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One of the buzz words that kept coming up at the pro-feminist men's conference at St. John's last week was accountability. How can men be accountable to women? How can pro-feminist men be accountable to the feminist movement?
There were no easy answers. Michael Kaufman, founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, wisely debunked the idea that there is some all-powerful feminist committee who serve as the accountability police. Obviously it is a diverse movement filled with folks who would consider some things okay and others offensive--as evidenced by the comment section of this very blog on a daily basis.
On the other hand, it does seem critical for men interested in doing feminist work and identifying with the feminism to be accountable to certain basic ideas--like the notion that men have, for too long, possessed a disproportionate amount of power in our society. This means that in feminist spaces, men should be cognizant of how much they talk, what sort of influence they exert, what kind of leadership they inhabit. But then again, shouldn't men and women always strive to be cognizant of these things.
And, of course, real accountability would come in creating a world where everyone gets to express their gender identity in whatever way feels most authentic, a world where no one would be forced to exist within a gender binary that didn't feel right for them. Men and women aside, this is the ultimate dream that we can be accountable for.
Anyone else have ideas about accountability within feminism? I sort of tie myself in knots trying to think through this one.
Oh, I also said that when you fucked with men over and over and over, it was more than a little niave to not expect a certain percentage of them to snap. I guess predicting the inevitability of something also must needs endorse it.
He also says that men tend to be "obtuse'' about these matters - and "need to be knocked across the head once in a while.'' He "absolutely'' had to learn to be more sensitive.
Seems like every time you turn around, a man, or a man-child, is fighting, maiming, stalking, raping or killing somebody. On a street outside Fenger High School, thugs beat a student to death. Punks used to wait for darkness to do their killing, but a fatal beating in front of an audience in broad daylight isn't something you see very often, even in Chicago.
Man shot dead in Garfield Park. West Side assassin plugs a man in the eye. Man accused of beating to death the former fiance of a cast member of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta." Man charged with beating to death five -- five -- members of one family. A Northfield, Minn., man indicted in the beating death of his 17-month-old stepson. James Degorski convicted of the thrill killing of seven in a Brown's Chicken restaurant. That's just a few of the crimes by men that made news in a 24-hour news cycle last week.
It's no coincidence that prisons are overflowing with men. Without men, our cities, our world, would be a safer place. No, this is not a lame parody of feminist dogma, which would blame men for every horror. But it is impossible to continue to ignore the common denominator: more than poverty, race, access to guns, anomie (or whatever sociologists call it these days), the thread linking so much violence is simply the fact that men do it. On the streets, outside schools, in homes and restaurants; in series or in isolation -- you name it, there's usually a man with a fist, club, knife or gun.
Experts have filled bookshelves with volumes of studies exploring male violence and masculinity. They look to biology, such as the male hormone, testosterone, for explanations. They look to "acculturation" and various societal influences. President Barack Obama, not to be outdone, has dispatched Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago to investigate the death of Derrion Albert, the bludgeoned Fenger High School honor student.
This is all old ground, and I can't imagine that much new can be said. Every possible cause has been cited and undoubtedly they all play a role. But here's a thought: The reason that so many men are violent is other men.
Boys must learn from other men how to control their natural assertiveness, aggression or whatever you want to call it. Sorry, women can't do it alone. Boys must see how good men behave, and that such behavior is a fruitful way to win respect and success. Boys left without a model to show them the value of male qualities and values -- strength, bravery, practicality, decisiveness, competitiveness, discipline, loyalty, pride, independence and physicality among them -- have less chance of learning how to use them for their own or others' benefits. Obviously all these traits aren't exclusively male, but in total, they help define masculinity.
If anything's clear, not enough boys are getting these lessons. Too many men are abandoning their sons. Single motherhood, divorce and absent fathers have become plagues. Marriage is fast becoming an anachronism. What men are doing to their sons is cruel and indefensible.
Pending a return to proper fathering, something has to be done. Last week, I suggested the creation of all-male public high schools with all-male faculty. Some thoughtlessly dismissed it out of hand; one reader called the idea "fascist." Others, no doubt, consider it sexist. But I'm not giving up. Chicago Public Schools already has established several all-male charter high schools, and they are successful. Because father abandonment is so pervasive, every boy -- not just "high-risk" ones -- should attend, but of course, that's unlikely.
But take a lot of the money that was to be spent on the 2016 Summer Olympics, pump it into the Chicago school system to create more all-male schools and hire and retain good male teachers. Disciplined, strong of character, intelligent men. Men whose very presence will nourish the souls of boys who are struggling to find their way through the fog of adolescence. So that they won't get caught in the grip of gangs and violence, the only source left for achieving what they tragically believe is their true masculinity.
Gangs and violence are Chicago's biggest problem. The abandonment of civil society by too many males is a huge reason for poverty, hopelessness and violence. Chicago 2016, are you listening? It wouldn't create the kind of profits you were dreaming about, but it would, more modestly, help save the city.
Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer and consultant. He blogs at ChicagoNow.com">ChicagoNow.com">ChicagoNow.com">ChicagoNow.com
Funny stuff but likely fiction. Any guy who was gone for two weeks would at least send his gf a postcard.
Maybe it's just me, but I'm trying to understand how serious this relationship is when
1. He doesn't bring her on the trip with him.
2. He doesn't even talk to her about it beforehand to, you know, check to see if she's OK that he goes to Europe without her, for instance.
He just "phones" to say "Hey, it's me, I'll be in Europe for two weeks without you and without my phone on, see ya!" And he doesn't even try to make sure she got the message?
Seems there were two dysfunctional people in this relationship...
Still doesn't excuse any of the behavior. Again she NEVER assumed he might be injured, just assumed he dumped her. And she apparently never actually investigated where he went.