A disgraced shyster. A male feminist comedian that admits to being sexist and prone to violence. A transsexual. A grandiose, pathological exaggerator. A supporter of domestic violence perpetrators. A McCarthyesque academic thug out to get anyone around him that doesn’t have their mind right. And a gaggle of puffy, self loathing, pseudo intellectual ne’er do wells; the inhabitants of a picaresque house of postmodern freaks.
No, this isn’t the set up for a work of comic fiction, but rather an unblinking look at a real life cadre of laughable gender activists in the world of men’s studies. And by their stranger than fiction behavior, they amplify the meaning of Jonathan Swift’s famous words, “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: That all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.”
In this case, the genius isn’t a man, but an idea. Male studies. It is admittedly radical in that it is a proposed discipline intended to further scholarly investigation that would actually benefit men and boys without feminist permission or approval.
In another time, perhaps, this would only be sensible. But in today’s world, it is genius.
And the mere mention of it has set these less than relevant academic autocrats, this Men’s Studies Confederacy of Dunces, on the warpath.
And so they have appointed themselves the defenders of feminist orthodoxy; the male guardians of misandry in academe. It is fitting, then, that they are now introduced to the larger world of men; that they be seen, even as they sit on their stools in the corner, for exactly who they are, right up to the very tops of their pointed hats.
All of them belong to, or are in some way affiliated, with two men’s [sic] organizations called the American Men’s Studies Association (AMSA) and the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS). Those are the new age fig leafed boys clubs, so let’s meet their versions of the alpha dogs.
We’ll start with Barry Goldstein, JD., who is listed on the NOMAS website as their co chair on child custody. He is also an expert witness on domestic violence and has written a book on the subject, Scared to Leave, Afraid to Stay: Paths from Family Violence to Safety. The book chronicles the experiences of ten females, alleged to be victims of domestic violence, including, get this, how the courts abused these women for seeking help.
But even aside from the idea that courts discriminate against battered women, there’s a credibility problem here. Goldstein had his law license suspended by a New York appellate court for deceit, fraud and misrepresentation. The laundry list of charges against him stemmed from two cases. One was misappropriation of funds involving his representation of a not-for-profit tenants housing resource center. The other was from his involvement in the Gina Shockome divorce case, which was a feminist cause célèbre in New York just a few years back.
In an internet article he wrote about the case, he accused the presiding judge of denying his client due process and of causing her to suffer PTSD, among a slew of other accusations he leveled at the court. None of it turned out to be true, or at least provable, and that was added to the charges against him.
Perhaps the most comical of Goldstein’s antics was to claim to the court during the Shockome case that he had a seen a video tape that showed a court appointed supervisor had slept for 15-20 minutes during a visit. When the court demanded that Goldstein produce the tape he claimed to have lost it. During one court appearance, he claimed the video tape was in his car, and later, at another appearance, he denied ever having had the tape in his car or anywhere else.
Well, apparently, to Goldstein’s misfortune, his dog didn’t eat the tape, which was about the only excuse he didn’t offer. Officials eventually acquired it, and after viewing the video, the court stated, “Anyone looking at that video will see that there is nothing on that video that suggests that [the supervisor] was asleep for 20 minutes.”
It seems that Goldstein was caught lying like a, well, like a crooked lawyer. And misappropriating money like one, too.
Among some of the other complaints was that Goldstein repeatedly defied a court directive to refrain from calling the father in the case, who was eventually awarded custody, “the abuser” as there was no proof to support such a statement.
Additionally, in the last 60 days, the Supreme Court of neighboring Pennsylvania disbarred attorney Barry Goldstein.
Despite all of this being a matter of public record, NOMAS retains the now legally defunct Goldstein as an elected member of its national council.
Perhaps his presence there is actually funnier than that of another council member that touts himself as a professional comedian. Any sense of ironic metaphor notwithstanding, Ben Atherton-Zeman, hyphenated surname and all, is the designated spokesman, excuse me, spokesperson, for NOMAS. He lists among his primary qualifications that he is an actor and a comedian; that he does impersonations and that he is a feminist.
