Men, We Need to Stop Being Horrible

Guys, we need to talk.

I’m sure you’ve been watching the news. I know you see what I see.

It seems like every day there’s another stomach-turning mass shooting to grieve over,
another bombshell revelation of a high-profile public figure’s sexual misconduct, another sexual assault on a stranger while they jog or walk their dog or return from a class.

And you may have noticed that there’s one, terrible thread tying all this perpetual horror together—it’s us.

The sickness that so afflicts us in these days, transcends political affiliation, religious tradition, race, orientation, and vocation—but it rarely transcends the Y chromosome. 

You can find our horror stories every single day without even trying. You can find evidence of it where you work and study and shop and browse. If your eyes are at all open when walking through this world, it’s a fairly noticeable reality that there are vile things that as a general rule—women rarely, if ever do:

They don’t prey upon those over whom they hold power in the workplace.
They don’t lie in wait to sexually assault strangers who pass by them in the street.
They don’t shoot up movie theaters and shopping malls and churches when they feel wronged.
They don’t murder spouses and lovers when they try to leave a relationship.
They don’t commit random violence against LGBTQ people they pass on the street.
They don’t subject strangers who pass them on the street to disgusting catcalls.

Men, we do these things—with alarming regularity and proficiency. And it’s a problem.

Obviously we can find anecdotal evidence in each of these cases to the contrary, but the fact remains, that as a fairly reliable rule we men have a seemingly inexhaustible capacity for violence and ignorance—one that women simply can’t touch.

In fact we’d be hard pressed to find any such examples of wide-scale or systemic malevolence to point to with regard to our sisters on this planet.

I suppose there are all sorts of explanations that will be proffered to explain it all: some toxic cocktail of genetics, societal gender roles, religious tradition, familial hand me down misogyny, Hollywood propaganda, and caveman muscle memory—but I’m not particularly interested in that.

I don’t want to entertain any mansplaining that excuses or justifies this.

I just know that we need to get our sh*t together and stop being horrible:

We need to stop leveraging our power and position to gratify our libidos.
We need to understand that someone else’s body is not our jurisdiction.
We need to stop believing we’re entitled to whatever we want in this world—and that we can grab or attack or shoot anyone when we believe we don’t get it.
We need to stop enabling or protecting or defending other men who do terrible things.
We need to stop waiting until we’re forced into an apology and then supposedly earnestly express contrition after the fact—and decide we’re not going to be reckless or lecherous or violent at all to begin with.

In other words men, we need to recover our humanity again in real-time. It’s really that simple.

We need to start pulling our weight here in decent, adult civilization and to stop settling for some perpetual, urge-feeding, (stup)id existence.

There is a better way of being human; a way of compassion and gentleness and decency, a path that shuns violence and selfishness and self-gratification—and for far too long we’ve embraced the lie that real men aren’t wired for it or capable of it.

That’s a crock. It’s a coward’s way out. It a weak person’s crutch.

We can’t act inhumanely, we can’t behave like animals, we can’t live with complete disregard for everyone around us—and then pretend that just because we’re men this is just how it is. That’s a cop-out; one that any man aspiring to the best of himself wouldn’t ever settle for.

I’ve been fortunate in my life to know, work alongside, and be mentored by men of great characters and I know there are many such men out there. But I also know such men seem to be a severely endangered species. They seem to be yielding the floor to the bullies and the predators and the aggressors, and that’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for those who work and study and worship and live alongside us. It’s a tragedy for the children who are inheriting the world this is creating. Most of all perhaps, it’s a tragedy for those among us who will see the lowest definition of a man, and only aspire to that.

Men, may we look intently inward and look critically at one another. May we dig deeper. May we stand taller. May we be better versions of ourselves, and may we redefine what it means to be a man and a gentleman—by simply being human.


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



25 thoughts on “Men, We Need to Stop Being Horrible

  1. Thank you, John for speaking up once again about this subject. I too have experienced these abuses, but through God’s help I’ve managed to stay strong & carry on because I know that I didn’t encourage such abuses. I’ve never permitted them to oppress me, although I wondered why they happened. I’ve studied psychology for over 25 years & now understand. Women are not deserving of these “”control-freaks” & we reject men’s insecurities. We will not allow such indignant behavior. Thanks again. God bless you.

