I am who I am in part due to male privilege, unearned benefits and opportunities that I’ve had more access to than women and transgender persons. Every day as part of my religious life, I reflect on aspects of my identity and my role in work for justice. This is part of my practice to sustain myself on the feminist journey, to shape my actions and do my best to hold myself accountable.
I’ve fallen down on the path as much as anyone, and don’t deserve any recognition for doing anything more than should be expected of all men. I had some of my biggest learnings first in my Unitarian Universalist youth ministry space in the 1980s, where I was grateful for being able to build meaningful relationships with peers and to learn the outlines of power and oppression. In college in the early 1990s came more serious “ah ha” moments, both from academic and political spaces where I learned the concepts and justice strategies, and found myself actively critiquing and building a commitment to accepting critique of my own sexism.
I had to unlearn a lot of poor and even harmful attitudes and behaviors. How to share space, to understand safety concerns, to check my generally larger physicality, and to develop my ethics as an organizer seeking to build power.
I know there has been a lot of talk, especially in light of the intense misogny and violence against women and communities of color being perpetrated in this political moment, about being visible for gender justice. It also feels easy to distinguish ourselves by what we’re not, but more important to be clear about what we envision.
In my soul, I want to transform myself and others to internalize the deepest values and practices of mutuality and liberation. At the core this looks like all people, regardless of who they are, having the rights, recognition and resources they need to thrive (yes thank you Aimee Santos-Lyons, Western States Center and Forward Together!). From this place, I envision a world.
Each year, I find myself taking on new learning. This year, I’m glad to be a part of internal work in APANO to deepen our gender justice identity as an organization and develop better practices. This looks like ongoing internal assessment, study and investment in change. I’m also grateful for friends and colleagues who lead in so many ways, and fight the wave of sexism with intersectional movement building.
On this International Women’s Day, I’m recommitting myself to the journey, opening myself up to questions and making space to ask questions of other men especially.