“I couldn’t tell him that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl.”

Watch Tony Porter At TEDWomen. Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other.

Link shared by Prem Chowdhury.

And if you can’t watch the video, read the transcript here, Transcript for Tony Porter: A call to men.

This part made me think of the gang rapes we read about in the news everyday.

“As he opens the door, he says to me, “Do you want some?” Now I immediately knew what he meant… “Do you want some?” meant one of two things: sex or drugs — and we weren’t doing drugs. Now my box, my card, my man box card, was immediately in jeopardy.

Two things:

One, I never had sex. We don’t talk about that as men. You only tell your dearest, closest friend, sworn to secrecy for life, the first time you had sex. For everybody else, we go around like we’ve been having sex since we were two. There ain’t no first time. (Laughter)

The other thing:

I couldn’t tell him is that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl.

Women are objects, especially sexual objects.

Anyway, so I couldn’t tell him any of that… I just simply said to Johnny, “Yes.” He told me to go in his room. I go in his room. On his bed is a girl from the neighborhood named Sheila. She’s 16 years old. She’s nude. She’s what I know today to be mentally ill, higher-functioning at times than others. We had a whole choice of inappropriate names for her. Anyway, Johnny had just gotten through having sex with her. Well actually, he raped her, but he would say he had sex with her. Because, while Sheila never said no, she also never said yes.”

And here’a a video from ‘The Accused’. Please watch the movie if you have not. Based on the real-life gang rape of Cheryl Araujo, this film was one of the first Hollywood films to deal with rape in a direct manner.

Related Posts:

A glimpse into the world of boys
What do men need liberation from?
Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.
MIP: Men In Pink
Why should girls have all the fun?

26 thoughts on ““I couldn’t tell him that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl.”

  1. “I remember asking a nine-year-old boy, I asked a nine-year-old boy, “What would life be like for you, if you didn’t have to adhere to this man box?” He said to me, “I would be free.””

    This is the best line.

      • Well, I know that 9 year old boys know that they shouldn’t cry like ‘girls’ or run like ‘girls’. I’m sure at that age too they are under pressure to behave like a man – whatever that is.

        • I don’t know if I could philosophize like this 9 year old. But I have a story to tell. When I was 7, I severely hurt one of my foot at school. My teacher observed. I was sobbing a little but totally in control of myself without any tears. I was just trying to be tough. But I also expected her to comfort me, but instead she ridiculed me for being fragile like a girl. At that moment I stopped sobbing and didn’t even tell at home about the hurt. They only found out about it a day later when they saw me limping. It turned out I had damaged the ligaments seriously and the foot had to be plastered etc. I would probably hate to admit it in face to anyone, but incidents like these left a deep scar, including numerous times when I was told that boys don’t need to be loved like girls.

  2. I am still watching the first video and I stopped to write this. I was reminded of the blogger who began an argument with me over the “wear bangles and sit at home like a woman” saying we have. He asked what’s wrong with it. He thought there was nothing wrong with it, that it was a “standard proverb”. Standard?!! And a standard that taught what?!

    • “….my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman.”
      How aptly put! How long will it take for that to sink in and permeate to every corner of the world?

  3. Very interesting video.

    At some point, as a man, you end up feeling absolutely repulsed by all the gender-based assumptions that everyone in society makes about you (of course, women have a similar experience).

    When I was an associate at a large law firm, working my rear end off, with literally no time for proper romantic relationships, a lot of my conversations with male (and even some female) friends ended up something like this:

    Them: Do you have a girlfriend yet?
    Me: No.
    Them: Oh, is it a cultural thing? Waiting for marriage?
    Me: No.
    Them: So you aren’t getting any. Want me to hook you up with my friend/classmate/cousin?
    Me: Thanks, but no. I don’t have the time or energy for it right now.
    Them: Are you gay?
    Me: :|

    The ‘desi relative’ version of it is even worse.

    Them: So, you are settled in your career now. :)
    Me: No, actually–
    Them: Yes, I heard, you have a very nice package.
    Me: I–
    Them: You are almost 25 now. We should start looking for a nice girl for you so that you can settle down.
    Me: Well, thanks for the offer, but I don’t really want–
    Them: Don’t be silly, we’ll find a nice, slim, homely, [insert quality here] wife and she’ll care for you very well. You’ll be very happy.
    Me: I–

    It’s a pattern.

