Dr. Warren Farrell: Toxic Masculinity Origins and the Regressive Nature of Feminist Victimhood
What is a remarkable common link between the overwhelming majority of mass shootings in America?
Is male privilege really to blame for so much of society’s ills?
And why is it a mistake for society to focus so much on the issues women face, while ignoring or not prioritizing challenges men might encounter?
To understand more about what’s going on, I sat down with Dr. Warren Farrell, who’s spent decades researching and writing about gender-related issues. He is the author of “The Boy Crisis,” “The Myth of Male Power,” and a number of other books. A longtime feminist, he is the only man elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women (NOW) in New York City.
Jan Jekielek: Warren Farrell, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Dr. Warren Farrell: It is really a pleasure to have you in my home.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, it’s great to be here, Warren. You’ve been doing a bit of work looking at some of these folks that have perpetrated mass shootings in the past, and you’ve drawn some conclusions about their histories and so forth. And of course, this is something that we’ve been seeing a number of times now in 2021. Tell me what you’re seeing.
Dr. Farrell: Well, I see a number of things happening. One is there’s common denominators among mass shooters. The most obvious is that they’re male; 98% are male. The second common denominator is that they’re almost all dad deprived males.
So you have two groups of mass shooters that enormously overlap. One is school shooters and the other are mass shooters that are shooting areas that are not schools.
But the school shooters in particular tend to be boys who are suicidal, depressed, and also dad deprived. That is like a recent school shooter in Indianapolis; his father committed suicide when he was just barely a teenager.
And that type of pattern, the father missing, getting a divorce, not being involved in the child’s life at all. And the child feeling that he doesn’t have a constructive role model to channel his testosterone feels that he’s been abandoned.
Stephen Paddock, the biggest mass shooter in U.S. history who killed 59 people and 400 or 500 were injured in the shooting in Las Vegas. Some people remember his father had been in prison and then the father escaped prison. And then he was captured and put into a maximum security prison.
And Stephen kept hoping that he would come home, come home, come home and be with him again. And the father then instead tried to impress himself or whoever by escaping the maximum security prison. Again, just three or four weeks before he would otherwise have been free to come home and be with Stephen.
Stephen, according to his mother, was so devastated by the fact that his father made a choice to demonstrate his genius of being able to escape from a maximum security prison instead of coming home to him and being with him. He wanted to prove himself worthy of his father; to also be a genius.
So he constructed, he put together the most complex and heinously successful mass shooting in all of U.S. history. And it’s just a way of saying, “Dad, I’m like you are, pay attention to me. You can’t ignore me. And why didn’t you come home to me? Why weren’t you with me?”
But these stories of whether it’s Adam Lanza or the Parkland shooting, and it’s one boy who is fatherless after another boy. The dad deprivation combined with being male oftentimes leads to depression and suicidal tendencies, mass shootings.
What we think of when we think of mass shootings is the people who are hurt. We don’t realize that all of these people are hurt, are hurt by boys who are hurt, who are deprived of their dads, who are feeling neglected and depressed.
When boys become mass shooters, we are not saying—or I am not saying that they should not be fully punished and fully held accountable for this. It’s a heinous crime that has to be held fully accountable.
And I’m also saying we care about protecting ourselves both from mass shootings and also from the other things that the crimes that the boys who are both dad deprived and depressed and suicidal tend to do. And if we’re going to prevent those things from happening, we can catch the boy in the process of his grief and at the same time save ourselves.
So we have a win-win situation, care about boys and boys will act more constructively. Their testosterone will be channeled more constructively. Do not care about their feelings and their fears and what’s happening with them. Not only will that boy pay the price, but often he’ll act out in a criminal way. He’ll join a gang, he’ll be a drug dealer. He’ll commit a crime, rob a bank, do something along those lines.
He’ll just drop out of high school. He’ll be a tax drainer rather than a taxpayer. He will not be able to be a good father to a female that is looking for a good father. He will create many, many prices for the society at the same time, as it will be a price on him.
And so one of the things I did when I did the research for this, for the boy crisis is I found what are the things that are signs of boys being hurt. And develop some 63, a whole inventory that I believe we should be giving to every boy and girl in school and ask them, do you have these experiences? Because if you have these experiences, these are red flags that the guidance counselors and the psychologists in school should be paying attention to.
