Late Seveties and Men's Liberation!
> 11/21/2005 8:21:11 AM

Not all of you will remember "Women's Liberation" or "Women's Lib" asit was called, but are probably familiar with the word "Feminist" whichis still a nasty word to the those on the religious right, even inmainstream protestant churches and more radical and inclusivemainstream church as the Episcopalians which still contains members andleaders who condemn the feminists among them. The first women bishop inthe Episcopal Church was skewered for not only being a woman, butblack, divorced and a feminist.  That was about ten yearsago.  But the point here is did you know that in the lateseventies throughout the country was a phenomenon called "Men'sLiberation"? Not the later development and reaction to feminism thatcelebrated the savage in us and other macho or machismo male dominatingworld views.

    I came out of a meeting at the Men's Center, say in1978, a meeting that included both men and women (we did that once amonth, allowed women in) and there was this woman who I found veryattractive (Even though I was trying to be non-sexist towards both menand women, I was still a hungry "sexualist"if there is such a word). I asked her for a date. She said, "I don'tdate." But she would meet me for some coffee or something?????  Iperused in my mind, if we're meeting for coffee, isn't that a date? Or,isn't a agreed upon meeting a date in time????  Well, of course Ifound that one thing that was involved in a  non-date meeting (Icame to later ask women if they "wanted to get together", avoiding theword "date") was that the woman paid her own way, which gave women whopracticed this a certain independence and lessened the male (andfemale) expectation of sex as an ending of the evening, if it werenight, after all.

But let us return to men and men, which wasthe essence of Men's Liberation. (Re-reading this so far, my reactionis "It's more interesting to read about women and men than men and men.Well, I think this discomfort has to be lived through -- in me, too --for the better and for discussion's sake. Don't worry, though, therewill be some more woman and men together stuff here at some point.Amen. The movement here, in an organized way as far as I still know, inNew York City was shortlived and small. I think in other parts of the country, especially inthe Northwest the movement was larger, more widespread and moreorganized. There were full sized newspapers devoted to discussions. InNYC, we had a monthly newsletter (two 8 1/2 by 11 sheets folded) mostlywritten and produced by one member who was, if there was one at all,sort of a leader of this "collective" as one newspaper or magazinedescribed us in discussing his book "Men's Bodies; Men's Selves."Serving the same intent and title as the popular "Women's Bodies,Women's Selves" which was to inform and challenge common misinformationand taboos (At one men's meeting, this same "leader" somehow got a holdof a film that academically described and showed all sorts of penises).Of course, straight men soon learned that men getting to knowthemselves and other men had to deal with the fear of homosexuality oranything even hinting about, for example, spoken and shown curiosityabout our bodies besides muscle hangers and sports machines. (When,accidentally I met an old college friend and told him about the "men'smovement" he said something  like "This isn't a fag thing, is it?"And I said something like, "That's something you have to dealwith."  I'm pretty sure to this day he thinks I'm gay).

From the Beginning

    In 1965 I graduated college with dreams of ????? Who  knows?? It certainly wasn't to get a job and start acareer path. I had an offer from the Peace Corps and upon travelingfrom the Northeast to Chicago near my family I called the Corps andaccepted an assignment in Thailand. In a week or two I was in midwinter Dekalb, Illinois training for this tropical assignment. Actually, the Corps did give us two weeks in the jungle in Hawaiibefore flying to Bankok and my "courtship" of my fellow volunteer andfuture wife began in earnest. I was assigned to Bankok of the firstyear of two and she an hour from that strange East/West city. We onlystayed a year when our desire to start artistic endeavors had ustraveling to San Francisco and just happened to be there for the"Summer of Love" of which I didn't fdo the drugs but loved the music,the art and the look and clothes of the growing "counter-culture".

Then= Across the USA in a VW microbus to Hartford, Conn. (her parents)then Boston, New York City, Cape Cod Mass., New York City again andthen poof!! no wife, no anybody. It had been 9 years of marriage andbesides two mid-marriage angry separations we were never apart. In the"9" years, we were apart for just one day and there I was alone, notone friend (which, I was to find out, was common for married men = nofriends of their own, just their wives' friends). I was in a largeManhattan apartment alone, lieing in bed, staring at the ceiling andfeeling the world was saying a big "NO!" to finding friends.  So,as I still do today, I turned to the newspaper The Village Voice, aweekly and at thatg time had it's back page devoted to "the bulletinboard" where I found a notice for "The Men's Center of New York". Icalled a number, found a man who lived nearby to me and he directed meto his "consciousness-raising" group (CR group) which these men hadborrowed from the "women's liberation movement."  8 men meetingevery week for a few hours talking about what it's like to be men.Sounds simple, right? But if men did not talk of sports or scoringwomen, what can they talk about? Well, among others, the most emotionaltopic was our fathers. Or, more precisely, our absentee fathers whowere no longer working nearby in the back forty acres or a store in asmall town and accessible, but deep in business carrers maybe an hourscommute both ways and, like mine, frequently late to come home becauseof business entertaining and often on long business trips.  In theCR group, several of these grown men were reduced to deep sobbing overthis loss, me too.  I remember, maybe a decade later, a youngerwoman asked me why men were  like they are. I said, probablymeaning nothing to her, "grief."

To end this remembrance, Iremember Saturday nights in New York City for those trying to benon-sexist in all parts of their lives. For me, there was NOW (NationalOrganization for Women) and their Saturday night get-togethers for menand women with "rap" (discussion) groups on "sexuality" which dealtwith about anything between men and women (dating, sex,) or just women.Frequently the evening would end in a date. I remember walking in theoffices and two women I knew were walking around and occasionallygrabbing their crouches like men often do and I thought they weregoofing on people.

I rmember one rap group about "Who Pays,Who Cares (does the caring)" and then later, maybe a year or morelater, wondering that it was weird that men were expected to come upwith the big bucks for a date and women were supposed to come up withthe sex. One women I "dated" would say to me and her friends, "Yougotta give something to get something." I told a NOW friend of minethat that kinda sounded like prostitution. She said,"kinda? It ISprostitution!" And in the personal ads in the Village Voice womenoffering "mutally beneficial relationships" with "succesful" (read lotsof money) men and men advertising for the same. Maybe now, in 2006,people don't care about these issues=with a society where around 50percent of all babies are born out of wedlock, maybe most men and womendon't care how they get it, just as long as they get theirs. Sad, ormaybe I'm just too conservative and backwards, but what about thebabies???

P.S. If you want to know more about how men (andwomen to some extent) are socialized into these behaviors, read WilliamFarrell's book "Why Men Are The Way They Are" which sounds like a bookfor women, but is really for men. Best of luck. Max.


Max: this is great stuff. Call me about spending Christmas Day together like we did last year. Can't get you on the phone! Patricia
Posted by: patriciatees 12/23/2005 11:12:40 AM

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