Today's Sydney Morning Herald features an article by Guy Mosel titled 21st century man: lost and anachronistic. Overall it's a very good overview of the various strands of the men's movement. However, it suffers from a couple of problems that most media coverage of men's issues falls into.
Firstly, while highlighting many of the issues that are faced by modern day males, it sometimes presents them as if they are "men's own fault", rather than focusing on the social determinants that give rise to them. For example, men are called "stupid and "lacking ambition." Imagine we called women "stupid and lacking ambition" in the 1950s when females were underperfoming at schools and in the workplace! Imagine we called girls suffering from eating disorders "stupid"! We don't do this for women - we see the larger social structures in place that cause their problems - so there's no reason to do this for men.
By taking this at times hostile and sneering look at the men's movement, the article illustrates very well the challenges faced by men's activists. Media coverage of the women's movement is, on the whole, favourable and sympathetic. When the men's movement actually gets some media coverage (such as Mosel's piece), it is treated quite differently.
Secondly, the article ignores all the wonderful things that men and boys do every day to make the world a better place: fighting bushfires and floods; building the roads, buildings and infrastructures that we all depend upon; mining, logging, deep-sea fishing, long-distance transportation; doing frontline dangerous work in the military, police and security - risking their own health, safety and well-being to help others. Not to mention being great husbands, boyfriends, partners, lovers, mates and mentors, and increasingly being irreplaceable hands-on dads.
And while the article presents the men's movement as a rag-tag mish-mash of disparate views and opinions, the same can easily be said of the women's movement. Both movements are essential to make the world a better place for all people - men, women and children. And both movements are necessarily diverse - as diverse as our societies are.
But these quibbles aside, Mosel must be given credit for taking the time to research and write such an in-depth article about the men's movement - one that will raise these issues with a wider mainstream audience, and hopefully stimulate some much-needed discussion about men and boys and their needs.
Here's the article...