A new resource is now available in Washington, DC for survivors of Sexual Assault and friends of survivors. UASK DC is an App for iPhones and Android smartphones that was built as a joint project of Men Can Stop Rape and the DC office of victim services. It is available on the App Store and Google Play.
On Tuesday, NCAA football hall of famer and male feminist activist Don McPherson came to speak at my school, American University, as the kickoff event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The event was a resounding success, largely due in part to the fact that all members of varsity sports teams, fraternities and sororities were mandated to come to the event. Because many of these students would not usually turn out to an event featuring a male feminist speaker, the mandate allowed so many more students to hear McPherson’s message than usually would. And while not everyone probably came away as inspired as I was, my hope is that those who may have never thought critically about Masculinity may start to.
I want to elaborate upon some important and points McPherson made that I think are important to share with everyone.
I recently read a great post titled You Didn’t Thank Me for Punching You in the Face on the blog Views from the Couch. It centered around the societal notion that elementary school age boys pick on and sometimes violently assault girls because they secretly have a crush on them and cannot find any better way to express that than through violence.
Why do we tell girls that it is okay for boys to hit, tease, pinch, and generally torment them because “oh, that just means he likes you”? Why do we allow such behavior from boys, which no doubt fosters some sort of ingrained notion that it is okay to treat women poorly? It is no wonder that our society has such a problem with domestic violence when from such an early age with our own children; we are teaching boys that it is okay to hit girls if they “like” them and we are teaching girls that they should put up with the disrespect and abuse because it is actually a compliment.
We need to start changing the way we as a society respond to playground violence. If we are going to make the transition from a society ruled by misogyny and machismo to a society where violence of all sorts is not tolerated, especially violence within relationships. We need to stop ingraining systemic violence within our own young children.
Of course, this isn’t the only place in society where we reward (or at least, do not criticize) men’s violence against women. Just look at last Sunday’s Grammy awards, where Chris Brown, who hasn’t appeared at the Grammys since he assaulted his then-girlfriend Rihanna three years ago, not only performed, but was also awarded best R&B album for this past year. While there was a significant backlash against his appearance on Twitter, his response at the Staples Center where the Grammys physically took place was warm. The executive director of the Grammys, in response to criticism, was quoted in the Washington Post: “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years, and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.” Personally, I think there is a very big difference between getting a second chance and only being sentenced to five years probation and being recognized and awarded as a musician. The Grammys, just like all of us, need to think about the messages we are sending to young people in our society over what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to domestic violence.
An article posted on the music news website NME reported that Jay-Z has vowed to stop using the word ‘bitch’ in his songs. The article reported that he made the vow in a poem he wrote to his newborn daughter, Blue Ivy. Looking at how widely used misogynistic language is within Hip-Hop and Jay-Z’s high profile within the world of Hip-Hop and pop culture, this is huge.
A debate started on the Internet about two months ago on the website The Good Men Project. While I am not going to go into the specific details of the argument (a summary of which can be found here), I want to talk about some points brought up that I think are especially relevant to male feminists.