The Gentlemanifesto

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Ever since Donald Trump was recorded saying vile, sickening things about women, his supporters have tried to tell the world what we men are; the way we think about women, the way we talk about them when we’re all together hanging out in the locker room, the stuff we’ve done around and to women—what constitutes a real, normal, red-blooded, ordinary man.

We’ve been told that all men treat women as objects, that we all boast of our sexual exploits with relative strangers, that we’ve all been inappropriately aggressive in pursuing affection, that we all have referred to women’s genitalia in social settings.

The “boys will be boys” apologists tell us that our outrage is all much ado about nothing, that this is what men are, that we should simply accept it and move on.

We’re men who are not willing to do that.

We are brothers, husbands, friends, fathers, co-workers, and neighbors living life alongside women we respect as equal to ourselves.

We partner with them in raising children, in caring for homes, in doing work, in doing ministry, in creating and building and learning and growing.

We don’t gather with other men and boast of the things we’ve done or would do to a woman, as if this gives us some elevated social status, as if these things have any inherent value, as if they are a badge of honor.

We don’t need the cheap validation of other men to feel more like men. 

We don’t use the locker room to devolve into some vile, ignorant caricature that supposedly represents who we really are. We change our clothes and get on with our days.

We understand what consent is and we know that we don’t get to define it for a woman; that her body is not our jurisdiction or our property.

We aren’t predators believing we can have anything simply because we desire it.

We aren’t opportunists looking to leverage power or position to take advantage of a woman for our pleasure or vanity.

We aren’t crass, vulgar, braggarts trying to measure our virility or strength by the explicit nature of the words we say in the company of other guys.

We aren’t barely evolved cavemen still dragging our knuckles on the ground and pulling women around the by the hair. We call those men criminals.

In saying this, we’re not saying “not all men” though.

We know that in ways we’re aware of and in ways we may not realize, we are all complicit in a culture of misogyny and sexism. We’ve collaborated to one degree or another.

We see all the predators being exposed and rightly facing the consequences of their sickness—and we grieve it because we know we helped create and nurture and encourage this behavior.

We’re just trying to see our blind spots now and to make a better way forward. 

This doesn’t mean that we don’t find women beautiful and attractive and desirable, it just means we understand that those things aren’t license to disregard another person’s humanity for any reason.

It means that we strive not to express these things in a way that incites fear or takes away security or discards dignity or does damage or breaches autonomy.

It means that we seek to be decent, honorable, gentle men with the women we share the planet with— whether we’re married to them or live with them, whether we work with them or for them, whether we serve or study alongside them.

It means we don’t see kindness and compassion and character as liabilities to our manhood but as confirmation of it.  

So the President and all his defenders (even those who may be women) can say whatever they like and we will kindly but firmly call B.S.

They can lower the bar all the way to the filthy floor and they can consent to all manner of ugliness in the name of manhood—and we will resist it.  

We will not be categorized by the worst and lowest of us. We will demand better and higher for ourselves and for other men.

We will teach our boys what manhood really looks like, and how it responds on street corners and at house parties and in locker rooms and behind closed doors.

We will not be satisfied with a definition of men that allows for violence or misogyny or the dehumanizing of anyone.

We’ve come a long way since the cave—and we don’t ever intend on going back.

 

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

 

 

 

89 thoughts on “The Gentlemanifesto

  1. My brother thought Donald Trump’s comments on the tape with Billy Bush was gross. He said he has come across the rare weirdo in locker rooms from time to time but every guy he knows stays away from that kind of thing. He thinks Donald Trump is a rich and powerful creep and is concerned that he will abuse his power if elected.

    The thing that puzzles me is that there is an abundance of solid proof showing what Donald Trump is capable of. So, it is hard to believe anyone would vote for him.

    • Yes, it truly is hard to believe that anyone would vote for him. I’ve spent some time on Trump’s FB page and it is clear from the comments that his rather rabid supporters, at least the ones who comment there strike me as rabid, are deeply dedicated to him. It reads like idolatry sometimes, especially when those who say they are Christians write.

      We know Trump is an authoritarian who thinks being elected President gives him the divine right of kings to do whatever horrible thing he thinks of, regardless of the Constitution and the Constitutional process.

      We know Trump is a bigot. That is well documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he is a coward because he didged the draft and is terrified to release his tax returns, claiming that he can’t until the audit is complete which is a lie and the head of the URS has said so many times.

      We know he discriminates against people if they are not WASPS (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants). That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know his economic plan would be a disaster because it has been completely debunked by a Nobel Prize laureate economist.

      We know that he is driven by his ego to demand more and more attention. He has to keep feeding his narcissism. He sits on a tacky gold throne in this living room.

      We know he is a fascist. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know his foreign policy ideas would be a disaster for the USA and rest of the world.

      We know he is gynophobic. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth and by his treatment of women all his adult life.

      We know he is a homophobe. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he is a hypocrite. He claims creating new jobs in the USA is important to him. If that is true, why hasn’t he closed his overseas factories in twelve different countries and brought those factories and jobs back to the USA? If his desire to build up the economy is real, why is that almost nothing that appoints his new hotel in DC was made and purchased from US sources and vendors? It is well documented that sheets, bathrobes, rugs, furniture, etc all came from overseas.

      We know he is an idolator and the god his blasphemous worship is money.

      We know he is intolerant of anyone who disagrees with him. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he is a liar. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth. The non-partisan, Pulitzer prize-winning PolitiFact has demonstrated over and over that 91% of what he says is mostly false and completely false. Snopes has also proven so many of the words that have come out of his mouth are lies.

      He doesn’t believe in medical care for all. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he is a misogynist. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth and his treatment of women all his adult life.

      We know he is racist. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth and his history of racism.

      We know he doesn’t think the rules apply to him. He has demonstrated this over and over every time he refused to pay someone who works for him.

      We know how sexist he is. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he thinks Social Security is immoral. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth even the majority if beneficiaries are children, the disabled, and the elderly. He said he would abolish it

      We know he has temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way, exactly as my two-year-old brother did and any other two-year-old I’ve seen. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he is transgenderphobic. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      We know he is a white supremacist. Were he not, he would have told David Dukes and the KKK that he doesn’t want his endorsement.

      We know he does not have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the constitutional process. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth. He rpeatedly attempts to prevent journalists from exercising their First Amendment rights. He has a flawed unbderstanding of the Second Amendment appears to be ignorant of every other word in the Constitution to the point he is recommending that his supported break the law by becoming vigllantes to intimindate and prevent people from voting.

      We know he is a xenophobe. That is well-documented by the words that have come out of his mouth.

      I really don’t understand how anyone who says they are a Christian could possibly vote for anyone who turns their back on the hungry, the naked, the sick, those without an ability to provide for themselves.

      I really don’t understand how anyone who says they are a Christian could possibly vote for anyone who has broken as many of the commandments as he had.

      I really don’t understand how anyone who says they are a Christian can fail to vote for the woman who has been a public servant her entire adult life. I don’t understand how anyone who says they are a Christian can believe the lies the Republicans have manufactured against her from the day she became FLOTUS. Heck, they’ve admitted they made uo the Benghazi thin solely to keep her from exactly where she is today.

      I don’t understand how anyone who says they are a Christian could embrace a life of lies, because if they reject Hillary, to vote for Trump, then they have chose to embrace evil. Pure and simple.
      .

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