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An open letter to other men in the movement: SHUT THE FUCK UP

An open letter to other men in the movement: SHUT THE FUCK UP, or, How to act better in meetings
"Even with my mask I often spoke the tyranny of power. My first duty was to cultivate a revolutionary silence."

-Subcomandante Marcos




Introduction

Being an activist these days means fighting for a thousand different things - indigenous rights, rainforests, corporate accountability, etc. Despite this diversity of campaigns, there seems to be some agreement on the kind of society we want to create. It's a society that isn't based on white supremacy, class exploitation, or patriarchy.

This essay is about how men act in meetings. Mostly it's about how we act badly, but it includes suggestions on how we can do better. Men in the movement reproduce patriarchy within the movement and benefit from it. By patriarchy I mean a system of values, behaviors, and relationships that keeps men in power. It relies on domination, claiming authority, and belligerence. By the movement I mean the anti-corporate globalization movement in the US I am a part of.

I think people organizing for affordable housing, against police brutality, for the rights of immigrants (for example) are also fighting the same system that's wringing the blood out of the bottom 99 percent of the world's population and the environment they live in. However, I don't know from my experience if the men who organize around those issues act the way the men in the movement do.

Just to be clear, those men are almost always white and from middle-class or wealthier backgrounds. In my experience, as someone who identifies as a man of color, men of color dominate meetings in basically the exact same way. But I find that men who do not speak English fluently tend not to do so as much. I wish I could think of more exceptions.




Who cares about meetings?

Good question. Most meetings of large-ish organizations (of more than 30 people or so) I've been to don't amount to too much. The real work - doing research, getting people involved, organizing protests and actions, fundraising, media stuff - gets done by working groups or individuals. Meetings are just about a lot of talking, right?

Well, yes and no. At worst meetings force a lot of people to get together and generally discuss everything that's been done, everything that's going on, and everything that needs to be done. These meetings tend to wander a lot. Responsibility is not clearly delegated, decisions aren't made overtly, and the organization isn't more focused afterwards than before. At the same time, there's heated arguments over seemingly trivial things, or hurtful criticism of individuals. But those arguments and criticisms don't amount to too much in the end.

But a good meeting is a different animal altogether. With good self-facilitation and a good facilitator (or two, or three...), everyone contributes to the meeting, without anyone taking control over it. People make constructive criticism, and try to incorporate concerns raised into their proposals. And since everyone gets to contribute their ideas into the decision-making process, the decisions are not only the best possible ones - but also the ones people are most invested in. Since everyone feels ownership over the decisions, people are more likely to take on responsibility for projects.

If you're serious about using consensus, you have to care about meetings. That's the only place a group can democratically decide what to do and how to do it. The alternative is an informal group of the most influential and forceful members (who dominate discussion) making the big decisions.




It's not just how often you talk, but how and when

Consensus decision making is a model of the society we want to live in, and a tool we use to get there. Men often dominate consensus at the expense of everyone else. Think about the man who...

* Speaks for a long, loud, first and often

* Offers his opinion immediately whenever someone makes a proposal, asks a question, or if there's a lull in discussion

* Speaks with too much authority: "Actually, it's like this... "

* Can't amend a proposal or idea he disagrees with, but trashes it instead

* Makes faces every time someone says something he disagrees with

* Rephrases everything a woman says, as in, "I think what Mary was trying to say is..."

*Makes a proposal, then responds to each and every question and criticism of it - thus speaking as often as everyone else put together (Note: This man often ends up being the facilitator)


And don't get me started about the bad male facilitator who... :

* Always puts himself first on stack, because he can

* Somehow never sees the women with their hands up, and never encourages people who haven't spoken


It's rarely just one man who exhibits every problem trait. Instead it's two or three competing to do all the above. But the result is the same: everyone who can't (or won't) compete on these terms - talking long, loud, first and often - gets drowned out.

This is a result of society's programming. Almost no men can actually live up to our culture's fucked up standards of masculinity. And our society has standards for women that are equally ridiculous. In one way, we both suffer equally. That's why we all yearn and strive for a world where these standards - which serve to divide us and reduce us and prop up those in control - are destroyed.

