Thursday, April 5, 2012

MISANDRY: name it, trump it with "comfortable-in-our-own-skin" masculinity

Misandry ( /mɪˈsændri/) is the hatred or dislike of men or boys. The word is of some history but did not appear in most dictionaries until the second half of the 20th century, and it was commonly seen as a neologism in the early 1970s.[1] Misandry was formed from Greek misos (μῖσος, "hatred") and anēr, andros (ἀνήρ, gen. ἀνδρός; "man"). Misandry is the antonym of philandry, the fondness, love, or admiration of men. (From Wikipedia)

By Pelle Billing, from Pelle blog, April 5, 2012
Five Key Challenges Listed for International Men’s Day 2012

January 16th, 2012 by Pelle Billing
I just received the press release below from the international network coordinating IMD 2012.
I am one of two coordinators for Sweden, and last year we marked the day for the first time by handing out flyers in Malmö.
In the run up to International Men’s Day 2012 (Monday 19th November) we’re asking supporters of the day to focus on five key challenges that will help us improve the health and wellbeing of men and boys all over the world.
Some of the universal health issues that men and boys in all countries around the globe face include lower life expectancy, difficulty accessing mental health services, educational disadvantages, lack of male role models and tolerance of violence against men and boys.
To help us focus our collective minds upon helping men and boys live longer, happier, healthier lives, the five key challenges that the International Men’s Day team is inviting men and women all over the world to address are:
From the moment a boy is born he can expect to live a shorter life than his female counterparts in all but four countries on the planet. There is also a huge gap in life expectancy between rich and poor countries with men in Mozambique reaching an average age of 38 while in Iceland, Israel and Switzerland men live twice as long until the age of 80. There are also huge gaps in life expectancy within countries, with men born in the poorest parts of the United Kingdom, for example, dying 10 years sooner than their fellow countrymen in the wealthiest parts of the capital city. Boys are not genetically programmed to die young so our first challenge this International Men’s Day is to ask countries taking part to consider how we can help all men and boys live longer, happier, healthier lives – no matter how poor they are and no matter what country they are born in.
Every year poor mental health drives over three quarters of a million people to commit suicide – and around two thirds of them are males. Men and boys all over the world can find it more difficult to access help for mental and emotional health problems and most prison populations include a significant number of men with mental health issues. This International Men’s Day we are asking participating countries to consider how we can help more men and boys get the help and support they need and to take action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of men who will take their own lives this year.
Poor education is linked to poor health outcomes later in life so improving boys’ education will also help men and boys live longer, happier healthier lives. This International Men’s Day we are asking people to explore why boys in richer countries are underperforming girls and also less likely to be in education, and why tens of millions of boys in poorer countries are still not completing a primary education? How can we address truancy and poor literacy rates which leave boys prone to adult unemployment, substance abuse, obesity, depression and poverty? What action can we take to focus on boys’ education in a way that closes the gap between girls and boys, addresses the gaps between rich boys and poor boys, and helps us to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of all men and boys.
Violence has a major impact on men’s health all over the world. Every year over half a million people die from violence and 83% of them are men and boys. The same proportion of the global burden of disease (ill-health, disability or early death) from violence is borne by boys and men. [1] Yet while there are now a number of deserved global campaigns to tackle violence against women and girls, there are no such campaigns to help men and boys. Why are we so tolerant of violence and abuse against boys and men and why do we still tolerate a world where we send boys and young men to fight wars on behalf of the adults in power? This International Men’s Day we are asking for actions we can take to help men and boys live in a less violent world and challenge our collective global tolerance of violence against men and boys.
Fathers and male role models play a vital role in helping boys make a healthy, happy and positive transition from boyhood to manhood. How can we give boys a right to family life that gives them an equal opportunity to know and experience both their father and mother and ensure that their role as a future father is equal to girls’ role as future mothers? Giving boys a range of positive life choices in terms of family, work and leisure can help us reduce the number of boys whose choices are limited and end up poor, illiterate, unemployed, homeless, imprisoned and isolated. This International Men’s Day we are asking what actions we can take to give all boys access to a variety of male role models and ensure their country’s laws and practices give them an equal right to fatherhood, with all the support they need to be the best fathers they can be.
