Tag Archives: allies

Trump’s America: Will “we” be fine? Depends on who is “we”. Depends on what “we” do.

18 Nov

dealer-of-hegemonic-masculinity-cdarcypusher-of-hegemonic-masculinity-cdarcy

Dear White Men,

This is on us. And now it’s up to us to undo it. I keep hearing us say: “we’ll be fine.” We may be shocked, devastated, disappointed, outraged but we also keep telling ourselves “we’ll” be fine. Sure, “we” will. But not all will, and not all are. If you are saying “we will be fine”, think hard about who that “we” is. Because many are not part of the “we” that will be fine. Our friends of color, our Native American friends, our Muslim friends and Latino friends, our LGBTQ friends and the women in our lives are not fine. And they are more than devastated and shocked. They are afraid of what is to come. And they will be, and already are, under attack. If you’ve ever questioned the existence of the concept of privilege, being able to say “we’ll be fine” is painful proof of its existence: Continue reading

Advertisements

Michael Kimmel, TED Talk: Why Gender Equality Is Good for Everyone. Men Included.

26 Oct

Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Men & Masculinities at Stony Brook University (and friend of the blog) Michael Kimmel recently delivered a TED Talk on why gender equality is good for everyone:

Finding Male-Oriented Solutions To The Problem Of Campus Rape And Sexual Assault

2 Feb

Our very own Cliff Cleek, PhD student at Stony Brook University and Program Director at the Center for the Study of Men & Masculinities, recently spoke on Wisconsin Public Radio about how to engage men in fighting sexual assault on college campuses.

You can listen to the interview here.

Learning From The Missteps Of Our Brothers

5 Nov

The following post was originally published on Men Advocating Real Change (MARC), an online community for men committed to achieving gender equality in the workplace. MARC is an initiative of Catalyst, the leading nonprofit organization expanding opportunities for women in business. Find out more and join the conversation at onthemarc.org.


 

By Cliff Leek.

The United Nations (UN) marked the launch of its new campaign for gender equality on Saturday, September 20th with a special event at the UN Headquarters in New York. This new HeForShe campaign, dubbed the “UN Women Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality,” specifically aims to engage men in feminist efforts for gender equality and is a part of a growing global movement to involve men in gender justice work. So far nearly 200,000 men from all over the world have pledged “to take action against all forms of violence and discrimination faced by women and girls” as a part of the HeForShe campaign.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of men committing to do this work through HeForShe, the past month has felt like a parade male celebrities and other powerful men taking public stances on feminist issues (Aziz Ansari,President Obama, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and numerous others). As Slate writer Amanda Hess put it, “male allies are having a moment.”

In the midst of this “moment,” my social media feeds have been inundated by editorials and blog posts discussing every possible angle of men’s involvement in struggles for gender justice. Many writers have taken this moment to point to the various ways in which men can sometimes undermine our own good intentions and end up hindering the work we intend to support. Here are just a few:

Why I’m Not Really Here For Emma Watson’s Feminism Speech at the U.N. – Mia McKenzie

So You Want to be a Male Feminist? Maybe Don’t. – Kat Stoeffel

Male Allies Are Important, Except When They’re The Worst – Amanda Hess

#HeForShe, Domestic Violence, and Privileging Male Allies – Kenneth Kolb

If we are truly invested in changing the status quo by standing alongside women we need to take these concerns seriously.  We need not only to show up, but also to think critically about how we show up. A few writers in recent weeks have provided fuel for that critical thought:

So You Want to be a Male Feminist? Here Are 11 Simple Rules to Follow – Derrick Clifton

How to be a (Male) Feminist Ally – Elizabeth Pickett

After considering both the critiques of men’s involvement in feminism and the suggestions for how we can do/be better, I sat down to think about the lessons that I have learned in my efforts to support gender justice. What follows are the lessons that have been the most helpful in my own development as man involved in this work.

Do your homework.

What do I mean when I say “do your homework?” Well, I mean it quite literally.

As Elizabeth Pickett argued, “it’s your work, not the work of feminists, to educate yourself.” Too often we expect women to educate us on even the most basic feminist concepts when we could, just as easily, do our homework. We live in an era when trainings on-line and in-person are readily accessible for people who are inclined to educate themselves on issues of power and privilege. Seek out those trainings.

