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Who is Warren Farrell?

The following messages discuss Warren Farrell, author of _The Myth of Male 
Power_, and his relationship to feminism.  They appeared on WMST-L in late 
October 1994.  Some of the later messages mention men who write about men's 
issues from a more feminist perspective.  For additional WMST-L files now 
available on the Web, see the WMST-L File List.
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 12:17:36 -0400
From: Kali Tal <kalital@MINERVA.CIS.YALE.EDU>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
I just received a review copy of what looks like a truly awful book--
Warren Farrell, _The Myth of Male Power_, Berkely, 1993.  I think it is
new in paperback.  It's got a wealth of endorsements from the likes of
Camille Paglia, Nancy Friday, Sam Keen, Dan Kiley, and David Horowitz (one
of the most remarkable "backlash" figures of the Sixties).  I've glanced
through the book and the arguments seem logically flawed where they are
not deliberately misleading.  Berkley lists Farrell as "Warren Farrell,
Ph.D." on the cover, and seems to be going for an audience of laypersons
who they hope will be impressed by Farrell's alleged credentials.
What interests me is Farrell's claim to have been a spokesman for the
feminist movement, particularly the New York City chapter of NOW.  He
tells a story of receiving approval and financial support for being a
male speaker on feminist issues, and about the withdrawal of feminist
support when he began to speak out about "men's issues."  In the guise of
progressiveness, he condemns contemporary feminism in pretty much the
same terms as Hoff-Sommers, Paglia and their ilk, harping especially on
"victim feminism."  His condemnation takes an odd turn, though, since he
seems to be making the argument that men are far more oppressed than women.
I am wondering if any WMST-L members have background information on
Farrell and can shed light on his "transformation" from self-proclaimed
feminist to antifeminist. His story, on the surface, seems to parallel
Horowitz's--for a while he gained notoriety as a "radical," and now he is
gaining more notoriety (and more money) as a neo-conservative.  Is
Farrell the only fellow who has made his career turning on the women's
movement?  Are there others?
Thanks for your help.
Kali Tal
Sixties Project &
Viet Nam Generation, Inc.
18 Center Rd., Woodbridge, CT 06525
203/387-6882; FAX: 203/389-6104
email: kalital@minerva.cis.yale.edu
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 12:55:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
To Kali and others interested in Farrell--Faludi's Backlash includes a
whole chapter on him and apparently he was at one point a feminist and someone
usually considered a founder of the feminist men's movement.  I just lent out
my Backlash so I can't get you the page references.
                                    (o o)
|        Laurie Finke, Women's and Gender Studies, Kenyon College            |
|                  Gambier, OH 43022       phone: 614-427-5276               |
|        home: 614-427-3428, P.O. Box 731     mail: FinkeL@Kenyon.Edu        |
                                   ()   ()
Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 13:07:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: Rosa Maria Pegueros <PEGUEROS@URIACC.URI.EDU>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Oy, Warren Farrell. He has been around for years, WAITING for Christina
Hoff Sommers and Katie Roiphe to appear...
The best source for information about him is California NOW, specifically,
Shireen Miles, the former State Coordinator of California NOW who is now
the executive director of a YWCA in Pasadena. Shireen had occasion to debate
him and is fairly knowledgable about his writings. I don't know if the current
NOW coordinator is as familiar with him, but the NOW office is in the state
capital, Sacramento. The area code is 916 and director assistance could provide
 you with the phone.
Rosa Maria Pegueros
DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY           TELEPHONE: (401) 792-4092
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 08:55:33 -0500
From: "Karen R. Grant" <kgrant@CC.UMANITOBA.CA>
Subject: Warren Farrell
Warren Farrell was making the rounds of Australia when I was there earlier
this summer.  He got an amazing amount of press there, was interviewed on
the ABC (radio and television), and his book was prominently displayed in
most bookstores there.  I heard one interview, and I have to say that I
found him incredibly worrisome -- because he spoke so calmly, so
matter-of-factly, and so "reasonably" that it seemed that his message
would be well-received by those listening.  I, myself, felt my stomach
turn!  His book seems to be a litany of the ill-effects of feminism on
men.  His argument is hard to swallow, even at the best of times, and
there are huge leaps of logic throughout.  It's interesting that someone
noted reference to him in Faludi's book -- it's on pp. 300-304 for those
who are interested.  Before I heard much about Farrell, I was convinced
that what he had done was a "response" to Faludi, not point for point, but
in a manner which would assert that it was men who were the real victims
of the women's movement, not women who were adversely affected by
patriarchy.  Maybe his intent was even more personal than I had originally
Karen R. Grant, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology                 We will have equality when a
University of Manitoba                  female schlemiel moves ahead
Winnipeg, Manitoba                      as fast as a male schlemiel.
