Boys don’t cry

This is my favorite quote from the piece:

“I am very aware that I’m another woman writing about ‘the crisis of masculinity’, not that I’d like to call it that. The Guardian recently published an article about the prevailing absence of men from debates about their own gender; public females, often figureheads for feminism, are speaking out about masculinity more and more, but their rallying cries are often met with stoic male silence.  As the article says, this doesn’t have to be the case, and hopefully won’t continue to be.”

At MasculinityU, we certainly believe in ending that silence and will continue to work to do so. Please check out Sophie Hemery’s blog post and continue to follow her writing. She has a powerful perspective and will undoubtedly emerge as a prominent voice in this space.

Throwing like a woman

ImageMan up and grow a pair; woman up and grow a vagina?

Both are daunting psychological demands, let alone biologically challenging feats. The first tautological taunt reflects an empty, ridiculing reaction to (usually) male emotional vulnerability. The second I’ve rarely heard. Since when is acting ‘like a woman’ and having a vagina aspirational, particularly for men? Of course neither unsympathetic suggestion is in any way useful in engaging with another person’s problems.

I am very aware that I’m another woman writing about ‘the crisis of masculinity’, not that I’d like to call it that. The Guardian recently published an article about the prevailing absence of men from debates about their own gender; public females, often figureheads for feminism, are speaking out about masculinity more and more, but their rallying cries are often met with stoic male silence. As the article says, this doesn’t have to be the case, and hopefully…

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Why This Particular White Guy Still Says #IAmTrayvonMartin


 “To the middle class, white, socially concerned activist who wears a shirt emblazoned with those slogans, you are wrong. I know you wear that shirt to stand in solidarity with Trayvon, Troy, and other victims of injustice. The purpose of those shirts is to humanize these victims of our society, by likening them to the middle class white activist wearing it. And once we’ve humanized the victims, this proves to us the arbitrariness of their deaths and thereby the injustice at play. But the fact of the matter is that these men’s deaths are anything but arbitrary. The fact that the real Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin and countless other victims of oppression are buried under 6 feet of cold dirt while we middle class white activists are alive, marching, and wearing their names is an indication that our societal system is working exactly as it’s intended.” – Emma Halling, March 2012

My brothers are black. That often throws people off when we talk about our family, but it is true. In March of 2012, I was initiated into the Pi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated. The five distinguished men who were on that line with me are five of the people that I am closest to in this world. They know that they can call me up day or night and I will drop what I am doing if they need me. They do the same for me. They have been there for me in my darkest moments. They have shown me love and compassion that I thought couldn’t exist beyond the blood bonds of family. They have shown me the true meaning of solidarity and brotherhood.


This is my family picture (with one brother missing who is currently serving in the Peace Corps)

Around the same time that my line brothers and I were having one of the most transformative and rewarding experiences of our life, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Many young people rallied around his parents in a call for justice. We marched. We took to social media. We demanded that Zimmerman be apprehended and be put on trial.

On Twitter many, myself included, took to using the hashtag #IAmTrayvonMartin and demanding #JusticeForTrayvon. One young woman saw it a little differently though. Emma Halling, a young activist, took to YouTube with a compelling message for people like me (that is to say her white, middle class peers). She called us out for identifying with Trayvon when in reality we needed to check our privilege and recognize that we had more in common with George Zimmerman. On that account, I don’t disagree with her. I am tremendously privileged. As a white man in America, my cup runneth over with societal privilege. I am also tremendously fortunate, like Emma was, to have had life experiences that led me to question societal norms and the status quo.

I’m encouraged by the dialogue that she spurred with her video last year and also fascinated by the “We Are Not Trayvon Martin” meme that has taken hold in the past few days. To see men and women of different colors and creeds name their privilege and talk about how they are honoring Trayvon’s memory, is something that is powerful. Still, I’m conflicted. Try as I might, I can’t fully sign on to that line of thinking. While I recognize that the systems in place in our country treat us differently and in ways that are unbelievably unfair to men of color, I still have a desire to identify with the hopeful young soul who was gunned down tragically.

