At the conclusion of Women’s History Month I want to talk about men.
A digital exchange between a male friend and myself prompted some introspection on my part. A lengthy conversation today with my guy reminded me that somethings need to be said, out loud, with the same zeal as their 180 degree opposite.
I often write about women who are victimized or compromised. Often the culprit of that crime is a man. Not always, but it happens enough, and those like me who take a tough stand and speak out put the men under the microscope when it happens.
It magnifies the bad while ignoring the good.
If you happen to be one of those people who believe in the biblical creation story, woman would not exist without man – we come from his rib, we are a part of each other.
Overall, I find it is about humanity needing humanity, but let’s just roll with that we come from the rib thing for a moment….
If we come from that rib thing…the ability to celebrate man can exist in the same place as celebrating being a woman.
It can exist in the same place as attacking the actions of predators, and that I feel sometimes gets lost in the crusade.
My friend and I had an exchange when I politely requested he give women the space needed to share a difficult topic – sexual assault.
In this particular forum women on multiple occasions attempted to speak out on the devastation of the topic. In each of those instances, including this last attempt, men stepped into the discussion. As a survivor, as a human with a uterus, the temerity of men who insist on inserting themselves into this discussion, even when held in a public forum boils my blood.
There are times that we all need to sit the fuck down, shut the fuck up, and listen and learn. Yet, in those discussions the men refused. At times it was to say what about false accusations, in the last instance it was about explaining their support or the effort to change the dialogue, or to do both while regurgitating the same flawed logic that feeds rape culture.
I’ve yet to see the men – in that forum – opt to do it, and no matter the amount of protest on the part of the women they kept on rolling.
That is the background to the exchange with my friend who reminded me that without being the physical victim of sexual assault and rape, the men who love us suffer also. Their pain is just as real as ours. The damage is just as real as ours. The ability to navigate society after is the same as ours. While the wound are in different places, they hurt in a similar fashion.
It got me to thinking about this same topic while talking to my guy. The tears he fought back that morning were the mirror of the tears that were in my eyes. I could allow mine to fall – even though I chose to keep them restrained. It is socially acceptable to be a “girl” and be “emotional” and let my feelings of sadness and anger manifest in tears. He does not share that same luxury. Yet, this man like so many other men who I know can tell you that every woman he’s ever been intimate has a story to tell like my three.
And then I got to thinking about the way to strike the balance while remaining vigilant to altering the conversation.
I don’t know if I can, but I know that I can try.
Man is not my enemy. Men are good. Men are a part of the balance of life, and a part of our existence. They are not the boogey man. They are not all rapists, and predators, and evil.
I know personally, because even though the men in my history who were once supposed to love and protect me harmed me – brutally – there are also those who’ve loved me.
There are those who’ve loved me.
There are those who’ve protected me.
There are those who’ve taught me.
and there is my guy, who was delivered to me in the most unconventional of ways, to show me the most unconventional manifestation of what love looks like not just when directed at me.
It inspired me to investigate and feature an example of the goodness of man in my own unique way. That feature is upcoming. I want to do it justice.
In the meantime to the men who ask what about me? Understand that we hear you – women hear you that is – and some of us are willing to do something about it while we also do something for ourselves.