6 Ways to talk to Your Son About Male Violence and Healthy Masculinity

 Our boys are being bombarded with messages on how to be “manly”—not all of them healthy. Men Can Stop Rape pairs with Sandra Kim to help parents support their sons’ healthy development.

It’s pretty common for us to worry about how women, especially our own daughters, are put into gender boxes and encouraged to engage in behavior that hurts them, simply because they’re female.

It’s far less common for us to worry about men, including our own sons, and what gender boxes and harmful behaviors they’re taught, simply because they’re male.

But they are. Boys as young as 4 year old are told to “be a man!”, usually in response to them crying or showing fear.

And as they grow up, they’re bombarded with messages that say to be a “manly” man, they need to:

  • Be big and strong
  • Be physically aggressive and ready to fight
  • Show no emotions – especially fear or pain but anger is just fine
  • Feel entitled to objectify women and sexually pursue women regardless of whether or not she’s interested

You only need to look at our thousands year old history of warring groups that pillaged, looted, and raped to see where this dominant idea of masculinity comes from.

It doesn’t take a leap of faith to see how this history has led to our society and media promoting images of masculinity as inherently obsessed with fighting and sex.

And then having some men turn that image into a reality where they feel entitled to be assault and dominate others, particularly women.

Yet we seldom hear about how this male violence is connected to our traditional notion of masculinity.

And at the same time, while most violent acts are committed by men, most men are NOT violent.

So many men are caring, responsible, and non-violent people. But while many men don’t use violence to express their feelings or control others, many don’t feel comfortable showing the other sides of them for fear of being called “gay”, “girly”, “soft,” or “emotional”.

That’s why we need to change the conversation around masculinity. We need the definition of masculinity to reflect the diversity present in men beyond the narrow box they have now.

Not only to reduce the level of male violence but to also support men in accepting all parts of themselves and expressing themselves fully—without being shamed.

One organization fighting to do just that is Men Can Stop Rape. Through their Men of Strength Clubs (MOST Club), they have pioneered a violence prevention program that provides young men in middle school, high school, and college with a structured and supportive space to build individualized definitions of masculinity that promote healthy relationships.

Based on their highly effective program, here are some ideas of how to talk with your son and other men in your life about what masculinity means for them and its relationship to their lives and violence.

1. Meet Them Where They’re At

Many men may not have thought critically about how society portrays masculinity. It may be assumed to just be normal – that this is just part of being a man.

So they may not see why it’s something important enough to discuss. At the same time, many men may be uncomfortable with how they are represented in the media and don’t identify with the beefy, fighting, womanizing men in the movies.

So it’s important to not assume anything about their beliefs, make them wrong, or attempt to change them. The point is not to create another narrow box for them to fit into but to expand the choices they have and support them in exploring what masculinity is aligned with their values.

2. Help Them To Identify Male Role Models They Know

While the media may glorify violent men, in real life, they are usually not the ones we admire. Men who are responsible, empathetic, caring, and contribute to the community are usually admired.

Ask them how these men show strength in their relationships and how they treat people. Helping them to see how the men they respect do not fit this traditional notion expands their understanding of masculinity and gives them more options.

For many, this may be the first time they’ve thought consciously about how strong good men they respects do not fit that mold.

3. Discuss How the Media Presents the Ideal Man

The media is filled with portrayals of fictional male characters who are primarily rewarded for fighting and getting the girl.

Ask him how this affects his idea of how men should act and compare it to how men he respects act. Often times men haven’t really compared the two and hear the traditional notion much more strongly to the point where they don’t see other ways of being a man.

4. Discuss How Traditional Masculinity Shows Up In Their Own Behavior

While many men are not be violent, traditional masculinity encourages other behaviors that are normalized in our society, such as street harassment, a sense of sexual entitlement, use of physical intimidation over smaller people, etc.

So it’s important for them to connect the dots between more violent acts and more socially sanctioned behaviors stemming from male domination. The more aware they are about their own behavior, the more they can choose whether or not they want to continue doing it.

5. Discuss the Role of Traditional Masculinity in Violence, Particularly Against Women

Since they have been socialized to think traditional masculinity is the ideal, it can take time for them to connect it with something they’re against like violence. So work backwards and discuss what can lead a man to feel comfortable with becoming violent.

While traditional masculinity does not necessarily always lead to violence, it does support male domination over others. And this creates a permissive culture where “boys will be boys”, “he can’t control himself sometimes”, and “she was asking for it”.

6. Discuss How Nonviolent Men Can Be a Part of Ending Violence

Many men who are not violent think that because they’re not doing it, that’s enough. But that should be the floor and not the ceiling for men’s engagement in the efforts to end violence. Sharing statistics about domestic violence and sexual abuse with them can help them see that they probably know several women and men who have been abused but never knew.

Show them different ways they can be involved – whether it’s learning more about the issue, volunteering at nonprofits, or discussing it with their male and female peers – they can do something to stop the violence.

These discussions aren’t easy. In fact, they can be extremely tricky and you may find yourself judging him or getting upset at different times.

So remember, you’re challenging years of society and media telling them what a “man” is. These concepts run deep on the subconscious level and by even engaging in the conversation, they’re taking a big step.

And more importantly, remember that it’s not your place to tell them they’re wrong and make them agree with what you believe “masculinity” means either. That would be the same type of domination you’re trying to eradicate!

But keep challenging their ideas in service of them engaging in their own critical thinking process about what type of man they want to be. Your goal is to help them see other options so they can consciously make their own decision for themselves.

Have you thought about what masculinity means for you and its impact on your behavior? Share in comments below!

Originally appeared at Everyday Feminism

This article was written in collaboration with Men Can Stop Rape, an international organization whose mission is to mobilize men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women. MCSR provides agencies, schools, and organizations with direct services for youth, public service messaging, and leadership training. Follow on Facebook or Twitter.

Sandra Kim is the Founder & Editor of Everyday Feminism. She brings together her personal and professional experience with trauma, personal transformation, and social change and gives it all a feminist twist. Follow her @SandraSKim.

 

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Lead image courtesy of Flickr/ Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale

 

About Everyday Feminism

Everyday Feminism supports people dealing with everyday violence, dominance, and silencing due to their gender, sexual orientation, race, class, and more. Through our online magazine and upcoming online school for applied feminism, we help people apply feminism to their real lives in order to work through issues, stand up for themselves, and live their truth. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

Comments

  1. I feel like this is quite a narrow viewpoint, with the only intention behind it to benefit women. When actually the domestic violence ratio is nearly 50/50 these days. Perhaps we should be helping men for benefit of themselves. Clearly gender equality still has a long way to go and prejudice of the violence and rape stats and voices for these. – It has taken me a while to get to this mindset, especially when I have been at the hands of violence myself, but we need to see it for what it really has become, or perhaps how it can helped for both genders. I wrote this piece on gender previously – https://journeytonewyorkcity.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/gender/

  2. Nico Zimmer says:

    I think this is a foolish misunderstanding on the author’s part. There is such influence on masculinity in media, but it’s not as though this influence wasn’t occurring before advanced media. Men have always been bred as hunters, gatherers, and more importantly warriors. There is nothing wrong with having or seeking the power naturally stored in the body, as we naturally seek, that is a large part of manhood. The aspiration to attain strength, power, and skill to protect our comrades and kin. The author mentions our species’ history of war and conflict that introduced these violent urges as though such situations do not exist today. At any moment our homes can become a battlefield, be it against a criminal, gang, riot, or even invasion, it is this constant threat that supports the aspiration for strength.
    The point mentioned describing the media’s influence on the appearance of masculinity, while I agree that one does not need to be incredibly muscular to be a man, you have to understand that we are animals by nature. All animals have something like this, but can you tell a lion that his mane does not make him any more of a lion? It’s a natural intimidation tactic that our people have used to survive against both nature and each other, which secured our future. I will never tell my son to hit the gym until he’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I do expect him to become skilled in both physical and mental tactics.
    Now on to the parts about women. I agree, manhood is not about womanising and I find such acts disturbing. Real men take only what they need and they do it with honour. But this is something you can’t necessarily blame on the media. I’ve not seen many films or read many books that describe rape or abuse as manly, quite the contrary. If you’re referring to a James Bond situation where he jumps from one lover to the next without consideration, then you’re right, that is to be abhorred. But it is also not meant for children, those kinds of things are thing that should be seen by adults who have been taught full well what manhood is. But once again I go back to the animal point, we are animals and most animals are polygamous. While it is culturally accepted that we only have one spouse, our nature cannot help but be appeased at the thought of such sexual expertness. But once again, that’s a matter of maturity and our ability to realise what is to be and what should be. I don’t excuse those actions, I merely give you a reasoning behind them.

    Frankly I find this argument out of place, while you do have some good points you are misguided by your own opinion which is heavily influenced by your (brace for it) womanhood. Men are men and women are women, there are aspects of us that the other gender does not understand, you must accept that. There are fathers who know how to raise their children and all men can and should look to our history to learn how to father. This is not a place for a woman to judge. I am not sexist, I do not think less of women, I am stating that everyone has a place, and fatherhood is not meant for mothers.

  3. There is a lot more violence against men and boys. ALL men have been a victim of male violence at some point. 90% of stranger perpetrated violent crime has a male victim.

    The way to create a violent man is to beat him up when he is a boy. It is a cycle. To break that cycle you need to protect children, and discourage all violence, not just sexual violence with a female victim.

    • Chris Watson says:

      I reject your blanket statement on male violence; I grew up in a blue collar, working class Italian neighborhood and fought with other boys (usually as the challenged) and have seen how few of them grew up to be the ‘violent men’ of the present of your post.

      There is a place for violent, decisive action in defense of others and yourself, so the answer is to teach boys to be defenders and champions of the weak, *not* little girls with penises.

      • We need to quit teaching boys that being “girl like” is a bad thing. Essentially you are telling boys that girls are less and being one is bad. Yes we are different, I get that. My son cares about people and telling him that he is “a little girl with a penis” is telling him what? Turn him into a man who thinks caring about others makes him weak or soft. Being a kind caring person is for everyone, no matter what their genitalia.

  4. This is a fantastic article! rather that focusing on victim blaming and women learning how to avoid being harassed, it explores the concept of teaching men how not to! A wonderful first step to combatting this male chauvinism. Also the effects that this “ideal masculinity” has on men and young boys.
    My niece (8 years old) had a male friend round and the young boy started crying, now all children cry because they’re still very dependent on their carers and when they feel uncomfortable they need looking after. My brother saw this as a sign of weakness and never allowed my niece to see the boy again. We need actions that this article talks about to be spread to everyone who doesn’t know. The importance is huge.

    • Chris Watson says:

      There’s a place and time to cry and men have to learn when and where that is; the team/tribe/platoon/company can’t rely on someone who is emotionally paralyzed; we still have wars and it’s the Infantryman who fights them and the ability to grieve, to cry, and then pack it up and go back to killing the Bad Guys is intrinsic to our biology as males. We can’t ignore that the requirement that men ‘do the hard things’ is still the case in our society.

