Dear mothers, sisters, grandmothers, wives, partners, girlfriends, friends, daughters…
We write to you to bring to bear with big hearts and care an issue that has been neglected, one that needs addressing in a format as intimate as a letter. It is an intimate topic: after all, affairs of the heart often are. A more structured outlook would only detract from the message we hope to give you, one which very much runs counter to the general opinion found on university campuses and, too often, in wider society.
The issue is a simple one. You have lost faith in us, men. Without detracting from the real difficulties women face - and we know that there are real injustices against women - we beg you for your patience as we remind you that you are loved. We are your fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons and friends, and it is certainly a warped reflection on society that we have to ask the people who brought us into this world not to fear us. The issue is fear in a world where we men, especially heterosexual men, have been vilified. This is not a whiny, unnecessary statement, but a sad truth. It is despairing that the people who held us close to them at birth often look at their creations in terror.
We will put the grand sentiment of emotive sentences aside. We can add statistics that show such fears are justified. 1 in 4 women suffer domestic abuse in the UK from a male partner (W-Fowler, 2020). This is a tragedy and greatly unsettling. We understand why such a figure is horrifying, but when we consider such crimes, it would also be unfair to define domestic violence as a crime which is exclusively perpetrated by males. According to Stonewall, 1 in 4 women who are in a lesbian partnership are also victims of domestic abuse (Stonewall, 2020). This, of course, does not detract from men being instigators of domestic violence, but it does challenge the dominant societal and academic impression of male masculinity being the sole driver of such horrors.
We will not, however, suggest that just because women can also be abusers that this justifies the initial bold statement in this piece. Let's also put the positive case forward for men. It is an emotive case, based on the claim that we are not all hard, violent and stone-hearted people: we can show love. A highly subjective word, love is hard to define, but is also a word which is used confidently here. Love comes in different forms - friendship, romance, familiarity - that cannot be represented in statistics. It is emanated by a father holding his child's hand on the way to school, the man waiting for a friend in the rain after class, or that surprise loving gesture offered by a male partner. In the face of a tornado American NBC correspondent Brian Williams demonstrated how love could compel a man into acts of heroism (Stevens, 2020). This is not to glorify ‘sacrifice’ or the notion of ‘saving’ women, but it is testimony of how much we care.
We would ask those who are in academia to just step back and count their positive experience of men in the workplace, and gamble on the fact that are many instances of male colleagues offering genuine support, guidance and collegiality. This is not a gambit, or an attack on equality and women's rights. It does not diminish the fact that there are men who are guilty of terrible abuses, nor the fact that there are real structural problems in society posing distinct obstacles for women. It does however ask women to revaluate their fear of men.
The words of Toni Morrison come to mind: ‘the enemy is not men’ but ‘the concept of patriarchy’ (Morrison and Denard, 2008, p. 35). Yes engrained patriarchy is a difficulty women face, but I will also admit a blasphemous ‘worriesium’, wondering if patriarchy in itself is solely responsible for the atrocity of domestic violence. If so, why are women equally as liable to hurt their female partners as males are in heterosexual relationships? Is this a male problem, is masculinity to blame? Or, is there a darker force at work that transcends gender? This is a call to open-up a new frontier: one which starts to look at the struggle faced by women beyond the constraints of gender.
We ask women-kind to look on your children more kindly: you brought us into the world and we haven't stopped loving you.
Author’s Note: the writing style has been made erratic on purpose and any feedback on how effective it is in engaging you, the reader, would be greatly appreciated. The lack of the trappings of professionalism found in academic writing is also purposely done as a means of testing how best knowledge can be conveyed to you. Any thoughts would be appreciated. I will apologise to the continued challenge to academia: this is after all merely an attempt at healthy use of falsification principle (Naraniecki, 2010). I hope you will respond.
Morrison, T. and Denard, C. (2008). Toni Morrison: conversations. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Naraniecki, A. (2010). Neo-Positivist or Neo-Kantian? Karl Popper and the Vienna Circle. Philosophy, 85(4), pp.511-530.
Stevens, J. (2020). 'He's my hero': Wife reveals moment husband gave his life to save her during tornado. [online] Mail Online. Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1391145/Joplin-MO-tornado-Wife-talks-moment-husband-gave-life-save-her.html [Accessed 2 Feb. 2020].
Stonewall. (2020). Domestic violence. [online] Available at: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/criminal-law/domestic-violence [Accessed 2 Feb. 2020].
W-Fowler, A. (2020). Domestic Abuse Statistics | lwa.org.uk. [online] Lwa.org.uk. Available at: https://www.lwa.org.uk/understanding-abuse/statistics.htm [Accessed 2 Feb. 2020].