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#IChoose Manifesto

By Tom Green on Friday December 29th, 2017

Guys, It's Our Turn...

Never contact me again.

The email was from my friend Jess*. She and I had a sort-of relationship for a few years, a long time ago. It was on and off, mostly off. I was happy to have a good time together when it required little effort, which meant when we were at the same party. We never really talked about how we felt or where it was going, if anywhere. I thought we were both ‘on the same page.’ In more recent years we’d been in touch occasionally, especially when she was going through tough times.

As I read the email, I first felt anger: “I’ve been there for her as a friend for years, and this is how she repays me!” Next, protective: “Her new boyfriend must have put her up to this–she could get dangerously isolated.” Finally, the shame slowly crept in, “I need to look at myself and understand why she doesn’t want me in her life.”

I spoke with Jess’s boyfriend (since she wouldn’t talk to me) and discovered that she felt ashamed; she felt used; she felt bad about herself because of who she had been with me and others. I truly believed that I had been a positive influence in her life, being there for her during difficult times and helping her to navigate through them. What was most shocking to me was that my perception of my impact on her life could be so different from her reality.

Now I see that I didn’t share my feelings or listen to hers. Now I see that I saw sex as a goal, consent something men ask for and women agree to. Now I see that I was guilty of objectifying women rather than seeing them as whole people. I like to think I’ve changed a lot since then, but I know for sure I still have further to go.

I feel ashamed. There’s an unfinished conversation I’ll probably never get to have, which deepens the regret. I hope her current relationship works out and that she leads a joyful, fulfilled life. The uncertainty is hard but I won’t ever contact her unless she contacts me.

Gender balanceThe goal of #Ichoose is to accelerate the journey to a society with true gender balance.

I am deeply moved by the #metoo campaign. By the bravery and vulnerability of the women sharing their experiences; by the fact that the sadness that these issues and the deeper pain they cause are far more prevalent than I knew; by the realization that I am part of the problem. I resolve to do something to help myself and other men to do better.

So I am making a public commitment to a manifesto. I call it #Ichoose, and its goal is to accelerate the long, long journey to a society with true gender balance. I invite other men to join me in this set of choices.

#MeToo Led Me to #IChoose

With the #metoo campaign, women have powerfully continued to raise awareness about harassment and abuse. These two issues are just parts of the gender gap facing us today, and I believe that to close the gap we must address all of it, from harassment and abuse to subtle biases. Men must work alongside women to co-create meaningful change. Men are the majority of the problem, so the majority of the work falls to us. As a man, I suggest here only what men can do differently.

To create the #Ichoose manifesto, first I read hundreds of #metoo and #howiwillchange tweets, and some articles on the topic. Second, I wrote a draft after spending time with my wife Roxy, whose love and intelligence encourages and challenges me each day. Third, I shared it with female and male friends and carefully considered their feedback.

Articles like this, and social media posts, solve no problems and heal no pain until they cause us to change our actions. Before you react to the manifesto, please understand that it is not perfect and know that I am trying to help. I seek and welcome constructive criticism. I know that I am writing this from a position of privilege as a straight white cis male. There are many complex and important issues I have left others to address, including matters of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersectionality. I ask for understanding of my omissions and I hope that there is enough to agree with here that you can support it.

To men, if you agree with the spirit of this but not every single word, I urge you to put aside our disagreements in service of the overall goal–and commit to #Ichoose.

Men's role in gender equalityMen are the majority of the problem, so the majority of the work falls to us.

The #Ichoose Manifesto

  1. As a man, I am aware that we live in a society which favors men.
    I am making a set of choices–today and every day–which I believe will help us move toward full gender equality, so women and men can thrive together. I make these choices in the sight of my community. I expect no special recognition if I make a contribution: having an impact is its own reward.
  2. I choose to seek awareness of my own gender bias.
    Every man has some form of gender bias, and I accept that I am part of the problem. I choose to look deeply at myself and ask others to help me do so.
  3. I choose to address gender bias when I see it.
    Women need to be twice as effective as men to get the same credit, so I choose to notice–and to do something–when women are interrupted or ignored and when their ideas are attributed to men. I choose to boost female voices.
  4. I choose to see and admire women as whole people.
    I choose to compliment women and girls first on their character, values, accomplishments, and gifts. I choose to be thoughtful; not to only praise boys for activities and girls for looks. I choose “not to say to a woman in the street what I wouldn’t want a man saying to me in prison”. When I introduce women, I choose to be mindful of how I do it.
  5. I choose an attitude of mutual respect and shared exploration when it comes to physical intimacy.
    Sex isn’t just about consent: my goal is to listen with all my senses and help my partner to have an experience they look back on with fondness and joy. When seeking consent, I’m listening for a “hell yes!” however it is expressed, or I’m not doing it.
  6. I choose to help women feel safe.
    I try to be mindful of when there may be risk to a woman, real or perceived. I go out of my way to address this sensitively, not as a savior but as an ally.
  7. I choose to work towards a safe, equitable work environment for women.
    I stand for zero tolerance for harassment and I seek opportunities to level the playing field.
  8. I choose to hold other men accountable to these standards, even when it’s hard.
    I do this by calling them out: “That’s not cool” or “I feel uncomfortable with that.” At the same time, I recognize that many men are acting from their own wounds and ingrained patterns, or are unaware of their impact. While this doesn’t excuse anything, it calls for compassion in the way I help other men to become aware of, and take accountability for, their actions.
  9. I choose to listen hard.
    Others, especially women, can help me learn about all of this so I can become more aware and effective. I choose to welcome and explore challenges to my preconceptions.
  10. I choose to stay the course.
    This is a very long journey. I choose to remain vigilant and focused so we can continue to travel this road together.
Help women feel safeI choose to help women feel safe.

