A conversation between men around gender and safety15/04/2021
The CPLP Talks team convened a dialogue space, where we asked men for their perspective on how we all can contribute to building a sense of safety for everyone within our communities. The dialogue was underpinned by the tragic attacks on women across the world. We share some of what was said below.
Tinotenda Mhungu, Zimbabwe
I am a product of patriarchy. My normal was to expect respect purely on the basis of being a man. My entire upbringing was based on being located in a position of privilege, because I was a man.
This comes to me with a sense of guilt. I feel sorry when I speak or act in a manner which carries historical grief and pain for women, as a result of the pedestal that was built for me to stand on as a man. I feel sad for the many instances where women continue to have to fight for safety. I however feel a sense of hope, because every day, I am confronted with a choice, and hence an opportunity to do better, to learn more.
Antoine Chelala, Lebanon
As a man, I am proud of my upbringing and education around amazing girls and women who helped me shape my personality and how I see the world. Thanks to the female perspective, I am better able to understand the gender dynamics of our society.
Open conversations with female friends have shown me the advantages that the patriarchal society grants me and helped me understand that I have a role in fighting gender inequality. Most of the time, I am confident enough to defend this cause and break the cycle of toxic masculinity. However, I sometimes betray the better man in me: I am not always brave enough to call out a sexist joke. Sometimes I laugh awkwardly at a joke that does not align with my values. I also find it difficult to reshape locker room talk.
I believe that it is important to have safe spaces where men can talk about their worries, share their feelings and celebrate their successes. This space can easily turn into a toxic masculine space that degrades women in an unacceptable way. I am convinced that my responsibility is to take the role of party pooper and stand up for my morals. These spaces must be made safe, so that safety can spread within our community.
Sebastian Hasse, Germany
Time and again, I am surprised by the difficulties that women face in the world just because of their gender. And I understand that I need to be more aware of these difficulties. At the same time, I think that we are living in a world where a small group of rich Alpha males control almost everything.
Most men and woman seem to suffer from that. Knowing that I am not and do not want to be an Alpha male I feel helpless about it. But through speaking out and acknowledging the discrimination that is happening, we can be a good example to others and begin to breed a change in behaviour and in character.
Omar Madani, Syria
I believe that all men who advocate for gender equality feel guilty about the inequality that our male ancestors have practised towards women throughout history. As men who respect and honour women today, we may be considered innocent, but because we share our ancestors’ masculine identity, we have a responsibility to correct what has happened in the past. Gender equality is the natural and healthy path that individuals must follow in order to build a harmonious and productive society.
You would like to read more on this topic? Discover Temantungwa's article All I could think was 'Am I safe?'
The Caux Peace and Leadership Talks (CPLP Talks) are an online space where stories can be shared and connections made. This series is hosted and facilitated by the Caux Peace and Leadership Programme Alumni as a two-way discussion. It offers an opportunity to listen to young voices from around the world, get inspired and engage with one another.
If you wish to be part of the next CPLP Talks on 1 May 2021 at 1:00 pm GMT and share your thoughts and feelings on the topic of gender and safety you can sign up here:
Photo top: Paula Mariane
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