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Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Good Men Project


I recently became aware of a new voice in the Men's Rights Movement.

Conceived during 2009 by Tom Matlack and James Houghton, as a way of allowing men to tell stories about defining moments in their lives, the project has grown from a humble book, to a film, to a magazine, to a website, to a foundation.

[The Good Men Project] is a positive voice for men at a time when male issues, and even masculinity itself, are increasingly marginalized. It is a place for men to come together and discuss the myriad and complex problems facing men and boys that are so often disparaged by many Feminists, and the mainstream.

My first introduction came about through my casual readership at [Toysoldier's blog] about victimized men and boys. He was offering up a critique of TGMP and their online magazine. I thought to myself, "The Good Men Project? A magazine devoted to male issues from a moderate perspective?" In one click I learned more about how to have a real Men's Rights Movement than I had from months visiting The Spearhead only to have to wade through misogyny and racism and classism, or reading Paul Elam's blog but getting stuck in the vitriolics.

It was a place that offered a perspective outside MRA sexism and Feminist misandry. It was a place where I didn't feel like I had to apologize for being a man, or apologize for liking women. I could, y'know, just be myself, just be a guy.


[This was the first article I read.] It was simply heart-wrenching, but oh-so true. It literally spoke to my lived experience as a man/boy dealing with the world.

After that, I was hooked. I've been devouring pieces by Joshua Kleinberg, Paul Elam, David Futrelle, Dan Moore, Glenn Sacks, Joseph Caputo, just on and on. So many of these articles dealt with serious issues affecting men, from reproductive rights to domestic violence. They talk about sports, and video-games! They talk about how Feminism has hurt men. They talk about everything that I, and so many other men, have been thinking we're crazy for even thinking about, yet can't stop noticing. They are an important step in a world where misandry is allowed to run rampant behind a lace curtain...

For those of you reading, I suggest seeing the site for yourself. Read some of the articles, check the comments (even the angry ones). This is the real MRM, a Men's Rights Movement that Ms. Magazine has called, "what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century."

Y'know what I say? I say this is what enlightened masculinity looks like right now.



Cheers

25 footnotes:

Mira said...

Apologizing for being a heterosexual man makes no sense. I mean... why is that bad, again?

Sure, (white) heterosexual men still have the most power int he world, as a group. But.

I guess people can't tell the difference between a dominant group and individuals belonging to it. It doesn't mean all individuals within a group are the oppressors, or that they don't have any right to raise their voices if they are being treated badly (as shocking as thing sounds, it happens!)

I don't think anybody should feel guilty for their gender or sexual orientation, even if said gender is male, and said orientation is straight. I mean, come on!

That being said, some of the articles on that site are... confusing. The one you linked is good, but there are some I don't understand. For example, the one about cheating. I honestly don't understand how men are being discriminated against in this case.

I mean, women, not men, all around the world are the ones who suffer more for adultery. Men generally suffer less consequences than women. In some parts of the world women are killed for it, while men have to go through a less strict punishment. Even in western culture(s), women who cheat have much harder time than men.

Sarah Alaoui said...

http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/solution-mra-problems-more-feminism/

what she said.

Men's rights movement? you've got to be joking.

Zek J Evets said...

@Sarah:

Wow. Way to be... iunno, I'll pass on the first words that come to mind.

But yeah, a men's rights movement. Why? Because, believe it or not there ARE issues that deal primarily/only with men. Violent crime for one -- men are way more likely to commit and be victims of violent crime. That to me sounds like a male issue. Or take prison rape, which is never counted in rape statistics, though if it was it would be more numerous than every other kind of rape COMBINED. Yet nobody does anything about it, or cares...

As for male issues where women are involved, just check the link I left to the article I first read. Listen to that guy's story and tell me you think we're joking about a men's rights movement.

