A Teacher’s Guide to RACE 1

This is especially for those of you racialised as white.


A white pupil calls a pupil of colour a racist slur. You hear it, it’s in earshot and it’s directed squarely at the pupil of colour.

Your thoughts are to follow the policy, right?

At the end of the lesson, the victim (pupil of colour) comes to see you and says that the incident was ‘banter’ and requests that you do not record it or apply a sanction as per the policy.

Activity: What do you do?







Recognise this, first and foremost; as a white person (person of privilege) it is never your job to tell a pupil or anyone else what is or is not racist.


Are you advocating the sanction be dropped, Pran?


What I am saying is that the policy of the incident should be treated like every other incident. Would you treat a comment about someone’s weight in the same way? If the child came told you they didn’t mind. I will leave that to your professional judgement.

What happens next with regards to the consequence is vital. I vehemently do not advocate a solely punitive sanction, in this case. This is an issue of ignorance or hate. Neither should be met with a response which meets does not meet their needs. I have seen pupils excluded (FTE) leading to them spending more time with the people who indoctrinated them in the first place, sigh.

The victim who has had the conversation at the end of the lesson has signalled they may not have an understanding of the power structures. As a person of colour, this is of critical concern. All students need to be aware of the kyriarchy. If they are not, then it is our job to educate them. This should form part of the day to day education of a pupil. This is the world they live in. I have seen many schools successfully incorporated this learning into character education and PSHE.

If our schools and society are not providing this enlightenment for our pupils, it becomes our duty, as teachers, to provide it in any form necessary. One teacher, one school and one pupil at a time.


Ways to support both victim and perpetrator:

  1. Teaching around the kyriarchy, the power structures and privilege.
  2. A conversation around the origins of the language, the abuse and the hate.
  3. The discourse around the consequences in adult life. I’m not just talking about criminal charges, I’d concentrate on the societal and community impact.


Scenario 1

A black child refers to a black child with a racist slur. You hear it, it’s in earshot and it’s directed squarely at the pupil of colour.

You follow the policy, right?

At the end of the lesson, the victim comes to see and says that the incident was banter, and requests that you do not record it/apply a sanction as such.

What do you do?

Yes, it’s different. It is not the right of one human being to take away the right of identity from another. If a child chooses to ascribe to a label, that is purely their choice. I would how however contemplate the education around the language and the public nature of their indiscretion.

All in all the support is exactly the same:

  1. Teaching around the kyriarchy, the power structures and privilege discussing historic and current contexts.
  2. A conversation around the origins of the language, the abuse and the hate.
  3. The discourse around the consequences in adult life. I’d concentrate on the societal and community impact.

How many teachers are confident about the nature of this support? Do we factor support into ITT. Do schools provide CPD to support the gap in societal knowledge?

Please do send me your responses via the ‘about us’ contact form.


Equity and Choices

We find ourselves in a world where society is starting to move on. In which we teach pupils that we measure people on merit rather than innate traits they possess; This is the crux of the matter.

One of my favourite quotes from Audre Lorde (@CiteBlackWomen) is,

“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

As an equity activist, I believe this is the beginning, the middle and the end of it. You must stand up and be ready to be counted to all threats to our rights. You cannot fight for a single cause. I am for the destruction of the patriarchy; this means that I cannot support or stay quietly complicit in the face of white supremacy.

The obvious argument is that if you are from an oppressed group, you would not like your freedoms eroded. This argument is lazy; everyone involved already knows the hypocrisy involved. I will not waste your or my time with this rhetoric.

As this rhetoric damages all our causes. This rhetoric damages our cause. When we talk systemically, there is only the oppressed and the oppressors. Here we are not singling out people but the system. Supporting these structures, through your active voice or silence and complicity hold the whole thing up.

The opposite is also exact if you support (or are complicit) the systemic oppression of any group. You support a system which propagates white supremacy, misogyny, etc. Yes, plenty of people will disagree with the last statement because their minds cannot contemplate that they are being described with *those* words.

If you deny that white privilege exists, engage in white solidarity, white saviour complex, state that calls for diversity (balance) should be ignored. You are not only promoting white supremacy; you are upholding the foundations of the system which oppresses everyone.