For me, it boils down to the concept of Ubuntu that Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains so eloquently:

“In our country we’ve got something called ubuntu. When I want to praise you, I say this person has ubuntu. Because in our culture there is no such thing as a solitary individual. We say a person is a person through other persons. That we belong in the bundle of life. And I want you to be all you can be, because that’s the only way I can be all I can be. I need you! I need you to be you so that I can be me.” -Archbishop Tutu, October 2007

For me to live a full life and feel completely whole, I need to see the humanity of Trayvon or that of my line brothers. Just because they were born black and I was born white and we were both born into a system that grossly favors me over them, doesn’t give me the right to say “I am not them”.

I refuse to believe that we are not Trayvon Martin. Because as long as young men of color are not safe to walk the streets in peace, none of us are whole.

To Be A Man Is To Be Responsible

By Jonathan Kalin, founder of Party with Consent

 “To be a man, is to be responsible,” – Antoine de Saint Exupery

My father died in a car accident when I was 12 years old. While I was old enough to understand that this spontaneous event would have monumental significance, I was unaware of how much my father’s passing would affect my understanding of masculinity as I grew during my formative teenage years.

As an only child, there was an immediate void of masculine guidance. Masculinity was something I would have to develop an understanding of without a consistent interaction with older men. That said, this did not attribute to a void of love. Experiencing the death of her father at a young age, my mother did everything in her power to teach me how to be a man, while simultaneously being my mother and my father.

We quickly found that certain educational moments between father and son were nearly impossible to duplicate as mother and son.We learned and struggled together as I grew up and grappled with things many take for granted like learning how to shave or how I was supposed to talk to women at school

Still, in her commitment to my development, she taught me more than I could have ever asked for. She showed me that , no matter what happens to you or what predicament you find yourself in, there is something you can do about it. So even if her husband died suddenly, she could still be my support system on her own. And for me, even if statistics show that 71% of high school dropouts grew up in fatherless homes, with my mother as my foundation, I knew I didn’t have to become a statistic.

My respect for my mother grew into a strong respect for all women in the world. When media and peers at prep school consistently portrayed women as objects or lesser than men, I always knew that something wasn’t right because of the strength that my mother portrayed day-in and day-out.

And in that strength, I learned from my mother how to be a man. See, being a man isn’t about shaving. It’s not about making rape jokes. It’s not even about having a dick. It is about accountability. It is about responsibility. And it is about doing our part to leave this world better than how we found it.

I didn’t just magically arrive at this point. It has been a journey and a struggle and it will continue to be.  Going into my freshman year of college, I didn’t define myself as a feminist. I didn’t define myself as an activist on gender issues. I actually didn’t even define myself as a man.

Blinded by my male privilege, I typically didn’t notice my gender.

This all changed the winter of my freshman year, when a friend of mine shared with me their story of surviving a sexual assault on campus. At the time, I thought sexual violence was something that happened in a dark alleyway, not at the campus of an elite liberal arts college for the leaders of tomorrow.

That was the catalyst that spurred me to act. I was a part of the inaugural class of Male Athletes Against Violence which is currently the only anti-violence group at my college. Now, I am entering my second year as president of this organization (since re-named Mules Against Violence)

Unfortunately, some people still think that sexual violence is a women’s issue and not one for men to consider. For years, people have been asking women why they got sexually assaulted for years. We are asking the wrong question. We need to stop portraying women as weak. We need to stop “blaming the victim”. We need to start focusing on men,, the perpetrators in 90% of sexual assaults, and considering ‘why did you sexual assault?’ It’s time for men to step up and be responsible.

That’s how my story ends today. Excited to see how it continues tomorrow. And the greatest thing about this movement is – you don’t need an intricate story. All you need to believe is “To be a man, is to be responsible.”

Jonathan Kalin is the President of Mules Against Violence at Colby College and the founder of Party With Consent.

What Is Feminism?

A great primer on feminism!

angry nerd girl

Let’s talk about feminism.  What is it?

According to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, it has two non-medical definitions:

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

Look at that #1 definition.  Equality of the sexes. Nowhere does it list misandry, man-bashing, or the destruction of family.  So guess what?  If you believe in political, economic, and social equality that crosses sex and gender lines, congratulations!  You are a feminist!  Wait, don’t run away!  Did I make you uncomfortable just now?  Why is that?  Do you associate the term feminist with “feminazi?”  Are you afraid of being seen as an activist?  Causing a fuss?    Well guess what?  Activism is NOT a part of the primary definition.  Of course, we appreciate activism, but being a feminist doesn’t mean you have to go to marches, get abortions, burn…

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The New Yorker, Bert, & Ernie: Man friends

Just about the best possible unpacking of the upcoming New Yorker cover.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

hey bert

“Hey, Bert. Want to talk about masculinity?”
“Gee. Masculinity? What is masculinity, Ernie?”

