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Front Page » Authors » Bio for Tanner Willbanks » Archives for Tanner Willbanks

By Tanner Willbanks on August 12, 2009

I have been amazingly lucky in my life to have been surrounded by extremely strong role models since a young age. While many of them have been flawed, occasionally astoundingly so, each and every one of the people that I have considered a role model in my life has changed my life in ways that I don't even have the ability to express intelligently. However, since when has not being able to express something intelligently ever stopped me from trying?

One of the more remarkable things about my role models throughout my life, considering that I am a product of small-town Western Kansas, is that, even as a very young man, the majority of my role models have been women. While this doesn't shock me from the position I find myself in now, at 30 years of age, it is something that is unusual, due to the societal roles that men and women are expected to fulfill in conservative atmospheres, like Western Kansas. While I do have many males that have served as important role models in my life, I will leave discussion of them for another day. Today, let me tell you about one amazing women I've known.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on July 1, 2009

This week marks an anniversary for me that I would much rather not be celebrating. One year ago, the activist community, the feminist community, and, most importantly to me on a selfish level, my personal community lost one of their best and brightest. I've written before about the fact that my friend, Jana Mackey, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in a horrific incident of domestic violence. That was one year ago this week.

As the anniversary of her death approaches, I've been wracking my brain in an effort to figure out a way that I can do justice to the memory of my friend. I want to give her a fitting tribute, as I have a venue in which to do that. Finally, today while reading a book that she had recommended to me about a week prior to her death, I finally figured out just how to do that.

For those of you who knew Jana, I hope you will take what follows as my meager attempt to honor our friend. For those of you who didn't, I just ask that you read what follows and attempt to glean from it whatever you can.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on May 14, 2009

Before I say anything in this post, I must tell you that I am a huge sports fan. I've followed the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears, and KU Jayhawks with devotion that is just this side of obsession for my entire life. I am also a fan of good sports stories in general. That is why I am so disgusted with the current state of society when it comes to what we will forgive of people who can perform exceptionally on the sports fields.

This was brought into stark relief as I was browsing through my usual blog roll today. I was, unfortunately, drawn to this post at the marvelous blog, As is very evident, if you've read anything that I have ever written, I was disgusted and disturbed to see that these events had occurred in the first place, and that they are being ignored just to get a talented football player to attend a school. I have some thoughts on this, but warn you that the details of what this young man did are disturbing, and I will be discussing them after the jump. So, please consider that before reading the rest of this post.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on May 12, 2009

At no point since I became a politically aware individual have I ever been accused of being anything less than a full-throated defender of the rights of women. In fact, I am often derided by my peers, even many that would be considered "progressive", for the fact that I stand up for my belief that nobody should even be allowed to use language that serves to subjugate any class of people, let alone actually participate in actions that have, as their sole purpose, the goal of keeping an entire gender in the role of second class citizens. And make no mistake, that is what the current laws of this nation do to women.

It is with this predisposition to the feminist cause that sickens me when I read about so-called "Men's Rights" groups that seem to be popping up all over my radar. Other than the linked article, I have also seen this sort of group discussed in the comments section of my University newspaper and in conversation between a friend of mine and one of his acquaintances. The mere idea that people think that "Men's Rights" groups are equivalent to the feminist movement shows how little people actually understand either of them.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on April 13, 2009

This Wednesday, April 15th, the city of Lawrence, Kansas, has the honor of hosting Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organization for Women(NOW) as she gives a lecture on the campus of the University of Kansas. The event information is as follows:

Time: 7:30PM
Location: The Dole Institute of Politics on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS
Ticket Info: The program is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so do arrive early. The Dole Institute is located on KU’s west campus, next to the Lied Center.

I call this an honor for several reasons.

First, Gandy is a national figure who is sought after for speaking engagements of this type. Having her speak at the University of Kansas, where I happen to be an undergraduate, is a huge honor for the community, in both the sense of the progressive, feminist community, and the actual community of Lawrence.

