We can't escape the past, but we can learn from it. We owe it to ourselves to try.
This was such a great read. It's heartening to hear your take and I'm really looking forward to what comes next.
Like many women, I’ve had my fair share of negative experiences with “The Patriarchy” ... sexism, assault, gas lighting, power struggles, even an absentee father, who doubled down on the absenteeism by checking out permanently. And while (again, like many women) I’ll curse the old rich white men at the top for my lot in life because I AM the victim AND it’s easy to play the victim (both are true!), I also enjoyed a reckoning of my own that flipped the script: the George Floyd era when it turned out that liberal white women were worse than racists. I’m hyperbolizing here for brevity, but my point is that I discovered that just because I’m victimized [here], doesn’t mean I’m not a perpetrator [there]. But I also learned something else: where there’s blame, there’s shame. And shame is a temporary but highly dangerous weapon. “I need to do better, do the work!” was my initial reaction (which: yes, great!) But I quickly realized how counterproductive it was to apologize for and fix an entire demographic (and atone for generations of trauma no less). And it can also be a mind-fk to believe it’s time to step down/step back and let others do all the things instead of you (in the context of believing life is zero sum game). I once stumbled on a thread of guys who started out as card carrying liberals and proud allies who protested at antiracism rallies, but because their group found fault after fault with them (being white and male), these men eventually broke and found their tribe at a David Duke rally. Jeezus. And yet I believe it looking at the country today. No one is inoculated against the human virus of fragility when shame is the weapon of choice.
I digress but mention all this because I SEE you. I see it everywhere. In the opioid crisis, climbing suicide rates, unemployment, etc. And what YOU are championing here sounds like a step in the right direction... but with one caveat... It can be a slippery slope as any rally that points to our tender wounds can quickly raise that same finger towards the collective enemy who caused those wounds, effectively waging a new counter war (as you mentioned, movements can and often do quickly devolve). But at this point and the way we’re headed, nothing is going to improve unless each of us, in our own specific tribes, take a beat, get honest about those underlying emotions (mostly shame), love ourselves for our talents (as much as and even despite our warts) and support one another in the struggle. I look forward to following your journey and your stories (and I’m grateful to not be shut out even if I don’t match your chromosomes!)
The mythopoetic men’s group movement is still very much alive. There are probably more orgs than ever and the largest one has been around since the 70’s. The biggest challenge today is our polarized world. It’s near impossible to make something to appeal to a groundswell of men.
It was likely never going to defeat dominant culture, it was a counter cultural movement. It’s initial moment of prominence in culture was that pop that journalists give new ideas “Can you believe what men are doing in the woods?”
It’s hard to measure it’s impact on culture, but we’ve certainly seen a shift in the energetic qualities that celebrity men and hero figures are allowed to have. Not everything, but not nothing.
“Stories – vulnerable honest stories of what it means to live – have to play a part. You come here for these stories, because they inspire us to demand more. Because they help us build models of how we’ll find deeper meaning. Because they let us see how others are becoming whole: integrating work, family, spirituality, and responsibility with the courage to step into the unknown.”