Watching WW2 Docuseries Makes Me Think of the Cost of Patriarchy

I’m rewatching the docuseries, WW2 in Color on Netflix, and it’s amazing to see, time and time again in history, the tragedy of patriarchy unfolding to such a degree. In my studies with my degree in history and work as a history teacher in the past, (and of course my avid attention to documentaries) I see it over and over. Think about it: it’s always men leaders leading these pissing contests and unchecked anger to push other men (and sometimes women too) to fight to the agonizing and devastating death. It’s the hidden truth right under our nose. And the additional not so secret truth is that men lose out on this battle too: duh. Patriarchy is harmful to men too.

And PLEASE do not misunderstand me. This is not to say that “men are the enemy” quite the opposite. it is to state that men (and women) can do better and deserve better.

I find it important to state the obvious fact, because it is often overlooked, that it is one gendered pattern of people doing these acts. Why? And how can we fix it? I think we are doomed to repeat mistakes if we don’t point out the obvious that here is this general pattern: and so what can we do to ensure that men leaders do not unleash their anger and power on others and each other in these types of ways?

We often get so used to the adage “people are violent.” Well, no, generally speaking, men are violent. (And again, not all men are violent. But certainly don’t say “people are violent” because it isn’t women waging war, or terrorist acts, or being mass shooters or murdering etc. It doesn’t mean women are better, it just means women are not the ones who are waging wars and pushing other women to slaughter each other over their emotions.)

What if we did things differently and balanced out the power between the genders? I don’t think we need the pendulum to swing completely in the other direction of all female power: it should be balanced, something we really haven’t seen much of at all in history. (And of course taking into account as well that gender is a spectrum and not in fact a binary.) What if we, in practice and in our actions and diplomacy, raised up the qualities that are supposedly feminine? Like empathy, patience, listening and understanding? Nurturing our people and environment etc etc.? Oh but then that would be too “sissy.” Much cooler to let the world burn. And much more “practical” to continue to do the same thing over and over-Of waging war and sending men to battle… after all, if we engaged in real practical and empathetic diplomacy, as the one unified human race we actually are, we wouldn’t have entertaining movies and documentaries about wars. Boo hoo.

Call me crazy but there is a better world awaiting us. And we can do it if we break old habits. I don’t have all the answers, I wish I did. But I do believe that creating a world with more balance is a start: less domination of one gender, or of one people, over another and more balance. Empowering women to have more practical, peaceful power. People in general are not all violent: People in general, men, women, children etc., are intelligent and capable of a better world than blowing each other to smithereens.

Shooters are Predominantly Male: Why? What Can We Do to Help Foster Healthy Masculinity?

Today, I am thinking about the philosophies and aspects entrenched in society that led a man to go on a shooting spree in which he killed five people in Denver last week. The overwhelming majority of people who are mass shooters are men. But that is rarely pointed out. In 2017, when a man in Vegas shot and killed 61 people, Jackson Katz, anti-sexist educator and author pointed out, “If the Vegas shooter had been a woman, everyone would be talkin [sic] about gender as the critical factor. Cause it’s a (white) man, not so much.” (Katz, 2017.)

The Denver shooter identified by police as, Lyndon McLeod spouted violent, hateful things in posts and books he published on the internet.

“Lyndon McLeod, who police say killed five people during a deadly rampage in the Denver area, was an author dedicated to alt-right philosophies, including masculine supremacy, contrarian COVID-19 beliefs, and targeted violence against the ‘weak’—including those he killed.” (The Daily Beast, 2021)

It is predominantly men who commit violence against women and school shootings as well. Jackson Katz, in his article titled Coverage of ‘School Shootings’ Avoids the Central Issue, states,

“For us to have any hope of truly preventing not only extreme acts of gender violence, but also the incidents of rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence that are a daily part of millions of women’s and girls’ lives, we need to have this conversation. And we need many more men to participate. Men from every level of society need to recognize that violence against women is a men’s issue.” (Katz, 2006.)

Why is it always men committing these acts of violence? I think, in large part, it is due to society prioritizing men over women. This has led some men (like Lyndon McLeod) to believe they are more important than women. (This is where getting rid of patriarchy comes in and to instead institute a system that works in balance for everyone. But that is certainly not going to happen over night…)

I also think we see so many male shooters due to our society’s failure of our men. Our society condemns men to only being allowed to express certain types of emotion: Happiness and anger. This is perpetuated not only by fellow guys but also women and people in general. But men, just like all humans, are complex people with a wide range of emotions and we should be encouraging their whole selves.

If then, as Katz says, it is a “men’s issue,” what can we do? Well, for starters, we can encourage men to express their emotions in ways outside of anger. We can help redefine masculinity.

We can also support the men that are doing good work, like Jackson Katz.

Who else can we support?

Evolving Man, is great Instagram account to follow created by Ben Goresky. He does Men’s Work clinics and promotes healthy masculinity. I love me some good, healthy woke men! Here is a sample of Evolving Man’s message:

Follow Fight Toxic Masculinity on Instagram too. Here is a sample:

I find it silly that I should even have to state specifically that masculinity is not inherently toxic: There is only a type of masculinity that is toxic, which is harmful to men themselves and results in things like violence. But masculinity is important and wonderful!! We just need to nurture parts of masculinity that are not harmful to the self and to others: To develop masculine attributes like nurturing, strength, accountability and empathy, those key parts of men that are amazing. That is why I am so glad there are men out there, like Jackson Katz and Ben Goresky.

