Here's an eye-opener for ...well, pretty much all of us. It's a Sociology Thesis on the Mens Movement, and it's seprarate ideologies, and it's pretty accurate in a lot of ways. It's also a tad depressing, since it's so accurate, and it was written in 1989.
It's a long read, Hell, even the quotes I included here (and Adobe Reader does a shit job of maintaining formatting, I can tell you) make for a long-ass read. And it's biased as Hell.
But it's fascinating stuff that everyone involved in this movement should read at least a little of...
From: IDEOLOGIES OF THE MEN'S MOVEMENT a Thesis by LARRY S. WILLIAMS
In this paper I shall argue that a shift in state ideology has contributed to greater visibility for one ideological segment of the men's movement whom I call the "masculinists." The masculinists join with restrictive liberals to argue that feminism has gone too far and that radical feminists, in particular, are demanding too much. I contrast the masculinist men with pro-feminist and traditionalist men in their respective ideologies, their relation to state ideology and patriarchy, and their ability to attain public visibility.
Fistly,I use "masculinism" to refer only to the faction that Clatterbaugh calls "men's rights
masculinism." I do so because this faction claims to represent a parallel to feminism.
Whereas feminists seek women's rights and equality for women, masculinists seek men's
rights and equality for men. In contrast, the conservatives (or traditionalists) don't seek
gender equality at all and the anti-sexists (or pro-feminists) begin with their support for
Secondly, I combine some of the categories. Because the only national profeminist
organization (The National Organization for Changing Men) includes socialists and
proponents of New Age spirituality, I combine these categories with the liberal and radical
anti-sexist men. I agree with Clanerbaugh that these positions are theoretically distinct and
that New Age men differ considerably in their ideological focus. However, neither the
socialists nor the New Age advocates have found a home in other national organizations
and tend to associate themselves primarily with pro-feminist men
Ehrenreich (1983) develops the ideological roos of men's liberation and men's
rights, which are primarily associated with the liberal masculinist men's movement. Her
study attempts to derive the source of a "male revolt" against the bneadwinner ethic and the
family wage. This so-called revolt is dubbed the "flight from commitment." She does
reveal some of the contradictions in liberal thought that provide women with both
inspiration and constraints. However, her study fails to distinguish beween the ideological
positions of the various organizations in the men's movement and thus provides little point
of reference in assessing the relative visibility of the liberal masculinists as opposed to pro.
feminist men or traditionalist men.
As a consequence, hrenreich opposes economic inequality but also bemoans the abandonment of the breadwinner ethic, which encouraged married women to stay out of the paid labor force. The increasingly service economy, while it may have displaced part of the housewife's traditional role by
providing more services, has also employed more married women. And many men (according to Blumstein and Schwartz) would provide for their wives if they could.
Astrachan notes that most of the trends that Ehrenreich establishes "preceded ... and
helped shape male responses to the women's movement( Astrachan1 983: 199). The
organized men's movement, however, did not emerge until after the resurgence of
feminism and after the founding of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966
(the exception is the conservative divorce reformers whom Ehrenreich doesn't mention).
In fact the masculinists refer to early statements from Friedan and NOW when they
condemn the breadwinner ethic as no longer beneficial to men. Rather than focusing on an
unconscious and unorganized "male revolt" against the commitment to protect women, we'
should be concerned with men's responsibility for their privileged positon in society. This
includes a social and political responsibility for the oppression of women. As Astrachan
points out, men "have seldom initiated demands for independence or equality between the
sexes." lnstead, they "were usually tying to have it both ways, privilege but no
burdens..." (Astrachan 1983: 199). What Ehrenreich does accomplish, however, is to
raise the issue of the ideology of men's liberation, which (as we shall see) is how the
masculinist men's movement fits into the state's attempt to solve the crisis of liberalism and
remystify patriarchal relations.