Impressive credentials, but given the circumstances in the organization, it’s probably good that they don’t require a license.
Among many notable statements attributed to Atherton-Zeman is that he identifies himself as a “recovering sexist” and believes that every man should challenge sexism and violence, in the world, and in themselves.
Let us hope that there is a mental health professional on the board at NOMAS. Perhaps with some counseling, Ben’s projection of his personal struggles with sexism and violence onto the entire male sex can be resolved. Or, if he can identify the women he discriminated against and people he battered before getting into “recovery,” he can make amends to them as a part of the healing.
He might benefit from a referral to Doug Gertner, another NOMAS National Council Member. Gertner, it seems, has considerable experience counseling men, particularly young fathers for whom he runs a “Boot Camp for New Dads.”
But there is a concern about that one, too. The boot camp looks to have a problem with condoning and enabling domestic violence.
According to information reported on their website, the young male recruits in his basic training have made reports of “their hormone driven mates sometimes using them as a punching bag.”
Gertner’s answer to the abuse? Well, there isn’t one. After all, if a young soldier can’t take an ass kicking with his mouth closed, who can? He sends them home “with a new sense of confidence.” Perhaps it is from their reeducation.
No intervention on the violence. No protection. No concerns. Gertner just ignores the assaults and issues marching orders for his young men to go home and take it.
National Organization for Men Against What?
Also, NOMAS President Robert Brannon penned a piece on their site,Does Consensual Prostitution Exist?, in which he implies that female prostitutes are not competent enough to make informed decisions on what to do with their own bodies, and tacitly implies their male customers are raping them.
Men Against What?
Perhaps the best explanation for NOMAS as an acronymic misnomer can be found in their motto, “Pro feminist, gay affirmative, anti racist, enhancing men’s lives.”
As you take a trip through their website, you get a sobering dose of what they mean by “enhancing” men’s lives; they demonize anything masculine and further every anti male sexist stereotype imaginable, including a wholesale endorsement of the New York Model for batterer programs. That program explicitly sees all domestic violence as male perpetrated, despite the overwhelming proof that it just isn’t so. And with that endorsement they embrace a proscription on any notion of counseling or treatment for batterers in favor of criminal consequences.
Do you hear that Mr. Atherton-Zeman? There is no recovery. You are unfixable. Please turn yourself in to the nearest authorities. And bring the rest of the male sex with you.
The NOMAS mission is enhancement through sexism, bigotry and incarceration. And they are steadfastly working to further those ideas.
AMSA, a similarly misnamed organization, with a similarly misleading mission, turns out to be just as misandric as NOMAS, with a crew no less motley than their abhorrent brothers. But they are significantly more dangerous if taken seriously, which an unfortunate few in the mainstream media have done.
After the recent conference on male studies in April, AMSA president Robert Heasley was spotted in places like Forbes.com complaining that the new discipline wasn’t really new, but actually an unnecessary redundancy. Regarding male studies he told Forbes “Their argument is that they’re inventing something I think already exists.”
That sentiment was also expressed by Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland, which is basically an attack manual for use against almost all men and on women who don’t subscribe to feminism. Kimmel admonished me personally not to think that male studies was anything new, and informed me that “a robust and healthy field of Masculinity Studies already exists, and is well institutionalized in the US and abroad.” He also went on to boast, “I myself have been working to build this field for nearly thirty years.”
These would seem to be two of the authorities on men’s studies, such as they are; The President of AMSA and a well regarded author on masculinities. Both are touting the idea that any new approach to studying men is unnecessary, but perhaps, as Heasley suggested, “Why not just add some new classes?” [to already existing studies]
The question becomes where to add them actually. Despite Kimmel’s assertion of the field’s vitality and Heasley’s call for male studies to be surrendered to men’s studies, here is the track record.
After thirty years of Kimmel’s personal work and AMSA’s group contribution, the field has yielded the following degrees awarded in men’s studies.
