Yesterday I ran into my friend’s boyfriend and upon my asking where she was, he replied that he made her stay home. He added that she does what he tells her to – that this is what you call “WINNING”. He laughed that he had a chokehold on her and if he wants his girl to stay home she will listen.
As his friends around him chuckled and/or ignored the conversation, I defended my friend and called him out on his ridiculous, misogynist comments.
That exchange stirred up anger in me. First, I am fiercely loyal and protective over my friends. Hearing the man who supposedly loves my girlfriend say such disrespectful and demeaning comments was infuriating to say the least. Second, the incident is not one in isolation – it is perspective rooted in misogyny and sexism that is all too common in society. Third, as a mutual friend told me to calm down and not engage, I was frustrated by the fact that people choose to become passive bystanders because it’s too uncomfortable to take a stand when someone is clearly being, for a lack of a better word, a douchebag.
I think the reason why it stirred up such a strong reaction in me is because I empathize with my girlfriend. She is a gorgeous girl who has been validated by her physical beauty her whole life. Her potential for true empowerment has sat on the wayside as her low self-esteem has constantly been dressed up in looking perfect. When you are spiritually unhealthy, you attract other unhealthy counterparts who only reinforce your low self worth. We’ve all been there, and it’s a damaging cycle of destruction.
I understand that my role is not to be an enforcer of justice, and it is quite likely that my dialogue yesterday evening likely did not even make a dent in that person’s psyche. But that doesn’t matter. You can never control how someone will react. You can only do what you think is right according to your values and morals and how people respond or don’t respond is not your problem.
You decide how you want to show up. You choose who you want to be in that moment. What values do you stand for, and when you witness a breach of those values do you take a stand or do you sit back?
We need to stop being passive bystanders. We have a responsibility to the greater good of society to interrupt when witnessing someone contaminating the world with hatred. We need to recognize that when we step back in silence when a friend is making racist, demeaning or misogynist commentary, we are just as much a part of that diatribe of hatred.
The key to change in this world starts with the mindset of individuals. We may be only one person, but our perspectives, actions and behaviours contribute to the norm of our peer group and ultimately the society we live in. We hold enormous power to influence if these norms will heal or harm, through the words we choose, the conversations we have, the respect we show for other human beings, and by choosing to take a stand versus being passive bystanders.
4 Replies to “What Do You Stand For?”
Why would someone like this feel great that he told someone to stay home? Is this to prove to him that he is a “man”? Because he can get his girlfriend to stay home? I bet he feels like a king when he tells her to make him a big bowl of instant ramen.
It seems like a common scenario; women go for the bad boys.
What else is new?
I’ve been in a similar situation where I was friends with the guy and the girl and was actually the one who introduced both. Both of them, I’ve considered good friends of mine in the past. About half a year ago, the two of them hooked up, but their relationship remained on friendly terms. However, I know in my clear mind that my girl friend would’ve very much liked a relationship with my guy friend who wasn’t interested in moving past the friend stage.
A few months ago, I found myself at a party with both of them. My guy friend who is a charming, player type was actually hitting on my girl friend’s cousin leaving my girl friend kind of on her own at the party. He, then comes up to me and says, hey, I really hope *so-and-so*( my girl friend) is gonna hook up with my friend, (let’s just call him…) Joe.
I was a bit appalled by his comment about a girl he had already slept with, who is also my friend. At first, it just came as a bit of a shock to me. Then, I was a bit angry about his comment. I imagined myself in her shoes. If a guy I had been intimate with had casually comment that it would be nice to pass me on to his friend, I’d be infuriated. It’s the ultimate devaluation of her dignity and respect.
Your article speaks to me so well. I feel like these days, a lot of women don’t truly value themselves as they should. The feminist movement definitely backfired and sexuality has become the major source of empowerment to many of the modern so called feminist women instead of contribution, value and talents. It’s hard to pinpoint who to blame in this situation: the girl who didn’t respect herself enough to not casually sleep with a guy who didn’t love or care about her. Or the guy who is douchebag enough to talk about her in such a manner.
It’s becoming rarer and rarer for me to meet girls who love themselves, value themselves, who are strong enough to stand up for themselves and be themselves in a world that is telling them to be something else.
Standing up for someone in that kind of situation does require a lot of courage, because even if you don’t agree with what’s happening sometimes you freeze for different reasons, mostly fear. The last three paragraphs of this article are amazing, mindset is everything. Congrats because you’re helping people so much =) I’m enjoying your blog/site!