MENZ Issues March 1996: Volume 1 Issue 2
All articles in this issue written by Martin Lewis.
Why do we despise the doubter?
Because doubt is evolutionary and society hates evolution. It disturbs the peace.
With the publication of North Health’s first report on Men’s Health and it’s associated discussion paper, MCNS has geared up its Health Focus Group to be part of the debate. Members who are interested in being part of this focus group are encouraged to contact either the Convener, Mark Rowley, or Martin. We have made submissions to Mr John Fraser of North Health on our reaction to the report’s approach. We also had a major contingent at the public discussion. Five of the sixteen (30%) of the representation was from MC. The others were all active in areas of the men’s movement. The small number and the total absence of Joe Public suggests either poor publicity, bad timing (it was a 10am Friday meeting when most men are working) or a lack of interest in the subject. The report itself states, quote "Our literature review reveals that the term ‘men’s health’ is one which hardly appears at all. Indeed, there is a feeling in some quarters that such a concept is politically incorrect."
So what do we do about it? Let’s get this focus group humming! Our next Public Forum, on March 7, will begin to address the subject.
Shore Father’s family fun in the park, alternative sports day was a great success. Most of the organisations who participated by providing activities for the day are keen to do it again next year. The public turnout was not as high as we had hoped but those who came enjoyed it. The lesson? Choose a different day next year. Many families are still away on Anniversary Day and there was a lot of highly publicised and new activity on the waterfront this year.
Here we are with a new year. Another year closer to the "Third Millenium" What do we plan to do with it? Remember "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" MC needs to gear up and make things happen in 1996. Let’s get the Focus Groups moving. Now as we enter our second year our aim is to populate these groups with focussed and enthusiastic men.
Despite following instruction to the letter and lengthy consultations with IRD officials, MC still does not bear the coveted title Charitable / Donee Organisation. While all hope is not yet lost this is disappointing after such a lot of time and effort going into the process. The wheels of bureaucracy grind exceeding slow and demand much energy and lubrication. Part of the process required has been to clarify our objectives; to tighten them up so as to meet the legal criteria. As a result the following are our proposed Objects and Mission. I say proposed, because until they are accepted they may still require some refinement. These changes are being executed under a motion passed at the AGM allowing whatever changes are necessary to accomplish Charitable status however I am aware that we must keep the constitution within the scope of the memberships desires. Please contact me if you have any input.
OBJECTS for which the Society is established are:
- To provide charitable facilities in North Shore City, N Z where all males can be supported in using resources provided for exclusively social welfare purposes.
- To promote the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing of males and society.
- To involve males of all ages, cultures, races, occupations, social and economic circumstances.
- To provide a forum for males to discover and clarify their needs, rights and responsibilities.
- To raise society’s awareness and respect for male’s needs, rights and responsibilities.
- To ensure that the services offered by the Society are client centred.
- To provide a conduit to existing social services, resources, and courses for males.
- To create, or stimulate the creation of, services, resources & courses where they do not exist & where need has been identified.
- To ensure that the rights of men, women and children to live in a community without violence, abuse, or intimidation are recognised and to endeavour to address these issues through the programmes offered and activities undertaken.
- To recognise the needs, rights and responsibilities of fathers :
- in conventional two parent families
- as stepfathers
- as adoptive fathers
- as sole custodial parents
- as non-custodial parents.
- To acknowledge the views of other individuals and groups in our Society that will compliment the Society’s aims and objectives.
Possibly our new MISSION:
"To provide a facility in North Shore City, where men are supported clarifying their needs, rights and responsibilities"
Our Media Action Group convened by Peter Manning has been fighting a slow and steady battle to gain a more balanced image of men in the media. To date few media releases have been taken up by our local papers. This however does not mean that there have not been successes. We have managed to get the smaller of the two North Shore papers to recognise our existence and print a few favourable comments. We have had coverage in the national Sunday papers, on National Radio and a number of talkback programmes. Each exposure stimulates more exposure. When a paper passed a press release to a gender feminist for rebuttal and then printed only the rebuttal which misquoted the original release, another paper took up the cudgels, interviewed Martin and gave his photograph with newsletter and MC sign national coverage. Other minor successes include a change in the Domestic Violence advertising. Not what we had hoped for but a sign that we are having a positive effect. Keep up the good work.
With a grant from COGS we are financially OK for the next month or so … but that is all. As with all organisations which rely on funds which are not generated by their activity this is a constant worry. Subscriptions / donations to date have been nominal and although every dollar is gratefully received, we cannot survive on them. A professional fundraiser has assured me that to utilise the public community funding system requires at least 8 man-hours per week. That is, 20% of my working week. As an activist / administrator whose focus is on supporting the Focus Groups, shuffling Government paperwork, etc I find that I do not spend as much time at it as required. It is a Catch 22 situation. If I spend the time chasing funds how do I justify the funding? What activity can I show the funders? It’s not that I think I am doing it all but I am here to support and promote the activity too. Part of the problem is that we lack a Treasurer. Our elected treasure resigned due to family pressures and I as the co-ordinator have taken up the slack. However it is not ideal to have the role filled in this way. Nor is it acceptable to funders. Perhaps a new treasurer could head a team, a Focus Group on Men’s Centre finance. Three or four men would only need to spend 1 – 3 hours each per week to keep on top of this.
