“We are inevitably our brother’s keeper because we are our brother’s brother. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
I get asked a lot how I got involved with advocating about issues concerning masculinity, violence against women, equality and the like. It still seems foreign to a lot of people that I’m a male feminist and that I have the capacity to care about the wellbeing of individuals other than myself. I really think it’s a sad state of affairs when other-centeredness is the outlier and self-centeredness is the norm.
In a country where 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted before they graduate from college, we can’t afford not to care. It’s easy to look at rape, sexual assault and domestic violence and think they are too overwhelming of problems to be faced. If you think that the task is too daunting, just look at your circle of friends. Look at your sphere of influence. Look at the people in your life and make sure you are holding them accountable for problematic behavior.
When you have friends that make jokes or statements that demean women, call them on it. When you recognize a friend reacting with a violent temper toward his friends/girlfriend/boyfriend, call them on it. We can’t afford not to. We have no other choice.
Would it be easier to turn a blind eye to this disturbing reality and ignore the rape culture that permeates throughout our society? Yes.
Would it be easier to leave the job to someone else? Of course.
These aren’t strangers lurking in the night, these our brothers, our fathers, and our classmates who are wreaking havoc and wrecking lives. When something is so prevalent it takes just as strong a force moving in the opposite direction to end it. At the very least we can talk about it. We can admit it is a problem. We can shine a light on this issue that we swept under the rug oh so long ago. If you believe, like MLK did, that you are your brother’s keeper and you are sister’s keeper, you have a responsibility to act. You don’t have to do everything, but you must do something.