The following reflection has been contributed by Michael. He is one of our youngest student leaders and is determined to leave our school and our group better than when he left it.
Last week, our school, Longfields Davidson Heights, was able to be a part of a presentation by Glen Canning, Ian Mendes and Zizo Aldaqqaq. All three talked to a diverse range of students, but with a common message; we can do better. Our generation is in a unique position where we can focus on the issues based on sexual violence, the issues that have been ignored by the generations before us. The ability for everyone to have a voice is profound in the use of social media, giving our generation a unique media to reach groups of people that otherwise would not hear the message.
One of the most impactful messages from Mr. Canning was his belief that the tragic event of his daughter could have been avoided had one the men in the audience been at the party. Had there been one person to intervene, the situation would never have occurred. Many males would agree, that had they been present, they would take action and stop the demeaning and non consensual acts. However, once in such a situation, the mind no longer functions in a calm and rational state, but instead seeks for self preservation. It is an instinct built into every human, to maintain one’s current status, whether socially or physically. It is one of the fundamental issues we have in society; the vast majority of males are moral and empathic people who do not condone such acts of degradation or violence, yet are unable to act when the time arises. This is what we call the bystander effect. This instinctive reaction is something ManUp tries to target, to ensure that taking a stand is never the wrong answer, even if it means “losing” social status. But, does the idea, that being a good person can ruin one’s reputation, make any sense? The concept of doing the right thing should not be shunned, but instead be a part of daily life, where no one has to feel as if they are alone doing a good deed. If we can make this switch, then humanity as a whole will continue to improve and do better.
One’s perceived masculinity should not be solely on being a dominant alpha male. It should include being a leader as well, helping to reform the problematic social norms. By no means are we attacking masculinity, and on the contrary, we want every male to embrace the best parts of it. Understand that the social problems now happen because of a few people committing terrible deeds, yet not enough is done to denounce it.
Again, no one is perfect. It’s difficult to speak up, to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. Heck, I’m a highschool student putting myself out there. This is why we say you are not alone. Everyone at ManUp stands in agreement with people doing the right thing, and the moral men do too. You are not alone.