2.13.2006

A Different Take

I like this post; for one reason. OK...two reasons.

First, Joe Perez is an initiated man in the ManKind Project. So, I am anxious to read what another Warrior has to say. Guess what? See second reason.

Second, his opinion is different than mine. I honor that we have a different take on this article which I wrote a short piece about here. He has his view and I have mine. I agree and disagree.

The fact is we are brothers in the ManKind Project. What does that mean to me? It means we share a common basis for seeing the world. We come from a basis of understanding and striving to be better on our own individual level. We don't have to agree. We can honor each other for our place and our views.

What would it be like for you to be seen as who your and honored for being just that, no matter who you are? Find out. Take the leap. Men will be there to catch you.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

How not to write about the men's movement

Here's an article by Paul Zakrzewski on the men's movement. As my longtime readers know, this is a subject dear to my heart. I've participated in trainings and groups sponsored by The ManKind Project for several years. So bear this bias in mind when you hear my judgment that Zakrzewski's article, at least insofar as it discusses the mythopoetic side of the men's movement, not only flubs major facts, but misses the interesting stories entirely.

Most egregiously, Zakrzewski claims that the men's movement has been eclipsed ("today, however, the drums have largely fallen silent") and he claims that the ManKind Project "conducts New Warrior Training Adventures for some 3,000 men every year - these are mostly affairs for the already initiated..." Dead wrong. Simple fact checking would have pointed out that nobody can attend a MKP training--called the New Warrior Training Adventure--more than once. That's why they call them initiations, duh! Therefore, every man who attends a MKP NWTA is doing so for the first time. There are Integration Groups and advanced trainings for initiated men, but these are not really a big part of the organization. At this point in time, its entire culture is focused on putting on the NWTA and Integration Groups for uninitiated men.

I am flabbergasted that this article could see its way into print, frankly, because when you discount the reach of the only international men's organization, how can you write an article then claiming that the men's movement has fallen silent!

There's so much else that's poorly done about the way that Zakrzewski handles the mythopoetic men's movement, I'm not quite sure where to begin. For starters, let me say that this is just about the umpteenth piece I have read about the men's movement that rehashes all the idiotic caricatures that have been said about the movement in the popular culture (e.g., it's just foolish men beating drums with war paint and running naked through the woods). That seems to be all most journalists care to say about this movement: people love to make fun of it (yeah, they sure do, including the journalists who write about it). Plenty of people mock and belittle the women's movement, but you don't see that fact mentioned in 9 out of 10 articles written about feminism. Zakrzewski goes a bit beyond the negative pop culture stereotypes, but not very far. He never asks whether any of these caricatures were unfair, inaccurate, or if they represented the emotional insecurities of men who were threatened by the men's movement. He never asks why the men's movement provokes so much terror in some men that they must cover up their fear by mocking what it represents for them. Now if a writer started looking into "men who bash the men's movement," there could be a fascinating profile in shadow for the world to see (somehow I don't think Zakrzewski is the guy to write it).

In the conclusion, Zakrzewski actually quotes somebody who blames the men's movement itself for the negative stereotypes, saying that they took good ideas from Robert Bly and then something "got lost in translation." Well, that's one guy's point of view. Fine. But how about interviewing somebody in the men's movement who has a different opinion?

I really don't think Zakrzewski gets the mythopoetic side of the men's movement, and in this sadly he is like most men in our culture. He admits to being in a men's "discussion" group, so that should give him some insight, right? Well, no, sorry, buddy. When it comes to appreciating Robert Bly or the deep healing work of groups like MKP, a discussion group doesn't count. In fact, it's a strike against you (re-read what Bly had to say about the danger of "Ascension" in Iron John). The men's movement earns my respect in large part because its psychic healing and interpersonal integration modalities are some of the most powerful, effective, and dynamic tools in existence ... and those tools are, by and large, in the hands of very capable facilitators. For many men this is Emotional Literacy 101, but I cannot tell you how many men came to do a NWTA or Integration Group thinking that they knew it all already only to be blown away. Discussion groups have a role to play, but they're nowhere close to the effectiveness of a NWTA or good MKP-style integration/shadow work group.

There are some great stories to be written about the men's movement. For any journalists who may be reading my blog, here are a few free ideas:

  • Someone could write a great piece on the role of gay men in the men's movement. How are their experiences the same or different from straight men's? How is the men's movement being used (or misused) by ex-gay conversion programs? More broadly, how is the multicultural movement impacting the mythopoetic side of the movement? I'd be happy to point any journalists in the right direction for finding men to interview.
  • Yes, the men's movement is in decline from its initial period, just as is the women's movement. How is the men's movement adapting? Is it going after the corporate leadership development market? Is it losing the spooky New Age rituals? Is the mythopoetic men's movement learning from the Promise Keepers?
  • And from an integral perspective, how are groups like the MKP succeeding at providing transformational weekends for men from a diverse array of levels of consciousness? Is the men's movement moving beyond pluralistic "mythopoetic" to a more integral stance? Does the men's movement give us a gender-based model for transforming consciousness?
Zakrzewski concludes that the "Bly-style men's movement highlighted a powerful urge for men to commune with each other that persists today," which sounds fine until you realize the Zakrzewski also says that men are communing by grabbing a few drinks at the pub or watching football. Sigh. Is this what we have come to: writers who think that the mythopoetic men's movement is basically about little more than kicking down a few brewskies? There are good stories waiting to be written about the men's movement...Anyone?

4 comments:

  1. As a writer and journalist myself, I see there are many different avenues to take with this topic.

    As an initiated man, too, I can DEFINITELY say without any hesitation that having a "small men's group" weekly is veeerryyy different than I-Group work or even an NWTA weekend. I have been in "small men's group" areas before. Some have been beneficial, some not. Yet my truth is I'd rather be in an I-Group where all my energies and gold and shadows are welcome.

    Sure, it's always the popular thing to knock something or someone that is on the upswing. What's tougher is going against the grain ... when going downstream with the other fishies looks fun instead of heading upstream against that tide.

    Well, at least I'm going upstream not all alone!

    The article writer, I'm sure, will have his supporters who live in fear of all us "drum beaters and naked runaround-ers" (how's that for another way of putting it!!). Yet if these same people had a chance -- no, took a RISK -- to SEE that their perceptions are all skewed, then something could take place.

    Who knows ... maybe one of those doubters could become an initiated man.

    Grace and peace,

    Brave Brown Horse

    P.S. -- Thanks for the kind honor to my father.

    Ho!

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  2. BBH

    You're singing to the choir, brother! There is a world of difference between a weekly men's group and an MKP I-Group. Each, certainly, has its place and I honor the work, however it gets done.

    I think it's the accountability and integirty "basis" that makes the difference, here. Men in I-Groups know the basis; expect it of themselves and other men in the circle.

    Old-faithful Wolf

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  3. So why dont you disclose any of the bad press on this group!

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  4. Ivy

    Bad press is easy to find. Serach and ye shall find!

    It is not my mission to "unpromote" what I find to be a valuable and wonderful organization. On the other hand, I have touched on this in other posts. If you read more of my blog you will see that.

    I offer you peace in your journey.

    Old-faithful Wolf

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