Second, and most importantly to me, Gandy is the inaugural speaker in the Jana Mackey Distinguished Lecture Series, a new annual series established this year in honor of Jana Mackey, a 25-year old KU Law student that was murdered by her ex-boyfriend this past July. But to me, Jana Mackey was, and is, more than that quick bio line, she was one of my oldest friends.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on April 2, 2009

As I have stated before, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month(SAAM). I've also mentioned that, at my university, I serve as the Sexual Assault Awareness Coordinator for the campus feminist organization. These two facts combine to mean that this month is one of the most important, and stressful, months that I encounter in the course of a year.

Many people come up to the various events and tables that are positioned around campus, both during this month and throughout the year, and seem to act as if they support our efforts wholeheartedly. I am sure that the vast majority of those who I speak to about the subject do, in fact, support our efforts to reduce the number of sexual assaults to the point where they are non-existent. Then, advocates, like myself, will be able to focus on other issues and not spend so much time on something that is so horrific that it begins to haunt your dreams after you hear the stories.

Unfortunately, we aren't there yet.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on March 30, 2009

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month(SAAM). In preparation for this event, I have been researching sexual assault statistics in an effort to find out what we all can do to reduce the number of horrific crimes that are committed in this country on a daily basis. Consider the horrible fact that in 2007(the most recent data I could find) 248,300 sexual assaults occurred. That number averages out to about 1 sexual assault every 2 minutes. If you have ever doubted that their is an epidemic of sexual violence in this country, just let that sink in.

1 sexual assault every 2 minutes.

This statistic is staggering and alarming. When coupled with the fact that 9 out of 10 rape victims are female, you discover that this is an issue that is absolutely crucial, not only to women, but to everybody in this country. However, as a man, I'm often asked the question "What can we do to help?" Well, I'm glad you ask, because there are many things that we, as men, can do to help lower the cases of sexual assault and to be supportive of survivors.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on March 26, 2009

As I was leaving a classroom in which I had just taken a test, moments ago, I was greeted by a rather routine phrase that I hear some version of on a daily basis on my college campus. It was a standard aside that most people hear throughout their day enough that it becomes just another part of the white noise that we deal with on a regular basis. However, this phrase has always sat wrong with me, and today was no exception. What was this phrase that has me up in arms?

The student that had just left the same test as me turned to his friend and said "Dude, that test was so gay!" Now, I can only assume that this young man was not discussing the sexual orientation of the test, as I had just taken the same thing and had not found such to be the case. No, he was, obviously, using the term "gay" pejoratively to mean "stupid" as has become commonplace in the American vernacular.

I can't even begin to express how much it distresses me that such phrases are the everyday occurrence on the campus of a respected liberal-arts university. I hear it said by people I respect, who should, and do, know better than to say something that can be that hurtful. Why is it hurtful, you ask? Let me attempt to answer that question.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on March 24, 2009

Today I stumbled across a piece at The Atlantic County Woman website that asks "Is This What A Feminist Looks Like?" in regards to the January 2009 cover of Ms. Magazine, which featured President Barack Obama tearing his shirt open, Superman-style, to reveal a black T-Shirt that proclaims "This is what a feminist looks like!" The article, which I highly recommend reading, raised a lot of questions for me, personally, as a self-identified feminist who happens to be a white, heterosexual male.

While I do recognize that the feminist movement was started by women, and is about gaining equality for the subjugated classes of society, I also believe that there is room for more than just women in the feminist movement. Granted, from my position as a member of one of the least subjugated classes, my opinion on this subject my be suspect, but if you will allow me to make my case, I think you may be convinced.

Read more of this post here ...

By Tanner Willbanks on March 20, 2009

Evidently 46 percent of teenagers surveyed by the Boston Public Health Commission(BPHC) think that pop singer Rihanna, 21, was responsible for the brutal beating given to her by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, 19. I realize that this is a jarring statement to begin an entry with, but I think that this statistic, from a recent New York Times article, needs to be jarring.

It is even more disturbing when you factor in the fact that the statistics from the BPHC survey shows that 52 percent of the teens surveyed think that they are both to blame. Considering, less than a month ago, you could not access the internet, or look at a television, without seeing the brutally shocking photos of Rihanna's battered and bruised face and neck, this is a number that should not even reach 1 percent, let alone 52.

Read more of this post here ...

More blog posts by Tanner Willbanks:

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We encourage and welcome you to look back through the blog archives for Tanner Willbanks. All of this author's archives are listed here, on the right side of this page.

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