The tipping point is a helpful idea, but in this case I can’t point to one. I’m sure being a (foster) dad to a young girl for a few months has been part of the picture; I’m not aware of a news item pushing me to this point, but there may be one or two sub-consciously in the mix.
This has been a long time coming. My wife and I play to very few traditional gender roles or characteristic stereotypes and archetypes. I have become increasingly aware of rape culture, male privilege and patriarchy; and on a few occasions I’ve deliberately acted to fight against them. I’ve realised, uncomfortably, that as a white British male in the early-21st Century, I’m one of the most privileged people in humanity’s history. I’m also aware that not one iota of this privilege is earned or deserved.
So I’ve taken a decision to do what I can to walk away from it. If you’re a man, I invite you to walk away from it also. Because if girls and women suffer or are held back, then I suffer and am held back. That’s what it means to be a fellow human, also made in the image of God, also part of the body of Christ. There is no such thing as a truly isolated human – especially one who follows Jesus. I’m doing this because I’m a man, a husband, a father, a friend, brother, son, citizen, Christian, minister, blogger, sports-fan, culture-consumer. Many other things, too.
I’m not seeking to start a movement or get publicity. I don’t have a hashtag for this, a website to promote, a t-shirt to sell you or a book deal to anticipate (of course, I can’t promise that none of those things will happen – but I’m not looking for them). I’m doing this because I should, and I want to. I need to, and so do you. I’m doing this in a public forum so that I know I’ve done it and I can’t get out of it. As well as inviting you to join in, I’m inviting you to hold me to this (lovingly), especially if you’re a woman. Do it sneeringly, nastily, self-righteously, or in an attempt to show me that it’s doomed and useless, then I’ll try to ignore you. Do it to help me do it better, then I’ll listen to you and I’ll try to act.
So here’s what I’m going to try and do. There aren’t ten of them because that would just be too comfortable, and it would suggest completion. If you have other suggestions, then please make them.
1. Take responsibility for my own thoughts and actions.
2. Raise my foster daughter to insist that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’.
3. Raise my foster son to take responsibility for his own thoughts and actions, and to teach him that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’.
4. Act on the basis that only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’.
5. Critique and challenge men when I become aware of them acting out of rape culture, patriarchy and privilege.
6. Without evading my responsibilities or God’s call, I will step away from an assignment when I know of a woman who could do as good or better a job than me.
7. Consciously empty myself of privilege when I become aware that I am acting out of it; and to examine myself for signs of acting out of rape culture, patriarchy and privilege.
8. Allow others to point out to me when I may be unaware that I am acting out of rape culture, patriarchy and privilege.
9. Work towards breaking patterns of rape culture, patriarchy and privilege in church ministry.