Dear Mr ‘Pick up’ Artist

Hey there.

I just wanted to let you know that I won’t let you define my masculinity. In fact, I won’t let you define masculinity full stop. Why, you may ask would I pen this letter to you? It’s simple, you are a danger to girls and women, and you are doing great damage to men and our boys at a time when they need and deserve so much better.

You and a minority of other men are really trying my patience. Whilst you and some others, may think you are helping other men, can I tell you, you are not. Far from it.

You find it normal to communicate to the world that being a man involves disrespect, dominance, power, control and entitlement. Maybe I’m fortunate, but no one has ever told me to my face, that being a man involves these traits.

You show a total disrespect to girls and women. That’s clear from the film that I saw this week. You see girls and women as your property, as men’s property, as your plaything, as men’s playthings, your toy to disregard whenever you choose. The fact that you refer to your actions as a game suggests to me that there will be a winner and a loser. I don’t think you play this game to lose, do you? But you will. Ultimately you will lose.

You see the majority of men in this world don’t think like you. You may think that your gang is big. It’s not. The ‘tough-guise’ you hide behind is just that, a guise, a front. It’s not the norm for my masculinity and its certainly not the norm for masculinity. I just wanted to make that clear.

Your attitudes, your behaviours are not only distasteful but are part of a poisonous culture that our young boys are growing up in. It’s within this toxic culture that the phrase ‘Be a man’ is the most terrifying thing a young boy will try to grapple with. You are part of that ‘toxic culture’. It’s in the air that we as men all breath.

I think it important that I accept, that as a man, I’ve been part of that toxic culture. As I say above, no one has actually ever told me, that to be man I need to behave in such a disrespectful and entitled way. I suppose just like you I breathed the same air as you did. I received the same messages from films as you did. The difference between you and me now, is that I see the harm that these messages can lead to. I have taken the time to ‘do the knowledge’ on this stuff. As someone once said, “It’s what you learn after you think you know it all, that counts”. Can I suggest you start to do the knowledge?

Did you know that in Scotland levels of sexual violence continues to increase, despite other forms of violence coming down? Did you know that domestic abuse continues to be a badge of shame for Scotland? And whilst men are victims of these crimes and women sometimes commit them, these are crimes that are mostly committed by men against women.

Did you know that? Do you care? I don’t think you do because if you did then I would like to think you would have not behaved in the ways I have seen this week.

I mention above about the total lack of respect you appear to have for girls and women. Your use of language proves that. Your actions prove that to me also.

Can I also say that you also show a complete lack of respect for boys as well? Our boys are really struggling out there. They are flaming out academically, sexually and in relationships. In our schools its boys that are being excluded more than girls. Our prisons are full of young men. When it comes to violence it’s boys and men that are the main perpetrators as well as the main victim group. Your actions and your attitudes contribute to these facts.

Furthermore, when it comes to suicide, boys and men are most at risk. Again, you’re part of this problem.

I mentioned that are boys are flaming out. The real world is becoming really confusing for our boys. Your actions prove that. Boys are withdrawing into a virtual world where they feel safe and in control. In this virtual reality not only are they exposed to the likes of you, but they are exposed to the porn industry who like you, are exploiting them. In this virtual world, masculinity is narrowly defined. Again, you are helping shape a negative masculinity leading many boys towards the issues I detail above.

I won’t let you do this. Can I tell you that in my professional and personal life I come across many boys and men who do not share your attitudes, nor do they behave like you do. Like me they are disgusted with you and simply want to say that you do not represent them. Don’t ever think that you speak for all men, you don’t.

I want to end by saying that it’s because of men like you that women are rightly suspicious of men. When we are given a platform to speak about these issues, we have to accept this suspicion. I know men find it hard to intervene, say when a female is in a vulnerable situation. They fear being seen as having contributed to the problem. Within early years education we so desperately need men to enter the profession. The suspicion around men is a barrier, preventing men from applying for these roles. You have contributed to this suspicion.

Me and other men will not be put off by these perceptions. We just need to work that bit harder. We are committed because we see the harm that you and a few others cause.

So, as you reflect on this past week, I just wanted to convey to you that your definition of masculinity isn’t mine nor is it the masculinity that the majority of Scottish men sign up to. We respect girls and women. We understand the difficulties our boys face and we work tirelessly to make it better for our sons and our daughters.

As the saying goes “We’re aw Jock Tamsons bairns”, you are either with us or against us.

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