While on the subject of funding … As a result of discussions with the IRD over our identity as a Charitable Society and with funders and potential sponsors there are two consistent factors of concern. Firstly … What is our product? Secondly, if this is not something which is clearly identifiable in the public’s minds … what is an identifiable target that funds are required for? Our answer lies in our proposed mission statement. A facility. A place where men can gather. A resource centre. A creche where non-custodial fathers can have supervised access to their children. A short stay accommodation for men in crisis. A place where they can receive support or counselling. A place that is all of this and more. To this end we have initiated a project co-ordinated by Craig Davis which has the objective of funding and sourcing a home of our own. This may be a two (or more) step process. We will probably move first to an existing site, perhaps shared, but with the facilities we need. And later to a property of our own.
Our second foray into the public arena on January 25 culminated in stimulating discussion. About 30 men and three women attended along with two of the three speakers on the programme! The objective for the evening was to have Reese Helmondollar of the North Harbour Living Without Violence Collective, perceived by some to represent a feminist perspective, give his views on domestic violence; Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith of Casualties of Sexual Allegations (COSA) who as a scientist is perceived to represent the patriarchy, speak on sexual allegations; and finally a personal growth advocate speak on how we might address these matters by taking personal responsibility and using this as a base for change. A group discussion then followed which was expected to focus on the solution based third speaker. The reality was that the group chose to focus on challenging some aspects of what the speakers offered. It was valuable and energetic.
The next one is on "Men’s Health" with John Fraser of North Health presenting the NH Men’s Health discussion paper. See the enclosed poster for details and then find somewhere to display it. Make as many copies as you can distribute or call me for more. The one after that will also be on Men’s Health on Weds 17 April. Dr John Raeburn will speak on his report on which the NH paper was based.
What do you want next?
Something which has become apparent through efforts to enrol media activity, raise funding, obtain charitable status and generally explain to the curious what Men’s Centre North Shore is, is that our Mission and Objectives are very broad and all encompassing. Sometimes such a broad desire to change the world is too big to grasp. We need to identify ourselves with a product; a product which elicits the response "Ah, yes … that’s what the Men’s Centre does. They’re the ones to contact in this situation." So what is our product? Are we a political lobby group? Are we a social service?
Some areas of product focus raised by members for consideration are:
- Education of boys and young men of the risks, financial, emotional and medical, of indiscriminate sex. The consequences to the male of having children, the commitment required and how this is enforced by society.
- Violence – The bulk of violence leading to hospital treatment is amongst young men in their 20’s, related to alcohol consumption and a wounded socialisation of masculinity. An education program relating to this behaviour, where it comes from and where it leads. (connect this also to 1.)
- Health Issues – Again some overlap.
- Relationships – a biggy. Fathering skills, importance of both parents, extended family,
Presented and marketed well these will bring in funding. They also give a wide scope for addressing the wounding of masculinity and how to correct it. The misrepresentation of masculinity in our culture is an underlying cause in each of them.
These are platforms from which we can make comments and have some credibility in doing so … after we provide the service.
Lets discuss them at our membership meeting on Wednesday March 27
Planned projects for the next few months include:
- Starting at least three more personal support groups. We have had several enquiries but the the interested men are wide spread so an orchestrated effort will be required to start them.
- Revitalise the Massey University Albany campus group for the new year.
- Start a similar group at AIT-Akoranga.
- Initiate a monthly membership meeting on the 4th Wednesday of every month at the Northcote War Memorial Hall, 2 Rodney Rd, Northcote Point. 7pm- 9pm. Please let me know what you would like.
- Continue the regular Public Forums.
- Enlist more members into the Focus Groups. We need special interest conveners. Interest has been expressed in Elders, Youth and Mentors, Disabled Men, Education … but no one has taken up the mantle of convener. In what other areas are you concerned?
- A Research / Reading Group has been in my mind for a while. We have a lot of resource material available to us from the InterNet and in the form of books, periodicals, newsletters, tapes and videos. A group who regularly gathered to view a video, discuss it and report ; or who all read the same book or research document, discussed it and reported on it to the membership. The reporting would either be at the monthly meeting or in the newsletter. Some of it might provide material for the MAG. Let’s hear what you think.
- Let me have your input fellas, Input and membership. If you believe in this centre enrol others or we may not be here when you need us.