Customer Reviews: Women Respond to the Men's Movement: A Feminist Collection
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on November 26, 2014
My name is Collette aka Coco Mojo and I buy books on Amazon.

This book tells the truth about the Men's Movement.

The Men's Movement is about SELF (ego) enhancement, and is not about trying to become a better (more empathic, compassionate, just and fair) human being where OTHERS are concerned. It really isn't about challenging Patriarchy (a system of destructive, hierarchical dominance of men over women); it merely reinforces it.

This is a difficult book to rate, as it has many pieces written by different authors. Some of the articles are EXCELLENT; others I don't care for. I'll start with what I didn't like: The ideas of Myriam Miedzian. To my mind, she reinforces the "masculine/feminine" dichotomy of sex differences that helps keep gender polarities in place.

Since I seek to do away with such contrivances and to become a WHOLE human being, with the full range of human qualities, I much prefer the articles in this book that challenge this dichotomy as being part of the problem, in that this dichotomy leads to such things as sexism and specious "men's movements" (the latter of which functions to keep this dichotomy -- and Patriarchy as an outgrowth of this dichotomy -- alive and well).

There are many smokescreens by which the Men's Movement hides its deeper agendas, and this book is a great expose by those who see through the hype and rhetoric. Favorite articles include: "Patriarchy and the Men's Movement: Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?" by Rosemary Radford Ruether; "Will the Real Men's Movement Please Stand Up?" by Margo Adair; "Pumping Iron John" by Caputi and MacKenzie; "Essential Lies: A Dystopian Vision of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement" by Laura S. Brown; and "The Men's Movement of Choice" by Kathleen Carlin.

There's also a great Foreword by Gloria Steinem and a great Introduction by Kay Leigh Hagan.

These women are not "against men," any more than I am.

We are, however, against men's movements that reinforce and uphold the destructive, patriarchal status-quo -- no matter what the rhetoric to the contrary. And this book helps cut through the rhetorical nonsense.
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on July 26, 2013
All is not love and roses in "the men's movement." This book helps make that very clear. It was relevant when first published and is still relevant today. As a pro-feminist activist challenging men's violence against women and patriarchy, I read this when first published. An update would be helpful for the younger generations and for those of us who prefer to ignore our past.
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Editor Kay Leigh hagan wrote in the Introduction to this 1992 book. "The essays collected here ... help us understand the depth, complexity, and implications of the men's movement. In the tradition of feminism, you will find personal stories describing women's experiences, questions that challenge the status quo, insights that crack the veneer of media, and concrete suggestions for practicing gender justice in our daily lives. My own response to the men's movement has changed as a result of editing this book. Although my cynicism is not unfounded, I find evidence here to support my fragile hope for a society where women and men live and work as respectful allies to heal the planet." (Pg. xiv)

One essayist says, "[There] are men who are prepared to work in solidarity with women to create a new society ... [I] consider them trustworthy allies in the struggle. There is also no question that patriarchy does set up modes of male bonding based on a type of comaradery that excludes men from sharing their insecurity and vulnerability. There is a place in the movement ... for men to learn different ways of relating to other men. But this does not mean that any movement that proclaims itself 'the men's movement' can be presumed to be the men's movement we need---a men's movement that would really be in solidarity with feminism, liberating men from patriarchy." (Pg. 14)

She adds, "If there is to be a men's movement I could trust, I want to know what it is going to do about war. Because, hey, guys, you could end it tomorrow, by simply refusing to fight in it... Why don't men rise up and refuse to go to war? How are they conditioned to be good soldiers? How can they undo that conditioning, and redefine manhood so as to further creative, not destructive, power? These are issues with which a men's movement I could trust would concern itself." (Pg. 34)

An essayist suggests, "the script offered for men by some of these groups is actually not all that different from the old macho script---except that it's dressed up on New Age clothes... male identity is defined in negative terms, as NOT being like a woman... [Robert] Bly [author of Iron John] berates his followers for being 'too soft' or 'feminine'---and thus 'unmanly.'... One of the saddest things about Bly is that he originally preached that men should embrace their 'feminine principle..." (Pg. 48) Another essay agrees: "while portending/pretending to be a movement for liberation is actually a manifestation of an authoritarian backlash and joins the political and religious right in reinforcing separatism, hierarchy, contempt for the 'other,' and invidious distinctions between women and men." (Pg. 72)

Another says, "There are a variety of dimensions on which I find myself critical of this men's movement, but they seem to cluster along the factor or triviality. Women and children are being beaten and raped at home... funding for social programs is being cut to the bone by gfovernment dominated---by men. And these guys are getting together to lament that they never knew their fathers?" (Pg. 98)

However, one essay says, "As a woman and a feminist, I know it to be a sacred space when women gather to tell their own stories... So when men gather in a circle not to talk of football or how many notches they have on their shooter but to talk instead of their own interior life so long concealed and coerced by a John Wayne model of manhood, think I think I must also honor as sacred these spaces being created by men." (Pg. 161)

Another commentary on the men's movement that those who like this book may enjoy is The Politics of Manhood: Profeminist Men Respond to the Mythopoetic Men's Movement (And the Mythopoetic Leaders Answer).
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on May 3, 2006
I am a human and equal rights and animal activist. And I also have been a participant in the mythopoetic men's movement. I went through my own 'initiation' weekend, and helped staff several myself.