Because honestly, your comment is kinda effed-up. Which is sad, because I don't see you as someone who denies reality. I think you need to open your eyes and try to understand that anyone can be oppressed and victimized, and that men too are screwed over by the kyriarchy A LOT. More importantly, don't deny the existence of these problems, because I know you're better than that, and don't victim-blame like Amanda Marcotte, because I DEFINITELY know you're better than that.

Zek J Evets said...

@Mira:

Are you talking about the "Why We Forgive Adulterous Women" article? I'm assuming so. That article seemed like to me that it was pointing out that while around the world women are stoned, beaten, killed, etc., in America when a woman cheats on her husband (the examples were about celebrities, so that might change things) typically the whole thing is brushed off or ignored -- there is no fall-out, besides the private and personal. But when a man cheats on his wife, the media circus begins.

Also, this quote is my favorite from the article: "Instead, women develop complex narratives to explain their cheating by pointing to problems in the marriage: her husband was neglectful or didn’t make her feel attractive, they weren’t connecting emotionally, they weren’t having enough sex. Time and again I’ve listened to women give me these so-called explanations for their affairs, when it’s perfectly obvious that these marital complaints are post-hoc rationalizations. The plain and simple reason for their affairs—the failure to resist an overwhelming sexual attraction to a new guy—doesn’t even cross these women’s minds because it violates the myth of female sexuality."

Take for instance Eat Pray Love. The whole book began because the protagonist cheated on her husband! And yet that impetus is conveniently forgotten in the wake of her very privileged journey of spiritual enlightenment.

But this does show that the magazine has a US-centered perspective (take that as you will) and while there is a vocal MRM here in America, I'm not as sure if there, or ever would be/will be one in any other countries.

My take from the article actually is best summed-up in a story a friend of mine recently went through. His girlfriend of 3 years, who he was saving up to buy a ring for, cheated on him last December. She was lonely because he works so much (though she worked far more than he did) and fell out of love with him. But she was unable to tell him she wanted to break-up, so instead she started sleeping with a mutual friend of theirs, apparently being extremely kinky, and just pretended to still be in a serious relationship. My friend didn't find out till he discovered some suspicious text-messages and finally blew the whole thing wide-open during an argument a few days later. (Don't worry, I'm getting to my point...)

Zek J Evets said...

@Mira, con't: In the end, they broke up and she was glad he finally found out because it absolved her of having to continue cheating, and of having to tell him (though her actions indicate she hadn't really planned on telling him, ever).

Now, while my buddy is getting some sympathy sex from various women who think he's a decent guy that got messed over, the over-arching perception of the situation among his & her friends (besides me) is that he was neglectful, and she reached out for what she was missing in the relationship. Yet, her actions demonstrate she did it only for sex, especially when she dumped the guy she cheated on him with only two days later.

If she had been a man, she would have been lumped into the d-bag category of scumbags who can't keep it in their pants. But there is no stereotype like that for women. When a woman cheats, she may be called a whore, or a slut, but generally -- in America -- she gets sympathy for trying to fulfill her needs, because these are always assumed to be emotional rather than physical.

But the fact is she wanted to get laid, and was bored of my friend. Purely shallow.

If my friend had done the cheating, he'd be lumped into the cheating-boyfriend stereotype, with all the baggage it comes with, despite whatever actually happened in the situation.

To me, this disparity is why I could understand the article, and appreciate what it was talking about.

Also, the site isn't just about White, heterosexual males. In fact, one of the reasons I like the site so much is because these issues -- and the proposed solutions to them -- would be extremely beneficial to men of color, particularly Black and Hispanic men who have a lot of racial and gender disparities compared to the rest of the country.

The only negative about TGMP is that they do allow a lot of crazy people to write articles on the site, mostly in an effort to present the spectrum of positions. Which is why they have David Futrelle and Amanda Marcotte on there writing articles denigrating MRM's -- yet on a platform that's paying them to, based off the revenue provided by the same audience they disparage. It's kind of like asking an HBDer to a conference on race and genetics, and asking them to talk about the issue. Obviously you'll get a skewed perspective filled with vitriolic.

