My father (Menachem) Imanuel Marx died Friday, November 13, 1964, when I was 13 years old. My mother woke my brother and I up with the news early that morning. We went to the hospital and saw him for the last time.
I didn’t cry then. Daniel and I went to school that day. I didn’t tell anyone. Two days later at the funeral, I was still being “a man” (i.e. not crying). Until I was in my second men’s group around age 31, I didn’t allow myself to cry. I rationalized this by saying to myself: “How does x compare with the death of my father?”.
I am self-identified as a Jewish man. Growing up that meant being intellectual and not emotional. Our Sabbath dinner was the only time in the week, when we couldn’t read at the table. While I was “schooled” on feelings through my men’s work (, most significantly through helping co-found Men Stopping Rape, Inc. in 1983), it was only several months ago that I was able to first feel extreme anger towards my (late) mother for her totally unforgivable physical abuse of my son when he was a child.
Masculinity is an issue that we men often ignore. Through my early men’s work, I learned to be aware when walking in the dark on deserted streets. I started to notice women (or people I thought might be women) coming towards me, and began crossing the street to avoid needlessly scaring some of them.
There are layers of “maleness”. When reading my young son books, I used to change the numerous “he’s” to “she”. When marrying my first wife, I convinced her to keep her “maiden name” (sic). When we decided to try to have a child, we needed to decide what last name(s) s/he should have. Ben has his mother’s last name both so that her family name carries on and because it was the best alternative we could agree upon. I don’t know anyone else who has chosen similarly!
I am ashamed that when I ran competitively in the early 1980’s, I was proud of consistently finishing ahead of the first female runner. Why does the man “need” to be taller than his female partner? Why does the man need to be older than his female partner? Why does the man need to make more money than his female partner? While I’m taller than both of my wives, I’ve been on both sides of the age and earning side in my two marriages.
Being solely emotionally dependent upon women has been an issue I’ve faced for most of my life. For me it has been leaning upon primary relationship partners and not having any real friends. I feel fortunate that I’m finally beginning to develop meaningful friendships with men. Though I have a long way to go, I am confident that I’m moving forward today.
In closing I would like to suggest a few organizations and other resources that have been a great help to me. Organizing White Men for Collective Liberation (OWMCL) is an important new organization which I hope will prove successful in helping us deal with racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism at a minimum. Voice Male Magazine is a wonderful resource for men related to sexism as well as other isms. Victories is a wonderful Chicago Area organization helping local men connect with their hearts. As a newbie, I am trying to help it become more diverse (Men of Color, Gay/Bi/Trans,Class) and it will do much better in the coming years. MenEngage Alliance is an international organization helping to build worldwide gender equality reaching men and boys. Pro-Feminist FAQS is an excellent effort at summarizing Pro-Feminist efforts in the U.S. Several men worth noting (more could easily be added) include: John Stoltenberg , Steven Botkin, Byron Hurt, Michael Flood and Jackson Katz.
Outside of the Pro-Feminist Men’s Movement several other organizations are worth noting. The Good Men Project is a commercial effort which has some good writing on various men’s issue. Despite having had some very negative local experiences, The Mankind Project works with men internationally helping us deal with other feelings.
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