About Me

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Grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland. My time now is mostly spent getting better at being a person, refining my time management skills, trying to read normal people books and articles, and learning how to be a force for good.

T1D Life in full effect. 

I will never stop learning, nor will I stop working to make a difference for someone.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An interesting discussion on feminist activism and push-back from the privileged

Hugo Schwyzer discusses the Good Man Project's decision to not publish a column he wrote in response to a post by the project's founder, which inspired a Twitter back-and-forth. The links to the Twitter conversation are available on Schwyzer's blog linked above and some background story which I'll post here: Serious Discussion is not wrathThe Wrath of Feminists, and As Equals and as Friends. The discussion surrounding male privilege and dominance is one we must continue having, especially if the founder of a project aimed at contributing to this discussion is terrified of facing backlash for being an asshole.

I commented on Schwyzer's blog, but here's my take and let me know yours.

This issue, as with other vital social issues like it (racial privilege and anti-racism, gender privilege and gendered understanding, sexuality and human rights) are all centered on choosing to take responsibility. Guilt is only helpful if one feels guilty about things they have specifically done. Responsibility is about taking a stand and taking ownership of something that harms many and privileges others. As a straight white male, I enjoy so much unearned privilege, and at times I do feel guilty for not doing more.

I decide, each day, to take responsibility for making a more equitable and equal society for my community, for my important people, and for myself. This inevitably involves accepting criticism, and I choose to accept it as someone with privilege and social power that I have not explicitly earned through meritorious work. Criticism for me is always helpful, even if it comes with barbs aimed at my ego; especially with barbs aimed at my ego. I appreciate the humility that criticism of my social location provides, and I do not see disagreement with my current viewpoint as an attack. It is an opportunity to become more aware and more responsible.

Fear is powerful, and as a male in a western society, I feel the fear of losing privileges that I have enjoyed; however, that fear is wholly set aside when I envision a future of understanding and true integration of every person, whether previously privileged or not. If I’m not willing to talk about my own life, and if I am not willing to tell my own ego to take a hike, I am not taking responsibility for making equity a goal, and that is unacceptable to me. Talking about how men are victimized is important, but the central concept here is that feminism allows for a critical look at social and societal inequalities of all kinds, and my social location gives me the ability to choose to pay attention, which in itself describes social privilege perfectly.

Not running this piece smells bad. If it doesn’t fit with a brand, that’s capitalism at its finest and completely within the rights of a publisher to decide. Given that, if the mission of a movement is to allow for a ‘lifting up of the rug’ on what we can do to make our communities and society more just, marketing should be the last thing on a publisher’s mind, as should the ego of a man unwilling to accept criticism for his privileged social location.

Update 10/30/13:
Yes, I'm well aware of Schwyzer's meltdown, and subsequent obvious lack of integrity, honesty, and full-hearted bullshittedness. He's a jackass, I'm aware. His work was fairly good; his self-absorbed crap was tough to watch happen, and really lacked much of what many of us yearn for in good faith male feminist leadership. That said, while I do hope he tends to his shitshow in fucking public silence as decency dictates, I hope that those of us who are really working to act as positive forces continue to do so. Fuck his bullshit; I'm still going to advocate for us guys with shit-tons of privilege using that privilege as leverage against the, "we don't need feminism anymore." And those of you saying crap like, "feminism is a mistake, let the good times roll," up yours. You're full of it, and you know it.