Michael Urbina must still be in shock. On July 26, 2013 he posted a piece titled “101 Everyday Ways for Men to Be Allies to Women” on his blog http://michaelurbina.com/.
As I write this and repost his piece, just after 14.00 South African time today, August 5, 2013, there are hundreds of comments, a bunch of tweets and retweets, and thousands of likes on his page. Wow.
Michael Urbina describes himself as a Latino. He is student. He has a Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies Double Major. On the “About me” page of his blog he says
“I will be using this blog to write about race/ethnicity, gender, masculinity, feminism, and men in feminism. My goal is to raise awareness, connect you (the reader) with some badass articles and videos, and provide resources for men interested in exploring […]”
I don’t think he had an idea what he was getting himself when he wrote the blog, but he sure does now. He’s touched on something, clearly. But I suspect he wasn’t expecting to get what he got. There are compliments, likes, fights, name-calling, putdowns, and all you can think of. I’ll let you read it for yourself. Don’t stop till you get to the comments. This feminist thing can be confusing. But so are all things worthy of pursuit. Above all, life can be messy, but that is no a good reason not to try and live an examined, fulfilling life.
Before you say it, let me say that of course there are crucial differences between men in the United States and men in Africa. Doubtless, any understanding of male privilege that does not consider the fact that, on the whole, white men and African men are occupy different positions in the world, might as well be saying slavery never happened. This is true.
But then it is also true that African men have been privileged in comparison to African women. And that means all men of just hearts must seek to work with women to change the rules of engagement and make the world just that little better.
This is how Michael Urbina starts:
‘I’ve considered myself a feminist and male ally to women for quite some time. When I took my first Women’s Studies class two years ago with Professor Denise Witzig, little did I know that it would take me down an unsuspecting, beautiful, and transformative path towards feminism. Below, I’ve compiled a list of 101 everyday ways for men to be allies to women. I must acknowledge that this post was written with cisgender (sic), heterosexual men as a possible, target audience due to the lack of support from this group. However, I feel that many of these points are applicable on a broader scale. If you have suggestions or additions to this list, I’ve included my email at the end of this post. I’m totally open to dialogue. While some of these points were suggested to me by friends, most of them come from my personal experience with allyship and feminist activism.
1. Recognize your privileges, especially your male privilege (and white privilege if applicable).
I’m very intentional in making this point first. Understanding all of your privileges are the core principle of allyship towards women and people who identify outside the gender spectrum. Male privilege is a set of privileges that all men (or anybody that identifies as male) benefit from under patriarchy. All of these privileges are at the expense of women and other subordinate groups. Here’s a good list of examples of male privileges! (The Male Privilege Checklist).
For more on white privilege, check out Peggy McIntosh’s incredible article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack!”’