published at Feminist Current June 12, 2014
So men, what do you want to hear?
Not all men are like that? You’re not like those other men?
Let’s say I tell you men that you are wonderful, kind, heroic and humble. Will these words of praise stop the girl enslavement called “child marriages”?
If women change tactics from demanding the return of girl children stolen in Africa, if instead we engulf men in a cascade of compliments assuring men that we know they are decent and devoted, will men return our generosity by raising the average age a girl enters prostitution out of the early teen years?
So men, if it is not flattery you want from women, what are the words you want to hear? What can women say that will cause you to finally stop what you have always had in your manly hands the power to end?
Women have been forgiving of what men have done to us. We have to if we want to leave our homes. We have to forget what pornography shows us men like to masturbate to if we want to go to work or buy food while looking into the porn-soaked eyes of the men around us. We have to forget what happened the last time we went out, and the time before that, and we need to remember the times nothing happened.
I’ll remember that you are the good ones and that most violence is really the fault of madness or money. I will forgive and forget whatever it is you want of me if you tell me what you want to hear women say. Then good men like you will stop telling us how we’re doing feminism wrong, because we’ll be doing it exactly as you command.
Then men will stop the violence your mentally ill brothers and financially destitute brothers commit against girls and women.
Men will stop the violence.
Not because women have always begged men to stop. Not because women have always acquiesced to silent invisibility in the hope that men would respond with civility. Not because men haven’t kept masculinity’s vaunted promise to protect women and children.
Men will stop the violence because women will finally have spoken the word sequence whose non-utterance has kept the dignity of full personhood out of women’s grasp.
So men, enough with telling women when we speak the wrong words. What would you have women say to get men to end the violence sinking humanity’s ship, the result when something naturally balanced is forcibly tipped for too long?
You can go over Twitter’s 140 characters if you need to, or whatever Facebook’s limit is, but do try to keep it from becoming a 141-page manifesto if you can.
Just say the words and I will work tirelessly getting women to repeat them, then men will stop the violence.
Men will stop the violence.
Women will say what men want to hear and men will stop the violence.
And that will work this time.
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