Enough is enough: Men, it’s time to man up
The pounding in my chest is unbearable. My heart races as I make my way to my vehicle late at night, and my caution intensifies.
I look over my shoulder to confirm that I am not being followed. I breathe a sigh of relief as I get into my car and realize that I am safe.
This is not fear or paranoia — it is the symptomology and conditioning that I have been prescribed by society. As a woman, I am a target, and I have to take precautions to ensure my safety, even as I go about my daily life.
This is only one example of what women all over the world experience — the uncertainty that at any moment we can become a victim, maybe even in our own home.
There has recently been a heightened focus on women’s issues. Intimate partner violence, gender inequality and sex trafficking abductions have been in the spotlight due to the stories of NFL star Ray Rice abusing his future wife, Emma Watson’s incredible speech at the United Nations and the kidnappings of women by ISIS, respectively. Women all over the world are threatened by pervasive violence.
The United Nations estimates that 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of sex-selective abortions, killings and abandonment.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 billion women worldwide have been beaten, coerced into sex or abused by an intimate partner.
Moreover, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 1 out of every 5 women have been raped.
Violence against women occurs everywhere. In fact, Houston is known as the No. 1 hub for sex trafficking. Yet our indifference and complacency are the chains that hold women in violent captivity.
We must ask why our voice is not being heard and where the men who will stand and help women make a change are. Violence towards women is not a gender issue — it is a human issue.
When women are degraded, abused, objectified and sacrificed, men are victimized, too. Men become bound to a stereotypical prison where they are not allowed to be the real men we all need them to be — men who can cry, be vulnerable, sensitive and display weakness without losing their ability to be “manly.”
Women are tired of men being boxed in to this role of superiority. We know that real men don’t have to exert their power over their wife, girlfriend or any other female. Real men can stand and fight next to women as they each embrace their own strengths without having to minimize the abilities of their counterparts.
“If there ever comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known,” said Matthew Arnold, a 19th century British philosopher.
Imagine what this force would look like if women and men united as one for something bigger than themselves.
I am calling for every man in Houston, young and old, to take a stand to break the cycle of violence against women. To be an example that exemplifies the man you were created to be and to work towards a world where we can all be safe. To create a better standard for our sons, daughters and even for ourselves.
You can begin to make a difference today, in your home, in your interactions with others and in your decision to become educated and support policies that address violence against women and promote gender equality.
Women are not targets. Women are not victims. Women and men together are the solution.
Men, it’s time to speak up and man up.
Contributing columnist Jessica Narvaez Gonzalez is a social work graduate student and may be reached at [email protected].