This morning, I was grappling with how to best share what it means to be anti-patriarchal - because everyone asks - and so I decided to share this:
Spent all morning resisting the urge to give compliments to beautiful people on my way to work. If I really mean no harm, I figure I should do no harm by keeping all compliments in my head!
I got all sorts of responses, from hearts to encouragement to give compliments anyways. It ate away all day because there was no context so here is some context.
To be clear, refraining from complimenting people I don't know is no revolutionary act. I am not displaying my feminist allyship when I don't harass women. It is something you do when you see people as people before anything else.
I'm often asked what I mean when I press for us to imagine new masculinities and I struggle with sharing my thinking on what an anti-patriarchal masculinity actually looks like for so many reasons - potentially rooted in traditional masculine pressures.
Being vulnerable is painful.
I've always believed that where there is vulnerability, there is growth. This concept is most salient in art. I think back to my training as a poet, where the most impactful poems I was audience to were the most vulnerable and my most vulnerable poems today are still the most well received.
I don't see use in telling anyone what to do.
I spend more time than I'd like to admit, reworking my writing such that I'm not telling anyone what to do. It doesn't make sense for me to engage in telling folks what to do because I don't even know what masculinity means. I don't think anyone is really an authority on this, and by doing this work in this way, I am to reframe ways of knowing and acquiring knowledge.
Naturally, people will often ask me to tell them what to do and I tell them what I've done or what I may do and qualify that with it coming from me for me and not for them. Oh the frustration that causes.
I'm teaching and learning by example.
Something I've noticed that I've been trying to write more concretely about is the ways that many men who do this work on masculinities in public spaces, such as conferences or college speaking tours, aren't necessarily teaching by example. Rather they are telling folks what to do and not being really vulnerable in the sense that they rarely talk about their own internal/external struggles with masculinities. How nice would it be to hear these speakers grappling with their baggage? Wouldn't that send the 'it is okay to deal with your baggage' signal across more effectively? It has in my experience. Although it is costly.