In an essay on going to places that scare him, activist Chris Crass reflects on what he has learned as he and others have challenged him to come to terms with the power and privilege he enjoys as a white, heterosexual, middle-class man. Truthout has published Crass's essay, from his book Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2013). An excerpt:
Patriarchy taught me, in ways both subtle and blatant, that I was entitled to women's bodies, time, and energy and that I was entitled to take up space and express my ideas and thoughts whenever I wanted to, without consideration for others. This consciousness came out of the lived reality of growing up in a society that is indeed designed and built for people like me.
This is a very different reality and process of socialization than that of most people in this society - people who are told to shut up, keep it to themselves, hide who they really are, get out of the way, and never forget how lucky they are to be allowed here to begin with. I think it is healthy to not assume I am always needed, to learn to share space and power, and to work with others to realize the roles that I in fact can and should play. What is unhealthy is how rare it is that gender-privileged men talk with each other about these issues and support each other through the process of challenging sexism and developing a healthy and loving feminist male identity and practice.
I'm grateful to Rachel Fitzgerald of the evolving deep forms blog that she and her husband Mark Shumway maintain, and who contributes regularly to discussions here as Rachelsf, for pointing me to Chris Crass's valuable essay. Rachel's and Mark's excellent blog site is in my blog list here, but the link to it appears not to be working today.