Men with the megaphone and their impact on the lives of our boys

We live in a world where volume is turned up on the voices of influential men, shaping perceptions and behaviors across our communities. From speeches to song lyrics to social media, these voices hold power. 

At A Call to Men, we believe in calling folks in rather than calling folks out. But once again, I find myself witnessing countless incidents of influential men using their power — degrading commencement speeches, disturbing violent acts against women, and so much more — to perpetuate harm rather than good. If we want to normalize, healthy, respectful manhood, we need critical masses of men, particularly in the peer groups of the men who are making these negative comments, statements, and behaviors, to denounce them. 

And I’m not talking about denouncing behavior only when it’s “safe” or “less risky” for us to speak up. I’m not talking about saying “I knew all along what he was doing and it was awful.” Our delayed reactions reflect a deeper issue within our collective socialization of manhood – that we, as men, are taught to prioritize maintaining relationships with other men over valuing and supporting women. This leads to a culture of silence and complicity, where men laugh at inappropriate jokes or turn a blind eye to harmful behaviors, fearing the loss of social standing or the challenge of confronting peers.

What I do want to see is more men stepping into the discomfort of being the first to raise our voices when we see or hear something that doesn’t sit right with us — of speaking up when it matters most. Brothers, we’ve got to remember that while our influence can perpetuate harmful norms, it can also be a force for positive change. It’s on us to show young men and boys that the despicable behavior affirmed by men’s silence is not what we imagine when we think about healthy manhood for the next generation. 

We need a paradigm shift. As men who are not acting in harmful and violent ways, we’ve got to pick up the megaphone. We’ve got to use our platforms to denounce negative behaviors and promote healthy, respectful manhood. Imagine the impact of a statement signed by 100 current and former NFL players, or by male music artists, condemning harmful actions and advocating for respectful behavior. Just think about how powerful that collective voice would be as a signal to young men and boys that harmful behaviors are not acceptable.

This journey is not without its hurdles. Us men who are vocal about healthy manhood — we are pioneers in shifting norms, and that often comes with feeling the weight of societal expectations and resistance. Despite 25 years of work in this space, it sometimes feels like we are moving too slowly to a future where all women and girls are valued and safe. But the urgency of this moment compels us to push harder to create the change we envision. It can be lonely and difficult, but it is a necessary path we must walk.

If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve got plenty of places for you to get involved. Jump into the conversation on A Call to Men’s social media channels, join one of our free men’s groups, or read more about Healthy Manhood. We’ve been doing this work for a minute now – we’d love to have you with us. 

Silence is affirming, so let’s get loud. Our boys are listening.

Tony Porter

CEO, A Call to Men