  5. Ogwriter … FYI, I’m doing well. It’s gonna take a while for the rotator cuff to mend. Sounds like you’ve been pretty busy too. Good luck to your guys…. Not sure how we can communicate our emails to each other in that they are not shown. Like to touch base with you at some point,

    Back to topic at hand … as I suspected, this article didn’t draw the attention that I would have hoped.

  6. Tom B…Well, Tom as you note feminism does feel like it will lose something by simply dropping the labels ; power.Feminism is a political institution and thus has one main purpose,to stay in power.Their power depends on exascerbating gender differences and seeking to control outcomes,not on compromising. Feminism acts as if it and it alone should define standards of equality for the world;scary imperialistic.

  7. “Feel entitled to objectify women and sexually pursue women regardless of whether or not she’s interested”

    I’ve never felt that way though, where are these messages?

  8. I have nothing to add to this- but suggest that this article as a reminder of the consternation the discovery of an isolated people’s [, unaffected by video games, fried food, comics & the Judeo-Christian warmonger head,] propensity for violence.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/magazine/napoleon-chagnon-americas-most-controversial-anthropologist.html?pagewanted=6&_r=0&hp
    War, evidently, just for the hell of it. Yeah I believe it is very much nature, not nurture, and that a couple hundred thousand per-adolescents got out of bed this morning, grabbed a Kalashnikov and prayed that today they get to kill a kid just like your’s……..

  9. Chris Watson says:

    Again, we see and advocate for the emasculation of the American male by Radical Feminism and as the father of three boys, I am absolutely disgusted by, and with, it.

    I’ll share our experience:

    1) Be big and strong – in my house, we encourage boys to become men of strength physically and in their character. Despite what Radical Feminism teaches, men and women **are** different in every way and a strong man physically and in their character is the kind of man they should strive to be.

    2) Be physically aggressive and ready to fight – Radical Feminism ignores that boys *are* aggressive – get a bunch of boys together in Africa with sticks and they will start playing ‘hunt the lion’ and in the US will most likely play ‘cops and robbers’ or, now, ‘Soldiers and Terrorists’.

    We can’t ignore the realities of a world that isn’t safe by any means and we taught our boys to never pick a fight but to have the ability – and be ready – to *end* one. The lives of themselves, their friends, and their families may depend someday on aggressive, decisive action.

    3) Show no emotions – especially fear or pain but anger is just fine. I cry just fine (I watch chick flicks with my 14 year old daughter and she laughs at me) and the boys understand that sometimes you do have to ‘suck it up and drive on’ and ignore the hurt, refuse to succumb to the fears, and to fuel yourself with anger and determination to complete what you have to complete and to endure what you have to endure. That’s basic survival in business and in life.

    4) Feel entitled to objectify women and sexually pursue women, etc, etc. – Not in my house since the question is ‘how would you like your sister treated?’ and usually that results in her pretty much having a constant chaperone at dances and a hard reflection on how they treat their dates and potential mates – that is a part of encouraging strength of character.

    in the future, please stay away from generalities and rethink a position that emasculates men into short-haired women with sensible shoes.

    • Dude you’ve just made your own generalities and then claimed that your view is the only correct definition of “masculine” and anyone who doesn’t accord to it is “emasculated”. In that respect you’re being part of the problem – while trends exist men and women aren’t necessarily different at all, both groups are extremely diverse. I see what you’re getting at, but please realize that yours isn’t the only way.

      Also worried by the whole chaperone thing – sounds like a kind of benevolent sexism where men are these stoic figures who must protect women from other men. We have to move past that. Really the answer is for women to be able to protect themselves – and for the need for protection to dwindle.

      • Chris Watson says:

        There were no generalities other than the one’s I quoted from the article and I was offering the example at my own home with my own sons; my view of what is masculine is pretty historical and traditional in the West and, until recently, here in the US. There’s a reason we have the phrase ‘cowboy up’ here.

        Reread what I wrote in #4: The boys watch out for their little sister, something every big brother has done since the beginning of time. Heck show me an older brother who *isn’t* watching out for their sister and I’d say that’s a fail.

      • Chris Watson says:

        Men and women *are* different biologically and mentally so blowing that off doesn’t make it any less real; I was in the Infantry and very, very, very *few* women could do this on a day in and day out basis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w846UcmIo5o&feature=share&list=PLKGrk-wIqDL-UHT_hiLQgPlupAnEXU93v

        That isn’t ‘diversity’, that’s biology.

  10. Netiquette question –
    What’s the protocol for posting the same or highly similar comments on multiple articles? I’ve come across the same questions several times from different people on different threads AND I’ve noticed some of the same commenters are reading and commenting on the same articles I am. So – how acceptable is it to repeat answers to the same question when at least a number of the people following the thread have already heard it elsewhere?

    • @Keri, there are times that different articles with follow a common thread with others. For example thing article speaks of violence ….. common thread with how many other articles? Many articles bring feminism into the discussion …. Sam thoughts, different articles.

  11. Why is it necessary for men to embrace feminism? If it were such a boon for men there would be no need for this discussion.

    • redbear762 says:

      Feminism is male oppression writ Politically Correct where every male child is a is a rapist or misogynist in training and every man *IS* a is a rapist or misogynist despite facts to the contrary. Feminism is an evil propagated upon society by women who seek to emasculate men into short haired women with sensible shoes.

  12. Why is it necessary for men to embrace feminism?

  13. I feel like feminism had really good intentions. To bring women, who were considered lower than men, up to the same level as men. That’s a really worthy cause. To try to equalize people.

    I think where we run into a problem, though, is when we divide freedom. Justice is justice. Freedom is freedom. We all live together and we all have to get along if we want peace. I’m really more of a fan of the idea of humanism. Separating our justice, our freedom… well, that just makes us blame and argue. We need to come together, not drive apart.

    We need to find the human beings in each other FIRST and let everything else… race, gender, height, ability to drive, and proneness to bursting out into song randomly come afterwards.

    • To bring women, who were considered lower than men, up to the same level as men. That’s a really worthy cause. To try to equalize people.
      The problem with that line of logic is that it presumes that all that needs to be done to equalize men and women is fix the areas where women were not on the same level as men. The imbalances of gender are not that black and white (and I mean that figuratively and literally as a nod to race relations).

      With that presumption even things that harmed men were spun until they looked like they were actually hurting women and men were just suffering some collateral damage.

      Which is a flaw I see in a lot of feminists. The harm that is done to women is propped up as a feature (an intention of design to keep women down) while harm that is done to men is swept to the side as a bug (as in it wasn’t designed to harm men, it was really designed to harm women and it ended up hurting men as well somehow, ooopsie).

    • “To bring women, who were considered lower than men, up to the same level as men”

      That is a basic assumption of feminism. Did all women throughout history assume they were being oppressed? Did they see all men as oppressors?

      Most ideologies look back into history and project their assumptions on people at the time.

      • John Schtoll says:

        http://owningyourshit.blogspot.ca/

        GirlWriteswhat lays out very well where this flawed thinking comes from, that women were lower than men and “got the short end of the stick”. For make a long story short, Women got the short end of the stick because they weren’t carrying the same stick as men, mens stick was much more expensive in terms of social cost , heavier in terms of obligations to society and WAY MORE dangerous in terms of risk to health and safety.

    • John Schtoll says:

      @ Vironika: Feminism didn’t want to equalize people, they want to bring women up to the same social status as men, with all the same rights and privs in society BUT without all the same responsibilities of that society, ie. draft, dangerous work, and the requirement to provide a living for everyone in your family. Remember too that when we look at voting rights, the time between full mens suffrage and full womens suffrage is approx 1/10 of a percent of recorded history, the rest there was no full suffrage for either men or women.

  14. This is a serious and important subject. But the assumption that masculinity=violence is false, and these extremely negative views of men will only increase the already enormous divisions between men and feminists.

    Traditional masculinity can be used in a terrible way, in the form of violence. It also builds, creates, protects and encourages and supports. Power and strength and the willingness to fight for what is right are not evil aspects of masculinity. The idea that only passivity is appropriate is false, and not something any father will teach his son.

    The idea of men protecting women is now mocked and ridiculed. But feminists might be surprised by how many of us would be happy to do just that – and already do.

    The absolute refusal of feminists to acknowledge all of this is very bewildering and – again – produces an automatic wall that goes up.

    I always wonder when I read articles like this whether the authors ever talk to men? Or more importantly, do they ever listen to us? How is it possible that they make these assumptions?

    Considering the importance of the topic, I would have assumed they would at least want to know their opponent.

  15. Eagle35…The splitting you speak of, whereby communication breaks down along gender talking points, is part of a political strategy:Thrust,parry and never admit that you are wrong.The responses to criticism, from feminists are very often canned and reflexive. This is, in particularly true, of women who don’t openly profess to be feminist but enjoy the benefits of feminism. These women are among the most difficult to deal with and are “the have my cake and eat it to crowd”.Most women know don’t much about feminism, but are supportive of it when it benefits them.

    These talking points speak to them.This way they don’t have to do any work defining issues for themselves.In polit5ical science there is a term for this but it escapes me.These talking points are meant to be simplistic and easily available for use by women. This is one of the reasons that feminism doesn’t take to criticism or accountability easily. When was the last to time you can recall any political party admitting to making a mistake?Unless, of course,it gets the pants beat off it like the Republicans and then it’s beneficial to reform. And that’s what feminism has yet to do:Reform.This reformation must speak to more than just it’s kinder, gentler wing. It must speak openly and candidly about the mistakes it has made. And it must address, with men, in real time, the best ways to get out of this mess. The days of gender division are behind us and continuing to try and address our issues-men and women- separately, ignoring how one side of the gender coin impacts the other,has failed.

    • Wow, ogwriter, I think the same thing.

      That’s what drove me away from supporting it 100%: The inability to admit that the movement, to reach their goals, employed means that have brought serious repercussions we are seeing now and their reluctance to outright say it, admit it to themselves.

      There were other reasons but I’ve already stated them before.

  16. Dan Flowers says:

    It seems that a great number of comments are going into moderation… So as not to waste an inordinate amount of time on a carefully articulated idea that won’t be posted anyway, I will be succinct.

    Male gender roles instilled from an early age are a natural preparation for what will be expected of them later in life. Fighting and being “tough” has its place. Any civilized society needs to have a certain percentage of men to fulfill certain roles – soldier, police officer, firefighters, etc… They NEED to have been instilled with a mental toughness and degree of aggressiveness to deal with bad situations with the confidence that comes from not doubting one’s self. That confidence only comes from a testing and forging process that tends to disassociate them from all of the subtleties that modern society seems to expect from a “Good Man”. I strong male in the role of protector does not have time to dither and struggle with inter-personal trivial issues and subtleties of ethics and think about every social implications of their actions. They are required to act based on their best snap judgment, to trust that judgment and act immediately and without hesitation. Men should also be taught to cherish and respect women. In their role as protector they do. The problem with male roles right now, is that these traditional roles have been screwed with by feminism until men have no idea what their roles are in relation to women. Few are getting the “be tough” message these days. The ones that are are getting it without clear societal rules to use it to positive effect. I was raised hard. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I hate to see confused men who are not getting clear guidance on how and when to apply their “maleness”. Return to clear gender roles would help.

