I’ve been working on drafts (13 to be exact) of this for months because I’m not really sure where to begin – so I’m just going to start.
I’m a proud father and a husband to strong, independent, amazing women – women from whom I’ve learned amazing lessons about how to be a better man. My wife and daughter aren’t the only women in my life from whom I’ve gained insight into my place in this world as a man, and I’m thankful for the insight I’ve gained. I think back to who I was as a younger man and I’m thankful for the man I am now – and for all the people (predominantly women) who’ve helped me get to this place.
I’ve learned a lot along the way – and I’ve had my eyes opened to how utterly pervasive toxic masculinity has become in our society, from the toxic fans of some of our favorite superhero and science fiction movies to social media and television shows. We’re all inundated with examples of toxic masculinity, and when it’s pointed out there’s often ridiculous backlash from (mostly) men who feel threatened by the notion that they’re not the center of the universe and their manhood should not confer upon them the ability to act any way they choose without consequences. A perfect example of how men who feel threatened by the #metoo movement and what it represents can react when challenged can be found in the comment section of this short film from Gillette on YouTube.
Actor Terry Crews – himself a survivor of sexual abuse and toxic masculinity – gave testimony to Congress which is important in summing up what men need to do to hold each other accountability and to work towards putting an end to the vicious cycle of learned behaviors that creates such distorted, toxic, and incredibly pervasive ideas about what a man should be.
As a man who was raised to stay inside the “man box” of toxic masculinity I’m working to become the best version of what I think a man should be – someone who sees women as equals and partners and who sees women as being every bit as strong, capable, intelligent, and everything else that men can be. More importantly, I’m working to become the kind of man who isn’t afraid to hold other men – not to mention myself – accountable for toxic behavior towards women. Sometimes holding ourselves accountable is the most difficult part of all, because it’s the least comfortable, because it’s never easy to admit when you’re wrong or that you’re flawed. Accountability and growth are hard, but when it comes to toxic masculinity they’re absolutely critical if anything’s going to change.
And boy do things need to change…