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Today we #shinethelight on male violence against women.
Many will don purple shirts in their workplace to show women their support.
I’m sorry if I sound negative here, but wearing a certain colour never changed a damn thing.
You know what men can do to support women? Stop enabling toxic masculinity amongst their male peers—hold them accountable.
Women have been fighting for equal rights since 1960. It’s been over 60 years and here we are; domestic violence continues to rise, the family courts are failing women, and men are not held accountable for criminal behavior.
I’m taking a social justice class at Western and we often discuss gender based violence. There are no men in that class.
How will we combat abuse perpetuated by men, if men aren’t engaged in the solution?
I asked a cisgendered male recently what he thought men could do to stop toxic masculinity. And honestly, I was shocked by his answers:
1. Encourage men to express themselves when they are feeling emotions that they’ve been taught not to have. Banish sayings like, “Suck it up,” or “Don’t be a pussy,” and “Stop crying like a girl.” Normalize men expressing sadness, not just anger, and teach them how to express anger in a healthy manner—beginning in childhood. If someone can’t do so in a healthy manner as an adult, encourage them to get help, and support them like you would if they were dealing with any other health struggles.
2. When men hear a male friend make a derogatory comment or joke against a woman, they can call them out. If other men follow suit, admonish those friends, and cast them out of the social network or break room, they won’t talk like that anymore.
3. Normalize healthy masculinity. Do not give men a different level of praise than women for doing normal activities of daily living—like parenting, cooking, and cleaning, which were traditionally known as “women’s work.”
4. When a fight breaks out, brace yourselves. Cheering them on makes you part of the problem. If hockey players on the ice were penalized for their emotional outbursts the same way tennis players are—take away their right to play and fine them—fighting will stop.
5. Stop creating environments where men are the ones expected to have all of the answers, the power, control, and be the ultimate decision makers—whether that is in a workplace or in the home.
6. Come up with ways for men to enjoy each other’s company that does not involve alcohol.
7. Encourage male activities that are just for fun and not always competitive.
8. Remind men that if they wouldn’t say it or do it to their mother, they shouldn’t say it or do it to other women.
9. Prosecute men who abuse their partners in the same way you would prosecute a man who mentally, emotionally, or physically abuses a colleague, a stranger, or even their dog.
10. Believe survivors and don’t ever presume to say or think, “He would never,” because that is exactly how men continue to get away with it.
Yes, Lawd, yes! I concur.
If men can choose to start doing these things, please do.
We need good men who can go into spaces women cannot. We need male allies. We need men’s help.
We thank you for wearing purple on this one day, we do—but ultimately, changing one’s attire for the day is no solution for millions of women who hide purple bruises under their shirts 365 days a year!
#SHINETHELIGHT by #BEINGTHELIGHT