Women and Emerging Futures

The next wave of my own evolution lies in exploring the potential of women to profoundly shape our world. Not only if women can but if women will...do what is required to make the difference. This demands redefining our notions of 'leadership' and reclaiming meaningful expression for women. To progress beyond historical notions of evolution through incremental change, we must redefine what it is to be human - and women are the key.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Where are the men?

I think I’m going to give up listening to talk radio. Not only is it hard to hum along, it leaves me wondering…..what the hell are we doing?????

Today, my little rant is courtesy of the CBC and today’s program on the sale of human beings. Particularly women and children are being ‘trafficked’ for the sex trade – and Canada has a less-than-stellar record in doing anything about it

However, I digress, because what really caught my attention was the part about women and children being sold for the ‘sex’ trade. I don’t know about you, but when people are being ‘sold’ into the ‘industry’, that’s not the sex trade – that’s the rape trade.

Women and children forced into sexual activity against their will is not sex, its rape. And it’s not about sexual gratification, or sexual pleasure, it’s about power and control. It’s about ownership. It’s about slavery. And I believe it’s about the consumers of this ‘service’ trying to make themselves feel better about their own dead souls by sucking the life out of what we know is innocence in the midst of decay.

And so, given that the vast majority of consumers of this particular service just happen to be men, I find myself wondering: where are the OTHER men???? Where are the men who are outraged by this behaviour of men? Why can we not hear the sounds of the men who will not/do not stand idly by while such activity is taking place?

I’m not talking about men needing to carry placards deriding this obscene activity (although that too, would at least be a sign of life!). I’m talking about the average, every-day guy (our fathers and brothers and spouses and sons; the men who are our colleagues at work and our clients; the men who build our houses and schools and churches) who seem to be oblivious to the horrifying and terrifying behaviours of ‘their kind’ – and seem to pretend that it’s not there.

Like those men who don’t find rape jokes funny but chuckle anyway just so that they don’t stand out. Or those men who don’t find them funny and don’t laugh, yet also don’t speak up and express their differing view – perhaps something as profound and complex as: I see no humour in that.

I’m talking about creating a result that produces a culture – in our lifetime – where the disdain of men toward other men on ‘manhood’ or ‘manliness’ becomes a far more powerful force in shaping culture than any legislation could ever be. A culture where it is no longer the job of women to rage against men for such things, but for men to shape themselves differently because they choose to do so.

Like child abuse is not the problem of the child, it’s the problem of the (usually) adult, so this trafficking is not the problem of the women and children being assaulted – it’s a problem of the men who feed off it to satiate themselves. And no matter how many times they feed, it will never gratify the hunger inside themselves to feel alive and connected. It will never be enough for them to feel good about who they are and the lives they have created for themselves.

Women and children bear the brunt of the brutality of some few men. And they are few, compared to the vast and silent majority of men who do not agree, do not engage and – unfortunately – do not denounce the behaviours of ‘their own kind’. As long as honourable men look away or remain silent, women and children will continue to be raped, beaten, tortured, humiliated, denigrated and dehumanized. And we don’t need to look to foreign countries and ‘exotic’ cultures; we need only be willing to look next door…or sometimes, our own homes. We need only look only into the reflection of our eyes in the mirror and wonder how what we’re NOT doing is contributing to it all.

I continue to know that what is required is not a shift at the level of environment/behaviour but one that occurs at the level of Identity….a shift that redefines what it is to be ‘manly’. I am reminded again of that recent story about the apes (see earlier post); of the eradication of aggression in one generation when the adult males were killed off by a virus and the young males were raised by the remaining females in the community. Aggression disappeared. What this tells my simple mind is that ‘manly’ aggression is a learned behaviour…an acquired ‘skill’, if you will…handed down from one generation of men to the next; taught from father to son, and on into the next generations. When and how does it stop?

I know…I know…it’s not nice to say these things. It’s also not politically correct or cautious to say such things. After all, this is a huge problem and one that has been around for centuries. So call me an optimist! And maybe my optimism lies in my experience in working with men over the last 15 years. I can’t think of a single one who would not be filled with shame, quickly followed by a growing sense of anger, at these behaviours of men. What I see is missing is the willingness and ability to believe that they…each individual, single male…can make any difference. And, a belief that in doing so, they themselves will not be harmed by other men.

