When Bad Allies Get “Good Guy” Awards

Jamie Utt:

Such an important piece on fake “allies” and abusive men. A lot of important reminders for me in my work.

Originally posted on Make Me a Sammich:

Clymerquote3A while back I wrote about fake allies—specifically, Charles Clymer, a cis white dude who used to run a popular Facebook page called “Equality for Women” but shut it down amidst accusations that, among other things, he was deleting comments from and banning women who questioned his views or the way he ran the page. And then there was his abusive verbal flaying of Stephanie Kay in a private conversation that went public a year or so ago and revealed the dude beneath the Perfect Feminist Ally act. It didn’t help that when called on that tirade, Clymer basically stood by his remarks and went on to admit—almost proudly—that his goal is to become a professional Feminist Leader. And he dug himself in deeper when, following the many accusations leveled at him directly and via the #StopClymer hashtag (by nearly every woman who had been a moderator at the EFW Facebook page, among others)…

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The Culture of Campus Social Justice Elitism by Amer F. Ahmed

Jamie Utt:

Really appreciating this reflection on “elitism” within social justice activism. It’s not just on college campuses! Thanks to my brother Amer Ahmed for this reflection.

Originally posted on Commission for Social Justice Educators Blog:

In recent years, I’ve increasingly been noticing a dynamic that I’ve been coming across more and more often on college campuses.  More specifically, it is something I’ve observed amongst the social justice communities within campuses (the groups/offices, etc. that use the language of social justice).  It’s a dynamic that I believe is even more acute in the more competitive campus cultures in higher education.  Am I the only one who has noticed that there is a culture of ‘out-social-justicing’ others? (Yes I’m aware that I completely made up that word/phrase; be warned this will be the last time)

I increasingly have been hearing conversations, particularly amongst students, who seem to duel each other with language that proves that they’re more social justice-ey than someone else.  It might involve someone who might say something to the effect of, “Like, he’s such a Cis-gendered, white, straight male who is obviously transphobic without…

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Hijacking the Language and Legacy of Dr. King

Originally posted on Change From Within:

Yesterday, on the day honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a lot of people were posting quotes from Dr. King to Facebook and Twitter.  By far, the most commonly posted quote was one from King’s I Have a Dream speech that he delivered on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.  During that speech, Dr. King said,

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

His sentiment is a powerful one, a sentiment that calls for a different racial reality than he knew as a child or than his children knew.  This quote is part of a radical ideology of racial justice that moves past a negative peace of White Privilege and Supremacy…

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#BeThatGuy: 7+ Everyday Ways that Men Can Transform Masculinity

Ron-Swanson

I recently wrote a piece on my personal blog that highlighted seven men who are transforming masculinity, and I was blown away by how well it resonated.

It shattered all of my daily hit totals and is still bringing in a strong number of people to the blog on a daily basis.

In reflecting on the post, I realized that it was so popular because it touched on an unfilled need.

We need more resources that teach men how to transform masculinity to make it more responsive, less violent, and more inclusive of the tremendous diversity of masculinities that can exist.

And though I detest most everything I see coming out of the Men’s Rights Movement for the ways it is dripping with misogyny, this is one area where I agree with many of its activists: We need a new masculinity!

We need to talk about what a more inclusive masculinity could actually look like beyond “Real men cry, too.”

Now, I rarely agree with those MRM activists about what that masculinity should look like, but in my experience in social justice work, sometimes you have to look for growth points wherever they exist. At least we agree on something!

So let’s start there.

If masculinity needs to be transformed, in what ways can we change it so that men can more fully realize themselves without hurting others?

Here are a few of my suggestions.

Listen More

This one is really hard for me.

I preach listening all the time, but I often struggle to practice what I preach.

If other male-identified people received the same conditioning I did, they were told to make sure that their voices are heard and that they have the last word.Don’t worry about talking over people (especially women). Just assert yourself and your voice!

So a simple way that men can begin to transform masculinity is to listen more.

Obviously it makes sense to start by listening more to women and trans* or genderqueer people, but really, we must do a better job of listening to allpeople.

Hell, we could use to do a better job of listening to all beings: the earth, animals, plants, as well as people.

The point here is that when we are constantly asserting ourselves into space and conversation, we have no capacity to learn.

When we are constantly asserting ourselves into space, we are constantly in a state of vulnerable power, one where we exert power over others to hide the fact that silence and listening can be terrifying.

After all, listening might mean that we have to actually hear people and thereby change ourselves and our practices.

God forbid that we open ourselves up to learning from the experiences of the world around us through listening.

That might mean that we don’t, in fact, have all the answers, as we were taught from the earliest of ages!

Show More Loving Affection

I remember writing an essay about myself in seventh or eighth grade, and in that essay, I boldly proclaimed, “I still cuddle with my mother!!!”

Then something changed.

I got the message.

You do not cuddle, especially not with your mother.

Now, obviously the messages we receive in middle school and early high school are some of the most extreme, boiled down messages about our identity that we can possibly receive, but the message has stayed with me.

There aren’t many spaces in my life where I share loving affection with people outside of my partner.

Men, particularly in the United States, tend to have a complicated and fraught relationship with touch.

