May interview with Neil
Any man that does not know we are living in a
feminist entrenched media environment is a fish
that does not know it's swimming in water.
The morning of this writing, Kate White,
Editor-In-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine was
on a talk show espousing the benefits of being a
single woman during the holidays, including the
confidence booster of full-on flirting
If women are given such profound advice from
media mavens, where are men to get their deep
Fortunately, I've seen author Neil Chethik out
and about on the talk-show circuit. He has a new
book entitled Voice
Male a read I highly recommend -
published by Simon & Shuster, NY. Frankly, I
was amazed to see anything from Gotham City that
would challenge the status quo. The publishing
house issued an extended press release with the
While hundreds of books have been written
on marriage, the vast majority approach the subject
with a female sensibility, focusing on priorities
for women and wives. Few seem to acknowledge the
complexity of the male perspective or consider the
issues of concern to husbands.
According to Chethik, Weve been led
to believe that men are emotionally disabled,
yet most of the men I
interviewed were nothing like this stereotype. They
could identify the troublesome dynamics in their
marriage, their marital strengths, and the series
of trade-offs they made to maintain their
And heres the part you dont hear
much: most men find a great deal of personal
satisfaction in traditional marriage.
Some truths discovered by Chethik:
- Men like the company of a steady mate.
- Men do like self-confident women.
- Men are open to change and influence from
- Men in mature marriages report sexual
satisfaction, regardless of frequency.
- By a 3-to-1 margin, husbands said that their
marriages got better rather than worse after the
birth of a child.
- 25 percent of couples receive marriage
counseling and ¾ of the husbands say the
therapy was helpful.
- ¾ of the husbands married 35 years or
more say they are very happy in
- 93 percent of all husbands surveyed said
theyd marry the same woman again.
Hey man, it doesnt appear were
really all that bad after all. Maybe wed be
fun to have around during the holidays.
Chethik is a New Warrior, a former journalist,
and a writer-in-residence at the Carnegie Center
for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky.
He contracted Dr. Ronald Langley at the University
of Kentuckys Survey Research Center to
conduct a national telephone survey of nearly three
hundred husbands. Chethik personally did in-depth
interviews with 70 men.
I most appreciated the first parts of his book
that dealt with developmental issues around
marriage. It turns out that how you interact
depends largely on how old you are and how long
youve been in your marriage.
In the book, Chethik follows the male point of
view from bachelorhood through four distinct phases
of marriage, including the honeymoon (first 3
years), family (years 4 to 20), empty-next (years
21 to 35), and maturity (years 36 and beyond).
C.G. Jung supports this position in his
developmentally oriented writings.
Male: It has long been noted, by
psychoanalyst Carl Jung
that the genders tend
to evolve differently during adulthood. In young
adulthood, men are generally more competitive and
work-oriented than women. Women, meanwhile, are
more family-oriented and openly emotional in their
young adulthood. In middle-age, however, the
genders converge and sometimes pass by each
other. Men tend to mellow, becoming increasingly
emotional and home-centered; midlife women often
become more independent, shifting their focus to
activities outside the home, including their own
Chethik refers to mythologists Michael Meade,
author of Men
and the Water of Life and the idea that
indigenous tribes used marriage as a transformative
Meade told me in an interview
men and women who want to marry must go through
rites of passage that test them and welcome them
into adulthood. Before marrying, they must have
proven themselves ready for it.
Today, most men stand anxiously at the altar
because they know there is a promise, at least
implicit, that they are sacrificing their personal
desires to something greater than themselves.
Does modern feminism promote this notion for
women as well?
In Chethiks chapter A Final Note he
states: Here, though, at the end, Im
optimistic. The womens movement of the 1960s
and 1970s necessarily shook up the American
marriage system. Some husbands reacted against this
shake up. But today, most seem to agree that the
weight of the changes has been for the better
the rash of antimale stereotying in the late
20th century seems to be on the wane too.
Im not as hopeful, but Id like to
believe hes right. Unfortunately, I believe
radical feminism is still there - simply more
subtly ensconced in our culture.
I spoke with Chethik by phone. I experienced him
as a calm, yet self-assured man. His experience in
mens work goes back to the intense weekends
conducted by the triumvirate Bly, Hillman and Meade
in the 1980s. At the time the author covered
mens issues as a reporter for the San Jose
After Chethik moved to Louisville, he began a
syndicated mens column that ran in 35
newspapers. Following four years of writing about
mens lives, he turned his attention to his
first book, FatherLoss
which sold 35,000 copies.
Bly got us into grief work. His
contribution was really to say that we have to go
down into the ashes and muck around down there;
its the only way to get toward our wholeness.
Its the area of our psyche we stay the
farthest away from
a lot of my work is with
grief. But now I feel like Im coming out from
that place, more into a relational area involving
the male and the female.
The writer, age 48, said he remembered the
70s & 80s and the real anger
level of women at that time.
There was something biting back hard
and I didnt like it. I didnt
feel comfortable with it. I subsequently came to
learn about it and where women were coming from
and get to the point where I could honestly
look at myself.
Now maybe its mens turn
Over the last 10-15 years there has been
an interest in hearing what men actually have to
say, the author noted.
He said he believed the heightened
anger toward men is being reduced. Again, I
hope hes right.
