Power & Control: How (not) to be a Man

Time to get a grip on how we react.

In just a few moments of your time today, I would like to help you redefine your perception of how we should be as men…to our partners, families, friends, workplace and community. To some, this will not be an epiphany as they read along. To others, I hope it opens your eyes.

Recently, I was provided a list of actions that are considered “abusive” behavior. As I scanned the list, I was amazed at some of the items…considering, most people I know would be abusive per this list. I then saw a bigger picture and reality. If the majority of us do things that hurt others, the effect we are having on them always finds a way to come back full circle.

“Life is like an echo. What we send out, always comes right back.” – Chinese Proverb

 

I am personally guilty of some of these abusive behaviors. I have nothing to hide and I hope you can learn some things from my own experiences.

We do not think of ourselves as abusers because we JUSTIFY or MINIMIZE our actions due to the actions of the other person. What we need to realize is WE CANNOT CHANGE our partners, we can only change ourselves and be accountable for what WE do. It doesn’t matter if they are calling you names, you don’t have to call names back. I have come to a point in life where I think that those who fight the hardest to win an argument are truly the biggest losers.

We as men need to create SAFETY, not have a persona of stopping whatever behavior threatens our “authority” – we see aggression as being a natural part of being a man, and that our “superior status” gives us the right to use that aggression to dominate and control women..and others.

DO NOT BLAME YOUR T-SHOTS. Be accountable for your actions. I have been on T now for 5 months and I have not once blamed anything I have said or done on T. Do I feel more assertive? Sure! Yet, that is no excuse or justification to be an asshole.

We need to be loving, supportive and respectful. We need to be self-less, not selfish in our motives, thoughts and actions. We need to have integrity and be role models to our future generations.

It is NOT okay to lose our cool and have short fuses. I have been practicing this while driving. Where I live is NUTS with traffic and most people that live here shouldn’t have a drivers license. Lately, when someone cuts me off and I feel the urge to wave my Italian arm in the air and yell out, “You stupid idiot!!!!”, I now honk my horn and keep my mouth shut. Oh, and I have stopped honking my horn for, like, 5 minutes at the person. I had a wonderful habit of doing that. I’d get really fired up and lay on my horn for an uncomfortable amount of time. FACT: I have cut people off and most of the time it has been unintentional and I felt awful about it. Who’s to say these people just didn’t see me? We are human. We make mistakes. We need to realize this, stop stressing out, and move on.

FOR HEALTH’S SAKE:

High stress increases your blood pressure, increases cortisol (hormone that adds tummy fat), and makes your body more at risk to be unhealthy. Stress is not healthy. It is the precursor for many horrible things you don’t want.

To top that off, when we react instead of respond, we put the other person’s health at risk.

KIDS WILL BE KIDS?

You can listen in on a typical day at the playground and hear kids bullying other kids who aren’t aggressive or dominant and show more signs of passivity. They pick on them and call them all sorts of names like “faggot”, “wuss”, “p*ssy”, to demoralize them. Notice, most names these young boys are called usually relate to women. It is ingrained early on that for a man to be thought of in any way as a woman is degrading. *Just wanted to point that out*

I remember when I was a child, yelling and screaming TERRIFIED me. It made me feel scared inside and I wanted to go hide. As I grew up…I then adopted that behavior and felt like the louder I could get, the more I would be heard. I just really wanted to make sure I was heard and understood and even felt my reasoning was completely justified and rational. In turn, I wasn’t listening to the other person. I heard very little, made my assumptions and then defended my own reality and perception.

Why am I disclosing my own dirt? Because it is dirt MANY people have and I’m doing a complete makeover with the new revelations I have been receiving and it is time for all of us to clean up our lives so we can truly live and not be overshadowed by deception of how we should be as men.

I want to respect others, listen to them and value their feelings as I value my own. I want to respond calmly to things that usually strike a nerve and irritate me. I want to bite my tongue when I feel “triggered” and only respond in a loving way, or walk away until I can. I want to be the best husband and father I possibly can be.

HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE

It is just a fact. People who are hurt, hurt others. And when you are hurting, you are so wrapped up in your own hurt that you fail to realize there is another person right in front of you that is also hurting. We have this reptilian brain of “flight or fight” and forget to pass through the passive pathway of “cognitive thinking” and take the quick pit stop of “REACTION” … which is never the right exit to get off at. Most of the time we react, it is out of our own hurt and fear. Usually, when you feel something intense in a not-so-nice-way, you are either going to cry, lash out, or retreat.

I feel the time has come for men to embrace a sense of self in which they can provide safe environments and validation of others.

