Warning: This is a potentially controversial topic. Participants are asked to consider it from a Humanist perspective with intellectual curiosity, open mindedness and fairness. If your history precludes you from being able to consider the topic and your own biases objectively, then you may want to reconsider your participation.
Men’s groups have been around for centuries. They have generally been formed around social activities (eating & drinking), common interests (business, hobbies) & pursuits (sports), service or business (networking). These groups were “of men”, “for men” but not about the experience of “being men”.
A new type of Men’s group has arisen over the past 20 years – The Men’s Advocacy group. This sees men and their allies deciding upon societal issues that affect men and then advocating for them as a societal class.
As in all social movements, there is a continuum from moderates who want to fine tune the system in certain areas to extremists who believe the whole system is corrupt/damaged and want to either scrap it all and start again or opt out entirely. Then there is the search for causes, for blame, for theories and following those, proposed solutions. These again fall on a continuum of moderate to extreme.
1. Are there legitimate issues involving men’s treatment by society that need to be addressed?
2. There is a thought process in certain quarters that because men have been the dominant force in our culture, any fallout from this is theirs to bear and their issues will fall very low on the priorities list for society. Discuss the legitimacy of this theory.
3. Even the idea of an advocacy group for men rings as absurd or even obscene in the ears of some members of society. Explore your feelings about this concept.
4. Another theory is that, in some ways, men have also been victims of patriarchy, biology and history. Rigidly defined roles have limited their options, their range of emotional responses, their expected behaviours and this has lead to stress, anxiety, unhappiness and all the accompanying phenomena (depression, suicide, addiction, violence, early death). Discuss the legitimacy of this theory.
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