A Letter to the Reel Grrls Community from Board President Michael B. Maine

A historic vote from the Reel Grrls Board has named Michael B. Maine as the organization’s first male-identified Board President. The artist and activist shares his thoughts on what this means to him personally in the letter below.

When I was a very young boy in Dallas, I made up a game where I would watch the news by turning around and try to guess what the person the news anchor was talking about looked like. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that’s when I started reading and codifying media. Trends began emerging for me: violent crime—black; award-winning acting performance—white; etc. Before long, I became very curious in how mass media came to existence. Where did these messages come from? How is casting handled, who chooses what news stories are news worthy, and what is the relationship between media and perception? I realized that what I was seeing on television and in the theater, and what I heard on the radio didn’t match my real world experiences.

Several years later, I was sitting in the laundry room, at a predominantly white university, watching a football game when a classmate walked in. Surprised to see me, he said, “Hi Michael. You’re in my political science class right? You know…you’re much smarter than I thought you would be.” When I asked him why he thought that he said, “You’re the first black person I’ve ever met in my life—you know—outside of TV and I just expected you to be like that.” I saw the power of the media clearly that day.

I’ll never forget when I first learned about Reel Grrls. In partnership with Media Justice League, I performed a media training for the Texas Council on Family Violence. In that training, we showed how oppressive images normalize thought and behavior that often leads to violence. Media is a powerful tool, and we screened the video that Reel Grrls produced to protest Comcast’s withholding their sponsorship. It was a great example of how, when people have the literacy and skills to create their own media, the potential to build awareness, empathy, and action is tremendous.

Michael B. Maine Reel Grrls

I hope I can show more men that ‘feminist’ is not a bad word, because it stands for my values of equal rights and representation.

As the new Board President, I have big aspirations for Reel Grrls. How can we offer our media literacy programs to more communities? How can we get tools and technology into new hands for authentic storytelling? And how can grow our network of supporters so these dreams are attainable? I hope that as the first male-identified Board President, I can help play a role in helping Reel Grrls get there and more. I hope that standing proudly as a male feminist, I can bring more men into our community and rally them behind our cause of teaching youth through a feminist lens. I hope I can show more men that ‘feminist’ is not a bad word, because it stands for my values of equal rights and representation.

I feel fortunate to be surrounded by a team of caring, talented, and experienced people who are open minded and looking towards the future. Together I strongly believe that we have an opportunity to continue further the delivery on the Reel Grrls mission by being nimble and increasing access to a more diverse group of people—many of whom are underserved and under resourced. I also hope that, as a man, one of the things I can bring specifically is to show that feminism isn’t a “women’s only” issue, but a framework that represents the belief that everyone should be free to fully participate, present, and be considered.

Warmly,

Michael B. Maine

Reel Grrls Board President and proud feminist

 


6 Replies to "A Letter to the Reel Grrls Community from Board President Michael B. Maine"

  • Lily Burns
    March 22, 2016 (5:28 pm)
    Reply

    From personal experience, there is not a doubt in my mind there would be a better person to fill this role than Michael B. Maine.

    He’s as authentic as they come, the true essence of humanity. Michael’s array of remarkable talent, along with his personal and professional experiences….and the deep understanding and unique perceptions of the people and world around him combine to create a beautiful, passionate, inspiring, and driven individual set out to make substantial changes where most needed.

    Michael is compassionate, open, honest, loyal, driven, generous, intuitive, intelligent, talented, diverse, genuine, and one of the most spectacular human beings I’ve had the privilege to know, and call my true friend.

    Reel Grrls made a unprecedented and very wise choice, and I wish both Reel Grrls and Michael B. Maine all the success, growth and awareness expressed in Michael’s letter, and am quite confident everything he and Reel Grrls envisions will be achieved!

  • Kyle Halmrast
    March 22, 2016 (7:25 pm)
    Reply

    Welcome, Michael, and congratulations! Reel Grrls is a true community gem and I know you’ll do great work with and for them!

  • Maureen
    April 2, 2016 (5:31 pm)
    Reply

    Thanks for Mansplaining feminism to me, Michael. Thank god the girls have you to show them the real lesson in this world: we pretend to strive for equality, and use fancy language, we really know at that you need a man in charge.

    You should feel ashamed. Do you? My bet is you don’t. That you don’t understand why your promotion as he leader of a girls empowerment organization is wrong – is just an indicator of how far off, how far “wrong” real grrls is. Twist it however you want – you are sending a message that a you need a man to lead. Of course, it must be because there are no qualified women available. Because, after all, why try to proactively promote women in leadership as a role model for young girls. Perhaps though, it is valuable to see a man running a girls organization. It will get them used to the real world, where men still control their laws, rights, economic opportunities and bodies.

    So, when do you change your name to: Reel Grrls need Men to Lead Them?

    • Teresa Mozur
      April 14, 2016 (3:40 pm)
      Reply

      Hi Maureen,

      My name is Teresa Mozur and I am on the Reel Grrls Board of Directors. I’d like to inform you that Michael is not leading the organization, that role still belongs to our Executive Director Nancy Chang. Michael is serving in a volunteer 2 year term as the Board President, leading the Board of Directors (also volunteers) that governs and advises the organization. We stand by our vote for him as President, and I challenge your thinking that he is mansplaining feminism through his letter or that this is an anti-feminist decision of our organization to make. We embrace anyone who identifies as a feminist or with feminist values, and hope you might too.

      Best,
      Teresa

  • Wendi Gephart
    April 4, 2016 (12:30 am)
    Reply

    Michael, Reel Grrls will continue to shine and grow with your leadership. Very happy to learn of your appointment!

  • Elida
    April 16, 2016 (3:40 am)
    Reply

    A little rationality lifts the quality of the debate here. Thanks for cogtributinn!


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