In another way these standards serve those who come closest to living up to them. Sure, we all lose when a few men dominate a meeting. But it's those men who get to make decisions, take credit for the work everyone does, and come out feeling more inspired and confident.




But I can't be sexist - I'm a hippie

Oh, but you can. The irony is that you can basically do all the things listed above, even if you don't fit the stereotype of the big strapping man. I've seen hippies, men who would be described as feminine, queer men, and others who in many ways go against the grain not go against the grain at all when it comes to dominating discussion. A hippie might speak slowly and use hippie slang, but still speak as the voice of authority, and cut off the woman who was speaking before him. A man who some might call feminine can still make a face like he smelled something when someone he doesn't respect says something he disagrees with, thus telling her to shut up; he may also politely but consistently put himself on stack every time someone criticizes his proposal.




So shut the fuck up already

What's to be done? I've come up with a little idea I like to call, "Shut the fuck up." It goes as follows: Every time someone...

* Says something you think is irrelevant,

* Asks a (seemingly) obvious question,

* Criticizes your proposal or makes a contradictory observation,

* Makes a proposal

* Asks a question, or

* Asks for more input because there's a brief lull in the discussion. . .

Shut the fuck up. It's a radical process, but I think you'll like it.

Since my childhood, I was raised by my parents and by every teacher I ever had in school to demand as much attention as possible. In class I spoke more often than almost anyone else I knew. Surprisingly enough, some of my teachers were annoyed with me. But while they may have counseled me to raise my hand first, they never asked me to speak less or listen more. As a result I probably got twice as much attention from my teachers, measured in time spent with me, than most of the other kids I went to school with.

But a mere 15 years after I started learning to exhibit almost all the dominating male behavior I list above, something happened. I was in a class with a friend of mine. Let's call her Anne, because that's her name. Anne and I were in the same study group, and the night before she had gone over the exact question the professor was now asking. However, Anne wasn't answering, even though the rest of the class was silent.

I don't know what struck me to actually stop and think instead of answering the question myself, as I was wont to do. That incident got me thinking about who spoke most often in class, why, and what I could do. The answers to the first two questions I've basically given already. The third is a little trickier.




What else can we do?

Lucky for us, being a man gives us a lot of authority. I mean that in a good way, too. Much like people of color are always assumed to be selfish or paranoid when they speak out against racial profiling, women are often assumed to be bitchy when they call out patriarchal behavior.

What does that mean for us? First, we shut the fuck up. This was easy for me in school - I just made a rule that I never spoke more than twice in a 50 minute class. Surprise! Almost every time I would have spoken, someone else eventually said the exact same thing, or something smarter. It was frustrating when it was another obnoxious man doing the answering, but a lot of times it wasn't one of the two guys in class who spoke most often.

The problem is that the classroom is designed to have one person in charge, and it ain't the student. While you could point out problem behavior in class, there's not a lot of 'space' for it - it's not expected or encouraged, and would probably be dismissed by the professor.

The beauty of consensus is the facilitation. Not only can we facilitate ourselves - and we should - but we can facilitate each other. This is mainly the job of the person chosen to be the facilitator. But when the facilitator is ignoring problem behavior - or exhibiting it - it's easy for other people in the group to guerrilla facilitate.'

Sometimes it's as easy as pointing out the people who have their hands up, but are somehow missed by the facilitator, or by suggesting straw polls or go 'rounds or other tools that get everyone involved. But it's usually not that easy. The worse the pattern of behavior in the group, the more natural the fucked-upedness will seem. And you'll often be given the evil eye by the people you're calling out, if not a verbal backlash. And finally, it's obviously not the job of the people most trampled on by patriarchal behavior to always be calling it out. That's where we come in. We are, at least at first, given the most respect when we call out bad behavior.

The problem is doing the calling out in a constructive way. It's all too easy to call people out in a hurtful and authoritarian fashion - thus entertaining everyone with your unintended irony, but also acting the exact way you don't want others to. When you call people out in a way that's hurtful instead of constructive, it still tends to keep the quietest people at a meeting from participating.