    I’m sure it’s even worse for women.

    At some point, you do get tired of people assuming that they know everything about what you want, need and desire, simply from knowing your biological sex.

        • Oh yeah I’ve been at the receiving end of similar comments before my marriage as well….

          Friend/acquaintance: So, are you seeing someone?
          Me: No
          Friend: Why not?
          Me: Generally. Did not find anyone interesting…
          Friend: Yeah right. How long has it been now?
          Me: Err…what? I don’t know. Been awhile. Haven’t really been much into relationships in general.
          Friend: Hah! I know it! You’re a lesbian!
          Me: :shock: !

          Relative: So what’s happening with the wedding scene?
          Me: What wedding?
          Relative: Arre you have a steady job n all. Now we need to look out for a groom for you.
          Me: Really? Didn’t you know I am anti-marriage?
          Relative: Yeah yeah…kids these days always say this. We’ll find a nice groom for you… do you want to move to Australia Canada UK or somewhere else? Let me know!!
          Me: :-|

          Yeesh! :roll:

        • hahaha! Praveen, thats so true. We get so caught on to fighting from the ‘weaker’ side of the society, we actually forgot that not all men ‘want it’ all the time, or from everyone! Good perspective.

        • Ashwathy,

          Heh.

          It’s an experience common to most people from South Asian backgrounds, I suppose.

          Nirvana,

          I do wish more people understood that.

        • OMG, one of those rare moments when we get a good laugh over here. That was hilarious!!

  4. I’ve seen this video before and my first thought was that I would be interested to see it presented to an audience of men and view their thoughts on it.

    It’s quite true that in society we tell our boys ‘you run/act/cry/win/lose like a girl’ as an insult which is just very unhealthy when you think about it.

  5. The video is so good in articulating it all out. That it is said by a man is very powerful. Being set free is a personal journey though and I worry for this generation and past ones of men. There’s hope for the future with gender insensitive parenting. Fingers crossed!

  6. “What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife.” is one of the Facebook pages that were removed by the company after weeks of online outrage BUT there are many more that remain. A Facebook spokesman told a media outlet that freedom of speech allowed users to put up anything they wanted and if people are offended by such pages, they should just ignore them.

    Facebook’s terms of use prohibit postings and pages that are hateful, threatening or incite violence and yet it took months of campaigning to take half a dozen ‘rape’ pages down.

    “Wiping makeup of your shoe after a long day of kicking sluts in their faces” is another example of a page on FB. Many don’t find such pages offensive but instead find them hilarious. Are they hilarious or are they a tacit approval of rape and violence against women?

    (if interested, you can read Soraya Chemaly’s blog on Huffington Post)

  7. I am glad this truth is being articulated. My sons have always said that they want women who can look after themselves, it is so much easier for them if they dont have that burden

  8. So good to have finally met you in person (the blogger meet)….. and ofcourse, loved the post. The truth is, we are kinda sexists without realizing it. Sample dialogues?
    “Ladkiyon ko aisa nahi baithna chahiye” (when a nine year old is too casual in her own home!)…
    “tum ladki ho….. apna kam khud karna seekho” (as if the men came with attached slaves to do their work which in most cases is true)
    ‘He’s a guy – he’s bound to be naughty’
    ‘Bringing up boys is easy – its the girls we must be careful about’
    ‘Overnight excursions from school? Your daughter? Really’ (rolling eyes for effect)
    And many more ….. from seemingly ‘educated’ people…sheesh!

    • The audience is predominantly female, because it is in fact a TEDWomen conference, which is one of the many ‘niche’ TED conferences that are organized from time to time (there was even a TEDIndia).

      I’m not sure if you’re familiar with TED as a whole – it’s basically a very exclusive annual invite-only conference attended by some of the most influential people of the day from all fields of human endeavor. The main event is heavily male-dominated, but as far as TEDWomen is concerned, a majority of the invites go to women.

  9. Pingback: ‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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