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The Portrayal Of Men At UNH
posted by Scott on Tuesday October 10, @11:52AM
from the masculinity dept.
Masculinity Hopefully this won't seem egocentric, but I'm posting a letter I wrote to the Univ. of New Hampshire school newspaper. Recently the newspaper ran a section on "men's health and masculinity," (not in the web edition, unfortunately) which took a fairly negative look at masculinity as the driving force behind oppression and suffering in the world. The authors, which included male counselors from UNH, all concluded that a "new masculinity" be created. I wrote this letter in response to the articles, challenging readers to think about the positive attributes of masculinity instead of focusing on the negative.

Here's my letter in case the link doesn't work. I'm actually quite concerned about this issue because it makes it look as if men are getting attention from the university community, but in reality all that's happening is that they're being shamed for being male. This isn't right, and I was inspiried to speak out and address this.

Portraying Men in a Positive Light

Scott Garman

I read with great interest last Tuesday's section on men's health and masculinity. The authors of these articles should be applauded for the time they spent addressing a very neglected issue in today's politicized gender climate: the needs of men and the issues that we face.

However, without challenging any of the articles that were written, I'd like to address a more subtle issue that I noticed from the viewpoints presented, and from much of the dialogue going on about gender these days. It seems that in an attempt to open a wider range of roles and opportunities for men, we often portray masculinity as something inherently flawed, or out of balance. It is almost as if we are saying that men need to be "less masculine," which isn't something that most men are going to respond or relate to.

In my experiences with men as a "men's rights activist," I find that more than anything, men need to be offered respect and dignity for being male, instead of continually being blamed for social problems such as violence and oppression, or portraying them as mass killers, abusers, and rapists. Part of SHARPP's mission statement for the Men's Discussion Group on Stopping Rape reads, "We as men realize that certain ways of being male perpetuate a rape-prone society." These methods of "reaching out" to men, while well-intentioned, often don't work because they alienate men from thinking of themselves as whole human beings, and are subconsciously degrading.

In our culture, particularly in this academic environment, men and their roles are regularly stereotyped and deconstructed into oppressive patriarchs and selfish tyrants. To successfully reach out to men, we need to do so in a positive way that affirms and empowers men for being who they are, themselves.

Too often, we focus on the negative side of masculinity, as unfortunately the media is eager to sensationalize school shootings and brutal rapes, but I hope most people still realize that the vast majority of men are neither killers nor rapists, nor do most individual men hold power and influence over large numbers of people.

I think that if we want to encourage new opportunities for men to live and express themselves, then we need to acknowledge the positive attributes of masculinity. We need to recognize the distinctly masculine energy and focus that creates good in the world, such as Michaelangelo's divine art, the dedication to rationality and truth seeking that Socrates and Plato embodied, the musical genius of Ludwig van Beethoven and John Coltrane. And not only should we respect the greatness of high-achieving men, but the everyday selfless dedication of fathers, of male teachers and mentors, and for the countless men that gave and risked their lives for others in war.

When we have a society that honors men and the masculine, and allows men to make choices that enable them to lead fulfilling lives, men will have, as Peter Welch put it, "a healthy masculinity that will allow us to be unabashedly human." To that I would add, "and unabashedly male."

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The Portayal of Men at UNH (Score:1)
by fritzc77 on Wednesday October 11, @01:51AM EST (#1)
(User #28 Info)
I would like to publicly applaud Scott for taking the time to compose this letter, an excellent one at that. He thanks the people at the UNH school newspaper for taking an interest in men's issues, but still takes them to task for allowing the male gender to painted as inherently "wrong." Personally, I find their viewpoint repugnant; if there is indeed a war between the sexes, then I'm afraid I see these people as little more than colloborators!
Scott, on the other hand, deserves our support for taking point on the issues that are truly important to real men in this society. I just hope he GETS that support.
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