The first national Men & Masculinity (M&M) Conference was organized in 1974
"by the Women's Studies P rogram at the University of Tennesseein Knoxville" (Interrante
1982: 5). Subsequent conferences were held at PennS tate,P ennsylvaniaD; es Moines,
IA; St. [.ouis, MO; Los Angeles, CA; and Milwaukee, WI. A national organization was
launched in Boston, MA, at the seventh M&M Conference (brother, winter 1983). This
organization, which was to become the National Organization for Changing Men (NOCM),
is the only national organization of pro-feminist men in the U.S.
A year later, because Sidney Siller had already incorporated his taditionalist men's
group as the National Organization for Men in New York state, the pro'feminist group
opted to change its name. Although only one-third of the membership (182 people) voted
on the name change, there were 104 votes for the National Organization for Changing Men
and 58 votes for the National Organization of Men Against Sexism. Joseph Pleck, writing
in brother, noted that there was again controversy over the chosen identity. Pleck argued, however, that the new name (NOCM) would seem "more accessible to'mainstream'men"
than would have the other option (brother, surnmer 1984). The liberal reformers, then,
still had greater organizational strength at this juncture. Accordingly there was a concern
not to turn away men who were ready for some personal change but weren't ready or
interested in political action against sexism and male privilege. Stoltenberg (1977) has
criticized this approach, writing *We need to be clear that we're not talking about a market
strategy for the men's movement; we're not talking about how to package the men's
movement so that we can run it up the flagpole and all the men in America will salute"
The gay affirmative aspect of the changing men's movement is important for several
reasons. Two of these are that 1) because gay men do not abide by the heterosexual norm
of masculinity they are alienated from the dominant culture, and2) men are reluctant to be
physically and emotionally intimate with one another for fear of being labelled a sissy or a
"homo." These are deemed heterosexism and homophobia respectively. Both of these
concerns are related to attempts to transform men's identification with traditional masculine
attitudes and behaviors. The liberal concerns of men's liberation and a corresponding gay liberation, though, are limited in their challenge to patriarchal relations. John Stoltenberg
(1977) wrote that "the dilemma of gay men... is how to get cultural confirmation of their
masculinity, how to come out and be one of the guys, how to have full access to all the
powers, prestige, prerogatives, and privileges that other men have over and against
While the concern with homophobia, then, is important in changing how men can
and do relate to one another, it does not usually address directly men's relationship to
women in our society. One benefit for women that's usually expressed in having all-male
groups, for instance, is that men will learn to not rely upon women for emotional suppoft.
By iself, though, this is paradoxical as it may reduce both women's emotional burden and
intellectual influence on the goup.
The pro-feminist Activist Men's Caucus has just recently begun to focus on the
problem of child custody and has formed a task group to address the issue. The concern
with custody is, in part, a response to efforts by the masculinist men's movement( in
conjunction with the Joint Custody Association) to enact legislation establishing mandatory
John Stoltenberg( 1987) argues that "voluntary joint custody is not the problem,"
but that mandatory joint cusrody would be (Acrivist Men's Journal vl #3 Decfan lggT_
88). Stoltenberg cites studies indicating that fathers still do nor assume as many child care
responsibilities as do mothers, and he suggests that custody is more vigorously contested
when boy children are involved. "Mandated joint custody," writes Stoltenberg, ,,intersects
issues of sexual justice, sexual violence, and economic class." Mandated joint custody, he
further asserts'" has also been used to guarantee that an abusivee x-husband/father
continues to have court-protected access to the woman and/or children he has abused"
(Activist Men's Journal vl #3 Dec[an 1987-88).
The traditionalist men's movement focuses primarily on the loss of patriarchal
privilege associated with the breakdown of the nuclear family. Meanwhile, traditionalist
men criticize liberal reformers for their acceptance of the diminishing role of the father and
husband. Unlike the masculinist men, traditionalists don't talk about personal growth
(though they may both talk about men's rights).
Two national organizations that can presently be identified as belonging to a
traditionalist men's movement are the Men's Rights Association (M RA) and The National
Organization for Men,Inc.( NOM). The Men's Righs Association(17854Lyons,Forest
Lake,M N 55025) was formed by Richard Doyle in 1973. Doyle remains the president of
MRA and makes decisions autocratically. MRA claims to have served more than 6 000 "members" over the past decade and relies upon $20 membership fees to support its work.