Canada  R3T 2N2                          -Estelle Ramey, President,
(204) 474 9831; (204) 261 1216 (fax)      Assoc. of Women in Science
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 17:40:44 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Barbara G. Taylor" <BT24761@UAFSYSA.BITNET>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Farrell was, for a long time, the guru of the men's movement -- i.e., men's
consciousness-raising groups, etc.  Then came Iron John, Fire in the Belly,
and Fire in the John.  This must be his next phase.
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 12:27:00 -0500 (EST)
From: "Gina Oboler, Anthropology & Sociology, Ursinus College"
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Farrell's first two books were good, IMHO, and mainly supportive of the
goals of feminism.  I used WHY MEN ARE THE WAY THEY ARE in classes several
times as a way of pointing to problems of the male gender role, and that
there are inequities that affect men, too.  A part of his message was that
we can't have it both ways -- as (if ever) women approach "equality"
in areas feminists have worked on, we should also be prepared to give up
advantages that the gender role system has historically given women -- and
I'll agree that there are some.  Things were wrong with that book -- e.g.
uncritical treatment of the Straus, Steinmetz, and Gelles finding that
wives hit husbands more than husbands hit wives, etc.
This latest book, however, seems to me to be something else.  He has
carefully picked the most extreme information supportive of the idea that
men are really victimized much more than women in all kinds of ways --
and given it the worst possible interpretation.  He seems to take the
position that women's equality is being gained at mens' expense.  And
worst of all, he blames the demeaning of men and ignoring of gender
inequities that affect them on feminists.  From my point of view, it's
always been feminists who argued for gender equity, period -- obviously
feminists have not always been at one on every aspect of this, but
NOW supported the draft for women (if anyone) at the same time as the
ERA, as a package; in PA, NOW supported insurance rates for cars based on
individual driving records instead of higher rates for young men; it's
been my sense that most people I know who would call themselves
"feminist" have been equally supportive of positive changes in men's
roles and giving men, as well as women, more choices.  In sum, Farrell's
treatment of feminism in THE MYTH OF MALE POWER is really quite unfair.
In fairness, he should have pointed out that the problem he addresses is
caused not by the ideas of actual feminists, but more by other people's
misinterpretation of them.  However, it seems, these days, that
feminist-bashing sells books, and I suppose Farrell didn't want to miss
out on what he saw as his share of that windfall.
It appears that Farrell really was an active feminist at one time (or
maybe he was always an opportunist and only a feminist then because
it was fashionable).  What happend to him in the meantime?
  -- Gina (roboler@acad.ursinus.edu)
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 10:27:10 -0700
From: Cecilia Julagay <JULAGAY@UCRAC1.UCR.EDU>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
I have not read Farrell's book, but from what I have read on this
list and elsewhere it sounds problematic in terms of being
reactionary and inflametory.  I and 2 other female professors (soc
dept) have had a male re-entry student that is disruptive.  He
tried to disrupt a class I taught last spring, but I put a lid on
it.  However, this fall he is being very persistant in a Socialization
class taught by a female friend of mine - he's actually confronting
her in class.  After class one day he brought her a copy of
Farrell's book and was claiming that he is the recipient of reverse
gender discrimination.  He wants her to read the book and discuss it
with him.  She has just been hired in this position and is trying to
not only teach classes, but do research to assure attaining tenure, so
reading an extra book like this is a burden.  I don't know what she
will do.
    My concern is that people like this student are getting ahold
of material like Farrell's book and using this stuff to augment their
already distorted arguments.  I find the situation frightening.  I have
had the experience of having young students quote me Rush L.  I now
listen to him occasionally on the radio so that I know where he is
coming from.  It appears to me that Rush is even more irrational than
    Have others had similar experiences with students presenting
work from the likes of Farrell and Rush L. as absolute doctrine?  How
have you responded?  What results did you get?  Any suggestions?
