section of teenage boys from all walks of liferich, poor, white, black, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, agnostic. In the end, the personality of each boy was what prevailed during my interviews as the most crucial and telling characteristic. I chose to focus on a handful of boys who seemed the most enthusiastic in telling their stories. It wasnt about what his last name was or whether he attended church or synagogue or mosque or whether he lived in the country or in the city.

Indeed, my goal was that parents from all walks of life could pick up The Secret Lives of Boys and see their sons within these pages. Because boys, like all of us, are far more alike than different. Boys today are responding to the world around them in ways that reect the cultural context in which they live. The Secret Lives of Boys is about how one boy combats OCD, how another deals with his homosexuality, how yet another deals with being bullied in school. Its about how each boy deals with his concerns and joys and frustrations in a way that makes sense to him. These boys presented loneliness, confusion, resilience and fear. And joy and hope. These boys presented so much hope as they discussed future career prospects, artistic interests, college, girls. Boys were romantic. Boys were sensitive. They cared about their parents, their siblings, their friends. One boy told me that he noticed how hypocritical girls could be, how they turned their backs on one another so quickly and yet spoke all the time of what good friends they were. Boys, he asserted, didnt need to say anything in this regard. Theirs was more of a tacit understanding between them, an unspoken loyalty. And that, he said, made their friendships stronger. In my interviews with leading specialists in the eld, I learned that when it comes to male friendships, some studies point to boys being more sensitive than girls. Boys, these studies conclude, are more hard-pressed to forgive and move on when theyve felt a sense of betrayal. Their pain cut much deeper. They might not sob publicly, but that might not mean that theyve shut down emotionally. Quite the contraryI found that the boys I spoke with were emotional sieves. A recent article in Scientic American Mind highlights that changes in the prefrontal cortex (the region of the brain that controls decision making and voluntary behavior) may still be pruning, or developing, well into our twenties. In other words, at an age when boys are still neurologically immature and not necessarily able to control all of their actions, society is heaping upon them some pretty dizzying stimuli. Under those circumstances, that teenagers in general are doing as well as they are in the midst of such tumult is something worth applauding.
Malina Savals writing has appeared in Glamour, the Jerusalem Post, the Los Angeles Times, Heeb, Variety, Forward, RES, Moment, Unleashed, and LA Weekly, where The Secret Lives of Boys appeared rst as a cover story. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
Spring 2009 11

By Michael Messner

Coaching Our Kids

ampbell Weber is a single divorced father who coaches his son Robbies Little League Baseball team. Campbell is college-educated, but his economic resources are thin. When I asked him if he would coach again the next year, for what would be Robbies final year in Little League baseball, he thoughtfully considered the meaning and importance of his doing so: Ill only coach if Robbie wants me toif hes embarrassed, I wont do it. But Id really like to. This year would be my last year, because next year hell be into high school, so Im treasuring this time that I can spend with him. Im not a well-off man, so the only thing that Im leaving Robbie is the time that I spend with him, and thats really important to me. My dad died when I was sixteen, and I was at boarding school and I didnt get to do things with him; he wasnt a go-out-and-do-things kind of guy. We never went out and threw the baseball around, that sort of thing. Ive made sure that Robbie and I do a lot of stuff together, because those are the memories hes gonna have. And thats what he gets. When Campbell Weber punctuated his statement with the words, And thats what he gets, it gave me a sad stab of recognition and memory. My own father had a very successful public life as a high school teacher, a coach, and a naval officer. He was very busy, so I spent far more time with my mom and sisters than I did with him. His relative absence from my life added tremendous emotional salience to the rare moments I did get to spend with him, and many of those moments were organized around sports. I am a father now too. Both of my sons are in their teens, but when they were younger they both played community-based youth sports. Stepping onto a soccer field, a basketball court, or (especially) a Little League Baseball field with my sons immediately brought up visceral feelings and what felt like ancient memories. I felt a sense of continuity that stretched from my father, who died many years ago, through me and to my sons. I wanted the playing field to be a place where I could connect with my sons, though I did not want it to be the only place, or even necessarily the most important place.
12 Voice Male

These continuities from my childhood were experienced against a shifting backdrop; something fundamental had changed since I was a boy. Now, there were girlsscores of them, hundreds of them out there on our communitys playing fields. Unlike my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, when there were almost no opportunities for girls to play sports, today millions of girls participate in organized soccer, baseball, softball, basketball and other sports. This, to me, is one of the many positive achievements of the feminist movement, during my lifetime. Another apparent change struck me when we arrived at our six-year-old son Miless first soccer practice: I was delighted to learn that his coach was a woman. Coach Karen, a mother in her mid-thirties, had grown up playing lots of sports. She was tall, confident and athletic, and the kids responded well to her leadership. Great, a woman coach! I observed cheerily. Its a new and different world than the one that I grew up in. But over the next twelve years, as I traversed with Miles and eventually with his younger brother Sasha many seasons of youth sports, we never had another woman head coach. Its not that women werent contributing to the kids teams. All of the team parents (often called team moms)parent volunteers who did the behind-the-scenes work of phone-calling, organizing weekly snack schedules and team parties, collecting money for a gift for the coacheswere women. Women head coaches were very few and far between. This stimulated the feminist researcher in me. How is it possible in this day and age, I wondered, that only 13 percent of the soccer coaches, and 6 percent of the baseball and softball coaches, are women? Why was it that the women coaches were clustered around girls teams, and around the very youngest kids teams? And why did most women coach for just one year, before quitting? This began for me a seven-year-long research project that explored the gender and family dynamics of youth sports coaches in my community. Watching, and especially listening to the voices of women coaches, I learned a great deal about how an old boys network makes it very difficult for women to break into coaching, and how informal (and I am convinced, mostly unconscious) words and actions by men coaches make youth sports coaching a chilly, unwel-

come climate for the few women who do coach. As you move up past coaching five, six and seven-year-olds and begin to enter the intermediate and older age groups, the coaches told me, everything gets more serious. As coaches increasingly emphasize winning, they yell at the kids more, adopt more extreme drill sergeant styles on the playing fields, use their bodies and voices in more intimidating ways, and most of the women coaches bail out. More than one woman coach who quit, or cycled back to remain working with the youngest kids, told me, I just couldnt take that. But here is the surprise I learned through my research: a lot of the men coaches could not take it either. The women coaches think that all of the men are uniformly confident in coaching. To be sure, women coaches are subjected to a great deal of gendered scrutiny Is she really qualified to coach my son?and men coaches are usually just assumed to know what they are doing, until they prove otherwise. However, many men reported to me that they felt insecure about taking on such a public position in their kids lives. And several told me that they opted out of coaching the higher-aged kids teams for precisely the same reasons that the women had dropped out. When it got too serious, when the values of the league shifted toward narrow conceptions of toughness, competition and winning, many of the men bailed out, just as had most of the women. Will Solomon, a baseball coach with lots of sports experience, told me theres no way he would go on to coach his sons baseball team at the twelve-year-old age level. It gets so serious at that level, he said. I had observed Will to be a fun and supportive coach, very low-key and good with all the kids. I especially appreciated his style, because my son Sasha had had a less than successful season before playing on Wills team. Suddenly, Sasha was swinging the bat better, and making good consistent contact, sometimes ripping solid line drive hits. It seemed to me that Sasha was just more relaxed, looser, and I attributed that to the lower pressure, the fun context that Will had created on the team. I asked Will if he intended to volunteer to coach the next season, and his response was unequivocal: Ha! Theres no way Ill coach in the Majors next spring. Anyway, I doubt theyd have me. When I asked him why, he said, I figure Id be considered not serious enough. I dont get it, I said, you are a great coach, and Im not sure too many people in town have more sports experience than you. I guess its a couple of things, he explained. One, I dont think theyd want me to because Im not as focused on the baseball side of it as I am on the sort of kids side of it, and I think [in the Majors] they start to get real serious about the baseball side. And the other thing is that there does form sort of a club among these coaches at the Major League level which I didnt see at the [younger kids] level. So I think probably they wouldnt want me, you know. I mean the kids would. But the coaches, the powers-that-be wouldnt. Will Solomons words illustrated a clear pattern that emerged in my years of research. At the younger levels, there is more elbow room for coachesmen and some womento deploy what I call kids knowledge as the underlying philosophy of their coaching strategies. As the kids get older, coaches move very noticeably to what I call sports knowledge. This transformation radically shifts the kids playing experiences away from a kids knowledge emphasis on universal participation, trying out different positions, having fun, engaging in healthy exercise, and learning to cooperate with teammates. The shift to a sports knowledge value system shifts the kids experience toward a focus on perfecting skills, strategic attempts to win games and championships, aggressive competition, a decline in empathy when a kid gets hurt, specialization of kids roles on teams, and the emergence of a star system that marginalizes the less skilled kids. This values shiftand the way its embodied and enforced by the inner circle of men coachesis what causes most women, and many men, to say not for me.

