Recently, the #metoo movement has taken the ceramics community by force. For those of you who may have missed it, Emalee Hudson (@softearth.ceramics) spoke out on Instagram to report sexual harassment by the instagram-famous potter, Eric Landon (@tortus), with whom she was assisting last year at his studio in Copenhagen. Her confession sparked an enormous response from the online community; an out pour of loving support, as well as vehement rejection from both sides. Her courage in speaking out empowered several more women to come forward with their own atrocious accounts of harassment and abuse by Landon, and other male figures, effectively exposing a shameful dark side of our beautiful community.
I'm writing this because I feel like it is my responsibility as a white male to speak up and use my platform as a means of affecting change. Neglecting to do so is a privilege reserved by those whom the issue does not reach. In a society where the majority of the power is in the hands of the white male, and where that white male will very often abuse that power just because he can, because it is normalized for him to do so, those of us with this power who disagree must come forward and voice it. In all honesty I am sad and ashamed that I haven't done so sooner, even after seeing so many friends and family share their #metoo. This movement is by women, for women, and I am here to humbly lend my privilege in support of them in the pursuit of achieving equality and safety for all.
I know that articles and perspectives like this may be triggering to many white males out there. Please understand that nobody is after you; this movement is not a personal attack. Maybe you believe that identity politics are just another divisive social construct. Maybe you are a good guy. Whether you are correct or not, the time for this conversation is now, and the identity of the white male of privilege is the one that needs to have the brightest of spotlights shown directly at it. Your job as a white male is to listen, and to do your best to understand. Taking it personally and becoming defensive is a sure way to make women around you feel unsafe. "When you maintain presumed innocence of your mediocre male heroes, you prop up abusers and let the women in your life know you too are an unsafe person." I pulled this poignant quote from a post by @kristywestendorpceramics. We need to build a platform of safety, security, and support for victims and we can do this by listening, cultivating our compassion and empathy, and speaking out when and where we can.
Despite the strong, supportive, and loving community that we all identify clay with, it really is no surprise that white male privilege is rampant within it. The truth is that it is just rampant. Period. But thanks to Emalee, and the other women who have come forward, a strong dialogue has been initiated and the momentum is building. Many people are choosing to #unfollowtortus as more and more accounts of his abusive nature and poor business practices surface. Thanks to @Ayumihorie and @PotsinAction, the hashtag #PIAbadasswomen is highlighting incredible female artists who are doing amazing things, making amazing work, and doing it in all in a(nother) field dominated by men.
Thank you for reading.