The majority of these essays appear reactive and relatively unfounded, the work of fellow activists who have shot first while only squinting briefly at the target. The essays seem to have a few major points in common: 1. Bly's Wild Man is a dangerous force to emulate. 2. The cure for men (and society)is to be feminists first. 3. Men need to take action in society, not simply abandon it on weekends to whine.

In response to these essays, there's a few statements: 1. Bly's book is not a bible, but an influence. He is a poet, not a sociologist. The Wild Man is a metaphor for natural energy, as in Jungian (NOT Freudian) libido, not a code of conduct. Likewise, any reference to becoming a warrior is one of the mindscape - a vivid image of resolve to do battle with one's own 'shadows', not a promotion of warmongering. Stop being so literal. 2. Taken from the FMF website ( Feminism is 'the policy, practice or advocacy of political, economic, and social equality for women'. A major focus of the work that I have done and seen is in establishing autheniticity in self, groups and society as a whole and removing structures that promote the continuation of falsehood, especially surrounding gender and sexuality. We have helped each other overcome addictions, to porn, to predation, to bigotry and to victimhood. 3. The movement I've been a part of centers on establishing a mission in the world. Mine: I challenge the world to live compassionately and reverently through learning, leading and loving.

I've done my share of protesting, sign holding and candlelight vigiling in the name of truth and rights for all. The essays within this book don't reveal much truth about the men I have worked with in the mythopoeic movement. They reveal plenty as to the closemindedness and reactionary nature of most of the essayists. In such, it's useful in guaging the resistance of some leading feminists toward seeing allies instead of perpetrators. I expected to see guiding thought that would help direct men and women alike toward healing, but found victimization and blame.
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on November 14, 2001
I picked up this book imagining it would feel motivational to read radical feminist dialogue. Instead I grew impatient and was disappointed with this collection. The opening story by Ursula le Guin is juvenile in both setting and understanding, and the succeeding essays do not rise above this immature beginning.
Maybe I feel this way only because there is nowadays no apparent "men's movement" to reinforce macho and threaten me as a woman. Or maybe it is because I am a wife and a mother of boys that I think it shortsighted to condemn those who wish to empower men. To blame men as a gender for the disempowerment of women is to overlook a lot of social and economic complexities or our world. Life is hard for people of both genders.
This is a collection of armchair rhetoric to enflame the opposition. I can imagine that ultra-conservative anti-feminists would get a lot of ammunition out of quotes from this ill-conceived book. It is a shame, because there is still a lot to be said for feminism and women's rights. This book, however, is more an example of stray radicalism gone wrong - a sort of "backlash" against an imaginary enemy - than any clear thinking about real social issues.
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on September 26, 2006
great book! The woman below is seriously misinformed. Men may have problems, but it is not as bad as what is smacked against women. I hope political correctness dies, and this real problem be unveiled to American women. Also, what may have not applied in 2001 does today. This book needs an update as it was written in 92.
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on February 20, 1998
Perhaps the worst book ever written on any subject ever. If books on architecture were written as badly as this book "about" Iron John, all our buildings would collapse. A perfect example of what is wrong with postmodernism. Any word or symbol a person emits means what the postmodernist says it means not what the speaker means.
A single line from Bly means that he both wants to destroy the environment and wants to preserve it. We are given that standard '90s charge--failure to condemn. How do we prove this? We prove it with a quote. Exactly one line down in Iron John I found an example of what Bly supposable failed to say. When Bly says that men have been injured by the British Enclosure Acts we are informed that this is "fascist".
How many abolitionists said that white people must change spiritually? All of them. But this group of women insists that men should not change spiritually. No doubt about it, postmodernists cannot read.
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on September 25, 1999
This book's sole redeeming value is in demonstrating that there's not a mass men's movement because women won't allow it. I'll let feminist Donna LaFramboise put it this way: "Taken as a whole, it is condescending, derisive and arrogant in tone, as well as a display of feminine busybody-ness at its worst. On the one hand, men are repeatedly condemned for thinking they're the center of the universe. On the other, these women insist feminists have the right to be pronouncing on the men's movement as well as dictating terms to it. Writer after writer declares that a "real" men's movement should be properly concerned not with whatever it decides its priorities to be, but with women's issues..." (e-me for the source)
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