It strikes me that this is a wonderful example of how the interests of women are congruent with the interests of many mena majority of men, reallywho are made to feel uncomfortable and are marginalized by narrow expressions of masculinity. Creating more space for women in youth sports coaching will also expand the space for more kinds of men to participateand vice-versa. Ive observed this already happening on a small scale in youth soccer (albeit not that I can see in baseball). Women are actively trying to recruit more women coaches, are supporting each other to hang in there and to thrive, and are working with male allies to instill their teams and leagues with positive coaching values and practices. I am convinced that it is very important to increase the numbers of women coaches in youth sports. It matters because todays generation of mothers is rich with athletic experience and talent; many women want to coach, but are discouraged from doing so. It matters because what adults do in youth sports is linked to gender divisions of labor in other realms; an unfinished feminist revolution in work and family life is further reinforced by such a skewed male dominance in youth sports coaching. It matters because, as preparation for the world they will inhabit as adults, boys need to see and experience the full range of womens leadership and physical abilities. It matters because women coaches can be an inspiration to todays girls, giving them a vision of what they can do when they are adults. And it matters because including larger numbers of women is an important part of broadening the field for men coaches, making it a safe place for emergence of a more nurturing style of male coach, which will surely be a benefit for all of our kids. Voice Male contributing editor Michael A. Messner is professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California. His new book is Its All for the Kids: Gender, Families and Youth Sports (University of California Press).

Spring 2009


Voice Male gives us fuel and fresh ideas for the work of ending male-dominated societies and supporting new roles for men and new relations between the sexes.
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14 Voice Male

Women Teaching Men About Feminism

By Shira Tarrant

What Do I Know About Men?

Womens studies professor Shira Tarrant has a strong interest in men. Her latest book, Men and Feminism (Seal Press), begins with a question shes long asked: What do I know about men? The book then evolves into a useful primer on feminism for men. As Tarrant writes, we live in a culture that presents us with dominant versions of masculinity as being rough, tough, and rock solid. At the same time, she observes, Were in this together as we try to sort things out to create a more just and equitable world. It is crucial that we start talking with each other across various communities about masculinity and femininity, about gender politics, and about sexuality, race, and join in a delightfully imperfect feminist movement that keeps its eyes on the prize while valuing the process. What follows is an excerpt from the book. ost of what we think we know about men and masculinity comes to us from movies, music, and ads on TV. We might have heard that men are from one planet and women are from another. (Its not true, by the way.) We learn what it means to be a real guy from our friends and families and people in our neighborhoods. Tons of assumptions are out there about biology, testosterone, and manhood that deserve a closer look.

But, still, what do Ias a woman know about men? To get at this question, lets just say I did a lot of research. Some of it resulted in my 2008 anthology about masculinity and progressive change, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power (to which a number of writers for Voice Maleincluding its editor, Rob Okun contributed). In the process of editing that book, I learned a lot about mens perspectives on a wide range of issues. But I still had many more questions than I did answers. So I spent a lot of time listening and observing. I owe many thanks to all the men Ive met along the way whove engaged in conversations and emails about masculinity, whove gone with me to sports bars, porn conventions, and on other adventures, and whove put up with more than a little discomfort from my many, many questions about what they think it means to be a man. But theres a second part to this books title: Feminism. And that I know lots about. With a Ph.D. in political science and some years under my belt researching and teaching the subject, I found it had come time to take the men and the feminism and put the two together. We need it. So much is to be gained by continuing our conversations about men, masculinity, masculine privilege, and feminism. Thats because I believe most menmost peopleare good. And together we can become even better. The problem is that we live in a culture that presents us with dominant versions of masculinity as being rough, tough, and rock solid. Men arent supposed to back down. We are surrounded by images idealizing the bad boy, the bad-ass moneymaker. Or we see TV shows, movies, and advertising that portray guys as irresponsible slackers, perpetual adolescents, bumbling through life with faux-innocent Who me, get a job? looks on their faces. Since were bombarded with these limited selections, its challenging to think of alternative options for manhood that are appealing and that resonate with who we might want to be, or who we might want to be with. Personally, I like tough guys. Ill just cop to it front and center. I like smart guys and sensitive ones, too, most denitely. But (to my own peril) I nd it easy to fall for those hypermasculine
Spring 2009 15

bad-ass guys. (Im working on it.) All of us make complicated choices about how we live and whom we love. But toughguy masculinity is only one option that mainstream culture hypes. And narrow options contradict what I know in my head about feminism, which is that its about maximizing our liberty and minimizing arbitrary constraints based on gender or class, race or sexuality. Why would I confess about liking badass guys? Because Im not the only one who feels this way. Plenty of heterosexual men respond to tough masculinity. Gay men, queer women, straight girls do, too. Theres a lot of social prodding for it every time we see a movie, go to a football game, pick up a magazine, or watch a political debate. Havent we been taught our whole lives that the tough guy wins the game? Or, as my student Cassie Comley put it, havent we always heard that nice guys nish last? Maybe we grew up in families or neighborhoods where being tough seemed to be the only option. The problem is that being hard is only one version of masculinity, and its a version thats limiting and potentially harmful to men and to the people in their lives.

I cop to my weakness for tough masculinity because Im as much a part of our culture and the process of critically rethinking it as you, the reader. We all have ways in which our personal lives dont always sync perfectly with our politics, our book knowledge, or our ideals. As humans we are so dang inconsistent. Even downright awed. But change and improvement are denitely possiblethe kind of change that provides more options and freedom. I invite all of us to join in a delightfully imperfect feminist movement that keeps its eyes on the prize while valuing the process. This process can be as messy and as well intentioned as human beings ourselves. This invitation is for you, whether youre a woman or a man or trans or genderqueer. Were in this together as we try to sort things out to create a more just and equitable world. It is crucial that we start talking with each other across various communities about masculinity and femininity, about gender politics, and about sexuality, race, and class. The night before I wrote this piece, I moderated a discussion at a screening

of Byron Hurts critically acclaimed documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. After we watched the lm, I asked the audience what a new vision of masculinity might look like. There was a long period of silence in the room. Even though we knew in our heads that there are so many possible ways of being men, when it came to describing these out loud, we were all generally stumped. Finally, one guy said he thought being a real man meant having the courage to speak up, to speak ones truth when the time is right. With Men and Feminism, I invite each of us to think more courageously and more deeply about masculinity. I invite each of us to get real about sexuality, power, and gender politics. And then I encourage all of us to speak up when the time is right.

