Thursday, December 23, 2010

In regards to the photograph and article posted on The Cove Guardians blog

*the story and photograph mentioned are originally posted on our blog:*

I have been thinking of the layout of this photograph for a while now, and about what it may symbolize and represent... Me, a white skinned male in the center, flanked by two womyn at my side who are poised slightly behind me as if submissive to my presence. It made me feel uneasy that what was originally intended to be a strong and powerful animal rights message may also echo a visualization of a tyrannical, sexist and male dominated system. A friend of mine brought it up to me tonight and confirmed my fears, and I don't want this photo to be a misrepresentation of myself and my political beliefs. The animal rights movement is not without it's faults, and even within what seems like a progressive and forward thinking community sexism and male-dominance are still present.

We took this photo as part of an article that was posted about us in The Nanaimo News Bulletin that can be seen on our blog ( Marley, Carisa and myself met with a photographer at the harbor to snap some photos to accompany the story of our trip we are planning to Taiji, Japan to act as Cove Guardians, and so we all decided to wear our Sea Shepherd shirts. Unplanned and unknowing, Marley and Carisa both ended up wearing the same navy blue t-shirt while I wore the white. Needing to break up the colors (and me being the least camera shy) I was placed in the middle for the photograph. At the time we were busy awkwardly shuffling back and forth in front of the camera and freezing in the winter sea breeze, not considering the positioning in the photograph and what it may represent.

Marley and Carisa are both powerful, passionate and strong womyn and I am proud to be organizing and traveling with them. Although this picture might suggest otherwise, there are no hierarchal dynamics in our relationship as a group or in our personal relationships. We are all struggling for the same ends, and as an animal rights activist, environmentalist and feminist I strongly oppose all forms of oppression and domination. Bell Hooks was an author that originally encouraged me to identify as a feminist, though I am male-bodied, by stating that "Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression" which is something that I believe in greatly. If you are a boy and those words hit close to home with you, then I STRONGLY encourage you to identify as a feminist, apply those principles to your daily life and research ways to be a better ally to womyn and anyone struggling for equal rights.

I hope this clarifies the photograph and any concerns, if anyone would like to discuss it more feel free to send me an email at: I don't claim to have all the answers, and I don't claim to be completely free of the sexist mentalities and mental binds that growing up in a patriarchal society have given me. But I would like to say for the record that all movements are important and necessary, and that oppressing a species deemed "weaker" and "less intelligent" then ours is no better or worse than oppressing someone because of their gender or race.

One struggle, one fight,

Mike XVX


Rex Ray said...

I've shared this article (and photo) far and wide. No one I've shared it with perceived any sort of sexism in the image. Especially not me. It's very obvious that you are all caring, sensible, and friendly people who are above any of those "isms" anyone might accuse you of.

fw said...

Hey there, my partner and I spotted a poster yesterday in downtown Nanaimo alerting us to the showing of the Cove and your fundraiser. We are ar activists up on Denman, and showed the film at one of our vegan potlucks last year.

We see our own ar work in the world as inextricably linked to ending ALL forms of oppression. I identify as an ecofeminist, and want to appreciate you for this excellent, accountable explanation for the photo in question...and to appreciate your friend for brining the issue to your attention and inspiring you to address the concern here.

A simple google search for the blog identifying this upcoming event has totally inspired my day, in reading your post! There was nothing trivial about your friend's observation and your own gut instinct. It is precisely "caring, sensible, and friendly" people who don't want to ignore these kinds of concerns that make real change in the world possible!

I wish we could make it back down to Nanaimo for the gig, but I'm not sure we can do it. Perhaps we'll meet another time, if not sooner, then later.

THANKYOU for all you are doing, and best wishes to all of you for anti-oppression work on ALL fronts!


joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joe said...

I agree with Rex, I've just shown the photo in question to both my girlfriend and mother (who by the way used to run a shelter for abused women) and both not only say it's a great photo but the placement creates a nice depth of field that wouldn't have been achieved had you all been side by side. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your photo and anyone trying to shift the focus from the amazing and selfless campaign your undergoing by dwellng on this issue should be ashamed.

mikexvx said...

I'm glad that people generally didn't take it that way, I just thought it was important to bring up since a couple people had issues with it... and since there were a few out there who did there might be more that just hadn't emailed me about it. Though I will say I was kind of glad to be given this opportunity to talk about sexism within radical movements because I think that's something that goes largely undiscussed in some circles. Anyway, thank you all for your support and feedback. I don't want anything to take away from our goals or trivialize this campaign, I was just concerned about using oppressive imagery.