Male Allies Rock: Byron Hurt; Filmmaker, Speaker, anti-Sex Activist

Just like homosexuals need to be supportive and vocal allies of the LGBTQ community, men are necessary allies in feminism. While in the past men who vocalized support for the women’s movement were perceived to only be in it for sex or other manipulative purposes, that is most certainly not true for the men featured below. These are men who realize that the patriarchal culture we have cultivated is damaging to both women and men.

Byron Hurt is a speaker, filmmaker and anti-sexism activist. He’s an out and proud feminist, or meninist(men+feminist) if you prefer. His journey to embracing women’s rights are clearly rooted in the imbalance he witnessed in his parents marriage, but didn’t blossom until he almost reluctantly took a job educating others about ending gender violence at Mentors in Violence Prevention, MVP. In 2011 he wrote an article for Time Magazine about why he embraced feminism, Theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/03/why_i_am_a_black_male_feminist.1.html, which you should read and SHARE pronto. Below are a few excerpts that really stood out and impressed me.

Growing up in a “traditional” two-parent home he regularly saw the way his father exerted control over his mother and the whole family. As a child he really wanted his mother to stand up to his father when they argued. Though he vowed not to treat women the same way as his father, eventually he imitated his most powerful male role model and became the type of man he disdained.

Byron Hurt: Feminist, Activist, Role Model

“””I had internalized what I had seen in my home and was slowly becoming what I had disdained as a young boy. Although my mother attempted to teach me better, I, like a lot of boys and men, felt entitled to mistreat the female gender when it benefited me to do so.”””

After working at MVP Byron embraced the ideals of feminism despite originally being turned off from the negative stereotypes of it he had been taught by society.

“””Like most guys, I had bought into the stereotype that all feminists were white, lesbian, unattractive male bashers who hated all men. But after reading the work of these black feminists, I realized that this was far from the truth. After digging into their work, I came to really respect the intelligence, courage and honesty of these women. Feminists did not hate men. In fact, they loved men. But just as my father had silenced my mother during their arguments to avoid hearing her gripes, men silenced feminists by belittling them in order to dodge hearing the truth about who we are.”””

His self-education and career allowed him to understand that gender equality was beneficial to men as well as women.

“””I decided that I loved feminists and embraced feminism. Not only does feminism give woman a voice, but it also clears the way for men to free themselves from the stranglehold of traditional masculinity. When we hurt the women in our lives, we hurt ourselves, and we hurt our community, too.”””

When men accept women as equals they send a message to boys that equality is important and that is what we need the majority of males to live by in the following generations. Byron Hurt’s actions also send a message to girls that men are not the enemy, but a valuable ally against inequality.

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Related articles:

Street harassment is serious! If not physical it’s usually met with a shrug because we tend to think that words are not as dangerous as punches. However, any woman who has been harassed enough on the streets realizes how demeaning it is to be constantly assaulted with words and phrases ranging from silly to scary.  A few years ago, Emily May and her friends(both women and men) created iHollaback to combat street harassment. Changeisup2u.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/emily-may-hollaback/

It’s a human rights issue. You might know Jackson Katz from this TED talk about the “be a man”culture that creates sexism, “Violence Against Women, It’s a Men’s Issue“. He’s an educator, filmmaker, anti-sexist male activist and author of the book “Leading Men: Presidential Campaigns and The Politics of Manhood”.  Jacksonkatz.com

How many men are willing to walk a mile in high heels? It depends on how many men you ask who believe in ending violence against women. Frank Baird created Walk A Mile In Her Shoes to raise awareness about domestic violence by connecting with men and boys and raise money for local domestic violence shelters around the country. Changeisup2u.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/frank-baird-walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/

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