Image courtesy of Christianity Today (believe it or not!)
Harvey Weinstein. Jeffrey Tambour. Roy Moore. Al Franken. Charlie Rose. Kevin Spacey. Bill Cosby. Danny Masterson. Louis CK. Donald Trump. Matt Lauer…and so on and so on.
These are but a few of the names that have recently been spotlighted as sexual predators. We see their names in the news every day – a growing list of men who have embarrassed themselves, humiliated and abused women and have made our sex look incredibly vile. And there doesn’t seem to be many people who are surprised by this. I feel like I have been finally been awakened but I’m really groggy.
I was going to write a post about how confused I am about this whole thing; that I wonder how these men have gotten away with these acts of perversion for so long and how they even had the gall to even do them in the first place. I was even going to compare the acts of one perv to another to gain some personal perspective, but after I read it, I realized how much of an apologist I looked like. I hate apologists.
Then I thought about my own past and if there was ever anything I did that may have put some poor woman in a humiliating situation. Did I take advantage of someone? Sure, I’m no Hollywood scumbag, but there are plenty of men who are normal Joes that are also guilty of these crimes, although they aren’t the headline du jour. After reflecting for a while, I didn’t recall anything.
I then realized this was a useless exercise. What if Louis CK thought to himself, “Hey, I asked and they said ‘yes’, so no harm, no foul, right?” Maybe Matt Lauer just thought he was being flirty?
The point is that we, as men, cannot judge our actions through our own eyes. We cannot be trusted. Obviously. So we have to listen to the parties, the women, we have offended and we have to take their accusations seriously. To say that they should have come forward sooner or to say that they acquiesced is to excuse our own abhorrent behavior. The truth of the matter is that we should not have put them in that position in the first place. Louis should have never even asked. Roy should never have looked at a 14 year old (allegedly), Bill should have never cheated on his wife and therefore, never even have gotten in the position where he would slip women roofies. Harvey should have kept his bathrobe in the closet and wore normal clothes and jerked off in the privacy of his own home – alone. Just to name a few…
Are men really this bad? Perhaps we are. Maybe we are addicted to the patriarchy. Dr. Joseph Pleck seems to think that we can’t help ourselves from buying into it. He posits that men not only express power over women, but among each other. We have ranks in the military for this purpose, for example. Straight men seek to wield power over gay men by humiliating them and by trying to take away their rights.
And what do we do to encourage it, knowingly or not? Is it as simple as painting the room blue for a baby boy and pink for a baby girl? Does it happen as early as childhood – boys play with toy trucks and girls play with toy dolls? Or are we still so young in our evolution that we think we still need to be the Alpha Male, spear the largest buffalo, and assume power over our tribe?
I am hopeful that this is a watershed moment for our society. I am hopeful that we are humble enough to reflect on ourselves as a sex as a whole and not just blame a “few bad apples”. This time in our history has exposed us (no pun intended) as the insecure sex, not the stronger sex. We need to let this happen to ourselves and be open to the changes that are coming. We need to evolve socially if we aren’t going to do it biologically.