My liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman

At TEDWomen, Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don’t “act like a man.” Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the “man box.”

This is such a powerful and speech by Tony Porter! So powerful that I needed to watch it again straight afterwards. To be fair I first heard about it on the NPR TED hour.

So many great parts but this sums it up and is exactly why I am a feminist… and its a perfect answer of why its feminism not equalist. or whatever...

I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men – that it’s OK to not be dominating – that it’s OK to have feelings and emotions – that it’s OK to promote equality – that it’s OK to have women who are just friends and that’s it – that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.

So profound a point and ever so elegant and simple!

I don’t quite know when it happened to me, but at a early age I could see and smell the macho hierarchy bullshit. It generally drove me a little nuts. I mean how dare people tell me I can’t have female friends who are not simply potentials. This honestly was said to me multiple times over my life. Either they are potentials or they are not worth investing time in! Seriously! This warped view for what? The dream of being alpha king kong of the jungle?

It might have been strengthen by the film 187 with Samuel L Jackson?

187 film
Your whole way of life is bullshit! Macho is bullshit!

Trevor Garfield: Your whole way of life is bullshit! Macho is bullshit!
Cesar: It’s all I got!

I could literally pull out many parts of the macho bullshit out of many pickup/selfhelp books for men. For example AMOG

AMOG
1. noun [alpha male of the group or alpha male other guy]: a  socially comfortable male who competes with a pickup artist for a woman or interferes with a pickup artist’s game.
2. verb: to remove a potential male competitor—through physical, verbal, or psychological tactics—from a group of women. Also: outalpha. Origin: Tyler Durden

Some key points of the macho bullshit…

  • Don’t cry or openly express emotions
  • Do not show weakness or fear
  • Demonstrate power control
  • Show aggression and dominance always (be the alpha)
  • Do not be “like a woman”
  • Do not be “like a gay man”
  • Make decisions, do not ask for help
  • Don’t ask questions?
  • View the oppose sex as property or objects

You can see this stuff play out in books like the game. Its something I have battled against many times, as I’ve seen too many good men around me hold themselves to similar rules, unknowingly buying into/clinging onto some type of old fashioned/myth of what makes a man?

I hate certain situations when I don’t have the energy to battle against this macho bullshit or manbox if you prefer? I feel like those Manchester couples at Salt and Paper in Eyespy, wanting to say something but not having the energy or enough fight in me to do so. I’ve taken a slightly more manipulative approach now, as that doesn’t put me directly into competition/conflict with their own view. It takes longer but I’ve seen glimmers of a break through.

Update

I had a chat over brunch in VividLounge with Chris, and he recommended via RosieDoctor nerd love. I did say it sounded like a blog I read called the rules revisited. The one which originally Valeska pointed me and I mentioned earlier  So I had a look and found on the front page a post titled How Toxic Masculinity Hurts Everyone.

Toxic masculinity is a narrow and repressive description of manhood, designating manhood as defined by violence, sex, status and aggression. It’s the cultural ideal of manliness, where strength is everything while emotions are a weakness; where sex and brutality are yardsticks by which men are measured, while supposedly “feminine” traits – which can range from emotional vulnerability to simply not being hypersexual – are the means by which your status as “man” can be taken away.

Sex, in particular, is an important part of “being a man”. Sexual conquests (and believe me, that word is chosen deliberately) are part of how men establish and reaffirm their manhood. The need to “get” sex is all-encompassing because the more of it you have, the higher “status” you have as a man.

I was actually going to post about the horrible rapist who got off (words used deliberatly) extrememly lightly mainly because of some messed up privilage. I watched the video of the news reader reading out the letter from the victim. I simply couldn’t help but shed some tears for such a tragic and nasty thing to happen to somebody/anybody!

But on the idea of how to stem the toxic masculinity I found this interesting when considering what I said earlier.

With all this in mind, we’re forced to ask just how we can start fixing men and repairing the damage done by toxic masculine ideals. And the answer is to speak up. The answer is to push back. The answer is to take responsibility. The answer is education.

We need more men to step up and be counted. We need more men to call out others for their shitty behavior, to refuse to let sexual assault be “get some action”, to intervene when we see harassment or assaults going down regardless of the gender of the victim.

I have been told… I need to push back more.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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