Performing masculinity encourages violence against women.

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Transcript of A call to men by Tony Porter:

I grew up in New York City, between Harlem and the Bronx. Growing up as a boy, we were taught that men had to be tough, had to be strong, had to be courageous, dominating — no pain, no emotions, with the exception of anger — and definitely no fear — that men are in charge, which means women are not; that men lead, and you should just follow and do what we say; that men are superior, women are inferior; that men are strong, women are weak; that women are of less value — property of men — and objects, particularly sexual objects. I’ve later come to know that to be the collective socialization of men, better known as the “man box.” See this man box has in it all the ingredients of how we define what it means to be a man.

[Man box: 'Don't cry or openly express emotions with the exception of anger. Do not show weakness or fear. Demonstrate power/control especially over women. Aggression-Dominance. Protector. Do not be "like a woman". Heterosexual. Do not be "like a gay man". Tough-Athletic-Strength-Courage. Makes decisions-Does not need help. Views women as property/objects.]

Now I also want to say, without a doubt, there are some wonderful, wonderful, absolutely wonderful things about being a man. But at the same time, there’s some stuff that’s just straight up twisted. And we really need to begin to challenge, look at it and really get in the process of deconstructing, redefining, what we come to know as manhood.

This is my two at home, Kendall and Jay. They’re 11 and 12. Kendall’s 15 months older than Jay. There was a period of time when my wife, her name is Tammie, and I, we just got real busy and whip, bam, boom: Kendall and Jay. (Laughter) And when they were about five and six, four and five, Jay could come to me, come to me crying. It didn’t matter what she was crying about, she could get on my knee, she could snot my sleeve up, just cry, cry it out. Daddy’s got you. That’s all that’s important.

Now Kendall on the other hand — and like I said, he’s only 15 months older than her — he came to me crying, it’s like as soon as I would hear him cry, a clock would go off. I would give the boy probably about 30 seconds, which means, by the time he got to me, I was already saying things like, “Why are you crying? Hold your head up. Look at me. Explain to me what’s wrong. Tell me what’s wrong. I can’t understand you. Why are you crying?” And out of my own frustration of my role and responsibility of building him up as a man to fit into these guidelines and these structures that are defining this man box, I would find myself saying things like, “Just go in your room. Just go on, go on in your room. Sit down, get yourself together and come back and talk to me when you can talk to me like a —” What? (Audience: Man.) “like a man.” And he’s five years old. And as I grow in life, I would say to myself, “My God, what’s wrong with me? What am I doing? Why would I this?” And I think back. I think back to my father.

There was a time in my life where we had a very troubled experience in our family. My brother, Henry, he died tragically when we were teenagers. We lived in New York City, as I said. We lived in the Bronx at the time. And the burial was in a place called Long Island, it was about two hours outside of the city. And as we were preparing to come back from the burial, the cars stopped at the bathroom to let folks take care of themselves before the long ride back to the city. And the limousine empties out. My mother, my sister, my auntie, they all get out, but my father and I stayed in the limousine. And no sooner than the women got out, he burst out crying. He didn’t want cry in front of me. But he knew he wasn’t going to make it back to the city, and it was better me than to allow himself to express these feelings and emotions in front of the women. And this is a man who, 10 minutes ago, had just put his teenage son in the ground — something I just can’t even imagine. The thing that sticks with me the most is that he was apologizing to me for crying in front of me. And at the same time, he was also giving me props, lifting me up, for not crying.

I come to also look at this as this fear that we have as men, this fear that just has us paralyzed, holding us hostage to this man box. I can remember speaking to a 12 year-old boy, a football player, and I asked him, I said, “How would you feel if, in front of all the players, your coach told you you were playing like a girl?” Now I expected him to say something like, I’d be sad, I’d be mad, I’d be angry, or something like that. No, the boy said to me — the boy said to me, “It would destroy me.” And I said to myself, “God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?”

It took me back to a time when I was about 12 years old. I grew up in tenement buildings in the inner-city. At this time we’re living in the Bronx. And in the building next to where I lived there was a guy named Johnny. He was about 16 years old, and we were all about 12 years old — younger guys. And he was hanging out with all us younger guys. And this guy, he was up to a lot of no good. He was the kind of kid who parents would have to wonder, “What is this 16 year-old boy doing with these 12 year-old boys?” And he did spend a lot of time up to no good. He was a troubled kid. His mother had died from a heroin overdose. He was being raised by his grandmother. His father wasn’t on the set. His grandmother had two jobs. He was home alone a lot. But I’ve got to tell you, we young guys, we looked up to this dude. He was cool. He was fine. That’s what the sisters said, “He was fine.” He was having sex. We all looked up to him.

