Dear Important and Precious Woman:
On behalf of myself, and on behalf of many of my brothers, I want to apologize to you. This apology is for you, specifically, and secondarily for all women. I wish I could speak on behalf of all men, but sadly, most men have not yet awakened to the truth of the damage we have done to women. My hope is that this apology will lighten the burden you have carried throughout your life. This process is a part of my own healing journey, and I sincerely hope that it supports you in your healing process.
I am sorry. I’m sorry for all of the things I’ve done to hurt you in the past. As I have grown into mature manhood, I have come to realize just how badly I’ve treated you.
I make this apology as a representative of the men in your life – the men who were your father, your brothers, cousins, uncles, grandfathers, relatives, neighbors, friends, boyfriends, lovers, and strangers who have ever done harm to you. I want you to know how sorry I am for the things they did to hurt you. They were wrong to have hurt you.
I am sorry for any abuse you suffered as a young girl, whether that abuse was physical, verbal, emotional, or mental. If your father abused you, I am deeply sorry that he did that. It shouldn’t have happened. If your father wasn’t around, I am sorry that he abandoned you. He should have been there to support and protect you, to teach you and hold you, and to love you in a good way when you were sad or frightened or hurt. He should have seen your perfect divine spark and loved you for who you are. He should have loved you perfectly – you deserve that – but he wasn’t able to. I’m sorry that he wasn’t able to be the good, supportive and loving father you wanted and deserved.
I am sorry that the boys and I called you names when you were young. We picked on you, hit you, or bullied you. If I had known better at the time, or if I could have been there as the adult I am now, I would have stopped them. I would have shown those boys that respect begins with respecting themselves, and extends to you, and to all beings, for all beings are precious. But I wasn’t able to be there for you, and I am truly sorry that they hurt your feelings, and made you feel ashamed and embarrassed. They were wrong to do so.
I apologize for all the times I stared at you, along with those other adolescent boys and men, looking at your body as if you were an object. We may have looked at you with lust, desire, greed, or aversion, dislike, or judgment. We didn’t see your inner beauty, and I’m truly sorry for that. I am sorry we taunted you about your breasts, and made sexual comments to embarrass you. My brothers and I have objectified you – ignored your nature as a sacred Goddess, and saw you as an object to use instead of a human being to love. I know you have felt this much of your life. From the time you began to shine your light, men have wanted to feed off of you, taking your light and beauty for themselves. We have sinned against you, and I apologize. It was wrong.
You had to protect yourself from these our invasions. You may have slumped your shoulders, trying to hide your breasts, or built a hard shell around yourself, as most of your sisters did. You may have shut down your essential light, hiding it from the eyes of men. I am so sorry that this happened. I want to take it away, and start over with these words: You are safe. I cherish you. I will never hurt you, and I will never let anyone else hurt you.
I am sorry for those men and boys who have touched you in ways you didn’t want to be touched, invading your privacy and your body. I am embarrassed knowing that I have done some of these things. As a young man, I sexualized girls and found ways to seduce them into going along with my agenda – without awareness or care about their needs and desires. Like most young men, I was an insensitive blockhead. I hurt the feelings of girls I wanted to love, but didn’t know how. I wanted them to love me, but I didn’t know how to be lovable.
I wanted to be friends with you, and with the other girls, but I didn’t know how to be a friend. I was never taught how to do so, so I was clumsily trying to figure it out, or I listened to other equally clueless boys. I didn’t have the mentor I needed – a man who could teach me how to respect and honor you and the other girls. I was so full of my own shame and uncertainty that I couldn’t really see anyone outside of myself.
I’m sorry I labeled you and judged you. I’m sorry that I didn’t see your light – the beautiful light that you are – worthy of honor and care and protection. I’m sorry that I was crude, rude, manipulative and hurtful at times. Looking back, I feel sad about the things I’ve done to disrespect you, and feel terrible about the things that my brothers did to you. I am truly sorry.
On behalf of all men, I apologize for the clumsy way you were introduced to sex, and made sex with you my agenda – made it more important than yours. I apologize for the crude groping and the pushy way that men have forced themselves on you. I wish I had known what I know now – how precious you are, and how slowly I need to move to ensure your comfort, your pleasure, and your “yes.” We pushed through many of your “no’s,” not caring about your feelings or needs.
Our own selfish needs and desire for sex were so strong that they blinded us. They turned us into insensitive lunatics with only one priority – getting you into bed, and having sex with you. And I’m especially sorry that life’s beautiful gift of sexuality was cheapened and made mundane by those actions. We lost the sacredness of our sensual and sexual nature somewhere along the way. Our fathers and uncles never taught us. Sex became a crude and unconscious attempt to numb our own pain. I am sorry for all those men who clumsily tried to get their own needs met, while ignoring your needs, your wants and your desires.
