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18 March 2011 @ 11:38 pm
Byron Hurt: Why I Am A Black Male Feminist  
If you care about domestic violence, violence against women, and gender equality, this is a must-read: Why I Am a Male Feminist


When I met with Katz, I didn't realize that the project was a domestic violence prevention program. Had I known that, I wouldn't have gone in for the job interview.

So when Katz explained that they were looking to hire a man to help institutionalize curricula about preventing gender violence at high schools and colleges around the country, I almost walked out the door. But during my interview, Katz asked me an interesting question. "Byron, how does African-American men's violence against African-American women uplift the African-American community?"

No one had ever asked me that question before. As an African-American man who was deeply concerned about race issues, I had never given much thought about how emotional abuse, battering, sexual assault, street harassment and rape could affect an entire community, just as racism does.

The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: "Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?"

Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, "Nothing." Then Katz asked the women, "What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?" Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:

"I don't make eye contact with men when I walk down the street," said one.
"I don't put my drink down at parties," said another.
"I use the buddy system when I go to parties."
"I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction."
"I use my keys as a potential weapon."

The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men's side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life -- including my mother, sister and girlfriend -- and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender.

Of course I should add that men are sexually assaulted, most often by other men. Perhaps it doesn't happen as often, or perhaps so few talk about it that they have a false sense of security. Nevertheless, it doesn't affect their lives and thoughts to the extent that it does ours. Byron begins with a description of the power dynamics in his own home, which wasn't overtly violent but in which his father always had the final word by virtue of size and strength and unspoken threats.

You can follow Byron on Facebook.
carmy_w: CoExistcarmy_w on March 19th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
This excerpt was a good read.
I can't decide if I want it to end up on ONTD-Feminism or not....
Tapatitapati on March 22nd, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
carmy_wcarmy_w on March 22nd, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
It's a discussion group here on LJ. It means "Oh No They Didn't." There is what is called the parent group, or the mothership (lol), ONTD itself, then there are several offshoots. Mostly snarky; sometimes they blow up in a lot of wank; they're fairly well moderated, so the trolls are kept to a minimum, and the mods follow the rules very nearly religiously, so if you want to join, read the rules, then lurk for a bit. I'm a member of ONTD-F and also ONTD-Political.

I have a bit of a problem with some people's idea of helping the oppressed, I guess. Or of being oppressed and getting/accepting help.

I always figured that if you saw someone being mistreated, do something to stop the mistreatment. It doesn't matter if they are the same gender, the same perceived gender, the same color, the same sexual preference; just do something to stop the mistreatment.
Some people on ONTD-F and also on ONTD-Political feel that if you aren't in the same minority category as the person being mistreated, sit back & wait till someone of their same category comes along (emergency situations excepted, that is).
I think this is a bad idea for two reasons. One, if the oppressed minority are the only ones protesting, etc., nothing is going to change, simply because it's a minority. Two-it falls back on that saying-
"When they came for the homosexuals, I didn't protest, because I wasn't homosexual;
when they came for the disabled, I didn't protest, because I wasn't disabled;
when they came for the Jews, I didn't protest, because I wasn't a Jew;
when they came for me, there was no one left to protest."

To me, any sort of discrimination is wrong, regardless of whether it affects me or not. Just because I'm a WASP, straight woman doesn't mean I can't empathize with the multitudes outside my zone.

I just get tired of the chips on their shoulders after a while.

And now that I've written a dissertation, I'll shut up! LOL!
Long way around the sun: L--Lollipopvisualsyntax on March 19th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
I'd think that not making eye contact with men is worse than learning how to look at them dismissively.

I tend to do that. I also turn around and lean against a building if a man is walking behind me and I'm alone.
Tapatitapati on March 22nd, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)

I've heard that your head should be up and you should look assertive/aggressive rather than passive and maybe scared. Though it SUCKS big time that we have to worry about that crap. No wandering around lost in thought if you're a woman.

Leaning against a building is a good way to sort out the dangerous/ill intentioned from the guys who just happen to be walking the same direction. Good to know. Plus they can't get the drop on you.