So one day, I’m out in front of the house doing something — just playing around, doing something — I don’t know what. He looks out his window, he calls me upstairs, he said, “Hey Anthony.” They called my Anthony growing up as a kid. “Hey Anthony, come on upstairs.” Johnny call, you go. So I run right upstairs. As he opens the door, he says to me, “Do you want some?” Now I immediately knew what he meant. Because for me growing up at that time, and our relationship with this man box, do you want some meant one of two things, sex or drugs — and we weren’t doing drugs. Now my box, card, man box card, was immediately in jeopardy. Two things: One, I never had sex. We don’t talk about that as men. You only tell your dearest, closest friend, sworn to secrecy for life, the first time you had sex. For everybody else, we go around like we’ve been having sex since we were two. There ain’t no first time. (Laughter) The other thing I couldn’t tell him is that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl. Women are objects, especially sexual objects.

Anyway, so I couldn’t tell him any of that. So, like my mother would say, make a long story short. I just simply said to Johnny, “Yes.” He told me to go in his room. I go in his room. On his bed is a girl from the neighborhood named Sheila. She’s 16 years old. She’s nude. She’s what I know today to be mentally ill, higher functioning at times than others. We had a whole choice’s-worth of inappropriate names for her. Anyway, Johnny had just gotten through having sex with her. Well actually, he raped her, but he would say he had sex with her. Because, while Sheila never said no, she also never said yes.

So he was offering me the opportunity to do the same. So when I go in the room, I close the door. Folks, I’m petrified. I stand with my back to the door so Johnny can’t bust in the room and see that I’m not doing anything. And I stand there long enough that I could have actually done something. So now I’m no longer trying to figure out what I’m going to do, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get out of this room. So in my 12 years of wisdom, I zip my pants down, I walk out into the room. And low and behold to me, while I was in the room with Sheila, Johnny was back at the window calling guys up. So now there’s a living room full of guys. It was like the waiting room in the doctor’s office. And they asked me how was it. And I say to them, “It was good.” And I zip my pants up in front of them, and I head for the door.

Now I say this all with remorse, and I was feeling a tremendous amount of remorse at that time, but I was conflicted, because, while I was feeling remorse, I was excited, because I didn’t get caught, but I knew I felt bad about what was happening. This fear getting outside the man box totally enveloped me. It was way more important to me, about me and my man box card than about Sheila and what was happening to her.

See collectively, we as men are taught to have less value in women, to view them as property and the objects of men. We see that as an equation that equals violence against women. We as men, good men, the large majority of men, we operate on the foundation of this whole collective socialization. We kind of see ourselves separate, but we’re very much a part of it. You see, we have to come to understand that less value, property and objectification is the foundation and the violence can’t happen without it.

[Foundation: {All men} >> {violence against women} >> {domestic assault, sexual assault} >> {stalking, rape, dating violence} >> {harassment, porn}]

So we’re very much a part of the solution as well as the problem. The center for disease control says that men’s violence against women is at epidemic proportions, is the number one health concern for women in this country and abroad.

So quickly, I’d like to just say, this is the love of my life, my daughter Jay. The world I envision for her, how do I want men to be acting and behaving? I need you on board. I need you with me. I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men — that it’s okay to not be dominating, that it’s okay to have feelings and emotions, that it’s okay to promote equality, that it’s okay to have women who are just friends and that’s it, that it’s okay to be whole, that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.

I remember asking a nine year-old boy. I asked a nine year-old boy, “What would life be like for you, if you didn’t have to adhere to this man box?” He said to me, “I would be free.”


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29 Responses to “Performing masculinity encourages violence against women.”

  1. numol Says:

    It’s great to see guys talking about this. Even better: it really looks like he is being genuine, like he really cares, rather than just trying to look progressive and sensitive. Thanks for posting this!

  2. fred Says:

    The guy probably does care since he actually is a father to his children. My only real objection is that he was projecting the dysfunctional behavior of a specific population onto men in general. Otherwise, he made some excellent points.

  3. Naomi Says:

    Fred, many women don’t have the luxury of making that distinction. It’s too dangerous. Incidentally, that’s not their fault.

    Wait a second. Are you seriously suggesting that because he is Black, he wouldn’t be a good father? Or that because he is Black, he would be abusive to women?

  4. Jayn Says:

    I think fred’s implication is that his experience can only be applied to Black men, not all men. Because, you know, white males aren’t taught that aggression is a Manly Thing, or that the masculine is superior to the feminine (actually, women get that message too–it was rather disconcerting when I realised that all my life I’ve been looking up to a specifically male ideal), or that Big Boys Don’t Cry.

  5. fred Says:

    Naomi writes, Wait a second. Are you seriously suggesting that because he is Black, he wouldn’t be a good father? Or that because he is Black, he would be abusive to women?