Shira Tarrant is a professor of womens studies at California State University at Long Beach. She writes the Man Files column for the website Girl with Pen (www. Her previous books include Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power (Routledge, 2008).


Voice Male

Porn Watch

Exposing The Price of Pleasure

By Haji Shearer
Im hip to the fact that many men use porn. But many men have credit card debt and dont feel good about that either. Just as earning financial freedom requires vision, planning and discipline, true sexual freedom must be earned with vision, planning and discipline as well. The porn experience allows only a superficial connection to our sexual being. By remaining on a shallow, surface level with our sexual partners, be they porn actresses or women we know personally, the best part of the experience is forfeited. One of the foundation tenets of healthy manhood must be an enlightened sexual ethic. Men simply spend too much time thinking about sex to give our vision over to cheap corrupters of the faith. We know instinctively there is so much more to sex than pornographers would have us believe. Its ironic that these are called adult films when they are more accurately adolescent fantasies sold to viewers with underdeveloped imaginations. Its our duty as adults to do the serious work of communicating within and beyond the sexual experience so we get to know ourselves and our partners better. That work begins by reflecting deeply on our own thoughts and feelings to determine a path that is erotically true. The work continues by aligning our deepest sexual thoughts and feelings with those of a partner. When we commit to visioning the ideal sexual relationship, planning its manifestation and disciplining ourselves to achieve it, few will find ourselves in front of a computer screen with sticky tissues in our hand. More likely, we will find ourselves looking deeply into the soul of another.

Scenes from the film The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships by Chyng Sun and Miguel Picker. (

recently watched a disturbing documentary film about pornography that highlights the transgressions of an industry out of control. The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships by Chyng Sun and Miguel Picker documents an industry-wide increase in torture scenes. I reluctantly watched a naked woman being water-boarded as foreplay. It documented the genres increase in multiple men on a single woman scenes by showing a 20 on one interaction. Let me tell you, the image of 19 grown men standing around a woman on her knees, playing with their dicks while waiting for a blowjob, did nothing to advance the cause of healthy masculinity. Maybe most instructive was the scene at an adult toy convention where a salesman was hawking a robotic love doll. A middle-aged guy fondles the robotrons tit and gives the salesman an appreciative nod. Thats the rub, fellas. Theyve taken the human connection out of sex. Too many of us are settling for Internet images or strippers in clubs who have no human connection to us. Its sad. After watching The Price of Pleasure, I certainly didnt feel like watching porn, but it offered no better information on what to do with my sex urge. At one point, the well-known activist Gail Dines said a person who complains that anti-porners are against sex is like a person who complains that because you speak out against McDonalds, you are against food. Its a good analogy. The Price of Pleasure, however, is not about recipes for beautiful gourmet

sexuality. Its all stick, stick, stick. Youll have to find the carrot elsewhere. Of course, most antiporners are not against sex. People speak out against porn because of the damage it does to human beings and to intimacy between partners. There is, however, a long tradition of sexual repression around the world. One reason porn is so dangerous and so pervasive is because of the vacuum of communication and media about enlightened sexual practices. Porn, unfortunately, rushes in to fill that void with the lowest common denominator. Those of us interested in sexual healing need to focus on the beautiful, loving, erotic interactions that real people participate in that simply are not available from an actress or an animatronics device. Clearly, there is a need for anti-porn agitation, but at the end of the day porn users need to be convinced, not only that porn is harmful, but also that there is an alternative that feels even better. Porn would not be as popular as it is if people were exposed to the communicative, sensual and meditative pleasures of enlightened sex. You dont want to eat at McDonalds once you gain an appetite for healthy, gourmet food, but giving up the Big Mac is not always easy.

Haji Shearer is a professional speaker, writer, trainer and group facilitator. He is a lead parent educator for Families First Parenting Programs and trains many school teachers and administrators as director of a statewide fatherhood initiative in Massachusetts.
Spring 2009 17

A Call to Men

Breaking Out of the

By Tony Porter

Man Box
particularly racism. As I went about my business addressing the ism of raceracism and its relationship to alcoholism/chemical dependency, women I worked with began to confront me on my own ismsexism. At first I felt insulted, thinking (and sometimes verbalizing) Im a good guy, Im no sexist. This remained my mindset for quite some time. Only through a series of events that challenged me did I begin to dismantle my cherished belief. Over the next five years I immersed myself in learning, owning and addressing my sexism, as well as the collective sexism of men. I began to understand, to see that what emerged in my consciousness was that domestic violence, sexual assault and all other forms of violence against women are rooted in a sexist, male dominating society. As well-meaning men, through our inaction, we allowed violence against women to be seen as a womens issue. We spend little, if any, time addressing this epidemic. We look at violence against women through our own lens, a male socialized perspective that leaves little room for any true accountability for men. We dont mean to harm women; many of us have no idea what were doing. Rather, we are just going with the flow, doing things as we always have. This approach has limited our ability or willingness to be concerned with how we affect women or how women experience us. One of the key things we have not done, and continue not to do, is listen to women. Deeply embedded in the socialization of all men, well-meaning men included, is

Educator, trainer and activist Tony Porter believes Its high time for men who are well-meaning to begin to acknowledge the role male privilege and male socialization play in domestic violence, sexual assault and violence against women. He argues that its time for men to claim the collective responsibility we have for ending violence against women. Its time to become part of the solution. In his new book, Breaking Out of the Man Box, Porter invites well-meaning men to leave the sidelines and to become active in the work of ending violence against women. What follows is an excerpt from Porters book. ou are a good guy, not one of those men who would assault a woman. You would never commit a rape or hit your wife or girlfriendyoure not part of the problem. So how can you become part of the solution? You are exactly the kind of man who can help to end violence against women. So just what is a good guy? We call him a well-meaning man. A wellmeaning man is a man who believes women should be respected, including his wife, girlfriend and other women in his life. A wellmeaning man does not assault a woman. A well-meaning man believes in equality for women, that women should be treated fairly and justly. A well-meaning man, for all practical purposes, is a nice guy, a good man. My work, my vision, is not to bash well-meaning men. An assault on men is not going to end the assault on women. I seek to

help men understand, through a process of re-education and accountability that, despite all our goodness, we men have been socialized to continue a system of domination, dehumanization and oppression of women. I do not come to this work as a man who thinks he knows it all or who has it all together. I, too, am a well-meaning man. For 20 years I worked in the field of alcohol/chemical dependency. Early on in that work I began to address the importance of cultural diversity in the field. After about three years I realized I had to go much deeper than a cultural diversity approach permitted. My work then began to focus more on issues related to group oppression,