Membership numbers seem to be loosely defined as providing some financial support and
the primary activity seems to be disseminating information about divorce law and providing
legal referrals. MRA works closely with MEN (Men's Equality Now) International, which
is described as an international coalition. MEN International was also formed by Doyle in
Doyle, for instance, is described by Williamson as being "a disciple of Charles
Metz" (Williamson 1985: 318). Mez was a member of the United States Divorce Reform,
who in 1968 wrote a book entitled Divorce and Custody for Men: A Guide and primer
Designcd Exclusively to Help Men Win Just Settlements. According to Williamson,
"Metz believed that men were to blame for female domination of men. As he saw it, men,
who were in positions of power, were using that power to oppress men via a perverse
chivalry which tried to win the favors and approval of women" (Williamson 1985: 317).
Doyle does, in fact, continue this line of thought.
The traditionalists are the only faction of the men's movement that attacks the
welfare state. According to traditionalist men, the patriarchal family has been undermined
because l) the courts and the rest of government have been too chivalrous and 2) the
government has replaced the husband and father as the protector and guardian for women
and children. As Doyle expresses the process, women are filing for divorce and the courts
view women as being in need of protection. The courts then give wives large portions of
their husbands' property and custody of the children while requiring the husband to pay
alimony and child support. This rewards women for seeking divorce.
Doyle discounts the significance of violence perpetrated by men against women.
He claims that there is "evidence there is more battering of husbands than of wives (the
foregoing refers to physical battering; men usually can't hold a candle to women in
psychological battering)"Doyle 1987: 13). The image seems to be one of a domineering
wife and a henpecked husband. How this is resolved with the notion of paternal authority
is not clear. In any case, Doyle argues that "men must cease accepting blame for the
alleged subordination of women" (Doyle 1987: 15
The traditionalist men's movement has lacked a broad-based grass-roots and has
tended to rely upon founding fathers. More importantly, the traditionalist men have failed
to come to terms with the role of married women in the paid labor force. Their frame of
reference is the patriarchal nuclear family while more U.S. families now have dual income
earners or have only a single parent. Furthermore single parent households are rarely
headed by a man (see Pangborn 1985).
The masculinists,like the traditionalists are concerned with mens rights and
criticize the pro-feminists for blaming men for social oppression. Like the restrictive
liberals, masculinist men warn against acting out of guilt. Instead, men must create their
own agenda for action.
Unlike the traditionalists, though, masculinist men stress that men have much to
gain by women's legal equality. Masculinists draw upon the liberal human potential
rnovement and counter culture in abdicating the role of protecting and providing for women
and instead assuming a new involvement in fathering. These concerns are similar to the
cultural issues addressed by pro-feminist men.
While the masculinists combine the conservative men's rights issues and the liberal
men's liberation, the emphasis is always upon an agenda for men with little concern about'
how it affects women. The feminists presumably will take care of themselves, and the
masculinists don't want the interests of men to be subsumed by feminism. One prominent
interest of masculinist men is the right to be active fathers.
Both the pro-feminist and traditionalist groups criticize the masculinist focus on
joint custody. Pro-feminist radicals advocate a primary caretaker rule, and traditionalists
support paternal custody arrangements. When the National Congress for Men was formed
in 1980, the masculinist groups forged an alliance with fathers'rights organizations. The
National Congress for Men reportedly published a directory in 1985 that lists "more than
one thousand... men's organizations" (Williamson 1985: 320).
Father's rights and specifically child custdy have become a central focus of the
masculinist men's movenrent. Haddad explained that "the dominant issue of the women's
movement has been employment, that sphere has always been man's domain. The
corresponding domain for women has been child-rearing, and that is where men must and
will muscle in on the action" (Haddad 1984: 50). They argue that, in the interests of
fairness and equality, joint custdy legislation should be adopted nationwide. This has
contributed to a conflict with many feminists. The Wall Street Journal in 1986 wrote of
"an increasingly bitter fight with women -- in the nation's courts and in the state legislarures
-- over the issue of joint custody of children in divorce cases" (Wall Street Journal, Aug.
