Jeff Perera feels we need more men speaking out against violence happening to women and less men getting defensive like the ‘SaveFace’
“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” – Isaac Newton
“You gotta have ‘game’ Bro.”
Whether from popular movies, classmates or advertising, Men and Boys are surrounded with thoughts and messages that say when it comes to making a connection with Women for heterosexual romantic or sexual interaction, you need to step up and take advantage. Take advantage of this moment, take advantage of this chance. We are told from Day One, it’s a game where you need Game.
“‘Man-Up’ and do it Bro.”
What we need to talk about is that pressure to have ‘game’ and be self-sufficient. What we need to talk about is that pressure to not fail, that paralyzing fear of being vulnerable and not being successful that leaves us like a rhino in a glass house trying to avoid pain and rejection.
Women become chips at a poker table versus actual human beings to have relations with (whether as friends or as intimate partners). Women become the rungs on the ladder towards success for a man chasing money, power and respect. This is embodied in the classic film Scarface. The movie is a rite of passage for young men and boys, particularly from poorer or racialized communities. We know the film scene by scene, line by line. We are pulling for Tony Montana as he attempts to climb that rotted ladder ahead of us, a ladder rigged to fail and collapse. We strive, climb and reach for money, power and respect, one rung an a time. Here’s a line from the scene where Tony takes a dive and talks to Elvira Hancock (Yep, that was Michelle Pfeiffer’s character name) who is the prize possession of his new enemy.
“With the right woman, there’s no stopping me…” Tony tells Elvira
I could go right to the top…I like you. I liked you, the first time I laid eyes on you. I said, ”She’s a tiger. ‘She belongs to me.”
Interacting with women should be about connection, being respectful and not taking over their space. With this conditioning of how to be a man, however, how can it be seen as anything else but a ‘game’? We are trained as soldiers sent into a combat field, wrapped in the fragile armour that is this warped idea of manhood. It poorly attempts to conceal us, takes away our ability to feel and see, and hides our heart. Growing up for many boys can become like a descent into a ‘Heart of Darkness’, spending a lifetime chasing this elusive idea of manhood. Why are we surprised that boys approach dating like war.
“You gotta have ‘game’ Bro…‘Man-Up’ and do it Bro.”
So when a man (rather than reveal his vulnerable, human side and simply be himself) faces rejection from this Shoot First, Ask Questions After aggressive approach, what sometimes follows is a vulgar reply to save face.
Scarface, meet the Saveface.
The Saveface is that guy who disrespectfully approaches a woman, and when he is rejected, reacts with further aggression and vulgar behaviour to save face. Here’s a familiar example of him in action:
Saveface: “Hey Baby, your body is a 10″ *tries to grab her butt*
Woman: “Stop it!”
Saveface “Bitch. You’re ugly anyway!! What a slut.”
The Saveface pisses many guys off, but not nearly enough men do anything about him whether he is a stranger or a buddy. The Saveface is concerned with saving his pride when his fragile armour is damaged by his own actions, feverishly protecting the house of cards that is his idea of being a man.
So rather than admit that we as men are struggling under the same force that keeps our sisters suffering…we are left with some men who decide that instead break down these walls, they want to reinforce them and push us deeper into the heart of darkness. Turn the chase for this elusive idea of manhood and power, into a hunt where you take no prisoners.
“‘Man-Up’ and do it Bro”
Enter the next level, The Gameface.
An example of The Gameface is the character of Frank Mackey, a ‘motivational-speaker’ from the classic film Magnolia. What’s his deal? ” In this big game that we play, life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve, it’s what you take. I’m Frank T.J. Mackey, a master of the muffin and author of the Seduce and Destroy system…”
…his message to men: Tell her to Respect the Cock
Doesn’t that turn your stomach? While you have the same fascination as you would passing a car wreck, it also made you sick. If not, why not? Some men turn into a ‘Saveface’ and focus more on being defensive vs try to open our eyes, understand what’s happening and demand accountability from our fellow brothers.
When it comes to issues of sexual assault and street harassment of women, these are the actions are of a small minority of men. This is not a reflection of being a man, this is not the best of men. When 14 women were killed in Montreal on December 6th, when over 600 Aboriginal Women missing or feared dead in Canada, when we continue to denigrate and devalue the feminine and create harmful ideas of manhood, it leaves us all in crisis…it impacts us all. It should not be left to women to speak up and speak out. As men we need to get mad, get frustrated about the violence affecting women & girls, get mad about the state men and boys are in…and do something. This sentiment was reflected in a post I read that blew my mind, so I decided to create and post an image quoting it on Facebook. It was from a blog called ‘The Pervocracy’. Literally overnight it was shared hundreds of times. It was about the Myth of the Boner Werewolf.
…no seriously, The Myth of the Boner Werewolf
^click to read this amazing article in full ^
Read the post, it is powerful sharing, and just brilliant. Here’s a key piece: “I wonder why more men aren’t just insulted by the whole concept. If someone started telling stories about how my gender was controlled by our genitalia and sexual arousal turns us into rapist automatons, I would be outraged. ” …and the last paragraph, again.
Men aren’t rollercoasters. They aren’t werewolves. They aren’t walking penises. They’re people. They make decisions. Let’s stop talking about “he couldn’t stop himself” and start talking about “he decided not to stop.” Men deserve that dignity, and the responsibility that comes with it.
Dignity and Responsibility. Why aren’t more men expressing their frustration at messages directed towards women that men can’t control themselves (i.e. Don’t dress a certain way, don’t be a victim) We need more men to be moved to action, fighting these ideas that leave men struggling and women suffering?
Whoa! Right? We need more men blowing up social media, tweeting and facebooking to other men about stories like this one: A judge tells a woman who had a drunk police officer walk up behind her at a bar and sexually assault her “If you wouldn’t have been there that night, none of this would have happened to you,”
Let’s listen, let’s hear, let’s try to understand what is happening everyday for our sisters, mothers, neighbours, family, co-workers, friends and lovers.
Some Men get defensive and become Saveface. Guys, it’s ok to admit we have privilege, that doesn’t mean we aren’t struggling as well. Her freedom means we will be granted our own as well, freedom to drop the performances and just be our real, true self. Imagine if men weren’t busy pretending to have game or be invunlerable.
Check out Remi’s Man Up Moment
How many times do people respond with violence (call the woman a ‘bitch’ or a ‘dyke’) if they are ‘nice or respectful’ and get ‘shot down’ ? Let’s recognize how we can be a part of change, and how most of us guys don’t commit acts of violence but need to do something about a culture and world where it is real and everyday. Oh, and remember guys…
Let’s approach interactions respectfully with no expectations that being nice will lead to a good connection, romantic or sexual connection..
Here is a list we came up with at White Ribbon of 6 Things Men can do to TAKE A STAND against Sexual Assault and Harassment
^click to open the image, print or pass it along!^
So let’s stop the Saveface, not all men are the problem, what are you doing to be part of the solution? Men make choices, and can make right choices let’s embrace that responsibility Help stop Sexual Assault and Harassment Let’s talk to fellow men, young men and boys in our lives. You can do it Bro.
Stop The Saveface.
Stop the Gameface.
Wear your Human Face.
It starts with you. It stays with him. is an online-based, social media campaign developed by the White Ribbon Campaign to inspire men to promote healthy, equal relationships with the boys in their lives. Helping young people achieve consent, set boundaries, value people of all genders and use respectful communication in all their relationships is something we can all do. Learn more about the tips, tools and resources, e-modules and digital stories available online for free at www.itstartswithyou.ca