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The Men’s/Fathers’ Movement - Present, Past, Future

Present

What we now call the men’s/fathers’ “movement” was initially focused on injustices associated with divorce.  To some men, it might seem they don’t have a dog in this fight, or don’t want to get involved, preferring to keep their heads down in hopes injustices will go away.  Reform sympathizers exist, but are relatively silent.  Edmund Burke, an 18th century Irish philosopher and statesman said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” 

The buffalo comes to mind; these magnificent animals almost became extinct, because they stood around eating grass and nosing their freshly killed as tongue-hunters picked them off one by one. 

Victims of the ‘rape of the male’ cry out only when their ox is being gored, almost never before or after.  Muttering to each other on poker night is insufficient.  Barstool philosophy is rampant, but ineffective.  The prevailing level of discourse on the subject of men’s defense, especially by newly divorced men, was and still is comparable to that of illiterate 14th century peasants speculating on the cause of plague.  To change things, we must first understand them, and then act upon those understandings.  That is the purpose of this thesis.

For decades quixotic individuals fruitlessly dashed themselves against the unyielding rocks of prejudice in that domestic relations.  Some had excellent ideas for reform.  Several have even run for president or state governor on reform platforms.  Many fathers and several grandfathers have gone on hunger strike in various countries protesting inability to see their children or grandchildren.  Most endeavors have been and still are like farting in the wind due to lack of imagination and effective organization. 

The first modern reform group, United States Divorce Reform, commenced in California in the 1960s with Reuben Kidd and his merry band of reformers.  They created a statewide legislation reform Initiative.  Unfortunately, that effort failed, and consequently USDR broke up, its affiliates forming similar organizations throughout the country.  The “movement” has been divided ever since.  Before the breakup of USDR, Charlie Metz formed America’s $ociety of Divorced Men in Minnesota, pioneering the concept of individual divorce counseling.  Charlie moved to Elgin Illinois after winning a landmark custody battle in the early ‘70s and wrote “Divorce and Custody for Men” (Doubleday).  Disgusted with the movement’s fractiousness, Charlie advised against trying to unify it, comparing the effort to herding cats.  Only time will tell if his pessimism was justified.  Charlie died in 1971.

In the 1970’s, several reformers, realizing that divorce was but one aspect of anti-male prejudice, formed Men’s Equality Now (MEN) International to broaden the struggle for men’s rights, and by extension family and children’s rights.  Its focus included all gender issues, roles and perceptions, such as crime punishment, employment, image, etc.

Like Burke’s “Little Platoons,” rival organizations and coalitions came and went throughout the ΄70’s and ΄80s, reproducing like amoebas.  The “movement” developed many philosophies and aspects.  A veritable alphabet soup of acronyms was spawned, theoretically all on the same side in the struggle, many of them consisting of just a pajama-clad zealot with a bedroom computer and followers.  Many are narrowly-focused, concentrating on single issues because they may have personal significance to the leader or leaders.  Examples of such single issues are divorce and child custody.  Many meetings were, and some still are, mere mutual commiseration societies, accomplishing little more than venting wrath at ex-wives, judges and lawyers.  Some became nation-wide operations with talented and numerous followers.  There are currently so many organizations it is difficult to keep track of them or their acronyms.  They are by no means restricted to the United States. 

Until recently, communication has been practically non-existent.  Each new group had to reinvent the wheel; and still does.  They rediscovered the same issues, gave the same speeches spoken decades before by their predecessors―and still give them, imagining they are boldly going where no man has gone before.  Each suggestor and spokesman usually operating under the naive assumption his ideas are new and unique.  The movement has been bogged down for decades debating minor issues and prematurely proposing various tactics, however excellent they may be.  The new guard became the old guard, as ‘summer soldiers’ dropped out; the cycle begins over and over (plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose).  What a waste of talent and experience!  The inefficiency boggles the mind.

The anti-male phenomenon and its gestalt are so massive and intricate, ranging from the obvious to the subtle, that neophyte would-be reformers with limited experience, however brilliant they may be or imagine themselves to be, cannot fathom the problems and solutions.  Oscar Wilde, a dead white male, said, “In America, the young are always ready to give those who are older than themselves the full benefit of their inexperience.”

The legitimate movement’s philosophical differences are not as great as its personal ones.  Ego and ambition are huge problems.  Some “leaders” fancy themselves the Messiah, and would sacrifice the movement itself in pursuit of leadership.  Every barnyard rooster is king on his own dung heap.  Taking a clue from Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost, the motivating principle of some seems to be “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”  The attendant ego blast overrules the greater good.  Consequently, many reform organizations have been parochial and militantly independent.  They have even been compared to a circular firing squad.  Historically, activists have been unable or unwilling to choose leaders of that firing squad, persons who could reform the ranks from a circle into a line, a firing line facing actual enemies.

