Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Men's Story Project: Tonight

Men's stories? Isn't that uh, already kinda the standard, one might ask. The Men's Story Project is ongoing and evolving show has a different agenda. Peep this multidisciplinary event that explores male strength, manhood and masculinity in ways that are rarely modeled. Topics include creation of a historic gang truce; friendship between men; homophobia and pride; gender identity; forgiveness; images of African American masculinity; men's public restroom rituals; healing from partner violence and sexual assault; relationships with fathers and other family members; disability & sexuality and much more. Last show... tonite!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"My Son Is Gay. Or He's Not."

Amazing blogpost written by Nerdy Apple Bottom, documenting all of the issues that arose because her 5 year-old son dressed up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. If you've ever doubted that love is revolutionary, read the account of a mother who loves bravely and fearlessly. A must read!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Usher's New Song "Lay You Down": New Date Rape Anthem?

hello everyone, its been a looooong time. Been going through many changes. Will be stepping back up more with blog duties. Apologies for the hiatus, though apparently i needed to step back and grow some more before writing more.

This new Usher song was brought to my attention, so i YouTubed it, and was slapped in the face by these lyrics:

"i'll show you what love is if you let me lay you down... you ain't goin nowhere, nowhere, nowhere girl, not until you let me lay you down"

"i'll make your body come to me, pull you back when you try to run baby"


I am furious, saddened, and frustrated with all the patriarchal elements that come together and make it permissible to put this kind of message out there. Whether Usher's intentions are consciously aligned with the danger of this message, no one can say, but for sure... this is a song about a man disregarding a woman's clear message of non-consent, and forcing her into a sexual situation against her will, under the guise of "love". This is a song about a man who has decided that because his "love" is so sublime, he has made the decision for both people involved around what has to go down. This is a song about rape.

I have already seen a man react defensively to this notion, minimizing the impact of the content of this song. I am hoping that some men will be able to speak to this non-defensively as well. This is a seductive song, done by a talented and loved man to a catchy beat. That makes this song very powerful. It glamorizes this behavior. Our young boys take this in, want to be cool, and if they are straight, want to be loved by girls.

As a young boy, i was one of the "sensitive" ones who had crushes that often never materialized into anything more than jokes and longing looks. My female friends assured me that i was special, and that someone would be lucky to have me. I imagined that i had so much love to give. I imagine some other young boy going through a similar situation, body wracked by hormones, longing for connection with one of his crushes... a boy who may be inspired to step up his "game" when he sees how a respected "pro" does it. And of course I fear the impact this may have on our girls too, as this glamorizes them being targets for unwanted attention and straight up sexual violence. Not only girls, but women, as it isn't just pubescent boys and girls influenced by this song. And for that matter, women are perps against other women too- but lets not get it twisted, cuz as serious as woman-to-woman abuse is, the stats of man-to-woman abuse is just waaaaay more off the charts.

Some may still dispute, saying that its ridiculous to say that "this song will make people go out and rape". In a rape culture (a culture that portrays sexual violence as sexy, permissible, and sometimes even funny) we are bombarded with messages that glamorize rape, and turn girls and women into objects for male gratification. It is more accurate to say that I fear the impact this song will have as another contribution to an already huge, toxic stockpile of images and messages that either subtly, or outrightly condone rape.

I am sure that any man who has a daughter (or wants to) would get chills at the idea of some young man taking her out on a date, then putting the powerlock on the car doors while crooning "you ain't going nowhere, nowhere..."

Our boys need messages around healthy dating and healthy loving. About respecting the autonomy and humanity of others. Girls do too. And boys especially need messages that manhood does not rest on ones ability to use aggressive physical force. Being a good nurturing father, creatively expressive, in touch with ones feelings and unashamed to express them, and having courage to speak up when something not wrong is going down (especially if all the other boys are going in on something not cool) are just some positive examples of expressing manhood.

I don't have a solution around the whole issue of this song being out there. I am not convinced boycotting is the answer, seeing how that hasn't been so effective with dancehall artists around homophobia. I am wondering what could really cause lasting change. At this point, my fantasy is that Usher would have a televised forum where we talk about this is in a workshop around masculinity, responsibility, gendered violence and sexism, and that after a transformative event, Usher changes the words to something like "we can go anywhere, anywhere, anywhere as long as you want to" or something. What ideas do you have?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On This Last Day Of Women's Herstory Month...

hello all! its been a minute. been the busiest i've maybe ever been, building, building, building. Its a good thing.

I kept coming across things i wanted to post, and i knew i wanted to post at least some of em before the month was over. Of course, awareness of gender continues throughout the year, but i wanted to share some thoughts and salutes... so here are several items of interest:


Please Sponsor Me In The San Francisco Walk Against Rape!

This will be my 3rd year of walking the San Francisco Walk Against Rape, and each year folks have just floored me with how generous they are, and how passionate they are about this cause. I'm hoping that you can donate anything at all towards supporting essential services for survivors in San Francisco's only community run crisis center. Click here to go to my fundraising page. Click here for reports from previous walks. It has always been a powerful and beautiful experience. Thanks in advance for any support!


Only The Congolese Will Initiate And Bring Change To The D.R. Congo

a sobering message from the women of DRC; a powerful stance on their humanity, and being tired of being seen as victims by the world, as opposed to being seen as some of the strongest and most resilient women in the world. They also state that if things are gonna change, its gonna have to be on their terms, not the terms of well intentioned people who are not from DRC. Real talk.


The Crunk Feminist Collective: Where Crunk Meets Conscious And Feminism Meets Cool

Just wanted to shout out this hot new blog! Nuff props. If I may share some of their mission statement:

The Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) will create a space of support and camaraderie for hip hop generation feminists of color, queer and straight, in the academy and without, by building a rhetorical community, in which we can discuss our ideas, express our crunk feminist selves, fellowship with one another, debate and challenge one another, and support each other, as we struggle together to articulate our feminist goals, ideas, visions, and dreams in ways that are both personally and professionally beneficial.

