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February 06, 1992 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-02-06

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II

The Michigan Daily -Weekend etc.

P

arty at

February 6, 1992
What a piece of work
E is

Page 1

Ground Zero
M y time was dwindling away and
defining my thoughts on the night's
experience was a painstaking pro-
cess.
I'd sat in on a panel discussion
on "Redefining Black Media,"
sponsored by the Black Student
Union as part of the University's
events for Martin Luther King, Jr's
national holiday.
The three speakers, filmmaker
Romell Foster-Owens, media as-
sassin Harry Allen and University
lecturer Robert Chrisman gave an
insightful analysis of white media
as themonopolizing, racist and para-
sitic thing it is.
University Graduate student and
speaker Jamal Young then deliv-
ered a provocative denunciation of
Blacks in Hollywood. In his usu-
ally fiery oratorical style, Young
equated all Black filmniakers with
pimps until they depict Black people
actually killing white people on
film.
The Kuenzel room was swing-
ing.

i
1
l

In a less-than-liberal sense, I
felt that MLK was finally getting a
fair and historically logical epi-
logue.
Jai

And then it started, much as I'd
feared.
Given that the symposium was
directed at the use of media for pro-
Black purposes, the discussion of
course turned to what many see as
the greatest symbol of white
hegemonic media on campus -
The Michigan Daily.
A female student pointed out a
cartoon printed in the Daily, mak-
ing light of shootings in theaters at
the openings of Juice, Ernest
Dickerson's film which deals with
violence between young Black men.
I personally couldn't defend it.
But before the night would end,
there'd be more accusations made
between'our erstwhile Black lead-
ers, not all of them so fair or bal-
anced. Due to a particular one of
our opportunistic Black voices on
campus, the function turned coun-
terproductive.
The problem in blaming the pa-
per for the work of the cartoonist is
systemic. This kind of simplistic
thinking assumes that we can trap
each other in external contexts.
The way I see it, my very pres-
ence at the Daily only shows that
the newspaper is not the embodi-
ment of evil that so many call it.
The truly entrenched forms of white
media in America simply will not
allow a voice like mine onto their
pages, to any extent at all.
Like many writers at the paper
do themselves, Iconsidermyself an
active voice for Black liberation at
the Daily, even if many Black stu-
dents here would call that a contra-
diction in terms.
The Michigan Review, my own
pick for what is truly the most re-
gressive, white supremacist publi-
cation in Ann Arbor, would weakly
depict me as an extremist.
Finding myself dealing with
contradictions that were superflu-
ous at best, I redefined my own
principles.
The best journalist is bound to
his or her writings by a basic social
responsibility. By the same token,
he or she cannot be ideologically
separated from them.
What's more, I would expand
my own personal philosophy to in-

by Stefanie Vines
WV hen I was five years old, I
wanted to be a man. Every morning,
I watched Mr. Rogers, but of course,
my favorite TV characters were
Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie.
Nobody wanted to fly to NeverI
Never land (with Peter Pan not Tin-t
ker Bell) more than me.
I liked to play football, and when myc
mother suggested that I take dancing
lessons, I laughed. But like most kids, I
found my "proper" niche in society.
Every now and then, though, I couldn't.
help wondering what life would be like
with a penis rather than a vagina. <
Today, manymen are obsessed, like
I was, with their places in society. Con-I
jure up your own masculine image.1
What do you see? A detached andI
unemotional lug? A football-cheering,1
beer-drinking Al Bundy? Are we born1
"gendered" or is masculinity a mythi
created by society? Anew breed ofimen
are blaming society, especially the fe-
male half of it.
The Men's Movement
Tom Gerschick, a University lec-
turer in Sociology who teaches a class4
called "Men and Masculinities," said1
there are three main strains of the men'st
movements today: the Men's Rights
movement, the Mythopoetic movement
and the Pro-feminist/Gay Affirmative
movement which includes a group
called the National Council for
Changing Men.
The Men's Rights people
seem to be an echo of Betty
Friedan's early ideals. The
group'smembersassertthat
men are oppressedin much
the same way as women
are. (Kind offunny, since
women cite oppression
by men, right? Looks
like the makings of ar
vicious circle to me.)
These men - of-
ten frustrated hus-
bands, fathers or jilted
lovers - look for po-
litical solutions toissues
such asmen'shealth and.
men's rights in custody 'N
cases. In a platform plank
that may belie the root of
their sentiments, the men
have a passionate desire for
women to be included in the
national draft.
In a paper entitled "The War of
the PAD" (Paternity/Assent/Draft),
Leigh Travis, president of the
Washtenaw County Chapter of Fathers
for Equal Rights and a leading activist
in the Men's Rights movement, argues
that men need to assert themselves
through the government to balance
womens' and minorities' growing
power.
"The last 30 years have taught us a
hard lesson - a bitter pill for male
chivalry and male chauvinism to swal-
low. Namely, men in the 20th century
must learn that they are, at this stage of
the game, essentially powerless to de-
fend themselves against the tactics of

