Josh Bowman brags about how awesomely left-wing he is and why the Good Men Project needs him.
Over the past few weeks, the Good Men Project decided to talk about rape. A lot. As a writer on this site, I found that I was inexplicably drawn in to the conversation, despite not writing a single word about it (I even found a blog or two that took me to task for writing about my negative experience attending a relationship workshop, because my timing coincided with the rape conversation). These articles generated a huge amount of controversy, and a lot of people were aghast at what was being published on this site. I was, at best, very conflicted. At worst, I wanted to distance myself from what I saw as highly problematic writing.
The Good Men Project site is fascinating, because at its heart it is as much a discussion board as it is a blog with a point of view. Even the GMP tagline is “we’re starting a conversation about what it means to be a good man. Want to join us?” In other words, it’s hard to say that GMP has an ideological viewpoint when articles are published by just about every type of person under the sun.
With a website like Jezebel or, say, Wonkette, there is a clearly defined point of view, and the authors (for the most part) on the site tend to all share the same perspective. Consequently, one might safely assume that if somebody is writing for Jezebel, they share the general values of the Jezebel site (I would make the assumption, for instance, that a Jezebel writer is a feminist with a sense of humour who isn’t afraid to call out sexism online…they probably also like cute baby bulldogs).
A common criticism of the Good Men Project is that if you have to say you are ‘good’ or ‘nice’, then you probably aren’t. Good men just are. They know they are good, and don’t have to say it. If the writers on this site are so concerned about talking about being good men, then they must be hiding the fact that they are actually assholes (or whatever). A common generalization about the Good Men Project is that because Author X wrote Article Y, it must mean that all the authors on the site, along with the editors, must agree with Article Y. We all get painted with the same brush.
Because the GMP website contains the writing of dads, moms, MRAs, feminists, gun-owners, and pacifists (to name a few categories), it is a strange bird. A horse of many colours. A chameleon. A…some other…thing….that is…many things. The problem this creates for me as a GMP writer is that, while I think open and honest dialogue is always a good thing (you have a right to say something, I have a right to disagree. Free speech), I also don’t want to be painted with the same brush as, for instance, an admitted rapist.
While I know that I will take flack from the “if you have to say you are good, you probably are not good” blogger-set, I want to lay down some of my own ‘Lefty Credentials’, to provide context for who I am and why I write on this website (and why I think the Good Men Project is important). The reality is, anybody can blog, and a lot of online writers present themselves as authorities without providing any kind of supporting evidence. Some people have established their authority through many years of rigorous effort (professors, professional experts, military generals, nuclear physicists), but there is a vast sea of random anonymous writers out there without any clear experience or credentials. I’m no authority by any means, but for what it’s worth, here’s what I stand for, a bit of my experience, and why I write for this website:
What I Believe in:
I believe everyone has the right to equal opportunity under the law, at work, at home, and in all aspects of society, regardless of sex, race, ability, looks, size, sexual orientation, or age. I believe everybody has the right to love, get married, be paid equally, treated fairly, and be respected.
I like socialism. I believe in a social safety net. I believe in socialized healthcare. I believe that governments should be fiscally responsible and balance their budgets (and I believe that governments that provide a social safety net are far better at doing this than conservative governments).
I am a pacifist. I believe that war begets war, and violence begets violence. I hate guns, and I do not understand why citizens need to own anything besides a hunting rifle (and that is only if they are active hunters, for food).
I believe in education, and in the universal access to education.
I am a Feminist and I am Pro-Choice. I believe women have 100% a right to choose. I believe that men should support their decision either way, but that we have a right to be heard as well.
I am anti-rape. I believe that no means no, and nobody is ‘asking for it.’ I believe that people often get drunk and have sex; I believe this is not rape if there is consent, but it might not be the best idea. I believe that you should trust your instincts; if it feels wrong or your partner says no, don’t do it.
I believe that we currently live in an unequal and unjust society, with haves and have-nots. I believe that the gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger. I believe that ‘developed’ nations oppress ‘developing nations’, but I believe that oppression happens at home for women and people of colour (and a host of other groups).
I believe in global warming. I believe that our environment is at a critical point, and without drastic change we are all in deep, deep trouble. I also believe in the scientific method, evolution, etc.