  17. Mr Supertypo says:

    interesting….

  18. @Eagle … are you being a baaaaad boy again? For sham. Hang in there.

    • ENOUGH ALREADY!

      • Edit: The above was a response to YET ANOTHER comment stuck in moderation.

        • Eagle- i dont know how the moderation filters work but if your protests are getting through, maybe you could try rewording your other comments and post them again.

          • Okay, I’ll respond one more time.

            Kari, in regards to the criticism towards feminism, maybe it’s best to consider that some people have had experiences where certain feminists who say they are welcome towards mens issues then those men, whom I must add are quite venerable when expressing their issues regardless of the stereotypes, lay it out on the table and the next thing you know they’re shot down with “That’s not my department” or “That’s such a rare case compared to what women go through” and even the dreaded “you’re a priveledged white male who still benefits from the oppression of women”.

            Now, put yourself in the shoes of these men: How would you feel about it?

            Quite hurt, right? Especially when you put your trust in people who claim to understand. Now, multiply this many times over and you’ll get an idea of where some are coming from. Top it off with the message they hear of “It’s all right for men to cry and express their emotions, open up about their problems” from these feminists only to get lambasted for doing their job, so to speak, and this is an issue that can’t just be swept under the rug with calls for them to read up on feminism.

            You should also factor in that no one has listened to, or validated, their problems. Some even have had people close in their lives abandon them.

            Granted, that’s only an observation though Danny has said the same thing in a different way. There you have it.

            • Mostly_123 says:

              I thought what you shared there with your experience was very open, honest and profound – Why was that put in moderation?

              • That one addressed to me?

                • Eagle35- Yes, I was responding to your comment.

                  • Actually, Kari, I was asking Mostly_123 that question.

                    But in regards to your response, yes I hope we can move beyond generalizations. The thing is, though, it can’t be one party alone. It needs both parties. That includes people who were taught to think of men as “Brutes”, “Stupid”, “Dangerous to children” and “Privileged White Males benefiting from the oppression of women”. It also means listening to the struggles of men without semantics as a reflex reaction to shut down debate. The problem is, we’ve had these semantic shut downs and ignorance from the other side for a long time and many men are so badly scarred that you can’t fault them for not trusting people who claim empathy.

                    So yes let’s move beyond generalizations: Both of us.

                    • Eagle35 – Ah, I see now – the order of comments once they came out of moderation put mine in between your post and Mostly_123’s.

                      Yes, both of us!

                      I’m not clear on what you mean by “semantics.” Sometimes people use gendered words even though they don’t necessarily mean to generalize by gender. But sometimes the choice of words is part-and-parcel of their argument (like Dan Flower’s latest comment about a “strong male in the role of protector”). In those cases, disagreement over language is key.

                    • When I say “Semantics” i’m talking about when people employ “Women have it worse” in the arena of abuse. They measure worth of support for male survivors by looking at statistics, then see that they’re scaled towards female survivors, and conclude “Well, male survivors aren’t on equal levels statistics-wise. So women have it worse and it’s an issue not worth worrying about”.

                      I experienced the same thing. So have other men: Dismissal of their hurt and calls for support because of the desire to dole out empathy in accordance to statistical relevance. Though with the CDC report, things have changed.

                      That’s what I mean by “Semantics” though I should probably use another word since it’s more language based than what I’m illustrating.

                • Mostly_123 says:

                  “That one addressed to me?”

                  Yes- sorry, I should have written it more clearly as: ‘Eagle35 I thought what you shared there with your experience was very open, honest and profound – Why was that put in moderation?’

            • Eagle – I do understand, really, that personal hurts can be conflated with similarly situated people. And I don’t mean to imply that personal hurts are to be minimized in the least. As I mentioned in other comments, the lived experience of real people is what informs any theory and any advocacy to help improve things. The lived experience of men are quite valid in understanding how gender operates in the world today – both good and bad. As I said, I’ve only been following GMP for a while and only just started reading the commentaries. I’m sure I can find different forums to hear wonderful things about Feminism, but I want to be here because I want to hear what men are thinking and experiencing. And so now I’m learning. I guess my hope is that we can continue to move beyond the generalizations. It’s an extremely difficult task with a topic like gender, but it’s happening.

              • Eagle35…if one drinks from a poison well, one is bound to get sick.And that’s what feminism does, repeatedly. Rather than invite men to dig a new well in partnership with them, they bring us to the old well, saying the waters is fine, when we can see the dirt and they tell us to drink.

                • What’s interesting or I should say “revealing” when I read a lot of what’s written in many of the sites similar to GMP is that you begin to see a pattern. There appears to be a clear intent to pull men away from making their own tracks and pulling them into the feminism. How many times have you heard feminists say things like, “that’s not me, I don’t think that way” or “feminism has changed and it includes the well being of men?” In other words, come back to our well and drink.

                  If feminists truly intend on making their efforts for men equal to that of women, why does “FEMinism” have to exist.

                  Years ago, fathers rights groups, which started out fighting for the rights of dads, took a turn and became “parents” rights groups. Their interests moved from benefitting dads to the benefits for the kids. Accordingly, they shifted their efforts so that the kids would benefit having both parents. Nonetheless, fathers are still behind the 8-ball in family courts, the movement continues to fight for what’s best for the kids.

                  I don’t see this happening with feminism. It’s as though they feel that they will lose something in the process. How many times have you seen positive, male friendly articles which start out with “I’m a feminist?” And to be honest, I don’t trust anyone who sees him\herself as a feminist.

    • Kari…I think if feminist changed tactics it would help open communication.If they approached issues of violence from a holistic place,men would be more apt to communicate.The question should be why are humans-men and women violent,but it isn’t.The current focus is too narrow and overwrought with partisan politics.

  19. Now I’m in moderation again.

  20. I do not quite understand why neo feminists presume so much.It does not represent the views of and power of mainstream feminism.By Kari’s own admission things are changing slowly from the Betty Freidan, G.Steinam varietal to a smoother,less bitter,full bodied blend of flavors.

  21. @SF … I noticed that the other day….. glad you brought it up.

  22. I find it extremely odd that the pop up ad displayed on this article was “Call of Duty: Black Ops” hyper violent game! Ummm. You might want to rethink that message guys.

  23. Kari…Feminism has three problems of itms own making:Lack of credibility,poor messaging and privileged fueled arrogance.Trying to understand feminism is akin to unraveling a multicolored ball of yarn thats been played with by an angry cat.

  24. So, I’ve only been following GMP for a few months, but I’ve been fairly impressed with the articles so far. While controversial, at times, they generally seem to live up to what GMP claims is their goal, as stated on the “about” page, to offer voices “from the front lines of modern manhood” and from a community of “21st Century thought leaders.” Then several weeks ago I started reading the comments on a few different articles that are close to my field of study. And I must say I’m somewhat shocked at the amount of outdated feminist bashing on here. At best, some of the comments seems to indicate a simple misunderstanding about Feminism. At worst, they seem straight out of 1987 and not at all relevant to a “21st Century” discussion of gender. I am fully aware that commenters do not officially represent GMP, but I was expecting more mature treatment of Feminism in this forum. Perhaps GMP needs to publish some remedial reading on Feminism to bring some of it’s readers up to date.

    • And I must say I’m somewhat shocked at the amount of outdated feminist bashing on here.
      This seems to be the common response to people who are critical of feminism. I’ll agree that sometimes it can get out of hand. However when people are developing these criticisms from dealing with current active feminists and current feminist ideas that can’t be explained away with claims that people don’t understand feminism.

      Is there some misunderstanding going on? Perhaps. But there are plenty of genuine criticisms as well.

      • Danny – I agree that some of the criticisms of Feminism I’ve encountered on GMP are genuine and relevant, both to the article and to today. But then there are moments when I feel like I’m repeating conversations I had 20 years ago, which baffles me. Maybe I’m just naive about online forums.

        • But then there are moments when I feel like I’m repeating conversations I had 20 years ago, which baffles me. Maybe I’m just naive about online forums.
          I’m wondering if that is because those conversations were on topics that you think were settled 20 years ago, but actually weren’t?

          Of course that is not the total answer because some that are overly critical of feminism are beating the proverbial dead horse.

      • And maybe the thing that surprises me most is that the criticisms are sometimes leveled while in a conversation with a real life person who is a prime example of a current active feminist acting in exact contrast to the criticism. The cognitive dissonance was amusing at first, but after a while it got me thinking that maybe this is a bigger trend and ought to be addressed directly on GMP.

        • And maybe the thing that surprises me most is that the criticisms are sometimes leveled while in a conversation with a real life person who is a prime example of a current active feminist acting in exact contrast to the criticism.
          Yes that does happens sometimes.

          But I’ve interacted with some of those prime examples and I’ve noticed how they use themselves as a prime example to claim that the thing the critics are talking about doesn’t happen. And also it doesn’t help that said prime example has nowhere near the following as the ones that are representative of the problems one is criticising.

          And finally it doesn’t help when said prime examples say they are a contrast of the criticism but then turn around do what they claim to be a contrast to.

          • Danny, I’m with you on all points. It is just plain hard to talk about gender and real people because it seems like there are verbal landmines in every direction.

            • Yes and to make it even hard it seems that there is an active interest in keeping those landmines in place and demanding that others just deal with them.

            • John Schtoll says:

              @Kari: For me , I crit feminism because at times it claims (they) that feminism is not a monolth , iow, they don’t all think the same all the while making assumptions about the monolith called MEN.

              There are also a fair number of feminists who use terms they consider to be axiomatic and feel no need to defend them or their use. Some that come to mind are “gender wage gap and how it is proof of discrimination”, how womens suffrage was also proof of discrimination.

              I will always be very critical of modern feminism because they fail to see their own privs while proclaiming from on high the privs that men have and claiming that “those with the privs can never see the privs”

              • @John Schtoll –
                Suffrage? Really? And I thought conversations from *20* years ago were baffling!

                Again, I think generalizations such as “men are this” or “feminists are that” tend to be unhelpful. I also think oversimplification is not very constructive. The wage gap is a complex symptom of a complex system. As I’ve said in other comments, in the US it is pretty small (among whites) for childless workers. After the birth of the first child, mothers tend to make less than fathers (for similarly situated work), and with each additional child the gap widens. This is due to a large number of factors, but a central contributing factor is the continuing reliance on unrealistic norms of what an “ideal worker” should be. These norms harm workers from every category in many different ways, not just women’s wages.

