World Pulse

An Open Letter to Young Men Everywhere

Lori
Posted January 15, 2016 from Canada

From her home in Canada, Lori Henry calls on boys to be part of the solution before they become part of the gender-based violence problem.

“There is enough of whatever you seek to go around.

Lori Henry profile image

Lori Henry | 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. You see that men are most often the perpetrators of the violence. 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. This behavior has no place in any culture or religion. 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 areneededto be part of the solution. It starts with questioning the violence you see 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 opportunities equal 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”?

“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.

True strength means walking side by side with girls, 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 you will lose something by including girls in the conversation. 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. They must be.

That is what it truly means to be a man.


About This Story

This letter is among the many Voices Against Gender-Based Violencesubmissions World Pulse crowdsourced during the global 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. Read more letters and stories from this initiative »

Comments 22

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Joseph-Jacques MUGEREKE KISAHIRA
Jan 18, 2016
Jan 18, 2016

English:

Mrs. Lori Henry, hello!

Thank you very much and congratulations on your initiative to have written this open letter [oh so touching, full of advice and questioning] to all the boys of the world!

If only many of the boys could have the chance to read this letter, maybe some cases of rape and violence against women and girls would certainly be avoided, I think.

Once again thank you for this initiative and have a nice day.

Joseph-Jacques.-

French :

Madame Lori Henry, bonjour !

Merci beaucoup et félicitations pour votre initiative d’avoir écrit cette lettre ouverte [ô combien émouvante, pleine de conseils  et interpellant] à tous les garçons du monde !

Si seulement bon nombre des garçons pouvait avoir la chance de lire cette lettre, bien de cas de viols et de violences faites aux femmes et aux jeunes filles seraient certainement évités, je crois.  

Une fois de plus merci pour cette initiative et bonne journée.

Joseph-Jacques.-

Lori
Jan 18, 2016
Jan 18, 2016

Hello and bonjour, Joseph-Jacques! Thank you so much for reading my letter and adding your thoughts. 

TSHEPISO BETTY MOKOENA
Jan 18, 2016
Jan 18, 2016

Dear Lori 

Compliments of the New Season. This is so profound and it hits home! As a woman who endured physical and emotional abuse for 5 years. I salute you for your work! Thank you so much for sharing your work with us. It is empowering and educational not only to young boys but to everyone including women! 

Warm regards, 

Tshepiso Mokoena

Lori
Jan 18, 2016
Jan 18, 2016

I really appreciate your comment, Tshepiso. Thank YOU for the work that you do.

Ohis Samson Amu
Jan 19, 2016
Jan 19, 2016

Dear Loris, 

Compliments of the season. would like to say welldone and say don't stop what you are doing. I work with Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative an NGO based in Kaduna State-Nigeria. We have a project we run is tag "Know and Say No". This project is about Gender Based Violence and aims to create awareness and break the culture of silence. We also publish free Newsletters and I would like to say your open letter is a valuble one to be published in other to create more awareness on Gender Based Violence. For more info on my organisation please visit http://www.eweing,org 

Regards

Ohizzy

Lori
Jan 20, 2016
Jan 20, 2016

Thank you for reading the letter, Ohizzy. I am so glad to be introduced to your organization, the Empowering Women for Excellence Initiative (EWEI). I have taken a look through the website and it looks like you are doing amazing work. 

As for re-printing my letter in your newsletter, I will send you an email right now and we can discuss. Talk to you soon!

Nusrat Ara
Jan 19, 2016
Jan 19, 2016

Beautifully put. Thank you for sharing.

Lori
Jan 20, 2016
Jan 20, 2016

Thank you for taking the time to comment, Nusrat. :-)

Gladys Muthara
Jan 22, 2016
Jan 22, 2016

Dear Lori,

This is lovely, very well put. We can never underestimate the need to remind young men in the world that they also have a key role to play in empowering women.

Thank you for inspiring me to write!

Lori
Jan 23, 2016
Jan 23, 2016

Yes, we must all be involved for real change to occur!

Adanna
Jan 22, 2016
Jan 22, 2016

Dear Lori,

Thank you for sharing this on World Pulse. I strongly agree with the points you made in your letter. The boys need to know right from a tender age that it is not OK to hit a woman no matter what!

Well done!

Adanna

Lori
Jan 23, 2016
Jan 23, 2016

Yes, when boys learn from a young age that violent behaviour towards women is unacceptable, I think that will change a lot of their behaviour later.

Sally maforchi Mboumien
Jan 23, 2016
Jan 23, 2016

Hello Lori I am grateful for this letter. The boys of today are the men or husbands of the future. Changing the way they see their fathers brothers or male neighbours behave is a big step towards realising a violence free society. Very inspiring!!!

