Dee's Blog
Thu 03/06/2008
Thoughts on Gender Issues
Topic: Making Decisions

While the majority of my readers are female, I probably learn as much from the limited number of male survivors and advocates who come my way as I do from the majority.  This is not a reflection on any supposition that these guys are smarter than my own gender.  Please do not misunderstand me there. 

It has everything to do with the differences I see in the responses to abuse that I see between the two genders.  Those responses are not entirely gender specific, just like a lot of other issues.  At this moment, I'm not inclined to write in depth on this topic, though I may assign it to myself at a later date.

Long ago, I would have assumed that it is so much easier for male survivors to speak because society makes it easier for men to be heard on most issues.   I really thought they had an advantage.  I no longer believe that.

To admit to sexual or domestic abuse or to talk about the betrayal one has experienced as a spouse, father, or even as a professional advocate is to risk being emasculated by one's own gender.  For to be the underdog is considered by the traditional male, who has internalized the myths of tradition, to be a loser.  Or it's equivalent (ie. a woman). 

By staying "safe," men are able to preserve the personal advantage of having a place of privilege.  Every time they speak out, it seems there is a double battle to be fought.  In the same way that gay men have experienced.  One must overcome the inertia created by blowing the minds of people who don't want their minds blown.  So the struggles are even more likely to be turned inward. 

Even if one HAS confronted the myth and integrated it well into his psyche, the risk is still there.  Male survivors sometimes are able to overcome a good deal of this fear of being emasculated.  I don't think it ever goes away entirely.

No matter what precipitates their speaking, men who speak up on issues that so many prefer to see as "women's issues," no matter how personal those issues may be, are going to experience the attitude:  "Whose side are you on, anyway?"

After all, Muslim men may be the only group that voices it so clearly, but I'm convinced that Christian men are just as likely to say to themselves and one another:  "Thank God I wasn't born a woman!"

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:12 AM CST

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