                While privilege IS usually invisible to those who have it (which is why white middle-class heterosexual women aren’t well equipped to discuss the experiences of black working-class lesbians), we should still strive to name privilege where it exists and understand how privilege works – for good or bad. Pointing out how women use privilege in domestic settings to keep men out (like some commenters have mentioned – mommy-only play groups, “gatekeeping” behaviors, etc.) is important for understanding why divisions of labor are still gender linked.

              • @John –
                I really don’t think generalizations or monolithic characterizations are helpful. Saying “men are this” or “feminists are that” just tends to polarize the conversation instead of moving it forward.

                Oversimplifications are also not very constructive. The wage gap, for example, is a complex symptom of a complex system. It is relatively tiny (for whites, at least) until the birth of the first child, then mothers tend to make less than fathers (for similar work) and the gap widens with each additional child. This is due to a number of factors, but I see the main culprit as the unrealistic expectations of work based on outdated norms of what the “ideal worker” should be. These norms are harmful to workers of all kinds, not just women’s wages (and GMP has a discussion going about this here: http://goodmenproject.com/in-good-faith/is-gender-equality-killing-women/#comments)

                Privilege usually IS invisible to those who have it (which is why, for example, white, middle-class white women aren’t in the best position to talk about the experiences of low-income black lesbians) but that’s precisely why it’s important to name privilege where it occurs and strive to understand how it operates on people’s lives. For example, it’s really important to point out the ways women use privilege in domestic circles to keep men OUT (like what other commenters have mentioned: mommy-centered play groups, “gatekeeping” around childcare, etc.), because this use of mommy-privilege is not fair to men who want IN and it perpetuates stereotypes that can be harmful to both sexes. Naming privilege allows those who have it to see their own role in perpetuating inequality, whether it’s sex, race, class or what-have-you, and helps those with privilege become more aware of what they can do to address these problems. So, for example, if I want my husband to take care of the kids more often, I need to avoid using my status as primary caregiver to micromanage his care.

              • Now it appears I have two versions of my comment awaiting moderation, so I apologize for repeating myself if they both show up.

        • Not all feminists are like you. There was a feminist campaign to shut down the good men project.

    • Mostly_123 says:

      “…At worst, they seem straight out of 1987…” 

      HEY! What did 1987 ever do to YOU!? Sniff.
      Try to show a modicum of respect there: We had to live through that year, and the Hell that it was, coping with the breakup of the awesome rock super-group ‘Wham!’ (sorry, as you may remember, even in 1987 that joke sucked).  

      Seriously though, I’m also old enough to remember 1987 (albeit as a teen). Every decade, be it the 70s, 80s, 90s, or last year, is going to have social mores that seem dated, quaint, or downright backwards by the present (relative) standards, and in a few more years, as I often remind myself after learning the hard way, we’re going to be looking at 2014, 2015, 2072, etc. just the same- as ‘those dark ages before they…” etc. Relativism aside, not everyone, of course, moves at the same pace. It can be hard to keep up with the world, let alone get ahead of it when it’s always moving so fast. That’s all par for the course, but not an excuse for anyone’s incivility or intellectual laziness when they want to argue a point about feminism or anything else.     

      It probably goes without saying (though I am saying it anyway) that it can be very easy to conflate or to project one person’s zeal (or over-zeal, or perceived over-zeal) onto another, just because they share one aspect of commonality, like an ideology. I may agree or disagree with any given ideology as a whole, for reasons that seem good to me. But it’s much more likely that I may (and usually do) agree or disagree far more sharply with different individual interpretations and/or proponents of the (supposedly) exact same ideology. Ideologies are meant to impose some order, logic and uniformity to a collective set of beliefs; but those beliefs are still expressed and interpreted by very divergent individuals, who are anything but uniform in their thinking, interpretations, and articulation. Even when the message itself is the same, the messenger, and so to, the interpretation is not; and this itself has tremendous impact.   

      Whatever one’s beliefs, it’s so easy to become discouraged so quickly these days.
      Reasoned, measured debate should always be rooted in logic, civility and good faith in the sincerity of everyone’s convictions (would that it were always so). But even these are no guarantee of the eventual approbation of one’s ideas. Case in point -true story that I like- in 1987 (I couldn’t resist) Betamax VCRs lost the format wars to the VHS VCRs, despite the fact that Betamax had much better arguments: In the end, people just didn’t warm to the Betamax philosophy, as it was presented to them at the time (or perhaps they warmed to the VHS philosophy just a little bit more). Now in retrospect, it wasn’t a proud day for humanity, but in the end, we all got through that temporary setback.    
      …And then finally one day, Al Gore invented the Internet, and all was right with the world…      

      To be a little less flippant here; The problem I have, generally, with ideologies is that within themselves they often tend to have too many ideologues, and not enough healthy skeptics. It’s important, crucial even, to recognize the benefits that ideologies offer us all, as valuable intellectual tools; in terms of being able to order, to examine and to deconstruct our belief systems, to test their integrity and their validity. But when ideologies become faith- well, one can’t debate someone’s faith. I can’t prove or disprove the validity or integrity of someone else’s faith – that’s why it’s faith. I can argue against (or for) the logic the faith is founded upon, but that’s focusing on the road that led there, not the destination they’ve already arrived at. Faith is making a leap from conjecture to conclusion, with some inherent level of subjectivity. Even when ideologies use objective facts, they may be using them to form subjective (logical or illogical) conclusions or interpretations – that’s faith. That’s not necessarily wrong or bad, but it certainly can be the cause of contentiousness.          

    • redbear762 says:

      Feminism = emasculation into short-haired women with sensible shoes.

  25. Dan Flowers says:

    I find it interesting that my previous comments are no longer visible… Not PC enough?

    • Dan – maybe I missed something, but the comments I’ve read of yours seemed thoughtful, relevant, and no more controversial than others. Curious.

  26. The thing that gets me about articles like this is that we’re practically inundated with these messages day in and day out.

    Meanwhile, there are women out there who are hurting boys and men (physically, mentally, and sexually) and getting away with it. Not to mention girls hitting or demeaning boys while hiding behind the “Boys don’t hit girls” to absolve themselves of any responsibility for their actions.

    So why are we not addressing that while focussing all energy on the bad that men and masculanity does?

  27. Just for the record 60% of the board @ MCSR is female.
    http://www.mencanstoprape.org/Our-Board/

    • Mostly_123 says:

      60% of the board at Men Can Stop Rape is female?

      “If irony were made of strawberries, we’d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now.” –Generic reporter from ‘South Park’

      On the other, I am always strangely comforted when I see things becoming more and more gender-blind. If you’re good at you’re job, what should it matter…

      • redbear762 says:

        But not all jobs are for women – especially the Infantry.

        • Mostly_123 says:

          I disagree- I think gender (rather than temperament or personal traits) is the wrong angle to look at it. I don’t have any firsthand knowledge, but I would think it depends on the soldier and the training. Women collectively on average might have less upper body strength than men- but the average soldier, regardless of gender is (or should be) in much better physical condition than the average civilian- man or woman. Not everyone can be a soldier, regardless of gender. Mental acuity, prowess, dexterity, and force of will are all becoming more important factors than sheer brawn alone. No one gender has cornered the market on those traits. If all it took to make a qualified soldier was muscle, then the entire military budget would go to steroids.

          • Yes, actually, physical prowess is incredibly important to being an effective infantryman. Try sprinting through ankle-deep mud in Helmand province, carrying 80-100 lbs of gear, climbing up the sides of steep canals, and scaling 8-foot mud walls, and then tell me that “mental acuity” is really more important than physical ability.

  28. Kari…the inevitibility of boy’s assuming that violence and masculinity are inextricably linked is questionable at best. Many boys grow up not thinking or feeling as if they must be violent to achieve masculinity at all, no matter what messages they get from society.If that view was so prevelant among boys they would be lined up to join the military,instead of playing soldiers in video games. The boys I work with are always being asked and told how they should be men.I never talk to them about being a man.When they come of age they will be men.My question to them is,”What kind of person are you going to be?”

    • Do you also ask the teens you work with about violence? What they’ve already experienced or what they are prepared to do about it? I think the main thing is that thinking and talking about it outside a crisis moment might empower them to intervene if they do get into a crisis. (And notice, I’m not using gendered pronouns at all – I think this applies to everybody.)

      • @Kari … we do talk about violence a lot. But for many of these kids the violence is a matter of survival, not an image that was hoist upon them or an external influence that said to be a real man, you have to be a thug.

        I’ve personally attended 16 funerals of former clients, 12 of them were violence related, the other four were overdoses. When I say violence related, I mean that their deaths were either gang or drug related. Many of these guys don’t relate their aggression as a manly thing but instead a tool to deal with their life. When you have a 16 year old who financially contributes to his family (as much as $1000 a week) their violence becomes a condition of the trade.

        Gang related violence is again, not an issue of manhood but a reality of survival. Many of these kids lost their childhood and part of their recovery is learning to be a child again. I took 13 guys snowboarding last week 98 week program) and to see these “hard ass” gang bangers laughing and smiling you’d never have a clue as to their background.

        We can discuss the connection of violence and manhood until we’re blue in the face but that’s not the issue. A kid that has little in life, who sees countless adds, commercial and so called “role models” saying that $$ is good, things are good … what do you expect them to do? They find resources to get them the $$, the “things” … these resources are not the fast food jobs. The resources are things like robbing, selling drugs. Robbing people and homes and selling drugs means that there are demands which include violence.

        I do a men’s group with the kids and if there is one thing that stands out where a distorted view is prevalent, it would be sex and what it means to be a real man. To quote a client “I bagged my first babe at the age of 11” She was his 18 year old baby sitter … need I say any more?

        • Correction, that should have read an “8” week program

          • No, you don’t need to say more. Sex and manhood is also a great topic on GMP.
            Your points are all well-taken. Violence as a way-of-life strikes me as a whole different ball game. The article’s suggested ‘talking points’ seem somewhat irrelevant in that context.

            • I think that these gang members have experienced an extreme form of normal, something that is on a continuum with my and most other men’s experiences.

              Violent men don’t learn to be violent by watching TV. We get in fights as kids, then learn how to punch and kick. Things like sexual harassment, and sexual assault fall into the spectrum of non-consensual violent relationships that we are familiar with. If it is socially tolerable to beat up a weaker boy (without his consent) it is socially tolerable to sexually assault a weaker girl.

              It is this experienced based violent mindset that we need to stop, and the way to stop it is to protect little boys. We also need to encourage consent based interactions throughout our society. Not just in our attitudes towards women.

  29. It seems to me one of the important elements of the article that has been lost in this conversation is that this is a suggested outline of how to approach a dialogue with pre- and teen kids. In my experience, and recent brain research supports this, getting this age group to stop and reflect anout anything is really valuable to their development into a mature adult. Asking them questions and then using their and their peers’ answers as guides for the conversation has an impact a lecture never could. In that context, this might be the first time anybody has (or will?) ever asked them what they think it means to be a man and to think about the way violence is or isn’t part of their definition. And getting them to think about it and helping them come up with steps they can take to prevent or stop violence might improve their willingness and ability to do so.

