NOTE: It appears that as of 1/16/2012 or a few days earlier, the offense video mentioned in this article was taken down, which is a good thing.
Sixteen years or so ago I attended a workshop at the Santa Barbara home of gender research pioneers and therapists Aaron Kipnis and Elizabeth Herron. Their million dollar playhouse sat high on a hill with a panoramic view of the Pacific. There were over a dozen women and if I remember correctly three guys, including me. We, the group, sat cross legged in a rectangle with our hosts sitting at one end in front of a fireplace. At some point the men and women separated. The men, including Aaron, re grouped in a storage shed of some sort where we smoked a peace pipe and put feathers in our hair. Then we went back to the group and were asked to apologize to all the women for all the bad things men had done to them since Eve stole that stupid apple. I couldn’t do it. I left the group, I was the outsider, a roughly honed Alaskan who years later realized he was trying not to hard to fit into the alien coyote world of feminized gender shamanism. I’m sure our illustrious hosts, with some insight, thought me cumbersome, knotted up, in denial, confused, neanderthal, absent any relationship with or understanding of my inner child. I haven’t worn feathers since. So went one of my earliest men’s movement experiences. It has been a roller coaster ride search for sanity ever since.
A few months ago a local representative, Ted (not his real name), of MDI Success for Men asked if he and another of their followers could come to our Men’s Center for a visit.
Sure, what the heck.
MDI is a national organization boasting a 20 year history and 1,000 members. They “enable men to be what they want to be whoever that may be”. Kind ‘a like Kipnis and Herron’s hold over from the 60’s tie dye philosophies minus the “enabling men” part, I figured goose down.
MDI sounded like one of those chivalrous, pro feminist, apologist organizations. One of those organizations that teach men how to be a Man based on feminist models of manhood. I was assured that was not the case. They invited me to one of their meetings, a feel good powwow situated around a fire-pit on the beach. We said our goodbyes and I figured I’d probably never hear from either of them again considering my feather phobia.
Two days ago I got the call, another invite to a meeting from Ted, maybe as a possible recruit, maybe as a guest speaker. Inside this time, no bonfire, light dinner, 40 to 50 MDIers. I was told MDI had recently produced a video about ending domestic violence. The video would be shown at the meeting to which I was invited. I said I would like to see it before the meeting. Later I got an email in which Ted said…
Thank you for your time openness today to potentially offer your capacity to enrich our organization’s grasp of how we might serve the cause of both helping men and preventing domestic violence.
I just re-watched part of the domestic violence video I mentioned … and realize it may not reflect the fully ‘balanced view’ of reality and truth I have come to respect in you and your men’s advocacy work.
Dan’s a nice guy, a real schmoozer too, as you probably surmised. He’d make a great cult recruiter.
I watched the video, part of it anyway, then I had to take a break since I was becoming noticeably ill. Before suffering through the entire thing and with minor grammatical revision I wrote back,
It was good hearing from you today. Thank you for the link to your video and invitation to your meeting. Re the video; well, as soon as I overcome my dismay I’ll try watching the second half. So far I’ve heard your President make one – and only one – reference to abused men almost as an afterthought. Bottom line is that all people regardless of gender have to be held accountable for their behaviors. The video is another in the line of many that seems to blame the violent behavior of women on men, which is as a ridiculous of a position as arguing that there is an abused woman syndrome but not abused man syndrome. Furthermore, someone should have fact checked the statistics rather than simply taken the word of domestic violence industry women operatives who have vested interests in blaming men for everything bad that has ever happened to anyone. If you were to study feminist philosophy or read a bit about female on female violence you might find that blaming men was and is central to the Supremist feminist movement, regardless of factual evidence to the contrary. Just so you know mothers, not fathers, commit the lionesses’ share of child abuse including horrific cases of neglect. Contemporary research, including a recent study released by Harvard, more than suggests that roughly 70% of intimate partner violence is perpetrated by women. If you keep your ears open for media coverage about teen violence you may notice gender inclusive, or at least neutral, language. This could be construed as progress. Then again it could be a clever way to disguise the fact that the majority of teen dating violence is not committed by young men. Blaming men, as does the video, helps fuel the DV industry but does not help solve related issues. I fear I cannot participate in your organization as a member; nor, can I see your organization as a “men’s organization”, at least not from the perspective of caring about men for their own sake without becoming an apologist for them being born with a penis. It appears that MDI has fallen prey to political correctness sacrificing manhood for the protection of women and children at the expense of our fathers and sons. We all bleed. Oh, you might want someone in your organization research how many men are sexually assaulted too. They also have nightmares or has MDI forgotten the recent Catholic Church scandals. It seems Penn State is making news recently as well.
