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Silhouettes of Gender-Based Violence

26 Mar

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This post will guide you through one of the most eye-catching ways I’ve seen to publicly display information about gender-based violence. As you can see in the picture, it involves constructing human silhouettes and writing facts of statistics on them. Framing the statistics inside representations of people makes it difficult to dismiss them as “just” numbers; using silhouettes asks the viewer to fill in the details themselves, connecting them to the piece, and adds a sense of absence or loss.

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Accountability and Men’s Role in Preventing Violence against Women

10 Mar
Source: Author's personal photo

Source: Author’s personal photo

BY NATASCHA YOGACHANDRA

On February 8th, I had the privilege of attending an event at the Brooklyn Museum entitled Mother Tongue: Monologues for Truth Bearing Women, For Emerging Songs and Other Keepers of the Flame. The three-hour-long performance brought together artists, activists and writers to engage in a conversation about violence against women in black communities. Nearly a dozen speakers shared stories of rape and abuse to an audience of a few hundred. They called out to their brothers in the room—those men who work to engage other men in eliminating gender violence. They didn’t wipe their tears but let them fall. The wrinkles in their palms deepened and darkened as they clenched their fists. They smiled wildly after each story of survival. Continue reading

On Teaching Inequality, Privilege, and Masculinities

13 Jan

With the Spring semester about to begin, I am deep in “course prep” mode. This semester I will be teaching American Society, a staple in the sociology department. I generally teach this class as a course on inequality, specifically debunking the myth that our society is a classless, egalitarian society. I divide the course into four segments on class, race, gender, and sexuality, with the final component of each segment working to tie these categories together and introduce students to the theory of intersectionality. We explore how science, medicine, family, religion, popular culture, media, education, and public policies (like marriage, health care, and immigration law) both create and propagate inequality. And we talk about whether institutions like these, which are often used to preserve the status quo, can instead be used to fight inequality. By the end of the semester, students are able to explain how social identity categories operate in the United States, and accurately link these categories to existing problems of inequality. It is my favorite course to teach, and generally students seem to enjoy the provocative discussions that emerge out of the readings and lectures.

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The Challenges of Teaching Feminism as a Male-Identified Teacher

16 Dec

(Source: Canadian2006 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0/r GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

Our own Cliff Leek has recently talked about the tension, struggles and challenges of being an ally to movements of the marginalized. Those of us located on the ‘privilege’ side of different axes of inequality and oppression (like race, class and gender) face the challenge of how to become (and stay) active and effective allies without reinforcing the very inequalities we are trying to fight, and trying to speak truth to power without claiming to speak for the movements we are aligned with. As Mia McKenzie points out in her critique of the term ‘ally’: “actions count; labels don’t”. In other words: We don’t become ‘allies’ just by some act of will or by declaring us as such. Instead, being an ally means a continuous process of becoming one. This call for action and constant reflection has, of course, implications for those of us who are male-identified but teach about gender in the classroom. We face unique challenges that we need to find pedagogical answers to if we are to stay true our feminist and anti-racist commitments.

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Educate Yourself!

11 Dec

If you are a man or a men’s group working for gender justice, you are trying to be effective allies, and as Mia Mckenzie and Jamie Utt point out, two of the most important parts of allyship are education and accountability. Moreover, without enough self-education first (and during, and after), accountability usually creates more work for marginalized people, rather than helping them. That is why I am being very intentional about making self-education the first men’s group activity I post about.

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Lessons for the Development of Allies

4 Dec
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

There is a great deal of debate in feminist circles regarding the role of men in the feminist movement.  Should men be leading feminist organizations?  Where should organizations seeking to engage men and boys in gender equity work draw their funding?  Should men’s organizations even exist or should men only engage with feminism within the context of women-led organizations?  In the end, much of this debate centers on the question of what the perfect male ally to the feminist movement should look like.  But, before we get to the question of what that man would look like, or if such a thing is even possible, perhaps we should talk about how male “allies” to the feminist movement come to exist in the first place.***

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Introductions: Thoughts on accountable scholarship

27 Nov


Hi, pull up a seat and join me. You know those pictures of ancient buildings, where all you see are the foundations? Much like this one, where there is a foundation, there is always opportunity to create something new. That is what my first two posts are about. But since I’m big on understanding context and this is my first post, let me tell you a bit about who I am and where all this comes from.

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Want to Help Marginalized Students Improve in Schools? Stop “Stop and Frisk” (and other punitive practices, too).

4 Nov

Protest against police brutality

Source: Fibonacci Blue (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a previous ruling that had determined that New York City’s controversial “Stop and Frisk” practice constituted a civil rights violation, thereby placing any reforms (or the outright abolition of “Stop and Frisk”) on hold. In addition to being a highly ineffective police strategy, extremely questionable from a civil liberties perspective and undeniably a case of racial profiling, this policy might also impact marginalized students’ educational outcomes. Sociological research suggests that the interplay between constructions of masculinity and punitive criminal justice (and school) policies ends up harming marginalized boys’ educational prospects and channels them into crime – and ultimately the criminal justice system.

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Gendering the Prevention of Bullying

3 Nov
450px-Bully_Free_Zone

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month?  As such, the month of October is full of bullying prevention and awareness events.  The National Bullying Prevention Center advertises many of these events and hosts a great deal of information about bullying.  But, a major piece of the bullying puzzle is missing, both from their website and much of the national (and international) discourse on bullying.  That missing piece is gender.

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How not to talk about Gender and Education – Is the ‘Boys Crisis’ in Education a Reality?

29 Oct

By Unknown, not credited [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

In her latest piece for the Atlantic, Christina Hoff Sommers – author of “The War against Boys” – continues to make the case that boys are losing out in education, are being disadvantaged by schools that supposedly cater exclusively to girls and are thus in need of remedial help in order to catch up to girls educationally. Arguments like hers are still going strong in public discourse, although a vast amount of research has shown the situation to be much more complicated than she makes it sound. Instead of falling back to anti-feminist and gender-reinforcing ‘solutions’ – such as those proposed by Christina Hoff Sommers and others – an intersectional feminist analysis of gender and education is much more useful in accounting for the inequities in educational outcomes between different groups of students.

[This article first appeared at SociologyLens]

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