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NCFM Conference


June 25, 2002


by Trudy W. Schuett

It was an historic event. For the first time ever, the National Organization for Women had a counterpoint conference happening at the same time in the same city. We didn’t know what to expect—shrieking harpies at the demonstration? Hecklers at the evening forum? Worse, what if nobody showed up?

None of this came to pass. The girls behaved themselves, and both the afternoon demo and the nighttime event went off without a hitch. The thunderstorms that cancelled flights out of the Minneapolis airport let up just in time for the NCFM group to assemble in the park across the street from the Radisson hotel in St. Paul where the NOW convention was limping along. FoxNews columnist Wendy McElroy, Deborah Watkins from Dallas/Ft.Worth NCFM, and Marc Angelucci from Los Angeles NCFM went over to check it out, and had a hard time finding much activity. Wendy found out when she went to appear on a radio program they wouldn’t have known about the NOW convention at all if they hadn’t gotten the materials from NCFM.

In contrast, the NCFM was outside marching with signs that said things like, “Not NOW, I’ve got a headache!” “NOW is sexist” and “NOW go home!” The NCFM Theater Troupe, led by Mark Lesmeister, put on tongue-in-cheek street theatre productions, with titles like “Dead Doll Walking,” “General Patton Addresses the Troops,” and “Judge Trudy.” There were about 30 participants in total, which isn’t a huge number, but more important than the numbers of people on the street was the reaction from the people in cars driving past. They honked, they waved, held thumbs up. Some stopped to share their horror stories, despite the fact this was evening rush hour and certainly they wanted to get home to get their weekends started.

Later that evening, at the Landmark Center where the forum was being held, the result was much the same. Maybe we approached 200 attendees, counting those who hung out in the hallway and didn’t take a seat in the room. All five speakers—in addition to Wendy and Deborah, Dianna Thompson of ACFC, Warren Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power, and yours truly, were received with enthusiastic applause with the audience leaving their seats often to give standing ovations. During the discussion portion, one man remarked, “This feels like coming home,” giving voice to the sentiments of many. Again, the numbers weren’t as important as the fact of the event itself, and the realization that something significant was happening here.

There were some who were new to the movement, and found for the first time there were people who understood them, their problems weren’t unique and they were not alone. Others were able to put faces together with names of people they’d been e-mailing for years. If it wasn’t for the fact that the Landmark Center had to close sometime, and we all needed to get some sleep, we might still be there, communicating, and learning from each other.

All of the efforts of the Twin Cities men, like Kyle Knutson, Will Hageman, and so many others, were well worthwhile. I don’t think there’s a single regret floating around Minnesota today. Well, wait—yes there is! One regret. The one about wishing it could all have lasted a week or so longer. We’ll all have to put our conversations on hold for next time. Because there most certainly will be a next time. Already the Internet is buzzing with the possibilities.

It will never be done again in quite the same way. This one was the first, and those who had the privilege of being there will not forget the people, and the place. This was the day the men’s movement entered history and began to evolve into a visible, dynamic force for change.


Trudy W. Schuett


Trudy W. Schuett is webmistress of DesertLight Journal


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