Publisher’s note: This was the opening of one of our recent Friday “Call with the Publisher”. We hold these every week on Friday’s at 3 pm EST / 6 pm PST—-every week for the past 6 years. We discuss topics that are hot on The Good Men Project as well as any cultural happenings that are relevant to the discussion of the changing roles of men in the 21st century.
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These are the times that try men’s souls. The sexual assault allegations are snowballing. Domestic abuse is being normalized. I’m quite sure the recent allegations won’t be the last.
This is leading to a huge group of men who are feeling targeted for being a middle aged white man. And this is going to be a recurrent theme through this call, so hold that thought.
The sexual assault allegations and intimate partner violence allegations (and I’m using those terms in the broadest possible way) are escalating in part because they need to—because sexual assault, and assault and violence in general, is so normalized and so seeped into our culture, and has been minimized or even ignored up til now. It must come to light for us to move forward as a healthy society.
But it is also happening in part because there are people who want the world as we know it come crashing down. Some people want a non-existent government and anarchy. And the way you do that is by splintering and dividing groups of people. But I am not talking about any one group of people, or one side—there are people on all sides of things who want the world as we know it to come crashing down. And that is a scary thing.
In some ways—-we need the world as we know it to come crashing down. Because “the world as we know it” has systems that allow abuse to happen. It allows individuals to get and keep power, and it has systems that prevent whole groups of people from gaining access to fundamental rights and resources that are given to others. So “everything crashing down”? That is the very definition of “dismantling patriarchy.” That is part of what is happening here. Abusive power structures are being dismantled.
And I don’t think—correct me if I’m wrong—I don’t think that anyone would disagree that abusive power structures need to go.
But at the same time, getting rid of those abusive power structures look an awful lot like targeting straight older white men.
If it does all come crashing down, we need to figure out—-quickly—what comes after the fall. The Good Men Project–and that means all of us, all of you, you who show up at these calls, write articles, engage in the conversation in numerous ways, to continue to be thought leaders through these very difficult times.
Let’s talk a little bit more about men who are feeling targeted for being a middle aged white man. Greg Liotta, a long term Good Men Project contributor, had written to me and said:
In case I miss the call today, here’s something for you: I read a lively thread yesterday on a FB group that posted my last piece about “Getting the Apology Right“. Mostly middle aged white males. Like me. There were some comments in the thread about how the Good Men Project is all about male bashing. I read some comments about men who “avoid the GMP” and won’t read it because so many of our posts are anti-white men. Of course, it’s not. It’s anti-white supremacy, but some people don’t understand the difference.
Good Men Project author and Editor Carol Bluestien recently wrote a post titled: Do Football Heroes Always Get the Beautiful Girls?
You gotta be a football hero to get along with the beautiful girls. A touchdown getter, you bet. The fact that you are rich and handsome won’t get you anything in curls; you gotta be a football hero to get along with the beautiful girls,” written in 1933, by Buddy Fields, Al Lewis, Al Sherman.
This song was featured in a 1935 cartoon — Popeye You Gotta Be a Football Hero
So strong is this football hero image that society has refused to acknowledge the damage contact sports inflict on our young men. As early as December, 1907, the Journal of the American Medical Association, p. 2088, stated the deaths and injuries caused by the game of football and predicted they wouldn’t stop.
The point here is that is how ingrained into our culture it is. That men and boys are culturally do do things that are harmful to themselves. Often it seems like for the best reasons in the world—the football hero is the one who gets all the glory, right? The guy who takes a dangerous job is doing so to provide for their family. When a movie scene has a guy get into a fistfight with a guy to defend a girls honor–well, that is what guys do.
See the irony? Good Men Project is said to be about “male-bashing” when guys are LITERALLY GETTING BASHED IN THE HEAD and that is shown as the way to happiness.
Guys getting bashed in the head is marketed to women (through RomComs) and marketed to men (through football), and normalized by society to the point where we barely see it. I’ve talked before about how almost every RomCom I’ve seen lately has the lead guy getting in a fight with another guy over a girl. Almost every one! And lest you think male-bashing is in movies just for the gals—oh no. Ever seen the movie “The Hangover”? The second highest grossing R-rated comedy worldwide—grossing almost 1/2 billion dollars worldwide—consists of scene after scene of guys getting knocked unconscious.
The Good Men Project is talking about these issues because we are trying to *prevent* male-bashing. Very, very literally.
But somehow that makes some men feel they are under attack.
Let’s talk about another cultural norm. Men as the success story.
I saw an interesting fact today: That one in 20 men are millionaires. That is higher than I thought.
One in 20 Americans are millionaires, however the MEDIAN wealth has declined. The median wealth is $55,876.
Let’s compare that to the highest median incomes in countries like Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, New Zealand and Japan — where the median income is closer to $200,000. Almost 4 times the income level of Americans.
So think about that for a moment. The message is the American dream, right? You can do it! Anyone can be a millionaire, heck, one out of 20 people can do it? That’ll make you happy….and your girl too! All you have to do is beat up some other guys along the way!
Is that male-bashing? That is the message that are culture is sending, right? So let’s deal with this together.
If we replace those norms in our culture — what will that look like?
Replace the roles and rules for genders with something else.
Replace the abusive power holders with a more diverse group of leaders.
Replace the oppressive education models with ones that tell the truth about our history.
Is that idea of “replacing” our systems male-bashing? I certainly hope not. Something’s gotta go, and I hope it is the abuse of both men and women.
NOTE: As on every Friday calls, the discussion that ensues involves about a dozen people from the community—everyone gets to talk and participate, and the calls are lively, spirited and provocative. Join us!
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