Posted: November 25th, 2022
Answer the questions on the readings I attached
Directions: You must answer the questions on the video – Confessions of a Bad Feminist. Then, pick TWO (2) of this week’s readings to answer questions on. Finally, you must comment on at least one other group member’s discussion – on a reading YOU DID NOT answer questions about. You may additionally choose to comment on other people’s posts (not required for the assignment).
Confessions of a Bad Feminist – Ted Talk by Roxanne Gay
· According to Roxanne Gay, What is a “Bad Feminist”?
· Why does she want to knock herself off the pedestal before anyone else can even put her up there?
· How did feminism help her regain her voice? What does she use her voice to talk back against?
· What are you taking away from this video? How has it confirmed or challenged your ideas about what feminism is?
Reading 1 “Claiming an Education” Adrienne Rich
1. What is the main message of Rich’s article? How does it relate to the founding of Women’s Studies as a discipline?
2. Explain in your own words what it means to talk about the androcentrism of the academy (acedmic institutions).
3. Rich discusses that there students should take responsibility for themselves – what does she mean by this?
4. What is the difference between claiming and receiving an education? What does claiming an education imply?
5. Do you feel that you are claiming an education or receiving one? Justify your answer.
Reading 4 – Byron Hurt – Why I am A Male Feminist
1. How does the author begin his essay – what events are he remembering?
2. Did it surprise you to hear about how he treated women during his relationships? How did he go from a small boy who hated his father’s behavior towards his mother, to a man who would routinely belittle, bully and intimidate his partners to win arguments?
3. At one point, Byron tells his mother that he wished she would stand up for herself – why isn’t it that simple? What do you think this situation was like from his mother’s point of view?
4. During his job interview, Jackson Katz asks Byron – how does African-American men’s violence against African-America women uplift the African-American community? Can we ask the same question about other communities in America? Around the world? What is the answer?
5. During a training, Katz asks the men and women the same question – what do you do to protect yourself against rape/sexual assault? Let’s see how our class answers this question.
6. What does the author conclude about feminism and who does it benefit?
Untitled Page http://cobalt.rocky.edu/~ogradys/text/rich_claiming_an_education.html
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Claiming an Education (1977)
by Adrienne Rich
For this convocation, I planned to separate my remarks into two parts: some thoughts about you, the women students here, and some thoughts
about us who teach in a women’s college. But ultimately those two parts are indivisible. If university education means anything beyond the
processing of human beings into expected roles, through credit hours, tests, and grades (and I believe that in a women’s college especially it might
mean much more), it implies an ethical and intellectual contract between teacher and student. This contract must remain intuitive, dynamic,
unwritten; but we must turn to it again and again if learning is to be reclaimed from the depersonalizing and cheapening pressures of the
present-day academic scene.
The first thing I want to say to you who are students, is that you cannot afford to think of being here to receive an education: you will do much
better to think of being here to claim one. One of the dictionary definitions of the verb ” to claim” is: to take as the rightful owner; to assert in the
face of possible contradiction. “To receive” is to come into possession of: to act as receptacle or container for; to accept as authoritative or true.
The difference is that between acting and being acted-upon, and for women it can literally mean the difference between life and death.
One of the devastating weaknesses of university learning, of the store of knowledge and opinion that has been handed down through academic
training, has been its almost total erasure of women’s experience and thought from the curriculum, and its exclusion of women as members of the
academic community. Today, with increasing numbers of women students in nearly every branch of higher learning, we still see very few women
in the upper levels of faculty and administration in most institutions. Douglass College itself is a women’s college in a university administered
overwhelmingly men, who in turn are answerable to the state legislature, again composed predominantly of men. But the most, significant fact for
you is that what you learn here, the very texts you read, the lectures you hear, the way your studies are divided into categories and fragmented
one from the other — all this reflects, to a very large degree, neither objective reality, nor an accurate picture of the past, nor a group of rigorously
tested observations about human behavior. What you can learn here (and I mean not only at Douglass but any college in any university) is how
men have perceived and organized their experience, their history, their ideas of social relationships, good and evil, sickness and health, etc. When
you read or hear about “great issues,” “major texts,” “the mainstream of Western thought,” you are hearing about what men, above all white men,
in their male subjectivity, have decided is important.
Black and other minority peoples have for some time recognized that their racial and ethnic experience was not accounted for in the studies
broadly labeled human: and that even the sciences can be racist. For many reasons, it has been more difficult for women to comprehend our
exclusion, and to realize that even the sciences can be sexist. For one thing, it is only within the last hundred years that higher education has
grudgingly been opened up to women at all, even to white, middle- class women. And many of us have found ourselves poring eagerly over books
with title like: The Descent of Man: Man and His Symbols: Irrational Man: The Phenomenon of Man: The Future of Man: Man and the Machine:
From Man to Man: May Man Prevail?: Man, Science and Society: or One Dimensional Man –books pretending to describe a “human” reality
that does not include over one-half the human species.
