One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results - a category that I fall neatly into. For whenever I teach at Esalen, I consistently forget to review the catalogue to see who my fellow workshop facilitators are. Thus, at every initial meeting, after about thirty minutes of pleasantries where I am casually chatting with "Bob" or "Barbara" or "Warren," I suddenly realize that I am speaking with one of my heroes.
This happened a few weeks ago when I became aware of the fact that the "Warren" sitting across from me was Doctor Warren Farrell. Just to be 100% sure I asked him, "You aren't the Warren Farrell who wrote 'The Myth of Male Power', are you?"
"Yes, I did," Doctor Farrell replied.
"Your book saved my life," I said as I reached my hand across the table to shake his hand and thank him. Even though Warren has been hearing this type of comment for decades - especially after all of his appearances on Oprah and CNN - he blushed.
Sometimes when you feel as if nobody understands you, a book falls into your hands and you realize that other people share similar experiences. That is what happened to me many years ago when I read "Why Men Are the Way They Are" and "The Myth of Male Power."
Since 1969 Warren has been writing on gender liberation. He was mostly concerned with women's issues until the mid 1970s when he noticed that the rising divorce rate left many children growing up without fathers. Then in the 1986 he wrote "Why Men Are The Way They Are" and became the first person to discuss men's powerlessness.
He told me, "The women's movement had a monopoly on defining gender; they thought we lived in patriarchal society with rules made by men to benefit men at the expense of women." And thus Warren felt obligated to reframe this antiquated paradigm as follows: "We lived in a world in which the dominant force was survival: moms raised children; dads raised money. Moms risked their lives in childbirth; dads risked their lives in war. Both sexes sacrificed to make their children's lives better than theirs."
And here is the whole story as recounted in Warren's recent TED talk entitled The Boy Crisis: A Sobering look at the State of our Boys
In 2009 when President Obama founded the White House Council on Women and Girls, Warren's background on the Board of NOW in New York City inspired a call from the White House asking for his advisory help. His advice included, "Equality: you should also create a White House Council on Men and Boys."
Thus Warren proposed a White House Council on Men and Boys that would address five issues:
1. Education: This is the first generation of boys in U.S. history who will have less education than their dads. Yet male teachers, recess, and vocational education are being curtailed.
2. Jobs: Cut-backs in vocational education leave boys who are not academically inclined unemployed. Japan's vocational programs result in 99.6% employment.
3. Fatherlessness: A third of boys are raised in father-absent homes; yet boys and girls with significant father involvement do better in more than 25 areas.
4. Physical health: In 1920, American males lived only one year less than females; today, it is five years less. Yet federal offices of boys and men's health are non-existent.
5. Emotional health: Between ages 13 and 20, as boys feel the pressures of the male role, boys' suicide rate soars from equal to girls', to five times girls'.
Watch Warren discuss the Boy Crisis and Fatherlessness with Presidential Candidates:
Although we still live in a predominantly patriarchal society where women are paid less than men for the same jobs, as the paradigm shifts towards true gender equality everyone benefits from candid discussions about gender roles. We are very fortunate to have someone as insightful and knowledgeable as Doctor Warren Farrell spearheading that conversation.
For more information, please visit a Coalition to Create a White House Council on Men and Boys.