Take Back the Night, an annual event organized by SACHA, is a powerful opportunity for survivors and their supporters to actively build connections, assertively reclaim our right to safety, and courageously stand up against violence.
Blake lives and works in Hamilton. He cares deeply about ending Gender Based Violence, and many other social justice issues.
Why do you think it is important to create space for women and gender non-conforming folks?
Patriarchy is surrounds and permeates every aspect of both women, men and non binary folks lives. Working to create space that allows women and gender non-conforming (GNC) folks to collectively come to together for even a brief time outside of patriarchy (ie with men) is radical and empowering moment. I think and (base this one amazing women identified friends who I’ve talked to about this) it is empowering to have your voice heard without worry that a man will shout it down or dismiss it, that women and GNC folks can walk freely with fear of being ogled or harassed, that it can a place to share experiences and strategies to cope with day to day, or hour to hour struggles of living a life weighted down by patriarchal violence.
What do you think male allies can do to create more space for women and gender non-conforming folks?
Male allies can much do to create more space, this includes quite simply not talking, not feeling your opinion needs to be heard, and being highly aware of how much space as a man I take up in meeting. But beyond that ensuring you are reading women authors, supporting women artists, if events are being held or organized making sure women are in the lead if they are comfortable and working with them to get them comfortable so they can be, while men should be doing the nitty gritty work of setting up and taking down, preparing food or doing dishes. As well supporting and respecting the decision that there will be times that you as a man are not welcome and should not be welcome in all spaces no matter how nice or good of a guy you are.
What do you think male allies can do to end gendered violence?
I think male allies primary role has to be addressing patriarchy and rape culture in male dominated spaces, including work places, sports teams, or just out with friends etc. It is in these space that rape culture and gender based violence (GBV) is normalized, and toxic masculinity is preformed in an attempt to gain power over other men. Taking the risk of confronting these spaces is extremely difficult, my hands actually got sweaty just thinking about this, remembering the time I have said something and times I did not, but matters forces people to make a decision and what is right and what is not or at the very least stops the comments and jokes which in itself is a victory. It also opens doors to men you recognize violence is wrong but do not have the tools or support to speak out themselves.
The other role which is just as important is one of support and care work. If you have friends who are engaged in the work against GBV or are survivors listen to them, believe what they are saying, if they ask for help give it, if they don’t ask for help respect that decision.
What inspires/motivates you to be a male ally?
I am motivated to be a male ally because I understand that my oppression as a man is intricately tied into oppression of women. Even though these oppression look radically different with stakes not comparably the same. I know that to fight for freedom from violence and freedom to be who you are will certainly mean a better, more kind, compassionate, world for myself and all those around me to live in.
What inspires me are all of the amazing organizing that happens in Canada and around the world in women fight against White supremacist- capitalist-patriarchy, That is from protest around Gohmeshi, to Black Lives matter, to the legions of women who continue to fight for reproductive rights, and equal dignified pay and work, to the women on the front lines of the struggle for environmental justice. These are the women who give me inspiration and I count myself lucky to know that I might be able to aid them in some little way.