Choose who you are? 

Racist or Anti Racist (White Supremacist or Anti – White Supremacist)

Misogynist or for Gender equity

Homophobic or Anti Homophobic

Ableist or Anti Ableism

Islamophobic or Anti Islamophobic


There is no middle ground. The lines have drawn between freedom and oppression. I want to live in a world where there are ‘no outsiders’.

The Things I Don’t Tell You

Guest Post: Anon

Most black people will never tell you exactly what they feel about race or how being a minority in this country has affected their day to day life. Not your friend, definitely not your colleague and possibly not even your partner or your child.   Because it permeates so many things that we forget to mention and because the truth is that you can’t really handle it. If we mention the instances where we know we’ve been treated differently because of our race,  for some of us, it’s so often that you probably won’t believe us. Also you’ll start to feel guilty and possibly uncomfortable and that means our relationship with you may be damaged. In a work situation this is definitely a problem. Also, something your black friend or colleague probably won’t mention is that there is shame around this. In the way that an abused wife is reluctant to talk about how her husband beats her. Is it actually my fault? Could I have done something differently?


We won’t tell you even if you ask. We may give a muted sanitized version, so even then the instance we’ve shared and you are shocked by isn’t even the worst of it. Or the thing in its totality. 


We won’t mention the overt racism, or being made to feel like we don’t belong or the constant questioning of our competence or the condescension or having our views overlooked (especially on race) until a white person backs us. I have worked in schools in England for over a decade. It happens as a child, as a parent, as a teacher, as a member of SLT. It happens in mixed rooms, rooms full of white men, rooms full of white women. 


What we do become good at though (especially those of us operating in predominantly white spheres) is reading a room, virtual or physical, taking the tone, noting who is trustworthy and who feels off. Why? Because for some of us our lives and physical safety quite literally depend on it. Our economic security definitely does. 


So although we may not say anything, we look. We listen. We hear the jokes that make some people insiders and others not. We observe the language that is mocked and ridiculed by people who are in a position to change perceptions and do some good. 


We often can’t do anything because we are not in positions of power and if we are our numbers are few and our positions feel insecure but we notice and then we know who we can be safe with. The small things indicate the big things. 


(I am writing this as a black woman – I can’t speak for other minorities in this case). 

‘Stop and Search’ – Our Classrooms

The universe is compelling me to write.

Stop and Search.jpg

In 2010-11 You were six times more like to be stopped and searched if you are a young black male. Being six times more likely to be stopped and searched based on the colour of your skin is abhorrent.

But Pran, Life is better now it’s 2019…

Random teacher

This ratio increased to 8.4 times in 2018.

When the Macpherson report (20 years ago) stated that the metropolitan police are ‘institutionally racist’. These figures were half as many.

Racism is on the decline. Things are getting better. Right?

Same Random teacher

Unsurprisingly, you are more likely to stopped search in a less diverse area. Dorset and Suffolk topped the scales with ratios 25.6 and 17.8. I’m going to say that again,

You are 25.6 more likely to stopped and searched in Dorset and 17.8 times more likely in Suffolk; if you are black than if you are white!

Pran Patel

The effect of disproportionate negative impact where you have lower numbers of people of colour is echoed in education, I write about the Gollem effect here.


Also, let me make clear you are less likely to carry drugs if you are black. There is no reason this should be happening. The literature also states that an increase in stop and search has no discernible impact on knife crime.

As for the use of weapons searches, the evidence is clear: increases in the use of stop and search do not lead to any discernible drop in violent crime.

Micheal Shiner

Stop and search is racist, yes I said it, stop and search is a systemic tool, which is disproportionately used by the establishment (kyriarchy) to disadvantaged PoC.

Used as an antibiotic to a resistant infection, stop and search is overly prescribed to the detriment of its own effectiveness, squandering police time and energy that could otherwise be expended on protecting the wider community.

David Lammy

‘Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied. It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young, black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police.’

Theresa May

The statement was justified by our former prime minister with the finding that 27% of incidents in 2014 did not contain grounds to stop and search (although senior officers had authorised them). As we increase these powers, I fear we will see more of the same.

