For two years Warren Farrell has fought to create a White House Council on Men and Boys. He submitted his proposal to the White House following the creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls. However, Farrell’s proposal remains in limbo. In a recent interview Farrell explained the situation:
“Joshua Dubois, the White House director of Faith-based and Neighborhood initiatives, has said his office cannot take responsibility for moving this through,” said Farrell. “The reason he gave us was that he was focused on fulfilling what he was already assigned to do, which was to focus on fatherhood and marriage, proposals that Obama has suggested for funding as of last Fathers Day.”
Farrell’s proposal currently is sitting in Obama’s Chief of Staff William Daley’s office.
“They have acknowledged that they have received the proposal plus about 35 letters of endorsements from organizations such as the Boy Scouts,” Farrell said adding that the administration has been silent since.
To date, the White House has not moved on the proposal. According to Christina Hoff Sommers, the White House has not even agreed to a meeting to discuss the proposal. Farrell offered two explanations for the proposal’s limbo status: a busy administration and feminist opposition. As he explained:
“At the very top of the administration there is a fair amount of feminist orientation and there are two feminist views. One is that the patriarchy has dominated the system, that men succeed at the expense of women, and that things done for boys and men would dilute the emphasis on women and girls. The second feminist view, more what I express in the proposal, is that we are all part of the same family boat,” said Farrell. “It appears that the feminists in the White House [fit the first view].”
Farrell is skeptical of the second possibility – that the administration is too busy to take up the issue.
“My objection to that answer is, the reason we have asked for a council is that it could be done by an executive order,” Farrell said. “It would not need to go through Congress. Second, it is very bipartisan. If there is anything that President Obama can do to give something to the Republicans – who are very pro-family – to to say, ‘I am pro-family too, here is somewhere we can both agree, we ought to be supporting everyone in the family.’”
The commission members represent a broad range of political views. The proposal is also backed by statistics showing the problems men and boys face. Support for this council could help those concerns, particularly issues like the high rate of suicide and the dropping academic achievements among males. Unfortunately, it seems that partisan politics may prevent the council’s creation. Given that there are few organizations and groups that address these issues, and fewer that have the funds to make significant impacts, many men and boys will not receive help.
Given the severity of the situation, it is unclear why feminists would oppose the council or seek to delay its creation. The explanation may lie in the bipartisan nature of the proposal and the proposal lacks any political slant. It does not conform to feminist doctrine, focusing instead on the specific needs of boys and men, and providing nonpartisan, male-centric solutions.
For the moment, the proposal will remain on William Daley’s desk.