The solution

So call people out, but try not to be too personal about it. Unless it's outrageous, wait until the person is finished, and then make your process point about how people should stick to stack, or consider not talking if they've just spoken, or whatever. And if it seems someone's pissed off at your calling them out (and white men make it real easy for you to tell if they're pissed off), make the effort to talk to him after the meeting is over. It usually doesn't take much to smooth ruffled feathers.

Unfortunately, it also doesn't take much for those same people to do the exact same thing the next meeting. So while part of the answer is self-facilitation and facilitating others, another part is also giving everyone the skills and confidence they need to assert their place in the meeting. This means having regular workshops, for new and experienced activists, on how consensus is supposed to work. It also means going through the formal process of consensus and explaining it during meetings. You can do it quickly, especially after the first few times. But when people assume that everyone is familiar with the process, those who are least confident (but still have good ideas) will be the first to drop out of discussions. Meanwhile, other people who think they know the process but don't tend to hold things up. I'll let you guess what I think the gender breakdown of those groups is.

Another key ingredient is talking to individuals outside of meetings. Talking honestly - "I know you care about the group, but in meetings it seems like you talk down to anyone who disagrees with you, and you cut people off a lot, and that makes it really hard for other people to participate" - is a big part of it. And as with any interaction, you have to keep an open mind to hear their perspective. Ideally, you could resolve things at this level and not have to bring things up before the group.

But it's still a good idea to come up with a structure to address the way people act badly in meetings, for people to regularly "check in" with how they feel the process is going. It also makes it easier for people who wouldn't normally criticize others to do so constructively. The structure could mean that once every two months the group has a "process" meeting, where the focus is on how people act in meetings, working groups, etc. It's often easier and 'safer' for people to call out problem behavior, and easier and 'safer' for the culprits to own up to it and ask for constructive criticism.

Finally, it means constantly thinking about how we, as men, tend to dominate and control the world around us. To me this is most apparent (at least in other people) in meetings. To me, that's also where it's easiest to address. This is a continuous process. We have to always read about this, talk about it, inquire into how others address it, come up with creative and successful solutions, and apply them. But no matter where we take it, I think this struggle always starts with shutting the fuck up.

As men, we're encouraged to dominate conversation without even thinking about it. It's too easy for us to do really good work - fighting genetic engineering, tearing down the prison industrial complex, freeing Mumia - and still act exactly like the frat boy next door. We have to confront each other and ourselves so that domination stops seeming natural, and so we can start doing something about it. So the next time you don't think about how you're talking, please think about how you're talking.




And the bonus section... ...

But I can't let a girl do this -I mean, I'm the only one who knows how

Shut the heck up! Sharing responsibility for projects is fundamental for ensuring that everyone in the group develops skills and confidence. I'll give credit where it's due: We men are pretty good at letting women bottomline work like child care, note taking, food prep... But we rarely have structures to let women take on our responsibilities.

In your meetings, are women taking on projects in proportion to their numbers? If you're not paying attention, you should be. Along with consensus, sharing work is one of the hallmarks of democratic organizing. In my experience the most prestigious, challenging, and rewarding work belongs to men. Often, it belongs to the same men who dominate the meetings where these tasks are ostensibly delegated.

One way men make work theirs (in the worst way) is by hoarding information around it. What work has been done? What's left to do? What are the priorities? The deadlines? If the work is done informally, not only is there no accountability for it getting done, but there are also no records and no regular updates. This makes it almost impossible to pass on responsibility for the project to someone else - unless you're setting them up for failure.

Another problem is contacts. Somehow it seems that long time organizers tend to all know each other. If there's a problem they can just call each other up. This isn't just intimidating for people lower on the activist totem pole; it makes it that much harder for them to get the same work done. If we pretend our contacts are just friends, instead of people we rely on to get work done, the group at the top will stay there. And I think that group is almost all male.

Finally, there's language. Experts in the capitalist world tend to mystify their work. Whether it's "move to demur," "updating the HTML," or "within the confines of this narrative," professionals have a vested interest in making their work sound as obscure and difficult as possible. Professionals in our society own the little part of the world they have "expertise" over. They make decisions that affect everyone, and get more control and authority as time goes on.