The CFC aims to articulate a crunk feminist consciousness for women and men of color, who came of age in the Hip Hop Generation, by creating a community of scholars-activists from varied professions, who share our intellectual work in online blog communities, at conferences, through activist organizations, and in print publications and who share our commitment to nurturing and sustaining one another through progressive feminist visions. This collective is a forum where we seek to speak our own truths, and to both magnify and encourage the feminist credos that shape and inform our lives and that we use to engage and transform our world. Crunk Feminism is the animating principle of our collective work together and derives from our commitment to feminist principles and politics, and also from our unapologetic embrace of those new cultural resources, which provide or offer the potential for resistance. Crunk(ness) is our mode of resistance that finds its particular expression in the rhetorical, cultural, and intellectual practices of a contemporary generation.

And then they go even deeper into the paradigm of "crunk(ness)" and how it relates to a revolutionary platform when combined with a feminist lens. It's off the hook. Peep the rest of the mission statement, the blog, and GET YOUR MIND RIGHT!


Erykah Badu's "Window Seat" Video

***If video is removed, go to Erykah's official site to view!

Sooo... maybe if you've been busy spring cleaning under a rock lately, then perhaps you haven't heard about this new Erykah video that is making huge waves on the internets. People love it. People hate it. It's known as the video where Erykah gets nekkid at the site of JFK's assassination. I am one of the people who love it, and see this as a timeless, provocative, thought provoking work of art. If you haven't seen it, check it out and then read on....

A lot of people are not happy about the combination of nudity and the JFK thing. Or just the nudity. And why JFK, people might ask? Why not MLK, or X? Who knows... to broaden audience? To not ruffle the feathers of people in the black community who would already disapprove of the video? Simply because its a more scenic location? Or because its her home town? Who knows.

I will cut and paste what i said on The Root about this video, where images of Venus Hottentot and Aunt Jemima were raised, as well as seeing the liberation that Erykah is evoking:

i am definitely hearing all of the perceptions and views on this video. my feeling is that this may be the first video where a black woman's body is shown in a way that causes people to think about deep issues, our own shine, how much we may repress of ourselves so we don't get "assassinated" in literal or virtual ways. Those deep issues gave rise to this post and thread! In my opinion, this was a huge depart from just being another dime a dozen portrayal of the black woman's body as a hypersexualized object for mass consumption by men. I have not looked at those videos and thought of deep messages around liberation, evolution, body image, and more.

in truth, Erykah probably knows that a segment of our population will "assassinate" her for "revealing herself". I feel that she is clear that she is of divinity (as all of us are) and that her body is not something to be ashamed of. I thought this was a very meaningful video that resonated with even me as a black man, and how much psychological armor i must wear to walk through the world. I will never know the black female experience, but i imagine that she was speaking about disrobing of the black female version of that armor, and getting free, evolving.

There is also a good short commentary on this video on NPR.

Go on Erykah. I'll be picking up that album soon.


...And One More Music Selection: Janet Jackson "Nasty", The Classic Dancefloor Filling Anti-Harassment Anthem

Do you remember when you first heard "Nasty" and it was the rawest, edgiest, crunkest beat you had ever heard? Wanted to close out with this 80's gem, where Janet was bringin the fierceness, making anti-harassment cool, asserting strong boundaries without apology, all while rockin the then groundbreaking Paula Abdul choreography (she is in the video too!). Enjoy the memories!
Her name ain't baby y'all....

...feels good to have finally made a post. May all the revolutionary seeds that people planted this month come to glorious fruition this spring! Heartful salute to all the moms, sistas, women and girls. Bless up

Monday, February 22, 2010

MAAAN UP! Presents A Community Forum on Street Harassment / Screening of "BACK UP! Concrete Diaries"

BACK UP! concrete diaries from Nijla Mumin on Vimeo.

MAAAN UP! Presents: a community screening of BACK UP! Concrete Diaries, a documentary on street harassment from the perspective of sistas

This is a free event. All are welcome. please come out with your lovers, family, colleagues and community members, and watch Nijla Mumin & co-director Monique Hazeur's impactful and extremely relevant work-in-progress. Q&A with the filmmaker follows, donations accepted in support of the completion of this film. We would also love to see men and boys representing at this event!

BACK UP! Concrete Diaries
This Wednesday, 6-8:30pm
500 William Street,
corner of William and Telegraph @ 20th
free admission, seating for 30.
small snacks and beverages will be available.

looking forward to connecting around this issue, and pleasse forward this to your community! Bless up

***PS: extra prize for women who bring a man or boy with them!!

MAAAN UP! is the Men of African Ancestry Action Network for Unlearning Patriarchy. We hold spaces for men of African ancestry to process issues of black masculinity and its intersections with patriarchy, and seek multivariate strategies to be allies to women and girls.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Video Perspective Of The Richmond Peace March For Rape Survivors

hello everyone.... wow, its been a minute. i got REALLY caught up in the demands of grad school, i'm just kinda re-emerging now. Happy New Year y'all!! Thought i'd post some stuff before the next term starts!! Also, i do want to share some of the stuff i've been learning too, i think that is necessary part of the process, ie, getting access to information and democratizing it, sharing it. I found some very interesting articles while doing research where the search keywords were masculinity, empathy and harassment.

San Francisco based filmmaker Aleada Minton, put together a video of short interviews and perspectives of the Richmond Rally that happened in November 2009 (i also blogged about it here, and here). I am glad that this rally has been documented in so many mediums. Thank you for your work Aleada! Check it out.