Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Kimberlé Crenshaw

Joana Aziz Open letter to Dear Man

Dear Men, It Is Time to Step Up

An open letter from a feminist requesting male solidarity

I was having a discussion with four male colleagues, and I suddenly realized that I was being interrupted constantly.

Even though I am well versed on the topic, my input, for most of the time, was rendered useless.
It’s not the first time I encounter such a predicament among male presence.

My standpoint has been disregarded, devalued and belittled too many times that it prompts me to write this piece.
I’m tired of being systematically patronized simply because I am a woman.

It is these mundane exchanges of micro-aggression that construct larger disturbances in power dynamics. Disturbances where women still do not possess autonomous control over their own bodies.

Reproductive rights, the wage gap, and under-representation are important gender-based issues that we (men and women) have to actively tackle.

The struggle to achieve gender equality has been underway for 200 years now. It was launched by Mary Wollstonecraft with her treatise A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792.

First-wave feminism enlisted the efforts of suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters who granted us our current right to vote.

The second-wave feminist movement during the 1960’s challenged conventional gender roles demanding opportunity in occupational fields that is our right to work.

Third-wave feminism which began in the early 1990s recognized the importance of ‘inter-sectionality’.

Kimberlé Crenshaw is the leading scholar responsible for coining the term. As a Civil Rights activist Crenshaw recognizes that in order to successfully dissect the hegemony of power, we must account for the nature of social categorizations such as race, class, gender, and sexuality.

Fourth-wave feminism, sometimes known as post-feminism, is what we are experiencing now.

With the aid of social media, the 21st century is seeing the re-emergence of feminism in full throttle. Movements like #Metoo, for example, brought awareness to the often overlooked prevalence of sexual harassment and assault.

USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar had sexually abused more than 100 female athletes throughout his career.

When the victims approached the administration where they trained with complaints, they were silenced and disregarded. Such cases might have continued to be ignored but with the support of #MeToo, the once victims now empowered women testified in court and held their abuser accountable.

Dear Men,

We have come a long way, but we still have miles ahead.

We still live in a largely male-dominated society where beliefs of superiority shape regressive attitudes towards women.

It’s time to step up.

It’s time to accept the responsibility you share in the construction of social values.

To be aware that silence in moments of injustices are acts of complicity and social progression requires your involvement.

Here is what you can do:

1- Acknowledge your Privileges

Acknowledge that being born male instantaneously grants you privileges in our patriarchal structure and conversely being born female instantaneously puts us at a disadvantage.

Acknowledge that you might hold covert judgments and preconceived notions about women. The society and the culture you were brought up in, even if indirectly, teaches the systemic subordination of women.

Acknowledge that opportunity is curved in your favor, as you are more likely to be accepted to universities,  jobs, and positions of leadership.

2- Listen to us

Listen to us when we speak whether in a personal, intimate or professional setting.

More often than not, I find myself in positions where I am talked at as opposed to talk to. I can clearly identify that my male counterpart is not listening to me but rather is assuming he knows the veracity of the situation and is willing to dissect and explain it to me.

The female voice is devalued and underrepresented in various positions from lead roles in filmsto seats in Parliament. A 2017 study revealed that men had substantially more lines in films – 37,000 dialogues – whereas women had just over 15,000.

Moreover, in many cases taking the female character out of the film doesn’t change the story or plot line. We are not generally not exposed to strong female figures which might explain why women in Lebanon account for 3.1 percent of the deputies in parliament – four out of 128 seats in Parliament.

Established norms have enabled the trivialization of women’s speech.

A 2014 analysis concluded ‘that men were nearly three times as likely to interrupt a woman as they were a man.’ These opportunities for change are found in everyday life where the simple act of listening is an act of resistance.

3- Don’t support acts of Objectification

We, as a society, have been conditioned to scrutinize women’s appearance.

The distribution of gender roles teaches girls and women that the greater part of their value comes from their looks. Media’s representation also largely supports the judgments and objectification of women’s physicality.

This has not only been proven to lower women’s self-esteem and lead to self-objectification but has been linked to dehumanization and accepted levels of violence towards women.

Chose to become aware of instances of objectification. Refuse to participate in “locker room talk” and highlight the dangers of its perpetuation.

4- Accept cuts

While many dispute the existence of the wage gap, the truth is women make 79 cents on the dollar compared with men. Women earn less in almost every occupation including sports where female athletes earn an average of 23.4% less than their male counterparts.

Such impositions are due to the interconnected web of gender stereotypes which dictates how women should work and how much they should earn.

Leveling the playing field in terms of gender equality would require men to accept some drawbacks.

For example, earlier this month six of the BBC’s leading male presenters agreed to take pay cuts after revelations of wage disparity between female co-workers emerged.

But what about men?

I truly believe that the patriarchal system is oppressive towards everyone, male and female alike.

Men are coerced into a system of stereotypes as well and challenging it requires the cumulative effort of those involved. As we tackle one side of the spectrum (that oppresses women), we would inevitably be tackling the other side (which oppresses men).