I tell women that they need to recognize
theyre going to be in a relationship with men
with sons, co-workers, brothers, fathers
you have to begin to accept that they are
human beings with depth to them. I have seen an
opening there. My book is an attempt to widen that
opening. If a man has something to say, if he
speaks his own truth, it isnt a denial of
womens truth. Its not meant to say no
to a feminist point of view. Its meant to
assert that men have a point of view too.
Chethik admits there is still a pervasive
female sensibility" overwhelming our culture. Oprah
and Dr. Phil are a long way from accepting the male
point of view, he added.
I have been accused, at times, of being
too accepting of womens point of view,
he said. But, a lot of women come to me and
want to know whats going on with men. I think
I get through to them on some level by not
disrespecting them. I can be pro-feminist and
When it comes to asking questions about
relationships, even the words can appear charged
with bias. I asked Chethik what he thought about
the idea of a traditional marriage with
Im not sure I would totally buy your
most men have a traditional view
of marriage if you mean that marriage is a
relationship that you get into, work at, and try to
make last for a lifetime. Thats true. Men are
wanting to be in a committed relationship with
another person where they can share a personal,
sexual, and emotional partnership. They want to
have children, raise children, and stay with the
woman throughout. Men like to be
Men are not the unconscious buffoons played on
TV. They are aware of emotional intricacies in
relationships with the weaker sex.
Men know relationships are a reality of
messiness, and struggles, and mistakes of highs and
most men would like to look back and
say I had all that in my marriage. It wasnt
always easy and not always happy, but it was
Remember, these conclusions came to Chethik from
what he experienced as the mainstream of mens
experience in our culture.
So, it turns out that men are looking for a
level of connection with women that they can not
get in short-term relationships.
Theres something about the male
animal, and probably female as well, that is
seeking to mate for a long time despite the
societal pulls in the other direction.
Throughout our discussion Chethik touted the
principles and values of The ManKind Project.
I see the New Warrior foundation as a
wonderful way to build a relationship for a
long-term marriage. Ive seen it in my own
mens group, where most are married, that they
are out there working very hard at their
Chethik said in his younger years he originally
looked for women to help him figure himself out,
but that didnt work.
Only when I got in the company of men,
where I was forced
to look at myself could I begin to peel away
to reach my core.
The author plans on doing more study and work
with men and women.
My personal opinion is that there are
different stages of growth, including going through
an all male period and having an all male group
available; another stage is in contact with women
and doing deep work there. As a married person for
19 years, there is a growth Im experienced
with my wife that is different then what I had in
my 20s. Were learning how to be more in
integrity with ourselves and each other.
The writer said he worked hard to find a way to
mainstream his discoveries about
What seemed to be the best approach was
one of the oldest and truest aspects of
communicating - which is story-telling. I decided
to let a man tell his own story and not ask him how
he felt. Most men will go a lot more easily into
communicating with others by telling their story. I
knew when I shared these stories that everyman
would hear it in his own way. I hear women tell me,
I didnt know thats how men
think. They said, This is very edifying
for me. I could turn around and make use of it. My
husband may be thinking this and I may even ask him
Here are a few more ideas I was excited to
Men fear a woman's anger. Probably more than
women fear men's anger.
I think there are going to be people who
react to that statement
but many will
welcome that fact. People might say that if men are
afraid then we are denying the violence against
women. And, Ill have to stand in my own
personal truth and say what I believe no matter
what the reaction."
A man is more positively influenced by a good
father than a good mother.
Fundamentally, what I have to do is honor
where the feminists are coming from and then go
back to what I have learned in my study and my
experience of men. There were a few feminists who
came up to me after a speech and challenged my
assumptions and my findings. I was okay with that
and I realized that the less I snap back at
them and the more I heard them and honored whatever
experience they may have ... while still
disagreeing with them ... the more they were
willing to part with some of their beloved
The author said he refuses to engage in
"I try to disengage from emotion without giving
up what I believe. I let emotion come out in my
passionate beliefs as opposed to coming out in
anger. Some of this idea is in the message vs the
messenger. I have to determine how I'm going to
present this information. One of the problems
Warren Farrell has had with his earlier work was
that he seemed to battle in a way. I think anger
can sabotage the ability to get a point across.
Also, I don't want to subjugate anger; I get angry
at times with people who lay their anti-male shit
out there. I will dismiss it or challenge it."
When I first read Farrell, I was actually
attracted to the anger in his tone. I sensed that
someone actually heard me. However, I agree with
Chethik's approach that it's easier to catch more
bees with honey than gaul.
Chethik gives credit to his I-Group for helping
him process his anger into a more tempered
"Im much more aware of who I am because of
my work in the group. I'm more comfortable with
myself. My anger is my friend, and, Im
integrity with myself and my work. There's
accountability in my group: I tell them what
Im going to do and I do it."
I really loved Chethik's clean style of writing.
Any open-hearted people will see the truth for
In return for my appreciation of his work I got
"Reid, I admire your work in The New Warrior
Journal. It does not read like political commentary
but more like a personal sort of soul exploration.
I see your trying to understand by putting into
words what you're feeling ... what you're
experiencing ... and you do that successfully. I
support you and urge you to continue to go after
it! There's so much need for your kind of writing
that simply puts out a man's experience; it can be
raw, hard to hear, and even scary. But, it needs to
be out there. We should honor it and not pretend it
Wow, I'll take that. And, I share it with all of
you men in your courageous communication with
Bless yourself and others. Read Voice
© 2006 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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