    - Cecilia        Julagay@ucrac1.ucr.edu
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 17:35:38 -0400
From: "Michelle B. Golden" <mgolden@UNIX.CC.EMORY.EDU>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Some thoughts about women's equality being gained at men's
expense in response to Gina Oboler's post.
In Peggy McIntosh's wonderful piece on white privilege, she
describes two types of privilege, "conferred dominance" and "unearned
entitlements" (I'm taking this from the most recent excerpt in Hungry
Mind Review this fall...the Peace and Freedom excerpt called the second,
"unearned advantage". Also, please note that McIntosh's work is about
white privilege, and using it in any gender-primary argument would go
counter to its intent).
Anyway, back to the definitions:
"Conferred dominance" cannot exist in an eglitarian society--an example
of this is domination of the majority of a society's resources by one group
(think not only about $$--which is tremendously important-- but about, say,
production of knowledge and things like that).
"Unearned entitlements" entitlements that are are restricted to a few but
should belong to everyone, i.e. the feeling that one belongs within the
human circle (as McIntosh puts it)
Looking at privilege this way makes it clear that from this vantage
points, gender equality would take conferred dominance away from men in
many arenas--a perceived loss. To argue that feminism isn't going to
create a loss of privilege for men would be, IMHO, the wrong way to
approach theories like Farrell's because it plays into a framework that
doesn't take McIntosh's important distinctions into account. It seems
reasonable to me that the loss of conferred dominance would be perceived
as a true loss by men (some men, at least, and it's not that simple since
race, class, sexuality and other axes of analysis exist). In my
metaphysical framework, conferred dominance isn't really healthy for
anyone, but that's a whole other discussion.
Better to look at this from a structural POV--who really controls the
resources, how is power distributed, who makes the decisions, etc. Of
course it's not only a gender issue--there are many other
dominant/non-dominant group hierarchies, all intersecting.
The problem I have with arguing with men who think men are more oppressed
than women is that it is tremendously difficult to prove that systematic
oppression/privilege hierarchies exist, because it's a matter of patterns
as opposed to single issues/events. Perceiving the pattern means
accepting that the connections are valid, and that seems more an act of
faith than anything else, especially these days when oppression in some
areas is so very subtle.
Certainly gender equality is important, but the larger structural
issues--connected as they are to resources--complicate matters a great
deal. And in the midst of this multifaceted issue, we have to answer (do
we?) people like Farrell, who seem to operate in one dimension only.
And with regard to the issue of male allies: this reminds me again that
being an ally (ie a pro-feminist man) is a process, not an identity.
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 18:20:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Barbara G. Taylor" <BT24761@UAFSYSA.BITNET>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Peggy MacIntosh's original working paper was titled "Male Privilege and
White Privilege," so the two ARE related, in the sense at least that thoughts
about male unearned power and privilege led her to think about unearned
white power and privilege.  I have also heard her extend the analogy to
unearned heterosexual power and privilege.
Barbara G. Taylor
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 22:31:09 -0400
From: "Michelle B. Golden" <mgolden@UNIX.CC.EMORY.EDU>
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Babara is absolutely corrent. My parenthetical comment was meant to convey
my feeling that the framework McIntosh offers is situated in a very
complex analysis (which can indeed be applied to many types of privilege)
and that using it within a traditional gender-primary analysis would not do
McIntosh's work justice. (what I mean by gender-primary is an analysis
that assumes that gender is our primary identity, or that gender oppression
is the root of all other oppressions).
I think McIntosh's work is especially challenging for white feminists,
and so I am especially concerned with not using it to perpetuate a
gender-primary perspective.
Michelle (mgolden@unix.cc.emory.edu)
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 1994 09:45:00 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Farrell/_The Myth of Male Power_
Re: men who have made careers turning on the women's movement--the other as
nefarious in my mind as Farrell is Robert Bly.  Scary, huh?
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 11:18:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: the myth of farrell
My colleague has asked me to share this with the WMST-L.
Rosa Maria Pegueros
Rosa Maria Pegueros             e-mail: pegueros@uriacc.uri.edu
Department of History           telephone: (401) 792-4092
217C Washburn Hall
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881-0817         "Women hold up half the sky."