Disputes over means to the same end have rendered activists largely ineffective and permitted common enemies to grind out destruction with pitifully little opposition.  Consequently, the “movement” hasn’t moved much in over 30 years.  Indeed, it has deteriorated since the formation of MEN International.  Part of the reason is fierce opposition from entrenched government officials (judges, legislators, etc.) money-grubbing lawyers, feminists and assorted other factions.  But a more damaging cause of failure to achieve justice springs from within.  As Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”  Few are immune to the aforementioned problems, be they newcomers, officials, blogmeisters, writers, whatever.

If buffalo, in the analogy above, had a brain large enough for self-preservation instincts, they could have herded up and stampeded the poachers; even if it meant not personally leading the charge or that several of them might get shot; so too with male victims.  Little do today’s leaders seem to realize that lieutenants in a major organization are more important than generals in an unnoticed outfit.

In the last few decades, a faux “men’s movement” has come into existence.  Many of its adherents, often sponsored by NOW, bleat the feminist party line.  Made up of pop sociologists, sex-melders and reluctant males of mixed sexual persuasion, some homosexual, they are thoroughly domesticated, housebroken creatures who hold their manhood cheap—apologetically in fact.  They denounce masculinity, convinced there is something wrong with the traditional male image, which they derisively term “macho.” 

One group called the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) is especially notorious for disparaging normal men.  Anti-male spokesman and Gender Studies professor Dr. Hugo Schwyzer, Ph.D., who teaches Gay and Lesbian history and Western Civ. at Pasadena California City College, echoing Ward Churchill, says “the men’s rights movement is a reactionary expression of deep-seated societal misogyny and homophobia.  Their ilk dismisses the legitimate men’s movement as a “bunch of angry men” reacting to women’s lib.  Of course men activists are angry ―― justifiably so, just as Blacks were angry about their treatment at the hands of slaveholders.  This “castratti” would liberate us all right―from our manhood!  Men do not need to be liberated from being men; they need liberation to be men.  Still, it might be better, as Lyndon B. Johnson said, “Better to have them inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.”

A purported history of the men’s/fathers’ movement was published by professor Gambill, a person with a decidedly leftist, pro-feminist, pro-gay orientation.  Overemphasizing at length the importance of such groups, his book―“The Uneasy Male: The American Men’s Movement, 1970-2000”― published in 2005, claims to be an overview of the movement during that period.  The writer’s only knowledge of it at the times he writes about is what he gleaned from studying Michigan State University archives which, until recently receiving the actual movement’s archives, consisted largely of writings from the non-traditional men’s movement.

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Past

George Santayana said "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"  (plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose).  Anyone serious about the men’s/fathers’ movement and means of assisting it should become familiar with its past.  Hence, this section.

Organized attempts at improving the status of men have developed over the years, differing according to various perceptions of the problems.  In America, this began in the 1800s with small groups scattered about.  The National Sociological League was perhaps the earliest large organization.  In 1931 its Executive Director, Dr. Alexander Dallek, claimed 25,000 members, from every state in the union.  They attacked shotgun marriages and unreasonable child support.  In 1932 an organization called The Family Protection League lobbied state legislatures.  No details of its demise are recorded.

With the exception of founders of USDR, no others in the Fathers movement could rival Charlie Metz intellectually until Professor Amneus came on the scene in the late 1970s.  Charlie was the practical expert, Amneus the theoretician.  Today’s leaders have forgotten, actually few ever knew, whose shoulders they’re standing upon.

Download Archives of Men's-Fathers' Movement  by R. F. Doyle.  Please note that this file is a 54Meg Acrobat Portfolio and requires Acrobat Reader 9 or X for viewing and may require significant time to download. 

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Future

The men’s movement has several different wings – worldwide – with plenty of talent and resources to achieve success, if they can be properly marshaled and coordinated.  Of course, fathers ― being a subset of men ― are legitimate members of the movement.  In the interest of broadening the base of the movement and making it more acceptable to the public at large, it may be necessary to include elements primarily concerned with issues of health and personal growth – or introspection, elements not primarily concerned with external discrimination against men and fathers.  Along that line, it might be advisable that the derisive term SNAGS (sensitive, new age guys) be avoided.  If those elements on the fringes – the introspective types – would focus upon the more important issues confronting men and fathers, great strides could be taken.  Such things, of course, are matters for consideration by the mainstream.

As discussed in the Present Movement section, many reform proposals have been posited over and over for the last 40 years.  Individuals have been butting heads against this massive wall of misandry for decades, and getting bashed heads.  A better the way to knock the wall down would be for all to back off, form up, and hit the wall together.  It will come down no other way.  The movement will remain in the shadow of feminists unless and until it gets its act together.