Addressing each of these challenges will help us to help men and boys all over the world to live longer, happier, healthier lives, which is why we are inviting supporters of International Men’s Day to join us in taking on one of more of these five key challenges in 2012.
At, we strongly support the movement for men's equality, men's enhanced life span, men's image and role enhancement, enhanced education for male students (See also our blog, The Canadian Journal of Male Education)....and the International Men's Day is an excellent focus to bring public attention to these issues.
In North America, too, men are facing increased misandry, some of it conscious and deliberate and usually not named and challenged, some of it unconscious and less willful. Rarely will the word "misandry" be found in any of our daily newspapers, on our television screens, or in public discourse.
There is, on the other hand, a very public consciousness about the discrepancy in pay equity between men and women (women earning approximately 75-80 cents on the dollar for similar work) and magazine pieces declaring the "End of Men" as Atlantic magazine carried only a few months ago.
Even to raise the word "misandry" is to raise eyebrows of puzzlement, and detachment, as if to acknowledge that such a word (and the actions, attitudes and beliefs that undergird its meaning) is to engage in social and political apostasy.
Let me describe a very recent visit to the Emergency Department of our local hospital, where signs everywhere remind visitors, patients and staff that there will be "ZERO TOLERANCE" of abuse, whether that abuse is verbal, attitudinal or mere disrespect. Two female ambulance attendants were both professional and supportive; the attending physician and two of three attending nurses were also professional and supportive. A third attending nurse, however, was much less than both professional and supportive.
Example: As she poked needles in my right arm, looking for a vein from which to extract blood, she asked, "Do people have trouble getting blood from you?"
"Not at all, when they use the left arm!" I responded, matter of factly.
"I can't use that arm, because there is an Intravenous going in there," she replied.
After several unsuccessful attempts at my right arm, she signed and said, "I will have to get someone else to do this."
In a few moments, a young nurse entered the bedside area, on my left side, inserted a needle and extracted the required sample, asking me, "Did you tell the other nurse that blood was easily accessible from your left arm?"
"I did, certainly, but she paid no attention," I frowned.
A short while later, I asked for permission to use the washroom, from the unsuccessful blood-retriever, who commented, "Just cool it! You men and your bowels! You're always in a hurry with them! Since you might pass out, you need to wait until later."
This developing scenario come into more clear focus shortly thereafter when I heard the same nurse, commenting to a colleague, "My dog will be going this week; after the divorce, I cannot keep a dog in the apartment!"
And my mind flashed back over the other comments, pausing to reflect on how, in this situation, that nurse (who may have a legitimate complaint about an ex-spouse) was directly confounding the ZERO TOLERANCE position of the hospital, on respect for male patients, at least this specific male patient.
When I described this scenario to a male colleague at work, using this sentence, "I was given excellent care by the doctor, and two of the three attending nurses, while the third one was trouble," he immediately retorted, "There is always one like that, isn't there?"
And I thought, "He's probably right, and none of the males whom I know would ever make a fuss about such behaviour, because we would calculate, "Why waste the energy? Nothing will come of it anyway!"
And that is where this blog began.
Men must speak up, if and when we are confronted with behaviour and attitudes that are disrespectful for no justifiable reason! And if we don't, and clearly most of us don't, we are defaulting on all men everywhere, and always.
As a young child, I was raised by a mother whose contempt for her father, for marrying another woman "barely" six months after the death of his first spouse, (my grandmother) that she refused to speak to him until the last month of his life, when he became very ill and requested her nursing care. Apparently the step-mother made off with most of the family heirlooms also, but the anger continued to be directed to first her father, and later her husband (my father) and subsequently to me, (her only son).
