Day 130: A Call out to Men.

When Tony Porter was growing up in the Bronx, aged 12, he and his friends hung out with a sixteen year old boy, Johnny, who he describes as a bad kid. One day, Johnny called Porter to a room and asked him if he’d like to have sex with a mentally ill neighbourhood girl. Porter went into the room where Johnny had just raped the teenager and stood there for long enough before undoing his pants and telling his friends it was good. Looking back, he’s most ashamed that he felt worse about lying to his friends than about the plight of the girl on the bed.
Porter has more powerful stories like this in his talk, such as that of his father apologising for crying ten months after the death of his son, or Porter’s own initial attitudes towards his son’s emotions. He calls this set of skewed values, ‘the man box,’ and proposes that some of its typical feelings about women; objectification and the sense of ownership men feel; all serve to devalue women.
Porter proposes that fear holds men hostage to the man box. This fear is part of the collective socialisation of men. Porter calls for a change in thinking, suggesting that we all deconstruct and redefine this box to stop the abuse of both women and men. The liberation of men is closely tied to the liberation of women. The take home message is simple; Men, for a change, don’t act like a man.

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