Voice Male

the conscious and unconscious ability (and sometimes desire) to tune women out, to silence them, to take away their voice, to not listen. Many men justify this action by saying that women talk too much, or they nag. We make no connection to the reality that if men would listen, women would not need to repeat themselves or be so detailed. As men, well-meaning men, if we choose to listen to women and take their direction, we could actually end violence against women as we know it here in the United States. Three key aspects of male socialization that create, normalize and maintain violence against women are: Men viewing women as less than; men treating women as property; and men seeing women as objects. All three are major contributors to violence against women, perpetuated consciously or not by all men, including well-meaning men. We must begin to examine the ways in which male socialization fosters violence against women. We must begin to examine the ways we separate ourselves from men who assault and abuse women, while simultaneously (through our inaction) giving them permission to do so. We make monsters out of them as a means of supporting our position that were different from them. We remain focused on fixing them, pathologizing their violence, blaming family history, chemical

dependency, mental illness, or an inability to manage their anger, while for the most part, these are not the reasons men abuse women. It makes sense that we would expend the energy to fix them in order to maintain and even strengthen our status as good guys. In doing so, we squeeze out the space needed to understand and acknowledge that violence against women is a manifestation of sexism. Once we can admit that violence against women springs from sexism, we have to acknowledge that all men are part of the problem. The men we identify as the bad guys, who assault and abuse women, largely do so by choice. Through our silence, these men receive a kind of permission to behave this way from those of us well-meaning men. We give men who abuse and assault permission in several ways: We stay quiet, mind our own business; we minimize the consequences and have limited means to hold these men accountable. We historically hold the view that violence is actually only physical abuse or sexual assault. Taking this position allows us to leave ourselves out of the equation and puts distance between the abuse and us. Okay, some of you may be saying, Slow down, youre throwing too much at me too fast. All right. I will slow down. Ill walk you through what Ive learned,

step-by-step. Well do it together. I will share with you many of my personal experiences. It is critically important to note that what Im sharing is based on the teachings of women. If there is any contribution that I have to offer it is that I am finally starting to listen. What Im sharing also grew partly out of a series of discussions I have had with men over the last five years: men of all ages, ethnic groups, levels of education and family backgrounds. What did they all have in common? They were all well-meaning men. I invite you to join in and examine your own role as a well-meaning man in this society. I invite you to begin to challenge other well-meaning men to join you. Together we can create the social change that will help to create a world that is more respectful of and safer for women. This work is long overdue. Its time to get started.

Tony Porter is a public speaker, educator and activist working in the social justice arena for more than 20 years. He is nationally recognized for his effort to end mens violence against women. Tony is a co-founder of A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women (

Spring 2009



Voice Male

I Thought I Was One of the Good Guys

By Stephen Glaude
Popeye and Brutus King Features Syndicate Inc. The Hearst Corporation

Erasing Old Masculinitys Tapes

number of things became shockingly apparent to me my first three days as the newly appointed president and CEO of Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR). It was January 2008 and I began my new job by attending the organizations three-day Theory to Practice Training. The training is designed to help participants understand many aspects of male socialization and how it makes us custodians, if not active contributors, of the culture of violence against women in our society. Up to that moment, with the exception of a couple of detours in life, I thought I was one of the good guys. I have never hit a woman, sexual assault is inconceivable to me, and to my conscious knowledge I have never discriminated against a woman in my employ or sought to undermine a female co-worker because of her gender. I thought this made me a man my daughters could be proud of and my son would want to emulate. Then the training happened and everything I thought of as the construction of a good man came tumbling down. All my positions previous to MCSR had been with the federal government and national nonprofits, none of them focusing on sexual and domestic violence, so I knew I was heading into new waters. I didnt realize how much territory I would need to navigate.

By the end of the three days, I had come to realize that I needed to hit the rewind and erase buttons, holding them down until 53 years were wiped away. I became aware for the first time that I had willingly joined an informal fraternity of men who had set low standards and definitions of what it means to be a good man and that these standards were reinforced by almost everything I saw, read, and experienced. I learned that you can hurt without meaning to or knowing that you are hurting and that even though you may not be directly violent toward women you can greatly contribute to a culture

that is. I learned that not only laughing at jokes in poor taste but also not challenging the joke teller contributes. I learned that the socialization of men to be who we are to each other and to the women in our lives starts at infancy, and is propped up by everything we experience in every relationship we have. As I traced my own socialization, I traveled all the way back to my favorite childhood cartoon. In almost every Popeye episode there is a scene where he and Brutus (his arch enemy) fight over Olive Oyl (the woman they both desire). The fight always ends up with Popeye and Brutus each pulling one of Olives arms, stretching them further and further apart. To a child, this is a funny scene but the message is dangerous, one that says women are objects; that women do not have choice. As far as we know, Olive Oyl did not want either one of them and wasnt being given a choice. I recall another one of those I thought I was a good guy examples when my now ex-wife first became pregnant. My response, fervently believing this was the correct thing to do, was to figure out ways to make more money so that she could stay home with our new child as long as she wanted. Although there was some dialogue about her being home, that dialogue assumed she wanted to stay home. Indeed, I was earning enough money for her to stay home through the birth and early child rearing of all three children, a total of 10 years when she was away from her own career. For years I felt great pride about being able to afford her that opportunity. I learned years later that while she had wanted to be at home with the children, she also had wanted a different dialogue about the decision. She wanted a dialogue that equally assumed she might want to work. She wanted a dialogue that included me offering to help with child care, transportation and sharing responsibility if in fact she wanted to work and have children as well. I assumed in the momentinnocently, but incorrectlythat there was only one way to be a good guy. I was wrong.
Spring 2009 21

I also realized that many of the women in my life who allowed me the comfort of thinking I was one of the good guys really didnt believe that but probably felt unsafe to let me know otherwise. This might have been the hardest awareness to come to of all. It, more than anything else, confronted me with some important choices: at 53 years of age, would change be too long a journey for me, would there be too much work to do, and would I have to concede too much power? I decided these were questions I could not walk away from.

The most important realization I had was the need to create a safe space to learn from women about how my behavior affects them. This is not easy to do, even when I think I am doing it. Its a constant struggle, particularly because I am in leadership positions that uphold these dangerous postures by their very nature and structure. I am fortunate to have some courageous women and men in my personal life, my family, and the staff at MCSR who, despite perceived risk, remind me that creating that space takes a lot more than what I have done so far. Another big challenge has been acting on what I say I will do. When I hear of the attitudes and behavior I need to change, its easy to embrace, most of the time. Putting that embrace into practice, however, is elusive and seemingly costly. Sometimes, it seems like it would be so easy to take my hand off the rewind and erase buttons when I reach one of those places from the past that served me well. The hardest part is developing a new belief system that, in my heart, I accept is a better way to be for the women in my life and the work I do, but also for myself in personal ways that are rich and rewarding. It easy to say, but it takes real transformation to believe and even more to practice.

Supporting the Movements for Peace and Social Justice with Grants and Other Resources Since 1981

While people have admired me for the work I do, I can only imagine what the real rewards are like. I have not erased that much of my tapes or realized deep change at this point in my journey. Those rewards include the relief from putting down the burden of traditional masculinity and how it affects me and the people in my life. I believe the rewards can be genuine respect from the women I encounter and the increasing numbers of men I meet who are also struggling to change. I can imagine a real sense of pride from mustering the sustained courage to continue examining myself and how that might serve as encouragement to others. I can imagine the benefit of knowing healthy masculinity and new definitions of strength. I can imagine being viewed as an ally to women in their quest for gender equity and a healthy existence in this skewed world of gender relationships. I can envision these rewards but have more rewinding and erasing to do before they can be realized. I am convinced, though, that even though its much more complicated than I realized, its never too late to become one of the good guys. Stephen Glaude is president and CEO of Men Can Stop Rape, Inc. The organization is committed to deconstructing traditional masculinity and building in its place a healthy masculinity based on new definitions of strength and being allies with women in preventing violence against women.

Boldly Addressing Environmental Sustainability and Justice
22 Voice Male

Masculine, Feminine or Human?

