Male warriors strangely silent.
Looking across the landscape of today’s resistance to all that dehumanizes us, where are the men speaking out? Not all men of course. Some do. However, from my perspective, the male numbers do not represent the men in this country. Given the noise that men can make given any sporting event, the silence is deafening.
Women, teens, and children notice. The men in this country have been raised to be the protectors, the warriors, the champions of good against evil. Our superheroes. In the field of battle against abuse – of women, children, People of Color, immigrants, gun violence, where is the men’s silent majority?
Note: A March survey (2017) of phone calls to Congressional offices found an even more striking gender gap, with women constituting 86% of those making calls.
Why the silence?
It’s something else, deeper, more ingrained, more about culture and self-definition. Something so difficult to verbalize that it remains unspoken and silences men.
Fear of economic instability?
First and foremost, the silence may be borne out of economics. Men are raised to prepare for taking care of their family, finding a job, making money, and bringing home their paycheck. Nothing is more important than that. In uncertain times, the company is sure to let everyone know that if quotas aren’t met or times get tough, jobs are on the line. Fear of unemployment, job insecurity, and family obligations and indebtedness certainly color the choices men must make.
It is interesting to note that the current corporate and governmental greed have done more than their share to create this work environment of fear. Together, they have engineered the death of most unions which represented the workers, established a reasonable level of job security, and opposed the enslavement of workers by longer hours and less pay. As always, the people pay the price.
Conditioned to be a “team player?”
Another reason for the silence may be the “team player” ethic. Everyone plays for the good of the man team — all for one and one for all. No one stands out, everyone conforms to the culture because to step out may cause alienation, derision, banishment, violence, and laughter. The man-pack tolerates no oddballs. The result is that men remain silent so as not to draw attention to themselves and be thought of as a regular guy by whom? The other regular guys? The “them” that makes us quake with fear?
The feared “them”
Over my lifetime, I had a lot of experience with “them.” The people I aspired to be like, the “winners,” the most popular, the best dressed, the smartest, the whatever-est. I admit to trying to meet the expectations of others, to be like them, to emulate all that they held dear, to be part of them and their circle. I know what it takes to try. Each time I almost succeeded, I found that I didn’t like them very much as I got closer to my goal. More important, I found that I had stopped being myself.
Conformity has a price
In the process of becoming “them” I had to change me. Until one day, I had an epiphany. If I was to be my authentic self, I couldn’t try to be, didn’t have to be, should just stop trying to be anything but myself. At that moment, I was free.
Breaking cultural norms
The men who remain silent can’t do that. The consequence of taking a step away from the culture that has always comforted men is horrific. They may be off-hand comments or out-right negativity. It may mean the end of standing invitations to lunch or drinks after work. If men fail to follow, they’ll be left off the memo for a meeting, or an event, or dinner party at the club. Worse, their career path might be dead-ended.
Outside the comfort zone
I know all about that. When my husband died, I was no longer a couple, defined by him, accepted by coupledom. I became an instant outsider. Without a ticket back in, I had to find my own way, figure out my own future, and redefine who I was. It did not happen overnight. I faced an uncertain journey, with unwritten rules, in a new life.
Surviving the land of them
With each new difficult situation, I told myself, nothing could hurt as much as the loss of my husband. If I got through that, I can get through anything. I’ve been hurt, down, used, lied to, and even abused. After each difficult time, I walked away and into a better situation. I found the light and persisted. Each time it was easier to bounce back. Each roadblock sent me down a different path. Each challenge made me stronger.
Silence forces men to push their feelings deep down and out of mind. Silence keeps men from fully realizing their potential as human beings, lovers, husbands, and fathers. Silence begs the question of personal authenticity and teaches men to forego that which makes each man unique and attractive and whole. Silence always stands between a man and his relationships. Always.
From the Joyful Heart Foundation, “Men’s silence is as much a part of the problem as the abuse itself. Use your influence and platform to speak out about these issues. Hold your leaders, institutions, and systems accountable. Let your voice be heard that you support survivors and take these issues seriously — #IWILLSPEAKUP.”
Breaking the silence is terrifying the first time. And, there could be consequences. And, it could be hard. Until you realize you are now the you you’re supposed to be. You can feel your emotions and allow, more to the point, encourage your son and daughter to be emotional… and logical, smart, defiant, clever, artistic, empathetic, supportive, nurturing, and caring.
Once you’ve found your voice, you can speak out stop the abuse. Whether it’s the mass/mass school shootings march, of the Women’s March, or Black Lives Matter march, you will make a difference. When you support human rights, ensure human dignity, you help make changes for a healthy diverse community, state, country, and world.
You are not alone
Speak up, speak out, and look around — you’ll see men. Men from all backgrounds, cultures, and interests, standing with you. Men who are speaking out and lending their voice to a greater good. Standing with their partners and children. Men who believe abuse, in all forms, must end.
Men, who have faced their truth, fears, and soul, standing with other men who have made the same journey – found their authentic selves. Silent no more, standing together, men who speak out will help change the world.
THIS IS THE TIPPING POINT.
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