    Oh, was he black? I didn’t notice.

  6. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Naomi Says:
    December 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    Fred, many women don’t have the luxury of making that distinction. It’s too dangerous. Incidentally, that’s not their fault…..
    …………

    Naomi,

    Fred’s comments aren’t in the least surprising —-given it’s coming from a White supremacist male…I wondered how long it would it take before he went there.

    While I essentially have no problems with Tony Porter’s words at a basic level, he could have gone further because his discussion completely neglects the history of Black men in the US., in particular, issues of the Post-Emancipation and Reconstruction Era. I’m aware one can’t say everything in a limited time frame…but Porter could have touched upon but for whatever reasons he didn’t— probably out of not “alienating” members of his White audience.

    During this period, the 1870s into the 20th century, when former Black slaves where organizing, community building, re-establishing broken families, etc. what did they do? They uncritically adopted the Patriarchal ideology of their former White Slave Owners as THE model for organizing the family and society as a whole. Whereas, women were “equal” in that they once worked outside the home, had no human rights either, they tried to coerce women into the home and into taking up domesticity.

    But the ideology / practice didn’t just work for them—because the majority of Black women had NO CHOICE but to continue working outside the home and couldn’t always play dutiful wife and mother.

    While some of Porter’s comments are insightful, a Black feminist like bell hooks, Angela Y. Davis or Michelle Wallace would blow his comments out of the water in reminding him of that history where Black males were denied their “manhood” for centuries, had no AGENCY over their lives or family members. They were once OWNED by White males and also had little freedom /access under Jim Crow legislation.

    Unfortunately, Black male leaders at the time and into the continuum have adopted this as only strategy of organizing known/accessible to them thanks to their subordination under race and this thing called “Christianity” that more or less buttressed male domination – female subordination.

    There is also an insidious problem in putting a Black face / a “Hard Black Man’ like Tony Porter onto these discussion of male violence—-because there is an inherent racist assumption is that ONLY Black men have this issue of violence against women, that Black males are somehow more ‘phallocentric”, “more dangerous”, “more violent” towards women, where White males are constructed as “normal” and “benign” patriarchs / ignoring their experiences of coercion and violence.

    White males are “benign” only where their women are concerned in protecting them from non-White men.

    Porter”s discourse critically ignores all those external “nurture” / social issues that Jayn and Restructure mentioned like disenfranchisement and poverty that leads to psychological control and physical violence, while still holding onto the gender – script of male performance – dominating women.

    I am not condoning violence on women. I am deconstructing it. Unfortunately, when the Black male is denied access into becoming a responsible and nurturing provider, the head of the family, etc…what can we expect, but an allegiance to the myths of subordinating women to “prove” manhood.

    Porter also ignores, the issue of how all women, irregardless of race have been constructed as “disposable” bodies “designed” for sexual control by men.

    As for Fred’s discourse that he didn’t “notice” the race of the male—that’s just his usual colourblind bullshit emerging.…he notices it all right but it’s a way for him to, temporarily distance himself from his White supremacy. Hence, his other telling comment of disavowal—“My only real objection is that he was projecting the dysfunctional behavior of a specific population onto men in general”.

    Here, he makes the racialized distinction…that the Black man’s voice and “dysfunctional” experience cannot be “universal” but only specific to his social group….

    Jayn says: I think fred’s implication is that his experience can only be applied to Black men, not all men.

    This is exactly what he means!

  7. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Jayn Says:
    December 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Because, you know, white males aren’t taught that aggression is a Manly Thing, or that the masculine is superior to the feminine (actually, women get that message too–it was rather disconcerting when I realised that all my life I’ve been looking up to a specifically male ideal), or that Big Boys Don’t Cry.

    ………….

    Jayn,

    Unsure of your comments here…are you being ironic / critical of fred’s comments…? If you are, then I get it…

    This is a vexing issue that underscores Black voice / discourse…Can that voice speak for “all people” or does it just annunciate to their particular group..? Whereas, White experience and discourse somehow speaks to everyone, irregardless of race.

    This is where issues of race, and the rhetoric of colourblindness and “universality” are playing out without interrogating/seeing the race and social meaning of White people.

    How could one imagine that White males aren’t taught aggression and violence…? That these issues are somehow only specific to non-White males / that White males are “absolved” of violence?

    How about Asian and Islamic males and their control / violence toward their women…?

    Also, women of all races might need to interrogate these so-called “male ideals”…What do they mean, who made them, who sustains them, as many (not all) appear to have bought into the gender – script, which is equally problematic in supporting patriarchy…

    I know your comments are well-meaning, but there was something missing / underdeveloped.