For example, if one of the questions that is on the inventory is, do you feel that no one loves you and no one needs you, and there’s no hope of that changing? That’s a huge red flag.
Another question is, do you feel that if you shared your real feelings with somebody who liked you, that they would lose respect for you? Are you Caucasian or Native American? Because if you’re Caucasian or Native American, you’re more likely to commit suicide than if you’re Hispanic, African-American or Asian in the United States.
Most of the mass shooters are not only males but a good percentage of them, a disproportionate percentage of them are also Caucasian males. And what is there about Caucasian males? So we have to be asking these questions.
And one of the things that there are about Caucasian males is these Caucasian males are often middle or upper middle class. What’s happening in middle and upper middle class families that is not happening as much in Black families or African-American families? It’s there’s expectations that the boys have on them that often their sister or their brother has done well in a good school, and he has dropped out of high school.
And so he’s beginning to feel ashamed of himself. And so he starts turning inward on himself and becomes depressed and then starts getting involved with alcohol or addiction to drugs or opioids, or begins to be addicted to video games. And then he becomes seen as a loser and girls as a rule don’t want to date losers.
And so he starts turning to pornography because pornography is access to a variety of attractive women, without fear of rejection at a price he can afford. So he starts becoming addicted to one thing or the other. The more addicted he becomes, the more depressed he becomes.
And these are just a few of the multiple characteristics. The big news that I’m saying; we have a way of preventing school shootings. We have a way of preventing mass shootings. And two of those ways are discovering the boys around us who are hurt because all the boys who hurt us are boys who hurt.
Mr. Jekielek: So fascinating, and this is this index that you were just describing.
Dr. Farrell: The inventory, yes. It’s a male depression, suicide inventory. And I developed it because we figured out what are the characteristics and symptoms of depression in women. But we haven’t looked at what are the symptoms of depression in males.
And there’s a lot of different aspects of depression in males. When males are depressed, they tend to act out and do things like the mass shootings or do things like hurt other people, or they do things like bullying.
Behind every bully is a vulnerable boy who is fearful of rejection. You take away male anger and take away female anger too, and underneath almost every display of anger, you find enormous vulnerability.
And so we need to discover the vulnerability in boys. And we need to discover it in girls as well, but girls have much more permission when. So for example, when a boy and girl are going out with each other and they break up. We often think, oh, guys will just want to go on one sexual relationship after another—not true.
Boys are far more likely to be depressed and even suicidal when they break up with a relationship that’s a long-term relationship. And one of the reasons for that is when the girl breaks up, she goes tell the girlfriends and she talks and she says to the girlfriends, “Oh, I broke up with Jan or Mark or whatever.” And somebody says, “Well, I didn’t want to say this before, but sweetie, you really are worthy of somebody much better than Mark.”
And then another girl will say, “Yeah, and when Mark was at a party, he was flirting with me. I didn’t want to tell you this because you were so in love with him. I didn’t want to spoil the relationship.”And by the time she’s finished talking to all her girlfriends, she’s feeling that, all right, maybe breaking up with Mark is a good thing. I’m worthy of somebody more than that.
With guys, we talk to each other and they say, “I broke up with Susan.” And we get maybe a 3 second window of opportunity to talk about it. And the guy will say, “Yeah, really sorry about that. You want to go out and play some basketball or get onto something else?”
And we don’t get the support for feelings in our fears and our feeling like maybe we’re worthless and maybe it was our fault; that type of thing from guys. Or guys will just say directly, “Well, what did you do wrong?” And just go right to accountability and responsibility without the period of empathy that precedes accountability and responsibility.
Mr. Jekielek: And this is absolutely fascinating. And also in some ways very counter-intuitive or at least counter to the prevailing orthodoxy, maybe not intuitive exactly. Now you have a lot of observations, I was actually looking or listening to your book, which I think is over 20 years old right now, “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say.”
That book is filled, I mean, 20 year old book that’s filled with all sorts of challenges to certainly today’s prevailing orthodoxy about how men function, especially vis-a-vis women and so forth. It’s incredible actually to think about how many things we accept today as being fact that aren’t necessarily so with respect to—what are men like? What are women like? And what are their behaviors? What are their social roles and so forth?