That said, I would be happy to come to your meeting as a guest speaker and answer any questions your group may have, but I will never participate as a member in any organization that throws men under the bus, assigns them anything other than equitable status with women, or portrays women as a class of patriarchal victims, which they are not.
I figured we were done now. Another bridge burned, fine with me. I soon got another email from Ted,
Very well said and really looking forward to having you as a guest next Tuesday.
[O]ur magically redeeming nature as men often shines thru during the most arbitrary of happenstance. Since truly accepting all men and creating a safe place to them is so intrinsic for our progress and evolution I am very glad I reached out to you as we explore the troubled waters of violence in the modern world and look forward to the richness you can offer us.
I do like your truth and welcome it since it is a nice contrast to an often overly feminized view of the subject. The bottom line is if our organization is allowing ourselves to inspect ourselves to address Women’s issues with vulnerability, we must do the same from a man’s perspective as well and your voice deserves equal audience.
I will have to defer to my [national] leadership… as to the extent of apologetics appropriate for our venue as we are neither a legal nor political organization by nature.
Meantime, I would like to give you a jingle on Friday, after I have assimilated all you have shared.
I think we see who could be in line for our next Division Coordinator. Ha!
Right on Harry.
If MDI is anything, it’s a safe place for men to simply tell the truth. More so then an agency – political and otherwise – that can attack the large monster issues of society, with all associated tentacles.
So your missive… fits right in with our purpose for being.
Thanks for bringing your truth.
The video is lacking in many ways. And yet, we carry on as an organization – with pure intentions, a high integrity, and an openness and humility to make corrections and alter directions as we learn and grow.
It would be great to see the likes of you at our circle.
I feel like I’ve been sucker punched with a bag of feathers mixed with ball bearings manufactured by a perpetually happy in pink woman stealth technologies arms producer based in Berkeley. They’ll probably pass me a peace pipe with the same magically redeeming stuff they’ve been smoking so we can all share “the” vision. The idea of many truths too comes from the feminine… Area 51 here I come…
Nope. Got another email, this time from someone higher up their ladder. Here’s a condensed version below;
I would like to formally welcome you to our Division Meeting next Tuesday.
I hear you loud and clear… we need to open our vision up and take a much broader stance on ENDING ABUSE in all of its forms. Our MDI International President Mr. Charles Gjers has just proposed this new vision for our Organization in the last month. I must commend him for his efforts in bringing such an inspiring new vision to us and get our Team started in the right direction. We are truly at our first steps with this endeavor and will surely need some mentor-ship!
I do believe that our meeting YOU was meant to be! Our organization has been looking for others to share our vision and knowledge with for several years now. Our combined wisdom and our care for our communities will find its place in our society in a much greater way when we show up in bigger Teams with a Huge Context towards Ending Abuse…
Unfortunately the currently scheduled meeting will not have enough time for you to do a presentation, I do want to discuss a time at one of our upcoming meetings in 2012 for us to get better educated in regards to your organization. I’m excited about what we can accomplish together and look forward to our future Wins.
I will also forward this email to Mr.Gjers for his review. Hopefully it will open a dialogue between both of you.
It’s interesting that the last email came from someone with well established contacts and financial interests in the Women Industry, particularly domestic violence subsidiaries. Consequently, as an industry stakeholder there may be a vested financial interest in staying on good terms with the industry operatives and leaders who sign the checks. The video above is a huge wet kiss on the Women Industry’s ever expanding posterior. Surely me putting my foot on the lipstick stain is not in the self preservation script.
So… we’ll see what happens, that is whether there’s a forthcoming invitation to make a presentation about NCFM.
That said, independent of my associations with those mentioned above, I know of two men who were struggling with family related issues who joined MDI and are thankful. I’ve even referred one man to MDI thinking he might find the support he needed in a highly structured organization.
I may have strong disagreement with MDI’s chivalrous philosophy re women, but I certainly have no truck with their basic concept of mentoring, supporting men, and community involvement. Who knows, maybe Mr. Gjers will want to open up a dialog. Stranger things happen. We have in common wanting the world to be a better place for all of us. That’s a good thing and not an alien concept.