Author Topic: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement  (Read 8778 times)

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Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« on: May 30, 2012, 02:33:39 am »
What do you folks think of Robert Bly and the mythopoetic men's movement?  I stumbled across this fellow and will be checking out some audiobooks of his ideas. I was just curious to see if I could get a wider perspective around these parts.

And, yeah, I realize there's always the relative truth to organizations like these....


Mythopoetic men's movement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The mythopoetic men's movement (sometimes mistakenly referred to simply as the men's movement) refers to a loose collection of organizations active in men's work since the early 1980s. The mythopoetic men's movement grew as a reaction to the second-wave feminist movement. The mythopoetic men's movement aims to liberate men from the constraints of the modern world which keep them from being in touch with their true masculine nature, and is best known for the rituals that take place during their gatherings. While in the public eye in the early 1990s, the movement carries on more quietly in The ManKind Project and independent psychologico-spiritual practitioners. Mythopoets adopted a general style of psychological self-help inspired by the work of Robert Bly, Robert A. Johnson, Joseph Campbell, and other Jungian authors.


The leaders of the mythopoetic men's movement believed that modernization had led to the feminization of men. Mythopoets believed that the rise of the urban industrial society "trapped men into straitjackets of rationality, thus blunting the powerful emotional communion and collective spiritual transcendence that they believe men in tribal societies typically enjoyed" (p. 20 Messner). Most importantly, the movement sought to restore the "deep masculine" to men who had lost it in their more modern lifestyles. Other causes for the loss of the "deep masculine" include:

  • Men no longer being comrades who celebrated their masculinity together. Rather, they had become competitors within their workplaces.
  • Men spending more time in their houses with women than they did with men (in non-competitive terms outside of work). Interaction with women generally kept men from realizing their internal masculinity.
  • Feminism bringing attention to the 'feminine voice.' Through this, the mythopoetic men felt that their voices had been muted (though Bly and others are careful in not blaming feminism for this).
  • The separation of men from their fathers kept them from being truly initiated into manhood, and was a source of emotional damage.
  • Men were suffering further emotional damage due to feminist accusations about sexism. Men should celebrate their differences from women, rather than feeling guilty about them.
  • Men being discouraged from expressing their emotions. Male inexpressivity is an epidemic and does not correspond to their "deep masculine" natures.

   
   
   

The Good Reverend Roger

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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2012, 03:16:07 am »
If you need "rituals" to know who you are, you've just put on another uniform.  Which is kind of a shame, because it would seem to me that the guys who go in for this sort of thing probably do so because they've realized that they're wearing a uniform...But to deal with it, they go put on another uniform.

The flaw here is that whereas feminism seeks equality, the "deep masculine" thing is instead the guys worrying about their personalities...There is less immediate drive & purpose, so they wind up thumping on drums and pretending that it's changing their lives and making everything DIFFERENT.

Then they go back to work on Monday, and they're still powerless little drones who are intimidated by authority figures, women, and damn near everything else.  Even if they really beat on those bongos.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2012, 04:49:04 am »
Those are some good points, Roger.  What makes me immediately skeptical is that it's a movement that seems to be occuring in reaction to another movement...feminism.

The points, however, seem to be somewhat valid.

I was raised more or less exclusively by my mother...who, with every best intention,  did her very best but also didn't provide a good masculine role model a growing boy could aspire toward.  It wasn't until I had children that I had to really find it myself. 

Is this concept of a 'deep masculine' just another hype or is there something lacking in our society today that keeps men from really grabbing hold of it?  Now, I'm not saying that on our fifteenth birthday we are to kill a lion and get a circumcision with a sharpened stone like the Maasai people in Kenya but there seems to be a real lack of a legitimate rite of passage for boys to become men these days.

Take, for example, this fellow Ryan I know.  This guy, by all popular standards, most folks would think of as a "real man." Works out, tough...definitely the fellow you'd want to have your back. Once you get to know him, he seems to be nothing more than an immature boy trapped in a man's body who exhibits no traits of a healthy evolved masculine man as he portrays himself.

What I'm unsure of is are the points addressed by this movement legitimate?  Is Ryan an example of say male inexpressibility? 

It seems to me, as I search inside about what "being a man" means to me is nothing about what it's portrayed in our culture...there seems to be quite a disconnect here and I'm really not sure why.

The rituals, I guess, kind of make sense...but, I agree that it doesn't really seem to make quite an impact that something like killing a lion might.  It seems very pretentious.

What is the answer?
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 04:53:55 am by Bu☆ns »

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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2012, 05:03:38 am »
Considering gender roles are essentially social constructs, sounds like a lot of neo-pagan woowoo.

I posit that the reason you have a disconnect is because our culture has been dominated by a consumer based ethic that favors childish impulsive spending to fulfill immature superficial wants. Or in short, the emphasis of materialism over social and familial relationships.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 07:07:49 am »
IMHO in some ways the culture tries to keep people - all people - in the kid stage too long. "Don't have sex, don't drink, don't stay out late. Wait till you're 21." Nobody waits that long, so the kids tend to initiate themselves into the adult world and sometimes that means gangs, or something similarly borked. I don't think it's a matter of not growing up with a man in the house so much as being shut out of adulthood until years after you were ready.

It's all kind of polarized. I mean, as a female I was presented with the traditional stay-home-and-clean thing on the one hand and the "you can be a CEO/truck driver/whatever" thing on the other...one or the other, which side are you on? All that bullshit. I guess it's similar for guys? I thought it all sucked. :lol: And the reality these days is everybody has to make money, everybody has to scrub the toilet, so it's all moot anyway.

