Revisioning Men's Lives: Gender, Intimacy, and Power

by Terry Kupers, Guilford Press, New York, 1993.

Reviewed by Paul Lowinger

 

A friend, psychiatrist Terry Kupers, who wrote this book sees a lot of problems among men like himself, He tells us ,"Friendship among men is problematic...Working long hours without letup, always being on schedule and being on the job whThere are canopnsen you don't feel well are symptom's of a men's disorder...Pornography which affects all men in our society is a symptom of men's lack of intimacy...Homophobia is a big reason why men keep fighting their way to the top...Men view themselves as at the top or the bottom of some hierarchy...Masculinity is all about the lines men must not cross: backing down, dressing too flamboyantly, expressing too many feelings in public and appearing too weak and dependent...Nice guys who disdain domination often feel like losers..."

This is the Men's Movement without Bly's forest rituals for "straight, white and financially comfortable" men, 30 to 50 years of age. There are no rules for women, children, the poor, gays, nonwhite or blue collar men but there are opinions about them. Kupers goal is "a better society and then extrapolating backward from that vision in order to decide which qualities in men we would like to reinforce and which we would like to change."

This is the wheat of the counterculture winnowed from its chaff, a world where "competition and domination no longer reign, where men as well as women strive to stay in touch with the gentle, sensitive person inside them." There are precepts for love, work, play, politics, drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, pornography, sexuality both hetero and homo, self esteem, relations with women and children, consumption, friendship, competition, ambition, gender, intimacy and power. There was too little on art and less on spirituality but unlike the Ten Originals, religion isn't mentioned.

The real passion of this book are the case reports and the most compelling homilies are from Kupers' own life. His divorce is numbing and it accelerates his natural speediness into an auto accident according to his diary. He recalls a vicious argument with his second wife when he felt like a wimp because he didn't know enough about the manly art of building a cabin.

I have a cavil with this carefully researched guide for men. The deepest and darkest parts of men's unconscious seem to be almost too accessible to Kupers as he uses Freud, Jung and Adler to cut and paste. Isn't the unconscious really like Kafka's Castle where a men's group won't help another K? Perhaps even Citizen Kane isn't amenable to psychotherapy.

Kupers is humble, feeling unworthiness and shame as befits Moses/Mr. Manners, law giver and problem solver but Kupers' methods are as good as we've got for men's political organizing, consciousness raising and therapy.