  30. “Is the reflection of masculinity we see in our (Western, contemporary) society truly defined by the individual men who cast the reflection; or are we just contorting our true selves to conform with what’s been etched in the mirror for us?” @Mostly, this is such a poetic way of expressing the key question about gender. Thank you!

  31. Libra… I agree.There is not now nor has three ever been such thing as male violence and the notion that we can eliminate violence in humans is a bogus dream. And when people like Sandra-who are well meaning- begin to demand that women who rape women can also stop rape, her message is just white noise.


  32. So it’s important to not assume anything about their beliefs, make them wrong, or attempt to change them. The point is not to create another narrow box for them to fit into but to expand the choices they have and support them in exploring what masculinity is aligned with their values.

    But unfortunately that is just what happens.

    I know I can’t be the only guy that while working on the whole masculinity thing has come across sources that are more interested in turning me into something of their liking than actually trying to work with me.


    5. Discuss the Role of Traditional Masculinity in Violence, Particularly Against Women
    Since they have been socialized to think traditional masculinity is the ideal, it can take time for them to connect it with something they’re against like violence. So work backwards and discuss what can lead a man to feel comfortable with becoming violent.

    While traditional masculinity does not necessarily always lead to violence, it does support male domination over others. And this creates a permissive culture where “boys will be boys”, “he can’t control himself sometimes”, and “she was asking for it”.
    While I can agree with the goal I think this bit of advice is not being prioritized properly. When talking about the connection between masculinity and violence there is this rush to go straight to making it all about the violence that men do to women. Usually the explaination for this is the fact that most violence is male against female. So it makes sense that they think the problem is “men are violent towards women”.

    (@Lori Day: Above you say that the fact that women do a lot more child care than men relates to why they commit more fatal abuse against chilren. I’m sure that you don’t think that splitting parenting time 50/50 with men would be all that is needed to address the issues right? Because frankly speaking there are violent women out there that will abuse their kids regardless of the split on parenting time.)

    But I think that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

    When looking back on my own upbringing and violence there was a good bit of teaching that says might actually does make right. However there is something that my upbringing (and I bet the upbringing of a lot of other men as well) included as a very strict no violence against girls/women policy.

    It seems that a lot of the advice that comes from the angle of “men have to stop being violent to women” starts on the presumption that this message does not exist. Oh it very much does. I can tell you for a fact that in my grade school days girls had free reign to hit and hurt boys but the vice versa was a sure fire way to get in trouble (even more trouble than fighting/hurting another boy).

    I don’t think the problem is that no one is teaching men/boys not to be violent against women. I think the problem is a lot of men and boys who are violent to women have been so overloaded with the message that they see it as a source of rebellion.

    And I also believe this is a big part of where a lot of the more critical comments (that seem to have vanished it seems) come from. All these recommendations don’t seem to look at men and violence as a whole but just look at male against female violence and think that that is the problem.

    So another question that may need to be asked along with “why are men violent with women?” is “why were men raised to believe that male violence against women was such a taboo and female against male violence is okay?”.

    And no it’s not about blaming women. This is about getting down to the slanted lessons a whole lot of men (several generations I’d say) were taught but no one wants to talk about. I can’t express how much it bugs me that I hear women going on and on about they know that men were taught that violence against women is okay when I know for damn well that is not the only message on violence towards women that is out there.

  33. Dan Flowers says:

    I was NEVER taught to tolerate violence towards women or even rude behavior towards them. Women were to be cherished and protected. Where and when I grew up chivalry was NOT dead, and violence between men was frowned upon unless is was (ironically enough) in defense of a woman! This may offend some feminists that men feel they need protecting, but I don’t particularly care. Articles such as this which over-generalize and sterotype men (particularly by a woman) shows a lack of understanding too deep to begin to respond to.

  34. Violence isn’t linked to gender, it’s human nature. Ugly side of humanity. We are dirty, sweaty, violent animals. While men have better perspective I don’t think anyone has a right to define masculinity. Female perspective on masculinity can not be without feminine bias in my opinion. This does not suggests malice intent. No mother would wish harm on her son. Violent behavior in men and by extension traditional masculinity is beneficial to society. No civilized society can exist without military or police. The elemental management strategy is to use best resources at your disposal thus traditional masculinity is exploited to benefit society as a whole.
    I appreciate a philosophy of none-violence but I find this article superficial, naive and hypocritical. Unless Sandra is suggesting suppressing emotions from humanity there are no way to eradicate violence.

  35. Violence isn’t linked to gender, it’s human nature. Ugly side of humanity. We are dirty, sweaty, violent animals. While men have better perspective I don’t think anyone has a right to define masculinity. Female perspective on masculinity can not be without feminine bias in my opinion. This does not suggests malice intent. No mother would wish harm on her son. Violent behavior in men and by extension traditional masculinity is beneficial to society. No civilized society can exist without military or police. The elemental management strategy is to use best resources at your disposal thus traditional masculinity is exploited to benefit society as a whole.
    I appreciate a philosophy of none-violence but I find this article superficial, naive and hypocritical. Unless Sandra is suggesting suppressing emotions from humanity there are no way eradicate violence.

  36. Speaking to our sons about …. Here is a cool exercise …. Have someone take their right hand and make a sign like an “okay”. Index finger and thumb making a circle. Demonstrate it with your own hand. Hold it up and tell the person to take the gesture and tell them to put it on their cheek. While you tell them this, take your own hand and put it on your chin. Most people will put their hand on their chin as you did and not on their cheek as you asked them to do.

    What it shows is that people are more likely do what they see and not what they’re told. Lesson to men? Kids follow what we DO and not what we say. We can talk until we’re blue in the face but if we don’t do as we ask them to do, then they will more then likely follow our actions.

    This is all good IF you’re lucky enough to have access to your sons.

    • I’m in my 50s and I saw and heard all of those messages growing up. Those weren’t the only messages, and I internalized them to greater or lesser extents based on my whole experience. But the messages were there and persistently so.

      I’ve been critical of some ways men’s thoughts and emotions have been discussed here (GMP) lately. I find this article to be a refreshing alternative approach. I don’t agree with all of it, but I don’t come here primarily to see my every attitude or belief reflected back at me. I come here to read and write and think relatively free from distracting clutter, and this post helped me do that. I appreciate it.

      • This just came to mind … the proverbial messages we had growing up. Well, when I was young, the messages that the TV shows reflected were family. A mom, dad, house. Mom tool care of the house and kids and dad worked. The feminist movement destroyed those images and said they weren’t realistic. So, if they were right in their propaganda, they can thank themselves for the way men are influenced today. We replaced the husband father image with what?

        Here is a challenge to the feminists … what stereotype have you contributed to the way men are today? Deadbeat dads? Fatherless homes? Kids that don’t need their dads except for financial purpose?

        As I said in another post, people often do what they see and not what they hear. Are feminists walking the walk or just talking the talk?

  37. Great article. Thoughtful. I would add one more or make it the overarching piece – ask men the following question: How does that align with the man you want to be? or something to that effect. I train clinicians on how to work more effectively with men and meeting them where they’re at is such an important piece so I am so glad that was first! The number one rule – don’t try and define for a man what his ideas of masculinity need to look like. Engage him in a respectful conversation and let him make his own decisions about who he wants to be. Challenge him but without judgment. The problem is that too many people think they know what is best for men – when they don’t even know it for themselves….

  38. As a 29 year old man I can personally attest to having heard every single one of these “manly” man messages in my life. For the men who are older saying they’ve never picked up on these messages it’s probably cause you weren’t bombarded with them in the media growing up, my generation was.

    • @Cy heard it from whom? Someone you respect?
      The media machine assured me I could get laid without foreplay if I doused myself with Hai Karate, drove a sports car or wore Guess Jeans- doesn’t mean I ever did any of those things.

      • I didn’t do any of those violent manly man things ether that doesn’t mean that those messages don’t effect boys and men out in society. To believe that all men think like you or don’t absorb all the cultural bullshit out there is a little naive. You want a good example of this type of manly man macho masculinity, go work in the oil patch.

        • @ Cy- have you ever been a roughneck?
          Do you know any truck drivers, welders or pipe chasers?
          Guys who didn’t have the college option, but can pass the drug test?
          Shall I descend into guys who have only worked fast food & retail truisms?
          I don’t pretend to know what all men think, but i do claim a commonality with men who think for themselves?
          What is violent about wearing designer jeans?

      • Mostly_123 says:

        “Heard it from whom? Someone you respect?
        The media machine assured me I could get laid without foreplay if I doused myself with Hai Karate, drove a sports car or wore Guess Jeans- doesn’t mean I ever did any of those things.”

        Good point – just because a message (or a stereotype) has breadth, does not mean that it automatically has depth; or credibility. Stereotypes, by nature, are superficial; people (even superficial people) are more nuanced.

  39. Shirley Nott says:

    Some very interesting points raised here. And with the whole ridiculous push to glamorise the armed forces that has been taking place of late (and yes I know it’s nothing new… old war films and so on, but I mean Armed Forces Day, recruitment in schools etc) it concerns me tremendously that little boys as small as 2 having been to one of these bloody awful events such as the one here in Plymouth last summer for Armed Forces Day have thought to themselves, ‘Oh look how excited everyone gets over soldiers, that must be a manly thing to do and everyone will love me and respect me if I become one’, ‘ I want to be a soldier Mummy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunty, Uncle.

    I know for sure my grandfather would not have encouraged such thoughts, I saw his reaction when my uncle gave him a book to commemorate V.E Day and it was not a happy one! There are things no doubt he took to his grave so as not to traumatise anyone else with such memories.

    How wrong these little boys will find their dream to be when they have lost their legs, their arms, their eyes, their sanity, their life!

    I am not a parent myself yet, but I couldn’t be more certain about anything I would never want my child joining the forces, I could not bear to stand at their funeral and see their coffin knowing their cold lifeless body was inside, having died for nothing! The wars the children (16 is still a child) and young people of the UK (USA, France etc, etc, etc) are encouraged to fight and believe they are protecting their families, friends and countrymen in are phony and corrupt and we need to stand up and educate our young boys – and girls, that this is the case and save their souls and those of the men, women and children they would be sent to harm.

    Just tell your kids all about John Lennon, that outta help them 🙂

    PEACE X

    • @Shirly ….. I suggest you talk to the families of the fallen soldiers and maybe you can get better insight. These men are proud to have served. Your comments are insulting to the military especially given the fact that women have just gained the right to fight on the front line.

    • “Just tell your kids all about John Lennon, that outta help them”

      Do you mean John Lennon the wife beater? Sure I’ll tell them he abused women.

