Search the University of Toronto faculty for experts on the study of women and you’ll find more than 40 academics with research interests including “women’s mental health,” “women and religion” and even “women’s fast pitch.”
Conduct the identical search for “men” as a research topic and discover two lonely academics, both of whom specialize in gay men.
Of the genders, it seems feminine distinctions have become overwhelmingly more fascinating to the academe.
Witness the well-entrenched women’s studies departments in universities across Canada and the United States — important academic centres of inquiry that have provided a steady pulse for the feminist movement.
Now have a look for men’s studies programs.
Or, don’t bother.
As far as anyone in the field can tell, there’s only one in North America, located at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. which offers a minor in the field.
Add to that barren ground an array of individual, off-the-radar courses here and there, usually located in women’s or “gender studies” departments.
It all amounts to male myopia in the ivory tower in which boys and men are studied through a distinctly feminist prism, says a group of North American academics who are taking their grievances public.
“The landscape has essentially been controlled by women’s studies,” says Dr. Lionel Tiger, a Canadian professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “Men’s studies are a branch plant phenomenon when, and where, they exist.”
The overpowering orthodoxy of men’s studies is that if you’re male, you’re bad or in need of remedy, says Tiger, a native Montrealer who taught at the University of British Columbia for five years.
“The courses are structured in order to try to make boys not boys, that is, to turn them into well socialized non-male creatures.”
The repercussions of all this are troubling and increasingly evident say researchers, citing poor performance of boys in school and higher university graduation rates for women.
Seventy-five per cent of girls graduated from publicly funded high schools in Canada in 2006-’07, compared to 68 per cent of boys, according to Statistics Canada.
Nearly 61 per cent of degrees, diplomas and certificates from Canadian universities in 2007 were awarded to women “continuing a long-term trend in which female graduates outnumber their male counterparts and their proportion continues to increase,” says StatsCan.
In desperate times, some American academics are proposing a schism in the already low-profile men’s studies discipline that would give birth to a bolder, less guilt-inducing approach dubbed “male studies.”
The Foundation for Male Studies proposes a conference and a journal as well as full major university programs that encompass history, sociology, anthropology, psychology and literature among other disciplines.
(Robert Cribb, Toronto Star, May 19, 2010)
This is a major development, among men. And let's not get into a game of blaming what has been going on in Women's Studies for the lack of such a program in Men's Studies.
It is a significant sign of the differences between men and women that women would seek ALL available avenues, including building coalitions, for the purpose of making themselves aware of their fullest potential and its expression.
Men, on the other hand, virtually refuse even to look introspectively at themsevles. And certainly not as a political, social, academic or cultural movement. Consequently, it would have been, and maybe still is, difficult to find men willing to state the obvious: that men are living in the dark about their own "inner lives" while women have taken the lead in their own self-discovery.
Whether that is "getting along" or "not" I find some men who are interested in men's issues falling into the model outlined by women's studies leaders, including an emphasis on therapy, counselling and when one expresses a view, held and advocated by James Hillman, that we have had thirty years of therapy and are no further ahead, those same men are irate.
Frightened men will never develop academic programs to enlighten men!
And it is frightened men, frightened that they are not as emotionally endowed as women, frightened that they are not as psychically and spiritually evolved as women that are blocking this movement from emerging.
This is not a competition for who gets to the end of the race faster.
It is a common goal, with very different perspectives on the goaland very different persepctives on how to get there. And both perspectives are, or ought to be valid.