Physical beatings, and emotional abuse in the form of taunting allegations, "You are no good! You will never amount to anything! You are just like your father!" plus extended periods of total silence between both parents, initiated always by the anger and contempt of my mother for my father, were the norm in my family of origin. And the physical abuse against me never occurred when my father was present, so she could delude herself into believing that he "knew" nothing of her behaviour. How he could avoid the contusions on my body puzzles me sixty years later.
As a university student, I was confronted by two female, spinster professors, one in Child Psychology, the other in Zoology, both of whom, while apparently brilliant, were off the chart with respect to their anality. The first brought her experience from war-torn Great Britain to the London Ontario university, "without ever having raised a child of her own" (in my disdainful, and somewhat adolescent judgement at the time). The second was the only professor I ever encountered who "took attendance" in a lecture hall of 200 students, by marking an "X" in the appropriate square of a seating plan to which we were all expected to adhere. I literally learned nothing from either of them, either about the subjects they were paid to teach, nor about anything else that might have been a common interest.
In the workplace, I encountered several females, most of them respectful, but, once again, occasionally, there was a female whose actions were nothing short of abusive.
In the secondary schools of Ontario, during the 60's, 70's and 80's, it was a rule that, if one teacher had a complaint about another, that complaint was to be written and a copy given to the "subject" teacher and to the federation representative who was to mediate.
In one instance, a former student (severely dyslexic) in my grade eleven class was now a student in Miss Fuhrer's class. After the first written assignment, she asked him, "What class were you in last year?"
He told her that he had been a student in my class.
"Well, you had better go back to his class, then, where there are no standards because you will not pass in my class," was her professional judgement.
And so he returned for both grades twelve and thirteen. His mind was brilliant yet his capacity to read and to write quite limited. Oral exams and oral "papers" substituted for the 'normal' variety. And then, four years after he graduated, I heard a knock on my door, now working in a community college. "There is someone here to see you," intoned my secretary.
"Please send him in," I answered.
To my amazement, our severely limited, and unlikely-to-pass student from high school sat down and, proudly displaying the iron engineering ring on his baby finger, uttered these words, "Just wanted to say thanks, Sir! Thought you might like to know I just graduated with a mining engineering degree!"
"Congratulations, Tom!" I blurted.
He disappeared as I closed the door and dissolved privately in tears at my desk.
And then there were the female clergy who both supported my candidacy for priesthood and those whose insecurity, even paranoia, made them attempt, using all tricks at their disposal, to derail both my candidacy and my ordination...
"Your biography begs more questions than it answers, and I was afraid to interview you so I walked outside this room for the last 45 minutes," came out of the mouth of a female clergy who served as part of the screening group at a weekend retreat for candidates for orders.
"How do you feel now after 45 minutes of interviewing me?" I asked.
"Just fine, and very comfortable," was her reply.
"Well, I am here to answer any questions you might have," I offered.
"I don't have any more questions; do you wish a fourth interview?" she inquired.
"If I am asked to sit for a fourth interview, I will, but I do not seek a fourth interview," I responded.
And then I was given what was referred to as an orange/yellow light...not "No!" but certainly "Not now!"..
Another story from a supervisor while I served as summer intern prior to graduation...
"You are too intense!" was the judgement of me from a former nun, and former nurse, to whom I instantly and vehemently replied, "I am also too bald so deal with it!"
A story following graduation, while I served as honorary assistant in a North Toronto parish...
Another female, feminist clergy conducted a kangaroo court of parishoners to determine whether I should be retained as a honourary assistant priest, following ordination, without having the courage to inform me of the move, or about the formal result, a 9-3 vote with one abstention, in favour of retaining me in the parish. This after I had filled in for four weeks while she attended the Feminist Conference in Bejing, in 1995, and had asked for a cost-of-gas increase in the honorarium (needing to travel 50 miles each way from home to work) and upon her return, she had received unprompted phone calls from parishoners to the effect, "He is a leader and you are not!" Clearly, I had followed her instructions to "sing heartily and be myself fully" while serving as honourary to both the letter and the spirit of her words, to my own demise.
