An Open Letter to Young Men Everywhere

Lori
Posted December 4, 2015 from Canada

Dear boys,

I know that you hear of violence against your friends, sisters, mothers, aunts and grandmothers in the media or in your community. I know that you see who is most often the perpetrator of the violence: men. Maybe you see your friends, brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers in the faces of these men. I’m sure it is difficult to understand why this is happening.

Have you ever been told that it is okay to hit a girl? That she deserves physical punishment for something she has done? Have you seen this punishment being inflicted? How did it make you feel?

Inflicting violence on your friends, sisters, mothers, aunts or grandmothers is wrong. For those who perpetuate this behaviour in the name of culture or religion, is misinterpreting. How can we make the world a better place if half of the population is thought of as less than the other half?

Do you wonder how things can change? The good news is that you can be part of the solution. In fact, you are needed to be part of the solution. It starts with questioning this type of behaviour and the mindset that allows it to occur. Think about the females you know in your life: are they intelligent? resourceful? creative? What if they were given equal opportunities to their male counterparts? Imagine how much more they would blossom!

You must also look within, which is probably the most difficult part. Have you been told that you need to be the hero? The provider? The one who “stays strong” by not crying? That you need to “be a man”? Contrary to this type of thinking, “being a man” is not about physical strength, control over women, power over others or not being emotional.

“Being a man” means working with others, male and female, in order to work towards common goals. It means becoming the ally of women and noticing their equality and rights. True strength lies not in the violence you can inflict but the amount of good you can do, the resilience you find in the face of adversity, and the listening skills you develop in order to empathize with others.

That is true strength.

In your relations to girls, true strength means walking side by side, encouraging new ideas to bloom, supporting each other when life becomes challenging, and working together to make sure that everyone reaches their potential.

There is enough of whatever you seek to go around; do not think that by including girls in the conversation that you will lose something. In fact, you will gain more than you can imagine. Just try it and see what happens. Do not let beliefs that limit girls’ voices be a part of these conversations. They do not belong there. They do not belong anywhere.

Making these shifts in your beliefs might be difficult because they are ingrained and habituated, but just as they were learned by you over the years, they can be unlearned by you as well. They must be.

That is what it truly means to be a man.

Voices Against Gender-Based Violence

Comments 13

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Bernadette Muyomi
Dec 05, 2015
Dec 05, 2015

Something particular came to my mind when I read you letter - That it is time the issue of violence against women is introduced in school curriculae from the eariest conscious age possible so that our boys can enshrine it in their minds as they grow up.

Lori
Dec 06, 2015
Dec 06, 2015

Yes! That is a great idea. We have to start talking about this more and it will take both females AND males to step up and join the conversation. Education is a great way to get the discussions started at a younge age.

Leslie Stoupas
Dec 10, 2015
Dec 10, 2015

Dear Lori,

This is a wonderful letter for young men, and indeed, such learning must start at an early age. You do a very good job of showing how equality for girls and women also means equality for boys and men in the way they can show up in the world as full-bodied, emotional and strong individuals. I wonder where else you could send this letter to broaden its impact? it is definitely worth sharing with an even larger audience! Leslie

Lori
Dec 11, 2015
Dec 11, 2015

Thank you for your feedback, Leslie! I hadn't thought about sharing it to a wider audience. Let me think about that... :-D 

champagne
Dec 12, 2015
Dec 12, 2015

Hi Lori,

Love reading your article.How I wish that all men in the world can read this,especially men from country where have the highest rate of violence against women.And hope all father can read this,so that they can teach their children especially their son to have this kind of thought.

God bless you!

Regards,

Champagne

Lori
Dec 14, 2015
Dec 14, 2015

Thank you for responding, Champagne. I really appreciate your contribution!

Jewels5484
Dec 15, 2015
Dec 15, 2015

Dear Lori,

Thank you for writing this open letter. You made so many important points about how we as a society must raise young boys to respect their female peers. I always appreciate it when men are welcomed to the conversation about how to create equality. Teaching boys to “be a man” only causes them to reject anything that is deemed to be feminine in themselves. I believe an important part of achieving equality within society starts from having the courage to allow ourselves to be who we are rather than who we feel we have to be.

Keep up the great work! 

~Julie

Lori
Dec 21, 2015
Dec 21, 2015

I absolutely agree – thank you for your comments, Julie!

Erena Bayessa
Dec 23, 2015
Dec 23, 2015

Dear Lori,

Thank you so much for that great message of quest equality and respect  for all in societies. I appreciate your sincerity and moderateness in extending these message.

Erena

 

Lori
Dec 27, 2015
Dec 27, 2015

Thank you so much for reading my letter, Bayessa, and for responding. I truly appreciate your comments.

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 04, 2016
Jan 04, 2016

Dear Lori,

You describe so well how boys can be part of and benefit personally from change coming about. Imagine if every male teacher, every male coach, every male community worker would use this, read this aloud everywhere. So much can be done by all the men who are glad to be allies. It is a beautiful invitation with lots of good information on how to begin discussions.

Tam

Lori
Jan 05, 2016
Jan 05, 2016

Thank you so much for your feedback, Tam. I am currently working on a longer version of this letter and will post details to it once it is live on my blog. I strongly believe that women's issues are not "women-only" issues: we need everyone to be involved if we are to ever achieve equality.

James Ouma
Mar 07, 2017
Mar 07, 2017

Lori,

I feel compelled to write a reply in response to this!