Mythopoetic Perspectives of Men's Healing Work: An Anthology for Therapists and Others

By Edward Read Barton | Go to book overview
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Chapter 15
Men and the Search for Common Ground John Rowan

I have been in the profeminist men's movement since 1972. I have been involved in five consciousness-raising groups, have organized groups at conferences, and have led workshops in six different countries. In 1978 the antisexist magazine Achilles Heel came into being, and I have been writing and coediting it from its early days.

Holly Sweet (Chapter 14, this volume) names the mythopoetic approach but restricts this to the work of Robert Bly and his followers and imitators. My own work ( 1987, 1997) attempts to show that there is a profeminist version of the mythopoetic approach associated with the work of Starhawk ( 1989) and others in the neopagan tradition. This tradition is older and larger than anything connected with Bly, and I think has more to offer for both men and women.

Far too many of those who want to urge a new masculinity seem to think that it can be reached by a short-cut. All we men have to do, they seem to say, is to welcome and embrace our maleness in all its pristine depth and purity. But I agree with David Tacey ( 1997) when he says, "Before we remake masculinity we must unmake it, and understand why it had to fall apart" (p. 14).

Holly Sweet says "Mythopoetic men focus more on personal growth: profeminist men focus their efforts more on social and political action." In my experience this is much too neat. Profeminist men, in my experience in the United Kingdom, find personal growth an essential part of their work. I remember a cartoon from about 1980 produced by one such group, which had a Fred Flintstone figure saying, "I just ain't going to be much help in smashing the system because the system is doing a pretty good job of smashing me." Personal de

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