Sound familiar? All these factors - hoarding information, exclusive contacts, mystifying language - get even worse during a crisis. In the middle of an action it's easy to say, "There's no time to teach anyone new, men or women, how to work the radios." First, that's usually a group of men speaking. Second, that's why you have start before the action. If the problem is just a few big egos and a lot of people's complicity, then you can delegate immediately. If there's more at work, you have to set up a structure so folks outside the de facto leadership meaningfully take on projects. That structure can include documenting steps and information, helping new people develop working relationships with other organizers, using everyday language instead of bullshit acronyms, and so on. But without a process it's much more difficult to pass on that responsibility.

And who do you think you'll be passing it on to?

(freely inspired by Jo Freeman's "The Tyranny of Structurelessness.")




Epilogue

This essay came out of my frustration with the male domination in meetings in this movement and the absence of men's efforts to change it. It also came out of my need for self-reflection. This will ideally lead not just to all men acting exactly like I think they should, but also a lasting dialog on how we behave in meetings and what we can do about it. If you have any thoughts on what I've written, please contact me and tell me what you think  dan@midnightspecial.net. This isn't a declaration of war; it's just a starting point.

Time for me to shut the fuck up.
reversal 21.Jan.2003 22:37

Amsel

Now, if an individual was to go through and pull apart every behavior that a female made incorrectly through the course of their actions... would that be taken quite the same way? I do feel the presence of some double standards.

Stay in Oakland 22.Jan.2003 00:05

B. Peret

Same old crap. elements of truth but views womyn as victims. Should have followed his own advice before he wrote the article.

All in all a typical Bay Area "feel good/feel bad" bunch of activist BS.

. 22.Jan.2003 00:52

april

To Amsel: I think you're missing his point: it's a man, talking about the behavior of himself and other men. He's not sitting there bitching about women's behavior.

As a woman, I don't think enough women try hard enough to speak up. I wish they'd try more.

its not only men 22.Jan.2003 04:18

laviata

it is not only men who act like this in meetings, but it often is quite more obvious... we should try to define that to be dominant might be called a male attribute, but is also present in women. However, circumstances and ways of expression might be different.
We should also not forget that the structure of society is reflected in our behaviour and education, change is difficult and it is nobodys fault if we fall back into these behaviour structures, we should just try to make ourselves more aware about our behaviour and this article does good work raising awareness. Thanks.
There are some good points raised in this article, however, there should be a bit more reflections on tools for resolving these conflicts rather than moaning about these and demanding self-restriction/self-limitation; as e.g. go-rounds, agenda, wallpapers, role plays, how to structure meetings beforehand, role of the facilitators and so on. There is a good pamphlet out on training for activism in general, but also how to prepare meetings and what tools to use especially if there are meetings with lots of people.
Haven't got it to hand right now, will add later.

"shut the fuck up" was very RIGHT ON!!!! 22.Jan.2003 08:24

FedUpWithFascism

In "Shut the Fuck Up", Dan was very RIGHT ON!
The fact that you might know of a few cases in which a female acted similarly to the dominate male behavior described DOES NOT mean that patriarchy and sexism are not broad, general, tendencies in our society and that we should not be on the lookout for them.
I am female and definitely FED UP with the sort of dominating behavior which was described, and it is usually found in males. All the same habits and distorted attitudes described are found in other dominant groups like white people in general.
Anyone who actually believes that sexism and racism and homophobia do exist should be monitoring her/himself and associates for behaviors which perpetuate these things. Dan gave a very good description of such behaviors on the part of males, behaviors which I've observed and been irritated by for decades.
Again, I agree with Dan, but will soften it a little:
"At least some of the time, SHUT THE FUCK UP and let other people to do the things you think you're so good. Not only might you help someone else get better at something, but you might learn that their approach is actully as good as or better than yours."

