Men are never taught a healthy way to relate to womyn as we grow up.
In general the message we receive is that womyn are a collection of body parts for our personal use.
We are not taught that girls and womyn are actual people that deserve respect.
As a teenager I remember this feeling very clearly. I deeply wish somebody had told me that females are not creatures for my amusement; they are people with feelings, hearts and minds.
I honestly didn’t know that. It seems insane, but when I was 13 and the hormones were raging through my body, all I could think about were butts and boobs.
That was the message I received from the media, video games, my peers, the entertainment industry including cartoons, my home life and the adults in my environment – womyn were only flesh for my use.
Over 24 years ago I had what I call my feminist awakening. Which really just means that I realized that I was not seeing womyn as humans and not treating them with respect. It took 25 years of life before I even started to realize there was another way.
From that day on I have engaged in a process of undoing and rebuilding my perception and relationship with womyn.
The misogyny is still in me.
I can feel it.
It haunts my every thought.
It affects every interaction I have with womyn.
And I have to fight it every day,
because the seeds of patriarchy were sown deep.
This is a hard thing to admit because I really want to believe that I’m a good man.
How can I feel like a progressive, feminist ally if I admit to having such feelings and thoughts about womyn?
In my opinion, I can’t do a good job in trying to change that attitude in society if I ignore its existence in myself.
I think my life would have been much different if someone had just told me when I was a young boy in a loving, non-judgemental, clear way:
• That womyn were people deserving of equal respect and consideration.
• That the sexual feelings in me were natural, but didn’t have to control my thoughts or actions.
• That the messages I received from society were NOT the truth.
• And that I could CHOOSE my own thoughts and actions.
Yes I would have turned out very different from the very beginning.
I believe that I would have been able to integrate it and see womyn differently.
Can we share this message with our young boys and men?
I think it would do the world a world of good.