Archives for posts with tag: accountability

How am I supposed to feel when a perpetrator of sexual violence passes away? He raped someone very close to me when she was very young. I want to hug her and cry with her. I want to assure us that whatever we might be feeling right now is perfectly valid. That our feelings are ours, not his. And I feel like I want to punch something really hard right now. I’m not a physical person at all, and I’m not at all planning on acting on these feelings, but I want to punch and rip and tear. He meant something to my elders before they knew what he did. I want to hold them while we scream with rage together. I want to feel numb. I just want to sleep.

And I’m so angry. I want to revisit the only time I remember meeting him. I was in my late 20s visiting India, and he came up to me with arms stretched for a hug, and an expression on his face like “you’ve come home, child.” The best I could come up with in that moment was to shake my head and shake my hands as I stepped back and away from him, letting the people I was with huddle around me to protect me from whatever it was I didn’t want. I want to revisit that moment and kick him really hard in the nuts.

How the fuck am I supposed to feel right now? I’m so sad. I’m so angry. I’m still so confused. I’m a little relieved, and guilty for feeling relieved. I’m most angry that he gets to leave this world without my friend having closure. Without taking any responsibility whatsoever for what he did. That makes my furious.

Credit: ModernGirlBlitz

I’ve been thinking about the perspectives I heard at a Male Accountabilty Forum I attended a few weeks ago and have been wondering what accountability for males in sexism means and how it should be practiced. In her book Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks writes not directly about accountability, but about love:

“When we accept that true love is rooted in recognition and acceptance, that love combines acknowledgment, care, responsibility, commitment, and knowledge, we understand there can be no love without justice.”

I like the idea of male accountability as an act of love. It’s a good reminder that one of the main reasons I fight against sexism and male domination is because I love women and men who have been hurt in real, concrete ways by sexist oppression. Of course, then, I would want to acknowledge, care about and take responsibility for my privilege and the ways my actions affect others, particularly those who don’t have the same advantages societies have given me. As an act of love, committing to end sexism and male domination is easily something I would want to address in every part of my life.

Taking hooks’ definition of love as a que, here are some things we can do to practice male accountability from a place of love:

  • Think of acknowledgement as a complex understanding of our actions that includes a lens of oppression and dynamics of power.
  • Listen openly to other people’s perspectives as a foundation of acknowledging our actions.
  • Care about others and the ways our actions affect others.
  • Take responsibility for our actions and the direct impact they have on others in our lives.
  • Commit ourselves to ending the ways sexist oppression has directed our behaviors and thinking of others.
  • Fight against oppression wherever we find it in our lives, relationships, communities and societies.