Anyhoo, my comments are getting crazy! I'll try to be less wordy next time =)

Sarah Alaoui said...

Helloooo Zek,

My sweeping comment--first word that come to mind: callous? :)

1st of all my blog friend, I have not seen your posts in a very long time and glad to come back and see you're still writing.

2nd of all, my comment WAS sweeping and callous because I just hurriedly glanced at the post as I was rushing out, saw "men's movement", called it ridiculous and said as much.

BUT, I DID subscribe to the comments on this post and this is why I come back :)

So now that I have read this more thoroughly (and do apologize for leaving premature comments and appreciate you knowing I'm "better than that"), I will let you know what I think. I very much agree with this point:
"But this does show that the magazine has a US-centered perspective (take that as you will) and while there is a vocal MRM here in America, I'm not as sure if there, or ever would be/will be one in any other countries."

Because of the stories I'm used to actively reading (women abused and having their rights violated in non-Western countries and justifying the violence through cultural or religious beliefs)--this is where a feminist movement is NEEDED and thank goodness, is actively being developed and executed.

With regards to feminism in the U.S. and the West, I absolutely agree with you regarding a "men's movement" (though I do not know what kind of form it would take and so far support these articles being written such as on the website you posted...ones that show the reality in countries like the U.S.).

Absolutely great point about the rape in the men's prisons--I'd love more attention to be paid to that.

Another example that always ticked me off is when a girl gets pregnant and a guy gets comments like "he knocked her up"...ummmm unless it was rape, the girl had a say about the situation too! It's not fair for him to get all the baggage in such an unfortunate scenario.

Basically, I'd say in the West, we need a new kind of feminist movement (or more guys should speak up). We need to stop victimizing the women (excluding certain cases as I've mentioned before, of course) and realize that there are often 2 parties involved.

Once again, apologize for the rushed previous comment, and thanks for opening up the discussion--will come back to post more :)

Cheers,
Sarah

Zek J Evets said...

@Sarah: Aww, thanks =) I appreciate us being moderate people and coming to an understand! It's so difficult with issues like these for people to reach that sort of meeting, and I'm glad you took a look around the site.

Just like any movement, this one is obviously fraught with various factions, and spectrums of thought (i.e Masculisms to Feminisms) that show this idea about MRM is new, and going through A LOT of growing pains.

For my part, I agree that most other countries, particularly in the third-world needs Feminism before we even TALK about Men's Rights -- though I wouldn't be adverse to male issues being subheaded with women's issues in places like South America where machismo plays an important factor in gender-relations.

Basically, I'd say in the West, we need a new kind of feminist movement

I'd say that comment sums up my feelings exactly. And that's a big reason why the MRM got started in the first place, because being a male-feminist often involves being an apologist for men, which is hard when you're trying to be positive and pro-active. This is especially true for men of color, who are getting screwed over in school, in the job market, in Arizona, and even here in San Francisco. That's part of the reason I like the MRM, because it's about (or at least my perception of it) positive masculinity.

Anyways, definitely come back with more comments. They're much appreciated! (Also, check out my older posts -- you might've missed some other great stuff, because I post so often!)

Sarah Alaoui said...

will do!

Mira said...

I hear you Zek, but I still think it's the same double standard that is against women, the double standard that says women have no sexuality on its own. So whenever she cheats, it MUST be because she was neglected, or because she needed love... Not because she was horny and she didn't care about hurting her boyfriend (instead of masturbating or something if she was so horny while he was away).

But no. To do this, would also mean to admit women have a sexuality and a sexual drive not much different (in strength) than men. And to do this... Eh, we're still far, far away from this point.

So double standard is here to stay. That's why a guy cheating is always associated with fulfilling his selfish sexual needs.

But the same double standard IS against men, too, because it completely ignores the possibility of, I don't know, a guy cheating because he was lonely and his gf was neglecting him. It goes against male gender role, so it's never talked about.