  40. I’m sorry, I’m confused.

    “Be big and strong”- what is wrong with that; aren’t we concerned with obesity and the diseases associated with inactivity?
    “Be physically aggressive and ready to fight”- ditto above.
    “Show no emotions – especially fear or pain” – says who? I’ve been coaching young men in various sports for the past 15yrs and have yet to,hear another coach call a boy a cry baby…”but anger is just fine”- with whom?
    “Feel entitled to objectify women and sexually pursue women regardless of whether or not she’s interested”- did I miss that man meeting? I have spent every day of my life as a male and spent almost every day with males & I don’t recall that message being on the back of my man card. Did the author attend that meeting & if so could she forward me the minutes?

    “You only need to look at our thousands year old history of warring groups that pillaged, looted, and raped to see where this dominant idea of masculinity comes from.” – for better or worse almost all of those guys had mothers and it did get us to Tang, Teflon & Universal Suffrage.

    Read more at http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/6-ways-to-talk-to-your-son-about-male-violence-and-healthy-masculinity/#z1Y6aALeLCEz1TaE.99

    • Mostly_123 says:

      @ J.A. Drew Diaz
      Great food for thought here.  
      To ask and answer a rhetorical question: How do we collectively destroy someone’s else’s negative arbitrary stereotypes and generalizations? It seems like all we need to do is all agree to what we’re not conforming to, conform to it, so then we can better harmonize our efforts to overcome & destroy (somebody’s) artificial generalizations that we weren’t conforming to to begin with. I mean, how on earth can we get organized on this if we don’t have uniform standards for the uniformity of our conformity? What’s with all the individuality here gumming up the works of us all becoming better individuals, collectively. Seriously though, I thought you made great points about the hazards of presuming the uniformity of those generalizations, at face value.

  41. stopping rape men aren’t the only problem but feminists tend not to like women raping men it debunks their natural victimhood. While not everything in this article is wrong most of this is just one woman’s idea of masculinity and trying to destroy all masculinity. Masculine men are strong confident and somewhat stubborn we like leading and protecting others. we use violence if its need ie you see a person being accosted then act

    • not the fact she is actually concerned for men isn’t a refreshing change from just solely blaming us

      • Difference between concern and control. Looks to me like she wants to lay the ground work for men,label them and then fix them. Feminists are pretty much out of steam with controlling women and men are a prime target.

        • The only way you can control me is if you out rank me and that isn’t likely to happen on line specifically with a feminist

          • Joanna Schroeder says:

            Just so everyone is clear, this was written with a group of men called Men Can Stop Rape. In no way was the author acting alone to “control men”.

          • @Derek … control as you’ve described is physical, what I’m referring to is worse, it’s control of mind and thought. Isn’t that what feminists said about men and their control of women? The stay at home mom who was prohibited from having a career outside the home? The control I’m referring to is where men’s views of themselves and others are being influenced by feminists. This is what a man should think and do to be what they see as a real man.

            And I should note that your reference to “strength” is that which this feminist is against and is seen as aggression.

  42. Really?? I see zero blame here. Rather, it is asking men to examine what roles they play in perpetrating negative stereotypes of their own gender. This is called ’empowerment’. I also see men being asked (quite reasonably given the degree to which women continue to suffer harassment, abuse, violence and murder by men’s hands ~ look up the stats some time, Bro)! to use their PERSONAL POWER and position of power WITH other men to call men out when they are in active abuse of women. Refusing to listen is stalwartly standing in alliance with the problem, its perpetrators, and the on-going abuse of women by other men. Thanks for sharing who you really are, Eagle. While you’re at it, be sure to do nothing about race privilege, economic injustice, and hanging kittens. I’m sure that’s all propaganda, too, just meant to make you feel bad. Grow up, Bro.

    • “Thanks for sharing who you really are, Eagle. While you’re at it, be sure to do nothing about race privilege, economic injustice, and hanging kittens. I’m sure that’s all propaganda, too, just meant to make you feel bad. Grow up, Bro.”

      Buddy, you don’t know a damn thing about me so don’t try to shame me because it won’t have any affect.

      And finally, bro, I happen to be a survivor of abuse from both genders in my youth. I wrote an article on it here in this publication, I wrote a play that got airtime on the radio, and I’m working my rear end off to make sure my story is heard so that no boy or man will ever feel left out when they’ve been abused by women and girls in addition to boys and men. So I believe I’m doing a good thing, which is more than I can say for you and your tough guy stance…bro!

      • And one more thing, Bro. I happen to work with autistic kids and teens in providing them a positive influence in their lives in addition to supporting a person with multiple medical needs. What have YOU ever done besides make assumptions about people just because they don’t fall in step with what YOU THINK they should advocate for?

      • Eagle … I’m aware of your background and Like you, I usually get slammed by people that don’t know me or my background. I’ve worked with adolescent males for 15 years in a residential setting. 98% of these kids have criminal records and on average 70% of them are active members of gangs.

        Truth be told, most of these kids live their lives the way they do not because of what society is labeling them but more commonly poor parenting. MANY live in fatherless homes and have no good role models.

        If anyone thinks that I don’t believe there is a problem, then they don’t know anything about me. There IS a problem but it is a problem with the minority, not the majority. So what about the majority? When are the good guys going to be recognized on a regular basis? From parenting, relationships to business, someone somewhere is calling out the bad guys and pointing out where men have gone wrong.

        This article alone says that men/boys are bad. The minuscule caveats acknowledging good men is just that, minuscule.

        So bring this topic to men and tell them what they should do? How about the countless women who are raising these boys? It’s the proverbial “you’re speaking to the choir.”

  43. Mostly_123 says:

    “While most violent acts are committed by men, most men are NOT violent. So many men are caring, responsible, and non-violent people. While many men don’t use violence to express their feelings or control others, many don’t feel comfortable showing the other sides of them for fear of being called ‘gay’ ‘girly’, ‘soft,’ or ’emotional’. That’s why we need to change the conversation around masculinity. We need the definition of masculinity to reflect the diversity present in men beyond the narrow box they have now.” 

    My goodness, what a bunch of emotional cripples and Orwellian conformists we men must be. So much for autonomy. I can’t speak for all men, but I myself would be much more inclined to say ‘SOME men don’t feel comfortable showing other sides of them’ rather than “many.” That’s their choice, yes, albeit influenced by past and present societal norms and conventions. Regardless, I agree with the overall sentiment in the paragraph – after all, human history has been all about the struggle for more & greater freedoms and diversity, for ‘wider’ definitions of expression and not ‘narrower’ ones. Who would disagree with that? Frankly, I think the conversation has already changed, and it continues to change and evolve continually – with or without the benefit of enlightened gender studies. It’s important to let that conversation take place organically, and not to try to manage the message to your own particular liking; when that happens then it ceases to be a conversation, and it becomes a missive handed down to men- trading one ‘box’ of gender stereotypes for another. Freedom to choose, freedom of expression, also means that sometimes people are still going to make choices in stark contrast with your values (and/or mine).   

    In any case, I can’t help but notice a paradox that comes up when you mention: “While most violent acts are committed by men, most men are NOT violent. So many men are caring, responsible, and non-violent people.” By this logic you seem to be affirming that ‘maleness’ (as interpreted and expressed by the majority of males) is NOT inherently violent, or the inherent cause of violence. If it were, inevitably, then the majority (and not the minority) of males would therefore be violent: They aren’t. I agree with the assertion that ‘maleness’ is not inherently violent, or regressive; though individual (twisted or distorted individual) interpretations and expressions of it can be; as any social conventions and norms can be twisted or distorted by individuals. 

    But then, is the goal to change the majority or the minority? If the rationale for change is to achieve greater individual freedoms (for the majority) from conforming to any (negative) expectations and societal constraints of current male stereotypes, then I am for that. If you’re just suggesting swapping out one set of current (‘negative’) male stereotypes with another set of more ‘positive’ progressive ones, that I’m probably in favor of that too; but let’s not cloak that in the language of ‘having a discussion’ because it’s not anymore- call it what it is – one group exercising power to impose its values (for good or ill) on another. This, I know, happens in society all the time: It’s just a question of who gets to impose on who; this is why the power of persuasion is so crucial in a democracy which values consensus. But consensus does not mean unanimity. There is always going to be an anti-social element in any free society, whether your enlightened notions of masculinity supersede the “traditional notion of masculinity” or not. You seem to suggest that what we conform TO is the important thing; rather than having the conviction and the wisdom to question when to follow and when to challenge conformity itself.  

    “We need the definition of masculinity to reflect the diversity present in men beyond the narrow box they have now. Not only to reduce the level of male violence but to also support men in accepting all parts of themselves and expressing themselves fully—without being shamed.” 

    I think it’s right and proper for any man (or woman, for that matter) to have broader freedom to express themselves fully, and this is a worthy goal in and of itself. But you seem to need to rationalize it, in part, as a prescription to end or reduce violence. That, I think, is a false choice. 

    Reducing or ending violence (gendered or otherwise) and liberating individuals from artificial gender stereotypes are both laudable goals. But I don’t think it necessarily follows that to pursue one is to pursue the other (though they may indeed be fellow travelers). In other words, violence and ‘maleness’ (such as it is today) are not interchangeable. As I said, to examine and redefine maleness, to be more introspective about gender roles is wise, and a worthy end in an of itself. But it does not follow that to reexamine and redefine masculinity (or to fail to do so) is a moral imperative. A more self-actualized person is not, necessarily, a more moral person. It’s not to say that self actualization and transcending gender stereotypes aren’t important to being a better person; it’s just to say that it isn’t the only measure of morality.   

    You can call “bombardment” on society’s messages and definitions of masculinity that you consider ‘traditional’ or regressive, but remember – you’re part of that “bombardment” too; such is the commonwealth of ideas in the 21st century.    
         
    Is the reflection of masculinity we see in our (Western, contemporary) society truly defined by the individual men who cast the reflection; or are we just contorting our true selves to conform with what’s been etched in the mirror for us? I don’t have an answer for that, so I’ll end with a quote from Alexander Pope. In 1734 he wrote: “Virtuous and vicious every man must be, Few in the extreme, but all in the degree.” I don’t think that’s a comment on masculinity anymore, as much as it is now a comment on humanity. Maybe that’s the key- whatever the future holds, gender, as a matrix for power, is going to become increasingly more and more irrelevant. And what’s wrong with that.  

    • @Mostly … GREAT response

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Yes, that is a paradox about “most acts of violence are committed by men, but most men are not violent” – that’s the nature of the situation. The paradox is the impetus for the non-violent men to help move masculinity into a better sphere.

      That’s the whole point.

      • The reason it seems to be a paradox is because of the (I think unconscious, most of the time) desire to try to hold all men responsible for the actions of the few that are violent.

        I mean if you look at a stat like say fatal child abuse, where it’s more likely to be done by women than men, you don’t see a lot of “women need to speak out and change the face of motherhood to address it” attitude.

        No it seems that there is no problem of trying to equate women with child violence.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Dude, you see that all the time. As a mom, you are constantly inundated with information about how to be a better mother, how to reach out for help if you feel you may snap, tips for managing anger and stress, ways of helping mom friends through stressful times with kids, forming a community for mothers to support one another at being better mothers, information for what to do if you suspect child abuse, etc etc etc.