Dr. Farrell: I think absolutely right. I think the biggest challenge, the thing that I hear that is most erroneous is people talking about males having male privilege and male power. And then we hear about toxic masculinity. And then we hear the toxic masculinity comes from entitlement, male privilege and male power.
Well, the challenge is that some people aren’t willing to acknowledge that there is such a thing as toxic masculinity. And some people aren’t willing to challenge the whole concept of male privilege and male power.
But so let me challenge both of them simultaneously which is that—yes, there is such a thing as male toxicity. But male toxicity does not come from male privilege and power, it comes from male obligation and responsibility to be disposable in each generation’s war.
And so when you have to prepare to fight in a war and all your social bribes, that is look at uncle Jimmy up there and his Marine uniform.He died in World War II and we’re really proud of him. He helped save America, which is certainly something to be proud of.
But Jimmy starts feeling like, “Gee, Dad’s always criticizing me. Nobody respects me. I’m losing at school.” Well, maybe I can be a hero and be respected finally by joining the Marines and maybe I’ll die, but at least I’ll be respected.
And so today, even to this day, we have male only draft registration. A boy who’s 18, who does not register for the draft will be put in or can be put in prison. And in 42 states, he can have his license taken away from him. He can’t get federal aid in any form, which means he can pretty much not go to any college, because almost every college gets federal aid.
And we do not have this responsibility for females. President Biden has asked the Supreme Court to make sure that they don’t review this so that women do not have to potentially be subject to the draft, so we can argue about whether or not they should.
But the important thing is, is it male privilege to die—to be the sex expected to die—to be the sex expected to be disposable? And I think not.
Certainly if we wanted to think it was male privilege that we wanted to reverse roles and have an affirmative action program for 200 years in which only females had female only drafted illustration and any wars were fought almost exclusively by females, and will be oppressed by having to stay home and love our children and be loved by our children and develop nurturing skills and caring skills and emotional intelligence and skills of nuance and so on, as a result are far being oppressed. When you reverse it, it’s pretty apparent.
But in the process of learning to do these things, you develop toxicities. So the toxicities for example, is that you keep your feelings to yourself. So if you’re, let’s say you’re Jewish and you’re going through bootcamp and the sergeant says, makes an anti-Semitic comment and you say, “Hey, wait a minute. Sir, that’s an anti-Semitic comment. I really feel offended by that.”
Well, the response of the sergeant will be, “Oh, you have feelings, that’s so sweet.” And if there’s any response at all, he’ll be assigned 15, 20 pushups. And until Bobby learns that his feelings are not wanted, because what’s wanted is for him to lose himself as a human being and his sensitivities and to focus completely on being part of the war machine.
The war machine does not function well where there’s squeaky wheels that say, “Please pay attention to me.” The war machine functions well when nobody has any feelings and you just go ahead and be willing to die if needed.
And so preparing yourself to die is good preparation for being a human. But it’s not good preparation for being a human being. And the people who probably know this the best are Japanese millennials. Japanese millennials have a little game that they play called Karoshi. Karoshi is Japanese for death at the desk or death from overwork.
They try to get to the top of the ladder. The one who wins is the one who gets to the top of the ladder first. And what is the prize for the winner? He commits suicide, not in real life, but in the game.
And what’s the message of that? The message is “the process” that we’ve used to train men to get to the top of the ladder; a process that ends their life as a human being. It’s suicide to their emotions, to their feelings, to their fears. It’s just a march up the ladder to earn money that somebody else spends while they die sooner and to disconnect from who they are.
For the last 50 years we’ve concentrated on women being the women that they want to be. To be able to be full-time in the workplace, to be full-time with the children and to do some combination of both. We haven’t spent any time at all asking men, “What do you want to be? Would you like to be full-time with the children? Would you like to be full-time at work? Would you like to do some combination of both? Would you like to do work that’s more fulfilling?” Oh, by the way, more fulfilling work almost invariably pays less.
People say that men earn more money than women do for the same work, that’s very misleading. Dads earn more money than moms earn, not for the same work, but because dads tend to be. When they become dads, they give up what they want to do like being a musician that doesn’t make too much money from various gigs or being an elementary school teacher—they give up their passion for teaching.
And they become the superintendent of schools because you earn twice as much money and work twice as hard as the superintendent of schools, but the average elementary school teacher hates doing that.
