Last week I was invited to speak with the students of my colleague, Jeffry Iovannone, in his class, Foundations of Social Justice, about the issues of sexism, masculinity, and the negative, angry responses to Gillette’s recent ad campaign, “The Best Men Can Be”.

The class was asked to review my episode, Authentic Masculinity Is The Best A Man Can Get – LOP052, in which I deconstruct not only the ad but the problematic responses from people like Piers Morgan and James Woods.

We were discussing ways to get to the root of the problem, i.e. where does misguided masculinity, toxic masculinity, and similar forms of hatred come from. I suggested that we need to recognize at the basest of levels, ignorance is the core problem.

Ignorance is not bliss – it’s a human rights issue.

Ignorance in this sense is based on a lack of relevant education, or a life lived under the dogma of an ideology – a religion or a social/political structure where the messages taught about humanity are hegemonic and patriarchal; the only message taught is a reinforced binary – a biblical status quo.

The Dalai Lama speaks to the ideas I shared with the students of Jeff’s class – that we need to bring people out of ignorance to help them cross the bridge towards us:

“The ultimate source of a happy life is warmheartedness. Even animals display some sense of compassion. When it comes to human beings, compassion can be combined with intelligence. Through the application of reason, compassion can be extended to all 7 billion human beings. Destructive emotions are related to ignorance, while compassion is helpful and related to intelligence. Consequently, it can be taught and learned.”

Dalai Lama

We need to teach and learn emotional intelligence.

There is something else we need to do in the face of pushback, anger, and rage in the extreme as a response to societal change and challenging social norms:

Those of us with higher “emotional intelligence” (and that does not mean “better than”) need to demonstrate vulnerability and have the courage to face this backlash head-on with kindness.

I spoke about this in the episode, Why We Need to Engage Critics and Defuse Outrage – LOP051. We need to help those who do not understand, those who are “ignorant”, take the first step across the bridge of understanding. If we take that step for them, they will most likely take a step back, or push back against us.

This is the work I am doing, something I’m teaching myself and practicing. It’s something I realize I need to teach others, more broadly and more quickly because this is the change I want to see in the world.

In the episode, What Are the Qualities of Gay Leadership? LOP065, I shared my thoughts about evolutionary leadership for gay men, and what I termed,

The essentials of leadership are demonstrated in the following ways:

  1. Don’t lead others directly. Lead by example. In other words, lead yourself with the utmost integrity, authenticity, and transparency, as if everyone is watching – even when no one is.
  2. Give people a philosophy. Give people better ways to think and ways to think more critically. Help people think in a way for the betterment of all humanity; to create a transformational, evolutionary change that impacts the world.

Not leading others directly allows them to see you for your authentic leadership and to follow by example. It’s gentle and allow others to come towards what you stand for.

Giving people a philosophy – a framework to think for themselves, untethered from the status quo – is how we lead people out of ignorance. The person pushing back wants to live, wants their rights and freedoms too. To help them understand that you have the right to the same rights, and why that’s so vital to humanity, will be a necessary transformation that will impact others who orbit within their circle of influence.

Header image: djpoblete09

Queer Thoughts Newsletter
Weekly thought leadership with the latest articles, podcast, and ideas to help you use your difference to make a difference.