What Part Am I Not Getting? Help Wanted

Young Dad Holding Baby Son

” Western thinking is failing because it’s complacent arrogance prevents it from seeing the extent of its failure”
–Edward DeBono

Here I am again–I feel like the village idiot. I’m just not ‘getting it’. This week, in Toronto, a group called C.A.F.E. or Canadian Association for Equality was opening a Center for Men and Families. I admit that I don’t know much more about this outfit than has been written in the papers. What I do know, for certain, is that I have studied men’s issues, their complexity and scope for quite some time. I also know that a place where men of all ages can go for advocacy, support and an educated ear is/was sorely needed. Then the other shoe fell and the elation that was mine turned to disappointment. At least one of the T.O. papers were quite sceptical about the ‘how, what and who’of it all. It seemed that all was not well among some of the women’s groups who thought that this was opportunistic, not really what it was purported to be and was against women’s rights. Basically a replay of the ‘old days.’ A front for a group who would use the same tactics and focus to return to a time when men were kings and women were subjugated.

In all I read I didn’t see or get that view. If there is proof of other things going on-if there is something else happening that we, the public interest, needs to know then please share it with us so that we can become better informed. If this outfit isn’t who or what they say they are then it wont take long to figure that out and most men, I believe, would stay away in droves. Donations, fund raising efforts and contributions would all but dry up. The ‘problem’ would take care of itself.

Back in the 20’s when the women’s movement began to catch hold there were accusations, tactics and comments used by groups of men who had absolutely no desire to share their spotlight with women. Women had their place, said many of these men of those days, and the public eye was not it. But courageous women fought through under the most hazardous and gut wrenching times to survive, grow and become much more relevant in more modern times. I say good for them because what they did and what they accomplished was not only good for women but it was helpful to many free thinking and progressive men as well.

What I don’t get, then, is why all this negativity? Don’t men deserve the same opportunities to health, welfare, fairness both legally and socially, equality, full custodial opportunities, learning opportunities and support networks. Why is it any less important for men to enjoy these same possibilities? I don’t want to be argumentative here. I’m just trying to understand what the difference is. We–men–are not the enemy nor are we the cause of all the unfairness in the world. Having worked in the public service as a Social Service Worker for over 20 years I could repeat stories about the unfairness of the system that favoured women as well but getting into a he said/she said and she did that too situation is just unproductive here or anywhere for that matter.

The issues that surround men and the difficulties that men are having adapting to the ‘new world’ are well known. The issues connected to fatherlessness are also well known especially where they relate to most social indicators: public violence, teen suicide rates, disproportionate mental health issues, sexual violence and assault, teenage pregnancies, learning challenges and high drop out rates, increased incidence of rape, and dramatic increases in substance use. Men are also victims of domestic violence but these incidents are vastly under-reported so they receive little if any public scrutiny. I would have thought that any attempt by men to begin to address these and other important issues which, hopefully, would improve the safety and well being of women would have been welcomed and applauded. Finally men will have a chance to talk about much of this stuff and receive a fair hearing. It is important that these messages come from other men who understand the importance of seeing and treating all human beings in an equal way. That’s the message that needs to be heard. Having these issues out in the light of day can do nothing but make it a safer and more equitable place for all of us–men AND women.

Equality always comes with a price attached to it. If we are all fighting to be heard and to be treated equally then we will all have to pay a price for the privilege. I don’t know what that price will be. I just know that it will need to be paid by ALL of us. If equality is really the goal then we should each have the same right to advocate for a fair and just system but not at the expense of gains realized by others. There is no gain if someone loses something in the process.

I confess I’m a little tired of being labelled a misogynist if I don’t agree with all the points that some of the women’s groups are putting out there. The fact is I don’t agree with all that is said. For instance the legal system needs a top to bottom overhaul when it comes to custodial and support issues. If fairness and equality are the goals and honest change is sought then this is the place to start.

In any large, growing movement there is always going to be the ‘haters’–those who are radical and militant. Both sides of this discussion have those ‘haters’ in their midst. Let’s leave them out of the effort to attain some equality, respect and good will so that the work we do will provide some change and some progress that will feed us to do bigger things.

Anyways, that’s the way I see it–all the best and thanks for coming out–Jim

Please send me your comments pro or con–let me know what you are thinking

Contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com

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