There might be something to it as far as everybody being spread too thin. But this ritual stuff IS total crap. I don't see a chubby lawyer in a loincloth beating a drum as doing anything to enhance his masculinity.  :lol:
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 07:55:53 am by Anna Mae Bollocks »
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2012, 07:12:57 am »
If you need "rituals" to know who you are, you've just put on another uniform.  Which is kind of a shame, because it would seem to me that the guys who go in for this sort of thing probably do so because they've realized that they're wearing a uniform...But to deal with it, they go put on another uniform.

I'm not so sure wearing the uniform is so bad as long as you're consistently aware that it's only a uniform. Unless I have the wrong impression of what you mean by uniform.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2012, 10:59:22 am »
I initially read the thread title as the Myopic men's movement.

 :lulz:

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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2012, 12:31:21 pm »
In a society, at least traditionally, uniforms are important. The monkeys need to know where they are in the pack and traditionally ritual has been a key part of that process. In today's society, ritual has fallen by the wayside, myth (once a powerful teaching tool) is replaced by whatever advertisers can convince people to watch on TV and uniforms have been swapped out for a shirt, tie and cubicle. The issue I see with this kind of movement is its reactive nature and backwards goal. Society evolves and the rituals and myths should evolve with them. There's little value in rituals that transport people to who their grandparents were in a now dead society. The real value would be in rituals/myths that direct them toward the future, who they can be in today's society/culture.

In most societies, there are individuals that cast off the uniform and thats great for them. But the majority need some psychological handle to help them find their place. However, that place should be based on the here and now of their society, not the there and then of the past.

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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2012, 01:46:11 pm »
Now, I'm not saying that on our fifteenth birthday we are to kill a lion and get a circumcision with a sharpened stone like the Maasai people in Kenya but there seems to be a real lack of a legitimate rite of passage for boys to become men these days.

No argument there.  This is why we have 28 year old drones clogging up the couches nationwide.

For me, it was when I went into the service.  When I think back as to when I was a boy and when I was a man, it was a "ritual" that began when I entered basic training, and ended when I went to my unit.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2012, 01:52:35 pm »
Now, I'm not saying that on our fifteenth birthday we are to kill a lion and get a circumcision with a sharpened stone like the Maasai people in Kenya but there seems to be a real lack of a legitimate rite of passage for boys to become men these days.

No argument there.  This is why we have 28 year old drones clogging up the couches nationwide.

For me, it was when I went into the service.  When I think back as to when I was a boy and when I was a man, it was a "ritual" that began when I entered basic training, and ended when I went to my unit.

Another good argument for compelling some level of service from all citizens when they get out of school.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2012, 02:15:11 pm »
Now, I'm not saying that on our fifteenth birthday we are to kill a lion and get a circumcision with a sharpened stone like the Maasai people in Kenya but there seems to be a real lack of a legitimate rite of passage for boys to become men these days.

No argument there.  This is why we have 28 year old drones clogging up the couches nationwide.

For me, it was when I went into the service.  When I think back as to when I was a boy and when I was a man, it was a "ritual" that began when I entered basic training, and ended when I went to my unit.

Another good argument for compelling some level of service from all citizens when they get out of school.

I can't think of a single good reason for compelling service from anyone.  Especially in the military.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2012, 02:16:05 pm »
In a society, at least traditionally, uniforms are important. The monkeys need to know where they are in the pack and traditionally ritual has been a key part of that process. In today's society, ritual has fallen by the wayside, myth (once a powerful teaching tool) is replaced by whatever advertisers can convince people to watch on TV and uniforms have been swapped out for a shirt, tie and cubicle.

I disagree.  I can list any number of American myths that are stronger today than they ever were.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2012, 02:26:08 pm »
I meant service in some form, not necessarily guns and boots... but some service could easily act as a 'ritual' taking a person from youth to adult. I detest the idea of compulsory service, but in many countries it does seem to have a good effect.

When you say American Myths, what are you referring to?
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2012, 02:33:26 pm »
I don't think "service" quite fits what the rituals intend to do.  Regardless of how it appears, the rituals seem to have the initiate do something dangerous, risky, or arduous in a public or otherwise social setting, where upon completion the pack begins treating the initiate in a different way.

In today's society, that could be considered "getting your shit together and taking responsibility for something".  The first time a kid faces something of real consequence, they either put up or shut up.  The problem as I see it is twofold: 1) These days, it's really easy to avoid taking responsibility for something if no one forces you to; 2) We've forgotten how to frame it as a ritual, so these experiences have no context or deeper meaning.
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Re: Robert Bly - The Mythopoetic Men's Movement
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2012, 02:40:42 pm »
I don't think "service" quite fits what the rituals intend to do.  Regardless of how it appears, the rituals seem to have the initiate do something dangerous, risky, or arduous in a public or otherwise social setting, where upon completion the pack begins treating the initiate in a different way.

In today's society, that could be considered "getting your shit together and taking responsibility for something".  The first time a kid faces something of real consequence, they either put up or shut up.  The problem as I see it is twofold: 1) These days, it's really easy to avoid taking responsibility for something if no one forces you to; 2) We've forgotten how to frame it as a ritual, so these experiences have no context or deeper meaning.

Excellent points, LMNO.
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