I only recently found out that gender abuse is the number one health issue for women, world-wide – greater than war, accidents and disease combined!
I found this shocking. And I’m sure that if the apparent need by so many men to cause harm was categorized as some kind of ‘epidemic’, there’d be urgent research to find an effective treatment which could be made freely available – including better mentoring and support services for perpetrators.
But that’s not the case (yet) – so until the severity of this worldwide ‘disease’ is recognized and more resources are allocated to ‘curing’ it, we as ‘Good Men’ must do whatever we can in our own lives to change this destructive and depressing reality.
Here are twelve commitments I’ve made to actions that I hope can contribute in some small way to ending male gender violence
– Do anything I can to stop any other man threatening, blocking, resisting, stereotyping, controlling or abusing women, or engaging in any kind of banter or humor that would suggest that this kind of behavior is ever acceptable; and trying to explain why it’s wrong..
– Learn to see through any marketing messages which try to convince me that I’m not ‘man enough’ and have any need to conform to aggressive and dominating male stereotypes;
– Be proud to be the man I am, in my own terms, and know that any kinds of bullying, aggression, and violence (especially against the vulnerable) are just admissions of fear and cowardliness.
– Forgive myself for having ever resorted to any kind of threatening or aggressive behavior in the past, and make a sincere commitment to never do that again.
– Stop being afraid of admitting it when I feel fear and doubt – and realize they are normal, healthy and universal emotions without which none of us can feel or be fully human.
– Understand and accept that if I feel depressed it’s probably a sign that some part of how I’m living needs changing – not a call to just “get better” and go back to my ineffective coping strategies.
– Realize that many men are in denial and need to admit that they need help; and try to give support to, and receive support from, other men when possible.
– Collaborate with women in any way I can to affirm their essential right to be free, self-determining, respected individuals.
– Understand that supporting women’s freedom and empowerment is a very masculine thing to do, and feel pride in being a man who is willing and able to do this.
– Gently mock out-dated and stifling stereotypes of male ‘strength’ and ‘power’ and see them for what they often are – more to do with cowardice than courage
– Reclaim my capacity to make passionate, tender, sensitive, empathic connected love with my partner.
– Where appropriate, be willing to take responsibility for a woman’s anger, and be strong enough to face it without becoming defensive and aggressive.
– Realize that porn is a drug sold for the sole purpose of manipulating me and taking my money, without any concern for the harm it is doing to my love life; so avoid it and encourage others to do the same.
Whatever I can do in solidarity with women and their fight for the basic rights of safety and fairness, will be also in my own interests as a man. There are no ‘losers’ in this process, in spite of what some in the ‘Men’s Rights’ movement seem to fear. Because when relationships are based on equality and respect, everybody gains. That’s surely a future worth working for.
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