    At any rate, I have always maintained that even the nicest and most of intelligent of women can subscribe to patriarchal thinking / gender roles. That they can come into a heterosexual relationship with their own social script in hand, with assumptions/expectations of how things are supposed to go.

    And this is not about displacing blame onto women, it’s about being aware of patriarchy / hetero-sexism as central and controlling agents and how we can uncritically subscribe and re-enforce them. …

    Clarify your comments for me, just to make sure…

  8. Naomi Says:

    Anti-Status Quo Voice – Yes, my first (too quick) reading of Fred was that he meant most men aren’t violent, so don’t lump them all together. I hear that frequently. My second reading caught the “actually is a father” and then wondered if he meant only Black men are violent. I note he didn’t confirm in the language I used, or further explain his meaning. :( Sorry, didn’t recognize it as trolling, but I won’t engage in the future.

    I’m almost 100% sure Jayn’s comments were indeed sarcastic (after the “you know,” but not in the parentheses). For me, Porter’s Black male voice was speaking for all men as a group, including white men. I really appreciate hearing men start conversations about gender expectations and misogyny. My personal negative experiences have been with white men, so I will probably always be extra aware of white men’s propensity for being mentally, physically, and sexually violent to women in a way that precludes any reading of them as benign protectors of white women. However, I hadn’t explored how a Black man being a spokesperson for conversations about violence against women could be problematic (especially to white audiences). Thank you for bringing that up and explaining in detail.

    “Unfortunately, when the Black male is denied access into becoming a responsible and nurturing provider, the head of the family, etc…what can we expect, but an allegiance to the myths of subordinating women to “prove” manhood.”

    Just to clarify, do you mean that when a Black man is denied the ‘positive’ patriarchal myths of the “provider” and “family head” for reasons caused by racism, he is more likely to use the ‘negative’ myths of “dominance”? I’m mulling over this. I’m wondering if the results often end up being the same for women, or if the more violent enactments of patriarchy do have some tie to a perceived lack of power by a man who expects to have certain privileges.

  9. Jayn Says:

    Naomi got it–my comments were entirely sarcastic, except for the aside. The effects might be somewhat different in different groups of men, but the ingredients, the messages that create that violence are ubiquitous. Porter’s talk would be good for all men to hear.

    BTW, what I meant by ‘male ideals’ was the idealized man, basically–while I didn’t avoid ‘feminine’ things, I tended to judge myself by what society tells us men should be. I cared more about being a good athlete than a good cook (I’m neither, btw–I can crochet and use power tools though :P). I picked up the idea that men are ‘better’, so that’s what I tended to aim for.

  10. maysie » Blog Archive » A call to men Says:

    [...] Here. [...]

  11. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Naomi Says:
    December 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    I’m almost 100% sure Jayn’s comments were indeed sarcastic (after the “you know,” but not in the parentheses). For me, Porter’s Black male voice was speaking for all men as a group, including white men. I really appreciate hearing men start conversations about gender expectations and misogyny.

    …………………….

    @ Naomi and Jayn,

    Thanks for clarifying the comments…Knowing Jayn from her previous commentary, I sort of felt she was being sarcastic / ironic. But there was something missing I didn’t get. This is where use of commas “ ” is sometimes helpful to show tone or a self-reflexive distancing from one’s comments, as blog readers cannot “hear” your voice – inflection.

    And indeed, there is an issue of Black men speaking about their experience, relationships with women, violence, etc. that cannot always speak for ALL men, transcend racial identity. As fred, has made it clear in his discourse, this “raceless” identification is not possible. So then, why should White male experiences speak to Black males, which we are often coerced into identifying /accepting…?

    For the record, Porter’s experiences don’t even speak to all Black males. Here, issues of class and the inherent assumption of heterosexuality now come into focus.

    Porter’s comments emerge from “Underclass’ Black experience, so any middle-class Black males out there, might promptly distance themselves from his comments, in not wishing to identity with the “hood” and “gangta” struggles.

    Despite his “best intentions” in trying to be “colourblind”, to “transcend” race, Porter inadvertently re-inscribed “race-talk” and his racial Blackness by invoking his social /environmental oppression with the bywords of “the Bronx” and the “hood”—–a social space/experience from which most Whites in the US and Canada often distance themselves anyway, and cannot easily identify.

    Any Whites to whom to might have been addressing, likewise might not recognize those oppressions/underclass struggles or identify/empathize with him as Black and male—-as Fred has so demonstrated in his discourse. Porter’s Black / “hood” struggles cannot be read as “universal” to all males.

    Unfortunately, the former “Hard Black Homeboy” from the “projects”, by alluding to his class oppression, essentially told most racist White rhetorical listeners what they already “know” and desire to hear about Black “gangstas” and “hos” like sexploited Shelia anyway—-hence backlash comments like “he was projecting the dysfunctional behavior of a specific population onto men in general”.

