What happens when we do something that hurts someone else and they challenge us on it? It seems that all too often men take these sudden feelings of guilt and shame and, instead of owning their actions, they tend to blame the victim for causing them to feel bad.
It may not always be obvious, but it is exactly for that reason that we need to be so vigilant about taking ownership over harmful behaviour – even when the harm is unintentional or unnoticed. It involves wrestling with our own emotions, and let’s be honest, that is something most men struggle with.
This inadequacy in dealing with emotion is what underpins the performance of male privilege, requires the constant reinforcement of the male ego, and often causes men to lash out at others. There is a logic to these reactions that echoes emotional confusion and immaturity, but these reactions remain inappropriate and harmful.
Crucially, we must understand that it is not the injured party’s responsibility to address and correct our actions. We need to own, apologize for, and address our own behaviour and the harm we cause – regardless of whether the harm was intentional.