August interview with Warren
I first discovered Warren Farrell's book The
Myth of Male Power about five years ago
when I was going through a bitter divorce and
custody battle. I was already mad as hell at how I
was being treated in the legal system and I got
even madder after reading his book. Actually,
Farrell's perspective and research helped me
understand that I had a right to be furious.
Contrary to the claims of the victim/feminists
movement, women do get special treatment in many
areas of society including child custody cases.
(Fortunately for me I ended up with joint custody
of my three children.)
Farrell told me he spent six years researching
the book. It looks like he did. It's very well
"I came to a point where I had to ask the
question, 'how did things get this way?'" he said,
of his years of study.
Did you know that statistically courts are less
likely to convict a defendant found guilty of a
crime if that person's gender happens to be female?
Women's prison sentences are significantly shorter
than a man's for a comparable crime? If a woman has
a male "partner in crime," the man invariably takes
If men represent the powerful gender then why do
they end up killing themselves in six out of seven
suicides? Why do we accept that men are the
disposable gender sent in vast numbers to die in
war? Why are nine in ten workplace deaths men? Why
does breast cancer research receive over six times
the funding of prostate cancer research? Why do
women live longer? Are you mad yet?
The former board member of NOW (The National
Organization of Women) has a unique insight into
the workings of the feminist movement.
"Feminists had politicized their freedom by
blaming men," he said, "and they missed the
According to Farrell, early feminism made a
wonderful contribution in helping women see their
own opportunities. Their mistake was to claim that
men were out to oppress women.
"The women assumed that men had it all figured
out," he explained. "They saw men in a conspiracy
to oppress women."
In his research, the author said he was
"delighted" to discover that the conspiracy theory
"I felt great joy in knowing that men were not
inherently oppressors," he said. "Historically,
there are bad men and bad women."
Men have an inherent desire to serve from the
"Warrior" or "King" archetype, he added. "In the
September 11 disaster, there were firefighters and
police officers that knew they were risking their
lives as they went about warning people to get out
of the building - knowing it was going to collapse.
Those men went up those stairs knowing their lives
were on the line. There's no greater example of
Centuries ago, gentlemen were supposed to wear
swords to protect the honor of women. Now suddenly
I'm thinking of a Groucho Marx line, "remember men
you are fighting for the ladies honor ... which is
probably more than she ever did." It's only a joke,
"If a woman was insulted, men were to risk their
lives to protect the honor of the woman," Farrell
stated, "even if they were insulted verbally. The
idea of women being second class citizens is
preposterous. We don't go to slaves or workers and
say I'm going to risk my life for you. It was not a
Since women and men are basically in the same
struggle for survival, Farrell suggests we try to
"It was clarifying for me understanding history
and other cultures and the common denominator
between women in Afghanistan in veils, and
polygamy, and gladiator fights and bible stories
like Uncle Laban and Jacob and Rachel and Leah, and
so just being able to piece all those things
together I came to understand neither sex was out
to oppress the other."
Since the industrial revolution in Western
Europe our culture has figured out ways to master
survival to the degree we can start asking
questions about self-fulfillment, he added.
"Ironically, the male role has created
inventions that freed women to have enough income
to get divorces and look inside of themselves and
go to workshops."
In D.H.Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover,
the husband is crippled in a wheel chair and
completely dependent upon his wife who then
explores other "options" with the studly hired
help. The husband is paralyzed in more ways than
Farrell said men tend to be more emotionally
dependant on women. After the divorce or death of a
spouse, men are ten times more likely to commit
"Women have learned to develop women friends for
support and communications," he continued. "They
have methods to get together and say 'oh, we never
thought he was good enough for you, but we didn't
want to say anything about it ... Reid or Warren or
John came on to me and you know he was always
wandering ...' so by the time they're done with
this kind of interaction they've helped their woman
friend build a bridge."
Men friends have about three-minutes of
opportunity to help their buddy before we switch
the topic to sports, he added.
"If you talk to men at work you hear the message
that you've had your three minutes now and it's
time to get back to work," he said, chuckling. "If
you miss the cue you are subject to getting
Women are programmed NOT to encourage their
female friend to try and work out the
"They tell their story about how they've been
screwed and that really helps women to feel like
they're all in this together," he said, "but it has
its shadow side too when helping the woman doesn't
acknowledge her role in the process and confronting
her with it."
