I apologize for the placement of this comment as I am new to this venue. That being said, reading your work Jessica, both saddens and inspires me. I can call myself many things but honesty provokes me to acknowledge that deep within me is the core of what you write about. I have perpetrated the conditioning of my youth and it’s patriarchal culture on others, particularly on the women in my life. I managed to hide it from everyone but myself and those I hurt.
My point in saying this is to advocate to men who care about the world they live in to take a hard look in the mirror, acknowledge who they truly are and sit, if they even can, in the pain of our incredibly damaging dysfunction.
There is an awareness that listening to the stories of women abused by their husbands, boyfriends, co-workers, family members - their culture for goodness sake. Then, when you hear the lies invoked by the defenses of a man who gets caught, they begin to create a different anger within, an anger connected to toxic shame. That’s what happened to me.
Men, one remedy to positively impact the future, in my experienced opinion, is to listen to what I/we have done and recognize there is often no way out for those women/people we have abused; to sit in that pain, if we can even imagine it, especially knowing no “I’m sorry, please forgive me” will ever erase the memory of that moment in those we victimize. Don’t move, don’t speak, don’t run…just sit there and listen, allowing the gravity to envelope your whole being.
I believe there is a possibility for the future, for those not yet victimized by our ruthless, unconscious culture. There is work being done by men’s organizations that are partnering through open dialogue, actually listening to the experiences of the victims of abuse, that are having an impact, albeit sadly, at a snails pace. And, it starts with seeing ourselves for who we truly are, as it did for me. No small task, but possible!
I cannot reverse the past, but perhaps I can influence change for today.
Thank you for your voice. It matters!