It may well be that the call to women to lead and to engage with men differently will include being willing to hold up a mirror for them, to themselves. It may require that we become willing not to complain and to rage against but to be willing to define what’s there so that it may be seen through different eyes. Perhaps if men (a generalization) were to become willing to say out loud what they already know deep inside themselves; if they were to become willing to stop silencing themselves at the risk of standing out, or being different, or being called the derisive names and/or possibly assaulted by their own, maybe. just maybe…it would eventually become NOT manly to behave in these very ways. I figure if the apes can do it in one generation, why can’t we?

One last thought: are you ever curious about where the men come from who go to ‘exotic’ places like Thailand, Costa Rica and other places to rape the children there? I sometimes wonder what their wives and children are up to while they’re gone….

Breathing is good....


At 11/03/2006 04:44:00 p.m., Blogger ray said...

Yes, indeed, where are the "other" men? And where do I show up in these conversations?
I have been moved and shaken, and furious as of late, with the many actions of those who I will hesitantly call my worldly "brethren", often questionning whether I want to be associated with that half of the gender option. Never-the-less, I cannot deny that part of me, that part that colors every aspect of who and how I am in my world. The fact that i am "tainted" by my very direct association with the male gender does not mean I must let myself be defined by "it". That is, I am mindful now that although my spirit inhabits a male body, and that most of my beliefs/values/attitudes have been shaped and influenced by the culture of maleness in this world, I have choices now about what that means to me, and how I express that in my world on a daily basis.
As much as I promise myself that I will stop listening to radio, tv, or paying attention to other media so as to not be "affected" by the reported events brought upon the world by "men of power", I cannot bring myself to pull away and leave it alone. I find myself questionning how we men are colluding with one another to keep the status quo. I often wonder how it is that we would allow the sacrifice of our mothers, sisters, and daughters lives at the hands of our "brothers" continue to go unchecked except by those few in positions of civic authority to "deal" with the issue once it has occured. How do we create something different? Do we know we want something different? I'm not sure that so many hours of golf, hockey, and fishing will ever get us there!?
Is there any need for the modern day "warrior"? The one who needs war and conflict to have a purpose to live? Or, that hunter/gatherer who finds an identity only when he can kill or find something to eat to bring to others? Is there any need for ones who risk their lives or that of others, playing on the edge of life & death situations just to feel "alive"?
I don't know, I can't say, but I know that if we are left to defining who we are as men to the "few basic roles" that are as old as homo-erectus, we (the world)certainly are doomed to pain, suffering, and devastation! Moreover, we are doomed to inflict the "resulting consequences of such an identity" on those whom we would bestowe our love and devotion, that is too often, simply put, vailed and disguised misogyny, in too many instances.
There is an urgent rumbling in me that I interpret as a call to stay awake, and to engage with fellow males in a "whole new way", inviting those men around me to consider something radical, something "evolutionary" that doesn't have to take millenia to achieve: that which I call "courage"!. I know that as much as I agree and disagree with my male brethren in various situations, that until I claim my truth, in all it's ugliness and beauty, or however I judge my particular thoughts and feelings about the thing being offered up for consideration at the time, that until I find the courage to admit that truth to myself, and then express it in the world with clarity of that unfolding moment, that I cannot be transformed nor help transform any other.
Ray Landry

At 11/09/2006 10:22:00 a.m., Blogger Louise LeBrun said...

This is my 3rd try! I wonder what this is all about???? I've written twice in response to your comment, and both times the text has been deleted. Hmmm...I wonder...

Yet, I persist! Perhaps three's the charm.

Here is the brief version: courage! It takes much courage to allow ourselves to be seen as different from the collective. For most of us, standing out has come to mean pain in some way.

Thank you, Ray, for being willing to be seen. My experience of men has been that most of them are different, and yet unwilling to be the one - be the first - to speak differently. In this place, you have become the first that offers a gateway to something else.

I will watch for you here.

One last thought: it may be that you will awaken - and be the call to awaken others.

Breathing is good.....


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