Good morning, I’m Doug Buck, a member of this congregation.
The men standing here commit ourselves to being allies to women. On this solemn Sunday, we are promising to ask men to do better. As individuals, we pledge not to commit, condone or ignore violence against women and girls, nor will we condone bad behaviour towards anyone. We believe that women shouldn’t have to defend themselves on their own.
I know there’s an inherent challenge in my standing before you, as an elderly, white, cis-gender man, but because of my identity, it’s also a responsibility. I’m hoping that we can find a deeper trust and build our ally-ship. And, the men standing and supportive ones sitting in the congregation are not meant to be an exclusive group; we encourage all men to join us.
Recently, I became upset when I read another case of a man murdering a woman to whom he’d once been married.
The newspaper account quoted people who had watched the man while he held on to this woman while arguing, but the witnesses didn’t see, or didn’t want to see, the danger.
Most of the time the harassment is lower level: a remark on a woman’s appearance, or competence, or a sexist joke. Can you let the man know he’s being watched? Be present. If you see something, say something.
My son-in-law Michael works doing cash at a Winners. Recently he saw a male customer in his cash line-up leering at a young woman employee and saying in a suggestive voice “Hey, precious!" several times. This is intimidation, not admiration.
The transaction was completed, and when Michael handed this customer his receipt, Michael looked him in the eye and said "There you are, precious." The man’s eyes widened in terror. He fled, without his receipt. Michael told me his store manager is a woman, and the four assistant managers include a gay man and lesbian woman who support his behaviour, but women in other locations are less lucky, are expected to tolerate abuse.
We must have no misogyny, no hatred in the world, and this means working on ourselves first. Indeed, some of the men standing said to me that they have been unkind, and I’ve also been ignorant and unkind. I’m learning.
To be better allies, we ask to be told if we ourselves do something unkind. We’re asking men to be more aware, to apologize more frequently: indeed, to behave as many women do.
In her book “All Our Relations,” Tanya Talaga quotes Nelson Mandela: “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (p. 219)
May we all, in whatever ways we can, strive to honour and protect the freedoms of others.
We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
-Martin Luther King, Jr. "Beyond Vietnam," 1967