Being a “good man” cannot be self proclaimed.
It is earned.
Far too many people have been harmed by others, particularly by men, who self-proclaimed their goodness.
Abusers start out as nice and good, until they aren’t.
Abusers will often self-proclaim their ‘goodness’ even when confronted with their badness in an attempt (and often a successful attempt) to alter their victim’s reality. These are valid truths about why self-proclaiming goodness is a red flag.
Inherently good people do not feel the need to self-proclaim their goodness to other people. They just are.
Inherently good men know the importance of showing vs. telling. And the importance of showing over time, not a few nice gestures here and there.
The commonality between inherently good men and men who aspire to be better men is they learned, and continue to learn, to decenter themselves.
Decentering is about listening to understand. It is about observing. It is about recognizing when we are weaponizing our own perspective to derail the conversation at hand. And it is learning to be more empathetic.
Decentering starts with willingness.
Are you willing?
If you read this and feel personally attacked, I am specifically talking to you.
Let me be very clear—this is not an “all men” post. We KNOW it is not all men.
If you feel compelled to keep saying “not all men” in an attempt to derail the conversation at hand when women share their experiences of abuse by men, the next sentence is important for you to hear.
Your outrage should be directed at the bad men (who often mask themselves in self-proclaimed goodness), that give actual good men a bad reputation.
But yet you continue to target and attempt to silence women and allies because that’s much easier to do than stand up to and hold your fellow men accountable.
Men who consistently stand up for women are often met with other men calling them a “pick me,” “soft,” “desperate,” “simp”—the list and bullying goes on and on and on.
The men who are bullying allies and who attempt to derail and silence women’s experiences are abusers—you either continue to choose to be ignorant, which ultimately sides with abusers and oppressors, OR you are an abuser and use deflection, silencing tactics, and defend abusers and abusive behavior, because that is what abusers do.
It is a fact that people of all genders and ages experience abuse at significantly higher rates by men.
If you read that last sentence and immediately thought, “women are abusive too!” I am still talking to you.
When I state the fact that men abuse at significantly higher rates, I am NOT saying women aren’t abusive. There are abusive women. And that can be a separate conversation, but it cannot be at the expense of derailing and diminishing experiences of abuse by the hands of men.
If you got down to this section and are willing to listen to better understand and are curious to know how you can help prevent abuse, I welcome you with open arms.
And to the men and allies who continue to stand up and speak out even when met with persistent bullying, you are doing the right thing.
Abusers will keep trying to silence you because abuse survives and thrives in silence, but your voice has power, so use it well.