Lastly, I am providing you with the list I was given recently. Some of these are extreme, some might surprise you.

Violent and Controlling Behavior Checklist
Physical Violence
____ Slap, punch, grab, kick, choke, push, restrain, pull hair, pinch, bite
____ Rape (use of force, threats to get sex)
____ Use of weapons, throwing things, keeping weapons around which scare her
____ Abuse of furniture, things in the home, pets, destroying her things
____ Intimidation (standing in the doorway during arguments, angry or threatening gestures, use of size to intimidate, standing over her, outshouting, driving recklessly)
____ Uninvited touching
____ Threats (verbal or nonverbal, direct or indirect)
____ Harassment (uninvited visits or calls, following her around, checking up on her, embarrassing her in public, not leaving when asked)
____ Isolation (preventing or making it hard for her to see/talk to friends, relatives, others)
____ Other (please list)

Psychological and Economic Abuse
____ Yelling, swearing, being lewd, raising your voice, using angry expressions or gestures
____ Criticism (name-calling, swearing, mocking, put-downs, ridicule, accusations, blaming, use of trivializing words or gestures)
____ Pressure Tactics (rushing her to make decisions, using guilt/accusations, sulking, threatening to withhold financial support, manipulating children, abusing feelings)
____ Interrupting, changing topics, not listening, not responding, twisting her words, going on and on
____ Economic coercion (withholding money, the car, or other resources; sabotaging her attempts to work)
____ Claiming “the truth,” being the authority, defining her behavior, using “logic”
____ Lying, withholding information, infidelity (having sex with others)
____ Using pornography (e.g., magazines, movies, strip shows, home videos, etc.)
____ Withholding help on childcare/housework; not doing your share or following through on your agreements
____ Emotional withholding (not expressing feelings, not giving support, validation, attention, compliments, respect for her feelings, rights, and opinions)
____ Not taking care of yourself (not asking for help or support from friends, abusing drugs or alcohol, being a “people-pleaser”)
____ Other forms of manipulation (please list)

(Adapted from EMERGE, Boston, Massachusetts)

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing.”

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4 Comments

Filed under Spout Out, Support

4 responses to “Power & Control: How (not) to be a Man

  1. Jet

    I resent the headline. How “to be man” should be more like it. Kind, strong, responsible, values, morals, ethics. reliable, and never a deadbeat to his family or children. You make men out to be screaming assholes and I resent it. Power and control can be constructive and positive in ways that women are not able to exercise them. Strength is needed at times to hold situations together without being destructive. In fact, not many women want the responsibility of always having to hold it together and would prefer to be feminine able to rely on a man she could depend on while genuinely being cared for. I think your blog comes off as hating men personally, because of how you have portrayed them here. Not all men are angles. But…certainly the nice men I know who have done nothing but care for others. I am FtM with role models of men who really do care in their own masculine ways about brothers, women, family, God, co-workers and neighbors. I want nothing more than to be a decent man. And I sure as shit won’t take your advice on how to do it.—Jet

  2. JET

    You’re full of shit. You redifine because you don;t fit.

  3. Pingback: And What About Me? Letting Go Of Control « stepping out of history

  4. Emmett

    Excellent post! I am so glad someone is putting stuff like this out there, I strongly believe that a lot of men (and trans men too) tend to blame their aggression on their testosterone, because society has learned to expect men to be more aggressive, loud, and explosive. To me, that is such a bad excuse. Men do not have to be this way to be heard, and actually in my experience you get much better results with calmer approaches. I am by no means perfect in any way, but a couple of things I do to keep myself in check are these:
    -If I get too angry, I leave the room. I’d rather remove myself from the situation than start saying things I don’t mean and will have to apologize for later. My fiance knows to respect this rule because she doesn’t want to hear the crap that can come out of my mouth. (There is nothing wrong with going to bed angry, an issue can sometimes be better resolved after both of you have had some sleep)
    -Every morning when I wake up I make a conscious decision and ask myself, “what can I do today that would make her life a little easier?/what can I do to show her that I love her?” Christ called us men to love our wives as He loves the church, so it is our duty to make sacrifices everyday for her even if it makes us a little uncomfortable. In turn, having a happy partner will make her more available and more willing to do things to make you happy. Caveat: You cannot do these things and expect anything in return; that is unconditional love. But I will testify that a happy wife makes a happy home, so anything I can do to help. 🙂
    I hope this helps in some way. I believe it is important for us to remember that it is so easy to get caught up in anger… the challenge is to find better ways to express ourselves and handle situations.

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