  2. I know many men who are smart and fun,kind and strong!
    I know some who fit this macho profile.
    Thank you for your call to respect and acting human!
    We need to make it ok for our boys to talk about feelings, to respect girls and to express their pain!

  3. I never could understand why women need to learn to protect themselves. Men need to do that for them. The best way to protect women is to stop preying on them. Seriously men. STOP harassing, abusing and molesting. You’re a man. You can do this.

  4. “We need to stop believing we’re entitled to whatever we want in this world—and that we can grab or screw or shoot anyone when we believe we don’t get it.”
    __ __ __ __ __
    AMEN! If one sentence encapsulates the entire problem, that’s the one. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
    Grace & peace

  5. The first measure of a healthy man is determined by his self control.
    The second measure is how safe children and women are in his presence.
    The third is how prosperous and thriving are the children and women within his circle of care.

    This is accomplished by serving others, often at the expense of himself.

    So why are there so many unhealthy men?

    The state of the world today, and the violent, antihuman behavior of men is caused by the pandemic disease of sexual toxicity and its commercial cousin, child sex trafficking, that has proliferated over the centuries and around the globe. The violent men (and women) of today are the direct descendants of rapists and pillagers, of conquerors and also the conquered.

    The essential market conditions for $150billion sales of children’s bodies for sex is sustained by the simple law of supply and demand. On the demand side, damaged, sick individuals whose greed is driven by pedophilic lust, create the global conditions to sustain an unbroken supply chain of little bodies. On the supply side, mothers are the factories, in whom our emotions and protective instincts for our children must be broken, in all and every way imaginable. Poverty, lack of education, lack of political voice, no control over our own reproduction; all of these destabilize mothers, fathers and families, making children vulnerable to the hunters.
    We have been well groomed, for centuries, by professional predators, Sandusky style. These international predators, CEOs and best customers of their own product, steadily on the hunt for children for #orgiesonyachts , carry titles of King, Prince, President, Prime Minister, CEO, Chair, Priest, Cardinal, Lord etc.
    Middle management and the frontline laborers in the child sex industry, serve the necessary purpose of doing the dirty work for procurement of children for elites. And are currently dropping like flies as the fall guys.
    In this #waronchildren we need to unite to take down the generals. Their billions are buying our children for sex. And to add insult to injury, it is our labor that creates their currency.

  6. Some days I feel that I might have a tiny glimpse of what people with bipolar disorder must go through – one day feeling that goodness and love and the blessings of what I have each and every day can overcome anything – the next day feeling that nothing and no one can bring a breath of fresh air to rid us of this miasma of horrible, toxic behavior perpetrated by so many.

    I have never been the victim of abuse or harassment of the magnitude so many haven given a voice to lately. I do know how women have been treated for the last almost 70 years.

    I personally feel that it has never, ever been about the sin, it has always been about the sinner. There are woman who are abusers and what they do is so very wrong.

    But men have to own this one – like the rich and powerful pulling the strings of this country, like men committing adultery always being given a wink and a nod, like a man named a stud for promiscuous behavior while a woman is labeled a slut, like a woman being treated as a murderer while the man walks away from an unplanned pregnancy, like nuns never being allowed to be priests, etc. etc.

    The only difference between man and woman is mostly between their legs. Are we to believe that a man’s penis is the only conduit to power, to God, to righteousness? This same behavior has been going on since the beginning of time. I thought we might have learned something throughout the years. Obviously not.

    This brings me to John Kelley, who, instead of taking the high road when he grabbed the bully pulpit, showed himself to be just one more bigoted hack. Nowhere in his dressing down of all those who have not served was even the ghost of those 4 fallen heroes. Are we to believe he was honestly offended by someone making an event all out herself? Look who this man works for every day. We know she didn’t say what he said she did during her speech. So think about it – he held on to something he thinks he heard for 2 years only to bring it up when it had absolutely nothing to do with the loss of those 4 lives. The only conclusion is that he regarded this person as an “uppity women” and most likely even worse an “uppity black woman”. Then he says there was a time when women were sacred. Some people have such bizarre make believe memories.