So both men and women should actively fight against this double standard, but I am not sure it's going to go anytime soon. Why? Because many people find it beneficial. Many see it as the way "things really are". Even women do not fight against it as much as they can, because the dichotomy good girl/slut is beneficial to them. No matter what they say, many of them wouldn't want this power balance to change. Believe me, Mary Sue doesn't want to lose her power for being a "nice girl" and she doesn't want to lose respect she gets for being a nice girl... Sure, she wants to be a feminist, but she still wants to see herself as "better" than "those sluts" (= women who don't play hard to get).

Uuuugh, I guess this went into a completely new direction. I think my point was that it's all due to double standards, but they are here to stay because people do not really want to fight against them. Well, they want them to disappear, but they don't want to take new responsibilities and new gender roles.

PS- I don't live in a western country, strictly speaking, but my culture is closer to the western ones than the non-western ones. I can't be sure about this, but I think there's no much difference in cheating here and on the west. Women do get harder time than men here, but I think the same can be said about the west...

serpentus said...

"They talk about how Feminism has hurt men."

Zek, I hope you know that most women are not feminists in the way you think them to be--masculine, demanding, authoritative, and powerful. Except for perhaps the 1% of Hillary Clintons in America, most women do not consider themselves feminists. How many women talk about finding a "strong, handsome, and in control" man for a husband? Does that statement sound feminist?

Zek J Evets said...

@Mira: That's a good point, and I think is probably an un-spoken point that the article seems to take for granted. Women do have an obvious sexuality that is often denied, and this hurts them as well as men.

I'm glad your comment kind of went off on it's own actually, because you brought up a lot of good points! Power, privilege, gender-based contradictions, they're all at work in these situations, and you're absolutely right that people are often loath to give them up since they benefit themselves more often than not, yet still are sexist. This is a case of internalized sexism? I guess. Something like that.

I think women get a harder time about cheating among minority's in the US (Black, Hispanic mostly) due to strong community bonds, but among White, especially upper-class people, a spouse that cheats has many layers of privilege that allow EITHER party to get away with it without any consequence. And of course, I think this becomes more obvious when you look at cougar-stereotypes and sugar-mommas.

Actually, my friend is mixed (Black & White, but identifies more as Black), and his ex-girlfriend is White, and I for one think the situation certainly had a racial element to compliment the sexist one. I wonder if she would have been so cavalier about cheating on her boyfriend if he'd been a different race? Especially since the guy she cheated on him with is White.

Anyhoo, I'm rambling again, sorry! Great comments though =)

Zek J Evets said...

@Serpentus: I don't know if most women in America define themselves as Feminists. It certainly doesn't seem that way based on what Feminism seems to mean in practice (as opposed to in theory). Yet, so many people associate Feminism with gender equality, and yet since the Second-wave, it hasn't done that much of making equality except for White women in the upper-classes. (Kinda like affirmative-action.)

That said, Feminism is an institutionalized movement now. Legislation like the VAWA, campus Women's Centers (as opposed to gender-neutral centers), rape counselors who only teach about male-on-female rape, and of course Roe v. Wade (note: I'm not legally opposed to abortion, just personally). There are plenty of examples in family law as well, especially regarding custody, adoption practices, domestic violence shelters, etc. Check out the website for yourself, and you'll see lots of examples of what I mean. Especially in the advice & confessions sub-heading.

serpentus said...

@Mira

"I don't live in a western country."


Yes, you do.

Europe = Western.

The only difference between Serbia, and let's say a western country like Italy or Greece (don't tell me Greece isn't western!) is the economy, GDP, etc.

Mira said...

I do think equality is important. (I know it's became somewhat of a bad word, equality, I mean, but I do think it's important).

And in order to get it, if you truly want to fight for it, you must be ready to give up some of your rights. Sounds fair?

Yes... Until you realize the oppressed group, too, needs to give up some rights in order to be equal. That's where the fight starts, because the oppressed (in this case, women), think it's offensive to even mention they should give up some rights, because they feel they have no rights.

