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This is a response to an Elephant Journal article I read this past week titled “Come on, Tony. F*cking Own Up to what you’ve Done.”
From Elephant editor Waylon Lewis:
When I was young-ish, I fell in love, got dumped, and felt sorry for myself all in the space of a week. I probably did that dozens of times, let’s face it.
But this one time, a girlfriend (friend who’s a girl) told me to “man up.” That I was “acting like a girl,” ’cause I was really brokenhearted.
Next time someone tells you to “man up,” tell them real men cry. Real men care. Real men feel sorry for themselves, sometimes, too. And yeah—I get it—I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself, and that’s what she meant.
But we can be careful with our language, and in so doing create a society with kinder men.
Last week, Elephant published an article with just that exhortation: “man up.” Joe Cyr, a mentor in our Elephant Academy, offered a rebuttal:
I’m going to come out and say that this article brought me many feelings of confusion and betrayal.
I appreciate the author providing a personal comment regarding her history of sexual and emotional abuse as a child. I also appreciate her words about being imperfect and trying to help the survivors of abuse, and for raising her son to courageously own his mistakes.
But there’s one primary thing that is confusing and irritating me. I keep reading that Tony Robbins and others must “man up.” Is this some second-rate cliché term for integrity and accountability?
I don’t get it: “man up.”
Man up to what?
What is that phrase supposed to mean—that men must admit to every accusation that comes their way?
Hell no. That’s not something I’ll ever do, or condone.
My friend made a comment to me, and it strikes right at the heart of this “man up” term that I disagree with so much;
“The ‘man up’ reference is particularly vexing for so many reasons, not the least of which is perpetuating the very patriarchy (where boys and men are boxed into preconceived, fixed ideals) we complain about.” ~ Sheila Delaney Duke
Let’s tell readers how we really want to change the world!
How about: “Do what’s right, even when no one is watching”—my definition of integrity.
How about: “Tell the truth, no matter the cost”—my definition of accountability.
How about: “Do things that matter and are of benefit to humanity, nature, and all beings.”
The author says that “we all have a choice—to man up or to hide.” How about: “The choices we have are to tell the truth and be free, or lie and shackle yourself to your shadow.”
I own my actions. I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, so much that I should have a PhD in making stupid decisions. Thankfully, most of my mistakes happened when I was young and before I married at 23.
I learned a lot from my misguided actions, and it’s hard as hell to own up to them. But I do it because I know that it’s the only way for me to heal my wounds and step out from my shadow.
I got rid of the friends who were enabling me to be stupid and find humor in misogyny and homophobia. I am now a proud warrior of kindness and authenticity. I’ve been knocked down plenty of times and got up most of those times. There will be no apologies from me for being an imperfect human.
“I’ve come to this belief that, if you show me a woman who can sit with a man in real vulnerability, in deep fear, and be with him in it, I will show you a woman who, A, has done her work and, B, does not derive her power from that man. And if you show me a man who can sit with a woman in deep struggle and vulnerability and not try to fix it, but just hear her and be with her and hold space for it, I’ll show you a guy who’s done his work and a man who doesn’t derive his power from controlling and fixing everything.” ~ Brené Brown
I read the author’s call to action to “man up,” and it stings my heart. It makes me want to scream, because of all the times I was pressured and bullied to act out in ways that I no longer agree with.
I’m going to borrow another of Sheila’s statements from one of her articles, concerning a different, but equally troubling, issue; “Articles like this give our young men, who are trying so hard to get it right, bad information.”
In this modern culture, young men have no initiation to teach them to become men of integrity or warriors who fight for a cause bigger than themselves—not for glory, but because they know it is right. Being told to “man up” only serves someone else’s agenda. There’s no integrity or accountability there. There’s only shame and the potential for aggression to arise.
I believe in integrity and accountability. I believe in speaking the truth in any circumstance. I believe in treating others as I want to be treated.
This article violated all of that. I learned no facts about Tony Robbins that would make me believe he is the terrible person that he’s been portrayed as.
I’ve never met, watched, or read material by Tony Robbins, nor do I know anything factual about him on a personal level. I have nothing invested in his teachings.
Since reading this article, I did my own research to get as many sides of this story as possible. The fact is, nothing on the internet is going to help me know who’s speaking the truth. That’s what the justice system is for, and even they get it wrong often.
I’m not talking to social justice warriors here. These individuals who use emotionalism to drive their agenda into our hearts and minds are of no interest to me.
Robbins and the others mentioned in this article may have committed these acts that they have been charged with; most of them unfortunately have. But that’s not why I am left upset and confused after reading this article.
Here are some other questions that are eating at me: Where is the truth in this article? Where are the facts?
It’s full of assumptions, not facts.
I learned firsthand in Elephant Academy that libel is not tolerated in ethical journalism. We were not taught to slander anyone with our words and lack of verifiable facts.
I was asked by an editor to remove significant portions of my last article to avoid the risk of libel, and I am thankful for the lesson that she taught me. However, seeing this article with its clickbait title and lack of verifiable facts leaves me confused.
This video, this video, and this video have helped me to decide that I’ll never attend any of Robbin’s live events, only because I don’t agree with his style of teaching. But let me point out that nothing in these videos tells me the truth about who he is, other than an imperfect human just like the rest of us.
So, tell me please, is reading a Buzzfeed article enough justification to attack a person’s character and integrity in front of thousands of readers?
Robbins stated in his response to the Buzzfeed article that
“In my six decades on this earth, I’ve had the privilege to work with leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, presidents of countries, and international companies, not to mention millions of dedicated human beings from over 100 countries around the world. Never in my life have I witnessed a cultural climate quite like the one we’re living in today. This is an era marked by deeply divided environments where clickbait headline news is designed to instigate a polarized public, grab their attention, and incite minds on constant-alert, waiting for the next notification to react to and believe the worst.”
I have to agree with his point here.
I think of my young daughters, and I keep wondering what they would think if someone ever accused me of what the author openly accuses Robbins of being, while not listing a single fact.
I know now after speaking to my Elephant Academy peers about my thoughts on this that the author wrote the article as an Op-Ed piece. That wasn’t clear to me at first because the editor unfortunately left out a note to make this clear. I hold no grudge to the author or editor for that not being there, but I’m still left with a lot to say despite the added editor’s note.
I am afraid to post this response.
I know that many may not see this issue the way that I do. But I’ve done my best to make the points that I feel need to be made.
I’d like to see writers and editors publishing pieces on Elephant Journal that consider the whole situation mindfully before it goes live. This quote is directly over the area where I am pasting this article: “Please re-read all posts for grammar, honesty, authentic voice, and respect for all beings.”
Make it bold and larger font, please.
I call for writers to state how we really want to change the world.
Let’s start by dropping terms like man up and don’t be a pussy.