Ph.D. – 0
Masters – 0
Bachelors – 0
Associates – 0
That is correct, after three decades of effort, begging for (and then spending) money, and the current territorial, defensive reaction we are witnessing from the men’s studies leadership, we are left with a discipline that for all practical purposes does not exist, except in a handful of publications and in the minds of an intellectually incestuous group of ideologues seeking their fifteen minutes of fame.
I think I understand Kimmel’s thinking very well now. Exactly squat = robust and healthy. No degrees = well institutionalized.
A man could run for elected office on the tricks from academe.
The lack of substance in Masculinities is apparently in direct proportion to a lack of substance in those who supposedly study it. It isn’t just Kimmel and Heasley. And a quick look at AMSA conference literature reveals even more.
At one of their more recent conferences, all of which appear to float on paper submissions from grad students and even some undergraduates, the focus of men’s studies is revealed in all its irrelevant glory.
Here are a few of the topics presented.
Contemporary Queer Cinema in a Men’s Studies Curriculum
Masculinities in Play: Examining Hegemonic and Technomasculinity in Action-adventure Video Games
A Queer Greenwood Beyond the Cricket Pitch: Queer Sporting Masculinities in the writings of E.M. Forster, D.H. Lawrence and Edward Carpenter
Foucalt and Parenting: A Feminist Essay of Personal Reflection and Application
What are You? Transvestism in Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Fledgling
Black Gay (Queer) Masculine Studies: Insights from Richard Bruce Nugent
Differently Straight Guys: How Did That Happen?
Setting an example for such scholarly pursuits relevant to the average man is Dr. Christopher Kilmartin, a former comic (yes, another comedian) who recently presented the master lecture, Guy Fi: The Fiction that Rule Men’s Lives
How they have avoided a wild proliferation of university courses and degree programs in this discipline is mind boggling, unless you consider that the men’s studies group is actually representative of, and obsessed with, about 4% of the male population, while condemning and attacking the other 96%.
Paying attention to the issues of homosexuals and transgender people has its place in modern culture, but to use that agenda to play a part in hoodwinking people into believing you are addressing the lives of men in general demonstrates a deficit in integrity and a pathological drive to ensure the problems of the great majority of men and boys are either ignored or exacerbated, or both.
It’s bullshit. And not just bullshit that helps a bunch of middle aged, meagerly accomplished men get together once a year to feel important and mark the progress of receding hairlines, but crazy, mean spirited bullshit that draws attention away from some very serious problems in our society.
And how could we ever have expected a different outcome? The circus of men’s studies has gone so far astray that they have coalesced around an ultimate masculinities icon, Raewyn Connell, who was born a man, Robert Connell. He opted for elective sexual reconstruction as a woman about four years ago. That is correct, Connell, afflicted with an extreme gender confusion that involves disgust for his own male genitalia, coincidentally made the academic endorsement of demonizing masculinity a profession. Note that Connell isn’t just an icon for men’s studies, but the icon. The widely published and acclaimed Connell is roundly regarded by the entire men’s studies community the erudite harbinger of forward thinking modern masculinity.
This is not to say Connell being transgender cannot have an informed opinion on issues about masculinity. It is fair to question, though, whether personal conditions predispose Connell to have a negative view on masculinity connected to her own discomfort with life as a male.
Those questions and similar ones are not well received in this community, however. They are much more likely to yield retribution than answers.
Recently AMSA board member Harry Brod (no, not even in this gender bending train wreck of a true story did I make that name up) wrote an editorial on the AMSA website in which he departed from the notion that male studies was a repeat of men’s studies and opted to just paint the entire new discipline as bullshit, using that exact word.
He invoked the surgically altered Connell, though, to vilify the new discipline as “just another excuse to ignore gender injustice.” It was the first of what will sure to be more salvos aimed at publicly ridiculing the proponents of male studies.
MND publisher Mike LaSalle posted a brief, but courteous dissent in the comments section of Brod’s article, as follows:
The kernel of your argument against Male Studies is revealed here: Men’s Studies scholars are primarily concerned with Justice, not Science.
