"I believe that men who are silent in the face of other men's violence--whether the silence is intentional or not--are complicit in the perpetration of that violence. We're not guilty because we're men. We're responsible--because we're men--either for speaking out or for not speaking out about other men's violence. This is hardly a new concept. Some of the proudest moments in the history of this country are grounded in the principle that members of dominant groups have a critical role to play in the struggle for equality. For example, whether motivated by secular or religious beliefs, many white abolitionists in the nineteenth century understood that they were complicit in the 'peculiar institution' of slavery unless they worked actively to end it. A similar sensibility informed the many courageous white radical college students and mainstream white liberals who played an important role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Not coincidentally, a lot of those white people were accused by racist whites of succumbing to 'white guilt.' "(pp25)
We've all got our proud moments and our not-so-proud moments. The other day, in a group of acquaintances, one guy made a couple of 'jokes' that revolved around rape in men's prisons. I wanted to say something, but I didn't. This is a not-so-proud moment. I think that conceptions of traditional masculinity have an ace in the hole when it comes to keeping men silent: It's been set up to be 'unmanly' to talk about things like prison rape, to talk about men's violence against other men, in any other words but those of male dominance (i.e. 'those guys in prison deserve what they get'); traditional masculinity reinforces itself by silencing those of us who have (perhaps) the most power to do something about it.