Finally 22.Jan.2003 08:35

ranger

I also agree with Dan and "Fed up with fascism". I have observed this behavior in the workplace for many, many years. Tis generally true, guys

What's the Point? 22.Jan.2003 10:33

Craig Stehr cstehr@riseup.net

This type of article is hopelessly "Bay Area 70's"... intellectual gender arguments which are worthless in any actual situation...it's nothing more than the author saying what the author's preferences are. Seriously, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!

http://www.ebfnb.org
510-486-8141
2185 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702

It must suck to be you 22.Jan.2003 13:48

unrepetant penis operator

What does it feel like to crawl around all day, hopelessly immiserated in guilt ? The women in your life are all laughing at you behind your back, I'll tell you that much. Believe that. Power might be an ugly thing, but it exists, it is very real, and power always fills a vacuum. Problem is, most women don't know what to do with it when they have it, because of genetics AND societal conditioning, and that is a very, very dangerous thing. Check out some actual statistics on domestic violence sometime, for instance. You'll be very unhappy when your pre-packaged worldview simply does not mesh with reality. I guarantee it.

Bay Area, Hell, I'm a Tennessean!!! 22.Jan.2003 15:39

FedUpWithFascism

With regard to Craig Stehr's post titled "What's the Point?", in which he says:

This type of article is hopelessly "Bay Area 70's"... intellectual gender arguments which are worthless in any actual situation...it's nothing more than the author saying what the author's preferences are. Seriously, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!

I found the article "Shut the Fuck Up" to be very good.

I want to point out that I have never been to the Bay Area in my entire life. I am a native-born Tennessean. I live in the Bible Belt. I want you people to know that sexism and patriarchy are all too fucking real and my life has been one long struggle against it. It's a revolutionary, and activist thing for me to have just fucking survived in the culture and family I grew up in. My father was abusive to me and so was my husband. The legal system here is astoundingly sexist. My divorce and 2-year child custody battle was a showcase of sexism and patriarchy. I'm a single mother, who has been laid off from 2 different jobs since 1999. White males dominate almost every godamn thing I have come into contact here in Tennessee, it seems. I am fully aware of females who are sexist and out of line, too. But they are not running the godamned power structures! Their sexism is not institutionalized.

In reply to unrepetant penis operator's post titled "It must suck to be you", in which he said the author of "Shut the Fuck Up" is "hopelessly immiserated in guilt" and "power always fills a vacuum. Problem is, most women don't know what to do with it when they have it", my reply to that is: Fuck you, unrepetant penis operator, you're a sexist. That's like saying that poor people don't know what to do with money.
Then you said "Check out some actual statistics on domestic violence sometime". If you do, you'll find that men abuse women far more often than vice versa. What world of delusion are you living in anyhow? Your sexism has distorted your views so badly that you're not even making sense, but then sexism is like that.
Then you also said "The women in your life are all laughing at you behind your back". Well, that betrays the ugly flip side to people who abuse power, which is what sexists do,: insecurity. You suspect that your attitude is wrong, but you're not looking at women's reactions to you objectively enough to cut through the distortion and amass enough evidence to validate your suspicion. To worry about whether women are laughing at you behind your back is on the same level as children who wonder if their stuffed toys get up and dance a jig as soon as the child leaves the room. Basically, it's irrelevant. Here's why, sexist, shallow, emotionally retarded person: If you know that you are treating people with respect and concern for their welfare and satisfaction, to the best of your knowledge, and if you are open to improvement and feedback from them, and they are not indicating to you that anything is wrong with your treatment of them, then it does not matter if they are laughing at you behind your back. Because if a woman is laughing at a man who is treating her the best he knows how, and they are both continuing their interactions on a mutually consensual basis, then her motivation for laughing is some defect in her, and should not bother the man at all, assuming he even finds out about this laughing behind his back. This concern also betrays the probability that the sexist man who made this post is more worried about what his buddies are thinking of his relations with women than about the quality of the relations, themselves.

