But there is a missing piece to the image a piece

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weekend workshops. But there is a missing piece to the image, a piece concealed by the framing of the image in terms of the individual man’s experience. That missing piece is that the person who is giving the orders is also a man. Now we have a relationship between men— between men giving orders and other men taking those orders. The man who identi fi es with the chau ff eur is entitled to be the man giving the orders, but he is not. (‘They,’ it turns out, are other men.) The dimension of power is now reinserted into men’s experience not only as the product of individual experience but also as the prod- uct of relations with other men. In this sense, men’s experience of powerlessness is real —the men actually feel it and certainly act on it— but it is not true , that is, it does not accurately describe their condition. In contrast to women’s lives, men’s lives are structured around rela- tionships of power and men’s di ff erential access to power, as well as the di ff erential access to that power of men as a group. Our imperfect analysis of our own situation leads us to believe that we men need more power, rather than leading us to support feminists’ e ff orts to rearrange power relationships along more equitable lines. Philosopher Hannah Arendt (1970) fully understood this contra- dictory experience of social and individual power: Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together. When we say of somebody that he is ‘in power’ we actually refer to his being empowered by a certain number of people to act in their name. The moment the group, from which the power originated to begin with . . . disappears, ‘his power’ also vanishes. (p. 44) Why, then, do American men feel so powerless? Part of the answer is because we’ve constructed the rules of manhood so that only the tiniest fraction of men come to believe that they are the biggest of wheels, the sturdiest of oaks, the most virulent repudiators of feminin- ity, the most daring and aggressive. We’ve managed to disempower the overwhelming majority of American men by other means—such as discriminating on the basis of race, class, ethnicity, age, or sexual pref- erence. Masculinist retreats to retrieve deep, wounded, masculinity are masculinity as homophobia 195
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but one of the ways in which American men currently struggle with their fears and their shame. Unfortunately, at the very moment that they work to break down the isolation that governs men’s lives, as they enable men to express those fears and that shame, they ignore the social power that men continue to exert over women and the privileges from which they (as the middle-aged, middle-class white men who largely make up these retreats) continue to bene fi t—regardless of their experiences as wounded victims of oppressive male socialization. 7 Others still rehearse the politics of exclusion, as if by clearing away the playing fi
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