The New Hollywood is all about creating community, support and partnership. More importantly TNH wants to inspire all men and women to Rise Higher, Shine Brighter and to Give Back! As a group of shepherds, not sheep, we feel it’s important to highlight men we respect who consistently add tremendous value to the world. Welcome to TNH Amazing Men Series. We are honored to have them share their wisdom with all of us.
This month the TNH Amazing Men Series features the incomparable Keith Edwards. Enjoy!
Over the past 15 years Keith has spoken and consulted at more than 100 colleges and universities on sexual violence prevention, men’s identity, social justice education, curricular approaches, and leadership. He has presented more than 100 programs at national conferences and has written more than 15 articles or book chapters on these issues. His research, writing, and speaking has received national awards and recognition including ACPA Dissertation of the Year and ACPA Diamond Honoree.
Please tell us who you are, and what you do?
I’m a speaker, consultant, and coach. I speak on college campuses about sexual violence prevention. Specifically, I talk about how we need to be proactive and not just reactive, the power of and need to engage men, informed consent, rape culture that mis-educates all of us, and ways that we can all be empowered to address sexual violence directly and indirectly be shifting the rape culture in our spheres of influence. I also do work on social justice education, student learning and assessment, men’s identity development, and coaching individuals and organizations to reach their fullest potential.
What other amazing men would you nominate? Why?
There are so many amazing men that I have learned from on these issues. I’d first say that around sexual violence prevention and anti-sexist work in general, that men get way too much credit. For decades, women have been at the forefront of these movements, created them, still do the lion’s share of the work, and get far too little credit. I think that’s important for me, as a man, and for other men to acknowledge.
Some of the men who I have learned the most from include Tracy Davis, Michael Kimmel, Jackson Katz, Alan Berkowitz, Paul Kivel, Joe Ehrmann, Tony Porter, Neil Irvin, and Harry Brod.
Who was/is the most profound male influence in your life and why?
The most profound male influence in my life is easily my father. His modeling, example, and presence (the good and the bad) has shaped my idea of what it means to be a man more than anyone else.
Who is the most influential woman in your life and why?
My mother, for the same reasons. Her modeling, example, and presence (the good and the bad) has shaped my idea of what it means to be a woman more than anyone else.
What is your personal motto/mantra?
These shift for me regularly. Right now, I’m really working on bringing my full self all of the time.
What advice would you give young men and women?
Gender is a social construction. Be clear about what society is telling you and what is authentic to you. Most of us perform gender or wear our gender as a mask to try and cover up who we really are (because we are afraid we won’t measure up) and to portray an image forward that will be accepted. The more authentic we are and live that outside the artificial and harmful boundaries of societies traditional definitions of gender, the more free, authentic, healthy, and alive we will be.
What causes are you passionate about and why?
I have many passions. Most of my time is figuring out how to prioritize my efforts so that I can have the most significant impact with this one short life I have. I’m very clear that oppression (sexism, racism, heterosexism, religious oppression, etc.) harms all of us – not just the oppressed. I have many concrete and real privileges due to my identities, yet those systems of oppression that grant me those privileges also diminish my life each and every day. I think the more those in the dominant group(s) pay attention to how they too are harmed by the isms the more effective, consistent, and sustainable we are as aspiring allies in working toward more justice and equity.
How do you contribute to your community and why?
I do this through my work as a speaker, consultant, and a coach. I also am a partner to my wife and father to our two daughters. I also do this through my relationships with friends, colleagues, neighbors, and communities. This is how I live my life. I cannot separate it – nor would I want to.
What is your definition of being man versus being a boy?
In general, our society doesn’t have a clear marker of when a boy becomes a man (many other cultures do). The result is that we have many men trying to prove that they are men and not boys (including 40 year old men like me). It is the proving of manhood according to the toxic and traditional definitions in our society that is dangerous and leads to consequences for people of all genders including men themselves. I’d say that a boy is a younger man. But frankly, I’m much more interested in all of us being free from the mask and the performance and being our full selves more often.
Any additional ideas, stories, or points of view that you feel will enhance readers on understanding who you are and what your purpose is please elaborate!
We don’t need to teach boys and men a different way of being a man to address sexual violence and many other ills that stem from patriarchy and masculine gender roles. We need to give them permission to stop being who they feel they have to be and grant them permission to be who they really are.
You can support Keith, his mission and current projects by following him on twitter @edwardsk14 on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/keithedwardsspeaks/ and at keithedwards.com.
Please note that not all experiences, beliefs and ideas are shared by each member of “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.