Deal With It.

An Open Letter to Our Allies

First I'd like to note that none of what I have to share is intended to downplay or invalidate the power dynamics created under patriarchy. It's just me sharing my experience and feelings.

Men, like wimmin, have issues with self-loathing and body image. When folks use terms like "dick" or "dick-head," "cock" or "prick" as synonyms for an abusive, insensitive, or generally horrible person; or when they act as though anything phallic looking is automatically repulsive and symbolic of oppression, it only exacerbates our situation. Therefore, my appeal is this: that wimmin refrain from using language that is abusive toward men -- at least in our presence. My issue is not with wimmin's anger, or even hatred, toward men. In fact, I think expressing our hatred is a very healthy thing. It's not that we don't understand hatred toward men -- we generally don't love even ourselves -- it's that you can only hear so many "cock mutilation jokes" without starting to take it personally.

It's very scary for me to make these thoughts public. Still, as a 24-year-old man, it's a landmark in my life when I'm able to be assertive when my boundaries are crossed. It's been my experience -- for myself and in talking with other men and boys -- that we are not given the skills to recognize others' boundaries or our own. And we generally don't know how to stand up for ourselves. We are socialized to be aggressive and get things with violence, threats or posturing -- except with those who are higher in the pecking-order. We are taught to be domineering and wimmin are taught to be doormats, but no one is taught how to be assertive. I think men and wimmin often have similar struggles ahead of them when striving for self-determination and personal liberation. When it comes to the task of becoming healthy and whole people in spite of our socialization, I believe men and wimmin have more in common than not.

In making my request, I'm offering up my needs -- what I need to feel supported, and what I need to feel solidarity. We are all fighting for liberation, and we should treat each other with the respect patriarchy doesn't foster, and the respect which doesn't foster patriarchy.

Thanks for listening.

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