The Bridges We Burn
curated content from around the web fostering healthy masculinities
because toxic masculinity is killing us.
The Bridges We Burn is a space for reflection. It is at its core a resource center offering insight, tools, and information on how each of us, in our daily lives and relationships, might forge a new path. “Since we have yet to end patriarchal culture, our struggles to end domination must begin where we live, in the communities we call home. It is there that we experience our power to create revolutions, to make life-transforming change” (hooks, The Will to Change, 2004, p. 172). As they say, the revolution begins at home.
This site is a project seeking to connect activism and academia, advocacy and theory; to bridge the gaps between the ideals to which we aspire, and the failures of our practice. It is our firm belief that by learning from our mistakes–and holding ourselves and one another accountable to our ideals–we heal, we grow, we do better next time.
Every article, book, video, or other piece of content featured on this site has been selected with intention by the Editor, and features an annotation explaining why.
FROM THE EDITOR: This is the website that I wish I had access to when I was researching and writing my Masters thesis on the role of patriarchy and neoliberalism in perpetuating toxic ideals of masculinity that result in the United States’ rape culture. But more so, this is the website that I wish existed when I was far younger; when I was in high school and junior high.
When at 11 years old I saw Legends of the Fall with my mom and wanted to start growing my hair long like Brad Pitt’s character; I did, but not without fear of the reaction of my peers.
When at 14 Peter Dedes, the smallest boy in my class, was being bullied in the locker room by the football quarterback, Mike DeRose, and the only recourse I felt I had was to challenge Mike to a fight. A fight which was avoided only thanks to the intervention of my friend, Mickey, bigger than both Mike and I, who told Mike that he wouldn’t like the odds against him.
When at 21 I started dating the woman who I would eventually spend 6 years in partnership with, who would be the first person I ever told that I loved her, the first person I ever had sex with. But at first the only way I knew how to show her that I cared was to be shitty to her, to push her away, to shut down. Because I didn’t know that it was ok to be vulnerable, to be scared, to admit that I didn’t know what I was doing.
When at 30 I was sleeping with one of my best friends and she said to me, “I don’t want you,” and every feeling of abandonment I have ever had came rushing back to me like a flood.
When at 33 I still struggle to admit when I don’t know what I am doing.
This is the site I wanted to have, to read the words of men and women, and folks who don’t identify along the binary, to reassure me that I was no less a man, no less a person; that I existed, that I mattered; that in those darkest moments of fear and insecurity, I am still worthy of love. That there is no one right way to be a man, nor is there any limitation to the ways I can embody my version of masculinity.
Toxic masculinity is killing us; women and men, boys and girls, and most definitely those whose identity does not lie within the gender binary, folks in the queer community, and trans* people. In the United States, we raise our boys to hate our girls. To not understand themselves. We socialize young people into an impossibly rigid system of identity and systematically work to crush any divergence from the norm. But the norms are not normal, and the violence that results cannot be feigned acceptable. We have collectively acquiesced to this construct, and are complicit in its perpetuation.
In feminist writing, we speak of “toxic masculinity;” academia and gender studies use “hegemonic masculinity;” on playgrounds, in schools, and at home, the phrase too often used to crush the emotional experience of a young boy is: “be a man.” Whatever we name it–and it is absolutely fundamental that we do–the effects are widely seen, if not widely connected. Domestic violence. Bullying. Sexual harassment. Murder in high schools, churches, movie theaters. Rape. Suicide.
We did not set this agenda in motion; it is not our fault, but it is our responsibility. This site begins with the understanding that the so-called masculine norm in the United States is producing toxic men and horrifying rates of interpersonal violence.
May the bridges we burn light the way forward.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Brett Goldberg is a feminist, an activist, organizer, and agitator. He currently volunteers as an Advocate for victim/survivors of sexual violence with the Sexual Violence Center in North Minneapolis. He received his MA in Gender and Peace Building from the UN-mandated University for Peace in June 2015. With a background in community organizing for social justice, housing & land rights, and community-based disaster relief & recovery, Brett studied gender theory and peace building to learn skills for more effectively fostering collective power and creating gender equity. Transparency, accountability, and intentionality are fundamental in his work and relationships. Believing they cannot exist in a just world, Brett is committed to challenging racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, classism, and ableism.
No justice, no peace.
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