A few weeks ago I drafted an intimate, vulnerable, update to the members of the Better Men Project. Then it got sent to my entire listserv.
It was a mistake that left me feeling exposed. But I was moved and encouraged by your response. I’m still looking for the words to talk about what I have learned on this often painful path from toxic masculinity towards conscious masculinity. But I commit to finding a way to share. There is something liberating about truth and our stories.
We have been hosting a monthly call for the Better Men Project. We were inspired by adrienne maree brown’s call to relinquish the patriarchy. Her concise post packed such a powerful punch that we decided to organize around it. It is the text that we study.
I called the Better Men Project soon after the #metoo movement splashed women’s pain all over our social media. It was my effort to take responsibility. My life’s own work of atonement.
I wanted to make a distinction between patriarchy and masculinity. I am proposing that we know what toxic masculinity is. But we need to figure out what conscious masculinity looks like.
I thought it would be best to start from my own experience. So I set out to interview men who self-described at “cis gender heterosexual men in committed relationships.” I am grateful to have trans and queer friends who opted to ignore the constraints of my invitation.
The Better Men Project is an effort that is primarily concerned with the way in which men hurt women. And with finding ways to stop that harm. I’ve learned that exploring masculinity in all of its forms is a powerful way to shed light on what it is that causes harm and what it is that might be able to free us.
I have been amazed by the nature of our calls. We are holding a space that is allowing men to talk about the harm that we have caused. As well as about the ways we have been harmed. It is an honest space for sharing stories of manhood. Of lessons learned. Of pain endured. And of ways we are getting better.
Ours is an emergent space. A space that is still taking shape. I get feedback after each video call (it is essential that we look each other in the face as we do this work), and I adjust accordingly.
We want to hold a space of mutual support. A space where it is safe to find our way on this journey. And we also want a space that is more than just for us. We want our work to be disruptive. We want to interrupt patriarchy where it shows up. And we want the right strategies to do so.
Men keep showing up for our calls. They keep bringing their hearts and gifts forward. We are in this work for the long haul. I trust that it will itself guide us. So that we can make good contribution.
Our next call is Monday October 7 at 8:30pm. Please let the right men know about it.