I write this as a man of colour who has endured/witnessed the indignity of being stopped and searched. The only thing I learned from that experience is we live in a world where there are people who care, and their people want to exert their power upon others. I was below those officers that day because of the colour of my skin; the power structures were made very clear. I was just playing the role of who I was expected to be.

What does that do to the psyche of a young man? Living a society in which you belittled because you look ‘dodgy’ because you look different, you deserve to be treated as less.

Parallels in Education

Teachers aren’t racist. There isn’t a teacher in the country who would regard themselves as racist.

Random Teacher 

I’d agree, with would also hope that there isn’t a police officer in the country would regard themselves as racist either. The individual label of ‘racist’ is pointless and damaging to equity (future blog coming0.

The national statistics are clear. The damage that has and is being done is clear.

A British black Caribbean boy with SEND is 168 more likely to be excluded that a British white girl without SEND. To compound this, you are twice as to be diagnosed with a SEMH needs (there is a statistical significance when factors such as social-economic, etc. are accounted for)

“Black Caribbean children may be suffering an inappropriate and narrowed curriculum, from unwarranted over-identification, particularly [in] secondary schools.

“This might mean they get less academically challenging, more vocationally orientated work perhaps,” he said, “like being shifted from maths to motor maintenance, or experience a lowered expectation of what they can do.

“From the factors that we have measured – socio-economic background, poverty and neighbourhood deprivation, and children’s development on entry to school – we can’t explain why, in particular, black Caribbean children and mixed-black-Caribbean-and-white children are more likely to be diagnosed with SEMH.”

Professor Strand

Is this unconscious bias at work? The question we should be asking is, why are we making choices that lead to these national figures?

Whether this is conscious or unconscious is irrelevant.

I have written about the impact of the Pygmalion and the Gollum impact here with regards to pupils of colour. Simply put, pupils conform to what people expect of them. Are we part of the cause of the disproportionate exclusion lower achievement and ultimately the system which propagates this as the status quo?

Please do reflect on the question ‘What do you ‘actually’ expect from your pupils’?

Things we can do as Educators

1.    Admit you are biased; without this recognition, you are likely causing harm.

3.    Analyse your behaviour records and act accordingly, which groups are receiving which sanctions? After working with a school in London, black pupils were often receiving the behaviour consequence of defiance from staff. Since the introduction of ‘words, not tone’, there has been a significant fall in the numbers and anecdotally ‘pupil-teacher relationships are much better’.

“Is it that these young people from these ethnic groups are more confrontational with their teachers because of gang culture or is it a perception of their behaviour?

“It’s important for schools to look at their policies and see that there isn’t anything that would cause a systematic bias in the way special needs and SEMH is identified.”

Professor Strand

3.    Analyse your biases. Teacher assess where you think your pupils are then blind mark your assessments (or even better swop with a colleague) and then compare. (We know pupils of colour are often disadvantaged as their teacher think they are below where they are. link). Then act to change your expectations.







Guest Post: Teacher Ear

This is a guest post, well sort of…

As I am not supposed to be posting over the summer, I’m allowing people to catch up.

Today I’m posting something different. Darren Chetty’s ‘Beyond the Secret Garden’ at The Royal Opera House #ThrivingChild Conference is below. Chetty explores issues around identity and representation as they relate to how children thrive at ‘The Thriving Child’

He literally moved me to tears, tears which should have been cried years ago.


Change is in your hands. One teacher, one lesson and one pupil at a time.


No Outsiders:​ Our Strength

After the recent news around Anderton Park School in my native West Midlands. Protests against the Birmingham school’s equalities education. Protesters, most of them Muslim, moved on to Anderton Park after other schools nearby dropped their “no outsiders” LGBT education programme.



I feel compelled to write something.

I will not use the argument that those in glass houses should not throw stones. Marginalised groups have a right to protest whatever their views; this should not impinge on their rights.

My message is one of solidarity, this is not a simple case of I like this, but I don’t like this. All discrimination is a product of systemic problem, racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. These are all derived from a system which ‘other’ groups to keep the majority together.

All collectives are doomed to fail (Von Mises).

Collectives cannot create meaning. Individuals create their meaning within the group. Remember, all collectives are a group of individuals.

