This month’s masculinity stories have been relatively quiet in terms of diversity, if not number. Of course, Trump again dominates the subject, and these articles are not included below because they do not add any substantial argument to the huge number of similar articles previously published. What we have mostly seen is Clinton advocates (Stage 3) critiquing Trump (Stage 2) and claiming that Clinton lost the election due to a misogyny personified in Trump and more widely manifest in society. This notion of misogyny has been troubled by the statistics showing that the majority of white women voted for Trump, clearly finding Clinton’s “vote for me because I am a woman” argument unappealing. A blistering radical feminist critique of Clinton can be read here: Hillary Clinton, The Vote, and Contemporary Feminism’s Class Blindness. Within the context of masculinity, Clinton’s archetypal Stage 3 analysis was also problematic. Clinton got stuck in a standard identity politics trap that failed to acknowledge the complex nature of individual and systemic power between, for example, a poor man and a rich woman. Escaping from this trap does not require, as some have suggested, doing away with identity politics: rather it involves expanding identity politics to incorporate different permutations of power.
November 19 was International Men’s Day, which always causes a flurry of articles where Stage 2 folks advocate for the day and Stage 3 folks call for it to be scrapped. I wrote an article, Why I Changed My Mind About International Men’s Day which explains my evolution of thoughts on the matter. In short, I would rather now take the good with the bad in regard to IMD than reject it in totality. The editors at Inside Man, who published the article, offered their own thoughts in an article, Should Feminists Celebrate International Men’s Day? which calls for a more diverse understanding of IMD where different people provide different interpretations of the day, rather than there having to be a singular understanding of it, which sounds entirely sensible to me. Despite the fact that I clearly argue for moving beyond both a men’s rights and feminist approach to IMD, the article was angrily dismissed by one MRA response article and its numerous commenters as yet another piece of evil feminist propaganda.
The commonality in the two themes above highlight the driving force behind The Five Stages of Masculinity. On the one hand we have a Stage 2 position exemplified by Trump or IMD, and on the other a Stage 3 position exemplified by Clinton and the standard feminist analysis of IMD. The point of The Five Stages of Masculinity is to free ourselves from being stuck in either the Stage 2 or Stage 3 rut. We need to learn lessons from both stages but acknowledge that neither have the full answer, moving on not to just the common ground but the different ground of Stage 4 and 5.
A Masculinity NGO Theory of Change
I’ve written the second in an occasional series of “moonshot ideas” that propose large high-level solutions to the “problem” of masculinity. This article briefly outlines what a useful masculinity not-for-profit or NGO would look like, including the following theory of change:
If you or someone you know has experience establishing initiatives in the not-for-profit domain and want to explore the viability of such an NGO, please do feel free to get in touch to start a conversation.