If I knew then what I know now about sexual love, I would have met you gently, gingerly, softly, and carefully. I would have slowly and playfully moved forward one step at a time, waiting for your agreement and assent. I would have waited patiently for your desire to rise, for you to want me. I have learned much in these intervening years, but unfortunately, most of my brothers are still clumsily ripping your clothes off and making their own orgasm and release the only thing of importance, using you to get themselves off instead of sharing love. I am so sorry that your own sacred sex has been abused, and that you have been used by men as an object for their own egotistical drives.
I wish I could be there with you to apologize in person. I would hold you strongly in my arms, and let you cry out about all the times when you only wanted a little tenderness, a little loving kindness, when you only wanted to be cherished. But that man, that adolescent boy in man’s clothing, could not offer anything but his own pushy needs, and once satisfied, he abandoned you.
And I am sorry for those of use who abandoned you, all those times, and left you with hurt feelings, confusion, or horror. Sometimes I just didn’t know what to say, or how to say it. And sometimes I didn’t understand my own feelings enough to say anything. I’m sorry you were left alone and confused. You may have even wondered whether you deserved to be left behind. But no – you deserve to be cherished, held, honored, and praised for the great being that you are.
You deserve to be told the truth. You are part of the Goddess, from whom we all come. The Goddess gave birth to the world and to us all. She is the one who knows how to make a human being – each one completely unique in the world. She knew how to make your unique body, your unique spirit, your unique mind. You are part of her precious body, as I am, but I did not know this during most of my life. I apologize for my ignorance, for our collective ignorance, and for the harm we have caused without that knowledge. I apologize for all those men throughout history who have stripped this knowledge from your sisters, your mothers, your grandmothers, and from our ancestors – the ones who knew that life is sacred, that we are part of a greater whole, and it is our duty to protect and care for it.
You have been designed, biologically and socially, to shine your light, to make yourself beautiful, to be attractive. You naturally want to attract positive attention and admiration – the kind of attention from men and women that sees you, honors you, and cherishes you. You deserve a man who takes care of you, supports you, and empowers you.
But in this adolescent culture, you probably attracted the attention of boys and men who were frozen in their adolescence. Our culture did not educate us to be generous with our love. We have been taught to be individuals, separated from others, and to obtain what we want – even to fight for it. We have wanted to fulfill our own pleasure instead of serving and honoring yours. We are programmed to want a girlfriend or lover or wife as a possession instead of a partner. I am sorry we have been so ignorant, so young, so poisoned by testosterone and by our popular culture.
We are taught gender myths, like men are biologically driven to spread our seed, and that you are the biological factory to pass on our genes. This “use” of women is constantly reinforced by magazines, movies, and television. Although we have the capacity to grow up, most men never mature into wholeness. We can become men of integrity, truth, goodness and beauty. It is possible. My friends and I are hard at work learning to become real men – men of presence, passion, purpose and power. Not power over others – that’s the old story – but sharing power with our women partners for the benefit of all living things, for a future that works for everyone.
You are my sister, my daughter, my mother, my cousin, my wife, my niece, my aunt, my grandmother, my partner, and my lover. You have given the best of your energy and your life to nurture life, to bear and raise children, and to support the men in your life. You have borne the brunt of our crass and greedy culture that values things instead of people. Throughout history, men have stripped you of your connection to the Goddess, and your heritage of leadership and carriers of cultural wisdom. We have taken away your right of choice, and placed the shackles of religious morality on you, making you ashamed of your own sexual power and love. I am sorry for this. I apologize deeply. My heart is breaking for you, and I wish I could right the wrongs of the past 5,000 years.
I ask only that you hear this apology in the deepest part of your heart, and to know that it is sincere. In my own life, I have made amends to the women I have hurt in my life. I can only hope that the men in your life will come to this same understanding of our collective culpability and responsibility, and to begin to make it right. It is my hope that they find their own remorse, recognize what they have done to you, beg for forgiveness, and make amends. Then, we must get to work to create a new cultural and societal norm that supports you, and supports life. It is what you deserve. It is what is needed to heal the past.
And then, if you can find it in your heart to forgive us (and I know that it may take time), I invite you to become a full partner – equal in stature and equal in contribution. I ask that you free yourself and speak your truth and come into your own power. I ask that you band together as women and take hold of the wheels of power in this culture. We need your wisdom and your strength, your beauty and your clarity. We need what you value at the forefront of our civilization. We need you to lead the way, not walk behind us. We have been ignorant men who believe we are superior. It is the height of pride, hubris, and folly. Without you at our sides we are nothing, and life has no meaning.
As men, we have much to learn from you as women. And women have much to learn from us as men. We can heal the past, heal ourselves, and heal together. Many wrongs have been committed throughout history. May we awaken to the wrongs we have done – both those we have participated in and those we have let happen. May this apology be the first of many, and may it result in deep healing.
As co-equal partners, we can create a new world.
There isn’t a moment to lose.
Will you take my hand?
With love and hope in my heart,
One Good Man
Previously Published on liongoodman.com and is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: iStock