After a month’s break, Masculinities Mondays is back! This week, we’re going to pick up from where we left off last time by looking at pieces by men who, in response to the recent #YesAllWomen/#NotAllMen debate, have acknowledged their role (and all men’s roles) in rape culture and patriarchy and have moved past the point of being defensive to come up with practical and simple steps that men can take to make the world a more equitable place.
From where I stand – and perhaps this didn’t come across clearly enough in my last post – this is not a matter of ‘good men’ and ‘bad men’ or even of ‘female victims’ and ‘male perpetrators’ (even if the latter is statistically true). In fact, I don’t see how framing rape culture in either of these simplistic dichotomies is helpful in the long run for sustainable social change. Without ignoring the very real gendered differences in terms of power, privilege, safety, and most other aspects of men and women’s lived realities, I’m looking forward to seeing this move further in the direction of #YesAllOfUs or #YesEveryone, in which everyone – regardless of gender – stops to think critically about the messages in the world around us that feed into rape culture and everyone feels empowered and motivated to call out those messages when we come across them – whether they come from the media, strangers on the internet, our friends, our families, our teachers, or ourselves.
- First up is Zaron Burnett’s awesomely direct ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Rape Culture.’ In explaining his process of coming to understand his role in rape culture, Burnett writes, “When a woman first told me I was part of rape culture, I wanted to disagree for obvious reasons. Like many of you I wanted to say, ‘Whoa, that ain’t me.’ Instead, I listened…Men shouldn’t feel threatened or attacked when women point out rape culture — they’re telling us about our common enemy. We ought to listen.” The article also includes a handy list of things men can do to stop rape culture, including:
· Avoid using language that objectifies or degrades women
· Speak out if you hear someone else making an offensive joke or trivializing rape
· If a friend says she has been raped, take her seriously and be supportive
· Think critically about the media’s messages about women, men, relationships, and violence
· Be respectful of others’ physical space even in casual situations
· Always communicate with sexual partners and do not assume consent
· Define your own manhood or womanhood. Do not let stereotypes shape your actions.
- Another good read is Charlie Glickman’s blog post “I Refuse to be One of the ‘Good Men.‘” Discussing the futility of the ‘good men/bad men’ dichotomy, Glickman writes, “When we say that ‘I’m not like that,’ we render those guys as other. Rather than seeing our shared humanity, we demonize them. Rather than seeing the ways in which sexism is trained and shamed into each of us, we call them evil and stop looking at ourselves. And rather than reaching out to them to help them move in a positive direction, we discard them so that we can be ‘not like them.‘”
- For a heartwarming and faith-in-humanity restoring six minutes, watch these high school boys explain why they are feminists.
- If you’re interested in exploring this theme in a more academic/theoretical manner, I recommend Chris Crass’ post, “Against Patriarchy: 20 Tools for Men to Further Feminist Revolution.” In addition to an excellent suggested reading list and tips for promoting social justice, Crass’ explains, “While we did not choose to be men in a patriarchal society, we have the choice to be feminists and work against sexism.”
- And, finally, Qahera – our favourite female, Muslim superhero – calls out sexism when she sees it and reminds us that this is never just a man/woman thing.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts or great articles you’ve come across.