After years of stewing in a mix of controversy and mystery, The ManKind Project is finally going to give the world an official glimpse into its secret world of male rites, rituals and so-called "training" programs.
At least according to an MKP memo obtained by Warren Throckmorton, Associate Professor of Psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who blogs about the organization. He says he first became interested in MKP two years ago after the Houston Press wrote a story about how Michael Scinto killed himself following an initiation weekend at the group's Houston chapter. Scinto's family then sued MKP for wrongful death and then settled out of court.
The nonprofit organization, which has chapters all across the globe, describes its training as "a traditional masculine initiation, but geared toward the modern-day man." Its avowed goal is to create caring and trusting relationships among men and to help them overcome their emotional wounds.
Among the many criticisms of MKP is the fact that members have been required to keep its weekend rituals a secret, even making those who participate sign a confidentiality agreement. The reason why, MKP officials have said, is to keep the integrity of the group's programs and to ensure that each initiate gets the most out of the experience. But no more. According to Throckmorton, MKP leaders have decided to go transparent and are making several major changes to the way they do business.
"I've got chills," the mother of Michael Scinto, Kathy, tells Hair Balls. "Honestly, Hallelujah. I can't believe it."
Throckmorton reports that one of the reasons MKP gives for it changes is to address "criticisms" published on the Web, specifically by Throckmorton and the Houston Press.
"In the last few years we have been criticized on blogs, on websites, and in a suit for not providing sufficient details for men to make an informed decision about attending our training," the MKP memo allegedly states. "The ManKind Project has been labeled a cult by some for our refusal to disclose what we do on the training. It is likely that at least some of these attacks could have been avoided if we had provided more information about the training. The cost of these attacks has been significant to MKP and to our centers."
The changes allegedly include:
-- Members will be released from their confidentiality agreements and will be encouraged to tell anyone who inquires about the initiation and other MKP programs;
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-- The organization will revise its website and provide a detailed description of the initiation as well as publish new, detailed brochures;
-- MKP will modify its confidentiality agreements and training program to reflect this new found transparency.
"I'm just so happy because that's all that we ever wanted, and for it to actually happen is just like a miracle," says Kathy Scinto. "It's so wonderful."
Hair Balls emailed MKP Executive Director Carl Griesser but has not yet heard back. We'll let you know if we do.