After the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford on Capitol Hill, good men must do more.
Today, men must find a way to convey to the women who grace our lives; our daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, and friends, that we will listen and that we believe them.
Today, men must speak to one another; to our sons, brothers, fathers, and friends. We must each examine the extent to which we are part of the systemic victimization and abuse of women.
The entitlement, hatred, and fear that were displayed on September 27, 2018, was orchestrated by an all-male cast of characters representing an ideology that dismisses a woman’s value. Each character consciously and willingly following the lead of a President accused of rape. A man who confessed to grabbing a woman’s vagina against her will. A confession bookended by the laughter of two men on a bus in Hollywood.
Yet, even if we don’t fit the profiles of the old rich white men who were huddled together comfortably behind a dais in DC, or who occupy the Oval Office, we must all reexamine our role as men. Abuse could not survive without our active or passive contribution.
There are questions that now must be asked, some that may cause us to question the tired credo of “Boys will be boys” and how this unquestioned belief brought us to where we are today.
Did we contribute by laughing at the “16 Candles” cinematic trope of boys celebrating their sexual conquest, holding up a girl’s panties to gain the approval of their peers? Laughing at the plot twist of a woman drugged and then sexually assaulted in a wealthy suburban home. Were we ever within earshot of the morning conversation after a night at the bar, “She was totally wasted! Well? Did ya’ f*ck her?” Was your hand raised in anticipation of the celebratory high five and shouts of “SCORE!” across the dorm room.
We must tell our sons, our nephews, and share with our fathers, the choices we have made throughout our lives. We need to be honest about our role in all this. Openly discussing what we know, what we knew, who we were, and now who we must become. Whether that choice was to speak up or to stay silent, it is time to “man up” in a way that no longer involves inflicting pain or trauma.
This should not be about men’s selfish pursuit of absolution. It must be borne out of humanity, decency, and compassion for the women in our lives and across the globe.
Today, we must tell ourselves to acknowledge, with unwavering pain and clarity, what America has become.
Acknowledge, but not accept.
We must not analyze, pontificate, or rationalize, but look square in its dеаd face and see America as a country where a woman’s sexual assault is live streamed on youtube for the masses. One where millions listen to a woman share her seared memory of the laughter from men while she was sexually assaulted as a 15-year-old girl. Laughter serving as sadistic approval and encouragement to place his hand over her mouth so she is unable to scream. Pressed so firmly that she cannot breathe.
America is a darker, but more honest place today. A dark place where it is now proven that you can sexually assault a woman and get away with it. Get away with it and thrive. Get away with it and be next in line to write our nation’s laws or be elected President of the United States. This cannot become the norm, where the rich and powerful act as if it is their right to not only have a woman’s body but tell her what she can and cannot do with it. This norm cannot become an aspirational goal of men who lack power or money but still view it as their inheritance to take from women whatever they want.
On September 27, 2018, the pain of a 15-year-old girl, and the tears, honesty, and courage of a 52-year-old woman were not enough to move those who wield power to redirect it toward decency, compassion, and kindness. But her words and the voices from millions of other women who are speaking their truth wields more power that any legislature, PAC, or pundit will ever have.
Many of our daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends have been victimized as a young Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was. They were victimized but they have survived, while many others dіеd at the hands of their abusers. Still, their stories are being told and we must listen. In their stories, we must recognize our role in this, and do our part to ensure that our sons do not inherit what may have been passed down to our generation.
Our sons, the ones we want to grow up to be good people, are waiting and watching in the wings. As we come to recognize our role in this and listen with empathy and compassion for the trauma that has been inflicted, then we can better understand how we must change. The time for this change is long overdue. This continuous descent into moral depravity that was on display on the 27th of September must come to an end.
We can do better. And we must.