The ManKind Project - I'm Very Impressed!

I first heard of The ManKind Project  (MKP) while collecting resources for A Men’s Project.   I presumed that MKP was mythopoetic men, sharing the wisdom of men like Robert Bly and Michael Meade.  I envisioned rural men’s retreats with lots of drumming.   I pictured it as not being  significantly misogynist (nor anti-feminist), but rather being an elitest, apolitical “escape” of privileged (mostly) White men.  It appeared “not bad”, but also “not so good”.

More recently B, a national (USA) representative of MKP, emailed me, suggesting that we set up a time to talk.  Talking with him was eye opening.   I heard a lot about a decentralized  international men’s organization,  sounding 98% in line with my beliefs and priorities.    

Great men’s work efforts I’ve previously seen, have always had significant limitations including being:  1.)  Single issue – e.g. rape, 2.) Limited to a single, local area  and/or 3.) Short-term only - dependent upon charismatic leadership.     Even a highly successful effort such as the White Ribbon Project, which I greatly admire, is dwarfed by the forces it takes on.

B told me that he was good friends with two men I admire (from his area).   I asked both of them about him via email.   One man replied and confirmed my positive feelings about B.

I reached out to my local MKP contact.  He connected me with an open, monthly “Elders” group.    Several weeks later I received word of a free day-long introduction to MKP,  which was meeting a week before the next  Elders’ meeting.

I went to the intro feeling relaxed.    Nineteen of us, including six facilitators, spent the day together at an attractive, suburban home with a huge yard.   We seemed very upper-middle class, mostly from our 40’s to 60’s and at least 17 of us were White.   Several men were clearly Gay and no one looked “weird” or “outrageous”.

I was very impressed with each man’s self-introduction.     While some were “in recovery” and others described very diverse life experiences, all  seemed interesting.   The facilitation was loose, positive and inclusive.    We learned of various significant parts of MKP, including some of its jargon.

As we moved on,  I had the most trouble with some of my weak areas including role playing, expressing myself through “making noise” and moving my body around.     Parts of things that we did seemed limited, but on the whole I was quite impressed with how we became very cohesive as a group so quickly.

At the end of the day I felt good about MKP, but wanted to wait until my Elders’ meeting to conclude anything.

Today I joined nine other men at my first Elders’ Circle.   All the other men had been an active part of MKP for at least several years including having been formally initiated as “New Warriors” through participating in a weekend “New Warrior Training Adventure” retreat.  (We were all White.)

I found the circle amazing!   One man initially read two interesting poems about active listening (as opposed to trying to “fix it”).   During much of the rest of the circle, great listening skills were evident over and over again.   There was no fear of confrontation.  It was insightful, focused, caring confrontation that was appreciated by all.    Men talked of major personal  life experiences  such as one man struggling making the best of supporting his partner who Is awaiting a  hoped for necessary organ transplant.   We were pushed to focus upon what mattered the most to us and to stay within our feelings.   Men heard  much beyond many of the surface words, picking up what seemed most important.

Summary Impressions

The ManKind Project is certainly impressive!   I hope to become more involved.  At a minimum I hope to regularly attend monthly Elder Circles.   I would like to go to a Training Adventure.  Figuring out with MKP allies how to make it affordable will be a challenge.

I don’t relate to the language of the group.   I may grow into feeling comfortable with it.

The ManKind Project helps a lot of men.  It will grow and continue to help many more in the future.   I’m unaware of any other effort that has been faintly as successful at reaching men over at least the past 35+ years.

MKP is (evidently) struggling with how to become more diverse.   It certainly needs to bring in more Men-of-Color and working class men.

MKP is reaching out and trying to deal with its issues.    Its focus upon decentralized leadership and building from the ground up is great!

In an idealized future it will need, also, to help us men reach out beyond our “micro worlds” as individuals.    While we struggle with our own issues, there are massive struggles around us that can’t be successfully resolved only working man-by-man together.  

It is far easier to work with a few MKP men who individually may be survivors of childhood  sexual abuse, rather than seriously systematically focusing upon the sixth of us who were sexually abused growing up.  It is much easier to work on our individual relationships with women, rather than actively confronting sexist violence affecting women and girls we don’t know.    

I hope that as MKP grows and continues to mature, it will begin to more explicitly  help us men move well beyond our narrow personal worlds.       If we can do this, both men and women will benefit!

MKP Links - see here for  multiple MKP links - within A Men's Project.

No comments:

Post a Comment