          It’s easy to miss that information if you’re not in mommy-world, but it’s everywhere. In England, they have home health nurses scheduled, paid for by the government, to visit the moms and babies at certain intervals to check in their physical and mental health, and one thing they look for are signs of abuse.

          • But as soon as a child is harmed who do authorities usually reach for first? Round up all the male suspects.

            I think the difference is that even with all that information that moms are inundated with they are still not presumed in worst faith when it comes to children.


            As a mom, you are constantly inundated with information about how to be a better mother, how to reach out for help if you feel you may snap, tips for managing anger and stress, ways of helping mom friends through stressful times with kids, forming a community for mothers to support one another at being better mothers, information for what to do if you suspect child abuse, etc etc etc.

            Because in that information is based on the premise that you as a mom won’t change from mind mannered calm woman into a terror that is a threat to your child. On the other hand dads (or men in general) are assumed to be threats from the get go and need to be treated.

        • More women than men kill young children under 5. That is true. But, it is related to the fact that women far outnumber men in terms of taking care of young children. If children under 5 were primarily cared for 50% of the time by men and 50% of the time by women, we’d have a better measure of gendered child homicide in a certain way. The same is true of elder abuse. Most is caused by women because it’s mostly women caring for the elderly. I think these are important distinctions. And Joanna is right–moms are totally inundated with tips and help. I remember when my daughter was a very colicky baby and I was so exhausted and had postpartum depression and my husband was never there, and it was so hard dealing with the constant crying, and I thought to myself, “Now I understand child abuse.” I never hurt her, but for a flashing moment I understood how a completely exhausted mother could snap, and realized “this is how child abuse must happen some of the time.” It’s not an excuse, is highly relevant to the statistic.

          • But despite that when something bad happens to a child who do people usually reach for? Males.

            There have been a few cases where when something happened to a child law enforcement actually actively avoided female suspects even when there was no gender specific evidence (for example if there was sperm involved then it would make sense to look only at men).

            That’s what I was getting at. Even for as true as what you say we (that’s an overall we) still manage to avoide presuming worst faith in women when something bad happens to children. I’m not saying that women are getting a walk in the park on this but when the stats lean that far in that direction and they still given the benefit of the doubt it’s weird.

          • @Lori ….. And if I had wings I could fly. Better measure? The measure is factual as it stands, women kill their kids more then men, what else do you need? So what’s happening in the world of women that red flags aren’t being raised? Why aren’t the statistics of volatile women/mothers being plastered all over the media?

            What does the writer say about “deadbeat dads?” The myth that most noncustodial dads are deadbeats?

      • Mostly_123 says:

        “Yes, that is a paradox about ‘most acts of violence are committed by men, but most men are not violent’ – that’s the nature of the situation. The paradox is the impetus for the non-violent men to help move masculinity into a better sphere. That’s the whole point.”

        The paradox, I think, is in the notion that the we should (or even CAN) proceed to change the minority, by proceeding with changing the majority. The impetus is on those who need to change (whether they do or not). The power is with those who want to change (whether they need to or not). But these two do not necessarily overlap. There must be a recognition of limitations to both influence and responsibility, beyond one’s sovereign self. Ideologies almost always overestimate the homogeneity, continuity, solidarity, and power of their favorite targets, while underestimating the autonomy of the individual.          

        I firmly believe that (non-violent) people/men moving masculinity into a ‘better’ more progressive sphere (and I am obliged to point out that these are very subjective and arbitrary terms, mind you) is a great thing, and a worthy end in and of itself. But that is changing for the sake of the majority, not the minority.      

        But if, IF the problem is rooted in the minority, then it would seem to follow that, logically, the action should first be rooted in influencing and altering the actions of the minority, not the majority (Insofar as the majority is ABLE to influence the minority). Whether or not the ‘traditional notion of masculinity’ remains intact or is superseded by a much more positive, progressive notion, in any free society there will always be an anti-social element which rejects the norms and will of broader society. Regardless of who’s norms are the standard, the majority must face the reality of the limitations (the profound limitations) to its influence on this minority that is bound and determined to defy it.              

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          How about bystanders to abuse and harassment?

          Is there no way for bystanders (ie not abusive, violent) to change the minority, whom they witness being abusive?

          We see it all the time, rapes where people are present and say nothing, or even cheer the rapist on. What of that?

          • Mostly_123 says:

            “How about bystanders to abuse and harassment? Is there no way for bystanders (ie not abusive, violent) to change the minority, whom they witness being abusive? We see it all the time, rapes where people are present and say nothing, or even cheer the rapist on. What of that?”

            Thanks Joanna – lots to think about there – 

            W.H. Auden once said: “Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good” though actually, I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s hard for me to imagine what evil can imagine, and forges into reality. And ‘failures of imagination’ can be horribly costly. I cannot imagine the mind of any rational adult who would stand idly by, let alone actively cheer on a rapist, in the midst of a rape. Good is willed on people, but evil is imposed on people; one is passive and one is invasive. But sometimes to do good, goodness can’t just be passive, it has to be active, assertive, perhaps even invasive. No one phones up 911 to hear: ‘You have my every good wish’ – we call 911 because we have situations where we need active intervention – we need HELP. I’ve been told that many people drown because others don’t recognize the signs of actual drowning until it’s too late: the first thing in getting someone help is recognizing that they need help; and (the appropriate) help NOW- recognizing, and then communicating and impressing the gravity of the situation is crucial. There has been a lot written about the ‘bystander effect’ and it’s been a while since I read it, so I won’t try to rehash it here. I am not a lawyer, but I must assume that I have some significant legal (to say nothing of moral and ethical) responsibility to, at the very least, report a violent crime and summon aid immediately- not in an hour, or in five minutes, but immediately.

            Actively (physically, bodily) intervening in an ongoing violent crime is another matter, at least legally, and I wouldn’t even guess at all the dynamics that could potentially come into play. Nonetheless, I would like to think that I am a person who would behave in accordance with their highest moral and ethical beliefs, and act accordingly; which probably means saying to somebody: “This person needs help now- I need help helping them. Please help me.” Morally and ethically (if not legally) I would be obliged to help and to intervene; to the best of my wits and ability. If I could do so without ever putting myself anywhere near harm’s way, I certainly would. But my desire, my good will, my good words alone, my moral authority, of course, cannot and will not stop bad things from happening to good people. Of course this is all conjecture – for all I know about any given future, I might just as well cower in silent shock in a corner the next time something bad happens. And that’s just trying to predict my own behavior and potentialities, let alone somebody else’s. We all know what the future we WANT looks like, and it’s important to know and to affirm what our values are, so we can build that future; but we have to live in the present that we get. That gets me thinking: we have fire drills and intruder/shooter drills; maybe we should try intervention drills.             

            In regard to (non-violent) harassment: We could start debating specific metrics about when & how to intervene in any given situation of ‘harassment’ (Stranger? Acquaintance? Friend? Workplace? Social? Cross-referenced by the gravity of the types of situations) but I tend to think the answers are based in personal assessments and reactions in any given situation. If I see a person who being harassed and needs help, I would like to think I would probably do something appropriate, and again, do the very best I could to help them. Man or woman; in fact, man AND woman, when one, as a third party, takes the step of asserting themselves into a situation, you are saying them; ‘I don’t think you can handle yourself anymore – it’s time for me to bring this situation under control because you can’t or you haven’t yet – But I can, and I will.’ That is an exercise of power, subject to, among other things, the constraints of one’s power (including our own constraints; real and imagined).   

            Sometimes this is invasive intervention is absolutely appropriate (or even imperative, morally or physically), sometimes it’s not. It is certainly possible for a person to overestimate the need for intervention in any given situation, just as surely as they can underestimate it. Sometimes one may have overstepped their bounds, their moral or ethical (or legal) obligations, and all they do is end up disempowering the person they’re trying to help or escalating (not deescalating) the  situation. But there are far too many variables here generalize effectively. Gender is just one variable in those situational dynamics, and sometimes, an irrelevant one. Regardless, I don’t have any less moral authority, efficacy (physical, ethical, or otherwise) or impetus, -but nor do I have any more, either- by virtue of my gender alone. 

            What (limited) powers of persuasion people possess (mental, physical, moral) can and should be brought to bear appropriately, in any appropriate situation, irrespective of gender, because this power is not rooted in, or augmented by gender: If a man feels hatred and disrespect towards a woman based on her gender (or based on other things, for that matter), and behaves hatefully, disrespectfully and irrationally towards her, that deficit doesn’t mean he also suddenly has an equivalent surplus of love, respect and rationality that’s going to be afforded onto the next man who comes by and tells him what he’s doing is wrong. Granted, he might like the people more who tell him what he is doing is right- but that’s not because they have the power to influence him (for good or evil) – it’s because they only have the ability to confirm an existing bias (his hate). When the bias isn’t being confirmed, the person tunes out, rather than giving equal weight to the alternate argument. And though I would not recommend trying something like this,  one doesn’t get very far telling people standing outside a church that: ‘your bible is a lie.’ All levity aside, this is not say that one can’t persuade others, or should not try, or that one does not have a moral, ethical or logical reason to try. Expressing our convictions, articulating them logically and faithfully to others is as important as having them and keeping them to ourselves. But again, one has to appreciate the limits of power & persuasion – particularly, if it’s rooted in an individual sliver of what comprises the larger whole, such as gender. After all, if tell a person something, and they choose to believe me, and weight the validity of my logic simply because I happen to be of the same gender, it doesn’t mean that I’ve succeeded as an effective persuader- it just means that they’re a bigot (or, at the least, biased). In my mind, that’s not progress, nor is it exercising power – it’s actually a demonstration of, if you’ll pardon the term, impotence. Though that does beg the question: Can we overcome bias by appealing to bias, or resorting to bias? Can that which seems inherently negative be used positively?  

            In any case, to be optimistic, I’ll offer a quote from “Scent of a Woman” that seems appropriate: “I have come to the cross-roads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here’s Charlie. He’s come to the cross-roads. He has chosen a path. It’s the right path. It’s a path made of principle that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey.” At the end of the day, I have no idea how to really mint good kids or good men (if I did I’d patent it, then sell it to Apple as an app), but I think it lies in the aspirational side of us all; that and the simple golden rule.

          • Mostly_123 says:

            “How about bystanders to abuse and harassment? Is there no way for bystanders (ie not abusive, violent) to change the minority, whom they witness being abusive?”

            This public service ad campaign on domestic violence from India, from a few years back, won a prestigious international award.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1h_UaPJlhY

            (hope the link works ok)

            It’s very powerful, I think, because it shows the skill it takes to overtly confront another, without being overtly confrontational. Dignity and wit transcend unfocused outrage. I think it very much touches on the question you brought up, as well as the power (and limitations) of moral authority. One works with the wit and wisdom they have, in the circumstances they have, not what they would like to have.   

