Silencing the Men's Movement: Gender, Ideology, and Popular Discourse
The popular, media-driven rise and fall of the contemporary men's movement occurred within a span of less than five years. Although one may trace the movement back to the early 1970s, when antisexist men's consciousness-raising groups as well as men's and fathers' rights and divorce reform groups began to appear, as a term of popular discourse the phrase men's movement emerged only after the 1990 public television airing of Bill Moyers's interview of Robert Bly, called A Gathering of Men. 1 The documentary catapulted Bly into the national spotlight as leader of the "movement," thus initiating popular misrecognition of mythopoeticism as the whole movement. The Moyers piece also served as the best possible advertisement for Bly's forthcoming "book about men," Iron John. Published in 1990, Iron John was an immediate and major success, its lengthy run at the top of the best-seller list establishing the (now popularly misrecognized) men's movement, and Bly himself, as commercially viable.
In the few years hence, network television, mainstream magazines, and local (but not necessarily locally owned) newspapers seized on the opportunity to sell the movement in its mythopoetic guise. Network television news magazine shows, talk shows, and sit-coms featured segments or episodes devoted to it. Popular national magazines ran several cover stories as well as dozens of shorter pieces. And newspapers across the country reported on and editorialized about it. 2 Thus, for a brief period in the early 1990s, "men" and the "movement" were very big news indeed, yet by 1993, the number of mass media representations of the men's movement, packaged primarily as mythopoeticism, had dwindled to a trickle. Presuming that the men's movement (in all its variety) is something