Men's liberation movement
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The consciousness and philosophy of men's liberation is critical of the restraints which society imposes on men. Men's liberation activists are generally sympathetic to feminist standpoints and have been greatly concerned with deconstructing negative aspects of male identity and portions of masculinity which do not serve to promote the stories and lives of all men.[weasel words]
Men's liberation is not to be confused with different movements such as the men's rights movement, in which some argue that modern feminism has gone too far and additional attention should be placed on men's rights. The men's liberation movement stresses the costs of some negative portions of "traditional" masculinity, whereas the men's rights movement is largely about unequal or unfair treatment of men by modern institutions because of, or in spite of those traits ubiquitous to traditional masculinity.
Men in the early portions of the 20th century started to use the battle for worker's rights as a way of examining their own lives as men in a capitalist society. This can be observed as writers like Upton Sinclair exposed the horrendous conditions men worked under in meat packing plants. Unskilled immigrant men did the backbreaking and often dangerous work, laboring in dark and unventilated rooms, hot in summer and unheated in winter. Many stood all day on floors covered with blood, meat scraps, and foul water, wielding sledge-hammers and knives. The extent to which the growth of capital outpaces wages can and does force men to work in dangerous conditions and for others' betterment is often viewed through the lens of Marxism. Thus, it is somewhat difficult to differentiate between men's liberation, men's rights, and labor rights. The rights of labor are often synonymous with the rights of men. This can also be examined politically in the 1791 treatise, The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine. In this work Paine suggests "The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government." In as much as Sinclair and Marx were attempting to empower working men from their capital holding brethren—Paine is shown to be examining the rights of man to be a worker of his own sort, free from a government which doesn't exist to his betterment.
The men's liberation movement, as recognized by feminists and today's gender scholars who are often ignorant and even hostile towards Marxist critique, developed mostly among heterosexual, middle-class men in Britain and North America as a response to the cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s, including the growth of the feminist movement, counterculture, women's and gay liberation movements, and the sexual revolution. Jack Sawyer published an article titled "On Male Liberation" in Liberation journal in the autumn of 1970, in which he discussed the negative effects of stereotypes of male sex roles. 1971 saw the birth of men's discussion groups across the United States, as well as the formation by Warren Farrell of the National Task Force on the Masculine Mystique within the National Organization for Women. Robert Lewis and Joseph Pleck sourced the birth of the movement to the publication of five books on the subject in late 1974 and early 1975, which was followed by a surge of publications targeted to both lay and more academic audiences.
The movement led to the formation of conferences, consciousness raising groups, men's centers, and other resources across the United States. The male liberation movement as a single self-conscious liberal feminist movement dissolved during the late 1970s. By the early 1980s, members of the male liberation movement had fully split into two entities. The members who had placed greater emphasis on the 'cost of male gender roles to men' than the 'cost of male gender roles to women' had formed the men's rights movement focusing on issues faced by men. The members who saw sexism exclusively as a system of men oppressing women rejected the language of sex roles and created pro-feminist men's organizations focused primarily on addressing sexual violence against women.
Racial differences have historically stratified the men’s liberation movement and such divisions still remain problematic today. Some profeminist scholars argue that racism within American society has emasculated non-white men. For example, black men are perceived to lack control over their innate sexual aggression. Within this ideological framework black men are presented as hyper-sexual to an animalistic degree; they therefore represent beasts, not men. East Asian Americans, however, have been portrayed as unattractive and less masculine.
Second-wave pro-feminism paid increased attention to issues of sexuality, particularly the relationship between homosexual men and hegemonic masculinity. This shift led to more cooperation between the men's liberation and gay liberation movements. In part this cooperation arose because masculinity was then understood to be a social construction, and as a response to the universalization of "men" seen in previous men's movements.
The Radical Faeries were organized in California in 1979 by gay activists wanting to create an alternative to being assimilated into mainstream men's culture.
California Men's GatheringEdit
The California Men's Gathering was created in 1978 by men in the anti-sexist men's movement. Author Margo Adair who attended the twelfth gathering in 1987, wrote that she found the atmosphere strangely different than anything she had previously experienced. After thinking about it, she realized it was the first time she had ever felt completely safe among a large group of men, with few other women. She also noticed that everyone was accepted, and affection among participants was displayed openly.
National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS)Edit
NOMAS is a pro-feminist, gay affirmative men's organization, which also enhances men's lives. The 1991 NOMAS national conference was about building multicultural communities.:57
- Men's support groups
- College men's centers
- Public advocacy and law reform
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