"And recognizing that our male dominated culture is fucked up doesn’t make you a self-hating man, either. When I first heard Bikini Kill, it was fucking thrilling. Hearing someone lash out against dominant sexist attitudes wasn’t exciting in some sort of “oh good for women, they’re standing up for themselves,” type of way. It was liberating to hear someone take on those traditional expressions of masculinity, because I hated the ways I was expected to act as a man. I hated the toughness and numbness that was expected from men, because I wanted to be able to express my emotions without fear of ridicule. I hated the predatory way that men acted towards women, because I wanted to be free to have meaningful relationships with women. Likewise, I hated the homophobia, because I wanted to have meaningful relationships with the men in my life. I see men around me all the time who refuse to show any signs of vulnerability for fear of appearing feminine, and they tend to cut themselves off emotionally from the world. It’s fucking sad. I see men all the time who only view their relationships in terms of conquest, and I can’t think of one of them who has a healthy emotional life. Breaking down ideas around male superiority and masculinity is absolutely in mens’ best interests. In a punk context, I can say with certainty that the scenes I’ve visited that were the most gender inclusive have always been the most exciting and thriving music communities. There’s nothing to be gained for men in maintaining the boy’s club."
The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz. There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”
Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:
“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life — including my mother, sister and girlfriend — and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender."
This reminds me of a gallery opening I was volunteering at awhile back, for an exhibit of art based on domestic violence. The speaker told a story about a workshop he’d been to where the instructor asked the audience whether they’d rather walk on the side of the street with a stranger, or the one with a barking German Shepard. The men chose the stranger; the women chose the dog.