2018, feminism

Man to Man: What Men Can Do

In the aftermath of the 2018 Golden Globes, where women (verbally and sartorially) expressed their anger, hope and sadness surrounding the #MeToo campaign and the Time’s Up fund, there was a lot of criticism leveled at the male celebrities who, besides wearing “Time’s Up” pins, were noticeably silent.

Some men offered the explanation that they wanted to give the platform to women; they did not want to overshadow women; they did not want to mansplain. But what men don’t understand is that they, we, can use our various platforms to educate and call out other men to be better friends, allies, lovers and peers. We cannot, and should not, expect women to change an entire culture single-handedly.

So here are some things that I, as a man, think other men can do to express support.

1). If you hear something, say something:

Harassment takes a lot of forms. It can be sexual, workplace, verbal, nonverbal. It doesn’t even have to take place in front of women. If you’re with your male friends, and they’re speaking inappropriately, condescendingly or rudely about a woman or girl, say something. We have access to spaces that women sometimes don’t, and, unfortunately, we can have undue influence over other men simply because of our gender. So if you hear something inappropriate, your silence is a sin of omission. It doesn’t matter if you did not say anything. By saying nothing, you’re cosigning their action.

2). Listen:

Men are born with such levels of privilege that we are often unaware of how much it plays into our everyday life. If a woman, person of color or gender-nonconforming person tells you something, just listen. You don’t have to fully understand why it’s upsetting, but you have to acknowledge that it’s upsetting to them. There are certain things I’ve experienced as a queer person that, when complaining to heterosexual friends, didn’t seem to cross that boundary. Don’t minimize or attempt to explain away. Just because it doesn’t happen to you doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all.

3). Seek consent:

This applies in a major way to sex. Seek constant, enthusiastic consent. Consent is not a one-and-done thing; keep asking, keep making sure that your partner is actively consenting to whatever you’re doing.

4). Understand your own language:

This in particular can be applied to gay men, and especially white gay men. We are oftentimes guilty of being misogynistic towards women. It might fall under the radar or be explained away by “cattiness” or “sass.” But being gay does not give you a pass to demean, disrespect or condescend women. Any man calling a woman a “bitch,” “slut,” or “cunt” is being misogynist, regardless of his sexuality.

5). Don’t cosign gendered behavior:

It’s easy to fall into gender tropes, and to pass those along to children can be incredibly damaging. It might be as small as complimenting a little girl on her clothing, but saying how “tough” a little boy is. Avoid romanticizing kids (i.e. “Is that your boyfriend/girlfriend?”). They’re kids, dude. Allow boys to be vulnerable; let them express their emotions. If we teach boys to suppress their emotions, say that being emotional is feminizing, or urge them to be “big boys,” what we’re really saying is, “You don’t deserve to have emotions.” That pain, sadness and anger comes out regardless, and can be leveraged against women and girls.

6). Promote women:

Look at your Twitter timeline. Is it all men? Is it all white? Starting small, like following people of different genders, races, socioeconomic statuses and political affiliations, can fundamentally change the way you think by exposing you to different perspectives. Read the work of women; retweet them; highlight them amongst friends.

7). Confront your own thinking:

There was a time when I realized that I was uncomfortable at the sight of my female friend’s nipples poking through her shirt. I ignored it for a while, until it came up in conversation and we talked about it. Even as you actively try to be feminist, you grew up in a society that suppresses female sexuality. It’s okay; we all did. Understanding why things make you uncomfortable does not make you a bad person. It means accepting that we all have been damaged by our upbringings; it means that, once recognized, we can change our thinking. Try to understand why you think something; analyze whether that’s valid or not; adapt accordingly.

Understand that, consciously or not, you have probably participated in harassment of women. Understand that, and work to change it.

I’m ending with the closing paragraph of an article Roxane Gay, a celebrated feminist, author, writer, and social commentator, wrote for the New York Times on October 19, 2017:

“Men can start putting in some of the work women have long done in offering testimony. They can come forward and say “me too” while sharing how they have hurt women in ways great and small…It’s time for men to start answering for themselves because women cannot possibly solve this problem they had no hand in creating.”