Learn on your own time. We should strive to make sure that our learning doesn’t come at the expense of the time and energy of women involved in other aspects of the work. Our education shouldn’t be a distraction from the movement.

See beyond self-interest.

Emma Watson, in her speech at the HeForShe launch event, argued that men should be involved in feminist work, at least in part, because gender norms are harmful to men too. In response, Mia McKenzie, of Black Girl Dangerous, wrote a scathing commentary arguing that “Telling men that they should care about gender inequality because of how much it hurts them, centralizes men and their well-being in a movement built by women for our survival in a world that degrades and dehumanizes us daily.” As she describes, not only does over-emphasizing men’s self-interest in feminist work displace women from a movement that is, at its core, about ensuring women’s well-being, but it also obscures the myriad ways in which men benefit from patriarchy.

Watson wasn’t wrong. Gender norms do have negative effects on men and feminist work to challenge those norms can go a long way in changing men’s lives for the better. That is one reason why men should strive to be feminists.

But, it shouldn’t be the sole reason. While it is important to recognize that feminism is good for men too, that doesn’t mean we should put men’s issues first as we join feminist work. Being in solidarity with feminist women does not mean we only show up when we stand to benefit from the conversation.

Don’t forget to look inward.

Finally, we have reached the toughest lesson of all.

Learning to examine and challenge patriarchy and gender inequality in the world around us is easy compared to seeing it and changing it in ourselves and in our own relationships.

Men who don’t turn their feminist analytical lens inward may miss the ways in which we can also be a part of the problem. Simply understanding feminism does not make us exempt from dominating conversations, taking charge when we shouldn’t, perpetrating microaggressions, or otherwise utilizing our privilege inappropriately.  Failing to examine and address these issues and behaviors in ourselves can not only make us hypocrites, but also position us as roadblocks or hindrances to the work we care deeply about.

Looking inward can be difficult.  Sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge, or simply don’t see the same things in ourselves that we so readily notice elsewhere. Because it can be so difficult, part of the process of looking inward can be setting up a system of mutual accountability with a friend or ally. It can help to develop a relationship with someone that you trust to be honest with you when they notice problematic behaviors.

Now, I don’t expect these lessons to be a panacea for men’s involvement in feminism. We will continue to struggle, we will continue to make mistakes, and we will continue to be less than perfect allies. But, perhaps by learning from the missteps of our brothers in this work we can learn to do/be better.

Cliff Leek is a founding editor of Masculinities101 and the Research Fellow / Community Manager for Men Advocating Real Change (MARC).

Women/Men: The Next Conversation

8 Oct

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the annual Women’s Power Conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. The theme of this year’s conference was “Women/Men: The Next Conversation.” Combing through the roster of speakers prior to attending, I found a handful of familiar names—Carlos Andrés Gómez, Tony Porter, Michael Kimmel, Ted Turner—but the conference’s title still left me intrigued. What exactly would we be talking about? This was a women’s leadership event, yet men were being introduced to the conversation. “Sure,” I told Masculinities 101, “I’ll write about it.”

Continue reading

Practice Your Responses

24 Jul

Masculine socialization encourages guys to behave in certain ways, and discourages us from other behaviors. This has been well understood since Bob Brannon described “the male sex role” in 1976: No sissy stuff (reject femininity), be a big wheel (achieve at all costs), be a sturdy oak (disregard emotions to be tough and independent), and give ’em hell (value aggression, violence, and risk-taking). This type of masculinity not only constrains men’s ability to live their lives fully, it also negatively affects men’s health – and while ideas about masculinity have shifted some since then, it is still pretty easy to see how masculine socialization contributes to the subordination and victimization of women.

If Brannon were writing his article today, I have a feeling one of his key phrases would be “Bros before hos.” Part of what masculinities scholar Michael Kimmel calls “The Bro Code,” this phrase discourages guys from intervening in other guys’ sexist behavior, and can make it really difficult to speak up when sexism or sexual violence are happening (in many violent gang-rapes, there are guys around who don’t participate, but also don’t do anything to intervene). Even smaller things like saying that you don’t find sexist jokes funny, or calling out street harassment, can be difficult if you don’t have any sense of how to do it – but they can also be among the most important ways men can show support for women’s equality.

