Monday, March 21, 2011

Tom Matlack - Why We Don't Need a 'Men's Movement' to Be Good Men

In Tom's new post, he suggests that men do not need Robert Bly or any other leader of men's movements in order to be good, mature, compassionate men. As someone who has never associated with any of the men's movements - and have been critical of some, including the mythopoetic camp and the Mankind Project - I can identify with with this perspective.

I came to men's work - to becoming a good man - through a recognition that I had been betrayed by my culture in the ways it defined for me what it means to be a man. I could not match my experience with the "rules" I learned as a child (often without awareness I was being indoctrinated).

But I did not become a follower of some other man or group of men - I sought an understanding of how masculinity develops, how men and women differ or don't, and how I define for myself what it means to be a man. This blog was born of that process - not to tell others how to be men, but to examine my own process and that of others in doing this work.

In the end, I simply want to help men see that there is life outside the box - that we can shake off the chains of hegemony and create our own versions of masculinity.

Anyway, here is Tom's take on it - the story of his own process.

Why We Don't Need a 'Men's Movement' to Be Good Men

Tom Matlack -Venture capitalist-turned-writer

Posted: March 21, 2011

The first and only time I saw Robert Bly, author of "Iron John," the touchstone of the modern "mythopoetic" men's movement, I was in college... and I wasn't sure I was impressed. Although I found the man captivating in many ways, I wasn't convinced that the manhood he was talking about in poetic terms (and accompanied by a lute, no less) was something I aspired to recapture. Beating drums in the woods never seemed to come naturally to me; to me, it sounded more like feminism for guys than the stuff of manhood.

At the time, I was immersed in the sport of rowing -- a male bonding experience that had little to do with poetry and a lot to do with the testing of physical limits. I suppose the fistfight I had with my best friend during a training session in a cemetery was related to something Bly was getting at, but it sure wasn't poetic. It had to do with my questioning my friend's manhood and his retaliating in kind. We both emerged stronger from the exchange.

Our coach, Will Scoggins, had watched our fight from a distance, grinning. He told me that the process of developing underlying trust as a team involved spilling your guts along the way, even showing raw emotion. He had made clear from the very beginning that this was about rowing, but it was also about growing up and learning -- the hard way -- how to avoid making excuses. The payoff was that we could use this wisdom in any situation later on in life. To his way of thinking, the fight was a sign of progress -- a sign of growing faith in one another.

The fight on a cemetery hill with my rowing buddy summarized the kind of men's movement that I respected a heck of a lot more than what I heard accompanied by a lute.


In many ways, the Good Men Project was born not out of the men's movement, or the men's rights movement, masculism, anti-misandry or MGTOW (men going their own way), but out of the brutal facts of our own lives as fathers, husbands and guys trying to make a living.
Read the whole post.

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