International Men's Month
June is International Men's Month, so we're celebrating by recognizing five men who have changed the way that society, employers, government, and academia think about gender, sexuality, men, and women. International Men's Month began in 1996 to raise media and public awareness about men's issues and masculinities to promote positive changes in male identity, emotional and physical health, relationships, and activism.
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was an author, jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. Though he is best known for his advocacy of utilitarianism and animal rights, Bentham was also very outspoken against the oppression of women. His decision early in life to become a reformist is attributed to his disagreement with the legally inferior position of women in society; thus, he argued for complete equality between the sexes. In Offences Against One’s Self, Bentham also argued for the liberalization of laws prohibiting homosexual sex, though this essay was not published until 1931, nearly 100 years after his death.
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) was an American social reformer, orator, and writer. After escaping slavery, he became a leader of the abolotionist movement and produced several abolitionist newspapers. In 1848, Douglass attended the first women's rights convention, the Seneca Falls Convention. Douglass stood and spoke eloquently in favor of women's suffrage, stating that he could not accept the right to vote as a black man if women could not also claim that right. He suggested that the world would be a better place if women were involved in the political sphere. "In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world."
Michael Scott Kimmel
Michael Scott Kimmel is an American sociologist specializing in gender studies. He is currently a Distinguished Professor at SUNY Stony Brook, and the editor of Men and Masculinities, a peer-reviewed academic journal of men’s studies, feminism, protofeminism, multiculturalism, and queer theory. Kimmel has published many male-focused feminist pieces, including “Changing Men: New Directions in the Study of Men and Masculinity”, “The Gendered Society”, “Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the U.S., 1776-1990”, and many more.
Mark Anthony Neal
Mark Anthony Neal is Professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African-American Studies at Duke University, where he won the 2010 Robert B. Cox Award for Teaching. Neal has written and lectured extensively on black popular culture, black masculinity, sexism and homophobia in Black communities, and the history of popular music. Neal is the founder and managing editor of the blog NewBlackMan and hosts the weekly webcast, Left of Black in collaboration with the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University. A frequent commentator for National Public Radio, Neal contributes to several on-line media outlets, including Huff Post Black Voices and SeeingBlack.com. He has several publications in print, including Rethinking Black Masculinity (2005) and Looking for Leroy: (Il)Legible Black Masculinities (2012).
Joseph "Joss" Hill Whedon
Joseph Hill “Joss” Whedon is an American screenwriter, executive producer, and director. He is best known for creating the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. Whedon is a self-identified feminist, and credits his mother, Lee Stearns, for his worldview. He was honored at an Equality Now benefit, “Honoring Men on the Front Lines,” in 2006. Whedon says that he is an activist “Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.”