Men’s Commission Is Needed Now More Than Ever
Last week I called for the establishment of a Men’s Commission to address the issues facing the men in our society. I knew it would draw negative responses. I was not prepared for what followed. Below is an email exchange I had with Commissioner Kathryn Kosmeya-Dodge who wrote a letter to the editor and forwarded it to me. We then engaged in a spirited back and forth which is presented below.
From Ms. Kosmeya-Dodge:
“A Men’s Commission?
When men, like all women who now live in a world totally dominated by men, live in a world totally dominated by women, when Godde is always a she, when all political, religious, environmental, social, legal, cultural and everything else in the world is dominated by women, then and only then would I support a Commission on the Status of Men.
I have had enough of David Pisarra’s screed of poor abused men, they need help.
When these “abused” men stop abusing women, when they stop dominating the universe, when women finally have equality and value, then I will listen to a D.P.
In a recent column, he stated that wives rape their husbands. With the world glutted with men brutally raping women, I do not condone someone claiming that wives rape their husbands, which they could only do with a stick, not a dick.
That some men are abused by their own system, the patriarchy, is not surprising. But men need to step up to the plate and change their ways, not ask us, women, to help them out, or ask our government to support them in their dominance.
D.P. tries to make the case that some women abuse men, so forget about the wholesale massive abuse of men over women, and let’s concentrate on the miniscule number of women abusing men. Forget about patriarchal dominance.
As always, let’s make women at fault for causing men to be so violent.”
I wrote back to her as follows:
Thank you for your letter. I’m CC’ing the Editor.
I’m curious though as to the HOW we should accomplish the goals of men being less violent? How do we change men? that seems to me to be a PERFECT subject for a Commission on the Status of Men.”
To my thinking, the points she raises are valid and do need to be addressed. I wonder then why she would be against forming a men’s commission to address those specific issues. Her response is telling:
“Perhaps. But I am concerned with the value and equality of women. Until women have value, equality in everything, from God to Government, men will continue to be violent, that is how they control us., the environment, the world. It is the basis for the belief in the master/slave way of living.
We need a new way of being in the world, of cooperation. That can never ever happen as long as half the world’s population totally dominates the other half. We must have balance and equality.
You can understand then, why women cannot and must not put their energy in saving men. First, we must save ourselves, all the women of the world.
I know men need help, but men must address this, like women did in the 60’s about our oppression. How many men will give up the He God? Will you form a conscious raising group like we women did? All men? We women threw off our shackles. You men need to do the same.
Throughout this exchange it seems to me that she wants men to step up and deal with the issues that she identifies, and I agree with that, and I feel that this is a strong argument in favor of forming a men’s commission. My response to her was that we’re not as far apart as we seem:
“Thank you for taking the time to respond. I agree. we do need to change.
And if the women are taking care of the women, the men need to take care of the men. Hence my call for a mechanism to support that.
I’m not sure we’re as far apart as it seems.”
I was hoping that we were making progress on finding a common ground. It seemed like we may have found a way to discuss the topic so that both sides could be served. She responded with:
“We’re probably not that far apart.
I just want men to step up to the plate on the global wholesale dominance of testosterone, and do something about it.
Maybe, if men are religious, they can begin (in a Christian religion) to recite the lord’s prayer “Our Mother and Father who art in Heaven…” that would be a start.
But we are a long long long long long way from that equality.
I await men’s stepping up to the plate.”
Here we are, both wanting men to take responsibility for their growth, both wanting social ills to be rectified, and yet, we’re miles apart, even though she’s waiting for “men’s stepping up to the plate.”
I suggested that:
“If there was a commission which was tasked with addressing these issues wouldn’t that be a good thing then? If we could open the dialogue with men about these issues in the same way that the Commission on the Status of Women addresses systematic injustices wouldn’t that be progress?
And on a very FAR AFIELD side note, I wonder how to reconcile the concept of a Mother/Father languaging with the monotheistic basis of a Christian religion. I imagine there’d need to be a non-gendered pronoun put in place and agreed to…. but that is for the theologian linguists to determine – which is certainly not me !”
Her final response to me was most illuminating. So long as this is the attitude that prevails, that men should do “something” but anything they do will be the wrong thing or the unnecessary thing, then I fear nothing will change.
“I do not believe a men’s commission could address the total suffocating oppressive dominance of men worldwide. Do you really thing (sic) men are going to address their dominance and power over women? On a men’s commission? Are they going to address the total religious dominance of the male godhead?
Again I say, start a consciousness raising men’s group. Men do not deserve a commission on their status – their status is total dominance. Don’t give them another lever to crush us with.
PS I have a son who I love more than life itself. I do not “hate” men. I hate the patriarchal system. Just wanted you to be clear on that.”
After this exchange I’m more disheartened than ever about how to address the needs of men and not alienate women. It seems to me that if we want to right the wrongs of an imbalanced system we have to first find a way to identify them, and reach the constituency, in this case men. If we want to make better men who are more emotionally available, supportive and less violent, have less of a propensity for suicide, substance abuse, and change the way that boys are raised, we need to openly discuss the issues. By simply ignoring their needs, we are only going to perpetuate the ills and the system that Ms. Kasmeya-Dodge rails against.
I offered a solution, I was met vitriol and diatribe. I renew my call for a Men’s Commission, in light of this discussion I think it more important now than I did a week ago.