One of the most shopworn habits of the feminist version of the “men’s movement” is trotting out the canard that the MHRM does not actually do anything to help men. I heard it for about the ten thousandth time today in a tweet from one such concerned individual, Mr. David Pilbäck of mensmovement.com as follows.
Heard you’ve got a lot of $ these days. Want to help men? Why not use the $ setting up a hotline for male depressed? @AVoiceForMen
— Mensmovement (@Mensmovementcom) February 27, 2015
Another voice from the outside, who I can imagine felt quite triumphant with each retweet of his snarky little suggestion. So, I called him on it.
To which he replied.
To which I replied:
@Mensmovementcom It’s a serious offer. I’ve checked into it, and the problem is qualified, trained personnel. You step up, I will cough up.
— Paul Elam (@AVoiceForMen) February 27, 2015
And of course I could not resist adding:
Now, I will wager that 99.99999% of all snark exchanges on Twitter between differing camps in the gender discourse would just end there or escalate into a pattern of unproductive badgering.
But could there be an opportunity here? I think so. While the social justice current seems to run very near the surface of Mr. Pilbäck’s river, I did find some things that appear promising — even aside from the very smart ownership of a great domain name — on his mission statement:
We have to seek understanding of our brothers and sisters; no matter how different their views yet may seem to us. Even if we do not find an understanding we have to, within ourselves, develop a perspective of love for the other person and respect for his or her opinions.
There has to be a common understanding of the biological and neurological differences and limits of the different genders. Societal development needs to be guided by scientific underpinnings, not by blind ideology.
Hard to argue with that. In fact, I endorse those sentiments fully. But I do want to find out exactly where David’s intentions actually reside.
As I said, my offer to him is serious. And I can state without question that to whatever degree that David is seriously interested in helping depressed men, as opposed to say, spreading the ideological tomfoolery that men are inherently flawed, AVFM and many of its readers will help him.
There are a couple of red flags, though. There was such a flippant, even condescending tone of superiority that carried the implication that AVFM is not really interested in helping men. And to be brutally frank, there is an air about his Tweet that suggests he has never seriously considered doing such a thing himself. It is as though he assumes that such an operation materializes out of a wallet.
At various times I have spoken with Dr. Tara Palmatier and others quite seriously about how we would go about funding and maintaining such an operation. Actually, Dr. T and I have had numerous conversations on that very subject. The fact is that it is not that simple.
Aside from expense and a thousand things that MUST be done right, there is the issue of maintaining qualified, trained volunteers who will follow through with commitments to man (there’s that word) phones faithfully.
And that training? Easier said than done. The people you need for this cannot be products of short-term online courses for dabblers in crisis intervention. Taking on the serious responsibility demands that you dependably train people to know the difference between brief intervention and referring to more qualified help as compared to playing psychotherapist over the phone with depressed, possibly suicidal human beings.
All that takes time, talent and real expertise to produce. It does not produce itself unless you are looking for a disaster.
So yes, David, we have thought a lot about this. Likely before you did. But still my offer is sincere. If you can convince me that your sole interest is in men’s dedicated services for depression, and you are willing to step up with your time to provide the skilled labor intensive prerequisites for even getting started, I will endorse the project and ask others to support it with the necessary donations.
I will even draw on our greatest resource, the learned group of clinicians and advocates for men’s issues who really do care about men..
Please send a CV of your qualifications to firstname.lastname@example.org and perhaps show up here in the comments to answer any concerns that people might have.
With a four-to-one ratio of suicide between men and women, it is doubtless that we need to more fully address men’s depression. That is true both in the provision of crisis intervention and referral, as well as in pushing for more public awareness of the problem.
If that is your cup of tea, it puts you right on AVFM’s wish list of allies. The ball is in your court now, sir. And I truly look forward to your answer.