What I found was that to say I love men is precious, yet to let myself be vulnerable enough to sit in the dirt with my brothers is such a cracking open of my identity and the words I held onto. Even after years of looking, I still have to face the residuals in me of the worldview that has become so commonplace it has become a global blindspot on men and boys.
For instance, going to share a bit raw, #bringbackourgirls never once mentioned nor lamented the boys had been immediately brutally murdered. Why were they killed right away? This is the time old story of how the lives of males have been disposable since the beginning of humanity and the lives of women more valued. These criminals were also known to not go near the female dorms at all or tell the girls to go home and get married when they grew up while the boys were slaughtered like animals shot as they ran in terror.
The life of a boy was shown unable to be a strong bargaining chip which also shows our conversation as a whole as a society. It wasn’t just the criminals who killed those boys, I was made aware it was our lack of listening to the global reality of the violence enacted onto men. It was our lack of listening to the value of the life of males.
To ask men as a whole to say yes they are responsible for my personal abuse because they are male does not work as it is not true and also asks men to erase their pain and the pain of boys and men globally. It makes the distinction between man and criminal- which is not a gendered reality- imperative. Men are not criminals for being born male and so are not responsible for the actions of criminals because they happen to share their gender.
Just as I as a woman am not responsible for the actions of criminals because they happen to be women. We do not blame women for female criminals- actually as a society we are so sick in this conversation we even blame men for female criminals-we are clear in the distinction between woman and criminal. The detriment is we lack the clear distinction between man and criminal and this is literally killing men. I didn’t realize I didn’t have that distinction until I recognized it. It was a massive blindspot alleviated that forever changed my worldview and life.
I would assert there is a lacking of loving women until we see women as powerful and capable of action and a loving of men lacking until we see men the vulnerability and suffering of men. I’m not saying that from a make wrong but rather my personal experience.
To value men is to listen. To value myself and my voice is to listen as speaking is not complete without listening.
What I found was my ‘I love men’ statement and feeling was a beginning, yet for me personally- speaking for myself- I had only just began to peek through the looking glass.
And I found that nothing is as it seems.
Something interesting happened as I let myself take my voice for a spin, as I started to share my pain that I had experienced, something wild happened. I started to gently, tenderly, release myself from the fears I carried in regards to masculinity and men. Voice is vital.
I noticed as I spoke as I let myself explore my voice even though it didn’t meet what I thought was perfect, when I was met with the voice of men which had once intimidated me, which I had associated with deep pain and wounds and violations on my body, I heard something I did not expect, pain.
I saw in the eyes of men the same fear I had. I saw the scars on their bodies from women who had cut them, in a society where that was seen as funny. I saw the trauma reactions as their tears fell on my shoulders from pain of the abuse they endured that was not legally considered worthy of respite or safety. I saw men sitting right in the soil with me, right in the mud crying out in agony. I saw him eye to eye. A pain I had thought I had seen before but had no idea how deep it ran until I started to explore my voice and hear the voice of men right by my side.
I had placed men on a broken pedestal from my pain. They were bigger than life, gods that had all of the power in my perception. Because when I was victimized that was what I felt. I felt powerless. As I gave myself permission for my voice I gave myself permission to recognize the voice of men. To listen and ask questions to men. I saw my fellow human being not on the broken pedestal but feet to feet with me. Nose to nose. Our tears filling the same stream. I was so shocked.
All I thought I knew, had been ripped from under me. I hadn’t realized just how much men suffered by my side. Facing rape, abuse, silently like I had for so long. I didn’t realize just how scared they were to try their voice out just like me. Afraid to be met with hell just like my fears. I didn’t realize I had dehumanized men-speaking for myself- and in this saw them as not having pain in ways I’ve known. I had to be gentle, super super super gentle with myself as I faced my fears. As I faced myself.
What I found was this massive weight lifted, major fear moved in a way that felt like actually physically lifting off of me when as I spoke, I listened. In ways I didn’t know was possible. My fear of masculine and association of masculine with harm started to fade. My body no longer reacted the same fear way around men. My body started to relax as I was opening to really feel that I was not alone that men, my brothers, were right there with me in reaching for their voices to be heard in asking for their hearts to be seen. I cannot tell you the relief I felt. The freedom.
It started with me taking my very unperfect human voice and trying. No human is perfect I had to finally concede to this fact and not wait to be perfect to speak.
It is a mighty, powerful and confronting journey- The journey of voice. I know the journey of my voice I thought was just the journey of my voice. I found it was the journey of finding my voice and I was introduced to the vulnerable voice of men. I found my fellow human beings who I had hidden in plane sight without even knowing it. Pain, fear, anger, joy, all there being experienced with my brothers. Men right here in life with me. Our voices resounding together.
