June 29, 2005

Remember the men's movement?

With the drumming circles and everything? The Boston Globe seeks out the present-day remnants (via A&L Daily):
So what happened to [Robert "Iron John"] Bly's mythopoetic movement? The negative media coverage, such as Esquire's ''Wild Men and Wimps" spoof issue in 1992, didn't exactly help. But there were other factors, too. For one thing, even many of the men not inclined to dismiss Bly-style gatherings as silly found themselves mystified by the rarefied Jungian concepts tossed around the campfires like so many marshmallows. ''Many of the men I saw worked really hard at trying to figure out the mythology, but they just weren't getting it in the belly," says Byers, echoing the title of Sam Keen's bestselling book.... Part of the problem ... was the mythopoetic movement's complex relationship to feminism. On the one hand, some feminists construed Bly's attack on feminized males as reactionary. ''I'd hoped by now that men were strong enough to accept their vulnerability and to be authentic without aping Neanderthal cavemen," Betty Friedan told The Washington Post back in 1991. (Bly denied that there was anything anti-woman about his ideas.) What's more, the movement itself could never get beyond the fact that unlike the feminist movement - which itself had lost steam by the 1990s, as women achieved more economic and financial power - Bly and his followers never had any clear political agenda to drive them forward.
According to the article, these days, men actually want to be more involved in family life. And the men's groups of today tend to be centered on traditional religion, not Bly's "mythopoetic" antics.


Harkonnendog said...

This movement never really had a chance because there are so many alternatives to joining a men's movement that take away the steam, you know? For example, rather than go to a meeting a man can get the same release if he chooses to:
Watch NFL while drinking beer.
Golf while drinking beer.
And if things get really bad a man can just bitch about how women are crazy at a bar while watching the NFL as he plays a video golf game while drinking beer.

Ann Althouse said...

By comparison, that men's movement stuff just doesn't even seem masculine at all. I vaguely remember an old episode of "Beavis and Butt-Head" where the hippie teacher guy takes them on some drumming circle trip. (Or is that a "South Park"?)

goesh said...

Weren't the guys all supposed to end up crying and hugging each other when the drumming ended? Something about releasing the inner warrior, wasn't it or am I thinking of those old Kung Fu movies with David Carradine?

Paul Worthington said...

It was definitely Beavis and Butt-head. I looked it up, and it's Episode 125, Bang the Drum Slowly, Dumbass.

Ann Althouse said...

Paul: Thanks. Just the title of the show made me laugh. And seeing that the teacher was Van Driessen. Great show. Maybe it will be hard to ever rerun because of the old videos.

Simon Kenton said...

Knew a guy in the men's movement. The local circle - it was very like a Rotary or Kiwanis meeting, complete to greeting the little gals when they came to visit, except they whanged on those drums and sometimes a couple of them actually took their shirts off - decided they needed an elk hide to place up near the drums.

None of them hunted. This fellow recollected me. I had just dropped the hammer on an elk; the kids and I had butchered and frozen the meat that day. I told him he better pick up the hide soon. He gave it a leisurely 3 or 4 days. By then, that hide was going off. He picked it up with real distaste; bloody, rancid fat; old grass and twigs in the hair; twin bulletholes behind the shoulder, one bigger than the other; and above all, stinking. Richly stinking, the full savor of death clouding around it.

I finally got the distaste. He had expected that hides come off the animals tanned.

On reflection, I think this is sadder than it is ridiculous.

Tonya said...

The strongest men's movement that I can think of is the father's movement. It has been very effective in removing gender-based preferences in child custody law, lobbying for the implementation of dual custody standards, and seeking reductions in child support payments in situations where parents share custody (roughly) equally. In this context, men's groups have been very vocal and forceful in their activism. Some have been anti-female in their rhetoric. Much of this animus is probably a hold over from acrimonious divorces.

Ann Althouse said...

Tonya: Good point. The family law stuff crossed my mind when I read about the lack of "a clear political agenda to drive them forward." Going off on goofy drumming trips, though, is probably not going to help Daddy in his custody battle.

Bruce Hayden said...


Agree, for good reason. Am somewhat involved. To me, esp. the judicial system, esp. as to family law, has swung way over to the side of women, and we all need to move it back towards the center.

I come to this from personal experience. I was the primary care giver to my daughter for the first three years of her life. But when I got divorced, the ex got the daughter, and I got the child support payments. Under Colo. law, of course, this should not be decided based on gender. But, by and large, it is. Period.

And every year, when I renew my Colo. bar dues, I have to affirm that I am current on child support payments. If I don't, there goes the law license. But do the women have to affirm that they haven't deprived the fathers of court ordered visitation or the like? Of course not.

Maybe the reason that I have gotten so militant here is that I am on a male movement list, and get to see a lot of the horror stories.

In any case, I take the politically incorrect position that kids should be with their fathers, if they seriously want to raise them, from about ten on. Maybe twelve for girls. This is a time when the kids need the regimentation and limits that a father is far, far, more likely to impose than the friendship that a woman is likely to provide (and, before you jump on me for generalizations, I am talking, as usual, about means, and not specific people).

Bruce Hayden said...

I should note that I sign the bar dues statement about child support payments under protest, pointing out how sexist it is. Luckily, they are happy, as I did afirm that I am current (for 11 years now).