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Unlocking the Iron Cage: the Men's Movement, Gender Politics, and American Culture

by Schwalbe, Michael A

  • ISBN: 9780195092295
  • ISBN10: 0195092295

Unlocking the Iron Cage: the Men's Movement, Gender Politics, and American Culture

by Schwalbe, Michael A

  • List Price: $35.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publish date: 03/01/1996
  • ISBN: 9780195092295
  • ISBN10: 0195092295
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Description: The mythopoetic men's movement grew quietly for ten years before Robert Bly's bestseller Iron John brought the movement to national attention. What is the truth about these men and their movement? Based on Michael Schwalbe's three years of experience as a participant and observer at over one hundred meetings, as well as on interviews with active members, Unlocking the Iron Cage provides a revealing look at who these men are, what they do, why mythopoetic activity appeals to them, what needs it fills, where it succeeds, and where it fails. Schwalbe illuminates the theory behind the mythopoetic movement - which derives largely from Jungian psychology and the archetypal psychology of James Hillman- but for the most part he focuses on the rank-and-file participants. He finds mostly middle-class men trying to cope with the legacy of fathers who gave little emotional sustenance and with a competitive society they find unsatisfying, who sympathize with many of women's complaints about men and sexism (though Schwalbe also finds that many joined as a reaction to what they saw as feminism's blanket indictment of men), and who are searching for an alternative to the traditional image of a man as rational, tough, ambitious, and in control. Schwalbe finds much of value in the men's quest. For instance, he highlights the religious appeal of mythopoetic activity, with its emphasis on finding one's personal truth, its gentle pantheism, its use of ritual to create emotional communion - all of which give the men the wide, inclusive path to spirituality they want. And he shows how Jungian psychology helps the men to redefine their feminine traits, especially their emotionality, as aspects of "deepmasculinity". But he also levels some criticisms. He shows, for example, that the myths the men embrace - myths that tend to be devoid of women, or that portray women as beautiful prizes, or as hags, or cloying mothers - reinforce the presumptions of male superiority they claim to reject.
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