Manhood and Violence

It makes no difference whether you do some one or on a regular basis. Keep a count of how many you have been guilty of commiting. Have you ever:

Pushed or shoved someone
Held someone to keep them from leaving
Slapped or bitten someone
Kicked or chocked someone
Hit or Punched someone
Thrown objects at another person
Locked a family member or significant other out of the house
Abandoned someone in a dangerous or high risk place
Refused to help or abandon someone close to you when they were sick, injured, pregnant, etc
Subjected others to reckless, drunk, or impaired driving
Ridiculed or ignored a person’s feelings
Insulted or otherwise attacked a person’s religion, race, class
Withheld approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment
Continually criticized a person, called them names, or shouted at them
Insulted, isolated or drove away a person’s family or friends
Humiliated a person in private or public
Took money away from or stole from, or otherwise controlled the financial affairs from others
Threatned to withdraw financial support from someone dependent on you
Harassed a person about affairs you imagined he or she was having
Raised your voice to dominate a conversation or assert control
Used your body size to threaten or intimidate
Punished, neglected, or abandoned your children when you were mad at their mother
Threatned to physically hurt a person or their family
Told jokes about women, homosexuals, bisexuals, or made demeaning remarks about them
Treated women as sexual objects
Been jealously angry, assuming a woman was your property
Criticized a persons performance or adequacy as a sexual partner
Withheld sex and affection
Used names like “whore”, “slut”, “dyke” or worse
Publicly showed sexual interest in or had sexual affairs with another person after entering into and agreeing to an implied monogamous relationship.
Had sex with someone you know didn’t want to(i.e. if you have said something to convince or manipulate someone into sexual interactions).

These are all forms of physical, emotional, and sexual violence. It is a long list and has things on there that we don’t like to admit that we did. However, I was always told that all the issues we are told not to talk about are passed on. These things don’t happen because men have testosterone. It is because men limit their options. Every 15 seconds a woman is battered by a man. 90% of all violence against women is done by men. We learn from an early age that men are not to have feelings. If you are not in control, you’re not a man. Anger is safe and manly. Hurt equals weakness. If anyone questions your masculinity you must fight. For a long time, I carried myself by not showing emotion, not showing any kind of weakness, or any kind of vulnerability. As I go through my scrap book of athletic achievements and college years, most people would think I was a shallow, womanizer. If I was with a woman, my friends would ask the next day “Did you hit it?”, “Did you smash it?”, or “Did you knock it off?”. All de-humanizing women. I look back and I am very uncomfortable with how violent the language was/ is and so I struggled for a long time with who I really was on the inside. No one ever questioned my masculinity when I played sports. But there came a moment when I realized that I had to take care of the man inside. Masculinity was a mask for me and until I talked about it was when I really found out who I was on the inside. Boys look to other men about what it means to be a man. What are we teaching them? Feelings and emotions are tools that help you deal with life and when you constrict them the results are actions from the list above. Here is my challenge to men. It is a challenge that has been issued by women for years. Challenge what men say to each other in all male environments, how you define masculinity, what you encourage from other men, and use language that does not de-humanize women. Do you remember falling in love before and not wanting your friends to think you were “pussy whipped”? That is the kind of fascade I’m trying to do away with. It’s okay to fall in love, cry, and be vulnerable. Saying things in private that differ from your real feelings just maintains and accepts attitudes that are unacceptable. Men have to confront other men on this. It is not optional. If you don’t want the women in your life to be victims of the above list, take a stand. Stand up and say I will not abuse women and I will not support violence against them. Violence against women is a men’s issue and men have to confront other men, otherwise, it wont end.

Published in: on November 22, 2007 at 12:17 am  Comments (1)  

Another Male Feminist.

Ahmad Ghashmary, a young student from Jordan, talks about why he is an activist for women’s rights. 

