“I think it’s horrible to accuse men of being toxic, because they’re not,” said Dunafon, who owns the 35-year-old Shotgun Willie’s strip club and a marijuana dispensary in Glendale, Colorado. “Our business is men, and men are not toxic. “How many men are we gonna pick on until finally there’s no men standing? How would you like a society with men meekly running around with little bonnets on their head?”
Any man who has read a woman’s account of harassment or assault and thought “that doesn’t apply to me”: what you’re experiencing in that moment is the exact privilege, power and entitlement that women are finding space to battle against. We have subconsciously benefitted since we were born from patriarchal privilege – in many ways it’s invisible to us. I’ve been outspoken in my support for women’s rights, but I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve fallen foul of the patriarchy’s malicious hardwiring. But in confronting it, rather than continuing to abuse my power, I’ve found more inner peace, understanding, love and truth then I ever could have done had I continued as I was.
"It's a myth that violence in a culture only affects those it specifically targets, and patriarchy is a form of cultural violence," says Amanda Lindamood, director of training and community engagement at the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC). "When how you are allowed to engage in relationships, how you are able to relate to your body, and how you know to feel powerful is tied up in not feeling anything, you lose a lot of authenticity. You also lose your ability to have your emotional needs affirmed and met within your relationships, and lose out on developing those skills which are crucial to maintaining your relationships."
The program bills itself as a class where men “learn how social constructs of masculinity harm them and the people around them, and work to construct healthier masculinities.” Or, as Hicks puts it, “It was eight weeks of guys discussing how they can address their actions with better self-awareness and less toxicity.”