By Robert Jensen

n a guest lecture about masculinity to a college class, I ask the students to generate two lists that might help clarify the concept. For the first, I tell them to imagine themselves as parents whose 12-year-old son asks, Mommy/Daddy, what does it mean to be a man? The list I write on the board as they respond is not hard to predict: To be a man is to be strong, responsible, loving. Men provide for those around them and care for others. A man weathers tough times and doesnt give up. When that list is complete, I ask the women to observe while the men answer a second question: When you are in allmale spaces, such as the locker room or a night out with the guys, what do you say to each other about what it means to be a man? How do you define masculinity when there are no women present? The students, both men and women, laugh nervously, knowing the second list will be different from the first. The men fumble a bit at first, as it becomes clear that one common way men define masculinity in practice is not through affirmative statements but negative onesits about what a man isnt, and what a real man isnt is a woman or gay. In the vernacular: Dont be a girl, a sissy, a fag. To be a man is to not be too much like a woman or to be gay, which is in large part about being too much like a woman. From there, the second list expands to other descriptions: To be a man is to be a player, a guy who can attract women and get sex; someone who doesnt take shit from people, who can stand down another guy if challenged, who doesnt let

anyone else get in his face. Some of the men say they have other ideas about masculinity but acknowledge that in most all-male spaces its difficult to discuss them.

When that process is over, I step back and ask the class to consider the meaning of the two lists. On the first list of the culturally endorsed definitions of masculinity, how many of those traits are unique to men? Are women ever strong? Should women be strong? Can women be just as responsible as men? Should women provide and care for others? I ask the students if anyone wants to make the argument that women are incapable of these things, or less capable than men. There are no takers. I point out the obvious: The list of traits that we claim to associate with being a manthe things we would feel

comfortable telling a child to strive forare in fact not distinctive characteristics of men but traits of human beings that we value, what we want all people to be. The list of understandings of masculinity that men routinely impose on each other is quite different. Here, being a man means not being a woman or gay, seeing relationships as fundamentally a contest for control, and viewing sex as the acquisition of pleasure from a woman. Of course thats not all men are, but it sums up the dominant, and very toxic, conception of masculinity with which most men are raised in the contemporary United States. Its not an assertion about all men or all possible ideas about masculinity, but a description of a pattern. I ask the class: If the positive definitions of masculinity are not really about being a man but simply about being a person, and if the definitions of masculinity within which men routinely operate are negative, why are we holding on to the concept so tightly? Why are we so committed to the notion that there are intellectual, emotional, and moral differences that are inherent, that come as a result of biological sex differences? From there, I ask them also to think about what a similar exercise around femininity might reveal. How might the patterns be similar or different? If masculinity is a suspect category, it would seem so is femininity. I have repeated this discussion in several classes over the past year, each time with the same result: students are uncomfortable. Thats not surprising, given the reflexive way the culture accepts the idea that masculinity and femininity
Spring 2009 23

are crucial and coherent categories. People may define the ideal characteristics of masculinity and femininity differently, but most people accept the categories. What if thats misguided? What if the positive attributes ascribed to men are simply positive human characteristics distributed without regard to gender, and the negative ones are the product of toxic patriarchal socialization? Because the questions flow from their own observations and were not imposed by me, the discomfort is intensified. Its difficult to shrug this off as just one more irrelevant exercise in abstract theory by a pontificating professor. Whatever the conclusion the students reach, the question is on the table in a way thats difficult to dismiss. Its obvious that there are differences in the male and female human body, most obviously in reproductive organs and hormones. It is possible those differences are significant outside of reproduction, in terms of broader patterns concerning intellectual, emotional, and moral development. But given our limited knowledge about such complex questions, there

If the positive definitions of masculinity are not really about being a man but simply about being a person, why are we holding on to the concept so tightly?
isnt much we can say about those differences. In the absence of definitive answers, I prefer to be cautious. After thousands of years of patriarchy in which men have defined themselves as superior to women in most aspects

of life, leading to a claim that male dominance is natural and inevitable, we should be skeptical about claims about these allegedly inherent differences between men and women. Human biology is pretty clear: People are born male or female, with a small percentage born intersexed. But how we should make sense of those differences outside reproduction is not clear. And if we are to make sense of it in a fashion that is consistent with justicethat is, in a feminist context then we would benefit from a critical evaluation of the categories themselves, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

Vo i c e M a l e c o n t r i b u t i n g e d i t o r Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center His latest book is Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity. He can be reached at and his articles can be found online at http://uts.


Voice Male


hen new reghters were hired in New York in the months following September 11, out of 600 recruits, only one was a woman. The sculpture of Linda Stein imagines a corrective to the peculiar masculinization of protection that resulted from the attacks on the World Trade Center. Her larger-than-life forms resemble armor but they are made of materials that tell other stories than those of war. She calls them Knights, hailing back to an era of ritualized relations between protectors and those they championed. In Steins work, however, the bodies under the shields are decidedly female. Of course, a good many medieval and Renaissance literary works relayed the surprising news that female bodies could be hidden beneath steel armor and chainmail. Sometimes those bodies belonged to women who were ghting to protect their male lovers, and sometimes they belonged to androgynous warriors who could not be held back by social conventions. Armor does not, in these texts, necessarily masculinize its wearer. Rather, it frequently places her, like Joan of Arc, beyond sexuality and out of reach of gender constructions. It responds to trauma by imagining safetyeven from the constraints of being male or female. Steins recent series of bodyguards insist on their femaleness, however, not just through their curves, but through the connections forged in the materials out of which they are made: salvaged objects and calligraphic plates, fragments of wood splintered into the soft copper on which one can still read, backwards, the traces of invitations to weddings, christenings, anniversary festivities. Steins fantasy gures salvage debris, as if from wrecked buildings. Stein creates female shapes that protect other dreams than the ones the mass media have been relaying. Pieces of domestic lifekeys, buttons, belt buckles, broom bristles have been fused with metal and wood in Steins Knights. Burnished copper and nickel conspire with pebbles and beach wood, but when you look closer, youll nd that some of that metal is someones lost license plate, a relic from a car that may have long ago rusted out in the northeastern winter. There is an irony to the way Stein folds these fragments of peoples lives into her fantasies of protection for a world after 9/11: the intaglio plates of a business she once ran full-time work here like found objects, even ruins of a world whose celebratory messages hold no more meaning. The people who commissioned these hand-printed announcements long ago agreed that their stories would become part of Steins sculpture, but one cant help imagining the fragility of the lives
Spring 2009 25

Shaman 2006 wood, metal, stone 49 16 8

in which such important Knight of Tomorrow moments were marked 2007, bronze 78 25 14 with ceremonial writing. Adelphi University 2008-2010 Where today are Biennial. Garden City, the parents of the child New York whose birth is heralded on one piece of metal? What has become of the anc of the woman whose parents announced her upcoming marriage? Where were they on September 11? Did they run uptown too, like Stein, away from her studio in Tribeca? Were they covered with white ash like the gures in the photographic images from that morning taken by Susan Meiselas and Gilles Peress? Did they know any of the people whose faces lined storefronts in lower Manhattan for days after the towers fell, their names slowly fading with the rain? Or were they, like nearly 2,300 men and 700 women, among those who perished in the tragedies of those and awe. Women shied away from the days? Rescue became a male occupation impending war, supporting the action 20 in the days and weeks after 9/11, or so the percent less than their male counterparts. news media seemed to think. But the news media didnt stop telling Erasing the presence of hundreds them they needed a hero with testosterone of female rst-respondersdoctors, and bulging muscles, at the very least nurses, paramedics, ambulance drivers, keeping watch in their local rehouse or search-and-rescue workers, emergency excavating the ruins of Ground Zero. operators, reghters, policewomen, and security ofcersthe press focused on Jann Matlock male heroes and insisted, if poignantly, on the tragedy of nearly 400 male New Excerpted from Vestiges of New Battles: York Fire Department workers who lost Linda Steins Sculpture after 9/11 their lives in the collapse of the towers. an insightful essay by Jann Matlock Three women responders died, one of in Feminist Studies, (Vol.33, No.3 them a policewoman who had just helped Matlock is hundreds to safety. a senior lecturer in the Department of The reluctance of the news media French at the University College London to celebrate the women on the scene in where her research and teaching center the days after the tragedy had parallels, scholars and journalists have pointed out, around visual representation and cultural in the run-up to war by an administration history between 1789 and the present. obsessed with cowboy rhetoric and She has written two lms for the Muse militaristic jingoism. Americans were du Louvre and is the author of Before the being told they needed fathers, brothers, Voyeur and is completing another book, men with guns, guys with a mission, shock Pilfered Letters from the Archive.
26 Voice Male

