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For Defensive Men:

If you are a man who carries a lot of anger and even hate towards women (We know because we get lots of e-mail from you commenting on this web site) because women blame men for the pain of violence in the world then please read on.

Perhaps you feel shame about being a man listening to women direct their pain and sadness at being violated towards "all of us men." You may receive their challenge to change with defensiveness and insecurity and fight back by blaming them. If you feel this... try the challenge of turning that shame into guilt -- only then will it be possible to find responsibility as a man to make the choices that neither condone violent and sexist attitudes or perpetrate those actions and beliefs that control and abuse others.

This does not mean that all men violent! Nor does it mean that all men are bad The violence that some men do is a choice. Other men have remained silent for too long. Because of this silence we believe that every man is in some way responsible for all men's violence. It is not enough to sit back and say "I have never hit anybody so why are they dumping on me?"

Women are asking violent men to stop choosing violence and the rest of the men to stop supporting institutions, attitudes, laws and behaviours that promote the domination and abuse of others.

Unknowingly supporting violence could be as simple as purchasing pornography that degrades women or even laughing at a sexist, racist or homophobic joke.

We believe that all men have 3 choices:
1. We can be violent, sexist, racist, etc.
2. We can remain silent about the violence and sexism around us.
3. We can speak up and challenge abuse and invite our brothers to do the same.

We are not sure how this connects with shame and guilt. We do know that all men are not bad. That we make choices. Shame and guilt is about power and choice. We know it takes years of training to turn a boy into a violent man. If we we also know that it takes a village to raise a child then were are all the guys who teach positive, constructive and nurturing masculinity?

Shame or Guilt?

There is personal power to be found in understanding the differences between shame and guilt.
The awareness of realizing that we have choice over life experiences can be a release from despair, blame and self hate and a move towards empowerment and healthy responsibility for our actions, behaviours and future.
You are invited to relate to the choices outlined below. The best choice will be obvious to you only if you believe in yourself, if you don't now, we hope this will be part of your journey in the near future.



SHAME: The feeling of being inferior to everyone else. Being exposed to others in a very painful manner, a sense of our total failure as a person; feeling a alienated from others and ourselves, feeling humiliated discouraged and despairing; feeling totally and utterly worthless.
GUILT: A healthy and necessary sense that we have violated a moral code, our values, or our standards or that we have transgressed someone else's rights.


Messages to Self

SHAME: "I'm a mistake", "I'm bad", "I'm wrong"
GUILT: "I made a mistake", "I made a bad choice", "My behaviour was wrong"



SHAME: Based on a system of perfectionism. Only serves to undermine us and our relationships with others. Sense of total failure as a person (feel exposed and inferior to others and want to hide).
GUILT: Reality based emotion. Needed as helpful, healthy guide for our behaviour (powerful clue that we are "off the track"). Feel bad about a behaviour that violates a moral code or our personal values.

Locus of Control

SHAME: External locus of control (constantly seek outside validation. Negative pa inful feelings about self.
GUILT: Internal locus on control in charge of self. Negative painful feelings abo ut one's behaviour.

Healing / Forgiveness Process

SHAME: Profound sense of loneliness (feel alienated from and unable to connect wi th others). No possibilities of repairing damage done.
GUILT: Leads to a sense of resolution and a deepening of our personal relationshi ps. Forgiveness and remedies are possible.

Perceptions of Self

SHAME: "I am a bad and worthless person", "I am a mistake"
GUILT: "I did something bad, but I am still a worthwhile person", "I made a mist ake"

Consequences for Relating to Yourself

SHAME: Breeds isolation, discouragement, despair, and more shame (feeds destructi vely on itself). Feel powerless, helpless and out of control. Begin to doubt ourselves completely.
GUILT: Leads to accountability, respect for others' rights and personal growth. E xercises choices and options. Once resolved, helps us feel better about ourselves.

Relating to Others

SHAME: Controlling behaviour, shaming others, disassociate from true self (see ad dictions). Powerlessness
GUILT: Honest and vulnerability, admit to mistake, invitation to communicate. Con nectedness with true self. Choice

Leads to...

SHAME: More shame and more shame and more shame. Despair, discouragement hopeless ness
GUILT: Accountability of our behaviour and ethical responsibility

Dealing with Conflict

SHAME: Rage, violence towards self and others, defensiveness, blaming others for the conflict, self centeredness, isolation. Conflicts denied and unresolved
GUILT: Resolution of conflict and deepening of relationships, modification of our values. Self esteem and integrity

Growth Potential

SHAME: None, more perfectionism, digging in and rigidity of beliefs and values
GUILT: Endless potential for personal growth and change

Change Factor

SHAME: No modification or change of values because of no learning
GUILT: Sense of being a valuable part of society

Other Indicators

SHAME: Drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide, overeating, overworking, over depende ncy on wife or partner, other addictive behaviours.


GUILT: Real or perceived transgression of anothers space values or morals.
1. Inherited Generational Shame
bullet Family secrets
bullet Don't talk about the past
bullet Trauma that happens to your family/community before you were born

2. External Shame
bullet Trauma that happens to you directly as you grow up
bullet When physical, sexual, emotional and or intellectual boundaries are violated by others

3. Cultural Shame
bullet Role expectations (Failing to live up to the manhood act?)
bullet Value expectations

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