Less than a decade ago, with the rebirth of a feminist movement in this country, women students and teachers in a number of universities began
to demand and set up women’s studies courses — to claim a women-directed education. And, despite the inevitable accusations of “unscholarly,”
“group therapy,” “faddism,” etc?despite backlash and budget cuts, woman’s studies are still growing, offering to more and more women a new
intellectual grasp on their lives, new understanding of our history, a fresh vision of the human experience, and also a critical basis for evaluating
what they hear and read in other courses, and in the society at large.
But my talk is not really about women’s studies, much as I believe in their scholarly, scientific, and human necessity. While I think that any
Douglass student has everything to gain by investigating and enrolling in women’s studies courses, I want to suggest that there is a more essential
experience that you owe yourselves, one which courses in women’s studies can greatly enrich, but which finally depends on you in all your
interactions with yourself and your world. This is the experience of taking responsibility toward yourselves. Our upbringing as women has so
often told us that this should come second to our relationships and responsibilities to other people. We have been offered ethical models of the
self-denying wife and mother; intellectual models of the brilliant but slapdash dilettante who never commits herself to anything the whole way, or
the intelligent woman who denies her intelligence in order to seem more “feminine,” or who sits in passive silence even when she disagrees
inwardly with everything that is being said around her.
Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your
own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work. It means that you do not treat your body as a commodity with which to purchase
superficial intimacy or economic security; for our bodies to be treated as objects, our minds are in mortal danger. It means insisting that those to
whom you give your friendship and love are able to respect your mind. It means being able to say, with Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre: “I have an
inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all the extraneous delights should be withheld or offered only at a price I cannot afford
Responsibility to yourself means that you don’t fall for shallow and easy solutions–predigested books and ideas, weekend encounters guaranteed
to change your life, taking “gut” courses instead of ones you know will challenge you, bluffing at school and life instead of doing solid work,
marrying early as an escape from real decisions, getting pregnant as an evasion of already existing problems. It means that you refuse to sell your
talents and aspirations short, simply to avoid conflict and confrontation. And this, in turn, means resisting the forces in society which say that
women should be nice, play safe, have low professional expectations, drown in love and forget about work, live through others, and stay in the
places assigned to us. It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It
means, therefore, the courage to be “different”; not to be continuously available to others when we need time for ourselves and our work; to be
able to demand of others–parents, friends, roommates, teachers, lovers, husbands, children–that they respect our sense of purpose and our
Untitled Page http://cobalt.rocky.edu/~ogradys/text/rich_claiming_an_education.html
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integrity as persons. Women everywhere are finding the courage to do this, more and more, and we are finding that courage both in our study of
women in the past who possessed it, and in each other as we look to other women for comradeship, community, and challenge. The difference
between a life lived actively, and a life of passive drifting and dispersal of energies, is an immense difference. Once we begin to feel committed
to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.
Now comes the second part of the contract. I believe that in a women’s college you have the right to expect your faculty to take you seriously.
The education of women has been a matter of debate for centuries, and old, negative attitudes about women’s role, women’s ability to think and
take leadership, are still rife both in and outside the university. Many male professors (and I don’t mean only at Douglass) still feel that teaching
in a women’s college is a second-rate career. Many tend to eroticize their women students–to treat them as sexual objects–instead of demanding
the best of their minds. (At Yale a legal suit [Alexander v. Yale] has been brought against the university by a group of women students demanding
a stated policy against sexual advances toward female students by male professors.) Many teachers, both men and women, trained in the
male-centered tradition, are still handing the ideas and texts of that tradition on to students without teaching them to criticize its antiwoman
attitudes, it’s omission of women as part of the species. Too often, all of us fail to teach the most important thing, which is that clear thinking,
active discussion, and excellent writing are all necessary for intellectual freedom, and that these require hard work. Sometimes, perhaps in
discouragement with a culture which is both antiintellectual and antiwoman, we may resign ourselves to low expectations for our students before
we have given them half a chance to become more thoughtful, expressive human beings. We need to take to heart the words of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, a poet, a thinking woman, and a feminist, who wrote in 1845 of her impatience with studies which cultivate a “passive recipiency” in
the mind, and asserted that “women want to be made to think actively: their apprehension is quicker than that of men, but their defect lies for the
most part in the logical faculty and in the higher mental activities.” Note that she implies a defect which can be remedied by intellectual training;
not an inborn lack ability.
I have said that the contract on the student’s part involves that you demand to be taken seriously so that you can also go on taking yourself
seriously. This means seeking out criticism, recognizing that the most affirming thing anyone can do for you is demand that you push yourself
further, show you the range of what you can do. It means rejecting attitudes of “take-it-easy,” “why-be-so-serious,”
“why-worry-you’ll-probably-get-married-anyway.” It means assuming your share of responsibility for what happens in the classroom, because
that affects the quality of your daily life here. It means that the student sees herself engaged with her teachers in active, ongoing struggle for a
real education. But for her to do this, her teachers must be committed to belief that women’s minds and experience are intrinsically valuable and
indispensable to any civilization worthy the name: that there is no more exhilarating and intellectually fertile place in the academic world today
than a women’s college — if both students and teachers in large enough numbers are trying to fulfill this contract. The contract is really a pledge
of mutual seriousness about women, about language, ideas, method, and values. It is our shared commitment toward a world in which the inborn
potentialities of so many women’s minds will not longer be wasted, raveled-away, paralyzed, or denied.