But when the children are born, the average elementary school teacher, musician, artist, writer, actor, all of whom are called starving artists recognizes you can’t support a family on a starving artist income. And so men do get paid more, but not for the same work, for different work, for different hours, for dirtier work, for more obligations, for more hazardous work.
And for 25 other variables that I ended up having to write a book about in order to illustrate it. The book is called “Why Men Earn More and What Women Can Do About It.” But if women who want to earn more do that, they can have male privilege of making these twenty-five trade-offs and sacrifices that men on average are more likely to make.
But if somebody is to learn from somebody, it’s men that need to learn from women how to live a balanced life in which you earn less. Marry a woman who earns a good significant income so that she could help support you as much as you support her.
Mr. Jekielek: As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that I keep seeing repeatedly in your work is you are breaking all sorts of orthodoxies in thinking or in literature, or just what extensively is common knowledge about men; about what is known or assumed about men.
When I was reading this or I was listening to “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say,” what I was really, really fascinated with in this book was you looking at how your journey from kind of becoming I think, becoming a feminist as you describe it. And then noticing that the character of the feminist movement changed from being something that was very constructive and proactive to something that was more kind of adversarial. And I’m wondering if you could chat that for me.
Dr. Farrell: Certainly I think that a good portion of feminists at the beginning were very focused on things like expanding options for women and from my perspective, having two daughters. But this was way before I had two daughters; I just wanted maximum options for women.
I felt that men in life tended to have a lot of different options. I didn’t realize at that time that if you went into a party as a college male, let’s say, and you told a woman that you would like to be full-time homemaker and a full-time dad, the chances are she might send a journalist to the party to interview you, but she wouldn’t come back for a second drink
And so I didn’t realize at that time that guys didn’t have a lot of options either. They only saw the limitations on female freedom. But as the feminist movement progressed, which would be more accurate to call it regressed. It went from being, “I am woman, I am strong,” like Helen Reddy would say, to, “I am woman, I’ve been wronged.”
We don’t respect victims. We may give them things, but I want women to be respected. And respect is not garnered by increasingly focusing on all the ways you’ve been oppressed and repressed. And so for me, #MeToo, was a gift and a curse. The gift was, I want women to be able to express feelings and fears that they have. The curse was, #MeToo was a monologue. #MeToo needs to be a dialogue.
Because when #MeToo is a monologue, women are talking about all the ways that men offended them, men oppress them, men did them wrong. And they think of males as having all this power.
But a #MeToo dialogue would allow us to see that men have enormous fears of being rejected by beautiful young women. And we’re still expecting men to take the risks of rejection. If there’s real equality, why wouldn’t women share the risks of rejection as often as men do? And so that’s part of just the fraction of the male story.
And so a #MeToo dialogue when tried, it would begin to help both sexes hear each other’s struggles, inner fears and rejections. And that’s the world I want this feminist movement to move toward. But when feminists and other liberals like feminist call themselves progressives—that’s a self-righteous term. That just anyone that disagrees with me is not a progressive and therefore is regressive or neanderthal in some way.
And people who are quote progressive are very critical of conservatives and conservatives who call themselves patriotic, because they believe a certain way they’re doing the same type of thing that the woke liberal people are doing when they call themselves progressives.
Patriotism is all across the board being progressive, where we all do the best we can to be progressive even though some of us feel that long-term progress will come from keeping certain things stable—like the family and like fatherhood.
Other people feel that progressive is identified differently. But we all need to be open-minded to each person’s definition of what’s progressive and each person’s definition of what’s patriotism, what’s best for the country.
Mr. Jekielek: So you develop this concept, which again, I just learned about recently, which I thought was really fascinating, “The Lace Curtain,” tell me about this.
Dr. Farrell: “The Lace Curtain” is what I’ve experienced since I began to speak about something other than men being the enemy and men having all the power. And “The Lace Curtain” is that I used to write almost with a 100% acceptance for “The New York Times.” Now I can’t get anything in “The New York Times.”
I used to be on all “The Today Show,” what used to be called “The Tomorrow Show,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and so on. And the first time I talked to Oprah Winfrey’s producer about, I’d like to present something more than just the feminist perspective, a more complex perspective. That was the last out of five times that they called me.