          • If I was getting the crap beat out of me (or even threatened with that possibility,) the intersession of a “modern metro-sexual” man would be welcome, but assistance from a “traditionally masculine” man would be even more welcome. The strengths and virtues of “traditional masculinity” are generally better suited to get a scrawny guy like me out of a pickle.

            From another angle, the few times in my life when someone else depended on me to intervene on their behalf, it was my sense of “traditional masculinity” that gave me the bravery to overcome my instinct for self-preservation and approach the situation.

  44. Mat the bird says:

    I’m a 28ys old man from Belgium and I strongly agree with this article. There is a long history of violence associated with traditional concept of manhood. While I grew up in an environment where I could hear, see and learn that women should be respected (and, beyond the gender issue, that anybody should), I personnaly believe that those previous comments show some degree of denial in that no man can truthfully claim having NEVER seen a bully in action, or an act of sexual harassment committed by a man on a woman, or having NEVER heard ANY female friend complain about how SOME GUY followed her at night in the street, harassed her or even tried to force her in any way.

    OF COURSE, manipulation, forceful/violent behaviour are NOT the sole dominion of men. The most evil person I ever knew was in fact a woman, she was my grand-mother and she was a perverse, narcissistic and sadistic person who enjoyed destroying others lives, including her children’s (thus my father and his brothers and sisters). The only difference is that she raped people with her words, not with her body.

    But to say that male are victims of some kind of hatred campaign originating in feminists harpies is an outright lie, and a poor one at that.

    Therefore I want to say to those men who commented and will comment furthermore on this article, who are talking about “blame man propaganda” and pose themselves as victims :
    you are blinding yourself with fallacious excuses and denial. You CANNOT deny there is a history of apologetic violent behaviour with men and even if you don’t feel concerned on a personal level, you can’t deny that there are real jerks out there. By denying this, you are in fact EMPOWERING THOSE JERKS. THAT NEEDS TO COME TO AN END. The day that no man will find acceptable violent, unrespectful behaviour or sexual harassment, and jerks will actually be rejected because of their actions, those jerks will cease to feel that society has their back and that they can do whatever they want because “you know, we’re men and it can’t be helped”.

    And let’s call things with their proper names : no woman can ever try to force a penis through your mouth or genitals. THAT kind of violence IS the sole dominion of men and surely, male rape victims could tell you how they believe -because I guess they do- EVERYTHING should be done and tried to make our society unequivocally UNAPOLOGETIC about sexual harassement perpetrated by men.

    So please guys, let’s all lay down the blindfold and start seeing things the way they are. It’s not about feeling bad about our gender, you’re missing the point if that’s what you think. It’s about standing for what’s right. And of course, that applies to both sexes.

    • @ Mat the bird …I’m a 58 year old man from the USA and I strongly disagree with the article. Like others, I’ve not seen what’s been described. What I have seen for many years are feminists trying to portray the average man as described and sadly, many people believed it. I guess if someone says it enough, then there must be truth to it? NOT.

    • I personnaly believe that those previous comments show some degree of denial in that no man can truthfully claim having NEVER seen a bully in action, or an act of sexual harassment committed by a man on a woman, or having NEVER heard ANY female friend complain about how SOME GUY followed her at night in the street, harassed her or even tried to force her in any way.
      So you say their experiences acts of denial and then accuse them of wearing a blindfold?

      And let’s call things with their proper names : no woman can ever try to force a penis through your mouth or genitals.
      Is this an attempt to say that rape can only be done with a penis as the offending genitals in question?

      I’m all for standing up for what’s right and all that but that’s a little tough when the experiences of one is used as proof that the experiences of the other don’t matter.

  45. Eagle35, BadMan, Aspire etc. thank you for challenging yourselves by reading articles like this. Just that y’all are willing to look at or hear positions different from your own shows that you recognize a need for constructive dialog. Good for you. Not all men have the courage and inner strength to listen without providing a backlash of misdirected self defense.

  46. The responses from the men commenting show just how much work there is to do to overcome their denial of how harmful male stereotyping is. Nut to mention how important it us to get them too start recognizing it wherever they encounter it. Thankfully not all men are so reluctant.

    • Martin Nash says:

      Alternatively the responses from men show how there is no overall stereotyping of men _by_ men and we are all raised differently. The men above mostly state that they were not raised to believe these things at all leaving us with the conclusion that “some people are just dicks”.

      Oddly the only messages I get these day that violence is expected of me are from feminist blogs asking why more men don’t stand up to sexist jerks, not understanding that if i stand up to a catcalling stranger I am far more likely to get drawn into violence cant handle than the woman initially being harassed.

      Many women seem so wrapped up in the idea that all guys are taken aside as children and enrolled into “the patriarchy” that they even belittle our attempts to discuss these things among ourselves.

    • @Karen … I don’t see anyone denying that male stereotypes don’t exist. What I have a problem with is a feminist giving advice to men and boys as to what they should be doing. There are plenty of men that can and do educate our youth on these issues.

      In so far as violence, there is a clear increase in the visibility of women and violence. While feminists may be well intentioned in trying to educate men/boys, there is a major problem with women girls these days and perhaps they would better benefit educating the girls.

      • The mere fact of them giving advice to men and boys isn’t really the problem, or at least I don’t think so.

        The fact that their advice when it comes to violence seems to focus on male against female violence isn’t really the problem.

        The problem is that all of their advice on violence to nearly always come back to “men are violent to women and men need to do something about it.” I’ll agree that that is a part of the problem but they seem to try to make it the very core of the problem. Like if only men would stop being violent to women then everything would be fine when that is clearly not the case.

  47. I enjoyed the article. I don’t see where it is blaming, stereotyping or labeling men negatively. It opens the door for honest dialog (for the willing). Where is the blame? Where is it written that the author thinks men are bad?

    “And more importantly, remember that it’s not your place to tell them they’re wrong and make them agree with what you believe “masculinity” means either. That would be the same type of domination you’re trying to eradicate!”

    That quote sounds very non-judgmental, free of hate and welcomes boys and young men to define masculinity for themselves.

    • I am a 31 year old male. I often hear feminists say that men and boys should be free to define masculinity for themselves…

      …as long as it’s not ‘traditional masculinity.’ Or more like the caricatured version of traditional masculinity that allows certain gender theories to exist. From the article:

      “While many men are not be violent, traditional masculinity encourages other behaviors that are normalized in our society, such as street harassment, a sense of sexual entitlement, use of physical intimidation over smaller people, etc.”

      “While traditional masculinity does not necessarily always lead to violence, it does support male domination over others.”

      I don’t deny that many men struggle with violence, but I strongly disagree that the behaviors described in the quotes are normalized in our society. On the contrary, they are loudly, roundly, and rightly condemned. Who in their right mind believes that street harassment, sexual entitlement, physical intimidation or domination of others are acceptable behaviors? You don’t need to be particularly progressive or gender-aware to know that it’s unacceptable, and if you don’t get it, the handcuffs around your wrists will clue you in pretty quickly.

      I also strongly disagree with the conflation of traditional masculinity and violent, anti-social behavior. To me it seems like the author, even while saying it’s not her place to do so, is defining traditional masculinity in a very narrow and negative way. Some would say that traditional masculinity teaches men not to be these things, valuing instead ideals like honor, loyalty, respect, restraint, self-sacrifice, and being true to your word. My father, for example, is very traditional and he specifically taught me that such behavior was highly uncivilized and dishonorable.

      That being said, I agree that men and women should not be confined by traditional roles and I commend the author for genuinely attempting to engage men on their own terms.

      • Mostly_123 says:

        @Hahz:
        Strongly agree with you on all points & sentiments there. You cut right to the chase with a lot of clarity.

  48. TheBadMan says:

    Even the most violent of prison thugs consider rapists the lowest scum on the earth.

    This is a hateful and false description of masculinity.

    • The article is not insinuating that men are “bad” and “awful.”:

      “And at the same time, while most violent acts are committed by men, most men are NOT violent.

      So many men are caring, responsible, and non-violent people.”

      Just like how women are bombarded with messages of “how to be a lady” boys and men are bombarded with the same. This piece is not supposed to be hateful. It’s supposed to be enlightening.

  49. I would love to know where the author grew up because I never heard ANY of these messages when I was growing up and I am over 50 years old.

    Perhaps she heard them all in gender studies classes because her talking point sure sound like the dogma preached in gender studies.

    • Well, I have no experience of being a man, but I’ve suffered from depression for a number of years, and in that time I’ve seen a very small number of men in the support and therapy groups I attend. What I pick up on most strongly is that while it’s OK for me to cry and talk about how I feel and what my problems are and ask (beg, scream) for help, they can’t. I think it’s probably linked very strongly to the high number of men who successfully complete suicide that they’re just plain not allowed (by society’s perceptions) to show weakness, to need help.

      I have a friend who is obviously going through something very painful right now. He can’t talk about it. It was obviously really hard for him to even admit there was something wrong.

      From these things, I feel that the first three points at least are well targeted. We learn our gender roles very early in childhood because we mimic what we see around us, and certainly the most common depictions I see of men are all about strength manifested in duty, responsibility and the absence of emotion. So I think making feelings and pain admissible for men will be an important step towards improving mental health for men in general.

      And that, in turn, I think will reduce rape. We already know that rape isn’t a sex crime – it’s not a sudden overwhelming of desire, but a pre-planned act of hatred and resentment. Being able to talk about those feelings, and removing the divide where “women can get help any time and men just have to go back to work” might be a great leveller.

      • @ Bonnie

        “We already know that rape isn’t a sex crime – it’s not a sudden overwhelming of desire, but a pre-planned act of hatred and resentment.”

        We don’t know any such thing, some rapes are like that, some aren’t. That is just a “WOW” generalisation, a kinda gotcha, kinda like we “KNOW” that DV is all about power and control and only men do it. The ‘experts’ who tell us these things are the same people.

    • Aspire, you must be one of the men who are very well rounded. I’m not a man myself, but I’ve observed and witnessed too much in my life to say this article doesn’t ring true. Boys/men have it hard! I’d actually love to understand where you’re coming from; I’ve met so many men from your generation who embody so much of this.

  50. Richard Aubrey says:

    I sure don’t recall all those messages. Except about being ready to fight. If you are assaulted and you’re not ready, bad things could happen.

    Actually, society’s messages to men are; we want the money you earn in your dangerous, soul-sucking job. We want the stuff you make/do in your dangerous, soul-sucking job. You are required to be able to take care of business, whatever that business is. You just keep on keeping on. If you work yourself to death, or are killed defending the innocent and weak from bad guys or other catastrophes, somebody will say something nice at the funeral, probably.
    When you hear society not expecting what you earn/make/do at your dangerous, soul-sucking job, and not expecting you to risk all defending them, you’ll be…about a thousand years old.
    Meantime, there are folks who stand around sneering at you as you do what they would not have you stop doing, and at the capacities it takes to do them. You’re not supposed to actually, you know, stop.

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