I would like to leave this blog with the open ended questions: What can we do to support men so they can express themselves before the breaking point? Who are more men who are doing the work to create healthy masculinity?

Send me a message or comment below if you know more!

Quote sources: In order of Appearance (For Convenience)

Katz, J. [@jacksonkatz] Oct. 2, 2017 “If the Vegas shooter had been a woman, everyone would be talkin (sic) about gender as the critical factor. Cause it’s a (white) man, not so much.” [Tweet] Twitter

Bolies, B. (2021, December 28). ‘The Weak Better Buckle Up’: Denver Gunman Left Online Trail of Hate. The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 1, 2022, from https://www.thedailybeast.com/sixth-person-dies-after-deadly-denver-killing-spree-police-say

Katz, J. (2006, October 13). Coverage of ‘School Shootings’ Avoids the Central Issue. Jackson Katz, PhD. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.jacksonkatz.com/publication/pub_coverage/

Alicia Cardenas-Tattoo and Body Piercing Shop Owner, Remembered

I want to take a moment to honor and give respect to a woman who was shot and killed by a man on a killing spree in my town. On December 27th, 2021, Alicia Cardenas was taken from this world by a violent man.

Alicia ran and owned a tattoo and body piercing shop on South Broadway in Denver. In-fact, I got my septum pierced there. It is a place that has good vibes, friendly staff, and is very COVID conscious-a tribute to how she ran the place.

I haven’t been able to get Alicia Cardenas off my mind. Although I did not know her, I am rattled by her death. The more I read about her, the more I respect her and feel the loss: I feel the gap this leaves in our community.

I can only imagine there are very few women-owned and operated tattoo shops out there. And yet, here was one. A beautiful and badass indigenous artist, Alicia Cardenas, ran a successful, welcoming business.

It is so wrong. It is unfair. And I am angry and saddened that another violent man has robbed this world of an amazing woman.

Alicia-I wish I had known you. Your loss is felt across our community. Thank you for your art, your inspiration and the joy you brought others.

Continue reading

In the midst of this Texas situation, here are ways to help fight for reproductive justice. One major way: Urge our Reps to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) and donate to those fighting for it

Here is a LINK to donate to NARAL Pro-Choice America.

A major part of fighting against these forced-birther bills like those in Texas and Alabama is to not just fight against something, but to fight for something: Fighting for the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) is a great offensive move to try to enact legislation that actively prohibits such restrictive legislation against abortion, and would work to protect Roe v Wade, the constitutional right which makes abortion legal. As CBS points out, the WHPA, “…would guarantee the right of all Americans to access abortion care regardless of where they live.” CBS Denver

Let’s face it: The issue here isn’t just this insane bill in Texas that just passed. It is the floodgates of absurd legislative acts that potentially await us, in which states try to control a women’s right to her own body. In-fact, anti-choice legislation is already in the works across the country. That is why it is so vital to pass legislation that prohibits bills which restrict abortion. So who is working to pass this legislation?

Texans protest the 6 week abortion ban in their state.

Source: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Members of Congress, (such as Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette) are fighting for our basic and vital rights. Find out where your representatives stand. Urge them to pass the WHPA. Also, let’s not just urge our reps or reprimand the bad politicians, (though let’s definitely do that too) but let’s tell the good ones we support them and appreciate them. Lets let them know we need and thank them.

And who can you donate to? One organization is NARAL Pro-Choice America. (NARAL, in case your curious, stands for National Abortion Rights Action League. Yes, odd name, but GREAT organization.) NARAL Pro-Choice America has been a trustworthy and reliable pro-choice organization for over 50 years. They work to elect candidates who are dedicated to reproductive rights.

I have frequently donated and volunteered for NARAL because they get to the heart of issues and fight fiercely for pro-choice rights. At one point, I volunteered for NARAL when they were exposing harmful practices of anti-choice, fake clinics. I went undercover for NARAL to expose what these anti-choice people were doing to women at these fake clinics. But that is a different story, one which I will perhaps tell at a later date. (If you’d like more info on the fake clinic issue which is still plaguing our country still, check out this article by the AMA Journal of Ethics, titled “Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers are Legal but Unethical.) The point is, I support NARAL Pro-Choice America and I believe in the incredible and important work they do. And I encourage you to research them as well and donate to them if you so choose. They are fighting for the Women’s Health Protection Act to get passed and are fighting for women to have access to reproductive healthcare.

Here is a link to donate to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Donate what you can. My pocket book is a bit slim these days, so I made mine a monthly contribution of 5 dollars, which adds up to 60 bucks over the year. You can do that if you’d like, or, frankly, a one time big contribution may be even better, since there is little time to waste.

No matter how you do it, make some sort of difference in whatever way you can:

-Talk to your friends and family about abortion issues.

-Tell your own story about your abortion if you feel comfortable.

-Talk to your brothers, male-friends, fathers, uncles etc.. Dudes need to know about these issues too! And they need to hear it from the women and trans men they care about.

-Approximately 1-4 women get abortions, (according to the Guttmacher Institute.) Abortions happen and they are necessary for many women, people and families.

-Donate.

-Turn out for protests. Protests across the country are taking place October 2nd, organized by the Women’s March organization.

-Speak up on social media. Follow Instagram accounts like ShoutYourAbortion AbortionisNormal and one of my faves, SisterSong, the National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. (Follow them for updates on events & news at http://www.sistersong.net.)

Together, we can fight for our basic rights! Let’s do this!