 Sorry for the slow week.  I will get back on the grind…

Published in: on November 14, 2007 at 10:25 pm  Comments (2)  
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This is for You


Published in: on November 5, 2007 at 1:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Misogyny

Most men can admit that women are underprivileged. However, change the direction of the conversation about men’s overpriviledged status and the monster comes out. Most men vilify rape. However, let their favorite sports star be accused of rape and see how fast the “gold-digger” and “set up” comments come. Recently an article seeded about whether a woman can withdraw consent after penetration had comments that excused men if they didn’t stop intercourse if the woman said no after it started. In prisons, I have come across some interesting personalities. This man burglarized an apartment he thought was vacant. However, someone was home. A female. He fought with her and eventually overcome her resistance. With her pinned on the floor, he proceeded to stick his finger in her vagina and anus. He did not know that she had heard him come in and called the police but when he heard the sirens quickly left. He was eventually captured and had spent 8 years in prison when I met him. Before he could sit down, he had a multitude of excuses and justifications about his crime. Then he was quick to point out, that the female he violated worked with his sister and she told his sister that she has forgiven him for his crime. I said, “What’s your point?”. In his mind, he is paying his debt to society and she has forgiven him so, in essence, its over. Here is our conversation

Me: “How do you spend a normal day?”
Him: “Working out. Reading. Watching TV”
M: “What do you watch”
H: “BET. Videos and stuff”
M: “Are women in these videos?”
H: “Do I look like a retard? Of course. I only watch it for the women in bikinis, dancing” (smiling proudly)
M: “Ok. What do you read?”
H: “Magazines. Maxim, FHM. Wait a minute. Im not like that anymore”
M: “Like what??” (Trying to look stunned)
H: “Look that happened a long time ago…Im still a man”

Shortly afterward. I had been on a couple of dates with a woman and there was no talk about commitment. However, I knew this is what she expected. During some passionate foreplay, she told me she didnt want to go any further. I begged, pleaded, and promised I wasn’t like the others. Eventually, we just went to sleep. The next day another woman showed me some attention at a night club. We go to my house and again I’m into some passionate foreplay when guess who shows up at my apartment. Yep. In a black trench coat, bra, and panties. She notices woman #2 and runs away crying. I give chase and an argument ensues. Then I give the classic line “I’m still a man”. Having heard this before, I knew what I had done. I had managed to join the swelling ranks of abusive men with relative ease. Until I committed an emotional violent act that it hit me how deeply I believed women to be inferior to men. I decided to find an antidote for Mr. Misogyny. I had to own up to my backward-ass gender politics.

Just imagine. You are walking down a street at 2am in the morning. You are wearing jewelry and have money in your pocket. You end up getting robbed. When you are questioned about it by others (i.e. police, friends, family) about the incident, you get questions like “what were you doing out at that time?”, “why were you wearing jewelry”, “you knew that area was high in crime”, and “it was your fault”. This is exactly what woman face in regards to reporting sexual assaults. Think about it. Sexual assaults is almost exclusively identified as the responsibility of women in our society. Essentially, if you can find a breech in her responsibility, you can find absolution.

My initial response was to use my experience and expertise to do what I thought was best for the cause. I held woman self defense workshops at college campuses and my work, volunteered at family crisis centers, and did some counseling at a rape hotline. However, it wasn’t until one night that the phone was silent and I wondered who was getting raped and didn’t call. Had Mr. Misogyny appeared overtly again? Were my acts condescending? I struggled with that for a long time. I came to the conclusion that I had a higher purpose. Why am I teaching women and girls how not to be raped and start teaching men and boys how not to rape. Spreading the antidote for Mr. Misogyny around. So here is my challenge gentlemen. Whether you agree or disagree, just try to read one of these books:

John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women .
W.E.B. Dubois, Traps: African-American Men on Gender and Sexuality. Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape Patricia Holland, Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and Subjectivity

Lastly, believe and support women. This may seem obvious, but it is extremely important and something that few men ever really practice. Any claim to support women’s rights and gender justice is empty and meaningless unless you support the real, breathing women in your life, day in and day out. Listen to women. Listen to them when they tell you what they want. Believe them when they tell you about their experiences. Believe them when they tell you that they have been abused. Support them when they fight against that abuse. Don’t forget to ask women what they think and what they want. Don’t ignore what they say. Don’t marginalize their experiences. Don’t abandon them when they have to fight against men. Sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence is rampant in our society. Don’t debate, deal with the reality.

Published in: on November 5, 2007 at 12:45 am  Comments (6)  
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