I Benefited in My Relationships From Other Men’s’Bad’ Behaviour– I Just Didn’t Know It

I understand being’good’ isn’t enough if I wish to help prevent male violence against women.

I have always been pretty sure of myself as a’good’ man, one that has attempted to treat girlfriends and spouses’well’  — but I am not positive if being emotionally distant and serially walking away from perfectly good relationships just because I fancied a change, as I have done before, can definitely count as being that’great’, except possibly in a comparative sense.

But reading more of this seemingly endless stream of headlines and articles about sex violence being committed by men and hear girls friends’ stories about their dysfunctional past and current partners, it dawned on me that since lots of guys seem to be quite bad at communicating with and listening to girls; and even worse, because too many appear to have to be competitive and commanding in their relationships; it has made it much easier for me to be appreciated by means of a partner by simply having no other qualities than being an ordinary bloke who does not behave like an arsehole.

From what girls tell me, lots of the men they’ve known have been fairly hopeless at love — or at knowing what women want and being willing and able to provide it — or have been viewed as potentially (or actually) dangerous, in relationships and in general. I can vouch for the validity of those feelings from personal experience; virtually every girl I have been out with has told me she has been sexually assaulted at some time in the past — sometimes badly.

It is painful to admit it, but on reflection, I believe that I have usually had the upper hand in determining if a connection proceeds, at least partially because out there in the world I could be confident that the odds of me end up with an abusive spouse are tiny in comparison to those of any girl. Because I have been viewed as fairly’safe’ — and I know more or less where a goddess is and what to do with it –it has been rare that a spouse has wanted to leave meand as a former commitment-phobe in over twenty relatively’serious’ relationships, I have always been the one to walk away. I now find this has been my subconscious privilege, a type of blindness to my man entitlement as a supposedly’good’ man partly benefitting from the anxiety and sense of danger that’bad’ guys create.

All that changed with my current relationship — when I finally felt ready and able to properly love and get near a girl, who turned out to have been serially abused in a variety of ways by her ex-husband during their long marriage. I heard more about the actual harm done to her, and the many other girls who find themselves in a similar situation, and realised {} unless I had been actively involved in attempting to make the world safer for women, I would be complicit in perpetuating the sort gender violence and toxic masculinity which I professed to hate.

I understand now that’not being poor’ in my privileged position as a guy in a male-dominated culture isn’t enough — and that if I need to see myself as a fantastic man I want to understand better the reality of the fear and warning that women live with in regard to men, and create a profound commitment to doing anything I can to change this. Not to follow this route would be an act of cowardice and hypocrisy that I couldn’t live with.

So I decided to devote as much of the rest of my life as I can to work towards an end of male violence against women. So far this has included training with the Alternatives to Violence Project, with the intention of working with groups of guys in prison, and participation with the fantastic Lad initiative who work with groups of boys in secondary schools to increase their awareness of gender stereotypes and the way ideas about’masculinity’ can harm their ability to show and express their authentic emotional selves and to relate to women and women in a wholesome way. Finally, I am supporting the White Ribbon UK effort that’s devoted to eradicating gender violence against women in britain. I hope that I can make a difference and make certain my professed belief in gender equality is based on how I really live as a (more) aware man.

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