The Pitfalls of Believing Ourselves “Good Men”
Men who consider themselves “good men“ but who instantly default to a defensive posture when challenged by women should self reflect on why we’re so obsessed with being right instead of learning more. I mess up on Twitter or in an article. I get called out. I own it. Apologize. Learn. Tis human.
The simple fact is, as men, we can never fully comprehend the vast and nuanced ways women get silenced, spoken over, harassed, abused, assaulted. Too many times I’ve spoken up without understanding the tone, context, wider implications of the moment. This is where most of my learning takes place.
My blind spots also apply to race, sexual identity, gender non-binary folks, immigrants, other religions and so on. If these are not my lived experiences then I’m never going to completely understand, I can only attempt to.
Yes, it’s embarrassing to try and be supportive of a woman’s Tweet, statement or article, and then find out from women that we’ve just added to the problem. But too many times I’ve seen men flip to anger instantly in that moment. Those men have a LOT of personal work to do.
Some of mistakes I make?
1) Restating the same thing a woman said, in a long winded way thinking I’m helping. (A version of talking over.)
2) Implying I understand something a man can never actually understand
3) Engaging with a woman who is traumatized and JUST. NEEDS. TO. VENT.
I’m confident women can better list “good man” mistakes. I remain blind to many of them. But I’m learning how to de-center myself and be a witness to what women are trying to tell me. Translate that to what BIPOC, LGBTQI+ people, even what my own child is trying to tell me. The result? Real human connection.
We’re never done becoming “good men.” There is too much in the world daily dragging us back into dominance-based masculine behaviors. The best we can do is a daily practice, a mindfullness that centers connection and relationships over roles and status.
Learn to listen first, brothers. Prove we can. Foster trust. Be invited in. When we misstep in those spaces, admit it. Offer an apology. It’s not so hard. Exchange humility for our fear of ever being wrong. Take a breath. Grow.
It’s a beautiful world if we just stop trying to dominate every interaction.
Want to help a man you care about break out of our bullying man box culture and find real connection? Mark Greene is the author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men, Remaking Manhood and co-author with Dr. Saliha Bava of The Relational Book for Parenting. All of his books are available on Amazon.