Men need to decide if they want to stand up and be allies, not ask us to make it easier for them.
This. A thousand thousand times, this.
Dude, it’s not about you.
NotAllMen” bullshit is pissing me off. In a conversation about the oppression of, and systemic erasure of, the rights and safety of, women… the “feels” of men, any men at all, is irrelevant. There is a time and a place for men to discuss men’s issues. For men to talk to other men about being allies, about reclaiming masculinity for the positive — not this ugly fucking misogynistic bullshit, or whining about misrepresentation. Because it *isn’t* misrepresentation, when the broken and sad and awful and violent and dismissive and hate-fueled and fucking dehumanizing ways that women are permitted to be viewed and processed in the dominant male cultures around us are pointed out. It isn’t misrepresentation. And if that makes a man feel uncomfortable, THAT IS THE FUCKING POINT. It is supposed to.
We should not be comfortable with this state of affairs. We should be mortified, sickened, repulsed, sullied, shamed, and shattered by this revelation. And we should be fucking *silent* during the discourse, unless what we are saying is appropriately platformed in the public vehicles of the exchange in allied support of the calling out of the *awful realities* being named.
Discussions of the rampant misogyny and related ugly qualities in masculine culture — and the degraded and perverse state of masculinity in popular expression more generally — is NOT the time or place for men to “voice their feels”, unless those feels are disgust with the issue and support of the YesAllWomen discourse.
I think that some of it is about making it be okay for there to be more than one conversation. There needs to be a place where folks can talk about their pain and frustration and anger… I believe that there is absolutely a place for men to talk about their own pain and frustration. Patriarchy isn’t a person, it’s a structural issue. It is a baseline assumption that informs structures. All of us individuals are embedded in and affected by that structure, men included. [C]hoosing carefully and mindfully who to process this stuff with… helps.
— Bari Mandelbaum (emphasis mine)
So when is the time, and where is the place? For starters, it is NOT when women — the group targeted with crosshairs in our culture every day — are voicing these issues and naming these conditions. It is NOT when those feelings would or could be used to leverage silence against an *already* silenced group. Men SHOULD have feelings, and realistically NEED space to be able to sound them out, but that space is NOT here, and that time is NOT now. Men’s issues are the source of this problem, and so are not likely to be the solution, and they are OUR responsibility, as men.
Finding the “right time” and the “right place” is OUR responsibility; we shouldn’t be looking to women and demanding that our issues or feelings on this matter be considered as equal to theirs. Men don’t have crosshairs on them at traffic-stops, at shopping malls, at grocery stores, at college campuses, on sidewalks, at bus stops, on every single form of public transportation anywhere in this country; women do. #YESALLWOMEN.
So right now it is the responsibility of men, be they considered and conscious allies already or not, to shut the fuck up, sit the fuck down, and open their fucking ears. And you know what? We are human beings with the cognitive and social capacity to be in charge of our emotional responses — executive functioning, anyone? — as well as the ability to fucking multi-task.
If a discussion in Place A — say, a Facebook wall thread or a news-article on misogyny — causes us as men to have emotions which we feel that we MUST discuss or share or process, we are fully capable of finding a Place B for that, which does NOT actively silence women or force a “competition of voice”. We should not be grabbing for microphones on this one, we should be unplugging and fucking listening to the acoustics of righteous fury and fervor’d push against the constraints of social disempowerment, of the fear that lives in broad daylight in our streets, because THIS IS AWFUL AND UGLY AND REAL and it is fucking EVERYWHERE.
One of the many things that allied men can and should be doing more actively is not only nodding along to the YESALLWOMEN discourse, or reposting and reblogging things — although that is a good start — but also taking it the next step and actively engaging with OTHER MEN who maybe are having a harder time with their feels… or their cognitive and emotional dissonance around the issue, because there IS and WILL BE dissonance and confusion at this… if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be needing to advocate for change!
We need to be actively engaging not just with our sons but with our brothers, with our fathers, with our friends; actively positioning ourselves in ways that we can as allies to women become LEADERS amongst men.
In the studies of systemic prejudice we know that the change MUST come from the dominant group through systems of alliance, of listening, and of education.
There’s even a formula:
Step 1: Men are confronted with an ugly truth.
Step 2: Men become allies.
Step 3: Men-as-allies support the discourse on the issue, ala #YESALLWOMEN.
Step 4: Men-as-allies actively engage with other men to try and see that change, and those revelations, made real and realized.
Step 5: Whiskey.
Step 6: REPEAT.
Edits: Fixed some formatting issues and a cited quote. Also, special thanks to John Beckett for subtitling this article “Dude, It’s Not About You”, and giving me permission to add that in here. Also, special thanks to Morpheus, Bari, Corvus, and others on Facebook whose conversations (in both public wall spaces and in private dialog) helped me to make sure I was saying what I thought and meant to be saying. I want to also reiterate something that I said on Wyrd Ways Radio the other night: as a man, I do not think that it is my job to decide what the definition of misogyny is. For the airing and naming of such concerns I defer to those targeted and impacted objectively and atrociously by these system issues and patterns of encultured permissive violence and disregard; women.
I would also like to point out that nearly every university, community college and local outreach community center should be able to offer or at least refer people to local resources, workshops, and even training curriculums on the subject of “being an ally”, AS WELL AS FINDING SAFE AND CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENTS FOR “PLACE B” discussions, as mentioned in the article above. “Safe Race Dialogs” for example are organized events where people can discuss safely and in a controlled, moderated setting established by professionals and moderated by cooperated mutual agreements with one another, the emotions, feelings, confusions, concerns and general issues around race, identity, and prejudice. Similar groups should be available to men on the issues of misogyny. Many areas also offer training in conflict resolution and mediation. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula houses an excellent program called Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, which provides trained and licensed volunteer resolution teams for solving and settling local (San Mateo County) conflicts of all sorts.