"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Friday, May 27, 2011

Men Doing Feminist Work: Yolo Akili

It's been a while since I did a post on men doing feminist work, but when I came across Yolo Akili, there was no question that I had to let folks know about him. (As with many of the men in these posts, I'm sure lots of y'all know about Yolo already, and I'm late to the game!) I was given a link to a new blog series he is working on about "queering the cause" regarding work around men's violence against women that, while probably controversial to some folks in a lot of ways, is nuanced and complex. And in a world (and blogosphere) where we don't often enough hear the voices of black, queer people, I hope his ideas get discussed and expanded upon. Please read his whole series, but here is a tidbit:
As a very visible and vocal queer man my very presence has often been disruptive in these spaces. It has been disruptive because, among many other things, the “violence against women” dialogue is intrinsically heterosexist and homophobic, not to mention virulently sexist. Through my work with numerous organizations that fall under this canon “of violence against women” I have been taken aback at how the generational analysis coupled with a “second wave” narrative of power and gender have produced an enviroment that does very little to acknowledge the deeply rooted relationship between heterosexism, homophobia and sexism. It has also been intriguing to me how many of the organizations who cling to this ideological perspective claim to be unaware of or are dissonant from organizations like Incite who have explored the complexities of these challenges in detail

There's not a whole lot that Yolo doesn't do. Here's just a little bit from his "about" page:
He is a graduate of Georgia State University, where he earned his B.A in Women’s & African American Studies. He is a licensed 200 level Iyengar Yoga teacher (RYT), with Yoga Alliance having studied and graduated from Yoga of India Yoga School, in Sandy Springs Georgia. He has been awarded the Creative Leadership Award by the Feminist Women’s Health Center , A ZAMI award and the “Unity In Community Award” from Unity in Christ Fellowship Church.

Through his gender & sexuality activism, he has been an organizer with United 4 Safety (LGBTQ Domestic Violence Organization), Spark! Reproductive Justice and the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival. He worked as the Regional training coordinator for Men Stopping Violence where he organized the mentor program, taught men’s education classes (commonly called batterer’s intervention courses) trained and educated organizations and individuals on gender based violence and was the lead architect and designer of “Mercury” An online training for men on gender based violence. Yolo currently manages the operations of Akili inc, providing provocative trainings, education, yoga classes and spiritual consultations to groups and individuals across the world.

Oh, and he's a poet who produced this short documentary around his poem: "Are We the Kind of Boys We Want?"

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