Very rarely does an image like this capture the complexity of the issue to which the person who publishes it is drawing our attention. One picture and 14 words can do little to add to the important discussion other than creating a more polarised debate that sees us even further apart.

I would like to make a few points for reflection that are in contrast to the intentions of those who made or have shared this image.

1. Without wishing to speak in any way on behalf of the feminist perspective, I do believe most would applaud the use of strength in which the needs of the vulnerable and those in distress are met. I applaud all people who have come to understand the use of strength in terms of how they might serve the vulnerable, the distressed, the threatened, the victimised and the marginalised.

2. It is just as easy to find an image where the use of strength is for personal gain in which there is no heroic act but instead fear, intimidation and self-gratification. What some might describe as “Toxic Masculinity”. I continue to lament the statistic that in Australia more than 100 women a year are murdered at the hands of their partner. It is this violence towards women, for which we have weekly reminders, that I continue to have a conviction for being part of the solution. It is, for this reason, I could not let this Facebook post pass without comment.

3. I give thanks to those brave minority voices (in this case of women) who have dared to challenge the status quo. Those who have been willing to confront the voices of power and control and helped us to realise that all is not well. We do not learn and grow as humans when the only voices we listen to are our own. Change for a more just and safe world will only come when we are willing to listen to the voices of those who are different from ourselves.

4. There is a reality that we must face that is captured by the term “Toxic Masculinity” that we will not overcome if our response is to demonise feminist rather than being vulnerable enough to recognise the deep and dark truths of our society to which their voices cry out to be heard. May the voices who challenge power, fear and control be heard and not silenced, or if I can use a theological image, let us not crucify them!

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