The news is pretty focused on men at the moment – the disrespectful, inappropriate, entitled type of sexist men. Sadly I do know a few. It’s quite nauseating, actually, that any human being assumes they have the right to touch, grope or abuse another individual, regardless of what parts are in their pants. Presently it’s clear there was a sizable amount of toddler boys who missed the infamous “keep your hands to yourself” lesson during pre-school 101. Or the Golden Rule I remember learning in every academic and religious venue. That’s quite a lot of missed opportunities for learning about respect for others.
Also, that ownership concept – one of my favorites – when power, money and fame, lead some men to believe that you should do what they insinuate or request in exchange for these things. Like it was in the fine print of their contract that sexual servants were one of their guaranteed perks. This behavior really should have ended in 1865 at the end of the Civil War, but again, some men must have missed the memo.
My father always told me, “thoughts and actions, Beth Ann, thoughts and actions.” He told me that you could think anything you wanted in the privacy of your own head, but actions, all actions, came with consequences. And you’d better be ready to be accountable for your chosen actions, “accountable” being the key word here.
I also think that disrespect of others is deeply rooted in a lack of self-respect, a swirling pattern of self-loathing that can result in the need to project such disregard and deprecation on to another through bullying, harassment, and abuse. Sorry if this is the case, but it’s still not okay. Deal with your own baggage, it’s not an excuse to hurt anyone else.
I know there’s more than plenty of these sentiments flying around the public news arena. So in the spirit of thanks and giving, I say thank goodness for the good men. Turns out I know so many more decent, solid men than the less than stellar type of male humans mentioned above, and this current hot mess has drawn my attention to it.
I was raised by an incredible man, flawed and loving, patient and generous. A kind, gentle, affectionate, respectful man. I have a warm and loyal husband, bursting with talent and passion and tenderness. I have a teenage son who is considerate, respectful and close to the many “mothers” in his life.
Many of my close friends are male, along with some great cousins, neighbors and friends of my dad’s. Mentors, advisers and writing colleagues. Husbands and partners of friends, and friends of my daughters. Coaches and trainers who have nurtured my son’s love of basketball while also being excellent role models.
I have no doubt about the abundance of good men. Men who invest in the quality of their relationships by simply being stellar human beings. Committed to family, dedicated to their careers, involved in leaving a positive mark on the world.
We absolutely must draw attention to the blasphemous abusers, the Matt Lauers, the Al Frankens, and yes the every day types who aren’t celebrities. We must also, all of us, expect to receive respect from others based on how we respect them, and insist on this without wavering. And it’s equally important to bring attention to the men in our lives who support these limits and expectations. Men of integrity and honor, who make each of our worlds a better place.