And the first time I brought these issues up on “The Phil Donahue Show,” which some of the older people listening will remember, who was basically The Oprah Winfrey before Oprah Winfrey. I was dropped by the producers who had had me on eight times when I started speaking about men also have feelings and fears and things that need to be considered.
He intuitively sensed that that would not be popular with his mostly female audience and just dropped me for many, many years. And so what I’ve just mentioned is just the very tip of the iceberg.
And so “The Lace Curtain” is basically not being able to talk about these issues that incorporate the male experience of powerlessness and the male experience of female power, but only being able to speak about the female experience of powerlessness and the female experience of male power. That is what the quote progressive mainstream liberal media is open to. And it’s closed to any discussion of male powerlessness.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and this is quite incredible because you started documenting this, sort of, I guess approach whether it’s in the media or in the women’s studies discipline as early as I think 1975, I was reading; it’s remarkable to me. I mean, we’re in 2021 today. This has been something that’s been ongoing for quite some time.
Dr. Farrell: Yes. I was teaching in the First Women’s Studies department in the United States in San Diego State University. And I was talking about, just exclusively women’s issues. But I was beginning to develop some understanding and empathy for men as well.
And as I brought those issues into the chorus it was mostly approved of, but the great majority of students loved it and appreciated it and felt that they grew by it, but there was tension. And I was told to be careful of what I said and not to maybe include that, maybe you could leave this portion out.
And then I taught at the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Diego. And for a few years, I guess it just got extremely rave reviews from my class. But one time I was suddenly, when I was bringing up some of these issues, one feminist student female complained, and that was the end of me, and as a teacher at UCSD, University of California San Diego.
Mr. Jekielek: It sounds like some of the things that we’re seeing, very commonly happening in academia today. How is it that many of us are just kind of learning about this in the last five years or something like this? That’s what’s fascinating to me.
Dr. Farrell: Yes. And what’s really damaging now is that we have two very, very important institutions in this country. One is the family and the degree to which 53% of women who have children, who are under 30, have them without being married. So that’s really having a very negative impact on the family.
The other core institution that is core to a democracy is our universities. And our universities are supposed to be completely about freedom of speech and curiosity and hearing perspectives. I don’t care whose perspective is being presented at a university. The more alienating it is, the more it is a possibility for people to educate each other about what’s wrong with it.
And the dialogue should be free in universities. To have universities to be the center of “cancel culture,” to have women be saying, “Before you say anything that might trigger me, you should anticipate what might trigger me and give me a trigger warning.”
Feminists are saying this. Feminists are supposed to be the ones saying, “We are empowering women.” But to say, we need to be warned of something that might offend us is a sign of like, I am fragile, not I am strong. Then this is just exactly the opposite of what a university should be about.
And we used to criticize conservatives for keeping, wanting to not have communist ideas in the university. And now we have the liberals like Mario Savio at the University of California, Berkeley—would be head of the free speech movement.
Now the head of the free speech movement are conservatives and liberals have become the repress speech, cancel culture people. We’re too woke to have ideas that are different, I wouldn’t call that woke, I’d call that sound asleep. I’d call that fearful. I’d call that withdrawing.
I teach couples communication courses. I teach courses of getting people to listen to each other. But because I’m empathetic to the male point of view, as well as the female point of view, I could not be hired by any major university in this country at this time.
And that to me is deeply sad, it’s not like I. Whereas before I had a PhD, before I had written my first book, and when I only had the feminist perspective in mind, I was asked to teach at Columbia University, taught at Brooklyn College, taught at Rutgers University, no books, no PhD, but I had the right belief system. So that’s “The Lace Curtain” and that’s the institution that we are ruining.
We need to invite people from multiple perspectives to the auditorium and then ask them to advocate for the perspective that is being advocated and then reverse and criticize the perspective.
When I used to talk at places like Northwestern University, I’d have two podiums. One was a Warren Farrell feminist, and the other one was Warren Farrell masculinist. And I’d go back and forth debating myself. And then I’d require the audience to ask questions from multiple perspectives. And I’d say to the audience, “You’re not thinking unless you’re thinking from all sides.”
The real openness in universities does not come from just one speaker on this side and one speaker on this side. And then you listen to the audience and you go away with a greater belief that just reinforcing the belief you had even more; when you go out of the audience. But we need to train ourselves to think from multiple perspectives simultaneously.
