Roy Moore. Harvey Weinstein. Bill Cosby. These are “bad guys,” right? They represent the extreme end of the sexual misconduct spectrum. Most men can easily say they don’t identify with any of these guys. They have never done the things these men have done and never would do the things these men have done. There are bad guys, and there are good guys, and they are good guys. They are not sexist. They have mothers! Sisters! Daughters! They would never mistreat women, or speak about them in a demeaning way—End of story. Open and shut case.
But… We all live in The Water. And if we really want things to change for the better for both women and men, we have to take a closer look. In this bonus episode, Dan talks about what sexism really looks like in our day-to-day lives, and explains why men need to reckon with their privilege without getting bogged down in feelings of shame and disempowerment.
1. When someone is talking about their experiences as a woman, person of color, gay person, queer person, transgender person, etc., and your first thought is, “That doesn’t even make sense! That’s not the way I see things!” Pause. Turn any impulse to become defensive into curiosity. Instead of stating all the ways that you disagree with their perspective, ask questions that may help you better understand their perspective.
2. Listen. Listen with full attention, full consciousness, and full humanity.
3. When it is your turn to share your perspective, speak with caveats in order to create a space for you and other to talk about differences without animosity. Mandy Smith, writing for Missio Alliance, offers this excellent advice:
“Beginning with ‘I’d love to hear your perspective on this: I’m thinking…’ or ‘I may be wrong, but…’ creates space for the experience of others. It acknowledges your own subjectivity and invites conversation, trusting that the goal is for us to discover the way forward together. I know that in the white, male world, these kinds of caveats communicate insecurity. To women they communicate humility and invitation. Even if you feel pretty confident in your own opinion, it may be helpful to choose this kind of language for the sake of making space for difference.”
Dan Griffin, M.A., is an internationally recognized author, thought leader, and expert on men’s relationships and masculinity.
Dan’s work and life is dedicated to exploring and redefining what it means to be a man in the 21st century. Dan is dedicated to helping men be better men by understanding the impact of the Man Rules on their lives and finding the success in their personal lives they are striving for in the professional lives. Griffin’s book, A Man’s Way through Relationships, is the first book written specifically to help men create healthy relationships while navigating the challenges of the “Man Rules™,” those ideas men internalize at very young ages about how to be real boys and men. In 2015, Dan was honored to be named a Senior Fellow at the world-renowned leader for treating addiction and trauma, The Meadows.
Griffin’s professional background includes over two decades in the mental health and addictions field. He is also the author of A Man’s Way through the Twelve Steps, the first trauma-informed book to take a holistic look at men’s sobriety. He co-authored Helping Men Recover, the first comprehensive gender-responsive and trauma-informed curriculum for addiction and mental health professionals. Griffin earned a Master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Kansas where his graduate work was the first qualitative study centered on the social construction of masculinity in the culture of Alcoholics Anonymous.