Also, I'd like to point out that the best sex I've ever had is with my current partner, who is 24 years old (21 years younger than I), 6'4", non-sexist, and some bomb-ass dick. He neither dominates me, nor I him. (I went after his ass, by the way.) We have an open relationship in which neither of us attempts to own or possess the other. Also, I don't give him money and he doesn't give me money. We've both got jobs. We have an open relationship in which neither of us attempts to own or possess the other. I've partied with his friends his own age, and no one has a problem with our age difference. We just want to fuckin have fun, and we sure as hell do. I don't give a shit if the whole world is laughing at me behind my back, because I'm getting the dicking of my life and loving every minute of it. He is non-sexist and has no guilt.
So, "unrepetant penis operator", your implying that Dan Spalding, who posted the Shut the Fuck Up article, is feeling guilt over his relations with women, is just a bunch of crap. Also, I feel very confident that my boyfriend can outfuck you, by any standard, anytime, since power trips and sexism ruin good sex, and you should just SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dan Spalding , you rock, man!!!!!!! If I had to bet on which man could fuck me the best: "unrepetant penis operator" or Dan, I'd sure as hell bet on Dan!

Fed Up With Fascism (and sexists!)

Bay Area, Hell, I'm a Tennessean!!! 22.Jan.2003 15:47

FedUpWithFascism

With regard to Craig Stehr's post titled "What's the Point?", in which he says:

This type of article is hopelessly "Bay Area 70's"... intellectual gender arguments which are worthless in any actual situation...it's nothing more than the author saying what the author's preferences are. Seriously, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!

I found the article "Shut the Fuck Up" to be very good.

I want to point out that I have never been to the Bay Area in my entire life. I am a native-born Tennessean. I live in the Bible Belt. I want you people to know that sexism and patriarchy are all too fucking real and my life has been one long struggle against it. It's a revolutionary, and activist thing for me to have just fucking survived in the culture and family I grew up in. My father was abusive to me and so was my husband. The legal system here is astoundingly sexist. My divorce and 2-year child custody battle was a showcase of sexism and patriarchy. I'm a single mother, who has been laid off from 2 different jobs since 1999. White males dominate almost every godamn thing I have come into contact here in Tennessee, it seems. I am fully aware of females who are sexist and out of line, too. But they are not running the godamned power structures! Their sexism is not institutionalized.

In reply to unrepetant penis operator's post titled "It must suck to be you", in which he said the author of "Shut the Fuck Up" is "hopelessly immiserated in guilt" and "power always fills a vacuum. Problem is, most women don't know what to do with it when they have it", my reply to that is: Fuck you, unrepetant penis operator, you're a sexist. That's like saying that poor people don't know what to do with money.
Then you said "Check out some actual statistics on domestic violence sometime". If you do, you'll find that men abuse women far more often than vice versa. What world of delusion are you living in anyhow? Your sexism has distorted your views so badly that you're not even making sense, but then sexism is like that.
Then you also said "The women in your life are all laughing at you behind your back". Well, that betrays the ugly flip side to people who abuse power, which is what sexists do,: insecurity. You suspect that your attitude is wrong, but you're not looking at women's reactions to you objectively enough to cut through the distortion and amass enough evidence to validate your suspicion. To worry about whether women are laughing at you behind your back is on the same level as children who wonder if their stuffed toys get up and dance a jig as soon as the child leaves the room. Basically, it's irrelevant. Here's why, sexist, shallow, emotionally retarded person: If you know that you are treating people with respect and concern for their welfare and satisfaction, to the best of your knowledge, and if you are open to improvement and feedback from them, and they are not indicating to you that anything is wrong with your treatment of them, then it does not matter if they are laughing at you behind your back. Because if a woman is laughing at a man who is treating her the best he knows how, and they are both continuing their interactions on a mutually consensual basis, then her motivation for laughing is some defect in her, and should not bother the man at all, assuming he even finds out about this laughing behind his back. This concern also betrays the probability that the sexist man who made this post is more worried about what his buddies are thinking of his relations with women than about the quality of the relations, themselves.