As a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan, I like all football fans want my football club to succeed. However, there are apparent differences between fans. Some will wish success at any means others will favour the quality of football over everything. The way all collectives stay together is through the process of othering. Othering provides the premise that all ‘decent’ people would be part of our collective and therefore provides meaning to the whole.

Your choice is clear, you either support the freedoms of all or you support the same system which oppresses us all. Through the othering of groups, we make all of our struggles more difficult.

Your choice is clear, you either support the freedoms of all or you support the same system which oppresses us all. Through the othering of groups, we make all of our struggles more difficult. Click To Tweet

The Logo is available here for free. Please do share, retweet and show your solidarity.

The No Outsider resources are here.

Fighting the Norm #NotMyAriel

Here is one of the many dangers of having an ethnocentric curriculum.

If we live in a world which constantly assures you that you are the norm. I have asked educators to complete a similar this task previously.

Think about the last 5 people you mentioned in the stories in your lessons, people you credited, people who wrote the books you are reading,








Now remove all the people that are men, then all who are white, heterosexual, middle class, able-bodied, etc. Who are you left with? I will not accept that less than 20% of the world population (white) have contributed so largely to the sum of all human knowledge that this would warrant these proportion of our curriculum and wider society.

With the wider media also being whitewashed, through poor representation and the white saviour and magical negro tropes. All of these factors lead to those racialised as white expecting they are the norm.

This was called out by Star Wars actor John Boyega,

“There are no black people on Game of Thrones,”

“You don’t see one black person in Lord of the Rings.”

With the same argument with a fan, George RR Martin responded with.


This is fiction, if you can write about ice zombies, resurrections and red witches. I’m sure you can write about people of colour. Unless you’re saying that in your made-up world with your made-up population you’ve chosen to make it wildly white supremacist. It also begs the question of the inclusion of people of colour at all, who are, as usual, depicted as rape loving savages. The Dothraki are portrayed as a savage uncivilised horde who need to rescued and civilised by a saviour.

So, the #NotMyAriel hashtag trended, with the most ridiculous arguments around melanin and exposure to sunlight, etc. This is the problem, if you see your face in everything, you will ‘other’ everybody else and when presented with alternatives to your truth and the knowledge you are taught. People may reject them as out of hand because of course, they’re superior in their knowledge and truth. Superior.

I’m going to leave you with a little bit about mermaids (and their like). This is a picture of the Matsya Bhagwaan the first avatar of Vishnu. Who appears in the Matsya Purana (as well as various other text) which was written around 2000 years ago.







Anti Racism Vs Representation

This is a summer post, I know I was going to let people catch up with reading over the summer. I’m writing this after the announcement that Boris Johnson has become the UK’s new prime minister and he has included a Hindu, a Muslim and a Jew into the great offices of state.


How we are seen determines in part how we are treated; how we treat others is based on how we see them; such seeing comes from representation.

(Dyer 1993: 1) in Gilbourn 2000

I have already seen people comment that this diversity is something to be applauded and to be completely fair, this is a more diverse set of people. Similar parallels were made with respect to Obama in the US. However, this means very little. I have also heard in our own field that sexism cannot exist as our current headteacher is a woman… discourse is important.

‘Not only is discourse always implicated in power, discourse is one of the ‘systems through which power circulates’

Hall 1992a: 294, original emphasis in Gilbourn 2000

Representation is a small incremental step towards equity. Nobody has ever said that oppression can be dispelled by individual acts. I will state what racism actually is. Acts of violence, discrimination and white solidarity are symptoms of the root cause of this oppression, this is the power structures and through the will of those to protect the status quo.

Racism is systemic oppression decided on the basis of race, the lines of power flow from oppressor to oppressed. By systemic oppression, I mean health care, judicial service, education, employment, etc. (reference the world or various previous blogs).

Racism is systemic oppression decided on the basis of race, the lines of power flow from oppressor to oppressed. By systemic oppression, I mean health care, judicial service, education, employment, etc.  Click To Tweet

The appointment of these people above may be a gesture in the right direction but it serves no purpose when the faced with these structures. Yes, representation is important, however, if having a melanated person in role serves only to discriminate against people of colour, the vessel is yet another force which maintains the status quo regardless of its colour.

