A man’s a man for a’ that

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Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!

It would be easy to pass them by. But I live in an environment where every single day, I get to witness the towering strengths of the women that surround me. And it hasn’t distanced me from the violence of thought and action that all women around the world are impacted by. It’s enhanced it. Stories around the social media stratosphere and stories much closer to home have played out in tandem and left me conflicted. I’ve been witnessing a reality that does not fully affect me. I share so much intellectually and emotionally with these women yet am removed from or am contributing to so much of the societal poverty that punctuates them. I want to be aware and not allow ignorance to overlook what goes on but how as a man is that done and can it be done without compromising oneself?

Men have to be accountable as people to know that other people need their roles to help. Because a man’s a man for a’ that, no matter his choices. And so his choices are what defines a man, not some adherence that they think they must live up to. And what they are becomes an example of what another man thinks they should be.

Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that

It’s harder to see the trail of brittle masculinity below us if we are insecure about not following what is above us. Yet those men at ‘the top’ not only get proven time and time again to enforce horrors and abuses upon women, they do nothing to benefit men as a group. At best, they make them the key holders of their own chains. It is an insecure form of masculinity that is bolstered by exerting power over others. If that strength was true, it wouldn’t need dominance, it could thrive on charisma and self awareness. The belligerence of an ego only sees things in the immediacy without being able to look at things within a wider historical context. The individual male has a right to speak but they don’t always have to cash that right in. They should see that other individuals have to get that chance too. Men in positions of influence should understand that details in life are rarely as important as life and death and so they don’t always have to be involved in the decisions. Sometimes, just let things go.

The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

These other groups are not distinct from men, most men’s lives are intertwined more in diversity than within an uncontactable homogenous blob of manhood. These others are our social groups, friends, partners and strangers in the street. Empowering these people is not a paternal gift that men have to offer but using our influence as individuals to free up some space for wider expression and greater stories is the right thing to do and much more interesting. Personally I have felt far more comfortable with my masculinity over the last couple of years because of the intimacy and interactions I have had with those that can offer a different perspective. My weaknesses are challenged and my strengths emboldened. The absurdity of power has become much clearer to see.

It has been a week to recognise that beneath the veneer of liberal thought around the world and even in radical practice within my own home, women collectively and individually still face too many arduous challenges just to even be listened to. The way society is structured cannot deal with the inconvenience of these people speaking out. But this must be challenged, questioned and changed. I didn’t need any confirmation but through the despondency I have seen the passions of incredible women roar and talents emanate to the surface. I see them all around me rising up to the issues that affect them and affect others and that is the world and the future I want to be a part of. Mistakes will be made, misunderstandings will occur but better to be wrong trying to be right than to be wrong not trying at all.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Woman, the world o’er,
Shall brothers and sisters be for a’ that.


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