RC junior Becca
Coll believes that the
Men's movement is de-
structive. "At a time
when women are just
beginning togainpower,
to have it taken away
from them through an
embracement of nature
is just kind of devastat-
ing for women," Coll
s' n said.
Are we reacting too
quickly though? RCjun-
ior Craig Regester feels
people might make an
un- fair assessment of his
search for his masculine essence. "I
don't like how society defines what I
am, but I can look at women and people
of color and listen to what they say I
should be. But I have to define that for
myself and any attempt to do that is
perceived as a threat to their power," he
said.
Perhaps Regester is one of the set
that Garvin commented on. "A lot of
men don't recognize the danger of op-
pressing women. I'd like to see amove-
ment that recognizes that men misuse
their power in society," Garvin said.
The reception of the movements, as
with all new developments, runs the
gamut. Who knows what will survive
the scathing social consciousness of
America. Will they kill each other offor
will they figure out how to breast feed
and call the whole thing off? Wait and
see.
Stewart said that it is unproductive
to base the question of where stereo-
types about gender originate on either
biology or society.
However, she said, "The propor-
tion of variation in gender roles that is
attributable to biology, for my money,
is small."
While what Stewart says may be
true, many men in the movements have
tried to use biology to justify the tradi-
tional gender roles of the man in the
workforce and the woman at home bare-
foot and pregnant. The research is worth
examining as long as it is continually
being questioned, instead of being ac-
cepted as truth.
Men Can't Cry Mentality
One myth aboutmasculinity that the
Men's movements are all trying to
change is the idea that men can't show
emotions or vulnerability in public the
way women can.
Powers said he wishes that he could
show his vulnerability in public without
having his masculinity be questioned.
"There are many times when I want to
cry, but something stops me. I think it is
much less acceptable for aman to cry in
public than for a woman to," he said.
LSAjuniorDoug Schwalmsaidcry-
ing implies that men aren't masculine.
See MEN, Page 3

attention on women and minorities has men to reflect on the question of what
taken away attention from them," he kind of man do I want to be, rather than
said. accepting acultural view," Stewart said.
"There seems to be a large cultural "I think, in that respect, it is parallel to
socialization of Black men as violent or the women's movement which allowed
angry or to be feared," Wilson said. women to ask what kind of
"The Men's movement is being led by woman do I want to
middle-class, white, heterosexual 2 be?"

TI s [t... t ti}"
called"relat-
ing to nature."
Somehow, it's supposed to
help.
During Bly-inspired retreats themen
"bond" by getting back to traditional
roles in society. Yet another irony sur-
faces, when we discover the men (pre-
dominantly white, middle-class men)
using Native American culture and spiri-
tual stories as their bonding catalysts.
The Pro-feminist/Gay Affirmative
movement focuses on male socializa-
tion and male power in society. Of the
three factions, this group is most in tune
with the Women's movement and
preaches social action as a key way of
getting in touch with male identity. It
recognizes how men use their power in
negative ways, particularly toward
women.
(The eroiun are all ab~ouit men

The Critics
If you went to a wildman weekend,
you probably wouldn't find an actual
Native American anywhere in sight.
"The retreats are for white men to go
beat drums and practice Native Ameri-
can culture - and my question is what
are they going to do to help Native
American people or other oppressed
groups?" said Doniel Mark Wilson, a
Sociology graduate student and co-in-
structor for Gerschick's "Men and
Masculinities" class.
As critics have vointed out (some-

fun
Murderous clowns and
microwaves. Read Leisha 2

. hoto

A look into the lives of
students who are parents.

6

- .

I

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