PS- As long as feminsits and MRA see the situation as us vs them, I don't think there will be any progress.

Jasmin said...

in America when a woman cheats on her husband (the examples were about celebrities, so that might change things) typically the whole thing is brushed off or ignored -- there is no fall-out, besides the private and personal. But when a man cheats on his wife, the media circus begins.

That's the article I saw on Jezebel, and it was eviscerated (and rightfully so). The examples of cheating he used weren't equivalent at all (comparing Tiger Woods' drama to just about any celebrity isn't really fair), and some of the claims were outright false (you'd have to be living under a rock to not notice all of the sh*t Leeann Rimes has taken for cheating with her married costar). It's a case of selective bias, and I think using celebs as examples was silly in the first place, because Hollywood is so incestuous (and acceptably so). On the street, a man who cheats with his best friends wife and moves in with her will face some flack (so would a woman in the same kind of situation), but his virtue won't be hold up to the same scrutiny as the woman's will be. There's a reason why terms like "man-whore" exist (as if whore is automatically a female label).

In other news, I can tell it's not my type of blog, but the guy who wrote the adultery post is way too self-congratulatory for me. Get rid of him, and maybe I'll reconsider.

Zek J Evets said...

@Serpentus: Iunno, I think of "classical Greece" as western, but modern Greece sure isn't seen that way, at least by the people I know. (Which is admittedly not a lot of people.)

@Mira: As long as feminsits and MRA see the situation as us vs them, I don't think there will be any progress.

Exactly! And that's definitely going to make the transition of who gives up what rights and who gets what responsibilities, loss of privilege, loss of victim-status, etc. and so on, these are things people in both camps will fight viciously to the death for, not looking at the bigger picture of gender equality. (And I'll be the first to admit, fundamentalist MRA's are JUST as bad as radical Feminists, though the MRM likes to often pretend they're not... kind of like in Feminism, actually, haha.)

So, yeah, people are gonna fight pretty hardcore over these boundaries and issues, but I see that as part of the process, and being vocal is the ONLY way to ensure that everyone gets to feel like they're being treated fairly.

Mira said...

I don't know. I do consider my culture to be European, but not strictly "western". Economy is not the most important thing about a culture, but capitalism did make such a big influence on... everything. And we weren't a capitalist country; at the moment, we're in transitional period towards capitalism (and it SUCKS a big time!)

Also, Ancient Greece WAS NOT A WESTERN CULTURE!!!!! I repeat: ancient Greece was NOT a western culture. First of all, there was not such a thing as "west" in their days (nor Europe, for that matter), and ancient Greeks didn't consider themselves "westerners" or "Europeans".

It were (western) Europeans of 18th and 19th century who considered ancient Greece to be a western culture, and therefore, ancient Greeks their ancestors- and, interestingly enough, not the ancestors of actual living Greeks who lived in Greece in those days.

It's just another form of colonialism and imperialism. Non-white, non-European cultures were not the only ones who were affected by it. Colonists did their best to steal ancient Greek legacy from Greeks. They even took the liberty to steal monuments and stuff, and THEY STILL refuse to bring them back to Greece.

For further info, check out the Elgin marbles controversy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Marbles

Sorry for the off topic rant. I just... had to.

Zek J Evets said...

@Mira: Haha! Okay, okay, fair point. Ancient Greece wasn't considered "Western" until it was co-opted into it by Western European Academia.

I know ALLLLLL ABOUT the rape/pillaging of ancient societies in impoverished countries. I think particularly of Antiquarianism, when I was a Freshmen undergrad in anthropology. While I don't approve of it, I can't deny that my/our academic discipline might not exist in it's current form (for better or worse) without those early Antiquarians stealing artifacts from other countries.

But yeah, that's a whole other subject, haha!