    We are being bombarded with this constantly. It is not about the sin it is about who commits the sin – being born a woman or being poor, or being a different color or nationality, or being LGBTQ, or a different religion, or a different political party, or just being different.

    How many times have we been hearing about the attack on white men? Because they are being called out for odious behavior is not an attack, it is the glimpse of karma. All good and decent men should rejoice and be thankful they are not being weighed down by these men with feet of clay.

  7. I think Trump’s election – among other things – highlighted just how many people still see men in the light of their sexual prowess as being “men”. The idea that our President is one elected after he bragged about walking in on women naked just because he viewed it as a perk of owning a pageant (bragging on nationally broadcast radio, Howard Stern’s show)… after he bragged about assaulting women on video (when he knew he was being taped)… and even after his confessions, the women who said, “yep, he did that” were still called liars… while people justified his speech as “locker room talk” … we have deep, deep issues in this country we need to address… and we need to start with the antique idea that men performing sexually is any measure of them as a man. It isn’t. Ethical behaviour, yes. Being informed, honest, upright… yes. Being able to perform a sex act… not so much. But in too many people’s minds, the old “macho” image is still their go-to on what makes a “real” man. And it needs to change in the minds of men and women.

  8. Women are complicit in this as well. I’ve met them. And read about them. They confirm the hotel room appts where they know their boss is scheming a sexual ambush. They are sure you asked for it when you ask for support after a rape. My mother looked the other way when…

    • Absolutely–the women who are complicit also need to search their souls. But if men weren’t committing these crimes, there would be nothing for the women to be complicit in.

  9. Mmmm … I’m not terribly worried about myself, or my Son, doing any of those things. I was raised to respect others and behave as we wish to be treated. It works wonders … for both genders. My Son has acted out violently school. Each and every time he has turned himself in for school discipline as well as discipline at home. His ADHD is not an excuse and he knows this. He has been trained in a variety of coping mechanisms which work if he uses them properly.

    Even though he is now 14 and capable of some level of responsibility, I am certainly NOT going to start calling him a HORRIBLE PERSON simply because he has the ‘wrong’ genitals. Not only is he not a horrible person, insinuating he is one, or will become one, because he shares the same genders as somebody who shoots up a music concert in Las Vegas, or a club in Orlando, or tosses homosexuals off the tops of buildings in Mosul … is simply stupid and some of the worst parenting advice I’ve ever heard.

    My LGBTQI+ Daughter gets bullied at school … by girls, not boys. Is this going to get a general ‘Call Out’ for ALL mothers to stop each and every daughter from being such a terrible person? I doubt it. It isn’t how this World works.

    Nah. Men have been taking the blame for decades and it is finally ‘paying off’. Not only are women slowly rising to dominate domestic abuse numbers ~ “Yes Virginia, girlfriends smack the ever-living crap out of their boyfriends all the time and they’ve been doing it for years” ~ men are beginning to stop caring about what happens to women.

    If the second half of the above statement is hard for you to understand, I’ll elaborate. Not only are less men caring what happens to the various women they see in their daily lives (aka non-friends/family), they are less willing to become involved in stranger on female violence out of fear of becoming INVOLVED. And why is that? Consent. Oh yeah, as twisted as that is, consent has been twisted around – when dealing with women only – to the point touching a stranger-female can get a man in all kinds of trouble – and has in the past – men are simply … DOING NOTHING.

    They don’t intervene, or even bother to report it … and why would they when the default belief today is that men are HORRIBLE PEOPLE? If they do the decent, honorable and righteous thing … they will be seen as aberrations, frauds, or even suspects. If they simply turn away … Society thinks nothing less of them than it already does.

    And this is why I will NEVER tell my Son he is a horrible person unless he proves himself to actually be one.

    • Mr. Dosher, Why would you think that calling out bad behavior is a attack on all men. I love men – I even married one. (Note – I actually married 2 but the 1st one is an ass so he doesn’t count) I raised 4 sons who are now men. I have 5 grandsons so far who might all be men in the future. I worked with the construction trades for decades and interacted with hundreds of men. I can count on one hand the ones I thought were asses.

