What kind of relationship do you have with the Ancestors?

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Men's Work: Up from Digital Silence

Silence is violence. Saying nothing, doing nothing, staying neutral in the face and as the face of patriarchy, as men only helps patriarchy and men's violence against women and the LGBTQ community stay sustained and empowered. This systemic, widespread oppression must be interrupted, challenged and dismantled if we truly care for women and humanity at large. We men have to begin to expand our awareness, speak up, change our behaviors and do better to be better men.

These social media ideas are simple, normal and relatively easy, but they are simple, easy things that men seem very reluctant or afraid to do that would signal progressive support, share good information and perspectives and help create a more aware and just society through more activated, aware and supportive men.

Follow 7 Ways Up from Digital Silence

Here are seven ways men can begin or continue the process of learning more about, engaging and challenging men's sexist, permissive and violent behavior and dismantling patriarchal systems:

1) Click "like", "love" or otherwise support posts, tweets, blog entries, articles that are supportive of women, the LGBTQ community and Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) folk. Be careful of posts or comments by men that mention women, but center or focus upon men's feelings or narrow interests. Sometimes what at first "feels right" and comfortable, may not be right. Challenging patriarchy, misogynoir/misogyny, rape culture and men's violence against women should often leave men uncomfortable as we embrace new, progressive and challenging ideas and behaviors in a changing world.

2) Share/retweet posts, articles that are being supported or shared by women, LGBTQ people or men who are generally and demonstrably affirmed by women and queer folk to be reliable advocates or allies. This is often referred to as amplifying women's and other marginalized voices. It always helps to pull out a short or salient quote to add to the repost to interest others. If you feel comfortable enough, put in a sentence or two in your own words why you think other men should read and respond to the post. Personalizing a post with your perspective can help other men to feel more comfortable with approaching challenging information. After all, we are here also to help other men be better men. This is not just about interpersonal behaviors and relationships, but also social, communal and political patterns of behavior.

3) Tag a friend or friends that you know would benefit from reading the post or seeing the video. Let him/them know you thought he'd/they'd be interested and invite them to talk about it in a direct or private message or chat space or there on the post if possible. Even sharing a few words or a feeling or resonant idea from the post can go a long way to building better skills around supporting women and the healing of men. The more each of us shares online, the more of us beyond ourselves will learn and grow and possibly become part of the solution.

4) When in doubt, pause, listen, read/view again and come back to the post to be sure of what you are attempting to support. Know that you will make mistakes in any process of learning. And know that an introspective and compassionately curious delay in responding, engaging, commenting or reposting is better than a disinterested, privileged, permissive and disrespectful momentum of silence.

5) After looking at posts, articles or videos that mention popular, reliable or helpful books, authors, writers or documentaries, simply post a link to that book's, author's or documentary's official website. Adding an invitation to men in your circle to read, view, support or purchase the resource, again, helps other men stay open to new information that challenges male oppression of women and the LGBTQIA community. Keep it simple and consider letting people know your feelings and why it's important that they engage what you are sharing with them.

6) Use hashtags (e.g., #NowIsTheTime) to increase the reach of good, informative posts, articles and videos and provide other people pathways to new, more diverse information and resources. Find relevant, trending hashtags and/or the ones used on the original post. The World Ancestor Concert Team uses a few newer hashtags in its Men's Work initiative. The Team urges you to use #MensWork on posts that inform on general history and current realities of patriarchy, misogynoir/misogyny, sexism, heterosexism, homophobia and transphobia and help clarify information that assists men in changing negative and oppressive behaviors and to challenge systemic oppression of women and the LGBTQIA community. Use #MenTakeNotice to bring focus or simple, basic attention to urgent social action, warnings and updates from marginalized populations with awareness-raising posts, videos or other media. Posts, resources and educational opportunities from rape crisis and domestic violence support centers are appropriate for this hashtag. #MenHealingMen is used to tag posts that highlight how men are positively engaging each other personally and socially, programmatically and/or professionally in informal or formal ways. Workshops like those offered by moja mediaworks, activists and educators like Tony Porter or Jackson Katz or other men's, local, regional or national organizations are good resources to tag. Be free to use these and other helpful hashtags, especially more than one relevant tags to help others find good information more easily. We urge people to use #MensWork as a great general hashtag for any of these kinds of posts. Keep in mind the recent, yet historic power of the metoo hashtag/movement created by Tarana Burke.

7) Identify and study new vocabulary, terms and Ideas that come up in your social media network from women, LGBTQ folk and trusted, reliable media sources. Start a note in a note keeping app or a document on your cellphone or tablet and create a learning list. Commit to learning new vocabulary or a term every 1-3 days. You can also refer to the vocabulary list provided by moja mediaworks at the following URL, bottom of the page: http://www.worldancestorconcert.com/resources-antisexism-dismantlepatriarchy

Keep in mind and heart that though these steps may be rudimentary or simple, they can be important directly and in a larger process of learning, supporting women and other populations targeted by men's violence, rape culture, harassment, sexualized assault and patriarchy in general. Women's and other peoples lives are in real danger every day because of sexism, heterosexism, transphobia and other forms of oppression. Being observant, humble, patient and listening to women's, LGBTQ and other marginalized voices and believing them, trusting them will help us understand what's really at stake on the other side of male privilege, oppression and violence.

Many people oppressed by men's words, coercion, behavior and male-controlled organizations, corporations and social systems have expressed serious and principled concerns, frustrations and righteous anger at men's silence, lack of engagement and support, our seeming unwillingness to learn, grow and support positive social change and justice. The more we look and listen, the easier it is to understand how they come to these conclusions about us. Changing even our online behaviors, especially in this digital age, may yet be an important or necessary catalyst and motivator for changing our real, embodied and on-going behaviors and challenging systems and structures of oppression (social, educational, financial/economic, medical, religious, legal/judicial, governmental, ...). 

For more information about Men's Work, visit http://www.worldancestorconcert.com/menswork.

See also our Workshops and Workshop Resources page links. Be free also to join, learn and connect in our Men's Work Facebook group linked to our World Ancestor Concert Facebook page.

Ukumbwa Sauti, a producer of the World Ancestor Concert, program developer, workshop facilitator and educator, can be reached at mojamediaworks [at] gmail [dot] com or at his personal email, ukumbwa [at] gmail [dot] com. Mention Men's Work or Up From Digital Silence in the subject line.

Thank you.