Modern Day Gentleman: First Step In Building A Healthier Society For All
This is the first entry of the Modern Day Gentleman column on Citizen Truth. Walter will regularly add entries which detail issues of masculinity, feminism, and the intersection of the two.
#MeToo & Where We Are Now
After fallout surrounding the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal, the #MeToo campaign becoming highlighted in the mainstream, and the formation of Time’s Up – the focus on sexual harassment and abuse has come to an all-time high in western society. Millions of men and women have come forward with their stories of suffering from incidents of sexual assault, harassment, misconduct, and rape. The much-needed spotlight on these issues has allowed for a number of conversations to occur, some that are not as easy as others.
A lack of communication between both parties and a failure to pick up key signs of body language led to Aziz Ansari being accused of misconduct. While Atari recently came under scrutiny due to their workplace culture in the 1970s – in both instances detailed nuance is needed to grasp both situations and not immediate condemnation and conclusions of guilt.
The emotional reactions to these cases are understandable considering how modern society has kept sexual misconduct swept under the rug for decades. Reports to management often went ignored, accusers were treated as if they were toxic, and serial abusers often went without punishment.
Women are at higher risks of being sexually assaulted, however, men also spoke out in recent months. Terry Crews was extremely outspoken with his experience of being assaulted, despite running into legal hurdles. Anthony Rapp was one of over a dozen men to accuse Kevin Spacey of sexual impropriety. It is abundantly clear that society needs to take the recent developments seriously in order to foster healthy development of young boys and girls.
How To Move Forward
Recent studies show that sexual victimization by women abusers is more prevalent than previously thought. Women, individuals with disabilities, members of the transgender community, and prison inmates remain at an extremely high risk of sexual violence according to other data. With such alarming numbers surrounding rampant sexual violence in the United States, it will take a complete paradigm shift in how we interact with one another in order to drastically reduce these incidents. In this column, I will focus on how we can build a healthy environment for young boys and men.
For young men, these changes need to begin at childhood and extend into adulthood. For years, culture has taught young boys that the only way to be a man is by sticking out your chest, putting notches on your bedpost, giving off a feel of machismo, and not showing any emotions – no matter what. Not only is this thought process archaic, it should have never come to prominence. Men do not share the same interests, passions, and masculinity isn’t determined by how sexually aggressive one acts.
Needless to say, telling an individual to suppress their emotions and attach their worth to how many women they sleep with is not only unhealthy, it perpetuates gender norms which harm both young boys and girls. Instead, we should speak to young men and encourage them to be themselves, no matter what interests they might have. This will help reduce the feelings of depression, stress, and self-doubt that children suffer from at an early age.
There’s also the issue of teaching consent.
I’ve seen many balk at the idea of teaching consent to children prior to them entering elementary school. The argument against is centered around it being insulting to insist that children need extensive training focused on consent and personal space. Yet, universities have begun introducing courses focused on sexual misconduct and knowing when to not proceed with activity when consent isn’t clear or has been revoked. In many cases, those courses also meet some resistance with much of the same rationale.
If anything, detractors of such programs are consistent, yet, psychological studies are clear. Teaching children the importance of consent and personal space at an early age will help them develop healthy traits that don’t usually result in abusing others.
The younger we begin teaching children about these issues, the fewer cases of sexual misconduct we will see in society. #MeToo and Time’s Up provide a great opportunity for us to improve our society, it’s important we act and create the change we want.