    Onto which “specific population” of men was Porter “projecting” his “dysfunctional” rhetoric, fred…?

    But what can Porter reference but his own experience? The “Hamptons” on Long Island…Riverside Drive..?

  12. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Naomi Says:
    December 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Just to clarify, do you mean that when a Black man is denied the ‘positive’ patriarchal myths of the “provider” and “family head” for reasons caused by racism, he is more likely to use the ‘negative’ myths of “dominance”? I’m mulling over this. I’m wondering if the results often end up being the same for women, or if the more violent enactments of patriarchy do have some tie to a perceived lack of power by a man who expects to have certain privileges.
    …………………..

    You’ve placed an intelligent and critical question to me, to which I really don’t have an easy answer, nor do many other critical anti-racist feminist thinkers for that matter.

    I am a big reader of Black Feminist Thought, so my comments emerge from this and personal experiences a working class Black man.

    I am ambivalent about patriarchy, as none of us invented the ideology as social construct. We were all born and found the ideology in place, trying to make the best of it, mediating and navigating its paradoxical and contradictory pathways.

    Coming from the position as a Black Canadian-born Gay male (are you listening, freddie?), and my experiences therefore cannot speak for ALL Black males, nonetheless I will state is that when mainstream social systems/institutions do not facilitate easy access to MEANINGFUL employment, social opportunity and mobility for Black males—-then a silent anger and frustration over that denial /white privilege exclusion develops and impacts our relationships. And sometimes those closest to us in relationships, receive the full backlash of that frustration and pent-up rage in demanding that the woman “do her part” in playing out the patriarchal script, in subordinating herself to male dominance.

    I do not subscribe to Patriarchy, violence or misogyny; however, I want to understand how they develop while interrogating the interlocking issues of race, class and sexuality.

    Akin to those “Nice Guys” discussions…Black males also have vested interests in not being “too nice”, lest we appear / get called “Uncle Tom”, “Bojangles”, “bxtch”, “punk-ass”, and “loser”—a word often deployed by fred… We don’t “win” either if White people heap their contempt on us for just being gentle or sensitive.

    I would then generally state, that when the Black male is disallowed/ prohibited the chance to “perform” the more “positive” attributes of patriarchy in being stable, responsible, nurturing, a “good provider”, a positive role model for his children, respecting/valuing the differences of women, then the “dysfunction” (as fred so slyly invoked) will inevitably occur.

    Black males cannot have those “cookie-baking” conditions if the social systems don’t give them a chance to develop. This means having stable / meaningful employment/quality of life in maintaining the family’s stability, providing needs and support.

    This is not to absolve any backlash violence; nor am I denying the reality that not all women have access/class privilege of being “stay at home Moms”, being compliant spouses in every situation; or denying that women don’t have personal ambitions/needs in a competitive society. All women should have a right to those social and personal options.

  13. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    @ Naomi,

    CONTINUED…

    But Black males also need to be critically conscious in interrogating their racialised history, representation, the experiences of women in their lives—their mothers, sisters, aunts, and other women who come into their lives.

    I found it curious and ironic that Black males (like Porter) can sometimes have the utmost empathy and respect for their mothers or sisters, but then sometimes fail to make the broader connections to other females who come into their sphere. Although Porter expresses concern for Sheila, the realization of his actions comes too late.

    At the same time, and I’m not letting any women “off the hook”. Some women in Black men’s lives, in particular, need to be critically aware of the social pressures and the ideology that also affects men in being coerced into living up to / performing expectations of “manhood”. Are these women not re-inscribing / performing patriarchy / gender roles in their relationships…?

    In invoking race rhetoric, I am most annoyed at ways in which Black men lend themselves to the myths of racist notions of violent hyper – masculinity in both Hetero and Gay pornography.

    Have you ever googled the words, “Monster Cxxk” or “Gangsta Gang Bang” and watch how many hits pop up with Black men…? Why, “Monster”?

    Are we/Black males not complicit in unconsciously performing these notions of racialized sexuality / masculinity?

    But then are Black men the producers/controllers of this media iconography and racial representation that we are more “aggressive” and “hyper-sexed”? I resist this ideology.

    To end, one of most foulmouthed – “entertaining” but critically bankrupt films I’ve seen about anti-Black racism and sexuality is American History X (1998).

    At one point, the White protagonist ends up in prison for murder of a Black male and interrogates his racism against his Black cellmates. What transforms the White male /units them as “brothas” as they perform “women’s work” in folding laundry in prison…?

    They are both Straight and just love their “pxssy”. Patriarchy/sexism somehow becomes the “common denominator” between ALL men and somehow “absolves” the White male of his racism—-the White male can now “identify” with the once-loathed Black man in his misogyny and sexism.

