While I was in college I spent a fair amount of time talking about the "men's movement". Essentially that comprised if the understanding that men, together and all had to begin examining their role in society. It sounds so uber intellectual now but at the time me and a very cool circle of guys were very serious about it.
Primarily our number one activity was putting on a white ribbon campaign. This was an import from Canada where men took a pledge of non-violence and standing up for women's rights. We would ask fellow men to take the pledge with us and wear a white ribbon. This was a big deal and I found the hardest part of the work talking to fellow men. "do you take a pledge of non-violence in support of women and stand for their equal rights." there was always some guys who would come right up to the counter and turn at that. "no way," or "sorry, all that PC stuff is shite."
In the end, that was a lot of men talking about their privilege and saying. "Nah, I'm not interested in recognizing it." We're talking violence here--not some damn pledge to join NOW. It's the resistance that I remember very well, the disdain and the way another man can make you feel for supporting women's rights. Such BS now when I think about it.
I did that for four years, organize that in the spring. In the fall I did acquaintance rape prevention workshops. I had a really good friend in college that was a cool guy, I mean he sort of embodied cool, ex-Lax player, New Jersey swagger with rings in his fingers. Obviously just didn't give an F. Well the two of us would sit in frosh dorms with this crew of dudes and break down what acquaintance rape meant. We walked them through scenarios. A woman had this much to drink, and you wind back here. You're both black out drunk and things are happening. That sort of thing. I'd helped write the skits and think they were my first writing that blended social activism with creative writing. The guys were a mixed bag. Freshmen full of themselves and mostly scared. I can say that now. Scared. I didn't blame them, many were single and away from home for the first time, their privilege was all they had. There were lots of jokes at first but when they could tell we weren't joking and took the discussion seriously we would end up changing their minds. Jeff and I had female friend's who had been raped and if we could bring our reality to their world we might change some lives.
It has been a while since I have taken to this work. Speaking openly about the fact that men need to stand up together and fight sexism. To the work of recognizing their privilege in society.
This is what today was about. Leslie and I talked over lunch for hours about how to change the system. How to continue this work when we get back to the states. One thing for sure, the skills I learned years ago are essential today.
Location:Day 4 - Daughters of Cambodia trip