Byron Hurt's "Why I Am a Male Feminist." An excerpt:
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 graduating from college, I needed a job. I learned about a new outreach program that was set to launch. It was called the Mentors in Violence Prevention Project. As a student-athlete, I had done community outreach, and the MVP Project seemed like a good gig until I got a real job in my field: journalism.
Founded by Jackson Katz, the MVP Project was designed to use the status of athletes to make gender violence socially unacceptable. When I met with Katz, I didn't realize that the project was a domestic violence prevention program. Had I known that, I wouldn't have gone in for the job interview.
So when Katz explained that they were looking to hire a man to help institutionalize curricula about preventing gender violence at high schools and colleges around the country, I almost walked out the door. But during my interview, Katz asked me an interesting question. "Byron, how does African-American men's violence against African-American women uplift the African-American community?"
No one had ever asked me that question before. As an African-American man who was deeply concerned about race issues, I had never given much thought about how emotional abuse, battering, sexual assault, street harassment and rape could affect an entire community, just as racism does.
...I read books and essays by bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Davis and other feminist writers.
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.
...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.