Debunking myth of male power

Donna Nebenzahl | Montreal Gazette | January 27, 2012

Myth of Male PowerThe hazards that men face – dangerous jobs, combat, stress-related early deaths – have actually made the world safer for women, argues American political scientist Warren Farrell, author of seven books including The Liberated Man (1974) and the recently updated The Myth of Male Power.

Considered a leader of the pro-men movement and actively involved in lobbying the U.S. government to create a White House Council on Boys to Men, Farrell believes that just as feminism freed women from being coerced into traditional female roles, it’s time the same was done for men.

It’s all about power, Farrell says, but rather than meaning money or position, real power is having control over one’s life. “In terms of recognizing and developing their power,” he writes, “men are in a similar position today that women were in the late 1950s, at the dawn of the feminist movement.”

Men must learn from those movements rather than criticize them, he says. For instance, he describes a scenario in which women are earning a good salary, able to take care of themselves economically. “Then they will stop and say, ‘How do I take care of myself in other ways? How do I have enough time for my children, for my husband, for my private time, for my spiritual time, my time with my church? How do I have enough time to exercise? How doI have enough time to reconnect with women friends?’

“And so women start asking, once money is taken care of, ‘How do I create a balanced life?’”

Men, on the other hand, learn that their relationship books are business books. “We learn how to earn the money. … It is an indicator of men’s powerlessness that we haven’t given men the encouragement to ask that question of themselves.”

Both genders have had traditional roles – women to raise children, men to earn money and protect – and it’s not appropriate to have a women’s movement liberating women and condemning men, or a men’s movement liberating men and condemning women, says Farrell, who was elected three times to serve on the board of the U.S. National Association of Women.

“It’s appropriate to … together make a transition from the old rigid gender roles to more fluid gender roles,” he says, “and where a man raising children can be as respected as a woman raising money.”

Donna Nebenzahl

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