Sajid Javid: In his role as Home Secretary removed the citizenship of a British born woman of colour leaving her stateless. The same was and has not been done to scores of white British fighters. This along with his refusal to call Donald Trump racist after his now-famous  ‘sent her back’ speech.

Priti Patel: This former disgraced has repeated against the 2013 Same-Sex couples marriage bill. Her work with foreign aid is interesting…

Dominic Raab: Until February 2018, was a member of British Ultra Liberal Youth facebook group which advocated that those in debt be sent to the workhouses.

Gilbourn states that when talking about equality, deracialisation (the removal of specific words) should only be employed when race is not genuinely implicated in the issues at stake.

Having read the above 3 statements, is the race of the members here really implicated in the issues at stake? The issues being systemic oppression.


The test is simple, do these actions lead to the oppression of people? If your answer yes then it is a problem rather than a godsend.

What do we do?

  1. Stop linking racism or any other oppression to individual act, think systemically and about structure.
  2. Shout the above statement to every single person in the range, people need to understand that the representation simply serves to fog efforts to redress the balance.
  3. Disrupt the discourse. The discourse, in this case, a systematic tool for oppression.
  4. Use your power to support those who are underprivileged, whether that is by making sure you cite their work when you use it, or offering to support them.
The test is simple, do these actions lead to the oppression of people? If your answer yes then it is a problem rather than a godsend. Click To Tweet


Gilbourn 2000 Racism and Anti Racism in Real School. Chapter 2.


TedXNorwichED: Decolonise the Curriculum


If you have taken the time to watch this video. Please do share through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, email, WhatsApp, etc. the sharing buttons are at the bottom of this post.

The raw link us here ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JjRQTuzqTU




The reason I’m Mr Patel the school teacher and not Pran Patel the famous scientist is because of one question I could not answer on my first day at university.


But to help me understand why I did not have the answer back then, I went back into the school system I grew up in – the British school system – to see it from a teacher’s perspective, and then a school leader’s perspective, and as a curriculum lead and mental health advocate…


I’m from a working-class town in the Midlands and I was blessed with a great upbringing and an amazing family structure so I lea


rnt and learnt and learnt everything my teachers had to teach me and then went onto university. My first lecture was on quantum physics.


…and this lecture included ideas, thoughts, and provocations on the advancement of knowledge.


But in today’s TALK we are going to deconstruct the knowledge that is taught in British schools so that TOGETHER we can find a better way to reconstruct it.


This conversation matters for all current teachers, all future teachers and anyone who has or will ever be educated in the British school system. So that only about 66, 67 million people, and counting.


Here we go!


What is knowledge?


What do we accept as knowledge?


And the question I couldn’t answer…


What have Indians ever done for the advancement of human knowledge?


Another student asked me this in our friendly chat after our first lecture. Before he asked, he just wanted to check one thing, ‘Is your dad Indian?’ He said. I said yea. This doesn’t rub off.


I shook off that question to answer the other one on knowledge. I thought I’ve got this:


‘I’m pretty sure Mahatma Gandhi is /’ ‘No no no no no,’ he said. ‘Gandhi was an activist…’


he repeated the question for me:


‘How have YOU Indians ever contributed to the sum of human knowledge?’


The answer was not obvious to this white-British student at a British university.


And it wasn’t obvious to me a British-Indian student on a physics course.


Because I didn’t have an answer, I felt ashamed of who I was. I thought it meant I couldn’t contribute to human knowledge, no matter how much I wanted to.


To this day I have never felt more Inferior.


Is this what education is for?


I was 18 years old product of the British school system. The only people I could think of who had contributed to the sum of human knowledge were white and British, perhaps European origin


It was like there had been no other players.


Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Tesla, Galileo.


I knew what scientists like these had contributed like the back of my hand. I could talk about them all day. But ask me what people who looked like me had contributed…

I knew what scientists like these had contributed like the back of my hand. I could talk about them all day. But ask me what people who looked like me had contributed… Click To Tweet



I had nothing to draw on.


If we agree that this isn’t right and that the purpose of our education system is much more… we have work to do…


If we say ‘No! This is not what education is for!’ Then we have work to do.


