Thursday, May 28, 2009

University of Chicago outcry over "Men in Power" student organization

Check it out - one of our chartered campus groups, the Feminist Majority at the University of Chicago - is quoted in this Chicago Tribune article about a newly minted student organization on campus, "Men in Power."

Major props to the Feminist Majority and other students on campus for speaking up about this! I have really enjoyed working with these Chicago feminists over the course of the last year and am totally inspired by their passion and responsiveness to issues on their own campus and community.

Also, check out some background on the situation - first, the founder of Men in Power's article ("Men in power - True equality means groups that advocate for men as well as women.") in the school newspaper, The Chicago Maroon, and another Maroon article ("Men's advocacy group holds first meeting amid protest") about their first meeting and students on campus responding.

What do you all think? Is there a need for groups like "Men in Power"? Why, or why not? How would you respond to such a group starting on your campuses?

Feel free to comment below, we want to hear from you!

5 comments:

Emily said...

This whole Men In Power debacle reeks of ignorance. It is clear that the men (and women) in this group have no understanding of the enormous privilege men have in our society. While feminist groups work to empower a marginalized group, men's rights groups attempt to assert their dominance and perpetuate the status quo, just as white power organizations do.

I do believe that we need to talk about the social constraints placed on men, the construction of masculinity, etc, but that those are actually feminist conversations.

Kudos to the members of the University of Chicago Feminist Majority for continuing to push for social change on their campus in the face of all this absurdity.

WendyM said...

I feel like "Men in Power" could also just call themselves "Status Quo" and sit down.

Way to stand up for yourselves and all women, UC FMLA! And please let us know how we can support you!

Loretta Kemsley said...

From the article by the founder of the group:

"Many don’t realize that men are in power all around us—in fact, the last 44 presidents have been men, including our own Barack Obama."That is a stunning statement. Who doesn't realize men are in power all around us? How could we not know? Instead of saying "the last 44 presidents," shouldn't he have said, "every president since the USA was formed"? "The last" implies that at a previous point, women were presidents.

The name "Men in Power" is disturbing. It is obviously meant to keep power in male hands. While there is a sentence or two stating they are not against women's rights, the name of the group makes that suspect, as does their intention to address "reverse sexism."

In the other article, I liked this quote. From her quote, it is clear she is thinking the Men In Power members will be white, hetrosexual men:

"Fourth-year Ali Feenstra, another member of Feminist Majority, said she is not convinced Men in Power teaches men to be empowered without hurting other people.

“You need to think about the reason for the creation of female-only spaces, queer-only spaces, an independent reason why people might need to go there to feel safe,” Feenstra said. “It can’t just be ‘Because it exists for women, it should exist for men.’”
The last sentence sums it up well. Men don't necessarily need what women need when it comes to becoming leaders with power. Most business and government campus clubs already address men's leadership needs and roles.

Their stated goal of addressing other male issues, such as prostate cancer, is needed. I don't know their campus, but I would hope male health is already being addressed. Even if it is, they could add to awareness by focusing solely upon male issues such as this. But is that really what a club called Men In Power is about?

The kicker for me was the discussion that they want to invite business and other male leaders to traditionally male outings: fishing, etc. This has long been a signature avoidance of including women in power. Women are still banned at some golf courses even after decades of lawsuits to equalize opportunity. Business is routinely discussed on these "vacation" outings which can and does effectively give advantages to those allowed to attend -- men -- and disadvantages to those excluded -- women.

They cite that fact that women are now 58% of college students and may rise as high as 66% sometime in the future. They cite this as a cause to worry about their own future. They don't address the fact that these female college students will take a couple of decades to reach high enough into the power chain to have any influence on the male prospects of male college students (if they ever do). Until then, the best the female graduates can do is compete with their fellow male graduates -- whose access to the power chain is far greater simply because they are male and most in management positions are still male.

femmaj said...

Hi everyone! We are actually having a FemMaj potluck right now, all of us in the kitchen (hah) having a gay old time and discovered this post! Thank you for your support. Feminists on campus have been standing up and speaking out at meetings and by writing letters to administrators.

In fact, this past Tuesday, Men In Power held a panel discussion titled "Gender in the Media." The panelist included members of MIP, Maroon (by-now notorious UChicago newspaper), Organization of Black Students, UChicago Democrats, and a Femmaj rep! Over 15 people carried signs at the event with slogans like "Misogyny has never looked so Maroon," "Keep your editorials out of our pants," "UChicago Coalition for the Master Signifier," "We Love Our Future Leaders," and "Save the Patriarchy: Give the Hammer Back To Men." Our feminist sentiments were acknowledged by Steve (MIP founder) and the feminist representation was great. We're posting a partial transcript and review of this and other recent actions on our blog: femmaj.wordpress.com. We're pressing MIP to change their name and put out a nondiscrimination statement...


Yeah! So we're working hard, maintaining our optimism and energy, and working to keep (establish?) a safe, tolerant atmosphere on campus...always a challenge.

Come visit us at our blog and thanks for the heads up!

In solidarity,
Ali, member of UChicago's Feminist Majority

Bwec said...

Given the statistics below and the number of dissolved families. I think men should have at least 1 group to give them support. Is this ok with anybody?

Women have the choice to work or stay home. I hope that someday men have this choice and women will support us, give us equal custody of a child and allow us to be a father if they divorce us. I hope that someday women will take care of us and give us choices.

I remember my dad used to drive an hour each way to sneak up and visit me during the summer while I was home alone and my mother was at work. He could only see me every other weekend or 4 days a month. The law says that men can only have "visitation" to their children. It meant the world to me the precious little time I did get to see my dad.

My mom divorced him and took his home and I remember making tents out of bed sheets with him in his efficiency apartment while he paid the mortgage on my mom's new house and gave my mom alimony and child support. The law states that a man is required to support a woman financially if she divorces him.

My dad had little money left and I remember how empty his apartment was. All this and somehow he never said anything bad about my mom. We used to eat macaroni and ketchup a lot.

He sometimes fixed garage doors for people just so he could take me to the store and buy a toy, and sometimes to a baseball game.

He never dated as a man needs to show he has enough money or women will not accept us, nor could he ever have another child, only my mother could afford to have another child.

90% of men loose their children in divorce and are only allowed to be visitors of 4 days a month in their child's life. 85% of the homeless are men and boys. 75-80% of suicides are men and boys. Substance abuse among men has increased dramatically. Suicides have increased 300% in men and boys since 1970. Men now only acquire 40% of college degrees. Men are 95% of workplace fatalities. Men now die 7 years earlier than women. Men have unequal healthcare funding, men are subject to register for forced military draft, Men have no affirmative action as women do in education and business, no men only scholarships, loans, grants and Title IX policies as women do to give men equal opportunities for education. Men have no domestic violence laws such as VAWA to protect them and are directly turned away from services and shelters for Domestic Violence. Men are required or forced by law to financially support women both in courtship, marriage AND after divorce. Women initiate 70% of all divorce. Men have no conception rights. Men do not have choices as women do, only responsibility and an obligation to support whatever choices a woman wants to make.

Men don't get female attention by default as women do. I don't think women realize how solitary and lonely it is to be a man. Men have to produce something of value and offer it to women to be accepted by women or give money to women so that we can talk on the phone with one or feel loved and connection, even just for a moment by having sex with a prostitute. Otherwise we are left to rot in the streets and under bridges as 85% of the homeless are men.

I only hope that women can see that men are people to, we are not so tough as you think and are showing signs in our society of crying out for help. I only hope that we can listen...