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?
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.
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?
No words. Just take a look at this site.
(Once you’re on the site, click at the bottom of the page or scroll down to get to the next picture and story)
A clip went out over the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity listserv the other day. It is a video by Levni Yilmaz from his YouTube channel Tales of Mere Existence. I had never seen any of Yilmaz’s material before and was really impressed by the quality and content of the clips. He has a great style that involves deadpan humor mixed with existential issues. I found several clips that would be great discussion starters when working with or teaching about men’s issues and masculinities. Of the few clips I have watched, Yilmaz addressed being a boyfriend, the evolution of his relationship with his father, the grief and loss that follows a breakup, how he learned about girls, and messages about masculinity.
The particular clip that went out over the listserv was his How to be a man? clip below. Two lines from the clip that struck me are:
- A real should be able to close one eye, look at the position of the sun and be able to tell you what time it is
- So far being a man doesn’t feel much different from being an old kid
Click Read More for more clips from Tales of Mere Existence and a brief exercise about societal definitions about masculinity.
There was a flurry of pieces about fatherhood flying around the Internet and on TV over the past weekend. With Father’s Day over, don’t expect to see that much about fathers in the news for a while. However, for those of you who want to get more information and resources about fathers throughout the rest of the year, check out a U.S. government website called Fatherhood.gov. Fatherhood.gov is hosted through the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There are numerous policy, research and media resources on the website as well as links to fatherhood initiatives by state. One of the purposes of the initiative is to provide resources and initiatives to bring fathers together across the country and share their stories. Click on the picture below to read about Iowa’s responsible fatherhood initiatives.
Below is a video hosted on the homepage of Fatherhood.gov from President Barack Obama about fathers.
The Real MEN’s Project had a photo contest that asked for father’s to submit photography of them with their child(ren). Besides the standard contest rules, each father who submitted a photo made the following pledge:
I will not commit, condone, or be silent about domestic or sexual violence.
I will teach my children and model healthy, nonviolent relationships.
I will use my words and my actions to convey to all boys and all men in my life:
Real men don’t hit. Real men don’t rape.
Check out the photo gallery here. I love photo exhibits that portray men in authentic and intimate relationships with other individuals in their lives.
We spend so much time talking about the unhealthy aspects of masculinity, that we rarely talk about what healthy masculinity looks like. There are so many examples of negative behavior and attitudes in the media, and I often struggle for examples to hold up as positive.
Dick Hoyt sets quite an example in terms of strength, love, commitment and fatherhood. Together father and son, Dick and Rick Hoyt, have completed over a 1,000 races including 6 Ironman competitions. However in childhood, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, which means that Dick pushes, pulls and carries Rick during each and every race.
You don’t have to be a father who runs triathlons to be a real man. But you can be a mentor and example for others every single day. You can live by example. There are so many young men and boys that could use someone to take the time and help show them the way. If they don’t have good men in their lives, there are plenty of examples of bad men out there for them to emulate. Find ways in your own life to show love, care and commitment. Take the time to push, pull and sometimes carry others in their journey.
Want to learn how to get involved? MAC Mentors is a good first step.
Thanks to Paul from West High for letting us know about the Hoyts. Check out Team Hoyt’s website for more information about this incredible team.