Anyone who reads this blog can rather easily come to the conclusion that I oppose violence against women and that I support women’s full equality with men. In my writing I advocate for the rights of women, and for the safety of children. So of course this makes me one of the good guys, right? Because, after all, any guy who says all of this great stuff simply must be on the side of the angels. He must be a guy we should all feel totally safe with and have utter faith in. We should even trust him with our kids. Right?
“A lot of work to be done.” A few years ago I attended a talk that was supposed to be about the “third world feminisms” that were emerging in the townships in post-apartheid South Africa. When the presenter walked in, I was surprised to see that he was in fact a he – and that he was in fact a white guy from the USA. As the man spoke, he referred to the African National Congress as being made up of “petit bourgeoisie,” and I got a pretty good sense of his political orientation.
(special thanks to Laura Duvall for sending this song and video my way)
One day this summer I was sitting on the beach watching groups of young men walk up and down the shore. They followed a rigid heterosexual masculine script, strutting along arrogantly, glaring angrily at other groups of men, and eyeing women with undisguised lust.
As I wrote in a previous post, the media these past weeks has been repeatedly playing taped phone conversations where the famous actor/director/producer Mel Gibson can be heard ranting at his ex-partner Oksana Grigorieva. He threatens to bury Grigorieva “in a rose garden,” and the tapes seem to prove that Gibson hit Grigorieva in the face hard enough to damage her teeth – while she was holding their baby in her arms. His rants are full of racist and misogynist slurs, and one of his favourite words seems to be c***.
(This post explores the links between mental illness and abuse. The convoluted link between anger and abuse will be explored in a later post.)
I knew Lucas* to be a great guy. He is popular. Funny. Extremely bright. Totally sweet. Actively involved in civil rights and social justice work. So it was a great pleasure to see him when he stopped by my office one day at the supervised child visitation centre I was running. He asked a whole bunch of questions about the work we did there, and about dealing with the abusive men who were our clients.
“Wow, it’s quite a program you’ve got here, Bill,” he said after I gave him a tour.
“Thanks! How are things going with you?”
You need to calm down.
How many times have we all heard these phrases – and even used them ourselves? We in North America are pretty good at keeping things dispassionate. And when people begin to express themselves using strong emotions, we work to shut those people down. To bring them back to “sanity.” To push them back toward “balance."
( As always this can be seen in the original context here )
One of the few 'traditionally' masculine and predominantly homosocial activities I engage in, and have (on and off) for many years, is martial arts/self-defence - and I've found it really interesting and surprising in terms of engagement with masculinity.
( As always this can be seen in the original context, and with he original comment threads of critical masculinities blog here )