The 1970’s saw the intensification of the feminist movement as a social,moral, and political force in the American arena. They focused their attentionon the systematic oppression of women in politics and business. They wereattacking male chauvinism, dominance, and a social system that relegated femalesto household duties.
By most standards, the feminist movement has beensuccessful in nearly all of its endeavors. The result, however, has left theAmerican male uncertain of his own role in not only the dating arena, but thebusiness, marriage, and society in general. All the things that once made a mandesirable now make him the enemy of the advancement of women. The result hasbeen a reactionary Male movement. Though not as prominent in the media orpolitics the feminine counterpart, it has garnered a rather loyal followingthrough the 1980’s and 1990’s. It focuses not on men’s rights, but functionsmore as a male bonding experience that educates and enlightens men about theirnew roles.
Created in the mid 1980’s, the Mythopoetic men’s movement emanatesfrom the works of Robert Bly. His view is that the men’s role has lost direction. The men’s gatherings are to reconstruct a valid male initiation and role model. (Schocke)This male movement has been cautiously encouraged by women’s groups. Most realize the new pressures being exerted on men by the changes in societyand recognize a male movement as a means to finding the new balance. “I believethat ‘we’, I.
e. men and women, need a “men’s movement” in the sense of men thathave come to understand the evils of patriarchy . . . These are men who areprepared to work in harmony with women to create a new society liberated frompatriarchy. ” (Hagan, 14) Women want and need the men’s movement as bad or worsethen men do.
The entire point of the feminist movement is to change men. Thoughnot overtly stated as such, the promotion of women must occur in men’s thoughtsto happen in a society initially run by men. They must encourage men to not onlybond with each other, but to reconstruct their mindset in a way more appropriateto the new social structure. That is exactly the point of the men’s movement. It is important hereto distinguish between different factions of the men’s movement. There are morethan a few, but most fall into one of two categories.
The smaller, lessimportant group deals with their frustration in a non-directed physical bondingmanner. They have gone so far as to assume initiation and celebration ritualssimilar to those of Native American culture. The larger group, includingfeminists and male liberationists, believe in feminization of the male character. “Masculinity distorts an individual’s nature. It puts him out of touch with hisemotions.
Men do not cry. They do not touch each other. They do not form realfriendships. They are too silent. They are aggressive, achievement oriented,competitive bullies.
” (Stearns, 179) Stearns goes on to assert that by assumingmore feminine emotional and social traits that allow more healthy relationships. The problems with male-hood have not arisen as a result of men’scomplacency, but the sudden rapid change in the status of women. Men may beless responsible for female dissatisfaction than women’s inability to find thefamily an adequate substitute for traditional child bearing. (Stearn, 163)Suddenly, in the last decade, the role of the man has become uncertain. In the1950’s and 60’s, men were the breadwinners.
A man brought to the marriage thecapability of support. The woman brought to the marriage the home and children. Now, the women also bring in the money and the man has become an optional partof the family. Women can now become successful on their own and children becomea burden.
The man ends up wanting the family more than the woman, and must giveup power to have it. When man loses his worth to the relationship, he loses thepower and his traditional role also. This shift in power also allows women more room to criticize qualitiesthat have previously gone unnoticed. “To old complaints about male brutality orinsufficient attention were added new ones. .
. More recently women have becomefreer to criticize male lack of emotional sharing and sexual incompatibility. “(Stearn, 163) Most feminists recognize that the male movement is a response totheir changing wants and needs. Most men, likewise, recognize that a change intheir own behavior is needed to promote the social well-being of both sexes.
The television media today is but a single example of many institutionsstriving to embrace the goals of the men’s movement. One television show comesto mind immediately. Home Improvement, and Tim (the toolman) Taylor personifythe male striving to embrace the new order. Every episode features a man tryingshed his male, grunting, belching, insensitive past. No watcher of 1990’ssitcoms is unfamiliar with the patented Tim Allen grunt.
His goal in life seemsto be to keep his wife and kids happy without giving up his tools. That is whatthe men’s movement seems to be about, letting men be happy, keep their family,and their toys, tools, or whatever it is they cherish. There are several questions that need to be asked when the idea ofchanging either of the sexes arises, however. Why are we trying to change thetraits that have evolved in man over the last thousand years? Further, thereare certain traits in the male psyche that are genetically based.
Are westriving to change those traits or suppressing them? We cannot change thegenetic code that makes a man. The expression of those traits can not bealtered, just hidden. Today’s society strives to hide or change personal features to fitself perception as well as a wanted public image. People change hair color,eye color, and now, even physical sexual characteristics to fit the way theywant society to see them. Is the new men’s movement just a reflection of thistrend? Men have been bashed through the 1970’s and 1980’s.
As a result, menstarted wanting to change their public image, lest they become referred to asNeanderthals. The resultant movement may be seeking to give the male species a’facelift’.Category: Social Issues