Mr. Jekielek: What you’re describing, there’s an element of this in I guess what you describe as couple’s communication. But in general, just communication between people with different ideas who for whatever reason, maybe for emotional reasons aren’t ready, necessarily to communicate with you. You’ve articulated different steps that people can take to make this happen.
Again, very, very interesting, this has been your work for many years. I’ve just been learning about that myself. I’m curious, we are in a time where these ideologies are very prominent. People are expected to think a certain way, and if you don’t, communication can get shut down. How do we facilitate communication in these kinds of scenarios?
Dr. Farrell: The core issue is that when I started seeing the boy crisis, I started seeing the boy crisis was occurring to a large degree in divorced families, where there’s a minimal amount of father involvement.
So I started asking myself the question, how could these families not have divorces so that the children would have both parents there to do the good checks and balance parenting that children tend to need? Almost always from my couples courses, I saw that the woman and the man were both totally convinced that the other one was wrong about most things.
But when I broke that down, I started seeing that neither sex nor virtually anybody was biologically, and I’m saying biologically purposely prepared to be able to handle personal criticism without becoming defensive. Especially that personal criticism came from a loved one and especially if it was given badly. The more they loved somebody, the less able they were to handle criticism from that person.
Because it was so much more meaningful to be criticized by somebody that you love. And it hurt a lot more to be criticized by somebody you loved. And so here are the people that loved each other most, were most preventing the other person from sharing their concerns without feeling that they were walking on eggshells. And there was an escalation. And at the end of the day, it wasn’t worth sharing that concern because it only made it worse.
And so I started working on how can we change that? Because we’re all naturally prone to being defensive when criticized, we have to alter our natural biological state and the meditations include things like saying to themselves, if I provide a safe environment for all of your feelings, no matter how you express them, you’ll feel more safe with me. Therefore you’ll feel more loved by me. Therefore you’ll feel more love for me.
And as you started thinking and feeling that, it becomes a little bit, okay, no matter what my partner says, no matter what way they say it, if I provide that safe space, that’s going to end up with me being more loved.
And what they discover in that process is that both stories are very different, almost always. The more you get into your partner’s story, the more you will begin to see a whole different picture that your partner has based on a different history, a different background, and everyone is arguing about their way being best. And no one is really fully immersing themselves into the perspective of the other person.
I don’t let people even take notes while the other person is talking. If you and I were brothers and we disagreed with each other, my job would not be to take notes so I can respond to you later. It would be totally to be there for your story and ask you more questions about it, but not confrontive questions, but facilitative questions. And so you felt so safe and so heard that you ended up expressing feelings you didn’t even know you felt.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay, great. So this works for couples, people that are working hard together to try to facilitate communication in a difficult situation, right? But what about in these situations where people might just have very different ideological positions?
Some may be more open-minded, some may be very fixed on one particular way of viewing things and demanding the other, except that. Is there anything that can be learned from your methodology to facilitate that kind of communication?
Dr. Farrell: Absolutely. There’s two things we all want, one is love and the other is respect. One of the five meditations is a respect guarantee. So if you and I had totally different perspectives on the world, and I was to say to myself first before I listened to your perspective, I meditated to myself and said, “The more I just hear Jan’s way of seeing the world, how does he all piece it together?” The more he will respect me.
I’m going to imagine that my job is to understand this, everything he says, but then I’m going to assume that I’ve now only seen one piece of his puzzle. I’m going to keep drawing him out until I see not only that piece of the puzzle, but I see all the pieces of the puzzle that he has in the back of his mind.
And what’s going to happen for me is I’ll get an education A, and B, Jan will respect me more than he did before, because he’s never gotten that type of facilitation from somebody that disagreed with him fundamentally on something.
The opposite of what normally happens when we talk with somebody with whom we disagree is that both people walk away respecting each other less, because both people are not only not listening to each other, but if they are shutting up while the other person is talking, they’re shutting up the lips, but their mind is forming responses and waiting for the weakest point to be said so they can attack the weakest point.
And if there’s no weak points being said, they distort one of the points that is being said and argue with this distorted version of it, which is what we almost all do. And the result is that no one feels heard, no one feels understood. Their friends are now in the cemetery of friendships. And that is so hurtful to so many people.
