This article is based on the story of my interaction with one corporate man but the logic applies to men in general.
My upcoming book is called ‘Friends With Benefits’ which is based on sex education for adults focused on prevention against gender based violence. I have been initiating & negotiating sponsorship proposals for my book tour in Europe with different corporate organizations to this end. I want to share my experience with one specific organization.
I wouldn’t disclose their names due to obvious reasons but they are based in London and have a multi million dollar annual turnover. I initiated them with a sponsor brokership proposal for the tour.
Their top manager responded back saying that they like the project but would recommend sending proposals to corporates that sell women’s products & services. Their reasoning simply was because gender based violence is a women’s issue, only women take interest in fighting agaisnt this issue and no gender neutral orgnisation such as banks would be interested to sponsor this proposal.
I wrote back to him explaining the project further in detail which was why men needed to jojin this campaign more than ever and he never responded back!
I can understand why he felt that it would be sensible for a corporate organisation dealing only in women’s products to be interested in this project. It is not his fault entirely, its the whole structure of the society that we live in.
This made me feel that men don’t even want to be associated with gender based violence prevention in anyway, and this was not the first time I felt it.
For years, feminist crowd, mainly women have been fighting for women’s rights and protecting women and children from the misogynistic blind attitude of society. This generation fortunately has some great men that are franticaly advocating gender equality and gender based violence prevention.
Tony Porter, Jackson Katz, Ran Gavrieli and Will Muir just to name a few. For instance, Will Muir brilliantly puts it when he says that “if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem”. Tony Porter explains how male culture and gender box trap men in orthodox gender biased mentalities and govern their entire lives. Ran talks about the impact of pornography on making men violent and creating demand for human trafficking. Jackson Katz is furious about the way the society puts women in spotlight while they are not the ones perpetrating these crimes.
Another awesome guy is Carlos Andres Gomez whose poem ‘Hermano’ I am sure you must have seen across social media platforms. His message is on positive masculinity, mainly on violence against both genders. Jeff Perera advocates messages on gender limitations and how violence in our communities, schools and lives in general have changed our worlds drastically.
These are few examples of those men who don’t blame women for the epidemic of gender based violence and who are not busy finding out what excuse next to blame women. But what about the rest? Why do men react the way this manager did? Why do they think it is only women’s responsibility to fight gender based violence?
Here are a few reasons why-
1- General philosophy
Growing up, we all develop a philosophy about the other gender. For instance- ‘all men are perverts’. Yes, the majority of gender based violence perpetrators are men but it does NOT mean all men are perverts. As a woman, I can testify I might have believed in that for a very long time too when I considered the opposite gender threatening.
Most women have developed this attitude for obvious reasons. While jumping on an elevator late at night, we shiver if there is just one guy inside and not many people around. We shudder walking back home alone through a dark neighbourhood. We fear in public spaces in the middle of a thousand people because in that crowd we do not know when some pervert would attempt an assault and walk away smiling.
This fear lead us to see all men as in one category and we develop a ‘philosophy’ about them. This seems just a measure of normal precaution in the women’s world but how does it impact men? Specifically those men who are NOT perverts? Jacob Anderson-Minshall describes it as being cut off from half the humanity or rather in his own words ” Can being viewed as a predator turn you into one?”
Sadly, trust between men and women in general has been shattered due to the crimes of few. This is one reason why I decided to write ‘Friends With Benefits’ because I see that men and women need to trust each other again. Be friends again. See each other as more than sexual partners. Now, Trust is not something I can teach or built at the push of a button. Rather we can educate and empower men and women how to earn the trust of one another.
We desperately need a society where all men in general are not categorised as threats or predators. This is the first step towards inviting men to join the dialogue on gender based violence prevention. I can empathize with men on this that it is normal to feel judged, isolated and blamed when you are part of a community and the other community is furious about the acts of few.
Isn’t this similar to the issue of Islamophobia? Some criminals go out and do their nasty while the entire Muslim community is hated and feared.
Once men feel that this is not about women against men rather humans against crime, it certainly would make them feel ‘we are on the same team buddy’!
I read the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and did believe in that ideology for more than half my life. According to the bestseller status of the brand, I reckon our entire generation believes and follows this ideology. While there is some merit to understanding the biology behind the construction of male and female anatomy, I now realise the fatal influence of this doctrine on our behaviour towards the opposite gender.
Need examples? How about- when women raise an issue at home or in public, they get belittled by men saying “she is just hormonal” or “all women create drama”. Women’s emotions are disregarded by men as if they don’t want to and they don’t need to get into it. As if it is not their concern.
Think about this for a moment… I am sure you must have seen at least one alien movie, thanks to sci-fi Hollywood. What is the first word that comes to mind when you picture that movie?
Aliens are people from different planets and by design are supposed to fight until one species survive and get hold of all the resources. Books like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus begin by creating that alien mindset. Women are from a different planet, they are people we need to read books to understand? Are you kidding me? Who needs to take a course just to have a life partner? This seems like a lot of work to do, it makes relationships like homework.
What happened to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs?
Don’t men and women have similar wants and desires?
Don’t they have common goals?
Don’t they need the same things out of life- love, happiness and peace?
By changing the focus from our differences to our similarities, don’t you think it would be easier to co exist?
And if we truly need to focus on the differences, then why should those differences be based on gender? I have never seen two women alike. Each individual human being is different and diversity of an individual must be respected.
3- Focus on fixing women
I have mentioned this above but would like to reiterate this point. Type ‘rape or abuse’ helpline on Google and you will find thousands of women’s organizations, crisis centres etc offering support. This is great but why only women? Women’s crisis centres offer cures and therapies to victimized children and women… how about creating prevention centres so that the women don’t have to go through the crisis in the first place?
Thanks to the men I mentioned above and many more that are working towards the prevention by putting men under the spotlight of gender based violence and training men to unlearn the authorotative rules of masculinity taught by societies. But we need more men to join, a lot more.
The above are the reasons why men in general do not feel obligated to join the conversation on gender based violence and why they should be encouraged to do so.
If this message relates to you at any level as a man and if you have felt this isolation or felt the guilt burden of entire ‘men’ community, please share your story and spark a conversation.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, WHY FIGHT ALONE?