    So the film’s rhetoric repudiates White racism on one hand but by Patriarchy and sexism among males is silently upheld—-ignoring all the interlocking nature – differences in oppressions.

    Now we can “brotherly love” because we all like “puxxy”!

    Indeed?

  14. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    @Naomi,

    When you get a chance, please read:

    The Hidden Job Market – Whiteness Has Its Privileges
    September 16, 2010 — Guest Contributor

    © Copyright 2010 by Joseph Worrell. Reproduced with permission on Restructure!.

  15. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Anti-Status Quo Voice wrote:

    This is where use of commas “ ” is sometimes helpful to show tone or a self-reflexive distancing from one’s comments, as blog readers cannot “hear” your voice – inflection.

    ……….

    My error…and a bad one…Not commas, I meant Quotation marks!

  16. Hardl Says:

    Dunno if he ever went any farther than what was in his talk, but this ‘man box’ encourages violence all around, not just against women.
    One striking example would be the Iraqi helicopter vid posted on wikileaks not too long ago.
    “Nice!”
    More milder examples in football, boxing..hell, damn near everything.

    What are these wonderful, wonderful things about being a man that he’s referring to. I’m guessing it’s probably beyond the physical differences.

    Would be entertaining to hear his thoughts on competition, though.

  17. QUOTABLE: Tony Porter, ‘A Call To Men’ | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture Says:

    [...] transcript available at Restructure! Share and [...]

  18. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    @Hardl
    December 27, 2010 at 2:25 am

    ……….

    I wish Porter had articulated what his concept of “man box”
    means….

    I know we all “got it” but “man box” is too puerile and limited a term to mobilize on such a serious topic.

    He could have used words like patriarchal ideology, male privilege, (hetero) sexism, machismo, phallo-centricism in better developing and articulating his ideas.

    I hope I don’t appear to be “dissing” Porter here, because I truly commend his courage and emerging awareness.

    But I’m just one of those Black people who demand more from Black public speakers to do their homework / research, to dismantle potential White condescension / paternalism and the “entertainment” value of such discourse.

    I’m not accusing you of this…

    But I know those sentiments are out there…This is why Whites cannot easily identify or empathize with Black experience/voice, why the Black discourse becomes “static” and cannot transcend its racial boundaries.

    If you’re going to “represent” —then do it right!

  19. Jayn Says:

    “But what can Porter reference but his own experience? The “Hamptons” on Long Island…Riverside Drive..?”

    Exactly, and the same is true regardless of race or social status. My own experiences have been extremely narrow–the only situations to which I can speak with any sort of authority are those relating to white, rural, working class experiences. That mine might be taken as a critique of society as a whole, rather than a specific slice, solely because I’m white, is…can’t think of the word. Not something I’d aspire to do. But at the same time, we can piece together these diverse experiences, these slices, see what’s similar, what’s different, and come up with a pretty good idea of the wider view. Even though my lived experiences are in a very different setting from Porter’s, I see things that are common between them. I suspect he would say the same if he were to hear my experiences.

    I cannot speak to life in the inner city. Porter cannot speak to life in a fishing community. But we can both speak to the wider issues that affect us both.

  20. Sean Graham Says:

    I don’t usually get a chance to read or respond to this blog. Once in awhile I get an email or I get a chance to notice it in my inbox.

    I am a 36 year old black male who grew up in The Bronx.
    True that his words may not reflect every male in the us or even every black male in The Bronx but I can personally say it hits home to what a lot of what happened to my own life.

    In the Bronx growing up and still today to a strong degree it’s an ultra man life or “be anudda man’s wife” mentality in these streets. even in the third grade as I excelled in science to a 5th grade level I was teased for “wanting to be white” because I wanted beat to be smart. I got teased and actually still by some of my old peers for not wanting to listen to popular hip-hop because I didn’t want to listen to lyrics that just talked about the usual “get money get bitches” nonsense.

    A lot of people may not be ale to grasp to what he is saying but I would like you to think this “Who is he speaking to and who is he actually speaking about?” and just as importantly”How does it affect me?”

    I work in midtown Manhattan and I usually see the usual donation chaser with their messenger bag asking for donations for Save the Children or Human Rights Campaign.
    I don’t donate to them because as much as I do wan to save the children and even as I Myself am a bisexual I never have and probably never will see any movement for any acknowledgment in the outer boroughs where the population is more non-white than white.
    WHen I see that I think about a Green Arrow Green Lantern comic.

