Friday, September 18, 2009

Pelle Billing - Where Are All the Men’s Organizations?

Good question, posted over at Men's News Daily. Not sure the situation is any better in the US, and completely convinced that a more patriarchal country like our own needs these kinds of groups. Europe has become a lot more egalitarian than the US. Or am I wrong? Thoughts?

Where Are All the Men’s Organizations?

Thursday, September 17, 2009
By Pelle Billing

This question is something I’ve been thinking about lately. Considering that half the population is male, it would make sense for any country to have lots of men’s organizations. Still, I don’t seem to be able to find them. Now, it’s not that we don’t have any men’s organizations of course, because we do, for example the following kinds:

  • Father’s rights organizations
  • Organizations where men practice commitment and accountability (à la Promise Keepers)
  • Ethnic organizations for men (Million Man March)

But these aren’t really the kind of men’s organizations I’m looking for. Where are the large, coherent organizations that stand up for men’s rights, and speak up about how the male gender role affects men negatively? Wikipedia has a list of women’s organizations, but the list of men’s organizations is conspicuously absent.

The absence of strong men’s organizations became painfully evident recently in Sweden when there was a prominent debate in the media about male circumcision (there is no Swedish tradition to circumcise men, but we have lots of Muslim immigrants and also a small Jewish community that practice circumcision). The only ones who spoke up against male circumcision were a few male surgeons who refused to perform the procedure, even though the Swedish government has ordered hospitals to offer this service to those who want it. A survey later showed that two thirds of surgeons were reluctant to circumcise healthy boys.

Anyhow, the main point is that no men’s organization spoke up because there are no men’s organizations in Sweden that could speak up. Where the men’s groups should have been, was only a compact vacuum.

This is a stark contrast to the numerous women’s organizations that exist in Sweden, feminist or otherwise. The end result is that male circumcision is still allowed in Sweden, even though female circumcision has been banned for almost three decades (Swedish people don’t practise that either, but some African immigrants do).

The more I work with men’s issues and issues of gender equality, the more I realize that no substantial progress will be made until men self-organize into larger units that can then speak out for men’s rights. Individual efforts are great, but in the long run organizations have more staying power than any one individual.

Pelle Billing is an M.D. who writes and lectures about men’s issues and gender liberation beyond feminism.

No comments: