Men's liberation movement
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The consciousness and philosophy of men's liberation is split into two factions. One is critical of the restraints which a patriarchal society imposes on men. This faction is informed by feminism. The other is informed by masculinism. Whilst the two approaches may debate the degree to which men benefit from institutional power, they both stress the costs of traditional masculinity.
The men's liberation movement developed in the early 1970s among heterosexual, middle-class men in Britain and North America as a response to the cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s, including the growth of the feminist movement, counterculture, women's and gay liberation movements, and the sexual revolution. Jack Sawyer published an article titled "On Male Liberation" in Liberation journal in autumn of 1970, in which he discussed the negative effects of stereotypes of male sex roles. 1971 saw the birth of men's discussion groups across the United States, as well as the formation by Warren Farrell of the National Task Force on the Masculine Mystique within the National Organization for Women. Robert Lewis and Joseph Pleck sourced the birth of the movement to the publication of five books on the subject in late 1974 and early 1975, which was followed by a surge of publications targeted to both lay and more academic audiences. The movement led to the formation of conferences, consciousness raising groups, men's centers, and other resources across the United States. The movement dissolved by the late 1970s, when the conservative and moderate members of the movement formed an anti-feminist men's rights movement, and the progressive members joined the feminist movement.
Men's liberation from patriarchy
This liberation theory holds that men are hurt by the male gender role and patriarchy and that men's lives are alienating, unhealthy and impoverished. They are often sympathetic to feminism and seek to emancipate men in the same manner by which women continue to seek liberation through the feminist movement. They believe that men are overworked, trained to kill or be killed, brutalized and subjected to blame and shame. They give attention to the damage, isolation and suffering inflicted on boys and men through their socialization into manhood.
Men's liberation's engagement with race
Racial differences have historically stratified the men’s liberation movement and such divisions still remain problematic today. Some profeminist scholars argue that racism within American society has emasculated non-white men. For example, black men are perceived to lack control over their innate sexual aggression. Within this ideological framework black men are presented as hyper-sexual to an animalistic degree; they therefore represent beasts, not men. East Asian Americans have been emasculated in an opposite way: they have been portrayed as desexualized, unattractive, small, wimpy, intelligent, and devious. (See: Stereotypes of East Asians in the United States)
Men's liberation's engagement with gay liberation
Second-wave pro-feminism paid increased attention to issues of sexuality, particularly the relationship between homosexual men and hegemonic masculinity. This shift led to more cooperation between the men's liberation and Gay Liberation movements. In part this cooperation arose because masculinity was then understood to be a social construction, and as a response to the universalization of ‘men’ seen in previous men’s movements. This allowed for the men’s liberation movement to analyze the conditions under which society becomes less tolerant of homosexuality.
Profeminist writers have identified several hypotheses for explaining the origin of homophobia. These hypotheses rely on the idea that gender is a binary system where deviation from either gender norm is viewed as socially unacceptable. Such a system is argued to lead to heterosexism, as a way of preserving the binary division.
- Men's support groups
- College Men's Centers
- Public advocacy and law reform.
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