    So yeah, when I hear Porter’s words I do feel spoken to and a lot of black men feel spoken to directly. Usually when a black man tries to speak to me directly he has a bible in his hand and sez “Be a real man not one of them sissies!”
    “Be tough and get a job and blah blah blah” Never challenge what you know what it is to be a man. He isn’t really preaching to the choir. He is preaching to those that don’t get it. If you get it and it doesn’t apply to you count your stars. Cuz right now as I lay here in my bed typing this in the comfort of my bed staring at my accomplishments, one of my neighbors is believing his accomplishments is “gettin’ his papers” by selling on the corner a la The Wire style.

    I do apologize for any grammatical errors and faux pas in syntax.

  21. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Sean Graham Says:
    December 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    I am a 36 year old black male who grew up in The Bronx.
    True that his words may not reflect every male in the us or even every black male in The Bronx but I can personally say it hits home to what a lot of what happened to my own life.

    …. even in the third grade as I excelled in science to a 5th grade level I was teased for “wanting to be white” . because I wanted beat to be smart. I got teased…
    ………….

    It is good to hear another Black male voice on this blog.

    And as a Black brother, I can empathize with many your experiences. I grew up (attended elementary school in the 1970s in the McCowan & Elginton area of Scarborough (East Toronto), a community dotted with government housing complexes.

    Back then, however, it was predominately a “White Trash” community but transformed into a “Black hood” / South Asian one in the late-1980s.

    While I have not lived in Scarborough since 1984, those early and somewhat underprivileged experiences (I never went hungry or without clothes/ just had the basics) have informed how I understand struggles of race, class, and sexuality.

    Like you, I was an intelligent and conscientious student wanting to succeed and “make something of myself” to help my mother and community. I was also made fun of in not wanting to participate in sports and hang out with the guys. Whenever, I attempted to associate with the Alpha Males I got into some trouble.

    Unfortunately, there is sometimes an “anti-intellectual bent” among Black males—those who see academic achievement as a “waste of time” or as “inauthentic” trying to “act White” as you so right state it.

    We had to be “real cool” and “keep it real”.

    It seems that being academically inclined is always formulated as a White privilege – performance issue.

    While I don’t subscribe/resist that thought, in moments of deep despair I sometimes felt maybe the brothers were right and that they saw the score long before I did.

    I recognize better now, the myriad struggles to Black males in moving onto higher education beyond high school, finding meaningful employment and achieving a quality life.
    But I chose not to “opt out”.

    Of course, knowing that I was “different” from the Alpha Males compounded my struggles, causing me a lot of psychic stress before coming to full terms with my sexuality in my late-20s.

    I too, flirted / struggled with bi-sexuality before making my commitment.

    It is hard, because of the “double oppression”—-the tyranny of race and not being recognized as a “real man”—whatever that is.

    It takes a great deal of strength to cope with the marginalization/exclusion and the loss of male heterosexual privilege—being single / unmarried, not having children, having certain professions / jobs “closed” to you because you know won’t fit in because you’re not “aggressive” enough.

    A commonality to all men, is an unfortunate tendency of forming their identity on what they do for a living/income first—-rather than through relationships like marriage and parenthood.

    Nobody wants to appear to be a “loser” in a fiercely competitive society in relation to not only Black peers but also White privileged males.

    White Gay males don’t have to deal with racism. Their Gay struggles can be mediated through middle class stability, access to opportunity and that the dominant systems and institutions speak to them.

    Please share more of your experiences in relation to Porter’s “man box” comments.

  22. zsimon Says:

    “If I’m not violent, a violent person will commit violence against me.” This mindset may sound like a toxic catch 22, but it also represents the VAST majority of human history. These talks are good, and necessary, but we need to acknowledge that while violence is socialized, it doesn’t appear out of thin air. Two boys can have the exact same socialization and have completely different tastes for violence. Unfortunately the ‘hero’ identity has been so cheapened by marketing that men don’t believe in anything but being a scarier villain than the next villain.

    Also, while men need to tell men that violence is not manly, women need to tell women the same thing.

  23. Sean Graham Says:

    Anti-Status Quo, I am curious about the statement “I too, flirted / struggled with bi-sexuality before making my commitment.” Could you expand further upon that please?

  24. A Call To Men from Tony Porter. http://restructure.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/mens-socialization-encourages-violence-against-women/ | Simon Bugler: Freelance Web Designer Says:

    [...] the original: A Call To Men from Tony Porter. http://restructure.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/mens-socialization-encou… This entry was posted in Twitter, WordPress and tagged twitter. Bookmark the permalink. | [...]

  25. Anti-Status Quo Voice Says:

    Sean Graham Says:
    December 27, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Sean Graham Says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Anti-Status Quo, I am curious about the statement “I too, flirted / struggled with bi-sexuality before making my commitment.” Could you expand further upon that please?

    ……………..
    I don’t donate to them because as much as I do wan to save the children and even as I Myself am a bisexual I never have and probably never will see any …..

    ………..

