The Mankind Project has been off my radar for months. However, UK journalist Tom Mitchelson put it back on with his eyewitness account published in Saturday’s UK Mail Online.
I first heard about the MKP’s New Warriors Training Adventure at a NARTH (National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) conference in 2003. Various members, including then President Joe Nicolosi, were recommending it to those in attendance as a way to support healthy masculinity. A few same-sex attracted men who tried it thought it was great and a few others thought it made no sense to be naked in the woods with other guys. New Warriors is still recommended on the NARTH website. In view of the current critiques of the sexual identity therapy framework (SITF), it is worth pointing out that the SITF discourages experiences like NWTA. More about that after I review Mitchelson’s weird weekend.
For veteran NWTA watchers, these experiences will seem familiar. Mitchelson grabs your attention out of the gate:
How our man found himself with 65 naked men chanting, drumming – and screaming their rage against women to ‘reclaim’ their lost masculinity…
The temperature has plunged to freezing. I am deep in a remote English woodland outside Exeter.
I have been blindfolded and I am standing, holding hands, with a long line of men – who, until about 24 hours ago, I’d never met before.
Together, we are stumbling through the scrub as beating tribal drums guide our way. Oh yes, and we are naked. Totally naked.Abruptly, my blindfold is ripped off and I see we have been led to a shadowy candle-lit room. There are about 65 of us in a double horseshoe formation.
This is a ceremony where we are to become ‘new warriors’. And then the dancing begins.
I wish I were somewhere else. Anywhere else. So why on earth am I here?
Why indeed? On its website, MKP proclaims:
We’re redefining mature masculinity for the 21st Century – and we want your help!
Along the way Mitchelson seems amused that the NWTA is viewed as a path to redefined masculinity.
A leader holding a wooden staff decorated with feathers rambles on about the mission of the weekend, using the pompous jargon that would later become very familiar: words like ‘shadow’, ‘warriors’, ‘masculine’, ‘commitment’ and ‘responsibility’.
He tells us how to be a man. It’s hard to take from a man wearing face paint, carrying a feathered stick.
Whatever healthy masculinity is, it seems to involve making the world into a giant man-cave, free from those pesky women.
Everything I read from them is baffling non-speak. They claim the weekend is a ‘process of initiation and self-examination that is crucial to the development of a healthy and mature male self’.
They claim they help move men away from the ‘comforting embrace’ of their mother – something, on the face of it, some wives might even encourage. Then I am told I will ‘confront’ my ‘dependence on women’, to help me move into the ‘masculine kingdom’.
The fun begins when they arrive at the camp. (more…)