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 | Canada
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 »