Why a Men's Movement?

I once spoke at a function where I told how the feminist theologians had been immensely helpful to me. I had also talked of how useful feminist imagery of God had been. But I said that feminist theology was not the way for me to go in the future. This surprised some of the women in the group, who had been delighted by my previous comments.

Feminist theology (and feminism in general) looks at the world through the eyes of women's experience. As such, it can never address the specifically male aspects of my experience.

There is not a conflict between feminism and a men's movement. It's not as though patriarchy was something to which all men aspired, or by which they greatly benefited. The System, or the powers that be, or whatever we call it, uses men, too.

Patriarchy is one of the ways of domination and control of society to the ultimate benefit of a few. Many men are enslaved by it, as much as women. Society is not, and was not, defined according to the experience of men. It was defined according to the experience of the ruling males. Increasingly that leads not only to the domination of women, but also men. Western men are 'suits,' or drones or plebs or cannon fodder. They die younger. They are crippled emotionally. They are unhealthily (and unhelpfully for both genders) dependent on women. The system uses men as much as women, in some areas more.

I note several areas where the men's movement is simply reactionary. It is can simply be another name for misogyny, the fear and hatred of women. It can address the anger at the loss of privilege; I know divorced men who still harass their ex-wives. I think there may sometimes be bias in family court decisions,  but often it is we men who are not able to deal with loss, or not getting things our own way. There are reactionary theologies which seek a divine blessing of male supremacy.

While any of these areas may have insights, I think they miss the point. They are about the male being on top. There are other men, though, who see the benefit of feminism, for both men and women. These men see that males, too, need to see things more healthily. We too, need to escape the destructive -isms of our culture which detract from healthy masculinity and femininity. We need to regain some of the roots of masculine experience which will benefit women and men.


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