Because men don't have that kind of support
system, they just get depressed.
"Men become depressed, destructive, and find
another woman quickly, then complete the whole
process by getting depressed again," he said.
"That's why every man should be involved in a men's
group - any kind of religious or secular
Farrell suggested men even "put an ad in the
newspaper" to get together with other like-minded
men. There are thousands of support groups in this
country including The ManKind Project (see
the resource for men page (www.menstuff.org).
The author also recommends going to your local
church or getting the necessary counseling.
"We're social creatures and knowing other men
are having some of the same problems is extremely
counter-depressive and helps us to get a
prospective on ourselves," he instructed. "Men need
the opportunity of talking through their problems,
spiritually and emotionally, and be able to see
concrete solutions that other men have discovered
coming out the other end ... and are still looking
good on the other end. It gives me hope when I see
another man has made it through difficult
Are you ready for this? Farrell says men's group
are more important to men that women's groups are
to women. Why? Because women naturally reach out to
each other. They're already talking and listening
to each other.
"There's thousands of battered women's shelters
where people are trained for only her perspective,"
he said. "And when the going gets tough, society
gets tough on men. There's a tendency for men to
put their emotional eggs in a woman's basket
because he doesn't have the same societal
Although Farrell points out the political
inequality between men and women, he said he
believes the biggest gap is "spiritual."
"I think the best part of the women's movement
is that it helped women personally," he explained.
"It didn't really help women get money and status,
it helped them ask the question 'who do I want to
be and what do I want to be?'"
The women's movement asked good career
questions, but didn't go to the spiritual level, he
"If a man says 'I want to be a doctor' the
spiritual question is 'let me look inside of myself
and forget about being a doctor and ask a different
question ... 'what rings true, what excites me, and
why does it excite me? Is it because I see
admiration from mother, father and interest from my
girlfriend?' If those are the spiritual reasons,
then he is spiritually bankrupt. Those are approval
reasons and he needs to look beyond them."
Farrell said writing creates an "inner
fulfillment" for him even if it doesn't make him
rich. And approval? His father is still waiting for
the author to get a real job.
"His approval is not as important to me as being
in touch with who I am," he stated matter of
factly, "and writing makes me feel excited, and
feel like I'm contributing, and my life has
Asking the questions that bring meaning into a
man's life is inherently the role of masculinity,
the author said.
"Traditional male roles were designed to prevent
men from asking the questions," he stated. "The
historical role of masculinity was designed to
prevent a man from being spiritual. What was
spiritual for him flowed from what was functional.
His role was to be responsive to what the society
needed him to do at any point. So if society needed
him to go out in a war and fight and die, so be it,
so more men would train themselves to die. Society
wanted electricity, so society needed men not to
ask if you'd get black lung disease in the coal
mines. It had an investment in preventing or
discouraging you from asking questions or making
you feel like less of a man to ask questions like
'is coal mining what I want to do? How do I grow?
How do I expand myself?' Those were questions that
would have made you appear just plain selfish and
to be condemned."
Farrell said a traditional man's job was to be a
hero and a slave - the exact opposite of the
"What men have to offer spiritually is the part
of him that receives joy from giving," he said, "a
kind of giving from choice rather than being
Women are far more enlightened but also more
self-righteous on the "side of shadow," the doctor
said. He praised the "humility" with which men have
done their duty throughout the ages without
"There has been a willingness in men to be
adaptable," he noted. "There's been a type of
generosity and non-pettiness, and a type of giving
of themselves in love."
Men tend to have more learning experience of
working together from cooperating in team sports,
"We think of sports as competitive," he
continued, "but the essence of team sports is
learning to give up ego and learning what is the
right balance of you taking the shot or someone
else in a better position taking the shot. The
man's moment by moment interest is what's best for
Speaking of Jung's work with archetypal
energies, Farrell said the essence of a Warrior is
to NOT think of one's self.
