Last March and April, students in Prof. Shira Tarrant’s class on masculinities at California State University/Long Beach, received
a copy of Voice Male. Although they had a choice of other assignments to write response papers about, nearly all of the two dozen students shared their thoughts not just about particular articles but also about the magazine itself. What follows are edited excerpts of their submissions.
I admire your magazine. One of the articles that caught my attention was “To Heal My Wounds, I Work with Men and Boys” by Diederik Prakke. Whenever I read about young boys and the pressure they feel to mask their emotions, my heart breaks. This article teaches young boys to be vulnerable and shows expressing emotions as a strength. It is important to teach young boys that it is okay to be wounded but most importantly it is okay to admit you are wounded and learn to heal. These are life tools that boys are deprived of and need to be taught. I love that at the end of your magazine you include two pages of resources for men who want to change: young men, LGBTQIA, and more. Resources for men are rarely talked about and rarely brought up, so that this magazine makes resources accessible is much appreciated.
“Why I Insist on a Woman’s Right to Vote” by Frederick Douglass was inspirational…. This speech may have been from the past, but many of the things he said are still relevant today. He understood how important it was for women to speak out for themselves… [and] that men should just get out of [women’s] way and “give her the fullest opportunity to exercise all the powers inherent to her individual personality.” What I got from that is that men should support and spread the word, but shouldn’t interfere too much. Women will do the talking while men should listen, and hopefully change for the better…. [T]he fight is ongoing. Women are still fighting for equality…. There are more and more men supporting this revolution but drastic changes need to be made. Supporting a movement that counteracts sexism is important; that is why this speech is so significant and should never be forgotten. Thank you for including this speech in your magazine.
Regarding the poem, “The Silence Is Broken” by Anne Eastman Yeomans about Christine Blasey Ford. Repeatedly we have seen women denied opportunities they deserve, shunned, not supported, abused. It surprised me that so many people didn’t believe her. I was sexually assaulted, but was informed not to go through with the charges and not take my case to court. Being only 11, I was told that the defense team would see to it that I “made it up” or “dreamt it” and that I didn’t know what I was talking about. My family also has a history of sexual assault. Hearing about what happened to Ms. Blasey Ford was devastating and happens too often—where the woman isn’t believed and is left to feel like she ruined the man’s life for speaking up. And of course, there are cases of abuse men and transgender people face. Why I say all of this is to thank you. Thank you for allowing poems like this to come to light, to showcase them in hopes that more people can understand these deeply rooted issues that remain so prevalent in our society.
I applaud you on the powerful and influential articles that are in Voice Male, including “Deferring to Men” by Linda Stein. While looking her up I discovered she’s a renowned feminist artist, educator, performer, and writer. Stein’s article inspired me because it focused on men and women being treated differently on the basis of gender. This is typically a difficult topic for most people to discuss because it makes them feel uncomfortable. People don’t want to be judged, don’t want to be seen as a feminist, don’t want people to think they’re controlling. If more people read Stein’s article—and others in Voice Male—people would understand that we need feminism, we need more people to talk about it, we need more people to be aware of the inequality and injustice in the world.
In Rus Funk’s article, “Men: Are We Willing to Examine Pornography’s Impact?” I appreciated the attention he paid to the role pornography plays in gender inequality and gender-based violence…. In creating a program that emphasizes a nonjudgmental approach to men examining pornography’s impact, rather than being shamed or ridiculed, the “What’s Wrong with This Picture” program encourages men to critically think about their own pornography viewing. Perhaps it will be empowering since many men are not able to unpack the harmful impacts of pornography on their own. I understand that not all men will stop watching pornography, but would that be considered the ultimate goal? If we change the type of pornography men view to depictions of realistic sexual encounters, might that impact men’s objectification of women? Might it include frank discussions about consent and mutual pleasure?
The article “Capturing the Boggart of Patriarchy” by Rimjhim Jain provided a great analogy for the emergence of patriarchy. Progress in the women’s rights movement is often met with backlash, resulting in setbacks. I believe this is partly due to mass media’s portrayal of feminist activists. It is very rare to see clips of a rally or protest featuring a calm discussion or peaceful protest because it doesn’t increase views or provide shock value. This negative portrayal of feminists partially forces the progress of women’s rights backward and decreases the likelihood of others (including men) joining the movement. I believe that the development of more magazines or websites like Voice Male has a great chance of changing the stigma associated with gender equality and increases the likelihood of men joining the movement, because it features the actual beliefs of activists compared to the tainted versions we see in mass media. Your magazine is making a difference, dispensing valuable opinions, studies, and personal stories to a wide audience.