One of the meditations is imagine you’re at a movie and at a movie if you’re getting tense, like something’s going wrong. And you just say, “Wait a minute, I’m only at a movie. This doesn’t have to make my stomach all upset.”
And so part of listening to somebody that you totally disagree with is saying, “Okay, when I’m at a movie, I can say I’m only at a movie and I can let go of my attention, number one.
Number two, when I’m at a movie, I may hear the story of somebody that I totally disagree with, but I’m here to be entertained. I just watched the whole movie. I don’t get up in the middle of the movie and say, ‘They’re wrong.” And I stayed at the end usually because it’s just enjoyable to see how that story works.”
And so let’s approach the people that we disagree with with that same type of immersion that we do at a movie without interrupting and hear their story.
Hopefully things in America and around the world are getting so bad that people will have a yearning for listening to perspectives, as opposed to just arguing and calling different perspective violence. In fact, it is much more likely to lead to violence when we cannot hear someone else’s perspectives.
Mr. Jekielek: I can’t help but think about something that’s very important to me. And it’s this idea of personal accountability; this theme just kind of keeps coming up. And the costs of lack of it, I guess, would be another way to put it. And I don’t know if that is intentional exactly in your work, but it’s certainly something I’m seeing. What are your thoughts?
Dr. Farrell: Very much so. And I’m most disappointed that this has been something that feminists have really pioneered is the lack of accountability, lack of responsibility.
So the most recent example in history has been that there’s a male only draft registration and no feminists that I know is speaking up and saying, “Gee, equality is about us having to register for the draft, just like men have to register for the draft. Us not just being able to pick and choose when we want to go to war but have as much responsibility for fighting wars that we go to as men do.”
There’s no part of this country that we live in, that men didn’t die to be able to live here. And women are benefiting from the deaths of the men by living in this country. But feminists do not bring these issues of female responsibility and accountability up.
They say, “We should be able to wear any clothes we want and without any responsibility for that, various clothes signal different things and send different messages.” Any responsible parent would tell a child that if you get a bunch of tattoos on your face and you wear certain types of leather jackets and you take a motorcycle into school, it all signals certain things to other people.
And you have to take responsibility, my son for this. There’s so many dimensions of feminism in its current forum, instead of being at a university and taking responsibility for hearing any point of view that comes up and then dealing with your own feelings about it, saying things that I experienced that act as a microaggression. I experienced that as a violent speech. I experienced that as something I don’t want to be brought into my university to have to deal with, because it might distract me from being able to complete my work here.
These are all things that are undermining women, that are disempowering women. They’re the opposite of everything feminism should stand for. And we’re making that not only an era of irresponsibility, but we’re calling that progressive. Nothing could be less progressive.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts before we finish up?
Dr. Farrell: If we really want to move to a better society, one of the things I think that we can begin to do is to start communication training in first and second grade. When boys bully, let’s bring the boys and the girls after their recess and talk about what just happened there, who was hurt, why, and find out and discover what are the feelings and the fears that led people to do various things.
We need to make sure that every person who contemplates becoming a parent in particular begins to have that communication training.
We need to have father warrior programs. By warrior, I mean, not W-O-R-R, but W-A-R-R-I-O-R programs in which we say, “Not Uncle Sam needs you to fight in the next war, but Uncle Sam needs you to be involved as a father, to train yourself to be a good father, to be a responsible parent. That’s part of what we need.”
We need to develop a male teacher core, so that men are given incentives to go to college, to become a teacher in an elementary and junior high school, so that our elementary and junior high schools have an equal, a significant number of male role models. So boys don’t go from all female homes to all female teachers schools, and then we wonder why they don’t have a male role model that is constructive.
And they get attracted to gang leaders and drug dealers. And are receptive to priests coming up to them or somebody else coming up to them because they so much need a male figure that they can be exploited and vulnerable.
We need to spend a great deal of time working, not just on women’s issues, but the White House Gender Policy Council needs to work on both women’s and men’s issues. And we need to hear both sexes, not just the perspectives of women alone.
Mr. Jekielek: Warren Farrell, it’s such a pleasure to have you on again.
Dr. Farrell: Thank you. It’s really a pleasure to be here with you, and especially to have you in my home.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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