There's a great deal that one can say about the gendered dynamics and implications of the horrid act of violence that a man perpetrated against U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords yesterday. But right now it seems to me more appropriate just to take a moment to breathe, to hug our loved ones, and send our thoughts and prayers to all those directly impacted by this horrible event.
I'll be back next week with more thoughts about how we can continue to work to end men's violence against women.
For the past few years there has been a lot of handwringing and chest beating about the supposed “boy crisis” in education. The argument goes something like this: “We have been paying far too much attention to girls. And that hurts boys.” (Evidence that the “boy crisis” is actually an antifeminist myth can be found here: http://www.aauw.org/learn/research/upload/whereGirlsAre.pdf).
With the New Year almost upon us, I thought it might be a good time to consider some resolutions that we straight guys can make in order to ensure a more just world for women, and in the process come closer to fully embracing our own humanity as well. (Some of these might apply to men who don’t identify as heterosexual, but being a straight guy, it’s the only population I feel competent to make these suggestions for...) So, here goes:
As straight men, I suggest that we make the following resolutions:
The other day as I rushed to catch an elevator, I caught the eye of the sole occupant of the car – a woman who was already inside waiting for the doors to close. She gave me what I have come to think of as “the elevator look.” It is a look that seems to say: “Please don’t get in this elevator with me. I don’t want to be alone in here with you.” It’s similar to a look I see from some women when I ride the bus – “the please sit somewhere else look.” It says: “Please don’t sit next to me.
Recently I heard an interview on a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio program with one of the cast members of the travelling stage show “Puppetry of the Penis.” This is a show that involves naked men who take to the stage in order to do what they call “genital origami.” Working in the nude, they use the penis and scrotum to “perform” numerous shapes, include “the hamburger,” “the wrist watch,” “the snail,” and the “swollen thumb.” I must admit that I have not had a terribly strong desire to go see the
Experiencing violence in a relationship is a terrible thing. And sometimes the violence begins when the relationship ends – when you try to break up. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been the recipient of more violence from women than I have ever committed toward them. But as I look back at an especially stressful time in my life, I realize that even when I was the victim of partner violence, I was still extremely lucky that my pursuer was a woman and that I was a man.
The other day I was giving a talk about some of the benefits and challenges of working with men. I asked the group what helpful qualities men might bring to a workshop or training, and about what behaviours men might bring with them that could be problematic. My intention was to discuss the notion that men are gendered beings, and how we can best work with men whose words and actions might be endorsing some of the traditional messages about what it is that makes a man.
When I talk about men’s violence against women, an immediate response I often get from people is: But women do it too!
And they are right. Women can and do act violently. We men certainly have no monopoly when it comes to mistreating others. And if we stop for a moment to think about it, most of us can probably think of a man we know who was (or is currently being) mistreated by a woman.
“If a gay guy ever came on to me, I’d punch him in the face!” (On why straight men doth protest too much.)
Bullying, harassment, and other forms of violence toward gay men are an all too frequent and tragic reality in today’s society. These behaviours are a cultural hangover from our intolerant and bigoted past. Hopefully we will soon recover from this abusive history, and rid ourselves of these toxic acts.
Just as recovering from an alcohol-induced hangover can be aided by doing certain things to take care of ourselves physically, healing from this painful cultural hangover will also be greatly accelerated if we just take a moment to actively attend to it as well.
No good deed goes unpunished: When being honest about the rate of sexual assault in your community makes you look bad.
Mark Twain liked to say that there were three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.