Curated by Komal: Men as our Allies

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welcome!

This is a taste of my weekly newsletter, which can land in your inbox every Tuesday at 9am! Click here to subscribe. 

This week's focus is men as allies. We chose this topic a few weeks ago, and in light of the incredible courage, and pain we've witnessed across our collective social platforms through women sharing their experiences with sexual harassment and assault via #metoo, I felt compelled to get some thoughts on the male response (and lack there of) down in the newsletter.

Writing this letter hasn't been easy. One reason being, I don't really know how to define 'allyship' anymore. I used to think that a personal declaration, and having men call themselves 'feminists' was enough, that's no longer the case.

The past two years of my life have opened my eyes to my own intersectionality and that my lived experience is starkly different than many of the people in my life who don't look like me. With this in mind, I personally struggle with how best to be an ally myself, and how to determine my expectations for allies in my life as a woman of colour.

According to theantioppressionnetwork.com, "allyship is not an identity—it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people."

It's tough to distill my sentiments about male allyship at this juncture. In large part because of the #metoo movement and the implications for all men. The visibility of the number of women who have been harassed, assaulted, raped, and continuously abused makes me realize how clear we must become about the standards and expectations we hold for men and 'male allies'. It's also had me reflecting on whether male perpetrators and bystanders can even be seen as allies. At this point, everyone has likely been complicit at one point or another with harassment or worse.

I want to share a few examples of posts from males on my feeds that caught my attention. They were two that spoke frankly about their complicity and actions, and who took time to share thoughts on constructive ways forward in educating themselves further, alongside the people around them.

A few days ago, in response to Lupita Nyong'o's piece about Weinstein's harassment of her, a friend of mine shared about a sexually inappropriate encounter he engaged in as a young teenager over 20 years ago. He shared the guilt he's held onto, and that he reached out to the woman he assaulted since then and that they've been able to discuss and reconcile the experience together. A key line stuck out to me: "she paid the primary cost of my sexual education". In this instance I was shocked by his courage. He outed himself and his experience with being someone who engaged in a non-consensual encounter more than 20 years ago, and held space for the true pain caused for his victim and himself. He then went on to reflect on how to enable other male perpetrators to engage with the shame they likely hold, and to use it to fuel this conversation and heal with their victims.

I've read post after post trivializing #metoo, but when people ask, "What came of #metoo?" I will point to the power of the collective of women coming forward, and how they prompted a response like his on Facebook. The kind of post I never would have imagined seeing on my feed -- a man taking accountability for an assault he committed, how he struggled to forgive himself, and how he worked to ensure the woman he assaulted was okay, and how they have since rebuilt their friendship.

Another friend posted about his ongoing complicity in witnessing acts of harassment, and how he wishes he would have spoken up time and again. He commits to speaking up more often moving forward and notes the relevance to him personally as he is a survivor of childhood sexual assault.

These posts have been few and far between on my feed, but I hold space in my heart for the men who have come forward (and will continue to) in the wake of the courageous women who have shared their pain so publicly. 

So what can allyship look like now? Now that we're actually naming the pain, the assault, and the tragedy publicly? How have we changed the expectation and definition? I feel like I've matured and clarified my expectations of it on my own journey these past three years -- it's not just a declaration of being a male ally or male feminist. Instead, it is an everyday call to action for men to be honest and accountable, and to be clear about what accountability looks like with the men around them -- to call their peers and others out and in necessary circumstances, to report them.

Part of the reason this week's newsletter came out a day late is because I wanted to take more time to get these thoughts together. This is such a complex and heavy topic, and deserves so much time and space to be processed by everyone. 

So guys, what are your thoughts here? I appreciate that this is a space where I can voice my thoughts even while they're in process. Shoot me an email at komal@komalminhas.com to share a bit about what this brings up for you, I'd love to expand my thoughts even more.

Signing off, until next Tuesday at 9 am,


With love,

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the vlog

Join me each week to see the behind-the-scenes action at KoMedia. This week, I head to Aylmer for a retreat with my speaking coach Majeed and some other fantastic speakers from across the East coast of Canada and the US.

"This weekend is about me reinvesting in myself, and refining my craft."

THIS WEEK:

we're writing...

Welcome to part seven of a 20-part series we're publishing called, Your Moment of Ambition.

This week, we dive into how men can be allies to female entrepreneurs, in business and in life. With all that's happening in pop culture news right now, it feels timely to be talking about how men can be better allies, not just in Hollywood but in all industries and around the world. 

"I don’t understand why anyone in modern society wouldn’t want to think of themselves as wanting to support the advancement of women, so it’s sort of a joke to me that there is a controversy about the term."

Click here to check out this week’s post!

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we're watching...

This Hour Has 22 Minutes' powerful take on Harvey Weinstein and the culture of sexual assault in media. Newsflash: It's not only men in positions of power who feel entitled to women's bodies. 

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we're reading...

  • This might be ten days old, but I thought it best to start on a lighter note... who better than Oprah to break your baby news? Here's Mindy Kaling on having Queen O share her pregnancy with the world! 
  • Leave it to Shondaland to succinctly sum up why the whole Harvey Weinstein mess isn't just a result of a few bad men doing very bad things -- it's the inevitable outcome of a pervasive culture of toxic masculinity, and we need to get comfortable with that fact so we can change it. 
  • Griffin Newman and Kevin Smith are two men who were complicit in toxic Hollywood masculinity for far too long, but their actions now are showing steps toward true allyship and provide good examples for other men who want to take similar steps. 
  • Reminder that the President of the United States is also an alleged abuser. His accusers hope he'll meet a similar resistance to Weinstein.
  • If you need a break from all this ongoing shit, a) I don't blame you, and b) I am here to remind you that it's actually psychologically necessary to waste time. 
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we recommend...

Applying for this job at the New York Times, where they'll send you to 52 countries over the course of a year. Opportunity of a lifetime or what?

WE'RE PLANNING...

RUPI KAUR PRESENTS 
Sold Out: The Sun and Her Flowers withKomal Minhas

Renowned feminist author, poet, multi-media artist and genuine international phenomenon, Rupi Kaur joins me in Ottawa for the launch of her second book, 'the sun and her flowers'. Tickets are now sold out -- thank you so much for your support! 

START-UP DAY ON THE HILL!

Here's a look at my speech on the Scale-Up Stage at the Shaw Centre last week!