    Sean,

    Please, please do not misunderstand or be offended in anyway by my comments. It is not a judgment call.

    You said you were bi-sexual Black male and I wanted to identify as much as I could.

    I simply meant, that I when I was younger in my late teens and twenties, I dated / had sex with women until I felt 100% sure of my feelings and sexual preference. That is all.

    Please don’t interpret my comment as disparagement / criticism of you…I don’t know you, so I haven’t any right there.

    I apologize if I have interrogated and offended you in any way.

    I hope we can continue our discussions in a friendly manner and learn from each others’ experiences as Black men.

  26. m Andrea Says:

    This would be a whole lot more impressive, not to mention productive, if he were giving this speech to men. The audience looks like at least 75% women so he’s singing to the choir and what’s the point? Women already know about sexism!

    It really is true, women have done as much as we can with raising the consciousness of only women. If men don’t get involved about an issue which affects literally every woman they know and talk about this to other men then we might as well give up — because it’s never gonna to stop unless a great many men start talking with other men about deconstructing masculinity and resisting sexist bias. Lourde knows they don’t listen to women.

    Check this out, made me extremely hopeful indeed.

    http://hoydenabouttown.com/20110222.9539/what-if-boys-cared-about-gender-equality/

  27. Sean Graham Says:

    @M Andrea I have been giving some thought on what you are saying. I do agree that Mr. Porter’s message could also be used to speak to other men. I totally agree with you there. I myself. However, I do believe the point was to relay information of WHY some men may not listen to women. It’s what we are taught indirectly. For example, when a woman performs a task which is projected by mainstream society to be one done by only males I.E. mechanic, steel worker, soldier, boxer,foreman at a construction site, etc these things can be seen anywhere from endearing to empowering. Flip side activities & roles which is usually deemed as for he female role in main stream society such as, Home maker, Day Care and kindergarden teacher, hair dresser, nurses, etc those roles if seen being done by men in mainstream media done for a comedic effect from Mr. Mom, Mr. Nanny, Daddy Daycare, etc.
    Why? because men shouldn’t do those things. They are suppose to get “real jobs” and not stay in the home. As a man I hear this more often from other women then men.

    In retrospection, I guess that anything that deviates from anything that a male will perceive hindering his quest for mate and family is voided within the traditions. A guy holds a door open for a women. Nice job, you’re a man. A woman holds a door open for a women Could it be empowering..sure, could it be seen as weak for a man? Not absolutely yes but it very well can be. Woman gets hurts and guy carries her to safety seen as romantic in the mainstream The usual tropes. Man is carried by woman: Insert laugh track. it’s those things that hold back a lot of guys back from listening. Because we feel that we can’t afford to be weak in essence can’t afford to take on roles designated for women. Disney’s Mulan: I can do whatever a man can. YOU GO GIRL! Show a movie were a boy is raised by Amazons strong, and treated as an equal and saves the day. Will raise so many eyebrows. Because his strength was derived from a culture predominately seen as women only. That right there will be a momentous occasion.

    That what I gathered from Mr. Porters video. We men need women to give us permission to derive our strength from you. To cry in public for a man is taboo. We women to tell studios that it’s wrong. We need women to tell us and to tell the mainstream that more men should be on the screen as home makers, nurses, day care workers, etc without it being a punch line because the punch line is that men doing things which are traditionally female dominated are weak and funny because…women are weak. Help us so we can help you.

  28. Hardlearn Says:

    I’m sorry Sean, but I don’t get what all this neediness is about. What is so difficult about cleaning up your(not you specifically) shyt when it’s pointed out to you? Why drop that responsibility on women? Do you actually agree with what has been said or is this about something else like guilt or some need for female attention?
    Is this you wanting to be ‘sensitive’?

    Help us so we can help you…eh?! (:|)

  29. Sean Graham Says:

    Ahh.. Hardlearn….I actually agree. Nope. No guilt. A need for female attention? Need for female attention? Maybe not in the way you think.

    I am going to leave this poem here.

    For Every Woman
    By Nancy R. Smith

    For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong, there is a man who is tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.

    For every woman who is tired of acting dumb, there is a man who is burdened with the constant expectation of “knowing everything.”

    For every woman who is tired of being called “an emotional female,” there is a man who is denied the right to weep and to be gentle.

    For every woman who is called unfeminine when she competes, there is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.

    For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.

    For every woman who feels “tied down” by her children, there is a man who is denied the full pleasures of shared parenthood.

    For every woman who is denied meaningful employment or equal pay, there is a man who must bear full financial responsibility for another human being.

    For every woman who was not taught the intricacies of an automobile, there is a man who was not taught the satisfactions of cooking.

    For every woman who takes a step toward her own liberation, there is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier.


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