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One Feminist's Thoughts On Vocal's New Community for Men

Content Warning: the following story references sexism, ignorance, and abuse.

By Lena FolkertPublished 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 6 min read
Top Story - June 2023
76
"The Void Between" © Lena Folkert, 2023. Created with Wombo Dream Ai

Warning: This is an honest account of this feminist's (?) evolution of thought on the new Vocal community for men and of men in general. If you're easily offended, please do one of two things... Stop reading now. Or read to the very end. Anything in-between will guarantee you missing the point and getting offended. (:

There has been a call to action from the Vocal community for a long time regarding the creation of a men's community on the platform. The much beloved late Tom Brad had championed for it with his closest Vocal friends, including Call Me Les, and I know there are many (probably most) Vocal creators who are proud and grateful to finally have this community.

I wish that I could say that I was one of them. But the truth is that I was teetering somewhere between complete indifference and anger that so many called for it. I rolled my eyes more than once when creators would cite statistics or situations that spoke to men's struggles and the need for a space for them to call their own.

To me, the idea of a space that was "safe" for men seemed redundant and ridiculous. As a daughter of an abusive and sociopathic father and a victim of continuous bullying during my childhood, I have grown up in this world feeling that it is not men, but women who need a safe place. To a great degree, I've been conditioned to believe that men have it easy, that they don't know fear like we women do...

Of course, practically speaking, I know this is not the case. There is no denying that men can also be victims of bullying, violent crimes, abuse, and sexism. Like women, men have medical concerns and conditions that are unique to their sex. And men have emotions and struggles that women may not understand.

I'm not completely ignorant to the struggles of the masculine sex. I've also often found that my best friendships, the least complicated, the least unpredictable, and the most gratifying were my platonic relationships with men.

In fact, growing up, those same boys who bullied me relentlessly were also my closest friends. They were my Basketball Buddies, my Mario Kart Kings, my fellow hackeysack kicking, skate board flipping, salmon fishing bros. And I loved them.

But I also hated them. I dreaded them as much as I longed to hang with them. And it was the same with my father and every man I've known since then.

I long to have a healthy, fun relationship with them. But I also cannot, will not let myself trust any man entirely. Ever. . .

So, does that make me a man hater? Honestly, I don't know. Sometimes I think I am. I've called myself a feminist. I was certainly raised by a multi-generational clan of feminists. But those same "feminists" were also abused by men. When it really comes down to it, I don't think any of us agree with the actual "feminist" goals. Or at least not how they seek to achieve them. And especially not what they look like these days.

But I digress...

We. . . No. . .

I...

Am just so tired of being afraid of the reactions. The outbursts. The raised voices and whispers that aren't really whispers but constant echoes in the back of my mind:

You're fat. You're ugly. You're stupid. You're lazy. You're weak. You'll never be good enough. You don't deserve that promotion. You're just not as good...

It's just so Exhausting! This endless cycle of negativity wears me down. It erodes us. As individuals and as a society.

The more you're exposed to this kind of masculine thought, the easier it becomes to think that this is how all men think.

And it took a long, hard look in the mirror for me to see that maybe, just maybe... It's not all men, afterall.

Maybe... I've simply had a limited circle of masculinity in my life.

Over the last few years, I've started to see the flaws in my own opinions and instincts when it comes to men and women. And myself.

But it still took the launching of this new Vocal community to thoroughly see how deeply ingrained the resentment and fear, and yes... even a little unconscious hate... had become in my life.

And for that, I apologize. To the men here on Vocal. To the men I've known and will come to know. To my husband. And to myself.

I suppose the fear was that a men's community would simply turn into a community of women bashing.

(Like the supposed "domestic violence prevention group" that my stepdad frequents and tells us regularly how they just all talk about what "B**ches women are... Grr...)

I guess that's what I was expecting...

But I should have known better.

The truth is that some of the Vocal Creators are the very same masculine voices who have helped me overcome years of ... well, whatever it was. Fear, anger, resentment.

Reading your voices, your thoughts, your beautiful stories has helped me see into your minds and souls. And let me tell you... what incredible voices and souls they are.

I've read stories from you about your wives, partners, kids, friends and more that show just how amazing you guys are.

Wonderful Dads do exist! Loving husbands are not just what Disney is made of!

Who knew?!?

So, after initially kicking and screaming (in shameful secret), I now humbly (and shamefully) and PUBLICLY acknowledge how incredibly... well, full of crap I was!

Why shouldn't men have their own community? How small minded I was when I anticipated that this amazing community would become nothing more than a woman-bashing club!

Believe me, I'm smacking my head against the palm of my hand as I type. Yes. I'm THAT stupid sometimes! And I sort of proved your point, didn't I?

Men do indeed need and Deserve a place to call their safe zone. And forgive me for my intrusion just briefly as I commandeer your safe zone to bare my own soul and beg for your forgiveness!

