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

By Edward Read Barton | Go to book overview

to participate. Nor does it include men who belong to other kinds of men's groups and organizations (e.g., National Organization of Men Against Sexism, Promise Keepers) or the vast majority of men (including men of color and working-class men) who never join a men's group but nevertheless experience problems associated with masculinity. These observations raise the question of whether the particular men who self-selected into our study are unique in some way that is associated with the changes they report having made after the NWTA. The men in our sample might have changed regardless of their involvement in MKP-GW. Studies of MMS groups and organizations need to move to another level of rigor by incorporating comparison or control groups of men into the research design. For example, men participating in different kinds of men's mutual support groups, psychoeducational interventions, or men's therapy groups (Chapter 11, this volume, Levin, 1997) could be compared with respect to the same set of outcome variables. These designs will allow researchers to determine whether men's group participation is responsible for changes they report, or whether men who simply would have changed due to some other influence in their lives selected themselves into a group.

Finally, in this chapter we have generally skirted some important issues related to the topic of group effectiveness. By what standards should a group, or the changes that individual participants make in a group, be judged, and by whom? Reviewers of our research who ask about the ManKind Project's mission statement have raised a similar version of this question: "What exactly is meant by the 'sacred masculine' that men are intending to reclaim?" Another question is whether scarce psychological research resources should be directed to studies of primarily middle-class white men rather than more disenfranchised groups. These are excellent questions that go to the heart of evaluation research on MMS organizations. Thus far in our research, we have generally investigated individual-level variables representing men's psychological health such as gender role conflict, life goals and purpose in life, self-esteem, sense of mastery, and life satisfaction. Certainly many other criterion variables or outcomes could be used to define "effective change" in men's lives and masculinity, such as the quality of men's relationships with others and the effect their masculine-related behavior has on others. For example, our research investigates whether men's attitudes toward women are affected by participating in the NWTA. Another important question, given rates of violence associated with men and masculine ideology ( Levant, 1995a), is whether men reclaiming "sacred masculinity" are more or less likely to behave violently toward women and other men. We believe these are important questions to ask about any organization dedicated to changing men's lives and masculinities and urge evaluation researchers to assess variables reflecting the range of issues and outcomes connected to diverse forms of masculinity.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank the members of the MKP-GW who generously participated in the research reported in this chapter.

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