Dr. T has done something remarkable for all of us. She went through a daily grind, 31 times in a row to capture, edit and present personal accounts of abuse for the “In His Own Words,” (IHOW) series as a part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month for the unseen victims of domestic violence.
I want to express a very sincere public thank you for this, for the dedication it takes to face that every day and get it done. It is an amazing gift to this community and I am sure that many here are as thankful as I am.
Her intended purpose was to give a voice to men who have suffered at the hands of abusive partners and then usually abused a second time (at least) by a malicious system that most frequently denies or trivializes their experiences. She also intended to use those stories to reach other men with similar experiences who could identify with these personal tragedies.
There was also a secondary benefit. In my mind, the IHOW series also served as a barometer of sorts; a way to gauge how well the community at AVFM had done in striving to create an environment rich in what we claim to embrace around this place: Compassion for men and boys.
I am pleased to say I think we have done well.
I have noticed a lot about the reactions to different kinds of material on men’s websites over the years. I am an avid writer and reader of that kind of literature. I see those reactions in the comments, where threads can extend into the hundreds, especially from a particularly provocative or incendiary piece of work.
The same holds true when we do a particularly good job exposing the worst of what feminism has to offer, or when they are their most outrageously stupid.
It is true, however, and I make no personal judgment about this, that when we cut close to the heart of men’s pain; when we peel back the exterior veneer behind which most of us find some measure of comfort and get to the rawness that so many of us feel or have felt, our enthusiasm to add to the discussion wanes.
True to the stereotype, many of us aren’t so enthusiastic about the open expression of our wounding. Again, I am not expressing an opinion on this one way or the other. I carry a lot of feelings myself that I am not much prone to put out for public examination. And I don’t think that is a bad thing. I just handle my pain differently.
That being said, I was also very happy, proud if you will, to see the level of support for the men behind these stories that came from this community. I was thankful to see the encouragement and grateful for those who spoke up about how they connected to those stories; how they too knew the teller’s pain.
More simply put, I appreciated the compassion for men and boys being expressed in a place dedicated to that very thing.
To be more complete in the assessment, though, there is something else that I also have to address. We did have, upon occasion, comments that I can only describe as disappointing. Perhaps embarrassing is a better word.
They amounted to just a handful that I noticed, but it was a handful that clearly demonstrate, just like with progress on our basic human rights, there is room for improvement.
The temptation, as is always my temptation, is to react with some anger about it. But hey, I am working on that these days (some days more than others).
I have to admit that working on it or not, anger is part of what I feel. Let me give you one example, and I will keep it to one as I am not in the mood for overkill.
Yes, for sure this makes me angry. All misandry makes me angry. It is a big part of why I am here. That comment with four up votes represent part of the problem we are trying to address at this website.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a proponent to the point of preaching at times that men must learn from their experiences and take responsibility for mistakes. It is the only way anyone learns anything, and it is the only way to prevent these kinds of things from happening again and again.
There is a time to hold men to account. I have met few men who ever needed to be told that. There is also a time to stand with them without judgment or scorn, a less common skill though more in practice here than most places. Few here find any benefit in going out of their way to tell any man who has been through a rough patch in life that they lack compassion for him.
It is true, and I have made it no secret, that I have grown frustrated with hearing from men who never even made a comment on AVFM, but who suddenly show up in my inbox insisting that everyone at the website stop everything they are doing and dedicate their lives to correcting injustices against them; the same injustices that they ignored as long as it was happening to someone else.
It is also true that I have encountered men who tested my available compassion by foolishly making the same mistakes over and over again. But I never saw any reason in serving up my unsolicited indifference when they had taken the risk to lower their guard and spill their guts about the most vulnerable moments in their lives.
Especially in a place like this.
Sadly, I have found in every crowd of men, there is always a small percentage who always seem to have all the answers; who would never, ever be fooled by a woman, or so overcome by love or dependence that they would make bad decisions, or who would, out of their upbringing, struggle mightily past the point of reason to keep a relationship or a family together.
These are the men that never fear loss; that always know just how to handle a woman. They are in control at all times. They have Game, for sure. They know it and will not hesitate to tell you.
I have also found that these are the same men, in almost every case, that casually dismiss and demean the pain of fellow men not so gifted with their superhuman powers. They quickly, and sometimes sadistically go out of their way to make that known, too. They will happily chime in, at the drop of a hat, to tell anyone in pain that they feel absolutely nothing for them – save perhaps some contempt.
I also doubt if these men have ever been meaningfully connected to anyone or anything in their lives, and I wonder of all things what they are doing here. I wonder how, in a place that points constantly to how men are ridiculed and rejected by a domestic violence industry that produced Earl Silverman, they can make comments that emulate the same depraved indifference that left him at the end of a rope.
That is not an invitation for them to leave. I hope they stick around till the humanity rubs off on them, or at least till they learn to fake it. But in the meantime I have to ask, if you cannot offer support to men then kindly offer nothing at all.
In the case of our minority of resident supermen, nothing is much better than what you have to give.
To everyone else in this community, thank you once again for proving that misandry can be broken by compassion. And thank you to those who shared their stories, for helping us break the code of silence about the pain of men.