Also, I'd like to point out that the best sex I've ever had is with my current partner, who is 24 years old (21 years younger than I), 6'4", non-sexist, and some bomb-ass dick. He neither dominates me, nor I him. (I went after his ass, by the way.) We have an open relationship in which neither of us attempts to own or possess the other. Also, I don't give him money and he doesn't give me money. We've both got jobs. We have an open relationship in which neither of us attempts to own or possess the other. I've partied with his friends his own age, and no one has a problem with our age difference. We just want to fuckin have fun, and we sure as hell do. I don't give a shit if the whole world is laughing at me behind my back, because I'm getting the dicking of my life and loving every minute of it. He is non-sexist and has no guilt.
So, "unrepetant penis operator", your implying that Dan Spalding, who posted the Shut the Fuck Up article, is feeling guilt over his relations with women, is just a bunch of crap. Also, I feel very confident that my boyfriend can outfuck you, by any standard, anytime, since power trips and sexism ruin good sex, and you should just SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dan Spalding , you rock, man!!!!!!! If I had to bet on which man could fuck me the best: "unrepetant penis operator" or Dan, I'd sure as hell bet on Dan!

Fed Up With Fascism (and sexists!)

RE: Shut the Fuck Up 22.Jan.2003 19:04

crystal

I thought this article was very good. It's really nice to see a man who is willing to call other men on their patriarchal behaviors in a constructive way. I also liked that he made the point that it's not just women who don't get to talk when someone dominates the conversation, but anyone with less experience or confidense. It's important that everyone feels like they can contribute something, or they're not going to want to particpate anymore. If, as activists, we don't criticize ourselves, we can't change for the better and end up perpetuating the very attitudes we fight against.

P.S. speaking of jargon,what's a bay area 70s intellectual whatever? there's nothing cool about saying something people can't understand

right on! 22.Jan.2003 21:06

andy

great article dan!
it's good to read an article addressed to men written by a man about how to improve as human beings.
you made some really excellent points here and i hope that this opens up an arena for more more poeple to discuss/reflect on their behavior regarding sexism (both concsious and societally ingrained).

One less man in the movement. 23.Jan.2003 22:36

.

I shut up, listened, and walked right out of the movement.

I am having a much better go at life without all of the gender fishbowls, gossip mongering, paranoia, vegan guilt trips, activist territorialism, and people of both gender ranting/raving.

C YA!

Try better meetings instead 24.Jan.2003 17:01

active-xx

The 'gender-ist' analysis of meetings has some merit, but I think the symptoms are primarily caused by poor or sloppy meeting procedure. instead of painting males as aggressors and females as victims, why not:

1) Learn to run a meeting right

2) Make sure your group isn't part of some narrow clique, err 'community'.

3) Do practical work instead of theoretical.

Dan the Man... 25.Jan.2003 18:38

marshall lough blackngrin@hotmail.com

Thank you for taking the time to put yourself out there. It is always risky to open youself up and share your insights that will inevitably be dissected by a movement bent on self-promotion...you are absolutely right, the "movement" has the tendency to replicate patriarchy, class priviledge, race priviledge, all forms of priviledge...and the only way to begin to take it on is to expose it, in ourselves and in our avenues of communication (like meetings which we seem to be overly addicted to) to develop systems of accountability, and then to change, to become real allies. This is the only way to a true revolutionary movement, you can't make a revolution half-way...if that is what we are really about... And what you bring to the table is nothing new...there are countless facilitation handbooks out there from the 70's and more recently that bring out most of the points that you make...but it is still important to make them, because the "movement" is painfully and intentionally avoiding adopting a broad anti-oppression stance, largely because many who have gained status in this movement enjoy the entitlements and priviledges that such intentional ignorance brings them...and of course this is not confined to simply men, but also to womon who have "learned male-priviledge identification syndrome"lmpis (and i am not talking transgendered here) i am talking about womon who have learned the "alpha" routine dogma, and take on that behavior of cut-throat anti-solidarity behavior...but it always falls back on the shoulders of men to take responsibility for patriarchy...

in minnepolis we have begun a mens and male-identified circle that meets regularly to deal with issues of sexual assault/predatory behavoir in our scene and how rape is, among other things, an act of political violence, a war crime, and how the rampant sexual predatory nature of the 'movement' ties into class/race/gender/orientation priviledges that tie into how people act/dominate meetings...we think that building structures of accountability is the next step in self-examination, in attempting to become real allies in our mutual liberation...to have accountability to each other and to also open our internal process to womon and other allies for feedback on our process...if you are interested, contact us, and we'll send y'all out west some more info on what we are doing in minneapolis...

again, thanks.