And in an effort to make up for my own ignorance, I'd like to call attention to some of those very same Vocal creators whose stories have reached me and pulled me off of my high horse.

And, I suppose, I must also say thank you to Vocal.

To be honest, it's been a roller coaster ride on this platform, but the truth is that for all my griping and grumbling like so many other creators...

Not winning challenges or receiving loads of top stories, or etc...

Well, that sort of pales in comparison to what this platform, this community has given me.

Because of Vocal. And because of the encouragement and honesty of this community, I've gained a lot!

I'm writing again. However crappy and ill penned my words may often be. I'm voicing my thoughts. Baring my own soul. Letting the screaming in my head out!

But even more than that...

I'm growing as a person. Through my own writing and especially, through the beautiful stories I've read from my fellow creators... I'm growing.

Bit by bit. Day by day. Story by Story. I'm growing.

So, to the following men, I say, "thank you for your raw honesty, kindness, humor, bravery, dignity, respect, and beautiful creativity."

***

Gerald Holmes.

Scott Wade.

Conor Darrall.

Mike Singleton - Mikeydred.

JBaz.

Steven Lance.

Lamar Wiggins.

Luke Foster.

C. Rommial Butler.

J. R. Lowe.

Dana Crandell.

Paul Stewart.

Eric "Atomic Historian".

Gary Ragnarsson.

Randy Wayne Jellison-Knock.

And the late Tom Brad.

And forgive me, there are many others that I will be quick editing in here over time.

CONTENT WARNING
76

About the Creator

Lena Folkert

Alaskan Grown Freelance Writer 🤍 Lover of Prose

Former Deckhand & Barista 🤍 Always a Pleaser & Eggshell-Walker

Lifelong Animal Lover & Whisperer 🤍 Ever the Student & Seeker

Traveler 🤍 Dreamer 🤍 Wanderer

Happily Lost 🤍 Luckily in Love

Reader insights

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Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (39)

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  • Rowan Finley 24 days ago

    Hi Lena, It’s seems like you have experienced a lot of pain and trauma from men in the past. I want to stand in the gap and apologize for all the emotional, mental, and physical abuse you’ve experienced in the past. My heart aches and breaks when I think of your suffering. Please forgive though. I beg you to forgive. Trust is earned, I understand. But please forgive, because there is freedom in forgiveness. I’m so sorry. I’ve never met you in real life but I have great compassion here for you and anyone else who’s been through harmful experiences.

  • Shirley Belk5 months ago

    Hi Lena! I really enjoyed your thoughts and introspection and agree with them totally! You have piqued my interest and now I'm going to pop my head into the MENS community and see just what the bros are thinking and doing and saying without us. Good job!!!

  • Syeda Razi Fatima5 months ago

    you deserve to join the Vocal Awards https://tinyurl.com/3cjr6788

  • This was introspective and beautiful. Your honesty was breathtaking. Very well done

  • Darkos6 months ago

    Congrats on Top story !

  • Darkos6 months ago

    The massive violence is present in each day of our being and You are truly right who these people are mostly but they are both the amount of abuse for the moment of now and actually always were both sides I mean both sexes which I gotta experience and still do and I know what You mean by having such reaction as truly nothing that much change into the safety of us it got even worser ! and Yes I also experience lots of healing positive mind from so many of them in here but You never know behind words for real until you practice to be aware abuse lead me to practice and heal daily to create healing for another also in here what You felt might not be just feeling so it's normal narcissistic people can be tricky and they are great at words so I was actually so happy to read Your awareness it's better to watch out it takes up to two years or even three for some to be unmask just from psychologist but from people raised by narcissist it can be 3 seconds to know and feel so You had all the right to feel what you did and all the right for your reaction but highly sensitive and empathic male does exist and they need a protection as every child need in this world from abusive parents siblings and people ! I am glad You had courage to write it All and follow Your heart intuitively from it ! These reactions and feelings telling you something more always I usually prefer overanalyze rather skip the red flags and deeply inside we just know the truth if we don't our body will alarm it alone ! so keep reading these signs it's your guidance much Love to You ! only real human are able to say sorry this way ! You are a beautiful human inside and outside !

  • Isis Lyons 8 months ago

    You’re self awareness is beautiful and apologizing for how you felt is pointless because every feeling you’ve ever felt is valid. It’s brought you to a new level of consciousness and you should be more than proud of yourself. You should be grateful for your mind and heart.

  • Zohaib Iqbal8 months ago

    Helloooo friends, readout my stories also https://vocal.media/authors/zohaib-iqbal-hxyk0heu

  • I would say that you were forgiven if I thought you had any reason to ask for it. It may well be that not all men are abusive, but you've had plenty of experience with those who are. It takes time to heal those wounds & begin to trust others. I feel both honored & humbled to be included in your list & pray that we & many more will continue to earn the confidence you have placed in us. Blessings, my friend.