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Rosie, I received a message from a posting you shared with us on the URI
WMS List.  I would like to have an opportunity to respond to some specific
comments about Farrell and to have those comments made available to the
readers on the more general list, especially since questions had been raised
about him.  So, here it is:
It has been my impression as far back as 1981 that Warren Farrell was not
pro-feminist.  I base this comment on my (a) reading of his first book and
(b) observing his behavior during a panel discussion at a Men and Masculinity
Conference at Tufts in June of 1981.
My impression of him remains the same: I believe he serves as an apologist for
the so-called "men's rights" groups.  I believe too that his writings reflect
a Euro-centered homophobic and middle-class traditionally-male perspective;
for me, that is dangerous to the survival of us all.
I agree that pro-feminism for males in our society is a process.  Fortunately
there are writers and scholars such as Joe Pleck, Bob Brannon, Al Lott, among
I appreciate this opportunity.  I hope that my comments might reach some others
who have long questioned Farrell's motives.
Steve Grubman-Black
with joint appointment in Communicative Disorders and in Women's Studies
University of Rhode Island
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 12:31:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: the myth of farrell
To reply to Steve Grubman-Black's response to farrell which came in via Rosa:
I would just add names like Bob Connell, Michael Kaufman and Michael Messner to
the list of feminist men who write about men's issues. Perhaps it would be
useful for us to make visible some of the men who have written
intellectually interesting and challenging work about masculinity which is not
misogynist but which helps us to understand the ways in which men are damaged
by patriarchy (notice that I used the word damaged rather than oppressed; that
was purposeful).
                                    (o o)
|        Laurie Finke, Women's and Gender Studies, Kenyon College            |
|                  Gambier, OH 43022       phone: 614-427-5276               |
|        home: 614-427-3428, P.O. Box 731     mail: FinkeL@Kenyon.Edu        |
                                   ()   ()
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 14:48:22 -0400
From: Dennis Fischman <dfischmn@ACS.BU.EDU>
Subject: the myth of farrell
Harry Brod's anthology _A Mensch Among Men_ (Crossing Press, 1988) is a
specifically Jewish example of writing about men which is not anti-feminist.
Dennis Fischman
(617) 776-4701 home
(617) 353-2907 work                     "Ph.D. in changing the world"
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 19:35:40 -0500 (EST)
From: "Gina Oboler, Anthropology & Sociology, Ursinus College"
Subject: the myth of farrell
Agreed, Farrell is far from the best example of a feminist, or once-feminist,
man.  I must say that early on, what he had to say did strike me as pro-
feminist.  His original point was the women's liberation could have benefits
for men, too.  Obviously, men control many realms of privilege, and will have
to give some up for women to make gains -- this does not mean, in my view, that
there cannot also be ways in which men are disadvantaged.  We are able to see th
at race and class create complex intersections with gender.  Shouldn't we
also note that gender may not be a single, unitary system of privilege?  The
world is more complicated than our models of it, and that goes a long way toward
explaining how different folks can often come up with such different models.
Adding to the list of men who write about men's experience better than the
Farrells and Blys -- how about Michael Kimmel?  I just picked up a book by
Terry Kupers that looks like it might have promise....
  -- Gina
Date: Thu, 27 Oct 1994 22:58:52 -0500
Subject: Kupers' Book
Gina wrote:
>Adding to the list of men who write about men's experience better than the
>Farrells and Blys -- how about Michael Kimmel?  I just picked up a book by
>Terry Kupers that looks like it might have promise....
I agree that Michael Kimmel's work is very good, very profeminist.
Kupers' book, something like Revisioning Men, is one I also like.  I
wrote a brief review of it for Contemporary Psychology about a year
ago.  He understands how power operates to men's advantage, and his
case studies make interesting if not terribly deep reading.  The only
fault I had with the book was that pretty much assumes a white,
middle-class male.
Arnie Kahn   fac_askahn@vax1.acs.jmu.edu
Date: Fri, 28 Oct 1994 00:26:38 -0700
From: hcbolak@CATS.UCSC.EDU
Subject: Kupers' Book
having heard from Terry Kupers in person at an invited lcture he gave at New
college of california last year, I would like tot  throw my 2 cents in in
his favor. i think hhe  is a deeply committed and articulate man!

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