Male Studies Conference Delivers- With Some Friction

“Truth is regarded as a terrible word in this age of deconstruction,” said Katherine Young, while fielding questions at the Conference on Male Studies today at Wagner College in New York.  Young was among a panel of varied academicians that spoke at the conference, which was hosted by Wagner Professor Miles Groth and chaired by the erudite pair of Lionel Tiger and Christina Hoff Sommers. The purpose of the conference was to introduce the concept of male studies to a broader public and academic audience.

True to Young’s words, however, there was resistance to that truth in the panel itself.  After a great start, with On Step Institutefounder and MND board member Dr. Ed Stephens posing the initial question “What are the ethical concerns of dedicating 90% of resources to one sex?” and eloquent opening statements from Tiger and Sommers, the momentum faltered briefly with the statement issued by Professor Chip Caprero of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

First, Caprero attempted to paint the entire conference as an afterthought to the field of men’s studies, tossing Michael Kimmel’s name around and suggesting that the academic pursuits being considered by the other panelists were not new, but already well underway. He seemed not to notice that the remainder of the panelists seemed to view Kimmel’s work as the problem.

And then he made the incredulous (and outright stupid) statement that masculism was an attempt to “re assert male privilege.”

It was as though no one had prepped him with a conference description before asking him to speak.  Indeed, it was as though no one had awoken him from his intellectual slumber before giving him a microphone.

The implication is not that he should have or would have spoken otherwise with prepping, but that the conference was apparently organized out of necessity due to a paradigm that has too long operated on Caprero’s point of view.  They might as well have invited Carol Gilligan or Catherine McKinnon to fill his seat for all the benefit it would be to male studies.

It was the only low point of the two hour presentation, but it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, due mainly to what followed.  What was amazing was that in a time when we are used to seeing feminist ideologues on college campuses being rewarded with wild applause and almost universal agreement, the statement from Caprero yielded only one thing.

Tension in the room.

And you could see it, even through the small, grainy video image presented through the live feed, and hear it, even with the occasional audio glitches.

And then, something even more remarkable happened. Caprero was shot down cold.

Immediately following his statements, Paul Nathanson, co-author of Legalizing Misandry, dismissed Kimmel as “naïve” and brought the conference back on focus.  From there the rest of the event was underscored by the sound of academicians citing the horrific results of feminist ideologues being in charge of university programs and the research they produce; and of those same ideologues having sway over university policies that affect young men. It was a theme hammered on incessantly by Sommers and echoed by all but one of her peers.  And they clearly offered male studies as a needed remedy for this problem.

The focus was apparently a little too intense for Caprero.  He spent most of the remaining conference physically shrunken back from his peers.  He spoke more, but with far less self assurance.  The more they hammered in the need for the study of males not driven by feminist ideologues, the more he faded back into the wall.

And this is where he provided a valuable service to all watching.  The more academicians spoke of the problem with gender ideologues in academia, the more the one gender ideologue on the panel became insignificant to the conference.  If this is a foreshadow of how other ideologues will behave as real scholars sign on to study males, this may be easier than one might have at first thought. Perhaps as easy as light erasing a shadow?

One can hope.

One thing for sure, we will be finding out.  Journalists for Newsweek and Cosmopolitan were in attendance.

The conference get’s an A+, given a slight curve for Caprero.  It was a good start, but there are miles ahead to any viable destination.  Money needs to be raised, as well as more awareness, even on such an illustrious panel of experts.  Not once during this groundbreaking event did the word chivalry come up.  Or, as conference attendee Tom Golden, LCSW, said.  “They never even mentioned the chivalry that drives all this stuff.  Until they start addressing that, we are not going to get very far.”  Golden is the publisher of the website Men are Good,  and produced a seminal video outlining men’s issues.

Still,  this was an auspicious and hopeful beginning.  I can well imagine that if we would have had cameras and live feed at Seneca Falls, that we would not have witnessed a model of perfect unity, or perfect insights.  So imperfections notwithstanding, the case for male studies was made today, with effect and credibility.

As soon as the conference becomes available for online viewing, I will bring you the link.

Congratulations to Ed Stephens, Dick Elfenbein, Joe Notovitz and the esteemed assembly of presenters for a job well done.

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