  • Phil Flannery8 months ago

    Firstly you need not apologise, you have been treated badly by bad people who were mostly men, you have a right to be angry. As for having a community for men, it doesn't mean you can't be part of it as you've shown here. The community standards at Vocal should keep things clean. I'm glad you have had some good experiences with men, we're not all arseholes, unfortunately the arseholes tend to drown out the rest. Maybe things like having a community for men will help bring about some change. Maybe.

  • Lane Burns8 months ago

    I really loved how honest you were. And that you did show how you changed and were your fears may have been coming from!

  • I'm glad you saw our need for this space. Not all of us guys are jerks. Thank you for such an honest assessment. Congratulations on the Top Story!

  • Novel Allen8 months ago

    Beautifully written and well said. It is great to learn and adapt out thoughts as we grow. Congrats.

  • The Dani Writer8 months ago

    Heartfelt sharing that I FELT in just about every sentence. What a transformative piece of writing! Your voice through this is pure Lena and I loved it.

  • I love how honest you are in this article. It can be hard to admit something that some would find offensive. But I get it, especially having to deal with some horrible men. Thankfully, for every man that has left me terrified, there has been just as many, even more men who are truly good.

  • C. H. Richard8 months ago

    Thank you for writing such a thoughtful and openly vulnerable piece. I was kind of on the fence about a men's community too. But since there is a community that is dedicated to women, Viva, there should be one that is more focused on men. Hopefully it becomes thriving community where people of any sexual identity feel safe to write and engage. Well done my friend. So glad you are back ❤️ and congratulations on Top Story.

  • Ruth Stewart8 months ago

    Beautifully open and honest. This was far more loveable than I thought it was going to be. You let yourself be vulnerable, and I appreciate your bravery. I will have a read of the Men section and see if I can see what you saw. Not all men are like the ones who mistreated, abused and bullied us.

  • Cendrine Marrouat8 months ago

    Loved your story, Lena! Honest and raw, which is fantastic. One thing, though. You are not stupid. We live in a world that seeks to control women. Male toxicity is still tolerated. It's normal to feel threatened at times! Congratulations on your Top Story and keep up the great work.

  • Cathy holmes8 months ago

    Oh Lena, what a fantastic article. Your open-hearted raw honesty is inspiring. It takes a strong person to accept and admit their opinions have changed. Thank you for sharing and congrats on the TS, you beautiful and brilliant woman.

  • Gerald Holmes8 months ago

    Well you had me in tears there. I can understand how you felt as I have known many so called men in my life that were far from what a man should be. Thank you for mentioning my name, I feel honoured to be on that list. Congrats on the Top Story.

  • Mackenzie Davis8 months ago

    I am so impressed by this! What a remarkable thing, to find the courage to publicly apologize for a viewpoint that shifted, and do it with such humility and grace, and blunt honesty. It’s so inspiring! This was a fantastic read, Lena, and though I don’t know you, I am proud of this transformation. I think it will help others who have shared your struggles, which is wonderful. Allowing more forgiveness in, more acceptance, more appreciation for those who are different from us, is healing, I think, especially when there’s hurt attached. I think men and women will always find it challenging to fully understand each other, but we should never stop trying and certainly not assume that the other has stopped trying. Thank you for writing this! A well deserved Top Story; this needs more reads! 💜

  • ARC8 months ago

    Lena this piece is just tremendous. What astounding courage you exhibit with this raw and honest peer into your perspective, your experience, and your self-driven growth. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and I agree with Alexander below: You are most welcome here! Congrats on a worthy Top Story, Lena. Thank you for making the world a brighter, more understanding, more unified place with your writing 💙

  • Mohammed Darasi8 months ago

    That is a great piece to read. I love coming across such honest and introspective writing on vocal. I don't think you need to apologise for anything; we build opinions based on our experiences, and as we grow these opinions often change... That's just life. I am happy that you were able to enteract more with different people with an open mind, because that is usually the hard part. Sometimes experiences can be so powerful that it causes people to shut themselves from alternate perspectives, but you were able to overcome that. Honestly, I'm closed minded in some things that I have an opinion on, but I'll try to open up a little as well, and maybe that'll change my viewpoint. Annnnyyywho.. it was nice reading this 😊

  • Joelle E🌙8 months ago

    Absolutely. It’s pretty dumbfoundingly out of touch that Vocal would create this community. They really need some new management.

  • Alexander McEvoy8 months ago

    Please don't apologize for the intrusion, it really isn't one You're most welcome here! :) I'm sorry to hear about what you've experienced in the past and maybe what continues to this day ;-; This community is as safe for your as it is for any of us. Or at least, that's the hope; how true it feels for yourself, only you can say. But as I say, welcome, stay as long as you like and the door is always open :)

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