Lead the Change

I am making these choices. I invite other men to join me in doing so and to ask to be held accountable to our commitment by our communities. We men are the perpetrators of these problems. If we want to progress as a society, I think we have no choice but to say #Ichoose.

If I had been able to begin making these choices a couple of decades ago, I would have done many things differently with Jess. For example, I would have shown respect for her as a person by co-creating a space to be honest with each other about our feelings.

These choices are hard to live by. Even in the week I started writing this post, my wife Roxy was harassed at a party we attended together. She laughed it off and when she relayed the incident to me, so did I. It ‘wasn’t a big deal.’ Later we reflected on the experience together, and I felt deeply disappointed in myself that I hadn’t done something about it. Harassment is so normalized that even when it’s top of mind, we don’t know how to handle it. But we must learn.

To women and men alike: if you support this, share #Ichoose on social media, tagging men you’d like to invite to make these choices. Tagging someone is an invitation to help lead this change, not an accusation of any wrongdoing. Feel free to include the link to this article.

*Name changed

Words By Tom Green

Originally posted on LOVE and, Love, relationships, and more

 

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21 Responses to #IChoose Manifesto

  1. I would like to say that “it always takes two to tango” – an old saying but true. Women are treated according to how they feel about themselves, and that is purely their responsibility, nothing to do with any men. And the same of course goes for us men too. We are all vibrational beings and attract to ourselves what we project and focus on.

  2. I’ve noticed no anger towards women that advertise themselves on behalf of women especially in the film industry.
    The protection women need isn’t from men, particularly reasonable men (at whom this movement is obviously aimed). You need protection from predators and there’s only one way to do that.

  3. #Ichoose is a great positive response to #Metoo but I genuinely have a problem with the author’s story. It was clearly a mutual/consensual FriendsWithBenefits situation and as far as we can tell no abuse occurred. If the author and his former friend now have regrets around perceived promiscuity, that is an entirely different issue.

    • Clearly? Are you saying that as someone not only uninvolved in the relationship but also having no connection or knowledge of the people themselves, that you know better than them? They BOTH felt that this situation was unhealthy and unequal. Are you saying your defining of their relationship from a position of no inside information supersedes theirs? Are you magic?

  4. Thank you Tom (and Roxxy) 🙂 It warms my heart and soul to hear men speak out on behalf of Women… we need more of you! And it is heartwarming to hear so many amazing men standing with us to create much needed change. I’m sorry for your loss of friendship with Jess. Yet it was through this loss that urged you to look deeper at the “why’s”. It takes enormous courage to look within instead of inflicting blame on the other and is what is desperately needed for us all to move into a more loving and compassionate world. It’s certainly an excellent place to start! I put the #IChoose on my husband’s facebook page (with his permission of course) because he is “love on legs”. He works diligently at listening to me and hearing my needs, which is a unique and refreshing change for me personally after surviving five decades of domestic violence. He is a rare man indeed and it took me 50 years to find him and we will grow old together very happily. He is healing me on a very deep level and has had to cop all my rage because of men’s past abusive behaviour… and he just keeps on loving me… I don’t know how but he does and I never take him for granted… sometimes i feel very selfish and feel like setting him free to heal other women but he’s not interested in being with anyone else, thankfully… unlike all the rest…
    Sadly, this is not the only area that needs addressing, none of us are adequately educated from the start about life, relationships, sexuality, racism, phobia’s, suicide, death etc and this is what needs to change! Children need to be taught very early on in school about difference, empathy, compassion and effective communication and it is slowly beginning to change in some schools, which is encouraging. And everytime we Choose to take a stand for a better future for all by bringing it into people’s awareness we take one more step toward the new and one more step away from the old paradigm of separation, greed, power and money. Much love to you, Gabrielle

  5. Thank you Thank you Thank you for being aware and taking a stand. It is sad that females receive so much denigration, anger and accusations right from birth, let alone constant ogling and groping. It is now being realized that the established gender imbalance is causing so much suffering for everyone, and even though there will be men who want the imbalance to continue, there are many men who are becoming aware and want to see a better more equitable world.

