Thoughts From a Fellow Traveler: You Can’t Take Them With You

by Paul Ang, Contributing Blogger

I have struggled often with my own masculine identity and, specifically, who I am friends with.  As is the case with other men entering this work, I feel that the person I was when I first entered my “education,” is someone fundamentally different than who I am as I write this. I have always subscribed to the notion that the people you surround yourself with contribute a great deal to who you are and what you represent.  I am proud to say that I consider the people I call my friends and family are of a high quality; people I can trust and rely upon. However, many of my friends still use language that I have worked very hard to remove from my own vocabulary.  They still maintain attitudes and actions based on rigid gender roles and structures of sexism, which I strive to redefine and change. I imagine you get the picture, but to clarify, by no means are they malicious or ill-willed.  I just find myself observing behaviors that I find to be problematic.

As many of you have probably discussed, there is a line that we all must negotiate; on one side we can do nothing and on the other we can address each situation we are faced with.  I should note that I am more of a “pick your battles” type of strategist. It may just be my personal experience, but I find challenging someone with whom I have an established relationship with to be a double edged sword; in some ways its really easy and comfortable to tease out some of the issues and address them, but, at times it can be more challenging to try and intervene than with a relative stranger. I have found that it is certainly easier to have conversations when one-on-one, however once the group dynamic comes into play it becomes much more difficult.

I think it is so important for anyone involved in social justice work, in general, to practice what they preach.  How can we expect others to make changes in their lives if we cannot or will not ourselves? I wonder if it’s possible to be taken seriously as an advocate if just one aspect of my personal life doesn’t match what I am trying to represent.  I don’t claim to know the answer, I am simply just trying to shed a little light on the conversation I have so often with myself.  While I am still new to the work of raising awareness and preventing gender based violence on a national scale I hope that I am given some consideration to grow into my role.

 

Paul Ang came to be involved in social justice advocacy during his sophomore year at SUNY ESF and Syracuse University.  First involved with A Men’s Issue, followed by the Mentor’s In Violence Prevention Program at Syracuse University, and other various opportunities through the Advocacy Center at Syracuse University including Take Back The Night.  Paul has continued to work with A Men’s Issue as an Advisor/Mentor and is currently a Staff Trainer for MVP program at SU.    

Paul has earned a B.S in Environmental Resources and Forest Engineering and is currently an M.S. candidate in Geospatial Information Science and Engineering. Additionally, Paul served as a Resident Advisor for 3 years and was a member of the SU Drumline for 4 years.

Feel free to contact Paul with any questions, suggestions, or comments by email (paang@syr.edu) or follow Paul on Twitter (@PaulAng44)

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