I believe gender and sexuality exist on a continuum, but I also believe that there are certain socially proscribed differences between men and women. I believe that inter-personal conflicts, negative relationship experiences, and misunderstandings lead to inaccurate generalizations.
Even though I’ve never smoked, I believe Marijuana should be legal. I believe we should rehabilitate and be more understanding when we can, but still have methods of protecting society where necessary. I believe that our penal system is flawed and is built on retribution rather than rehabilitation.
I believe it is better to stand up and honestly speak your mind, even if it leads to criticism or risk, than to sit down and say nothing. I believe in free speech.
I believe in justice and equality, and in doing what you can to make the world a better place. Even if doing what you can feels like a drop of water in the ocean.
What I’ve Done:
I have occupied a university administration building to protest tuition fees with a group of other activists.
I have been heavily involved in student politics, and as a Vice-President, I collaborated with other student groups to build an on-campus Sexual Assault Support Centre, as well as a new Bicycle Co-op space, a Food Co-op business, an annual benefit for the on-campus Farm, and a variety of other initiatives.
I’ve been a Lefty all my life. My mom is a feminist, my dad is a draft dodger, and my sister is an environmental activist. I have continued to be left-wing despite having had a number of negative experiences with some (not all, just a few bad apples) activists in my life.
When I was a kid, I protested a local store that was hiring other kids for less than minimum wage to be security. I just remembered that…what a weird thing.
I’ve marched in picket lines. I’ve marched against several wars. I’ve marched in Pride Parades. I’ve danced in Caribbean Carnival parades. I’ve protested for Choice. I’ve protested against tuition fee increases. I was active in the Woodwards Squat. I was heavily involved with the pro-choice movement. I have supported the White Ribbon Campaign for many years, and have worked with, and taught workshops for, men around issues of anti-violence.
I have worked in the charitable sector for years. I’ve donated to, fundraised for, volunteered for, and worked for environmental charities, women’s organizations, cancer charities, hunger relief charities, arts organizations, development organizations, and children’s organizations.
I have studied Queer Theory, Women’s Studies, anti-oppression theory, equity issues, anarchist theory, communism, capitalism, progressive economic theory, philosophy, and read my share of Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. I have also read up on Conservative political theory and economics. I’ve read some Ann Coulter and watched Fox News. I have a BA, for what’s that worth, but never did any post-grad work. I’ve studied fundraising and marketing theory.
My friends come from every background you can imagine. Most of my friends are women. They have taught me more than I ever learned in school.
I have been a comedian and improviser for many years. Can you tell from this hilarious post?
I’ve messed up in relationships and with friends. I have gotten fired from a job, and quit other jobs when I should have stayed. I have gotten myself into debt (which, thankfully, I have almost completely paid off as of this month). I have been treated badly by women, and treated women badly in return. I have been heartbroken and I have broken hearts. I’ve said and done inappropriate things, and offended people. I’ve been shy, I’ve been too loud. I’ve been an ideologue, and I’ve gone through periods where I just didn’t care. I’ve said and written things that I now regret. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve done my best to learn from them.
Why I Write for the Good Men Project:
I contacted Lisa Hickey many months ago because I read an article that I really liked and that affected me. I wanted to see if she might let me write for the GMP. She enthusiastically agreed, and over time merged my blog with the GMP, which I was fully in support of.
I have had a huge amount of support from the editors on this site, and I have found it fascinating to see how my writing is received by a larger audience. I have read a lot of life-changing articles on the Good Men Project, and I believe fundamentally in talking to men about these issues, no matter how difficult and gross it might be at times. We will never get past misogyny and sexism until we are able to reach a place of understanding, discussion and, hopefully, growth.
I write for this site because I believe it does the best job of honestly and openly discussing masculinity, something that rarely happens. I believe this open discussion is vital. I think that the trend in online writing right now is to go mean and snarky, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for understanding or honesty. I’ve gone to that well sometimes because it’s easy, to the detriment of my work, and it rarely leads to anything productive. I believe that, at its core, the Good Men Project wants to understand masculinity, good and bad.
I write for this site because I do not always agree with other GMP writers, and I know that they do not always agree with me. I don’t always agree with editorial decisions either. But I believe that this is a place where positive change can happen, and I know from experience that positive change is messy, and a lot of mistakes are made on the way. I believe my voice (along with a host of other voices) needs to be heard on this site, and I appreciate that I have been given this online podium from which to speak.