An upcoming issue of The New Yorker (pictured right) will feature Bert with his arm around Ernie, who is leaning into Bert while they watch a really old television with rabbit ears, which shows on it an image of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

The Defense of Marriage Act was just partly overturned and Prop 8 was found unconstitutional. These are things to be celebrated, for sure. As much as this image makes me smile and makes me happy, I also find it incredibly problematic.

Bert and Ernie have been roommates

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We #StandWithWendy in her fight

Watch this remarkable woman, Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, stand up as one person against a bill that would greatly restrict women’s rights in Texas.

It is troublesome to me that men believe that they should be making laws to dictate the lives of women. That is institutionalized sexism at its very worst. When we stand against choice, when we stand against equal pay, when we stand against equality in any form, we are standing against women, ourselves, and the history of freedom that our country was founded on.

If we truly believe in equality and equity, then we must stand with Wendy as she fights for the rights of women to control their bodies and make their own informed (and often excruciatingly difficult) decisions.

If you find the reading of the testimonies in the filibuster hard to listen to, just think about how hard it much be to stand there and read them without breaking down. If you find yourself wanting to turn away and turn it off realize that ignorance is a privilege that we can no longer afford.

Male Allies Marching Onwards for Women’s Rights

Guest Blog by Marvin Mathew

Gatorade ran a well-known Commercial in 2006, Everything you can do I can do better between Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm. It framed the ability of women to compete just as well as men. Gatorade’s commercial tied into a movement dating from the 1970’s in America. It continues today with President Obama’s words, “Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.”

It’s time to join the President and stand alongside women. According to Dolores Huerta, 2011 Medal of Freedom Recipient, a great way for men to get involved is to “Talk to other men and sometimes step back and let women step up.”  Directly from the words of a legend, all it takes is speaking to a brother, father, and friend.

Women are capable, but as long as we don’t stand alongside our mothers daughters, and sisters, reminding them of the endless possibilities for them, then we, as a society have not finished our journey and our duty to our children. Raised by a single mother in New York who did the job of a father and a mother, my sister and I learned firsthand that women are just as capable as men. I share this story with many Americans from urban city centers to the suburbs and most rural towns in this grand nation.

The ability to achieve, succeed, and shine must be protected through legislation and enforcement of that legislation. However, these results will never come about if we allow the injustice of todays systems to continue. Many are standing up and recognizing the tides are turned towards equality—it’s our time to stand with them.

Take note of this moment in American history as is a precious time to bring to light the importance of this cause. It is clear that our leader and President is ready to stand with women, it is our duty to join him and stand with them as well as men of all ages, but particularly as millennial and young men.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Let us mark not the end of our lives with silence, but the beginning of opportunity and justice by our simple conversations. Since 2001 our lives have been American has swayed many ways and the world has watched us, sometimes confused at our actions. It’s time to identify with those that birthed us and remind the world why America is the great nation that it is.

We must not let this time to make what is wrong, right, pass by. The time for change is now.

Marvin Mathew is the Director of Male Allies Outreach at the National Young Women’s Council.

How @DoSomething Did Something About @Kickstarter

When young people ROAR change happens…

  1. Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I had been at Netroots Nation for all of a day and my head was spinning. See, I had signed a petition in protest of Kickstarter to pull a project that endorsed “seduction techniques” that qualify in most states as sexual assault. I assumed that Kickstarter would see the error of their ways and pull the project. I was wrong. So I stayed up late into the nights trying to get my thoughts on paper…
  2. Open letter regarding Kickstarter’s tacit endorsement of rape culture via @masculinityU #NN13 #NN13women #fem2
  3. And then I emailed some allies in the work in the hope that they would share the blog in the morning…
  4. Dear @kickstarter, sexual assault should not be funded! @MasculinityU
  5. This is a must-read. @rippleofhope, you’re awesome.…
  6. Well done, friend RT @rippleofhope: What was @Kickstarter thinking? Open letter on why rape culture’s never okay
  7. So of course, it felt nice to get some kudos.Then after Kickstarter apologized, this happened:
  8. @MasculinityU of course it took a blog post written by a male instead of 50,000 signatures from mostly females. Still a win, though.
  9. Main props to @dosomething RT @hkearl: @MasculinityU congrats on kickstarter apologizing and donating to RAINN! Great work
  10. …and I was upset. Because I know the people at DoSomething and they are wonderful and I know that 99.9999999% of the reason that Kickstarter took the actions they did was because they successfully mobilized tens of thousands of people. So here is my Storify attempt to chronicle their efforts:
  11. The Petition is Launched