The thing is…


Saying to teachers ‘we have work to do!’ (no matter how much energy I put into those words) – it’s like asking footballers to juggle as they run. We are flat out already. I get it. The BBC have literally interviewed me about the anxiety, sleeplessness and depression that seem to come with this amazing job. Like a whole range of anti-bonuses!


What I say to teachers is…


Make changes that inspire you.


Because when you do that you get energy. When you do something because you believe it is right and you see the difference it makes for your students, everything else becomes a little bit easier.


I’m calling this project ‘Decolonise the Curriculum’ and to make it easy for everyone I’m going to tell you about some great scientists I think all British students should know about too…


Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman: Indian. Ever wonder why the sea is blue? These scientists did and he discovered why. His discovery became the well known the Raman effect and this earned him a Nobel Prize for Physics.


Flossie Wong-Staal: An Asian immigrant to the US, in the during 1980s AIDS epidemic, became the first person to clone HIV and genetically map the virus, a critical step in developing blood tests for the virus


Charles Richard Drew, This African American doctor was the first to create a blood bank during world war 2 and his work and expertise in plasma preservation is still used today.


It’s time for British schools to acknowledge and celebrate all the players in the game of advancing human knowledge.


I first realised how easy it was to uncover all this hidden knowledge about where our knowledge has come from right after that conversation on my first day at university.


Instead of following all the other students to the pub,


I went to the library.


Get this, there I learnt that ‘zero’ was discovered in India in the 6th or 7th century and that changed everything. Our number system (12345) is Hindu-Arabic and it was introduced to Europe through the writings of Middle Eastern mathematicians. Who were they? I found out.


I hope you see how easy it would be to mention this in school, at home, wherever. I mean, teachers had only been teaching me maths since I was 5 years old!


What I want to leave you with is news that the work to decolonise the curriculum has already started.


Researchers and teachers are becoming uncomfortably aware of how white our Literature curriculum is and how nationalistic the History we teach is. It’s time to acknowledge the valuable contributions from all nationalities in the wider curriculum too.

Researchers and teachers are becoming uncomfortably aware of how white our Literature curriculum is and how nationalistic the History we teach is. It’s time to acknowledge the valuable contributions from all nationalities in the wider… Click To Tweet

One teacher, one lesson, one classroom at a time we can decolonise the curriculum.


Just think about it. You could be teaching the next Raman, Wong-Staal or Drew.


Thank you.






The Will to Change

Written by @CarrieStarbucks

When Pran Patel explained his main drive to create HeforSheEd was to provide a platform for male allyship to gender equality within education and asked if I would write an article on the topic, I was like Bambi’s mother caught in headlights.

 I do not have a clue what male allyship looks like. The #metoomovement has changed everything; men are walking a tightrope and women have taken away the safety net of their silence. It has thrown the whole system out of sync and we are scurrying around like rats in a maze trying to find the centre. I do, however, know what male allyship does not look like.

On International Women’s Day, Head of Content at TES, Ed Dorrell, wrote about his ‘mea culpa on how, despite 74% of teachers being women, the majority of their external contributors are male, and I’m willing to bet, white, middle-to-upper-class males at that.  

In fairness, Ed Dorrell addresses the lack of female writers could be down to his unconscious bias in the opening lines of the article but soon dismisses it because, “if the words are golden, the argument is strong, and the article adds to one of the many debates that engulf education,” it doesn’t matter to him. Ah, if only women were more talented it would make his ‘passive gender blindness’ so much easier, I can hear him sigh.

It also acknowledged that women may have less time to write because although they are strong, intelligent women responsible for shaping future generations, they are after all, still domestic servants with duties at home. The TES team muse that men are more likely to put themselves forward than women and in their busy 24-hour-news-cycle environment they want quick opinion pieces, from well, those that have the guts to put themselves forward.

The message is clear; women are solely responsible for changing an inherently sexist institution and we are the merciful patriarchs opening the doors for you to finally join our little boy’s club. 