Published on The Root (http://www.theroot.com)
Why I Am a Male Feminist
By: Byron Hurt
Posted: March 16, 2011 at 12:24 AM
The word turns off a lot of men (insert snarky comment about man-hating feminazis here) —
and women. But here’s why black men should be embracing the “f” word.
When I was a little boy, my mother and father used to argue a lot. Some mornings, I would
wake up to the alarming sound of my parents arguing loudly. The disagreement would continue
until my father would yell with finality, “That is it! I’m not talking about this anymore!” The
dispute would end right there. My mother never got the last word.
My dad’s yelling made me shrink in fear; I wanted to do something to make him stop raging
against my mother. In those moments, I felt powerless because I was too small to confront my
father. I learned early that he had an unfair advantage because of his gender. His size, strength
and power intimidated my mother. I never saw my father hit her, but I did witness how injurious
his verbal jabs could be when they landed on my mom’s psyche.
My father didn’t always mistreat my mother, but when he did, I identified with her pain, not his
bullying. When he hurt her, he hurt me, too. My mother and I had a special bond. She was
funny, smart, loving and beautiful. She was a great listener who made me feel special and
important. And whenever the going got tough, she was my rock and my foundation.
One morning, after my father yelled at my mom during an argument, she and I stood in the
bathroom together, alone, getting ready for the day ahead of us. The tension in the house was
as thick as a cloud of dark smoke. I could tell that my mother was upset. “I love you, Ma, but I
just wish that you had a little more spunk when you argue with Daddy,” I said, low enough so
my father couldn’t hear me. She looked at me, rubbed my back and forced a smile.
I so badly wanted my mother to stand up for herself. I didn’t understand why she had to submit
to him whenever they fought. Who was he to lay down the law in the household? What made
him so special?
I grew to resent my father’s dominance in the household, even though I loved him as dearly as
I loved my mother. His anger and intimidation shut down my mother, sister and me from freely
expressing our opinions whenever they didn’t sit well with his own. Something about the
inequity in their relationship felt unjust to me, but at that young age, I couldn’t articulate why.
One day, as we sat at the kitchen table after another of their many spats, my mother told me,
“Byron, don’t ever treat a woman the way your father treats me.” I wish I had listened to her
As I grew older and got into my own relationships with girls and women, I sometimes behaved
as I saw my father behave. I, too, became defensive and verbally abusive whenever the girl or
woman I was dating criticized or challenged me. I would belittle my girlfriends by scrutinizing
their weight or their choices in clothes. In one particular college relationship, I often used my
physical size to intimidate my petite girlfriend, standing over her and yelling to get my point
across during arguments.
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
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-
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
The following day, I attended a workshop about preventing gender violence, facilitated by Katz.
There, he posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to
protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”
Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his
hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect
yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised
their hand. One by one, each woman testified:
“I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
“I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
“I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
“I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
“I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
“I carry mace or pepper spray.”
“I watch what I wear.”
The women went on for several minutes, until their side of the blackboard was completely filled
with responses. The men’s side of the blackboard was blank. I was stunned. I had never heard
a group of women say these things before. I thought about all of the women in my life —
including my mother, sister and girlfriend — and realized that I had a lot to learn about gender.
Days after that workshop, Katz offered me the job as a mentor-training specialist, and I
accepted his offer. Although I didn’t know much about gender issues from an academic
standpoint, I quickly learned on the job. 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.
I learned that feminists offered an important critique about a male-dominated society that
routinely, and globally, treated women like second-class citizens. They spoke the truth, and
even though I was a man, their truth spoke to me. Through feminism, I developed a language
that helped me better articulate things that I had experienced growing up as a male.
Feminist writings about patriarchy, racism, capitalism and structural sexism resonated with me
because I had witnessed firsthand the kind of male dominance they challenged. I saw it as a
child in my home and perpetuated it as an adult. Their analysis of male culture and male
behavior helped me put my father’s patriarchy into a much larger social context, and also
helped me understand myself better.
I decided that I loved feminists and embraced feminism. Not only does feminism give women 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
As I became an adult, my father’s behavior toward my mother changed. As he aged he
mellowed, and stopped being so argumentative and verbally abusive. My mother grew to assert
herself more whenever they disagreed.
It shocked me to hear her get in the last word as my father listened without getting angry. That
was quite a reversal. Neither of them would consider themselves to be feminists, but I believe
they both learned over time how to be fuller individuals who treated each other with mutual
respect. By the time my father died from cancer in 2007, he was proudly sporting the baseball
cap around town that I had given him that read, “End Violence Against Women.” Who says men
can’t be feminists?
Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and anti-sexist activist. Follow him on Twitter.
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