Vital & Vulnerable

Living and working in Tribeca, sculptor Linda Stein found herself in a disaster zone on September 11, 2001. Residents of lower Manhattan were horrified as office workers fell from the flaming World Trade Towers. Stein was evacuated from her studio, and not able to return for several months. Not surprisingly, her sculpture has taken a new and very dramatic direction since 9/11. Armored figures have appeared in her artnot the knights of yore, but female warriors as symbols of protection in an increasingly hostile environment. Like classical torsos; they are sculptural fragments in the tradition of the Venus de Milo. Such ancient figures convey strength and vitality within the body trunk itself. Steins figures are similarly powerful. Encrusted with materials such as wood, metal and stone, her sculptures have a dazzling visual effect. One figure in wood seems to hold up her arms in a protective position across her upper body. Others fuse leather and fiber with dynamism and force. Stein has incorporated many materials: copper, brass, steel wire, wood, metal pipes, and stone fragments. There is a suggestion of the rubble from fallen buildings, or debris resulting from an explosive force, that has been appropriated to arm these figures. Script, coins, hardware, and calligraphic plates are also to be found, and these elements suggest an emerging lifea strength that is salvaged from the ruins. Larger than life, Steins figures are both vital and vulnerable. While they convey femaleness, some with breasts and curving torsos, they are monumentally postured and unyielding. Their protective body empowers them, and assures these remarkable images a continuing relevance in our world. Joan Marter Joan Marter is a professor of art history at Rutgers University and the author of several books, including Alexander Calder and Theodore Roszak: The Drawings.

The Power to Protect

Linda Steins sculpture series, Knights, represents her feminist, antiwar position. The heroic torsos respond to war and contemporary cultures testosterone overload, by scrambling expectations of power and vulnerability; masculinity and femininity; warrior and peacemaker. Embedding images and words in her archetypal sculpture, Stein draws comparisons to the comics of Wonder Woman, the anim of Princess Mononoke, and the Asian goddess of compassion Kuan-yin/Kannon. These gures from popular culture and religion have a special meaning for Stein; as symbols of protection, they represent the major theme of her art since the 1980s. Steins sculpture can be seen as both a call to action and an invitation to contemplation.

After 9/11, it took a year before I started making sculpture again, Stein said. At first it seemed as if I were continuing from where I left off. But that wasnt so because my abstract work was gravitating me toward the figurative. I didnt see the very gradual formation of a torso, the expansion of pelvis and hips, the introduction of breasts. It took three years to realize the sculptural form I was now creating had become a female Knight, a warrior woman with a combination of antithetical qualities: power/vulnerability; masculinity/femininity; warrior/ peacemaker. By scrambling expectations of the masculinethe strong,

the fighterI was attempting to ask questions, agitate, alarm, and arouse a visceral response in myself and in my viewers. I didnt specifically gender the workit seems my torsos were meant to transcend gender. My Knights began to communicate with me. I felt they assured me protection. They would watch, and wait, and prevent any attack. They became my bodyguards. Intellectually, there was something about these Knights that gave me pause. How could I create them as warriors when I felt they were symbols of pacifism? How, I wondered, could they be fighters in battle when they represented to me everything that cried out for peace?

Masculinity, Femininity, Collaboration

emember the mockumentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan? There was a scene where Sacha Baron Cohen, playing the title character, is insulting women. During the interview, in an artists studio, one of the women tries to set him straight. Linda Stein was the artist and the studio was hers. And she was the one who walked out in the middle of filming when Borats insults crossed the line. Stein, who serves on the board of Veteran Feminists of America, has been a decades-long professional artist, currently represented by the Flomenhaft Gallery in New York City. I really thought I was going to help women in Third World countries, Stein recalled, referring to Borat. Film representatives had duped her, suggesting she would be part of a film on the plight of women. According to Stein, Baron Cohens characterization of Borat as a tool designed to expose and challenge racism, homophobia and sexism missed the mark. He may have done better with homophobia and racism, but he just didnt do very well with sexism, she says, referencing some of the e-mails she received following the incident. One, she says, was representative: Whats the matter with you feminists? Dont you have any sense of humor about misogyny? Stein later included Baron Cohen in a series called Anti-hero/Hero in which the actor appears under-endowed, wearing a thong.

Linda Stein

Her brush with a kind of fame one could do without notwithstanding, Stein is encouraged by the possibility for women and men collaborating on issues related to gender justice. Since 9/11, her work shifted to reflect the fragility of life, including a series of Knights, figures who have, Stein says, the inspirational power to protect. Unlike male knights going off to battle, Steins figures are, according to art historian Dr. Joan Marter, both vital and vulnerable.

Steins interest in themes of masculinity and femininity led her to launch a public conversation series last February, Masculinity/Femininity, at her studio exhibition space in Tribeca in lower Manhattan. Id read a commentary by Voice Male editor Rob Okun written for Womens eNews about men benefiting from women gaining full equality, Stein recalled, and I realized that instead of giving a single artists talk during a recent exhibition, Id rather do it as a dialogue with Rob. The gathering in February paired Stein and Okun in Steins packed studio-exhibition space. Stein shared several scenarios describing male behavior and asked Okun to comment. A lively Q and A ensued with an audience that ranged from women in their 20s to men in their 70s. Another public conversation, in April, was scheduled as a dialogue between Stein and Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and author of a number of books on masculinity. Steins female Knights (three largerthan-life bronze sculptures) have been chosen as the central sculpture commission for the $4 million Walk of the Heroines at Portland State University in Oregon. She is represented by Flomenhaft Gallery, in New York Citys Chelsea district and Longstreth Goldberg in Naples, Fla. To learn more about her work, visit www.