Below is a list of women that I follow on Twitter whose work, opinions and writing inspires me, challenges me and calls to me. If there is a woman who you think I should be following, please let me know!

Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for the New York Times

Roxane Gay, professor, writer, author

Patti Harrison, comedian

Janet Mock, writer, producer, activist

Evette Dionne, writer, editor

Parker Molloy, writer

Ashley Nicole Black, comedian, television correspondent

Celeste Yim, comedian

Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor for Washington Post

Ijeoma Oluo, Editor-at-Large of The Establishment

Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator

Erin Gibson, writer, comedian, podcaster

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2018, celebrity, Movies, pop culture, social media

2018 GOLDEN GLOBES: MEN, WE NEED TO BE DOING BETTER

Header source: MIKE NELSON/EPA-EFE via USA Today


Last night was the 2018 Golden Globes. I did not watch, but *shocker* I have opinions.

While scrolling through Twitter because Keeping Up with the Kardashians was boring – if it’s not a pregnancy confirmation, I’m rapidly losing interest – I saw that Greta Gerwig, the writer and director of Lady Bird, was snubbed for a Best Director nomination. One could always make the argument, “Oh maybe she wasn’t the best director?” which would be valid if not for the fact that she was nominated for Best Screenplay and Lady Bird was nominated, and won, for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Saorise Ronan, the actress portraying the lead character in the film, was nominated, and won, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Laurie Metcalf was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture.

Sis, Saorise Ronan won when nominated against Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Margot Robbie and Emma Stone. And while Saorise Ronan is an incredible actress, she was directed by an incredible woman – Greta Gerwig.

There are a lot of reasons why I’m upset that Greta Gerwig wasn’t nominated. Lady Bird was an incredibly beautiful, and personally moving, film. It portrayed Catholicism and high school and youth and parental relations in a way that felt seen, not dumbed down, and funny.

In fact, despite directing passionate, beautiful and interesting films – Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Dee Rees’ Mudbound (the latter of which Mary J. Blige was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture) – Gerwig and other female directors were not even nominated in that category. Instead, the list of nominees for Best Director were entirely male and entirely white.

Again, you could make the argument that the nominations were based on merit – these are all incredibly talented nominees. But, hon, you’d be wrong. How can a film win Best Picture if it had an awful director and writer? How can a woman win Best Actress if she were not guided by an amazing director?

Natalie Portman remarked on the inequity while presenting the award for Best Director. “And here are the all-male nominees,” she said.

And here’s the thing: this is not the moment to be snubbing talented female directors, and it belies the troubling nature of Hollywood. Sexual abuse, harassment and assault was rampant in the entertainment industry – it is not limited to that industry; harassers and abusers plague every work industry – but Hollywood is quick to applaud their own action. Men wore “Time’s Up” pins on their tuxedoes; Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic replaced their “Who are you wearing” with “Why are you wearing black?” But that’s a lot like politicians offering up “Thoughts and prayers” after tragedies. What we want is action; we want reaction; we want laws and retribution. There were sexual predators, assaulters and abusers in that crowd; some of them probably even received awards. We’re not ~done~ with this movement, and I don’t think we will be done for a long time.

There were highs of the night: women like Debra Messing and Eva Longoria mentioned Catt Sadler’s pay inequality. Seth Meyers, as much as a white, straight man on NBC’s payroll could, addressed the fact that this is the first awards show after the massive saying of names.

Oprah received the Cecil B. DeMille award and gave a speech that touched upon sexual assault, the heartbreaking way it affects black women and women of color in particular – she told the story of Recy Taylor, a black woman who was raped and who Rosa Parks investigated on behalf on; Recy’s white assaulters were never charged. “She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

It’s frustrating to see that women are shouldering the burden of reminding us about sexual harassment and assault and urging us to act. It’s frustrating to see that more men have not stepped up to the plate. This culture of harassment, misogyny and sexual abuse was allowed to continue entirely because of the passivity of men. They, we, need to be doing more. We need to be stepping up and showing that we do not co-sign the actions of men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. We need to be doing more, and I hope that we will.

“In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome,” said Oprah in her speech.

“I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again.”

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