It sounds counterintuitive and in the journey of finding voice and being heard, which I did and I was, I found a new listening of myself, of men and of life. I had no idea how deeply connected finding my voice was to healing my relationship with masculinity, maleness and men. Whereas before I used to feel anxious around men, I found myself looking at the men on the train and my whole body relaxing and feeling safe because men were there.
I had been saying I loved men, and I did, yet I had no idea that to live it takes such a deep listening that confronted everything I thought I knew.
Your masculinity is art. Your masculinity is life. Your masculinity is love. Masculinity, the essence of man, maleness. In masculinity also is the essence of protector which has been taken advantage of and objectified for so long. Protector nurtures, there is deep tenderness necessary to protect. Masculinity is nurturing tenderness deeply rooted. The history of man as violence is not the full story, as history shows and present day shows the deep love of man. Since the first man existed men have protected women, from nature’s violent tempers and beasts, even taming them to walk by our side.
The love of man is in the homes we reside in, the meat we eat, the farms we are nurtured by, the sewers that keep our cities clean, the oil rigs that dangerously run for us to use this very technology. The love of man is in the coal mines where men are working 13 hours a day their lungs being covered in black, their bodies dusted and painted with dominating coal thick and difficult to wipe off. The love of man is in the consistent desire to see women happy and safe throughout time. When we conflate the history of male criminals with maleness we are wrong. For men are NOT criminal for being born male. And men have fought criminals and established many kinds of order to keep women safe even at their own expense.
This history of man is laden with the sacrifice of man and for this to not be remembered I find to be a massive mistake. Men throughout history their lives were treated as indifferent, a man dying not a tragedy, a woman dying yes. To forget this is to not be connected with reality.
YES your masculinity is ART and it should NOT be taken for granted nor taken advantage of by anyone who believes the deep lie that maleness equates to criminality or by anyone at all. To equate maleness with criminality is a grotesque farce and a cowards way to avoid self.
Inspired by RO.
My latest video for Loving & Celebrating Men Monday’s on my #YouTube show ‘Celebrating The Love of Being’:
In today’s video on my YouTube Show Celebrating The Love of Being, titled ‘The Unconsciousness of “I love men, as long as they…”‘ [See video below ] I briefly touch on the bravado of self avoidance. Avoiding self responsibility is not ’empowerment’ but rather the bravado of not being responsible. This is a conversation that is present across the gender line and in this conversation I will speak about the unconscious bravado aimed at men.
Unfortunately, I am seeing under the guise of ‘female empowerment’ the bravado of avoiding self responsibility in relating with and having conversations about men and self. It is not ‘female empowerment’ to not be responsible for my listening of men and respecting a man’s ‘No’. For I must be responsible for listening to my own needs. And if I recognize my needs are important, how could I shame men for sharing their needs are important?
It is not ‘female empowerment’ to use defensive bravado as a way to hide from the fact that I am not listening to a man’s voice and am in fact shaming men for speaking up about their needs. This experience is not only under the precise conversation of ‘female empowerment’ it is also in any avenue where bravado can be confused as a woman using her voice ‘powerfully’ when in fact shaming of men is happening.
The bravado that is the basis of shaming men and the conversations of denigration aimed at men is in fact self avoidance. It can be uncomfortable to listen and look when a man says, ‘No’ to how they are being approached, being represented, objectified, demanded of and manipulated. I recognize that often this can be unconscious these actions aimed at men and yet, it is up to me to look and listen when a man points them out to me. I understand that facing my unconsciousness with men and with anyone is very uncomfortable.
However, in a society that is very quick to dismiss the unconsciousness and denigrating conversations and actions aimed towards men while also confusing and conflating this abuse of men as ‘female empowerment’ or ‘a strong woman’ I must absolutely be vigilant lest I allow myself to excuse my unconsciousness towards men. In a society where my self avoidance bravado of shutting down my listening down towards men is celebrated by a sleeping society, it is my responsibility to keep checking my own awareness of this. In this society it is easy to get swept away in the drunken acceptance of praise for being reckless and harmful towards men, I did before in my own unconsciousness. And this is why it takes hard work to look and question this self avoidance bravado cloaked as ‘female empowerment’ or it’s ‘a strong woman’ who speaks abusively towards men or shuts down a man’s voice. That is not ’empowerment’ that is inferiority parading about pretending ‘superiority’. I am very clear I am inferior to no one and that is why I choose to not to pretend I am superior either. There are actual powerful, vital and even beautiful conversations being had that support women in society and this bravado is not a part of this. Anything that is actually based on being hurtful and dismissive towards men is a masquerade of the real conversations that are important for women. Shaming men is not ‘female empowerment’. I choose to not entertain that myth.
To me there is nothing ‘strong’ about shutting down the voice of another. Such a desire to me is Fear baffled by the confrontation of the call to self responsibility. What is missed, is self responsibility is another way to recognize myself as a powerful being. Not powerful in the sense of domination as that is not power, powerful in a sense of recognizing the beauty of my being and in this recognizing the beauty of the being before me and that we are both important, not just me.