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22 May, 2017

ESTABLISHING MEN'S STUDIES DEPARTMENTS IN AMERICA'S ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS: IS IT NECESSARY?

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Women’s Movement spawned the development of Women’s Studies Programs in America’s colleges and universities. The establishment of Women’s Studies Programs in American academic institutions has helped to empower women, address their unique health issues and needs, and transform the manner in which they are perceived by society and the manner in which they perceive themselves. Nearly every college and university in the United States has a Women’s Studies Department and some form of a Women’s Studies curriculum. Women’s Studies has been cited as an agent of change for Women by Mr. Dan Pence in his essay, “A Woman’s Studies Course: Its Impact On Women’s Attitudes Toward Men And Masculinity”, published in the National Women’s Studies Association Journal (Volume 4, Autumn 1992, pp. 321-335) by The John Hopkins University Press. Pence went so far as to say that becoming an agent of change was, in fact, the goal of Women’s Studies Programs. No one can deny that over the past 40 plus years, the role of Women has changed. More real life options exist for women and their unique health issues are being aggressively addressed by the medical and scientific community through increased medical research, increased medical research funding, and the development and implementation of Women’s Health awareness campaigns. And in 1991, the Office of Women’s Health was established within the United States Department of Health and Human Services. As a result and, for the most part, in the Millennium, Women and Girls hear a loud and resounding ‘Yes!” when they ask the proverbial question: “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I matter?”

Now there is nothing wrong with this. But, what are Men and Boys in the Millennium hearing when they ask: “Do you see me? Do you hear me? Do I matter?”

Well, Men have unsuccessfully attempted since 2001 to have legislation passed and enacted by the United States Congress which would establish an Office of Men’s Health in the United States Department of Health and Human Services which would advocate for Men’s Health in the same manner that the health of American Women is advocated by the Office of Women’s Health. American Women are outliving American Men by approximately five to six years. The incidence rates for prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, colon cancer, suicide, depression, and PTSD continue to rise alarmingly for Men. Prior to 1980, female youths -- Our Daughters -- were most likely to drop out of high school. In the Millennium, it is male youths – Our Sons – who are most likely to drop out of high school. While, for the most part, Women and Girls do not have to worry about being depicted In a negative stereotypical light by mainstream media, film, television situation comedies and segments of society, or being bombarded with mixed signals about femininity and their societal role as Women, their male counterparts endure a different fate. As Men and Boys struggle to find, among other things, real–life options and adequate resources and support services for their unique physical and mental health needs, they also have to contend with being depicted in an unflattering stereotypical light by mainstream media, film, television situation comedies and certain segments of society. And they find themselves on the receiving end of mixed signals about masculinity and their societal role everywhere they turn – even from those souls who profess to love them.

So, what is the answer for Men and Boys?

Establish with all deliberate speed, Men’s Studies Departments and Men’s Studies curricula in academic institutions throughout the United States!

Is it necessary?

Yes!

Developing and maintaining Men’s Studies Departments and Men’s Studies curricula in every American academic institution would empower Men and Boys in the same manner that the establishment and maintenance of Women Studies Departments and Women’s Studies curricula have empowered Women and Girls for the past 40 years. Like Women in the 1960 and early 1970s, Men in the Millennium urgently need to have their unique issues addressed and the manner in which they are perceived by society and the manner in which they perceive themselves transformed as they continue to embark upon the journey to redefine themselves and their roles and responsibilities in society.

The establishment of Men’s Studies Departments and Men’s Studies curricula in American academic institutions is not a novel idea. Groundwork for establishing Men’s Studies Departments in American colleges and universities was laid by a number of Men’s Studies pioneers – Martin Acker, Shepherd Bliss, Harry Brod, Sam Femiano, Martin Fiebert, and Mike Messner – who created the Men’s Studies Task Group of the National Organization for Men through which, Men and Masculinity conferences were organized. In 1984, under Harry Brod’s leadership, the “Men’s Newsletter” was launched. In 1989, the Men’s Studies Task Group was transformed into the American Men’s Studies Association and its First Annual Interdisciplinary Men’s Studies Conference in conjunction with the Fourteenth Men and Masculinity Conference was held at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1 June 1989 through 4 June 1989. Panelists at the conference included, among others, Harry Brod, Martin Acker, Clyde Franklin II, and Michael Kaufman.

American colleges and universities that develop plans to establish Men’s Studies Departments and Fatherhood and Men’s Studies programs can look to Akamai University (www.akamaiuniversity.us) and its Fatherhood and Men’s Studies Program as a model. Located in Hilo, Hawaii, under the leadership of its President, Douglass Capogrossi, Ph.D., Akamai University offers one of the most uniquely comprehensive Fatherhood and Men’s Studies Programs. It is an academic institution that has a reputation for being “dedicated to the betterment and sustainability of the human condition and the planet”. Akamai University offers a Certificate Program for its Fatherhood and Men’s Studies Program. The institution’s myriad of courses include Men's And Father's Rights, Masculine Spirituality, Models And Roles Of Masculinity, Contemporary Issues Facing Men, Early Childhood Development, New Roles For Fathers, The Modern Family, Gender And Power, The Challenge Of Marriage, Issues In Men's Physical Health, Gender And Politics, Ancient And Modern Rites Of Passage, Life Stages, Male Psychology, Men In Literature, The Men's Movement, and New Models Of Male Leadership. Akamai University is on a mission to “fill the knowledge gap of the spiritual, cultural, social, familial, tonic, political, economic, historical, philosophical, medical, and psychological aspects of being ‘male’.” Filling “the knowledge gap of the spiritual, cultural, social, familial, tonic, political, economic, historical, philosophical, medical, and psychological aspects of being ‘male’” serves as a buffer against the steady bombardment of negative stereotypes and mixed signals about masculinity and the societal role of being a Man for Men.

But Akamai University does not stop there.

Through its expansive Men’s Studies curriculum, the institution is developing “leaders and mentors who can work effectively and responsibly within the diversity of the Men’s Movement, affecting social policy, and building a broader base of knowledge for the study and research of both genders.”

The establishment of Men’s Studies Departments and Men’s Studies curricular in academic institutions throughout the United States is a key “piece of the puzzle” to creating real-life options and a better and safer world for Men and Boys.

And when there are adequate real-life options for Men and Boys and Men and Boys are safe, we all have access to more options and the world becomes a better and safer place for everyone.

ANGEL OF DEATH: JEROME TEELUCKSINGH, Ph.D.

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