We don’t really show affection to women who we are not in a relationship with or who are not immediate family members, and we almost never show loving affection for other men.

Thus, men have a responsibility to change this. And doing so will be tricky.

After all, we have to consider all of the people who may not want our touch at any given time because of legitimate (fear or triggering of sexual violence) or less legitimate (homophobia) reasons.

So we must start with our most inner circles and move out.

We must tell the men who we love that we do, in fact, love them.

Whether through hugs or pats on the back or even a simple hand on the arm of a friend, we must find a way to show those we love that we care about the healing power of touch.

We must find ways to extend loving affection beyond our partners or immediate family members.

Make Enthusiastic Consent a Daily Value

As I came of age in my sexuality, I was taught that consent was something very specific: If she (because it was never taught in a gender-neutral way) says no or stop, that (probably) means you don’t have consent and (probably) should stop.

Needless to say, my consent education was—well—lacking.

Read the rest at Everyday Feminism.

So you say you’re not voting . . .

I’ve recently heard a lot of people decrying the “lesser of two evils” contest that we face in the upcoming presidential election.  Many of those folks give one reason or another as to why they’re not voting in the November election.

I recently had a White dude say to me, “I just can’t support either main party candidate, and the third parties are a joke.  I mean, Romney’s out of the question, and do you know how many innocents Obama has killed with his drone strikes?  I think I’m just going to sit this one out.”

My response?

I hear ya, man.  The numbers of people killed by Obama’s drones is absolutely out of control.  He is a moderate Democrat with a bellicose foreign policy, and Romney’s hard right turn in this election makes him out of the question for me.

It’s pretty nice, huh?  Having nothing really at stake in this election?  It’s nice to be able to sit this one out.  I mean, as Straight dudes, it’s not like we have to worry about our rights to visit our partner in the hospital when visiting hours are for family members only.  As men, we don’t have to worry about our reproductive rights and our bodily autonomy being under attack at both the federal and state level.  As White folks, we don’t have to worry about about how the unemployment rate for our people is twice the national average (even if ours DOES sit close to 8%).  As folks with wealthy parents, we probably don’t have to fret too much about the exploding poverty rates or the inherent link between violence and concentrated poverty.  It sure is nice to be able bodied and of to live without serious mental disability, for those cuts to medicaid would surely hurt.  It’s nice to have been born in the U.S., so we don’t have to worry about the INS busting down our doors and holding us indefinitely before deporting us from the only home we’ve ever really known.

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Guest Post: What are YOU Doing to Prevent Suicide?

This week’s post is from a guest author!  I love highlighting the ways that amazing and inspiring young people are attempting to change their world, and this week’s post comes from one of those phenomenal young people.

Rachel O’Grady is a junior at St. Ignatius College Prep, in Chicago, Il. She plays basketball, actively participates in Model United Nations and is attempting to gain 100 service hours by next June.

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Two weeks ago, one of my friends texted me the following words: “Suicide scares the sh** out of me.” My immediate response: Well, of course it does. Taking your own life should scare you. One week later, we both received an email from our school, disclosing that one of the seniors had killed himself. Minutes after receiving the email, my friend texted me again “Remember what I said about suicide?” I went back to the email, and re-read it. It hung on my screen for nearly twenty minutes as I re-read the eerie, haunting truth, over and over again. Nearly shaking, and still crying, despite my lack of a close relationship with the student, I responded to my friend’s text: “But it’s real.”

Suicide isn’t something that teenagers can’t grasp. It’s all over the news and it’s become somewhat of a phenomenon on television and in popular culture. It’s not something foreign to many- most have heard of the “It Gets Better” videos, perhaps they know someone who has taken their own life, or maybe they’ve thought of the possibility themselves. It’s not an alien concept. It’s looked upon as cowardly, dumb, even immoral. It’s tragic, and as my friend so eloquently put, it’s scary.

Despite all of that, however, one of the leading causes of death in the modern teenage global community is suicide. Think about that for a moment. According to some sources, you are more likely to kill yourself than to be killed by another person. The leading cause of death for Lesbian and Gay teens is suicide. This birthed the infamous “It Gets Better” videos, featuring celebrities and normal folks professing to the millions that being gay is hard because of they way Lesbian and Gay teenagers are often treated – but it does get better. The verbal harassment that happens to 85% of LGBT students does end eventually. The physical abuse that happens to a whopping 40% of LGBT students does taper off.

The reality is, however, that the words stick. The bruises and scars may not fade, but this is the antithesis of a great high school or college experience. Not surprisingly, teens are still killing themselves. It obviously does not get better fast enough. How sad, desperate, or lonely do you have to be to want to take your own life? How unwanted, bullied, or depressed do you have to feel to change yours and others lives forever? Being a teen is hard. I don’t care if you’re a parent, a teacher, a mentor, anyone – you cannot deny being a teenager is tough work. We have eighty million things to worry about on any given day. Just school alone can yield a whole variety of stress, from the impossible homework to the sudden pop quiz or upcoming ominous test. On top of that, you have extra curriculars or a part time job, which include the pressure to perform every day. And then there’s college. The unavoidable, scary idea of ACT courses, graduating, leaving the place you grew up, and eventually being pushed into the “real world”, despite how prepared or not we are.

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