 Click To Tweet

Dorrell’s ‘idea of no excuses’ and a promise to seek out talented female writers, may have just about saved the day, but it was quickly demolished by a thoughtless tweet from one of his teammates calling for women to get in touch, which once again proves the belief that the political football of achieving gender equality is firmly at the feet of women.

 That, coupled with the fact the TES team had to suddenly create submission guidelines following the response, shows they had given little thought on what their supposed call for change actually looked like.

While I have no doubt the intentions behind the article were good, it doesn’t detract from the fact it was a clumsy, ill-thought-out, see-through attempt to jump on the bandwagon of female empowerment on International Women’s Day.

That is not allyship. That is men flouting their dominance in the disguise of being charitable patriarchs.

Of course, there is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, exasperation to all this. I get it. I’m tired too. The men in my life often say they feel like they are walking on eggshells, desperate to not offend, eager to help but are unsure what the rules are now. And I, like many women since #metoo and #timesup, feel a rage that has been suppressed for years bubble uncontrollably over, which makes conversations about allyship difficult.

I’m not perfect either and recently, I have been acting like a bull in a china shop. I am an intersectional feminist. This is such an integral part of my identity I’m pretty sure my heart beats to the rhythm of the saying, “your feminism isn’t feminism unless it’s intersectional.”

But yet, I am researching masculinity in men’s mental health. I am asked almost daily, “why men?”I carry with me the most cutting remark I have ever received, like a broken shield on my back, “when you’re done, have a look at women yeah?”It’s hardly abusive but the acidic accusation of betrayal drips from every syllable and burns my skin.

When I stumble over my words to explain why I choose to focus on men’s mental health, I have

Bell Hooks’ words echo in my ears;

“We were the feminists who could not be trusted because we cared about the fate of men.” 

I may get that tattooed on my arse.

The thing is, the deep divide between the sexes and our subsequent muddled attempts to come together, is something like Harry Potter’s he-who-shall-not-be-named. We rarely discuss it. We give it many names – sexism, chauvinism, misogyny– but we rarely recognise that it creates victims of both men and women. We never name it for what it truly is. But like Harry naming it diminishes its power; Lord Voldemort, The Patriarchy.

Or if we really want go in hard, imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

The words may feel heavy, unnatural, even radical; reserved for the man-hating, bra-burning of the 1960s. My alienation from the word is why I have been making a conscious effort to use patriarchy over other terms such as sexism. I do this because words like sexism is so closely aligned with the female experience that it can be easily dismissed by men as irrelevant to them, which is at the heart of the problem of male allyship. The Patriarchy is a male problem as much as it is a feminine one.

 The Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists males are inherently dominant and powerful. Patriarchal thinking shapes the values of our culture and we are socialised into this system, females as well as, males. Patriarchy with its rigid gender roles demands of men that they become and remain emotionless, which is deeply harmful to not only their emotional development but how they form relationships and is that not the source of happiness – fulfilling relationships from best friends to lovers?

Patriarchy imprisons men in a system that undermines their mental health, and ultimately, patriarchy brainwashes men to believe domination over others is a privilege, a privilege they do not want to or cannot give up.

That is why despite the many gains we have achieved – greater equality of women in the workforce, same-sex marriage, and more tolerance for the relinquishing of rigid gender roles – patriarchy, as a system, remains intact.

The press is full of ‘crisis in masculinity’ headlines and pundits like Piers Morgan, claim women have gone too far in their demands and trying to take power away from men. Much like Carol Dweck’s, Growth Mindset, workshops to help boys and men escape the ‘man box’ are the latest ticket in town with a fancy price tag to match.

The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we can make this distinction clear, men will continue to perceive any critique of the patriarchy as a threat and any attempts of change will be met with fear.

Until we can collectively acknowledge the damage the patriarchy causes and the suffering it creates, we cannot change.

Until men realise that they must save themselves from their own oppression, we cannot change.

Until we realise the two perspectives of men as oppressors and that people are people who are all hurt by rigid sex roles, coexist, the sooner we can begin to work together to dismantle a system that harms us all.

Allyship won’t even be a thing, it will be just people coming together with the indestructible will to change.



From @CarrieStarbuck. If you would like to support Carrie’s work researching men’s mental health and her writing then please do consider becoming a Patreon from as little as $1 or 77p per month.