TMC Administration Notes - Apr / May 2014

Letter from the Chair

In previous Letters from the Chair, I have lamented the dismal portrayal of masculinity in advertising and popular culture. It’s so bad, I can imagine that aliens in distant galaxies who might someday intercept our television signals would quickly believe that the human male is a thick-headed Neanderthal who is only concerned with excessive drinking, meaningless competition, and finding sex, whatever the cost. This is of course a wildly inaccurate, not to mention dispiriting portrayal of men, but it’s a portrayal I think most men feel powerless to fight. It’s as if men are willing to accept whatever gender role they are handed, whether it fits or not. Why define your own gender role when someone has already done it for you? I recently caught up with two friends who are redefining gender roles in ways that should give hope to anyone who has ever felt stereotyped.

Venus DeMars is a groundbreaking musician and risk-taking artist from Minneapolis. She is a transgender person who was born Steve, but realized early in life that a male gender role did not fit her. Beyond the difficulties of making a living as an artist and musician, Venus has had to endure indignities, rudeness, aggressiveness, and ignorance to a degree that most of us can’t imagine, all because her gender role does not fit society’s norm. Something as simple as using a public restroom can be fraught with complication and even danger. Being out in public at all means being a potential target for taunting and nasty comments. And yet through it all, Venus has maintained her composure, dignity, and even sense of humor. If ever someone had an incentive to accept a pre-defined, society-approved gender role, it’s Venus. But she has, through sheer force of will and determination, defined her own gender role.

Neal Hagberg is a successful songwriter and an ordained Lutheran clergy. As the father of a teenage daughter, he is disturbed that the dominant religious traditions always portray God as masculine. Why is God never portrayed as feminine? And what does this do to young girls who are looking for their place in the spiritual world? Don’t they start out at a disadvantage, feeling a little out of place, if not outright disenfranchised? Neal would love to see God referred to in the feminine, if only to balance out several millennia of male domination, or at the very least in a gender neutral way. He advocates this position in songs, speeches, and friendly conversation with anyone who is interested. Given the extensive history, you might think this would be an uphill battle, but when I saw him speak recently at a packed Catholic church, he received a standing ovation for his ideas.

Gender roles can be limiting, especially when they are not of our choosing. But if Venus can make her way in life as a proud transgender person despite all the obstacles, and if Neal can make progress suggesting an alternate gender role for God, isn’t it possible that men who are unhappy with the gender role they’ve been given can find a better one?

Joe Szurszewski
Board Chair


Library Corner

–– Jim Heaney, Librarian

We have a unique and extensive collection of books on men's and general topics which can be checked out by members of the Men's Center. Our periodicals include:

  • Fathering Today
  • Men's Health
  • Men's Journal
  • Lavender
  • Transitions
  • Voice Male.

Books of The Month:
There are more new books on the shelf.

  • GETTING TO RESOLUTION, Turning Conflict into collaboration, Stewart Levine.
  • HEALING THE SOUL IN THE AGE OF THE BRAIN, Becoming conscious in a unconscious world, Elio Frattaroli M.D.
  • A MAN'S RECOVERY FROM TRAUMATIC CHILDHOOD ABUSE, Robert Blackburn Knight with Mark Falstein.
  • MIND WIDE OPEN, Your brain and the neuroscience of everyday life, Steven Johnson.
  • STANDING IN THE SHADOWS, Understanding and overcoming depression in black men, John Head.
  • TRANSFORMING MADNESS, New lives for people living with mental illness, Jay Neugeboren

The Men's Center Staff and Key Volunteers

Office Manager -- Randy Genrich
Office Assistant Mgr-- Bryon Wistrom
Anger Mgmt Director-- John Hesch
Office Volunteers -- Rick Charlson, Jim Heaney, Dick Madigan, Steve Magner
Librarian -- Jim Heaney
Donation Pick-up Volunteers --
See chart in kitchen area

Board Chair -- Joe Szurszewski
Board Vice Chair -- Tom Weaver
Board Secretary -- Norm Petrik
Board Treasurer -- Rick Charlson
Board Member -- Jim Heaney
Board Member -- Ken Knoll
Board Member -- Andy Mickel
Board Member -- Damon Starks
Alternate -- Harry Greenberg
Alternate -- Dan Gorbunow
Alternate -- Malik Holt
Alternate -- Dave Webb

MenTalk Editor -- Bill Dobbs
MenTalk Production -- Bill Dobbs
MenTalk Here/There -- Andy Mickel
MenTalk Advertising -- Bill Dobbs
MenTalk Mailing Coord -- Scott Benson
MenTalk Labels/Database -- Scott Benson

Program Committee, Chair -- Norm Petrick
Wednesday Present Coord --Randy Genrich

Wednesday Present Publicity -- Rick Charlson

Finance Committee, Chair -- Rick Charlson
Finance Committee Chair -- Rick Charlson
Fin Comm Grant Writer -- Malik Holt-Shabazz
Fin Comm Memberships -- Andy Mickel

Outreach Committee, Chair -- Rick Charlson
Pride Festival Coord -- Ken Knoll
Media Publicity Coord -- Rick Charlson
Outreach Booth at Shows -- Randy Genrich, Andy Mickel, Malik Holt-Shabazz
Librarian -- Jim Heaney
Web Site/Technology -- Bill Dobbs, Andy Mickel, Ken Knoll, Joe Szurszewski
E-mail Responders -- Scott Benson, Rick Charlson, Bill Dobbs, John Hesch, Andy Mickel, Joe Szurszewski

Anger Mgmt Director -- John Hesch
Anger Mgmt Grant Writer -- Bob Anderson
Anger Mgmt Publicity -- John Hesch
Anger Mgmt Steer Commit -- Bob Lundberg, John Hersch, David Giancristforo
Anger Mgmt Facilitators -- Tom M, Michael K, Jim K, John H, Art H, Bryce K, Pat G, Dean G, David E, Hoske R, Cory C, Michael I, John C, Lee C, Norm P, Bob L, Bob A, Harry G, Howard B, Tom F

Support Group Coord -- Norm Petrik
Support Group Database -- Dave Webb
General Men's Issues -- Randy G, Jerry O
Addiction Busters -- Tommy J
Gay Issues -- Pat K, Bruce K, Ranslow Z
Transitions --Scott, Richard S.
Divorce/Uncouplng -- John M, Greg D, Gerry W
Sexual Trauma & Abuse Survivors -- Jerry B, Kathleen M
Bi-Men & Gay Issues -- Leo P, David W, Damon S.
Healthy Sexual Boundaries -- Bobby S, Tom J
Healthy Sexual Boundaries East -- Bobby S
Retirement -- Norm P

Call our Office Manager at 612-822-5892 and ask how you can help.
We have been a vital part of the Twin Cities community for decades,
and almost all of our services have been provided by volunteers like you.