The “forming up” mentioned above would require overcoming the internal problems also discussed in the Present Movement section.  Major groups must be persuaded to drop militant independence and commence a policy of intra-movement cooperation.  If large organizations seriously act in concert, and movement writers take up the cause, smaller groups should be swept along like lifeboats in the wake of the Queen Mary.  Influence of the usual nitpickers and ankle-biters would be minimized, and defections from existing organizations and formation of new ones would be discouraged.

In theory, the best and most efficient construct to “form up” would a unified organization with democratically-elected leaders chosen from the most capable.  Men’s Equality Now (MEN) International, the last credible attempt to so unify the movement, came to naught.  So practically, in view of situational reality, the most that can probably be hoped for at present is a greater degree of cooperation among major ― relatively speaking ― existing groups: ACFC, NCFC, perhaps even CRC and the Men’s Health Network (there may also be others of significance).  Such a combination of forces and resources would be overwhelming, constituting a force equivalent to or greater than that of feminism.  The resultant “Manpower” would create the political clout necessary to achieve goals the movement so desperately needs.  Above all, anti-male elements in society can be defeated by only one thing: political clout on a national – indeed international – level.

Of course, a juggernaut like this is more easily conceived than constructed.  The cooperative approach requires certain mutual agreements.  A common philosophy must be broad enough to include all reasonable approaches and narrow enough to exclude approaches that are actually harmful to that philosophy.  Consequently, reformers must define who legitimate members are (and aren’t) and cooperate with allies within existing structures. 

With that in mind, the Men’s Defense Association has long proposed the following End: “To preserve the traditional nuclear family through restoration of equal dignity and equal (not identical) rights under the law for all male persons across a broad spectrum of life, including divorce, employment, health, crime punishment and image.”

This suggested common philosophy acknowledges that the nuclear family (not the sainted “single mother family”) is the cornerstone of civilization, reflecting the wisdom of writer Mark Steyn: “When the family dies, the nation follows.”  That or something essentially similar to it may be the only philosophy that all the disparate legitimate elements of this poor “movement” can agree on.  Until basic matters are agreed upon, achieving gender equality is impossible.

Logically, it is imperative to determine philosophic Ends before addressing Means of achieving those Ends.  As analogy, builders cannot build a long-lasting house without a foundation.  The foundation of this movement must be built before the upper storey rooms.  Without such an understanding of Ends, the movement cannot know what it is – and what it isn’t.  Endless arguments over trivialities must be avoided.

In order to know what’s going on beyond their little circles, to know where to direct attentions and activities, movement members worldwide must be fully educated on issues.  Printed forums such as The Liberator and Transitions are likewise important, reinstated if necessary.  The still-emerging internet is a potentially powerful resource, a high tech forum for communication and ecumenism.  Websites, such as previous iterations of the Men’s News Daily, could serve as a sounding board for advocacy of an ad hoc committee of recognized international leaders with unity or strong cooperation in mind.  However, there is danger such forums could become nothing more than fancy Towers of Babel, befogged with tangential issues and blather, as seems to be happening.  Bloggers tend to endlessly banter about this and that, seldom getting to basics.  The sight of the forest is lost while examining individual trees.

Pursuing single issues are unproductive approaches.  While restoring fathers and fatherhood to their proper position is elemental, perhaps even primary, father-bashing is but one aspect of a larger anti-male phenomenon, and misandry (hatred of men) itself should be of greater concern.  Fathers are but a subset of men, and alleviating fathers’ problems alone still leaves us with the underlying misandry, which will bite us again in another area.  It is like cutting off one head of a many-headed hydra]  In order to correct injustice or inequality directed at fathers or at men in general, the entire hydra must be attacked.

 Reform requires developing mutual respect, confronting inherent egotistical organization problems and restoring continuity.  It is imperative that the movement honor its founding fathers and theoreticians, most of whom are deceased, men such as Reuben Kidd (who died 2/26/07 at age 94), George Partis, Jay Burchette and Charlie Metz.

Reform must be more than a notion; a modern crusade against the anti-male jihad must be mounted.  The huge feminist swamp must be drained.  Hear Frederick Douglass: “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters.  The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both.  But it must be a struggle.  Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

Samuel Adams said “It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”  Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Reformers need more of what Tom Wolfe called “The Brotherhood of the Right Stuff,” men with cajones.

For anyone desirous of further studying the problems and solutions, the book “Save the Males” is a compilation of many years studying and dealing with these issues.  Its next iteration (the 9th, due out in the summer of 2011) will expand on these themes.

Imagine men pulling together!


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Last modified: October 12, 2013