Hats off to Dr. Boyce Watkins for his commentary on Jay-Z banning b$tch from his linguistic repertoire. The decision came after the birth of Jay and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy. The rapper has received well-deserved criticism regarding his decision and he should. However, virtually nothing was said a few years ago when Hov rapped “when the Jena 6 don’t exist…thats when I’ll stop sayin’ bitch…BITCH!!!” (from “Say Hello” on American Gangsta). Hov takes an aggressively masculine tone, separating gender from racial oppression. His view of race is decidedly masculine with little, if any, investment in black women. I don’t like that it took one of my favorite rappers this long to get his act together. Nor do I like that it took his daughter being born for him to make the decision. At the end of the day, though, I’m glad that Blue Ivy inspired Jay to change. For any parents reading this, I’m sure that the birth of your little one(s) made you think twice about your values too, right?
What concerns me more than Jay’s actions are the millions of fans that buy (or download) his music while blindly accepting the warped gender dynamics reinforced in his songs. These are the people who, on a daily basis, are presented with opportunities to shift the power dynamics that Daddy Hov fears his daughter will have to confront.
Facebookers (myself included) are “liking” Prof. Watkins’ post as if doing so delivers a death blow to gender oppression. Newsflash!!! It doesn’t. And that means we have work to do. Gender oppression extends far beyond saying b&%@! As I climb off my soapbox, please indulge me by educating yourself on gender oppression and gender equality. Here are a few websites and videos to get you started:
Stop Street Harassment
Men Can Stop Rape
Stop Sexist Remarks
Miss Representation (2011)
Then put this newly-acquired knowledge into practice! Look for groups/organizations in your area that fight gender oppression. If one doesn’t exist, start one. There are also online initiatives that you can get involved in. You can contribute to a blog and spread awareness online. You can create art that educates us on this issue. You can create an app that supports gender justice. The possibilities are endless!
It is easy to sit back and critique Jay-Z without being self-reflexive. However, we perpetuate and/or survive gender oppression every…single…day. Now is the time to change the game. What are you going to do?
Happy Father’s Day! I’m not going to write up anything long or in-depth. I just wanted to send a thanks out to all of the men in our community and around the world you have been positive and healthy role models and mentors for the partners, children and friends in their lives. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my father. I still seek him out when I need advice or support. I couldn’t have asked for a better father or friend. Take a look at The Good Men’s Project photo essay below titled “What does ‘Dad’ mean to you?”
If you haven’t got enough father stuff today and you’re feeling up for a good cry, check out a post from last year called Days with My Father by Phillip Toledano.
Check out the video below of Abe Becker performing his powerful piece, Dad’s Poem, for the Men’s Story Project. I love me some Men’s Story Project and I am always moved by their brilliance and passion. I hope that more of us can get behind their mission. To strengthen social norms that support healthy masculinities and gender equality, and to help eliminate gender-based violence, homophobia and other oppressions that are intertwined with masculinities, through ongoing events of men´s public story-sharing and community dialogue.
Check out the powerful video below from Tony Porter speaking at TED. I saw Tony speak at a CALCASA Training institute this summer in Las Vegas, but didn’t get a chance to hear some of the stories he tells in this video. As some of you may know, Tony is the cofounder of the national group A Call to Men who strive to engage men in actively ending violence against women through examining unhealthy and healthy aspects of masculinity. Click here to visit Tony’s page on TED’s website.
I appreciate the bystander intervention model that we use at the Men’s Anti-Violence Council because instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t do, it actually teaches bystanders skills to intervene and be helpful. I believe that teaching people what to do is often more engaging and beneficial than simply listing all of the things that they should avoid.
That is one of the many reasons that I love the list Derek Markham posted over at The Good Men Project on 100 Ways To Be a Good Father. What a great list of things that you can actually do to be a positive role model and create a meaningful relationship with your children and partner. I won’t reproduce the entire list. Click the link for that. However, I’ve listed some of my favorites are below:
- Laugh at yourself. Regularly.
- Teach a new dad what you’ve learned so far.
- Once in a while, ask your kids what you can do better. Then do it better.
- Hugs and kisses are golden. Be generous.
- Remember that everyone is someone’s child.
- Unplug the TV and pretend it’s broken once in a while. Or hide it.
- Get down on their level and try to see things as they do. Chances are, you’ve forgotten what it’s like.
- Remember, they’re never too old for piggyback rides.
- Stand up for the weak, the oppressed, the underdog.
You don’t have to be a father to be a positive role model. Behave as if you have an audience, because you probably do. Be active and vocal about important issues. Change doesn’t happen when good people remain silent. Refuse to “mind your own business.” Would you want someone treating or talking about a member of your family like that?