Cellblock Feminism

Feminism in Prison?” — Beme News, 2018, 10:16https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2yE8r9ape4

Richard Edmond Vargas teaches about toxic masculinity in prison while he serves time for a robbery conviction. This powerful video shows him facilitating discussion groups where prisoners learn about feminism, respect for women, and alternative models of manhood. While there is some resistance among the inmates, Vargas seems to strike a chord of interest with his feminist teachings. It’s also interesting to learn about his enlightenment from reading bell hooks as well as the wisdom he receives from his girlfriend. In fact, the girlfriend makes a compelling case that Vargas’ toxic masculinity is the for his imprisonment since he could have asked her for money instead of committing a robbery. This video also has a short discussion on the school-to-prison pipeline, wherein young men of color have a greater chance of going to prison than attending college.

What other feminist theories or scholarship might Vargas find useful in his discussion groups? How might we encourage similar conversations in other masculine spaces (e.g., the military, sports teams, etc.)? Why do some men resist examining how gender inequality shapes their lives?

From the video’s description: Prisoners in Soledad, California are turning to an unlikely source — feminism — to understand the behaviors that may have landed them behind bars. Contessa visits with Richard Edmond Vargas who is working with his fellow inmates to challenge the idea of what it means to “be a man.”