      And yes women do awful things too and should be called out. I think a woman who makes a false charge should be arrested.

      I don’t understand why you are trying to rewrite history or make blanket statements about the abuse heaped on a man in today’s world.

      Peace Mr. Dosher. I would venture to say most women are not a danger to you or any man.

  10. Thank you, thank you, John!! Men really do, since Trump came along, seem to be sliding into Neanderthalism. As David Tennant’s character said in an episode of “Broadchurch”, “I’m almost ashamed to be a man”. My husband finds himself saying that frequently these days.

  11. Hear hear! I try hard to be one of those men who treat others well. I know I’m not perfect, but I do my best to live a life I don’t have to apologize for. I truly hope no one finds this post controversial!

  12. Dear John Pavlovitz and reader:

    ‘…as a fairly reliable rule we men have a seemingly inexhaustible capacity for violence and ignorance—one that women simply can’t touch.’

    Hillary Clinton convinced me that if she were elected, we would now be engaged in a major war with Russia. Does that count?


  13. John – timely and direct – thanks! I think however that you need to be even more clear – there are a set of behaviors to be called out that disqualify ALL males from any kind of power, leadership, influence, etc. – name them specifically or a posting like this becomes just a feel-good rant. Hey men – do you…go to strip clubs (for personal or work reasons), watch or think about porn, stare and ogle parts of all of women that simply are not yours, etc. – any of these are grounds to be called out by the rest of us. If you are still in a church – confess it to whomever will listen and drop-out of leadership – completely! And the list goes on! Keep up the great work of the Spirit in these dark and fabulous times!

  14. Thank you John Pavlovitz. Let’s start by exposing you shall we.
    Back in 70’s a low budget exploitation flick was made called “Sardu: Master Of The Screaming Virgins”. The name was later changed to “Blood Sucking Freaks”. The film is notorious for being one of the most vile, offensive and brazenly misygonistic vision ever committed to film. Upon its release it was immediately condemned by women’s advocacy groups and some theaters where the film was shown were picketed. I have never seen it and I never will. Women are kidnapped, drugged, beheaded, dismembered; teeth are pulled out with pliers; a drill is used to bore a hole into a skull. Nobody who remotely cares about women or their exploitation would watch this film or see it through to the end. Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because one of the biggest fans of this film is your very own John Pavlovitz. He used to talk about it all the time; laughing as he recounted his favorite scenes. Jesus once warned us against casting stones. There is a need for people to be informed about the sexual harassment and exploitation of women. I’m not sure John Pavlovitz is the right messenger.

  15. What a load of crap. For what other group of people, other than men, would such sweeping generalizations be acceptable? Certainly not black people. Certainly not any other ethnic minority. And certainly not women.

    The vast majority of men are not guilty of the bad things detailed here. So let’s stop with the “we this” and the “we that.” Don’t lump all men in with your “we” here.

    If you’re having problems avoiding these behaviors, John, or if your friends are, then you guys need to deal with it. But you’re out of bounds in including the entire male population in with your “we” here.

    Yes, there are problems out there that SOME men cause. There are bad deeds out there that SOME men are guilty of. But don’t you dare lay it all on the lot of us just because we have the same kind of genitalia. This attitude would rightly be called sexist if it were displayed toward women. Why is it okay to do it to men?

    Besides, women aren’t exactly angels either — and I mean SOME women. I’m not going to generalize them the way you’ve generalized men.

    But there are SOME women who behave quite badly too. They are responsible for the vast majority of child abuse. They commit at least as much domestic violence against men as the other way around. (Crime stats don’t show that, in part because police don’t often take women-on-men violence seriously. Perhaps a product of the anti-male attitude that’s exhibited in this article.)

    And women initiate the vast majority of divorces — and no, most of them are not because the husband is a drunk or an abuser or an adulterer. Which gender has commitment issues, now?

    That’s not meant to bash women; it’s just to show that not all of society’s ill are men’s fault. And in a country of roughly 100 million men, to put all of them in your “we” box is, as I said at the outset of this, a load of crap.

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