Empowering Men To Empower Women

It is amazing to see women uniting, lifting each other up, taking charge, challenging traditional norms, and changing the game. This is not only inspiring, but necessary.  

While there is so much to be celebrated with the feminist movement, I can’t help but to feel concern for what these changes mean for men in the 21st century. I think the mere fact that many people agree “it is a scary time to be a man,” suggests that we are doing something wrong! At the core of what we need most right now is people uniting for the sake of all people. 

Ladies, we need men on our team, and the only way to do that is to be on their team too.

For the last two years I have specialized in suicide bereavement, working with families who have lost someone to suicide. Almost all the people I have supported were grieving the loss of a male. Statistics show that men are 3x more likely to die by suicide than women. This statistic does not suggest that men are unhappier than women, but what it does illuminate is that men are at greater risk, and for a population of individuals who is at greater risk, should we not be doing more to address men’s suffering, as well as women’s suffering?

Western culture has superimposed expectations on men that will by nature continue to create a nation of unhappy men. Men are put into smaller and more restrictive boxes that inhibit what they can and cannot feel, say, and do…it makes sense that for many of them, the best course of action is to just do nothing, avoid, shut down, stay quiet, and attempt to keep the peace. 

We need to recreate a culture that allows us to be human; to be real about our struggles in this increasingly chaotic world; and encourages us to embrace our challenges as powerful teaching moments.

It is impossible to have depth in our experiences and connections with others unless we can first discover depth within ourselves.

As women, we have the power to dramatically shift the nature and course of our relationships with men. If we want more engaged husbands, partners, and friends, and healthier role models for our children, then we need to support and educate men; we need to create a platform for men to be authentic and honest; to admit feeling defeat, struggle, and pain; to discover that they have much more to offer than just being the primary provider for the family.  

I think the old saying, “treat others as you want to be treated” is exactly what we need to live by right now…and we cannot continue to be selective about this. This is the same concept as someone who is kind only when others are kind to them, but then becomes manipulative, abusive, insulting, etc. when someone angers or hurts them. If you value kindness, then you must practice being kind even when you’re upset. You won’t be perfect in your efforts (and that’s okay!), but lasting change does require a commitment to living by your values, even when it’s not easy to do so. 

I genuinely believe that the most powerful way to encourage men to empower women, is to empower men; to express our appreciation and gratitude for the value they bring to our lives, and to help both men and women redefine manhood in the modern world. 

As women: We need to make a commitment to opening the doors for communication with men. Encouraging men to be more real with us and holding space for their perspective to be different from our own. Practice compassion for the challenges men face and find ways to communicate your support for them. Take ownership for your own issues and empower yourself to grow through it.

And for men: You need to hold yourselves accountable. Make a commitment to facing your own issues, getting more comfortable expressing yourselves and being vulnerable with each other. Get in touch with your heart and own it.

For all of us: Instead of reacting and putting others down for failing to meet your needs or treat you as you deserve to be treated, I encourage you to take a moment to get grounded so that you can consciously express what your boundaries and needs are, and can openly invite others to share their own. If respect and value for each other’s perspective cannot be achieved, then lovingly let that person go. Some people are just not ready for your love.

(I recognize this is a very brief and nondescript comment on having healthy boundaries and I will provide more information in future posts – but I invite you to reach out to me if you would like some more support in cultivating healthy relationships)

You deserve to be in relationships (friend, family, work, intimate), with people who value you for exactly who you are, and the uniqueness you have to offer. This is only possible if we begin to take risks to be more vulnerable, to embrace emotions besides just happiness, to be patient with our struggles, and to support EVERYONE to be honest about these things.

Vulnerability is the new sexy. 

Please share your comments and feedback or reach out below if you would like to talk more. 

With love,

Katrina Shaw