Continue reading

Wear Your Beliefs

25 Jun

 

Image

I’m writing this blog post in my favorite coffee shop, wearing my favorite t-shirt. It was a gift from a friend of mine, but that’s not why it is my favorite. It’s my favorite because it says “This is what a feminist looks like,” allowing me to wear my ethics out into the world, and I feel like I make a tiny dent in misogynist culture every time I wear it. Wearing this shirt declares that feminism is for everybody and that men have a stake in feminism and gender equality, without having to actually say anything at all. I receive compliments pretty much every time I wear this shirt, and occasionally get into really wonderful conversations as well. Continue reading

The Marathon and Gender Equality

19 May

By Richard Smith from Bowen Island, Canada (Chicago Marathon – the start) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

April marked the first installment of the Boston Marathon after the horrible terrorist acts of 2013. Although the world-renowned event will forever be linked to these atrocities, there are also acts of positive social change linked to its. Most famously, the 1967 Boston Marathon saw Kathrine Switzer become the first woman to enter the race as a numbered runner (there had actually been other women run the race unofficially before) by registering as “KV Switzer”. Her run and the attempt by a race official to remove her from the race show how sports can become an arena of progressive social change. Moreover, the history of marathon running over the past half century can also serve as a teaching tool to challenge myths about the supposed fundamental differences between men and women.

[This article first appeared at SociologyLens]

Continue reading

A Global Meeting in New Delhi

17 Feb

I spent the first week of February in a crowded hotel conference room in New Dehli.  Some of the people in the room represented small organizations with only a small handful of staff members and some of them represented UN agencies with multi-billion dollar budgets.  We came from all over the world but we all came for one purpose:  to talk about men, boys, and gender justice.  The organizations that people in that room represented range from a Centre for Men and Masculinities Studies in Bangladesh to a Caribbean network of gender equality activists and practitioners called CariMan and many more in between.  People in that room ran programs that strive to broaden young boys’ notions of masculinity, encourage more involved fatherhood, and change cultural norms around sexuality to name only a few.  We came together not only over the concept that a more gender equitable world benefits all people but also over the basic idea that we can all do something to help move toward that world.

The four days I spent in that conference room were divided into two separate meetings.  The first was a steering committee meeting for MenEngage, a global alliance of NGOs that work with men and boys to promote gender equality.  The second was a planning meeting for a global symposium to be held in New Delhi in November addressing the global work with men and boys on issues of gender justice.

In both meetings I was impressed by the depth and breadth of work being done, but at the end of each day I was also reminded of just how much more is needed.  Just outside the doors of the hotel stood one of the largest cities in the world.  The Delhi metropolitan is home to around 22 million people and every time I left the hotel the sheer numbers of people reminded just how hard work to change cultural norms can be.  Most of the work being done to change cultural norms around masculinity happens at an institutional level (school, workplace, or organization. e.g.) or at a community level (places of worship, civic centers, e.g.) and even the most well-funded programs are lucky to reach a few hundred or a few thousand people.

The Centre for Health and Social Justice, a local NGO and our host in New Delhi, does tremendous work with men and boys but how can the change that they make be measured in a city of 22 million?  While these questions may seem fatalistic and the numbers may feel insurmountable, I am asking them because they illustrate the challenge we have ahead of us.  If we hope to create measurable change, we need more men and boys doing this work on all levels

I look forward to posting more about the 2014 Global Symposium in November as it approaches and will keep our readers filled on the call for abstracts, the program as it develops, registration information, and, of course, lessons learned in the process.

The elusive gay male soccer player in Germany – Homophobia and Solidarity

5 Feb

“Fans against Homophobia” display in the stadium of German soccer club Mainz 05, celebrating the 5 year anniversary of their LG(BT?)-fan club. [Source: http://www.meenzelmaenner.de/resources/_wsb_500x276_Choreo5.jpg%5D

In 2013, NBA player Jason Collins made headlines when he became the first active openly gay male* athlete in one of the major 4 men’s team sports in the US. A similar story made headlines this winter in Germany, when recently retired soccer player Thomas Hitzlsperger – who formerly played in the German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and English Premier League as well as for the German national team – came out as gay in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit, becoming the first openly gay male soccer player in Germany. Similar to Collins, Hitzlsperger tied his outing to the political project of starting a discussion about homophobia and notions of masculinity in soccer. And paralleling Collins’ story, Hitzlsperger’s outing raises the question of whether we will witness a transformation of the gender politics in big-time German professional sports.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: