Mark B Rosenthal: Don’t put your trust in movements

I believe strongly in the men’s human rights movement, but we’ve received an intriguing comment, pointing us to a poem by Mark B Rosenthal, in response to our post on Glen Poole’s article in the Telegraph. We thought it merited its own blog piece, and it takes up the rest of this piece:

I make no claim about being a good singer. I never got good enough on any instrument to accompany myself. But this came to me as a song, and so singing is the only way I can present it.

I find that people are most comfortable talking with others who share their experiences and their point of view. That makes it very hard to tell others about your own experiences when they’re different from what people expect. For better or worse, the experiences of my life tend to challenge people’s preconceived notions. The conclusions I’ve reached are often quite different from what others are comfortable with. A number of years ago, a melody and a few words kept rattling around in my head. Over the course of the next several months, this song virtually wrote itself. It begins with the attitude of mine which puts most people off. But if you can get past that, open your mind and your heart, and listen attentively, by the end you might see the world in a new light.

Don’t put your trust in movements. Their principles are for sale.

Not for money, but for followers. They’ll revile you if you’re male.

Your sex tells them that you are evil, though you had no choice at birth.

Still they’ll proclaim, oh so proudly, they love all people on earth.

Now, I know that I will be accused of backlash and of lies,

And they’ll lump me with the right-wing and with hate groups I despise,

But you must know I speak the truth, for it brings me no joy

When I tell of what I suffered as a very little boy.

For when I was just a little boy, my mother beat me so,

And she called me “Bitch!” and “Bastard!” and other names I didn’t know.

My sister, three years younger, was treated just the same,

And being little children, we thought we were to blame.

My father was a gentle soul, a kind and loving man,

But too depressed and too demoralized to ever understand,

That he didn’t have to take it when she hit him in the face,

And when she kicked his legs black, blue, and bloody, ’twas not his disgrace.

And so I learned, you don’t hit back, but walk out through the door,

And cool off for a half an hour, then come on back for more.

I learned love, and I learned deep despair, but the greatest thing he did,

Was to teach me by example that you never leave your kids.

“He’s spineless. He is not a man.” That’s what my mother said.

“The jerk has no ambition. He’ll never get ahead.”

Whatever she could not afford, he always was to blame.

For a man who does not earn enough surely deserves shame.

And she told me in anger that the draft would do me good.

Oh the army’d make a man of me she said. She knew it would.

But I knew deep down in my soul just how your life is warped,

When you fear you’ll have to choose to be a killer or a corpse.

So I arrived in college in nineteen-sixty-eight,

When Viet Nam was in the news and love was in the Haight,

And Women’s Liberation had the noblest of ideals,

A world that’s free from prejudice and free of gender roles.

For the damage done by sex-roles was so very clear to me,

It keeps a woman from a job that could bring her prosperity,

It keeps a loving Dad from staying at home to raise his pride and joy,

Drafts a child and makes him kill or die, just ’cause he’s a boy.

One day while she still lived at home my sister gave a call.

Said she’d taken a whole jar of pills. She’d tried to end it all.

‘Twas my father who had found her, got her help and saved her life,

But the thing he could not save her from was all the daily strife.

I understood depression and her plight, I’m sad to tell.

For suicide had often been in my own thoughts as well.

When all you’ve heard since childhood is that you’re always wrong,

Then hopelessness takes over, and its hold is very strong.

Years passed. My father grew quite ill, and in his final year,

As I wept and wandered aimlessly one day I looked up in the air.

A billboard caught my eye. It said, “Now battered women all,

There is shelter. Here’s a toll-free hotline number you can call.”

Well my head said, “‘Tis a good thing.” But my heart said, “I have doubts.”

And in retrospect I’m amazed it took me months to figure out,

That the very simple question that my heart was whispering low,

Was “Although this may help SOME victims, where would my father go?”

There are those who made a big point of how language moulds our thoughts.

Say “chairperson”, never “chairman”, was the lesson that they taught.

They ignored their own rules when they spoke of violence in the house,

For the term they chose was “battered wife” instead of “battered spouse”.

I wish my tale were at an end, but tragedy struck once more,

For my sister succeeded at what she’d tried before.

My grief and pain were not surpassed by any in the land,

When I got the news that she was gone. Dead by her own hand.

And so now the question haunts me, were it now instead of then,

And among the victims needing help was a parent who’s a man,

Would there be a sympathetic ear? I fear the answer’s no.

For I’ve asked at all the shelters, “Where would my father go?”

Some say, “It’s not our problem. It’s too bad, but we won’t help.”

Some say it could never have happened, ’cause they know men have all the wealth.

I can’t count the times I’ve been referred to counsellors for violent men,

With the implied accusation that I must be one of them.

And when I talk about the problem, the denial’s so very strong.

They know a wife could never batter. A woman can’t be in the wrong.

Long ago they taught that stereotypes are never justified.

Had they not betrayed their own ideals, we’d be fighting on the same side.

Indifference I can understand. They’re too busy to care.

But when they make me out the villain, I cannot help despair.

I’m merely seeking fairness and justice that’s gender-blind.

Now I get called “the abuser’s lobby” by those who’ve closed their minds.

So, don’t put your trust in movements. Their principles are for sale.

Not for money, but for followers. They’ll revile you if you’re male.

Your sex tells them that you are evil, though you had no choice at birth.

Still they’ll proclaim, oh so proudly, they love all people on earth.

Well, I could not save my sister or my father, but I know,

That if there had been help, he would have saved us long ago.

Still their memories will live in me ’till the end of my life,

And until I breathe my last, I’ll still be trying to save them both.

So I say, if I’ve made my point at all and if I’ve touched your heart,

If the suffering is to ever end, then it’s YOU must play your part.

Go out and tell the politicians when they fund this bigotry,

That they create a world that’s hateful to the likes of you and me.

About Mike Buchanan

I'm a men's human rights advocate, writer, and publisher. My primary focus is leading the political party I launched in 2013, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). I still work actively on two campaigns I launched in early 2012, Campaign for Merit in Business and the Anti-Feminism League. In 2014 I launched The Alternative Sexism Project, aiming to raise public understanding that the sexism faced by men and boys has far more grievous consequences than the sexism faced by women and girls.
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  • Wonderful, Mike. Have you sent it to Paul? This needs to be an anthem for the MRHM.

  • The poem becomes all the more poignant when you realise that these feminists never actually sold their principles for followers, but hid them instead.

    Their principles being the kind of principles that would try to kill the pioneer of the domestic violence shelter, Erin Pizzey, in her own home. With bombs and guns. They even shot her dog. Why? She didn’t play her game by their rules, so they stole the ball, beat her up, and kicked her out of her own house for 15 years.

  • I’m glad people here appreciate the autobiographical song “Don’t Put Your Trust in Movements” I wrote in 1990. But when you quote it, I’d appreciate your including a link to it on my website at http://breakingthescience.org/DontPutYourTrustInMovements.php. I have a number of other articles you might find interesting at http://breakingthescience.org. Many are my own compositions. Others are articles and research papers by respected researchers in the field of family violence who are not promoting the usual misandrist party line – people like:

    – Erin Pizzey (founder (in 1971) of the world’s first battered women’s shelter)
    – Murray Straus (Professor of Sociology at Univ. of N.H., Founder and Director of the UNH Family Research Lab)
    – Richard Gelles (Professor of Sociology at Univ. of Penna., Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice)
    – Dr. Malcolm George (Department of Physiology, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, United Kingdom)