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Writing Blog 2

Dear Men: I'm Sorry

Roderick Campbell

by Janne Robinson

Dear men,

I would like to apologize to you today.

I would like to apologize for all the times you have been rounded up in wide sweeping generalizations about harassment, sexual assault and rape.

I know so many men who are such magnificent human beings and who call out the men in their lives who cat call and step out of line—thank you, I see you.

I know you exist.

I know so many of you are respectful and sweet to the women in your lives.

So many of you can’t comprehend raising a fist or yelling about a woman’s ass as she walks down the street—so many of you are ashamed that some men do.

I know that in this huge wave of activism for gender equality and women’s rights, that many of you are raising your fists wanting to participate and being turned a cold shoulder.

I know a man who showed up at the International Go Topless Day march in Vancouver a few years ago in support of women’s right to be topless and was asked to leave.

I’m sorry that there are some women who won’t allow you to support them.

Perhaps they were scared by a man in the past and are too afraid to be supported now, by you—it doesn’t make it okay.

Your support is important and valuable and so damn appreciated—thank you for showing up.

I know that many men have been sexually assaulted, harassed, abused and raped and that we don’t shed as much light on this. We don’t talk about it as often.

I want to talk about it. I want you to talk about it too.

I know there are many men who don’t speak about their abuse because of the stereotypes we have built as a society around “masculinity”.

I am sorry that you were unable to seek support because you feel you must be a “strong” man.

Men don’t get beaten by their wives, men don’t get verbally and physically assaulted, if they do—how “manly” is that?

I’m sorry if you ever asked for support and shared your situation and another male peer told you to, “grow some balls and be a man.”

I am sorry if anyone didn’t take you seriously, shamed you or ridiculed you because there is a gender attached to your experience.

I am sorry you felt you had to abandon machismo and act submissively towards the abuse you suffered.

I want to tear down your need to feel “macho.”

I am sorry for all the men who have been called ‘gay’ by other men because they flat out refuse to shout sleezy terms.

Thank you for existing differently.

I want you to know that vulnerability is brave, courageous and strong.

I honor your sensitivity, your softness, and your feminine energy you possess.

I want you to be open about your emotions, to cry and be human around women and men in your life without social stigma.

I have men in my life who are in physically abusive relationships.

A friend of mine who is a male musician told me this week that he has had a woman grab his crotch several times while he was playing a show. He was angry and uncomfortable. No one in the audience stopped or said anything. She laughed thinking because she was attractive he would like it.

He didn’t.

If this was a man grabbing a woman playing on stage we would of looked in horror. He would of been beat up and kicked out.

Let’s not forget that men are also assaulted.

Let’s not forget that men are also sexually harassed.

Let’s not forget that although most cases of rape are by the hands of men that when prisons were accounted for in stats—more men had been raped than women.

In a 1997 report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 91 percent of rape victims are female and 9 percent are male. However, that when prison rapes are included in the statistics it has been reported that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “…more men are raped in the U.S. than women.”

In 2008, it was estimated 216,000 inmates were sexually assaulted while serving time… compared to 90,479 rape cases outside of prison.

I was told recently I don’t speak up enough about men. As an advocate of women’s rights this was an accurate assumption—much of my writing focuses on empowering women.

I wanted to write today to talk about the harassment and abuse that does happen and we don’t always hear about or notice in the same way.

Women rape.

Women beat their husbands.

Women cat call men.

Women harass and assault.

I want to remind the world that in this wave of feminism, which is so necessary and beautiful, and in our fight for gender equality—that both sides of gender stereotypes need to be liquidated.

We need to drop the pink isle and the blue isle and let our boys wear pink.

We need to let women pick up wrenches, and men too bake, sew, and cook.

But what we really, really need—is just the freedom for human beings to do what they love, regardless of what bits are between their legs.

Your son might like sewing, and he also might like mechanics—let him do both. Don’t razz him if he doesn’t want to be on the community league you played on as a boy—it might not be his piece of cake.

I want today for some light and support to be thrown at men, sisters I want you to raise your fist in support of the ones who also battle against gender equality and stereotypes.

They too, need support and a voice and protectors willing to take a bat.

I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to exist differently, aware, respectfully towards women in this world, and be put in stereotypes because you have a penis.

That’s as fair as women earning less money in a career, solely because they were born with a vagina.

I’m sorry if you have ever been sexually assaulted or raped as a man and had a peer say, “She did what? Oh that’s awesome, man! You’re a king.” When you really felt violated, abused and hurt.

I’m all for a world full of humans who are free to walk this earth free of harassment and assault.

I’m sorry if you aren’t always defended and stood up for, the same as woman.

There is no gender required in human rights.

Today I stand up for you.

Love,

An advocate of Human Rights.