Male Studies assumes knowledge comes before justice, not the other way around.
The comment was posted, and then promptly deleted.
And that is the very least of their efforts at censorship.
MND contributor and Wagner College professor of psychology Miles Groth, who hosted the recent conference on Male Studies, is a former member of AMSA. He is also the co founder and former editor of Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies which became a part of the Men’s Studies Press (MSP).
Some time into his involvement with AMSA, he grew concerned with aspects of the organization that he described as “out of touch with the current concerns and needs of most males, especially young males.”
Groth went on to express concerns with the nature and quality of literature being featured at AMSA conferences. “Some presenters at the last conference were undergraduates. At such events [annual conferences in a major discipline] it is customary to hear the work of senior researchers.”
MSP director James Doyle became aware of Groth’s unfortunate propensity for independent thought, and didn’t take to the idea of such intellectual diversity with much enthusiasm. In an email he wrote the following to Groth:
Over the past several months, it has become clear that you believe the field of “men’s studies” in all its forms to be a pointless, if not harmful, pursuit. As disseminating “men’s studies” research, serving “men’s studies” scholars, and promoting a positive image of “men’s studies” to a broad readership are the central purposes for the Men’s Studies Press and its publications, it seems clear to me that you current involvement with the Men’s Studies Press is antithetical to your new found philosophy for the study of men’s lives.
Therefore, it is with regret that I must terminate your editorial duties with the Men’s Studies Press as of this day, April 29th, 2010
In short, when ousting Groth for not having his mind right, he stripped him of his editorship of Thymos, the journal that he co-founded and edited all the years of its existence.
Booted, berated and burned, all for having an actual concern for men and boys in defiance of a group of bigots that seek to undermine the same. There is no greater demonstration of the kind of people we are talking about here. And all my attempts to add levity to this situation aside, it is clear they are capable of the most pernicious kinds of fascist bullying.
It now seems they are gearing up to exert the same, if they can, on anyone else interested in helping men and boys, especially those furthering the idea of male studies.
After a decade old split between the organizations, that by their own account demonstrates that slash and burn politics are no stranger to this crowd, there is a lot of kissing and making up. Kimmel, who has operated more or less independently since the split, is returning to give the key note address in 2011. This had to happen for a reason that overcomes the petty divides that sent them on their own separate paths.
In an email from James Doyle provided to me by someone within their ranks who wishes to remain anonymous, Doyle reveals his personal feelings about Kimmel while acknowledging the sacred adherence to ideology.
“I have no problem with people being turned off by Kimmel (I am also) but only in terms of his arrogant and self-centered personality. As for social constructionism, I think this an extremely useful theory.”
Aside from the fact that neither social constructionism, nor narcissism, begin or end with Kimmel, Doyle tips his hand on priorities quite nicely, and along with his treatment of Groth solidifies his ideology over values, and over truth in scholarship.
This entirely sordid matter would be far funnier if it were not so serious. We might even expect a punch line or two from Atherton-Zeman or Kilmartin. We might even laugh. But we are, in some of the most serious ways possible, talking about the future of our sons in this culture.
These fascist pigs are part and parcel to a system that helps shape government policy. If you are interested enough in those policies to have read this far into this article, then you are likely all too aware of what those policies are and in how they are harming our men and boys. When the intellectually carcinogenic on this level operate under the blanket of political and social denial, their work eventually becomes cancerous and starts to metastasize.
It is time to gear up for treatment.
This is especially true now, as we watch these frauds broadcast their intent to start a campaign of bullying and strong arming against anyone who disagrees with them.
The men’s studies establishment does not pursue knowledge, but a program of wholesale skullduggery, all to fit a political agenda whose only connection to education is to corrupt it.
After all, if you’ll lie to a court of law about domestic problems, about men being abusers when they are not, is there anyone you won’t lie to, about anything?
Let’s start taking the garbage out in academe.