Spring 2009


Men and Women as Allies

Steering into the Slide

By Patrick McGann

omen and men as allies in preventing violence against women? Yes, absolutely. Its high time that ideawhich has been slowly gaining traction over the past several yearsreally take hold. Its a theme at conferences, in local communities, and more and more, on the national and international scene. A lot of men might want the act of becoming allies to be easy. But its not. A constructive collaboration among the genders requires hard work or what Ive come to think of as steering into the slide. I rst became aware of the term a few years ago after reading Social Healing, a short essay in Psychotherapy Networker magazine. Kenneth Hardy, an African American family therapist who travels to communities throughout the country to help heal racial tensions, uses the concept in his work. At a community meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, Hardy was working with

80 adults and hundreds of teens brought together by local religious leaders. When an African American man in his fties stood up at the meeting to express his anger and pain about the toll racism had taken on him, a number of white people responded defensively. Some lectured him about how much better things are now. Hardy, the therapist, zeroed in on a white woman who seemed moved by the conict and asked her to speak. Initially, she tried to back away from the African American mans angeruntil Hardy intervened, describing to those at the meeting how his father had taught him to drive in snow. Our initial impulse after losing control of a car on a patch of ice, he said, is to steer away from it, but in order to regain control and reestablish the direction we want to move in, we have to turn into the slide. Yes, youre right; that suggestion seems counterintuitive. In a similar fashion, when we are confronted with our fears and the discomfort of engaging in challenging dialogue, we often

want to turn away from them, but it is only through turning into those uncomfortable places that we can arrive somewhere more constructive. How do men steer into the slide in order to become better allies with women in the work of preventing violence against women? I cant speak to all the ways, but I am clear on at least one. Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR), the organization where Ive worked since 1997, offers what we call From Theory to Practice Strength Trainings. Each January and July we conduct three-day trainings in Washington, D.C., attended by men and women who have traveled to the nations capital from across the country. We teach our approach to preventing violence and engaging men by focusing on the politics of masculinity, the value of stories, the importance of positive outreach, and the need for comprehensible, sustainable strategies. A burning topic often raised by women at these trainings relates to MCSRs Men of Strength (MOST) Club, our


Voice Male

male youth development programming in middle schools and high schools. Female participants sometimes ask, Can women run MOST Clubs? Underlying this question, for me, are others related to how this work is done by men: Is primary prevention solely focused on men? If so, is there no role for women? Or, is prevention a matter of cultural change that involves both men and women? I dont have easy or clear answers. Of course any work to prevent mens violence against women that brings together different constituents as allies isnt gender-specic. When steering into the slide, we need to consider race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and various other social group differences. Learning to drive on icy roads is unnerving, and steering into the slide was not something I understood. Years ago, as a college student in Lubbock, Texaswhere total annual snowfall averages only 10 inchesI was on my way home from work, steering my orange Pinto wagon (yes, a Pinto!) through three or four inches of fresh snow. I had driven in similar weather a few

times before, so even though I was living in a part of the country where people typically arent experienced at navigating slippery streets, I didnt anticipate problems. As I switched to the left lane in order to follow the curve leading onto Browneld Highway, in the blink of an eye I found myself off the road and up on the large median. How had I jumped the curb and spun completely around? Other drivers stared at me as they slowly passed by. Looking back, I understand that I lost control because I was moving too fast and didnt steer into the curve.

In the work of men and women collaborating as allies, we cant afford to lose control and steer away from the slide. We dont want to suddenly nd ourselves somewhere undesired and unexpected, a place thats adversarial rather than collaborative. As we navigate our way, bringing together all the people and places that make up who we are, we need to remember to steer into the slide. If we can speak openly about our discomforts and name our fears, if we can challenge ourselves to really hear one another, we will safely travel the gender justice highway were on together. Maybe even in a (safer) Pinto. Patrick McGann, Ph.D., is vice president of communications at Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR), the national Washington, D.C.based organization that mobilizes men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially mens violence against women. He frequently speaks at professional gatherings about MCSRs work and has recently co-authored a comprehensive sexual assault prevention strategy for the Department of Defense.

Spring 2009


Daughters of Men:
Portraits of African-American Women and Their Fathers
Edited by Rachel Vassel, 2007 Photography by Derek Blanks Foreword by Michael Eric Dyson Amistad Paperback, $15.99 192 pages Review by Kam Williams

Good black fathers are far more plentiful than either the media or warped social science would have us believe. The moral beauty of a black fathers determined embrace of his female offspring pays off in startling dividends. This book is a portable testimonial to the majestic grip of black father love. In the stories of women whose names appear in lights and those whose lives are lit by the sweet joy of their fathers quiet heroism, youll trace the elegant and unmistakable inuence of black men on the daughters they have reared. To be sure, bringing up their daughters was a labor of love; this book is a small gesture of gratitude for the mighty task of shaping the souls of sisters who sail beyond narrow horizons and articial limits. From the foreword by Michael Eric Dyson Theres an old saying, Behind every successful man is a woman. But nobody

ever asks whos behind every successful woman? According to Daughters of Men, the answer might lie in a good father. For what the 44 contributors to this touching collection of intimate memoirs had in common was the sage counsel and unwavering support of a strong dad. Thus, it only makes sense that each of the heartfelt entries in this beautifully photographed keepsake would invariably reect the perspective of a daughter grateful for the father gure who helped forge her character during her formative years. Credit the ostensibly very well connected Rachel Vassel for talking an enviable assemblage of rich, powerful and famous sisters into participating in the project. Many are household names, such as Beyonc and Solange Knowles, actresses Sanaa Lathan, Meagan Good, Nicole Ari Parker-Kodjoe and Aisha Tyler, entertainment magnates Cathy Hughes, Tracey Edmonds and Sheila Johnson, national TV news correspondents Deborah Roberts and Rene Syler and Gospel great Yolanda Adams. Others, like Amsterdam News publisher Elinor Tatum and Harlems Studio Museum curator Thelma Golden, have made equally impressive marks in their own right by rising to the top of their respective industries. And exactly how were these accomplished women inspired by their dads? Typical in tone are the warm reections of Ms. Golden, who fondly reminisces that I was always interested in the arts, and my father was the rst one to take me to see the Dance

Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey. Adding that, What he did for me, which was such a gift, was encourage my own ambitions by supporting them. Thelma and her dad, Arthur, are artistically posed standing back-to-back in their accompanying portrait, while most of the other father-daughter pairs are shown simply hugging each other contentedly in pictures which say a thousand words. In the cases where a dad was unfortunately deceased, the subject was shot next to a photo of her dearly departed. An illustrated album of testimonials which add up to proof positive that the skys the limit for any African-American girl able to rely on the undying love of a father. Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for more than 100 publications around the U.S. and Canada. A member of the New York Film Critics Online and the African-American Film Critics Association, he lives in Princeton, N.J., with his wife and son.


Voice Male

E. Ethelbert Miller
The Men
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? Romans 8:31 I. Today I saw black men carrying babies, pushing carriages, holding their own. II. Our streets filled with good news, we must write the headlines ourselves. III. When the world makes a fist we duck and counterpunch, we jab and swing. IV. Black men at construction sites lifting black earth, black hearts, black hands. V. The young men dress in black, their clothes just big enough for love.
Included in I Am the Darker Brother: An Anthology of Modern Poems by African Americans, edited by Arnold Adoff.


