To the men of World Pulse and to gentle men everywhere. A short while ago I came across a very gentle young man in the park where I often walk. He was sitting and playing a percussion instrument I had never heard or seen before. His gentleness was visible in his body, in his face, in his way of life, playing an extraordinary song that sent out such gentle vibrations of music that soothed and healed. I sat nearby for some time, absorbing this gift he was giving on that afternoon, free, for us all. His music touched me deeply and was deeply healing. Healing because of this music he had found and learned, and because he was offering it to us all. The next day I was walking by a campus, the school I went to so long ago, and there was a group of six young men each playing a different instrument, each taking a turn to step forward in his own talent and together sending out to those of us who had stopped to listen, their joy, transforming to our joy, witnessing their talent, such a perfect concert of old Jazz. I knew instinctively that these were men who would not be popular as “manly”, and was glad that they have found each other.
As I watched and listened to these soft, gentle, talented young men, I thought about all of you. You men working with us strong and vocal women, believing in the necessity and the benefit for all, of the emerging leadership of women at this time. I thought of you all, and want you to know that what you are doing here in World Pulse and in your communities is important, your willingness to take a stand as men to undo the violence being done to women, to the earth, to us all. You are all as beautiful as this music. I want you to know that I know you are there doing what you can. That I know that standing up for women and girls in many circumstances puts you in danger too of being beaten up, fired, accused of ‘not being a man’. That you can be pushed aside from privilege by speaking up about the treatment of women and girls, speaking out your own beliefs and showing that ‘real men’ can be gentle, respectful and working together with us in a world of love, respect and peace for all of us, and for this earth.
I hoped that the gentle men I witnessed so recently here, and all of you gentle men, many working as we women are, usually with no money or reward but knowing that this work is critically important. Thank you for your work. Thank you for understanding the importance of women's leadership at this time. Thank you for having the courage to interrupt male dominance and create healing from these patriarchal times, toward a world in which we all have control over our lives, a world that has no one in pain. We know that this work does not bring rewards to you, from this system that we are trying to change. What we need from men like you is the courage and determination to raise the next generation of boys with different information. We need you to challenge men to give up the many forms of privilege and control that have been engrained in so many ways, in so many of our societies. We know that you will not be given awards for this kind of work from the majority of men, as this system of domination and control, this system of owning most of the currency and property in a world based on money, this expectation of ‘men as boss’, this system that points to women challenging this notion, as women deserving to be punished. We know that men also stand to be ostracized or punished by speaking up for a world of true equality. We know that the physical, emotional and psychological violence that we endure as women who are working to change the system, is violence meted out also toward men who insist on being gentle and who believe in this world that we are working toward, for freedom and respect for women and girls, and for people whose lives don’t fit into the narrow stereotypes we have been forced into. We need you to teach the next generation of boys that life can be different, and to explain that although it might seem that men are losing some sort of privilege and control, in truth men and boys have everything to gain in a society that respects all of its people, in a society in which we are equal, in which we end war, eradicate poverty, and live in harmony with the earth. We know that by taking this stand you take on the risk of being at odds with your brothers and your governments, the risk of losing that same privilege, and of being in danger in the ways that women are, who speak out for this change. What is hopeful about you is that you recognize along with us the possibilities of a truly peaceful world.
There is a lot that men can do. Teach the next generation of boys a different way.
Challenge the narrative that “it has always been this way”. We have been lied to.
Bring forward the stories of women leaders, inventors, philosophers, teachers, artists whose work has been stolen or hidden. Interrupt men who are putting women down. Stop men from being violent. Challenge men to be peaceful. Push for legal systems that take violence against women seriously. Push for what women and girls need. Toilets. Pads. Whatever we need for giving birth. Treatment for rape. Safety anywhere we are in public. Safe houses to escape violence at home. Defend women running for government office who are working for these changes. Challenge men who discredit women by using names like “man-hater”, “dangerous”, “biased”, “too radical”, “too feminist” and help open the paths for women leaders. If you are getting a salary, share that money with women who are doing this work, usually for free. Share it with any women who do not have access to money. Do everything you can to make money available to women, and to make access to money possible for women who have no “rights to money and property” within marriages, after marriages, outside of marriages, choosing not to marry. Speak out about everything you are learning from women here in World Pulse, and everything that you see is happening. Challenge every form of harm and discrimination against women and girls in your community and globally. Speak out to free women sitting in jail for working for women’s rights. Get porn and violence off of the internet, and find ways to free women and girls who are being trafficked. Support emergency shelters. Push for medical care, for school for all girls, for an end to all the violence, including an end to all wars. Open the path for women doing this work, change the narrative completely for the next generation. Study the truth about times, places and peoples in which women were and are respected leaders. You will come up against such resistance, but we will be working together.
I realize that men already members of World Pulse most likely know all this, but I’m sending it out in recognition of what we know you are already doing, and with the call to find all of the ways you can, and summon all of the courage you can, to continue to use your life for these changes, knowing that we know that you are there.