Not long ago I heard on the radio that some men would be wearing high heel shoes in a special walk sponsored by the White Ribbon Campaign Organization…
I’ve often joked about wearing stilettos, but only in the context of explaining how the German army used tanks in their Blitzkrieg military strategy during WW2… (They lined them up one in front of the other -as opposed to advancing side by side.) I’d then explain further that if one’s foot was stepped on with running shoes as opposed to heels, the latter would be more damaging. (That’s how the Germans were able to perform the “break through” of their enemies’ defenses with their tanks exerting the pressure like the tip of this female footwear…) I may have totally lost you, but then again this was not supposed to be about grade 10 history.
Back to the point… The White Ribbon Campaign is an organization that has the primary goal of ending gender-based violence and promoting gender equality. (This is an extremely important agenda.)
The other night I was catching up on “Timeless” (that television show that time travels through history) and it centered on the episode of women suffrage (the right to vote) in 1919. I was horrified at the brutality and violence of the male police officers against the female protesters, and it seemed reminiscent of what occurs with domestic and other forms of gender violence. Yet, how does the Campaign wage war against these behaviors?
One of the primary values of the organization is to promote a “new vision of masculinity”. The idea focuses on men taking responsibility and leading the charge against gender-based violence. Men wearing high heels paints the metaphor of walking in another person’s shoes. (Although, I bet some women might argue about the cruelty of such uncomfortable footwear and rant against this representation of femininity…)
On their website they state the following:
Through education, awareness-raising, outreach, technical assistance, capacity building, and partnerships, White Ribbon’s programming challenges negative, outdated concepts of manhood and inspires men to understand and embrace the incredible potential they have to be a part of positive change.
Toxic masculinity hurts everyone.
How can manhood in all of it’s importance, depth and nuances be labelled as ‘negative’, and masculinity as ‘toxic’? Those negative and toxic elements are not a holistic nor definitive representation of all it is. Masculinity and manhood represents nearly half the people on this planet. So, what if I were to describe a large group of people by their worst offenders? Furthermore, where does one find up-to-date concepts of manhood?
Interestingly enough, this ‘new vision of masculinity’ is actually an old vision -minus the high heels (which I suspect panders to the gender fluid ethos of our contemporary culture).
The first man (Adam -who appears to be an obvious template of masculinity) became “one flesh” with his wife. Upon their introduction he declared words of comfort and care, meanwhile underscoring the depth and connection between a man and woman. He said, “You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh…” (Genesis 2:23) He acknowledges his love and recognition for Eve by declaring how interconnected and intertwined they were on the most fundamental level.
In the New Testament the understanding is expressed further as males (husbands) are commanded to treat females (wives) as their own flesh (or bodies), which is a call to love, nurture and care. (Ephesians 5:28)
Typically, we love our bodies and don’t demean, discriminate or are violent towards ourselves. We take responsibility of this attitude, and the way we treat ourselves is the way men should treat women. That has been the oldest and truest vision of masculinity.
Stats about violence against women are unacceptable, alarming and sad, but masculinity is not toxic, nor does manhood require new vision. We need to more clearly see the old one.
What do you think? Your thoughts and comments are welcome.