“That’s life… that’s what people say
You’re riding high in April
Shot down in May”
~ Partial lyrics of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra
Although riding high in April, they took a little longer to fall from grace.
I write this column on Wednesdays, it’s published started the following Sunday. In that four-day window, at the rate events are unfolding, who knows who else will be added to this tragic list.
Before I proceed; two comments:
- Their alleged or admitted transgressions are not all of the same stature. It’s crucial to appreciate that there is a gradient. In the same fashion that a malnourished child stealing bread is not the same as a violent criminal robbing a bank at gunpoint; yet both are acts of theft.
- There are other extremely high-profile men who have committed more vile behaviors and I have not listed them for reasons that will hopefully become apparent. This is not a partisan “hit piece.”
Having put that on the table, I admired these men, so sticking to my principles isn’t easy. But, per John Mellencamp, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
There are few “black and white” issues in my life but this is one.
I believe — and I raised my sons on the principle — that one doesn’t touch someone (of either gender) who doesn’t want to be touched – even if the intent is loving. Period. End of story. No exceptions. No excuses. I therefore am not allowed the luxury of being outraged by the behavior of men I don’t like and condoning it when I admire(d) them. This door swings both ways.
However, I can be saddened by how so many of my gender feel they can treat others. Maybe surprisingly, THAT is what has affected me so profoundly.
First of all, I know that these actions are not about sex; they’re about power. Also, I’m not naive, although not one who shares the misguided belief, I recognize that there are men who mistakenly measure their self-worth by racking up a “sexual scorecard,” scoring as many points as possible. Conversely, I’m not a puritan, understanding that sex — in an appropriate, consensual setting — is also fun and pleasurable.
I also understand I come from a state of privilege.
No, I’m not wealthy nor do I wield a great deal of political or career power, yet I’m also not a 14-year-old gay boy trying to make sense of his feelings, nor am I a woman pursuing a career she desires, dependent in large part on the good graces of those of higher rank, and she must wrestle with the consequences of speaking up. I get that.
Yet, despite it all, I have wanted to believe that there are more men who share my principles than those who do not, and this cascade of revelations has shaken me to my core. Was I that naïve? Did I turn a blind eye? Is this what our society really looks like and I’ve refused to take off my rose-colored glasses. Basically, what the hell is going on?
Being a “sensitive male” — I’ve reached out to like-minded male friends; they too are confused and feel besieged.
What has provided some solace was a comment made by a female news commentator, who stated (although greatly paraphrased), that most men are unaware of the depth of this issue because most men are decent, caring, loving people who would never think of doing something like this to others.
While still desirous of dismantling the problem, that analysis is the truth I choose to embrace.
This imbalance has existed since Adam blamed Eve. It’s embedded deep into virtually every culture; possibly even genetic. Yet that does not excuse it. As upsetting as it might be to some to have the playing field leveled, it’s morally, ethically — and even economically — necessary.
Real men get consent. Real men respect boundaries. Both genders will be better off for it when we accept that.
Maybe I’ve got my rose-colored glasses on again, but I am confident that we will someday be there.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds over 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or 707.442.6243. He is incredibly grateful for you as a reader of his work.