  12. Help us get the word out! Tweet this petition to tell @kickstarter to shut down a how-to-rape book:… We can stop it!
  13. We’re close to 1k signatures to have @Kickstarter shut down funding to a book that teaches how to rape:… Help us!
  14. 1,000 of you have joined us to tell @Kickstarter NOT to fund a how-to-rape guide. Let’s keep it going! This ISN’T ok…
  15. WOW! We’re already at 7,000 signatures telling @Kickstarter to stop funding rape culture. Help us get more:…
  16. Allies Step Up

  17. Tell @kickstarter to refuse to fund a book that promotes sexual assault. Sign and share here! via @dosomething
  18. Handing over the signatures

  19. We’re headed to Kickstarter to present them nearly 50,000 SIGNATURES! (All in under 24 hours)…
  20. We’re delivering our petition with nearly 50k signatures to Kickstarter to tell them to stop funding a…
  21. Winning!

  22. Kickstarter Petition Update: WE WONAfter our petition gained over 61,095 signatures, Kickstarter has issued an official apology and statement here:….

    It’s titled, “We were wrong.” (Yup!) While they are still funding the dude, they’ve committed to reviewing their terms of service and will immediately prohibit “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. They are also making a $25k contribution to RAINN. (No mention of us, the petition, or deleting your Facebook posts…)

    Our response:
    1. We’re proud. Despite the fact that the statement didn’t mention and the 60,000 young people who signed the petition…clearly, we won. Nice work. Lesson? When young people ROAR, it matters.

    2. We are thrilled Kickstarter is reviewing and changing its policies to stop anything like this from
    happening again. We think it’s lame that they are still funding the project – but we have reached out to the author himself to help him write something positive. He is meeting with one of our team this weekend for coffee.

    3. We love that our friends at RAINN will receive a donation to continue to combat sexual assault.

    4. We hope Kickstarter did something nice for that office manager…

    We’re happy we won this one…there is a lot more out there to tackle. Send us your ideas for campaigns and petitions:…

    You matter. When you roar, people listen and change happens.

  23. Thanks @Kickstarter for the apology and pledge to donate $25k to @RAINN01! @dosomething
  24. Wow! Kickstarter has issued an apology! The author is even having coffee w/ @dosomething WE DID IT! @SophiaBush
  25. Post-Mortem

  26. @kickstarter issued apology for not immdtly removing “seduction guide!” Thnx every1 who signed @dosomething petition!…
  27. Congrats to @dosomething for their successful petition to end the Kickstarter campaign to stop funding on a how to sexual assault book!
  28. .@Kickstarter apologizes but no mention of the @DoSomething petition, on a good note they donate $25k to @RAINN!…
  29. “In Wake of Creep ‘Dating’ Guide, Is it Time for Kickstarter to Do Something?” via @adage @portergale
  30. “How not to do Crisis PR (A Real-Time Case Study)” via @nancylublin @LinkedIn
  31. Big thx to our friends @dosomething for their petition against the “how-to” manual & to the 60k people who turned their outrage into action
  32. That is how it is done. That is how young people create change. That is how DoSomething does something.

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Kickstarter: “We Were Wrong”

Props to Kickstarter for stepping up and trying make amends. It is unfortunate that the project got funded (which is automated), but the rest of their response was pretty spot on. -Marc

Dear everybody,

On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.

We were wrong.

Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:

  • The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly.
  • Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.

These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.

Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.

Where does this leave us?

First, there is no taking back money from the project or canceling funding after the fact. When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window.

Second, the project page has been removed from Kickstarter. The project has no place on our site. For transparency’s sake, a record of the page is cached here.

Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.

We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously. Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way. We’re sorry for getting this so wrong.

Thank you,