50 Years After the March on Washington, and Still Fighting for Jobs and Freedom

 Kenyon Farrow posted this August 22, 2013 on RH Reality Check:

On Saturday, August 24, tens of thousands of people will descend on the nation’s capital to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the actual anniversary of which is August 28.

There have been some grumblings that the anniversary events will not duly encompass contemporary racial justice issues, and need to do more than re-live the famous images of the past.

I am often frustrated with the way racial justice issues for Black people can only be characterized as racist if they somehow reference past symbols of racial violence: legal “lynching,” the “new Jim Crow,” and Paula Dean’s antebellum-themed summer soiree.

The threats to cutting food stamps, the rollback on abortion access (which disproportionately affects poor women), the battles for low-wage workers and teachers, and the various fights over racial profiling in New York City, New Orleans, and Sanford, Florida, are all contemporary issues facing Black people in the United States, and each need their own mass mobilizations here and now.

The March on Washington, 1963.

The March on Washington, 1963. (Aude / WikiMedia Commons)

What’s past is prologue.

Many of the gains made as a result of the Civil Rights Movement are being rolled back, and some of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions are great examples of this, demonstrating just how much a constant presence the nation’s racist past remains.

In Shelby County v. Holder, the Court ruled section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional. Arguing in its decision that “things have changed in the South,” the Court nullified the formula initially created by the act to determine what jurisdictions needed federal “preclearance” before amending “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting.”

Critical race legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw told Washington, D.C.’s Afro-American newspaper that the decision was akin to “building a dam to keep the lowlands from flooding and for 40 years the lowlands don’t flood and then deciding that you don’t need the dam anymore.”

But the Court didn’t stop at gutting voting rights. The Supreme Court also ruled in two cases making it more difficult for employees to sue on the grounds of racial discrimination. In Vance v. Ball State University, the Court ruling narrowed the definition of “supervisor” held by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Essentially, the Court decided that supervisors can only be held liable in a discrimination case if they have power over the hiring, firing, changing of work responsibilities, promoting, or demoting of an employee. (All these functions are not the role of the supervisor)

In a second case, University of Texas Southern Medical Center v. Vassar, the Court decided employees must prove that they’ve been denied a promotion or raise only because of discrimination—which gives employers more room to claim a host of other reasons why someone didn’t get a promotion or raise.

Much of the coverage of the Supreme Court decisions this summer focused on those regarding same-sex marriage.

Many people were thrilled that the Court declined to rule on the Proposition 8 case (which essentially made a lower appeals court decision in favor of same-sex marriage in California valid), and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which made same-sex marriages recognized by the federal government in the states that currently allow such unions.

But this ruling is not without racial implications. As American University law professor Nancy Polikoff noted in a statement about the ruling, “The demographics of who marries now is highly skewed by race and class. There is every reason to assume those demographics will hold for lesbians and gay men as well. So we will have same-sex couples who don’t marry, just as we have different-sex couples who don’t marry.”

It is important to note, as Polikoff hinted, that African Americans as a U.S. racial group are the least likely to be married.

And even if Black gay and lesbians want to get married, the areas with the highest proportion of Black same-sex couples are in Southern states that have constitutional bans on such unions.

So even looking at the DOMA decision from a kind of “states’ rights” perspective, the situation is still one in which there is a liberalization of laws in states that have fewer Blacks.

And the places where Black people reside in great numbers (or are highly concentrated) have the most restrictive voting rules, drug enforcement, and access to social safety-net programs like food stamps and Medicaid, and the least labor protections.

In fact, if we go back one year to the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, we see that a vast majority of the states that are not opting in to the expansion of Medicaid (and all the ancillary benefits for community health centers, hospitals, and health-care jobs that come with it) are in the South, with large uninsured Black populations.

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that because of this, nearly 6 out of 10 African Americans who would have otherwise qualified for the Medicaid expansion in 2014 live in states where they will not receive it.

But despite these legal challenges, it seems clear to me that we are on the precipice of a moment of mass civil disobedience particularly involving Black people, the likes of which we have not seen in decades. From the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina, to the Dream Defenders in Florida taking on gun laws involved in the murder of Trayvon Martin and the prosecution of Marissa Alexander, to teachers and parents in Chicago and Philadelphia getting arrested to prevent school closures, to striking fast-food and Walmart workers, to all the work challenging racial profiling and police violence, from New York City to New Orleans, this may be a historic moment for the Civil Rights Movement of today that is largely being reported by mainstream media as isolated incidents and not a potential turning of the tide.

Though I grow tired of always pinning Black people to the past, I don’t think the Civil Rights Movement has the same level of emotional resonance for young people as it has for some others, and that can actually be a barrier to new forms of organizing, mobilizing, and resistance. But I do think, on August 24 at the National Mall, we have many struggles we’ll be carrying into the future.


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adonis49

October 2020
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