We are experiencing what some call a “cultural moment” in regard to the relationships between men and women. Everyone reading this is aware of the recent dam break of revelations about men using their positions of power and influence to harass and outright coerce subordinates – women and men – into unwanted sexual encounters. (I’ve written previously about this in my blog “What the Heck is Going On?” http://www.kendallpres.org/what-the-heck-is-going-on). Add to that the spate of stories about transgendered people in various arenas – schools, the military, sports, etc. – and it seems clear we are experiencing something of a cultural identity crisis as it relates to what is and is not acceptable behavior for the sexes.
Even using that word “acceptable” is loaded, isn’t it? Acceptable to whom? According to what standards? Where do those standards come from?
However you want to answer those questions, the very fact of all the public outrage – the firings, the media shaming of the accused, the existence of the “Me Too” movement, etc. – is inarguable evidence that some intangible but nonetheless very real line has been crossed.
So allow me to attempt to interject a note of clarity and sanity and suggest what some of those standards ought to be. We obviously have some, implicit or explicit, so I offer these.
- use their positions and their power to abuse those under them;
- harass, pressure or in any way coerce women (or other men) to do anything sexually against their will;
- make suggestive or demeaning comments to women;
- turn their workplaces into verbal toxic waste sites for the women who work there;
- send pictures of their private parts to women – or anyone;
- run around on their wives while they’re pregnant … or ever;
- impregnate women and then run off, leaving them to raise those children on their own;
- bully anyone – anyone, anywhere, anytime – ever;
- pretend to be a woman, or actually try to become one, and then participate in their sports;
- whine, complain, point fingers, rationalize or try to blame-shift when they’re caught engaging in such behaviors.
Overgrown, immature, entitled, insecure little boys do those things. Men don’t.
What’s that – you say these standards are unrealistic, archaic, sexist, old fashioned and no longer applicable?
Is that you, Harvey? Kevin? Matt? Charley? Louis? Al? I can’t quite place the voice, but your message is unmistakable. How’s it working out for you? How’s it working out for all of us?
Real men, the kind I look up to, and the kind our culture used to hold in high regard, understand that the true measure of a man is that he understands the need to:
- put others before himself;
- sacrifice his own selfish interests in order to first meet the needs of others;
- give himself to something greater than himself; and
- if necessary actually lay down his own life for the lives of others.
The greatest Man in history said this: Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
And he did.
Lord, raise up another generation of that kind of men.
Lord, help me be that kind of man.