When toward the late 1970's NOW opposed joint custody legislation, argued
Williamson, "the women's movement looked more and more like just another special
interest group" (322). According to Williamson, Watren Farrell had viewed the early
NOW "as a voice for human rights" and "expected from them more encouragement for
Women are free to pursue careers so masculinist men are now pursuing their own
liberation. As was discussed earlier, the masculine mystique consists of being limited to
the roles of provider and protector. Now men are turning to a concern with their own
individual gowth. While they attack the patriarchal family for demanding that husband s and fathers act as insensitive pocketbooks, masculinist men tend to accept social patriarchy.
This follows from their view of power relations. Women, acting in their own interest, are
pressing for greater equality in the paid labor force. Masculinist men, though, don't want
their agenda to be set by the needs of women. Rather, these men are concerned to promote
their interests as emotionally expressive individuals and active parents.
Unlike pro-feminist men, who focus on male violence against women, masculinist
men stress the male victim. Baumli (1985) includes a section on "violence and the male
victim," which is divided into material on battered and murdered husbands and mass media
portrayals of men as legitimate victims. Masculinist men frame the issue of "domestic"
violence in pluralist terms. Feminist women, they assert, have fostered a concern with
violence against women. This, furthermore, detracts from services for men who are victims
of violence in the home. The traditionalists express a similar concern, although one would
suspect that traditionalist men would attribute the phenomenon to the man's loss of
authority. For masculinist men, as for the researchers they cite, the concern is to
demonstrate that violence in the family is less an expression of man's patriarchal privilege
than of a culture that encourages violent solutions to conflict. In pluralist politics, further,'
masculinist men represent the interests of men.
Men's Rights activists agree with feminists that sexist language is a problem, but
they are specifically concerned about disparaging remarks about men. Tom Williamson of
the Coalition of Free Men, for instance, dislikes the terms wimp and macho: "I don't like
the way wimp makes a judgment. And macho is just another way of saying'male
chauvinist pig."' Warren Farrell rebuts arguments about the male pronoun associated with God by noting that the Devil is also referred to as male, which is unfair to men (New York
Times, January 13, 1986, B52). A special issue of The Universiry of Dayton Review on
men's studies is advertised as including topics such as "anti-male bias in English" and
"institutionalized sexism against men" and is available from the chair of CFM's committee
on men's studies (Network, v.1, n.2). In fact, "activists in men's rights organizations are
entering the fray with talk show appearances and angy letters over language and innuendo
in advertisements, movies, news broadcasts,women's magazines and television
programming" (New YorkTimes, January 13, 1986, B52).
Survey data indicates that general support for gender equality has increased since
1970. Fergusona nd Rogers( 1986) note, for instance, that feminism is among" the policy
areas in which the public has shown the sharpest increase in liberalism since World War II.
The rate of increases lowered during the post l973 period, but at no time did the public
actually become more conservative on these issues" (Ferguson & Rogers 1986: 16).
Writes William J. Gmde, "Through men's eyes, at least the principle of equality seems
more acceptable than in the past. The resistance is not set against that abstract idea"
(Goode 1980: 189). And for that reason the masculinists can be more useful to policy
planners than other wings of the men's movement. They do not oppose equality and, in
fact, they complain about sexism against men and about women's continuing dependence.
They do, however, often resist the "conscete application" of equality, as Goode calls it.
The rhetoric of men's liberation and of men's righs fits in well with a restrictive liberal
agenda that wants a color-blind, gender-blind approach to equal opportunity. It fits in well
with claims of reverse discrimination.
Because much of the pro-feminist men's movement (like the feminist women's
movement) has been dominated by a liberal ideology, it has been unable to adequately meet
the challenge represented by the restrictive liberals and the masculinist men.