Anyhoo, since you're the one living in Serbia, Mira, I'll trust your opinion on the Euro/Western "zeitgeist". Personally, I feel like Europe is almost like two different countries, subdivided into different states -- Western Europe is one country, with a lot of Latin-based language-speaking states, and then Eastern Europe is another country, with slavic/germanic-speaking states. But this is something I was kinda enculturated to believe, and obviously it's a lot more complicated than that... and now I'm rambling =P

Mira said...

Back on topic: I don't think discussing these issues is silly, and, once again, I don't think people who belong to privileged groups are not allowed to speak about the bad things happening to them, ever. Not because it doesn't matter whether you belong to a privileged or an oppressed group, but because belonging to a group doesn't automatically say anything about your individual experience.

So yes, I do think white hetereosexual abled males have a full right to raise their voices just like anybody else; they are humans, after all.

However, anybody who does that to point out women, non-whites or non-heterosexuals are baaad and the main reason white heterosexual males suffer will certainly won't get my support. The us vs them mentality is what I dislike.

In case of gender equality, I do think the main problem is the fact both men and women are socialized to see huge differences between genders, or that men and women are "definitely not the same, to the point of being sooooooooooooooooooo different it's impossible to understand each other". This sort of thinking is extremely, extremely harmful. Plus, it's not even true, at least in my experience. True, I am a tom boy with some aspie traits, but I was always able to connect to both men and women - well, certain men and certain women. It depends on the individual. I sure don't think it's more difficult for me to understand men than women.

Oh, and the oppression olympics. It's never a good thing to do that. I mean, it isn't. Take rape, for example. Most of the victims are women, and most of the rapists are men, that is true. But it doesn't mean that a male rape victim doesn't need support and understanding.

Also (and I believe Zek already talked about this) raping a male is often played for laughs in movies and on TV. There are so many prison rape jokes. So many soap jokes. In "40 days and 40 nights" Josh Hartnett's character gets raped and it's seen as a cute thing in a romantic comedy.

Zek J Evets said...

@Mira: Yeah! I actually did a post on that movie, and how Josh Hartnett's character is raped, and the rapist is a woman who gets to walk off with a bunch of money -- she basically gets rewarded for raping him -- and the film basically glosses over this, except for the part where Hartnett's character gets punished by the girl he actually loves... for being raped.

It's a twisted world sometimes.

Rachel said...

There's a chance you might be interested in this blog: http://www.manboobz.blogspot.com if you're looking into men's rights issues. It provides a good (and witty) counterpoint to a lot of the more extreme arguments guys make on there--from man's perspective.

Zek J Evets said...

@Rachel:

I'm well aware of David Futrelle's blog, and while he's a great writer, he's also a d-bag. I've read his articles, both on TGMP and at his blog, and his inflammatory rhetoric coupled with his hyperfocus on radical MRA's (yet never radical Feminists...) are to me, examples that he's more of a polemicist than a real commentator.

I especially don't enjoy his profiting from MRA's while simultaneously disparaging them at TGMP. It's just hypocritical.

Thanks for the comment though!

Mira said...

Could you help me find that 40 days and 40 nights post of yours? I was thinking of writing one about this topic (male rape as a joke in media), with a focus on that particular film. I got harassed (well, "harassed" might be a strong word) by a person on tumblr who got mad after I mentioned it was not amusing (it was, well, rape), and then she said she wanted to rape Josh Hartnett - yes, in those exact words - so it's a cool thing to watch something like that in a movie. Yes, some people take celebrity crushes on a different level, but still...

Zek J Evets said...

@Mira: Whoa, harassment? Those Tumblr kids don't mess around...

If you use the search box near the top of my my blog, you should be able to find the post. Just search "Josh", I think the title was "Romantic Comedy Rape Scene".

Mira said...

Found it (twice!), thanks! You were right: it's "Romantic Comedy Rape Scene". I checked at the IMDB and many people point out at the fact he was raped, but I guess these are just regular joes, not critics.

I must admit that Tumbl is my guilty pleasure... Lots of pointless, yet amusing stuff. But the thing is, anybody can contact you anonymously, and if you happen to dislike their fav celebrity/movie... watch out!