Roy Campanella: January, 1958

Night as dark as the inside of a catchers mitt. There are blows I can take head on and never step back from. When Jackie made the news I knew I would have a chance to play ball in the majors. Ten years ago I put the number 39 on my back and tonight God tries to steal home. Editors Note: When I read this poem, it triggered a vivid memory. Sitting at the kitchen table in my parents house eating breakfast before school on that awful January morning after. Who didnt love Campy, the gritty Brooklyn Dodgers vacuum cleaner catcher who slugged homers like he was swatting flies? How could my seven and a half year old heart hold the news that this vigorous athletes car had hit a patch of ice on a slick nighttime street in New York City and Campy was now paralyzed for life? It was probably Dave Garroways calming voice delivering the shocking news of the accident on the Today show. A Dodgers fan from Massachusetts; go figure.

your fathers skin was soft like butter my mother tells me after grace the two of us sit at the kitchen table where he once sat our food cools and we count our blessings share the bread between us
Bread and Roy Campanella: January, 1958 were both published in Whispers, Secrets and Promises by E. Ethelbert Miller

E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist and the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington D.C.. He is a board member of The Writers Center and editor of Poet Lore magazine. Since 1974, he has been the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. Mr. Miller is the former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C., and a former core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College.
Spring 2009 31

Resources for Changing Men

International Society for Mens Health Prevention campaigns and health initiatives promoting mens health Paul Kivel Violence prevention educator Lake Champlain Mens Resource Center Burlington, Vt., center with groups and services challenging mens violence on both individual and societal levels Males Advocating Change Worcester, Mass., center with groups and services supporting men and challenging mens violence MANSCENTRUM Swedish mens centers addressing men in crisis Masculinity Project The Masculinity Project addresses the complexities of masculinity in the African American community MASV - Men Against Sexual Violence Men working in the struggle to end sexual violence MenEngage Alliance An international alliance promoting boys and mens support for gender equality Men Against Violence UNESCO program believing education, social and natural science, culture and communication are the means toward building peace wcpmenaga.htm Men Against Violence (Yahoo e-mail list) Men Against Violence Against Women (Trinidad) Caribbean island anti-violence campaign Men Can Stop Rape Washington, D.C.-based national advocacy and training organization mobilizing male youth to prevent violence against women. Men for HAWC Gloucester, Mass., volunteer advocacy group of mens voices against domestic abuse and sexual assault Mens Health Network National organization promoting mens health Mens Initiative for Jane Doe, Inc. Statewide Massachusetts effort coordinating mens anti-violence activities Mens Nonviolence Project, Texas Council on Family Violence Mens Resource Center for Change Model mens center offering support groups for non-abusive men and batterers intervention groups, services, trainings and consulting for men overcoming violence Mens Resource Center of South Texas Based on Massachusetts MRC model, support groups and services for men Mens Resources International Trainings and consulting on positive masculinity on the African continent Men Stopping Violence Atlanta-based organization working to end violence against women, focusing on stopping battering, and ending rape and incest Mens Violence Prevention Mentors in Violence Prevention - MVP Trainings and workshops in raising awareness about mens violence against women Monadnock Mens Resource Center Southern New Hampshire mens center supporting men and challenging mens violence MVP Strategies Gender violence prevention education and training The National Association for Children of Domestic Violence Provides education and public awareness of the effects of domestic violence, especially on children. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Provides a coordinated community National Organization for Men Against Sexism Annual conference, newsletter, profeminist activities Boston chapter: National Mens Resource Center National clearinghouse of information and resources for men One in Four An all-male sexual assault peer education group dedicated to preventing rape Promundo NGO working in Brazil and other developing countries with youth and children to promote equality between men and women and the prevention of interpersonal violence RAINN - Rape Abuse and Incest National Network A national anti-sexual assault organization Renaissance Male Project A midwest, multicultural and multi-issue mens organization www.renaissancemaleproject The Mens Bibliography Comprehensive bibliography of writing on men, masculinities, gender, and sexualities listing 14,000 works UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women VDay Global movement to end violence against women and girls, including V-men, male activists in the movement Voices of Men An Educational Comedy by Ben Atherton-Zeman Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Mens March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence http://\ White Ribbon Campaign International mens campaign decrying violence against women

A wide-ranging (but by no means exhaustive) listing of organizations engaged in profeminist mens work. Know of an organization that should be listed here? E-mail relevant information to us at
100 Black Men of America, Inc. Chapters around the U.S. working on youth development and economic empowerment in the African American community A Call to Men Trainings and conferences on ending violence against women American Mens Studies Association Advancing the critical study of men and masculinities Dad Man Consulting, training, speaking about fathers and father figures as a vital family resource EMERGE Counseling and education to stop domestic violence. Comprehensive batterers services European Men Pro-feminist Network Promoting equal opportunities between men and women Family Violence Prevention Fund Working to end violence against women globally; programs for boys, men and fathers Healthy Dating, Sexual Assault Prevention


Voice Male

Resources for Changing Men

XY Magazine Profeminist mens web links (over 500 links) Profeminist mens politics, frequently asked questions pffaq.html Profeminist e-mail list (1997) Homophobia and masculinities among young men homophobia.html Fathers with Divorce and Custody Concerns Looking for a lawyer? Call your state bar association lawyer referral agency. Useful websites include: (not Collaborative Divorce The Fathers Resource Center Online resource, reference, and network for stay-at-home dads National Center for Fathering Strategies and programs for positive fathering. National Fatherhood Initiative Organization to improve the well-being of children through the promotion of responsible, engaged fatherhood LGBT Health Channel Provides medically accurate information to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied communities. Safer sex, STDs, insemination, transgender health, cancer, and more National Gay and Lesbian Task Force National progressive political and advocacy group Outproud - Website for GLBT and questioning youth Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Gay Rights
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Works to combat homophobia and discrimination in television, lm, music and all media outlets Human Rights Campaign Largest GLBT political group in the country. Interpride Clearing-house for information on pride events worldwide

Fathers and Daughters Alliance (FADA) Helping girls in targeted countries to return to and complete primary school Fatherhood Initiative Massachusetts Childrens Trust Fund Supporting fathers, their families and theprofessionals who work with them

Stay Connected! Visit Voice Males website

Spring 2009


Men & Violence

Top 10 Lame Excuses Men Make to Justify Violence Against Women

By Byron Hurt

ince 1993, I have had the unique opportunity to lead or colead discussions with tens of thousands of men about mens violence against women. I have been in rooms all over the world with men cutting across racial and class lines and educational levels. Ive worked with doctors, marines, soldiers, cadets, police officers, top college male athletes, men in youth detention centers, men in mandated battering intervention programs, fraternity members (white and non-white), and male administrators on college and university campuses. Aside from filmmaking and writing, engaging men in conversations around masculinity and gender and sexual violence prevention is what I do. I am passionate about it. After 16 years of doing this work, I can just about predict the kind of things we men will say to avoid talking about the real issues. No matter where I am, the level of deflection and avoidance that takes place in my gender and sexual violence prevention workshops or in Q&A sessions have been very consistent over the years. Many men, not all, deflect back onto women any focus on our negative attitudes and behaviors toward women as if it is their problem. It is a way to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions. In other words, we blame women for our abusive behavior. Some of us deny that gender or sexual violence exists at all. 10. Some women think you dont love them if you dont hit them. 9. Why would she wear revealing clothes if she didnt want negative attention? 8. Some women know how to push our buttons, and so we just snap.

So after hearing excuse after excuse I have decided to compile my own Top 10 List of Lame Excuses Men Make to Justify Violence Against Women, (see box below). Simply put, there are no excuses. It is not okay for men to abuse women. If you are a man reading this, now is your opportunity to make a difference. Be a responsible man and tell the boys or men in your life that men who hit women are not cool. And please practice what you preach, because the young boys in your life are watching and learning from you. Finally, if you are a man and you want to learn more about how you can get involved in the effort to reduce mens violence against women, there are resources around the country and the world (see the extensive list, Resources for Changing Men on page33 of this issue of Voice Male.) What are you waiting for? Voice Male contributing editor Byron Hurt is an antiviolence activist, lecturer and writer. He directed the award-winning film, Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Hip Hop and Manhood.

7. She disrespected me. 6. She must have done something to deserve it. 5. If she wants to hit like a man, she ought to be beaten like a man. 4. Why would a woman go somewhere (a party, club, or social event) if she

knows guys are going to treat her like that? 3. A man is only going to do to a woman what a woman allows him to do. 2. Some women like to be hit/cat-called. 1. She made me do it.


Voice Male