An Open Letter to Dudes.

Dear Dudes,

REMEMBER THE POUND SIGN? Can we do away with the word hashtag and call those little waffles what we used to and be done with it? LMK what you think!

And with that off my chest (whew!) I’m writing to express a few things that I cannot articulate well enough via my face; things that are triggering and de-stabilizing. Things that have sometimes made me wonder who you are.

As you all know, I’m a rambler; so, here we go—

 

ALLY/ ALLYSHIP is not a word it is an action. (yup.)

And what defines action, you ask?

(Oh, you subversive and clever man, you!)

As a woman of color and survivor of trauma; as a writer who is part of a community, I say ACTION goes something like this:

 

LISTEN - like, really listen. Don’t just sit there and blink furiously trying to mine ammunition for a clever retort. Your retort, clever as you may feel, is (and sounds) stupid. Why? Because you’d be arguing with someone who is actually an Authority on the topic; someone who is trying to tell their story. And consider a moment - who/what are you defending? Hm? Listen. Listen to learn.

And may you never feel as disregarded or silenced as the person to whom you are not listening.

 

SPEAK UP, STEP UP, SHOW UP - especially when the victim cannot; be it due to shock or exhaustion or, wait for it— terror. (We’re talking about victims, here.) Let them tell you what happened. Shut the fuck up and LET THEM TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED. Christ.

Sure, I get it, social confrontations are difficult. Get over it— Grow a pair. Man the Fuck Up! 

If I had a dime for every pair of balls I’ve grown, I’d     have so many dimes I would have to store them in my swimming pool; and swim in them to demonstrate my vast wealth and frequency of testicular growth. 

Maybe you’re afraid to sound stupid. I assure you that you won’t. The goal is dialogue and education. This doesn’t happen until MEN EDUCATE MEN. And that starts with TALKING ABOUT THIS SHIT, SPEAKING UP even if what you have to say might feel icky or awkward or confrontational.

When you step in to protect and honor a voice that has been taken from someone, you are HOLDING SPACE. You are creating and maintaining a SAFE SPACE for the person who feels powerless to react in that moment. You are making sure that their rights are not being infringed upon in their moment of disability. This is a basic human kindness. This is friendship. 

Two birds, one stone! Y’all love these buzzwords!:

show up!

hold space!

safe space!

Imagine the fun you’ll have enacting these phrases.

Oh! And be the change you wish to see in the world!

 

EDUCATE YOURSELVES - The magnitude of lack in self-awareness and emotional intelligence in some of you is starting to fuck me up. It is NOT MY JOB (or any woman/female identifying) to explain to you WHY your behavior is problematic. And I’m offended that I have had to and still do this. EDUCATE YOURSELVES.

 

IT IS NOT OUR JOB TO TEACH YOU HOW TO ACT RIGHT.

It is yours. And you’re not doing your job very well, right now.

 

Q: “But how do we educate each other we aren’t an authority on the topic?”

A: Are we referring to topics like: misogyny, sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, violence (visible and not), micro aggression, exceptionalism, sexism, racism—?

One, It sounds like you might need to rethink that question (and y’self).

Two, Education starts with dialogue. What, you think its hard talking about how one sexual orientation really fucks with the sustainability of others? Try living that shit, bro. Consider yourselves privileged to simply feel weird and awkward and a little less dude-ish when you bring these topics up to your beer buds.

Because Johnny with the Pilsner doesn’t have his hand on your thigh— “to show you that he’s listening”—while you’re trying to have a conversation.

Freddy isn’t sending you drunken sexts under the table for you to find at home, later—

Men, you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. (and you aren’t.) However, you can do better than mumble “identity politics” or “power dynamics” and pat yourselves on the back for “doing the work”.

It breaks my heart when I see my male friends shout Feminism from rooftops, then don’t take the time to LISTEN, to OBSERVE, to LEARN.

 

ASK QUESTIONS - YES Even the HARD ones. Ask them to yourselves, to one another. Ask your partner. OMG Ask Your Moms!!

Mull. Ruminate. Write. Meditate; THIS IS THE JOB OF THE ARTIST. We are here to bring light to difficult Truths. You may find some within yourself. Reach in. Hold the Ugly. Forgive.

again, LEARN. Understand. Try. 

I’m saying: Go Further— 

This is how you educate yourselves and one another. This is how it begins. 

 

DEAR MEN:

NOBODY expects you to be the King of Feminism, the Oprah of “True Ally-ship”. How could you be? (Sit down. Be Humble!) We understand that the landscape shifts, that pronouns are hard to remember (So, practice!), that definitions are not so definite – they are soft edged and malleable, they update and change, new ones come up everyday. But remember, your job is not to memorize, it is to stay aware; it is to understand. It is to do the work to get to that understanding, when you don’t. There are many folks who would be happy to answer any of the hard questions you cannot unravel, alone. We won’t do your homework for you but we can help with the hard math.

We DO expect you to show support; to be an ally in the WAYS WE NEED YOU TO BE. Not just your way. Sorry, you don’t get pats on the back for being a good person.

Very Important: You may start to gain an awareness of the true depths of our anger, our sorrow, our pain, our fear, our exhaustion— In fact, I encourage this thing, this awareness thing. Behavior too is a language. 

—and don’t you assume that because you kinda feel us, your emotional intelligence and empathy levels are suddenly very sharp, spot on. Sorry, bro. KEEP PRACTICING. 

And Darlings, (and I mean All of Us)when you find yourself in the presence of someone fighting for their right to be, I suggest this:

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