Friday, May 25, 2012

friday forte: a centre for men

our last morning

Why yes - I do support setting up a men's centre on Burnaby Mountain. As the mother of a son, I think the idea is worth thinking about, and I don't think it can be dismissed casually by saying that we still live in a very male-dominated society (or rape culture as I've seen it referred to in its most extreme). Certainly society has a long way to go before gender equality, but excluding a men's centre just because they are the 'dominant sex' is not a valid excuse.

man and boy and bird

No, I'm not advocating a men-only gentleman's club arrangement, where there are token ladies' nights for the little woman at home, and men can sit around practising their chauvinism. I'm suggesting that young men need a safe space to learn what it does mean to be a real man, to get away from the media stereotypes forced on them, where their gender are the inept buffoons, or the laughing stock butt of every jokey commercial.  They need to know that not all women think they are the enemy - that most are willing to give them a chance and not automatically label them as sexist - and that women are neither inferior nor superior.

They also need a safe place to explore their own feelings, to share their fears and know that this isn't a sign of weakness, before a health problem becomes untreatable or a mind gets set on suicide as a way out.

Nellie: Gowland Point, Pender Island

I read the "men are the enemy" diatribes online and see the frankly sexist rants about how only women are the good sex; it makes me sad. Most of these young men you talk so disparagingly about were raised by mothers, many of whom try to raise thoughtful, compassionate individuals who are concerned about equality as much as their sisters are. Society might be biased against our efforts but things will only change if we do give new generations of young men a chance to practice this equality rather than condemning them to repeat the cycle. When you offer up some jaded half-baked and generalised observation pushing men back into their cave, you offend the parents who are trying to make a difference and yes, you push the boys back in the cave too.

one step at a time

I would like my son to grow up and leave home into a welcoming world which values him as a man without automatically labelling him as sexist, misogynistic or flawed by nature of his gender. It's not just daughters we need to make the world a better place for.

As the mother of my son, I think the world I'm about to send him off into needs more men's centres.

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