Lori
Jan 23, 2016
Jan 23, 2016

I wholeheartedly agree! This issue isn't just about the perpetrator and target; it is about the community as a whole.

Lisa Alfano
Jan 28, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

Thank you Lori for writing this open letter. I am curious to hear what means you used (and continue to use) to share this letter and spread the message to the boys, and equally interested to hear the responses you've received from those boys and men to whom this is written. What have you found to be the response to psychology and emotional abuse to and towards girls and women? These types of abuse are as detrimental as is physical abuse.

I support your efforts and this type of communication continues to be a necessary vehicle by which to spread the message that violence, in any form, is unacceptable.

Lori
Jan 28, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

Thank you for your comments and questions, Lisa. I wrote this letter as part of my World Pulse training, so it has been published here and then included in at least 1 other newsletter for a women's organization. The comments above are the feedback I have recieved so far, so I'm not sure what the effects have been and who has read letter. I am curious, too!  

Prasanna
Jan 28, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

Dear Lori, First let me offer bouquets and salutes to you for showing your concern in your letter to the boys. Readers here in this portal may be those gentlemen, who treat girls and women with respect and care.

However, you must have been thinking of the indiscreet, irresponsible and sadistic pranksters, who harass girls and women often.   Being equally concerned of this problem, if I may, write to state that your letter may neither reach the targetted audience, nor they can change even if they read it. 

Perhaps the most common and the greatest mistake mankind has been doing so far, is the presumption that all such indiscreet and harmful acts are voluntarily and ignorantly done. Hence, if the perpetrators are informed of the same, they would soon change or correct themselves. Religious preachers have been doing this for thousands of years, with no results. 

Worldwide and particularly in developing countries, publicity of such information is visible everywhere. News paper advertisements, hoardings, banners galore, calling for people's active participation in programs like 'family planning, prevention of trafficking of women, preventing drugs and other substances abuse etc'. Incidentally, the middle level non participants, who read these messages are often perplexed. They can't fathom the roots of these extreme acts of violence and the frequent noisy preachers of morality to public.

In these circumstances, it is very difficult to reach to the offenders and even if they listen to these moral lessons, they won't be able to reform themselves easily. It is because their acts are motivated or provoked by the damage to their consciousness from early childhood. 

However, you don't have to get disheartened by this, since both prevention in childhood and solution in adulthood are possible.     As an Independent Researcher in Psychology. I see all human problems arise due to a simple and avoidable error, committed by parents in raising their children, during the early growing years of the brain. After all, it is the mother, who takes care of small children most of the time. She can easily raise  moderate children, who in turn would set right the world.   

My findings are at naturalmind.org/nm/one.pdf  and you may like to see it. Of course, it may initially appear to be meant for the highly educated researchers, but all can understand, if they merely focus for a while. My focus is mainly on the new and prospective parents. Regards.

Lori
Feb 01, 2016
Feb 01, 2016

Thank you for putting so much thought into your response, Prasanna. I wish all children were raised by parents who could teach them respect for all human beings, show them what love is by example, and take care of them while they develop into adults. I agree that this is not always the case; sometimes parents are not capable of this. And this lack of parenting can lead to behaviour like gender-based violence.

There is much work to be done to heal the wounds from childhood trauma, for example, which can also lead to many things later in life: violence, abuse, etc. I believe that the causes of these things are complex and do not fit into a single box, but by having many different conversations, we can begin to heal wounds and come up with actionable tasks to change the behaviour of those who perpetrate violence. Thank you for being a part of one of these conversations.

Della Rae
Feb 04, 2016
Feb 04, 2016

Lori, this writing is well thought and foundational on many different levels.  Time if a gift and I appreciate you choosing to place some here and now with this article.  

On the good,

Della Rae

Lori
Feb 05, 2016
Feb 05, 2016

What a beautiful response. Thank you so much, Della Rae.

Justin M. Loveland
Mar 03, 2016
Mar 03, 2016

Thank you for your letter, Lori. As one who grew up in a culture of many contradictions, many subtle disputes over what it means to "be a man" -- with friends and family seeking to send a message of mutual understanding and compassion on an equal playing field, and mainstream media, ads, and special-interest marketing seeking to send another message -- this is a valuable reminder.

Educating men and boys may seem a long and perhaps insurmountable task, but know that at least one is listening right now. I especially appreciated your point that beliefs have been learned, and they can be unlearned. You may have heard of the UN's #HeForShe campaign, which seeks to educate men and boys on several human rights issues, including gender-based violence. It reminds me of your work.

Thanks for wanting to make a change!

Justin

Lori
Mar 08, 2016
Mar 08, 2016

Thank you for joining the conversation, Justin! And for mentioning the HeForShe campaign. Indeed, we need all world citizens to participate in this issue. Thanks for being one of them.