  6. It is barbaric to demean and harass anyone, and we do need to address problems where they exist. However, we need to figure out how to deal with false accusations, and how to prevent this lash from having unintended consequences. Too many innocent men, women and children have paid dearly after false accusations and lack of of due process.

    • …and until we all stop being so defensive… nothing will ever change… “false accusations” and “lack of due process”? Men’s Women’s and Children’s lives have been ruined by actual sexual abuse but because it’s so frightening to consider even reporting, more cases are left unspoken about than are dealt with. I’ve been sexually harrassed and raped too many times and i’ve never reported it… why? because of the male attitude toward women… the very attitude that is glowing through your words… It needs to be addressed… It needs to be exposed and the men who continue with this barbaric behaviour need to learn it is utterly inappropriate… I look forward to the day when men’s brains evolve beyond their penises… because sadly the majority of men can’t seem to move up toward a higher consciousness when it comes to beauty, women and sacredness… women were not put on this planet as sexual objects… women are as human and complex as men… women acknowledge this but men are mostly incapable while their eyes are glued to our breasts and imagining what they like to do to us sexually… how many times in a minute is it? as i said to George above: until we put ourselves in another’s shoes we will never learn… the author is simply asking men to look a little deeper inside themselves to find the truth beyond sex… why is that so hard?

  7. So what was Jess angry about? The author describes a causal relationship of some kind, is he suggesting that this is not appropriate?

  8. When I left my last place of employment, I hugged my female administrative assistant and a technical specialist when saying goodbye. I now know that any sign of friendship or felial love is now taboo withing womans’ circles and that a simple hug can be parlayed into sexual harassment simply based on unsubstantiated claim by a woman. In this era of #metoo, men are convicted on innuendo and unsubstantiated claims.
    As a result, as a hiring manager, I have elected to only hire men to avoid any improprieties with women. Sorry… but I would rather take a few more days to find a male employee than exposing myself to potential unsubstantiated claims from frustrated women.

    • As you well know, that is illegal hiring practice. And, you’re just using “this era of #metoo” as an excuse. You’re trying to make women the problem.
      If you had any doubt about whether giving goodbye hugs was appropriate all you had to do is ask “I’ve enjoyed working with you, would a goodbye hug make you uncomfortable”? You’re a misogynist. If you weren’t you would be embracing this as an opportunity to bring about awareness of inappropriate behavior within the company you’re employed with. That makes you a big part of the problem. You should be fired. I hope those who employ you are better people than you are, and that this comes to their attention.

    • Hello George, When i read your comment I felt many emotions: anger, sadness, frustration, empathy (I wedged the empathy inbetween my feelings). It’s very difficult to feel empathy, as a woman who has been repeatedly sexually harrassed and raped in the past, for a man who is so shutdown that he chooses to completely by-pass women in the workplace out of fear of “unsubstantiated” claims. But I’m choosing to chat with you about it because it’s the only way forward. We are all guilty of judging others incorrectly ie “frustrated women” but i do understand and hear your own frustrations peeking through here. When we can truly put ourselves in someone else’s shoes just for a moment it deepens the communication profoundly and it is something i’m still learning to do. I’m sorry that you feel threatened by women’s needs for mutual respect in the workplace and I hope that you can take steps to heal this within yourself so that we can all continue to grow into a more loving caring and just society for all. Warm regards Gabrielle

    • poor George – come over – this old lady will clutch you to her big fat bosom and hug you anyday. My docs, when they retired, they hugged everybody goodbye.. sheesh….

    • George, your fear is not going to solve anything. Did the people you hugged have a problem with it? I’m guessing not, and I’m guessing that you knew that ahead of time because you had established a working relationship with your vo-workers. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Just continue to act respectfully and you will have no problems.

    • I think you’ll find what you are doing by only employing men is morally wrong, illegal (in the UK) and you should examine your own issues. You are effectively saying that women are to blame, for misinterpreting normal friendship and felial love and yet you are blaming them? I suggest that before you hug anyone, man, woman or child you should make a simple enquiry as to whether a hug is okay. You don’t know what other people have been through and should respect personal boundaries until you know someone feels safe with your actions. We teach this to kids in school these days, thank goodness.

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