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.