The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Gender Wars At The University Of Chicago

By Samantha Abernethy in News on May 28, 2009 9:30PM

Men in Power's Facebook page.

A University of Chicago student created a controversial organization dedicated to the advancement of men, encouraging undergraduate male students to sharpen their understanding of business and politics. "Men in Power" was inspired by a satirical column in the school's newspaper, the Chicago Maroon, in March. The article was obviously a parody, but it was taken seriously enough to cause a controversy over whether it could be perceived as misogynistic or logical.

The author, Steve Saltarelli, anticipated this reaction--

I know what you're thinking: This sounds really misogynistic.

I assure you, however, that the group would not be against or in any way attempt to inhibit the advancement of women. We would simply advocate for men in the same manner that female groups advocate for women. Anyone with an interest in both studying and learning from men in powerful positions, as well as issues involved with reverse sexism, may become a member of MiP.

Saltarelli said that after the article was published, he received requests to make the joke real, so this week the group could be approved to receive funding as an official campus organization. The associate dean of students and director of student activities, Sharlene Holly, told the Chicago Tribune that there are currently nine women's advocacy groups on campus that receive funding, but this would be the first group advocating for men exclusively.

In fact, this could be the first student organization in the country dedicated to male advocacy. On the other hand, though, many organizations have done just that for years. One student interviewed by the Chicago Tribune said that there are plenty of gender neutral professional organizations, and another said, "It's like starting 'white men in business' -- there's not really any purpose."

As one commenter on the Chicago Maroon story pointed out, men make up 51 percent of the workforce and 97 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. However, Greek-letter organizations also claim that 85 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs belong to a fraternity. Fraternal organizations have always lobbied on behalf of their members, with male employers often hiring their fellow "brothers." Those are the "old boys clubs" that women's (and minorities') organizations have pushed against for years.

The column jokingly suggested a number of activities for its members, including fishing, hunting and flag football retreats--

Firstly, we will be hosting weekly study breaks/screenings of movement-oriented films, including: A Few Good Men, 12 Angry Men, Men of Honor (and many other Cuba Gooding Jr. masterpieces), All the President's Men, and--of course--X-Men.

Additional upcoming events will include an open-mic night on issues concerning body image, a tutorial on barbecuing, and our much-anticipated workshop "Protecting What's Yours: Drafting a Prenuptial Agreement."

Men in Power continues to grow in members and now even includes a few women. The group plans to hold its first event on June 2: a student panel discussion titled "Gender and Media: Trespassing the Taboo." That might be a little more suitable than X-Men.