Manology is a response of awareness of the effects of enduring societal pressures on males to “provide, protect and perform”, to repress emotionality, and to shun spirituality and soulfulness. Formal, intentional community-based rites of passage processes to help boys transition into grounded and capable young men are basically gone. Many men are waking up to the pressure they feel to be “success objects”, while idiotic and/or abusive male characters flood our media. Manology acknowledges the negative consequences of these pressures for both men and boys in outcomes including:
- Male mortality rates being higher than women’s in 212 of 221 nations worldwide. (www.aboutmen.ca)
- Male suicide rates are 3-4 times higher than women’s (Statistics Canada).
- In Canadian secondary schools, drop out rates are 5 boys for every 3 girls. (www.macleans.ca)
- 1 in 6 men in North America have had unwanted sexual experiences before age 16. (www.1in6.org)
- 95% of Canadian workplace deaths are male. (Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada)
- Boys represent 80% of autism and 70% of learning and developmental disabilities. (www.aboutmen.ca)
- In the recent recession, more than 80% of the jobs lost have been men’s jobs. (New York Times, Feb 6, 2009)
- Significant numbers of men are victims of domestic violence. (www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm).
- Life expectancy for gay men is 20 years lower than for heterosexual men. (www.aboutmen.ca)
- Father-deprivation (a reality for 2 out 5 American children) is a more reliable predictor of criminal activity than race, environment or poverty.
- The BC government devotes more than 24 times more funding on support services, education, and health care for women than men. (www.marsbc.com)
To act upon this research about men and boys, which is not difficult to find, requires a foundational shift in our societal views of masculinity itself. Traditional masculinity, which values invulnerability, stoicism and ‘power over’, and certain strands of feminism which confuse masculinity itself with patriarchy, are both out of touch with 21st realities for males. Clearly, males as a social group do, in fact, face significant challenges, and yet are presented with a near total lack of male-specific social services, health care or educational infrastructure, let alone, an intentional time and place to gather and get real. Men benefit profoundly from the simple, but quite radical act, of getting together to share ideas, stories, humour and questions as men. Early in the women’s movement women challenged societal norms in their bid to be taken serious in their power. In a similar yet very different vein, men now face the challenge of having their vulnerability acknowledged and learning to advocate about male issues, most of which underscore this vulnerability. While feminism has successfully challenged men’s abuses of power and violence, and rightly so, some strands of feminist theory and teaching have placed masculinity itself under a negative shadow of blame and shame. This leaves many men and women resistant to the growing research evidence noted above. Under the weight of years of negative depictions of masculinity, many people are nervous or uncertain about the instinct they feel at times to stand up for men and boys, question negative generalizations about males, or demonstrate overt compassion for their fathers, brothers and male friends.
In a nation that still does not offer full degree programming in men’s studies in post-secondary education, Manology is a new piece of educational and social infrastructure, and a new pathway to promoting awareness of male issues, encouraging a community of positive masculinity and offering a skill set that men can use to navigate the realities of the 21st Century. Manology also breaks new ground by inviting female instructors and inviting women as participants too, via occasional ‘all-gender’ sessions. In all the above, Manology aims to benefit friendships, family, community, society, and ultimately, the global community and the earth itself.
On a less lofty level, Manology is a place to have fun, try out some new things, share stories, humor and knowledge, learn and to make new friendships. Sessions are interactive, friendly and experiential, not lectures. It’s a great place to connect with yourself and other men in a safe, fun and positive atmosphere. It’s an easy way to break out of patterns of emotional and social isolation. Come and hang out!
Manology holds a set of evolving ideas about 21st Century masculinity:
A 21st Century masculinity seeks to create and sustain positive community among males; understands that the masculine and feminine co-exist in all of us; strives for holistic health in body/mind/spirit; is skilled in the arts of friendship, intimacy, mentorship, and fathering; is skilled in leadership and followership; is honoring in relationships and conscious in sexuality; is creatively alive, spontaneous, clear and aligned in life purpose; is skilled in cooperation; is self-aware and responsible in communication; is assertive in conflict; seeks ongoing awareness about issues of power and diversity; is connected to the wider community and nature, and practices sustainability with self, others and the Earth.
It’s a new century. Manology holds a vision that the current global context of change and complexity, coupled with the urgency of climate change, demand that humanity come together with an intention of unprecedented willingness to work together to redefine cultural norms and roles that have proven detrimental and/or unsustainable. In this vision, men, like all other social groups, have their own important role to play. It is clear that in order for men to gain insight and clarity into what this era may be asking of them, they must first gather together to share their questions, values, strengths, vulnerabilities, stories, humor and wisdom.
Sadly, many/most men in Western society do not have any experience in doing so. And some men have negative experiences of doing so. The Industrial Revolution fostered new aspects of daily life for men that have proven very detrimental to men’s souls: to be separated from families, home and from the land itself; and a economic system that inspired systemic competition for opportunity, advancement and security. Some men’s groups and gatherings have responded to change by trying to re-establish traditional male domination, bringing some stigma to masculinity work in general. Considering all these factors, including persistent societal homophobia, men’s reluctance to gather together in open sharing is understandable. Yet these times are calling for radical and courageous shifts in our daily living. Men’s perceptions, styles, and ways of doing and being need to be validated, invited and engaged, and in new ways. Manology hopes to underline the conspicuous lack of and need for diverse forms of male studies in North America. Drop in on a session and join us.