In light of ongoing war abuses, local assaults and murder, I would hope to see men take responsibility for systemic violence and sexual abuse in our communities, in our lifetime. However discriminating this sounds, the majority of people who control and kill women and children are men and, increasingly, young boys. And I am beginning to believe that no amount of women marching or educating, protesting or volunteering at shelters will have any impact whatsoever on the rates of violence unless men - both violent and non-violent alike - are willing to be accountable for their limited and lowly opinions of women, girls and feminist movements generally.
Let me be clear: I implicate all men in this letter because it seems superiority mind-sets permeate the development of masculine behavior, and because most men feel content, even rightful in telling women what to think or wear and what and how to do things. And this control, this framework of superiority has immediate consequences in the deteriorating livelihoods of people everywhere. I implicate all men because silence is an incredible accomplice; because verbal and physical superiority is part of the greater machine of patriarchy in our daily lives in which the intelligence, sensitivity, creativity and self worth of girls and women are subverted to support a violent construct of masculine thinking, being and identity. It exposes itself in language and action equally, and this is entirely unacceptable.
I knew Maggie Wigen only casually as a shy young woman who clerked at Rainbow Foods and loved hiking. I saw her as sensitive and artistic, with remarkable potential in her lifetime. But someone else saw her as a target, a victim, someone to subdue and destroy easily. Maggie's rape and killing represents the relentless oppression of women and girls for the purpose of gratifying an insatiable, destructive masculinity. And I ask, where is the outrage among men?
I write this letter because I think all men need to say and do immensely more to change violence in our communities. Because it is time that women and children are enriched by experiences with men instead of being abused by them. I write this letter because the development of boys to men needs to evolve into healthier, more respectful and honorable behaviors. And finally, I write this letter to urge families, schools and organizations to view the video Tough Guise, as a resource to review the conduct of masculinity and male power in enlightened and sensitive terms. A copy may soon be available at AWARE. Lastly, I extend my deepest sympathies to those families dealing with the realities of male abuse and violence daily.
Hornby Island, B.C.
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