Dear Brett,

You write “Your bringing a sexual element into the conversation only makes things worse. You put that seed into men’s thoughts who want a deeper relationship with another man that it is about homosexuality and gay marriage and gay rights? Shame on you.”

I did not bring sexual language into the conversation about boy’s friendships. I am acknowledging the destructive role it almost universally already plays. Niobe Way, Michael Kimmel and many others have done extensive research on this. They talk about the role that gay shaming and homophobia plays in policing all aspects of men’s performance of masculinity. Kimmel asserts that it isn’t even about sex anymore, its about policing our performance of manhood. Generations of men have feared being called gay and have had their expression and connection in the world curtailed by the use of that ugly bullying threat.

I only wish with all my heart that it is me who planted the “seed into men’s thoughts.” Would that I had the power to decide who faces that abusive narrative in their choices about how to be a man. There isn’t a man in the world, gay, bi and hetero normative, who haven’t heard shaming messages about being girly or gay. In the world of the man box, these two are interchangeable. We associate being gay with the feminine, another asinine bullying assumption, either one which is a cardinal sin in the man box. Each are designed to shame men into suppressing their natural capacities for empathy and connection.

I say it in my article and I’ll say it here. We need to complete the work. We need to make sure that being gay is viewed universally as absolutely normative and healthy. Only then, will it cease to be a weapon by which bullies and abusers continue to police our young sons. Fortunately, millennials are way ahead of us on this.

And if you don’t mind, I would prefer you cease using shaming language with me. It is the thermonuclear weapon of internet dialogues and it echoes the very kind of abusive tone men use inside the box. Perhaps you might consider why, in a conversation about the lack of male connection, your tone is so aggressive.

Written by

Author THE LITTLE #METOO BOOK FOR MEN Writer/speaker on inclusion, masculinity. BBC, New York Times- http://remakingmanhood

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