And then there was the divorced woman who hit on me, while serving as a clergy in a remote and violent parish, without diocesan support, and subsequently wrote to the bishop to complain of my indiscretion at the vengeful insistence of another blue-rinse woman whose demand to become warden I had previously thwarted based on her "tone-deafness" to anything spiritual and to her own spiritual growth, so addicted was she to her need for complete control, including of her modest, decent and spineless spouse.
And there was a woman, a (closet) alcoholic, who, upon leaving her marriage, actively sought a relationship, only to return to both the bottle and her marriage....and the female clergy persons, this time two, one who sought to take over a small mission church upon my departure, which she hoped to arrange, and another, whose college roommate had been sexually violated by a clergy, who sought revenge by assisting with my forced departure after forty months, because I had had an adult relationship, including engagement, with a woman whose marriage had broken and whose spouse was an alleged alcoholic.....
And in each of these "situations" the males in charge of conflict resolution were literally eunuchs. They neither sought nor pursued any kind of due process; they neither supported nor counselled their clergy.
And like my father before them, and like Pilate before him, they virtually washed their hands of any involvement in the problem as if by engaging in its healthy resolution, they would contaminate their own reputations.
When I wrote letters venting my anger at both my parents (without mailing them!), I found, to my surprise, that I was far more angry at my father for being a eunuch, than at my mother for being abusive. He could have stopped the abuse; he could have stood his ground, in support of my growth and stability, and he could have confronted my mother's violent temper tantrums, so that she could have come to respect him, and potentially her male offspring.
Similarly, in the professional situations, I have far more resentment against the men who permitted such violence, such misandry, without intervention and accountability, than I do against the women who perpetrated their abuse.
These are some of my bona fides for speaking out against all forms of misandry, whenever and wherever I encounter it.
And these are also just some of the reasons why the International Men's Day is important.
Men: wake up to our own inner lives and do not let those lives be defined by the insistences of the opposite gender. For example, the definition of depression, in the DSM IV comes exclusively from female sessions with their psychiatrists, without including either the experience or the emotional expressions of male clients.
Men: wake up to the daily damage we are doing to ourselves by our singular and tunnel-visioned addiction to the achievment of extrinsic success. I recall an "interview" with a (Motorola) corporate "suit" for a parish position, when the "suit" commented proudly, "I am proud to have driven the last priest out of our parish because he was not spiritual enough, and you are not either!"
Immediately seizing upon the moment, I blurted, "And just where would you like to be in your spiritual life in three years?"
He laughed and changed the subject, because he had no idea what I was talking about and refused even to engage in a conversation about what I could possibly mean.
Men: wake up to the long-term damage we are doing to the young boys and young men in attempting to steer them AWAY from anything smacking of our's and their own feminine side. It starts so early, when little boy babies are held much less than their female counterparts by their parents, of both genders. And then it grows into "don't cry like a have to be strong"....and whenever a conflict occurrs, too often we take the side of the victory who "fought" for his right, pummelling his opponent, and not for the negotiator who sought common ground. Just listen to Don Cherry for 30 seconds and hear the stereotype of masculinity in his "male" model that never runs from an opportunity to engage in a fight in a hockey game.
Men: wake up to the damage we are doing, by our silence, to the women we marry and to the women our sons will marry, in defining the male stereotype as a "macho", rugged individual, who loves his toys more than his own boys, and his playthings more than his own internal development into an integrated, and wholistic and engaged human being, as if somehow, by moving in that direction masculinity will be threatened.
Men: wake up to the damage we are doing to men of different sexual orientation from "straight" our gay men colleagues, through our indifference, and our rejection of the 'gay-man' model, once again, as if to embrace that model of masculinity would be to erode "real masculinity" including our own personal masculinity.
Is masculinity so fragile as to need special status, and avoidance of anything feminine, when, as Carl Jung reminds us, in the unconscious of both men and women lies the opposite gender, and it can only serve as leven to our biological gender, when permitted release from its unconscious origin?
Certainly not, and yet and International Men's Day might bring some light on the unconscious damage men are doing to themselves, their partners, their children and the world generally in such neurotic and defensive attitudes, to their own feminine side and to the needs of other men.

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