"The Warrior learned to die before thinking of
himself," Farrell noted. "There's never been a
quadrant for a man to take care of himself. That's
why much of the men's movement has been a miserable
failure. It is a genetic leap. Women taking care of
themselves is part of their heritage and they'd
drop a handkerchief to see who would take care of
her 'the woman in distress'. Women learned to do
that. But because we needed women more than men,
because they protected children directly and bore
children, men needed to be more adaptable as a
Warrior, or to chop lumber, build homes, or be
spiritual leaders. We mostly worship the Warrior in
the position where he was needed. That role did not
allow for the question 'what satisfies me the
most?' You can't draft a man who is asking
questions, 'what do I need for me?' The purpose of
boot camp is to strip a man of being sensitive to
his own needs. The military must have a machine
So where's the saving archetype?
"It's in the King role," he declared.
Farrell said the legacy of our grandparents has
given us a culture, a technology, and the
wherewithal to survive so we can begin asking
questions that our forefathers couldn't.
"They focused on survival and didn't have the
luxury of creating a new balance of giving to
others and giving to one's self," he said. "The
hero role has historical been the King who brought
gifts to his people."
The ages have certainly demonstrated enough
examples of the "Shadow King," but there still
exists the "positive side," he added.
"It's like being a spiritual missionary, having
the willingness to give what you've found," he
said. "The bad part is when you're willing to force
it on others because you're so convinced you're
Developing the "Good King" is a personal
spiritual journey that comes from meditating and
creative pursuits like writing in a journal.
"We can learn from women who have kept diaries,"
he said. "They thought about themselves and their
lives and exchanged their words with other women.
Sometimes words like "Warrior" don't give off the
image of a man teaching himself how to journal.
Women can also learn from men and their ability
to overcome obstacles.
"We hear the expression 'when the going gets
tough, the tough get going,' well both genders need
to ask if this is the right way to go," Farrell
noted. "Sometimes when there is pain, we need to
stop and pay attention."
The best future for all is when the yin and the
yang are held in balance, he added.
"I may need to ask 'is this a moment I need to
tough it out and stick with my wife 24-hours-a-day
when she has cancer?' he asked. "That's when the
Warrior is functional. And at the same time, a man
can ask the question, 'am I by sticking it out and
becoming impatient, sarcastic, and less
The only way a man can ask those questions is by
going inside himself.
"Masculinity and femininity are opposing
positions," he explained. "Neither of those
positions serve us well alone. It is a blend
addressing the thousands and thousands of nuisances
that are needed for us to observe both ourselves
Farrell said when a child declares "I don't want
to go to bed and turn out the lights" or "I don't'
want to play soccer" that parents should ask the
question "is this the time to push and encourage my
daughter to play or should I give a more careful
eye to giving her a break?"
"Any simple formula we adopt almost always
underserves us with the male/female relationships,"
the author stated. "Women have often said that 'no'
means 'no' in a dating situation. That underserves
the nuisance that there are many 'yes's' and many
'no's'. If a woman said 'enter me' with no
excitement then the word wasn't as important as the
tone. She was adapting to me rather than excited
about it. If she said 'no , no, no,' but she was
touching me all over, I would be more likely to
interrupt that as a 'yes'. Simple solutions almost
never address the complexity of nuisances between
men and women and parents and children - between
body language and tone of voice."
Farrell said we need to pay attention to the
conscious and the unconscious.
"Throughout history neither sex had power," he
continued, "they just both had roles and neither
was conscious. Women were told their role was
raising children and men were told to raise money.
Women risked death in childbirth and men risked
death in war. Both gender were powerless."
Farrell acknowledged the work of C.G. Jung in
helping us have "real power" and control in our
"Personal power does NOT come from doing things
people tell you to do," he said. "We need to go
into the unconscious and find our balance ...
balance what you discover inside yourself with the
commitment you make to other people to be
supportive of a sick wife or care for the
A "Shadow Mission" is when we are not looking at
the conscious/unconscious or male/female
relationships within ourselves, the writer
Dr. Warren Farrell's "Golden Mission" comes from
"The first time I ever heard someone speak from
his heart in a group, I was stunned by his honesty
and openness," he recalled. "It seems that men
learn to speak from their heart only after reaching
a crisis. Maybe that's the part of initiation for
Click on the following for his books: His most
recent (1/05) Why
Men Earn More,. Previously books include
Myth of Male Power, Why
Men Are the Way They Are, Women
Can't Hear What Men Don't Say: Destroying
myths, creating love and
and Child Reunion. Check out his
© 2005 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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