Men’s Supplement Introduction

By Ruth Davenport

Why a supplement on men’s issues?

I first started tossing the idea around a year ago after the publication of the 2001 Gauntlet Feminism supplement when a male friend snorted that feminism would carry no weight with him as long as it was one-sided. "Men have issues too, damnit," he declared.

So originally, this was a project I conceived to reinforce my own credibility as a feminist, the sugar-coated idealistic little tart that I am. I didn’t actually believe that men had issues that could compare to -sniff-women’s issues. I mean, we’ve got problems.

But then I started thinking a bit, putting the idea out there and telling friends about it. I got into a lot of debates over feminism and gender and before I knew it, the vehicle for my ideological growth had taken on a life all its own. Men really do have issues. More than that, they have issues with their issues.

The issue with men’s issues is that they’re so subverted-men have enjoyed the privilege of patriarchy for thousands of years. Now that women and other minority groups have found a voice, society expects men to ante up for all that privilege and boy, they’ve got some back taxes to pay. Changing times may mean that men suffer all the same identity crises, body complexes and social stigmas as women, but damnit, they were top of the food chain all that time-they can just shut up and take it.

This was made clear to my dedicated team of writers over a four-week period as we phoned experts looking for interviews on everything from circumcision to men’s magazines. We left a lot of messages and e-mails with a lot of people asking for their input yet we didn’t get a lot in response. It seems no one has the time to talk or think about discrimination or prejudice when it concerns men-if such a thing was even possible. This posed quite a problem for us. How do you strike up a dialogue when no one wants to talk?

We scratched our heads, surfed the Internet, checked books out from the library, bounced ideas around, wrote these pieces and then assembled this supplement. We didn’t come up with any answers; but hopefully we’ll get you thinking. And when people start thinking, they start talking. Maybe they’ll talk to other people, who will in their turn think and talk and… voilá. Dialogue.

I don’t want to start a gender war. I don’t believe men have more or worse issues than women or vice versa. I believe we’re all in an unfortunate position where an x or y chromosome precludes us under societal mores from comfortably participating in certain activities or taking on certain roles. These barriers dissipate only through awareness, education and dialogue, elements that can’t be applied exclusively to one half of the human race alone.

So please read, ponder, enjoy. Get thinking. Get yakking. And if you feel lost, please don’t be afraid to stop and ask directions.

Ruth Davenport

Men’s Supplement Editor

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