Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Guide for Real Men

As Caitlin and I travel the world and put on camps for children, we come across one prevailing theme where ever we go: the inferior treatment of women and girls. Anyone who travels the world can attest to the fact that still in most societies, religions and cultures women are looked at and treated as inferior to men.

One of Peace Pandemic's most serious focal points is the phrase "You can judge a true man on the basis of how he treats the women in his life." We share this with boys worldwide, often to their own astonishment because they have never thought about how treating a female with respect could translate to being a better man.

As a man, I see the world through a masculine lens (naturally) however, I do not ignore the reality of our skewed tendencies, thoughts and actions towards women. Some men reading this already may be feeling defensive, sarcastic or territorial (all common traits) because as men we do not like to give up our command and influence over a certain situation. This is why many men don't like to talk about their "feelings" or stop and smell the proverbial roses.

Society has even attributed the notion of "Peace and Love" as a feminine trait in most cases. This discourages boys and men from even approaching the subject and turns their focus more towards "masculine" attributes: war, fighting, defense, ruggedness, domination etc.

I do not write this to appeal to the feminists and the soft-hearted. I want to address and enroll the boys and men who think that "getting in touch with their feminine side" is a taboo idea. Men should not look at the treatment of women, peace and love as their feminine side rather we should look at it as our EVOLVED side.

Yes, for centuries men have waged wars and strutted their physical prowess on the battlefield and in the arena. Today, more boys and men are taking this ape-like bravado and using it at home. Domestic violence, rapes, murders, feeling that women should be subordinate to men... all of these things are REAL in today's world.

If you are a man reading this then I encourage you to be different. I applaud those of you who do see women AND other men as your equals. You are pushing the human race forward towards tolerance. Bravo!

Here is a short list of ten things I believe REAL MEN do and should do in regards to the women in their lives:

1. Real men remember that women have different physical and emotional needs than us.
2. Real men see women as their equals; not inferior or superior. This means that no woman is subordinate to you in ANY circumstance and no woman should be put on a pedestal (except for your Mom).
3. Real men are accountable for their actions, thoughts, feelings.
4. Real men NEVER hit/strike a woman.
5. Real men have a level respect for every human being whether man, woman or child.
6. Real men listen but also HEAR what others are telling us.
7. Real men find a way NOT to use force if there are other options.
8. Real men always exude integrity, patience, kindness and humility.
9. Real men use language to show intelligence and sincerity, not gossip and aspersion.
10. Real men Love.

Be the Change



  1. Hi Jeb,

    I think you make a really good point about needing to focus on social norms regarding masculinity. I'm interested in sport and development and wrote a similar post recently:
    Although you make really good points about masculinity, I found it odd that you didn't discuss sport and masculinity. Through your own experiences as a high level athlete and with your Peace Pandemic work I think you would have some really interesting insights.

  2. Hi Shawn,

    Thank you for your comment and yes you certainly make a good point. My intent with this post (as well as my camps worldwide) is to show boys that masculinity is not inherent in sport. Sport does not make the man and the man does not make the sport. However, the ability of sports to shift paradigms in this world is immense. To me, this is where the "atmosphere" of sport is so important. In other words, if the sport can be a manifestation of these points then the boys will better understand.

    I have found that going to schools and speaking to the children about these traits has less effect than being on the pitch and speaking with and showing them. Soccer puts us in a commonplace where they can conceptualize the importance of being a man on and off the pitch. Like you said in your article... empowerment has its limits however don't discount the power the game itself over young ones when used in the right context.

    For example, taking my fiance with me on these trips has made the biggest impact on the girls we work with. Once Caitlin is able to get them into groups (of all girls) where the feel at liberty to speak about their dreams, goals, lives, worries etc... you really start to see the transformation. If I were to go up to these girls (as a man) then the same effect would not occur because of the context and environment. Relating the material is the biggest thing and I do believe that every single child can be empowered through sport... the delivery of the message just has to be tweaked.

    I am dedicated to revealing the absolute social power of Soccer and these are just some things that I have learned on my journey so far!

    Would love to keep collaborating and speaking with you.

  3. Hi Jeb,

    Thanks for the detailed response. I definitely agree with you that the context in which a message is delivered and the way in which that message is delivered is vital. I also believe that sport, and soccer especially, can be used as a medium for social change.

    I suppose that the contradiction that sometimes hangs me up is that sport often promotes various masculinities. So, to try and challenge masculinity through a medium that traditionally rewards it is incredibly tricky. But I do agree with you that sport may have the potential to do this if it is like you said planned, developed, and delivered appropriately.

    Anyways, I hope you keep up with the posts.

  4. No, REAL MEN don't let emotionally weak, illogical people lay down the rules for them, they realize that women ARE the inferior gender and a burden that must always be led and protected and helped to survive, they are accordingly patient, charitable and dominant, and they also know that sometimes it is necessary and right hit even a woman.

    People in less wealthy nations can't afford the luxury of being detached enough to forget this stone fact of life or all of them, especially the women, won't survive.