TBTN Interview: Lee Reed

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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.

TBTN centers the experiences of women and gender non-conforming folks. We invitemen to cheer the march on from Gore Park.

lee-reedFor 20 years Lee Reed has been stomping stages and studios, spewing his unique brand of fiery, anti-capitalist rant-hop. From mouthpiece for the legendary Warsawpack, through to his solo work.

Why do you think it is important to create space for women and gender non-conforming folks?

It’s like there’s a battle going on: the old forces of sexism against the new forces of equity. Creating space acts a kind of beachhead in that struggle.  A foothold.  The world is largely unsafe and unwelcome for women and gender non-conforming folks. The threat of violence and harassment is normalized; personal, social and state/institutional relationships can be abusive and dangerous; fear is ever-present.

It’s an unsafe world. Gendered violence happens everywhere: in the home, on the street, on campus, in the workplace, in the halls of our largest institutions and at the hands of those we most trust.  It is everywhere, woven into everything. So, without the intentional creation of space for women and gender non-conforming folks (GNC), there would be no space that was expressly theirs.

Our society is a patriarchy.  It centres masculine voices and opinions.  It puts men in charge and prioritizes their way of thinking, it protects and perpetuates male privilege and dominance. So creating space for women and GNC folks is creating space for voices to be heard, for ideas and information to be shared, where people can speak openly and freely, without being talked over or dismissed by sexist power dynamics.

Creating space helps to confront those tired man-bro dynamics and demand something better. It centres the voices and ideas of women and GNC folks. And the thing is, when the voices and ideas of women and GNC folks are centred, beautiful, powerful things happen, as we’ve seen in recent times with the Black Lives Matter leadership or the Indigenous women led resistance to the tar sands.

The planet has a lot of healing to do and we have a lot of work to get there.  Centering women and women’s ideas, following their lead and wisdom, will play a big part in any success we have. And that starts with creating space for them to be heard and to lead.
Male allies have a crucial role to play in the this. Because really, we are the ones that are taking up that space.  So, we need to recognize how we take up that space, we need to learn how to give that space to others, and most importantly, we need to learn how to teach other men how to do those first two things!

 What do you think male allies can do to end gendered violence?

On the most basic level, we need to physically prevent violence towards women and GNC folks from happening if we think it is happening.  If we suspect there is violence, we need to do what we can to stop it.  From there, we need to believe and support survivors. We need to recognize abuse and call it out.  We need to recognize harassment and call it out. We need to recognize and call out misogynist language and behaviour.  But really, lots of people have said that.

It’s kind of easy to say,”We need to call things out.” In the insular world of social media or our own social circles, it’s easy to practice that even.  We have to call things out, for sure.  But I think the real job is we have to get great at calling things out.  We have to learn to be creative with it. Smart. Convincing. Paradigm-shifting.  We need to learn how to read where men might be at in the scheme of things, how deeply invested they are in the patriarchy, and learn how to customize our tactics to all those levels. We’re the ones that need to be in those trenches, doing that nitty gritty, and having those uncomfortable and interpersonal discussions. Women can’t undo that.  They didn’t do it.  That’s on us.  Some dude pals require love and a conversation over a couple beers, some dudes need to see you drawing a line in the sand.

And allies also need to focus inward, to recognize what ‘keys’ we might hold, to space, to access.  What power do we have to create space for, or make the world safer or more accessible for, women and GNC folks.  For me, that’s music.  And HipHop.  I need to use my music to support women’s causes.  I need to help book more women identified acts. I need to help foster women and GNC folks working in the music scene.  Because that’s a space I have some power in.

What inspires/motivates you to be a male ally?

Pragmatism!  Haha!  It’s true though.  I’m a strong believer in people power and direct action, in activism, organizing and protest. And on every successful front line, in every successful action or campaign, women and GNC folks are leading the way.  They are the ones doing the heavy lifting, the ones at the very front of the front line of resistance and change.  So, making space for them and following their lead comes easy.

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