Wednesday, July 12, 2006

If You Are a Man

I asked Angela once why she and many other women like SUV’s so much. Her response puzzled me. “I feel safer higher up.” Safer from what? “You know, in case someone approaches the driver door, like in a carjacking.” This was my “aha” moment, certainly way too slow in coming, about the differences in the way men and women steward their physical safety in the world. I do not tend to worry much about muggers or assailants except when I am in a dangerous area. Women, on the other hand, often live with a near constant sense of physical vulnerability. Or should.

Last year I wrote an essay about the case of Natalee Holloway in Aruba (“Reality”; 6/12/06). Her disappearance and subsequent (assumed but not proved) murder by one or more young men who befriended her at a bar on her high school senior trip hit me hard. Here’s a fine young lady who uses poor judgment in (apparently) getting drunk and then going for a ride with two strangers or near-strangers close to her age. She should be scolded by her parents and friends for this foolish behavior; she should not be raped and murdered because of it.

I wonder sometimes at what appears to be almost a primal rage among men towards women. I don’t mean among all men, certainly. Here is what I mean: Why are there so many instances in which men perpetrate violence against women and not against other men? Because they can? We don’t seem to hear about nearly as many men who go for a joy ride with other men and end up dead. It appears that in cases like Natalee’s the men (or man) rapes the woman, then decides to “dispose” of the evidence. Let’s call this “brutal cowardice.”

And now comes news of another oh-so-familiar tragedy, this one in our area, indeed involving a member the First Colony Church of Christ, one of our sister congregations in southwest Houston. Ashton Glover goes “mudding” in a pick-up truck with some high school friends on Friday night, leaves with two other boys she apparently recognizes from her high school, and turns up dead a few days later, hastily buried in a shallow grave. By the time you read this we may know more. But nothing we learn will make this any less horrible.

What’s my point, you ask? How about this: If you are a man, and I mean a Man (not just a male), ask yourself this question: Am I for women or against women? Notwithstanding the fact that I would never physically harm a woman, do I denigrate them in word or gesture? Do I make crude or demeaning comments about them to other men relating to me being the “stronger” sex? Listen, women joking about men’s maddening proclivities, and men doing the same about women’s, is harmless humor. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about words, gestures or actions that convey contempt. It may be that our small instances of contempt never gather critical mass in OUR lives, but they can contribute to a societal critical mass that manifests itself in the cowardly brutality towards women that we see far too often.

Yes, I write this as the father of two daughters. But I also write as a man who respects and honors women. I believe this makes me more of a man, not less.

2 Comments:

Blogger ceecee said...

As the mother of a young girl who suffered a similar tragedy, I wanted to thank you for writing this. If there is something that I might add, I'd like to say that it's just not enough for good men to look into their hearts and refrain from disparaging women in any way. They also need to speak out against this and teach wherever and whenever they can.

There is still a pervasive and poisonous belief in our society, regardless of the lip service paid to not blaming the victim, that somehow there is still fault to be assigned to the victim, not just for the reasons you mention - having poor judgment, drinking - but for any reason that may tend to make them look less than the picture of perfect innocence.

It is not just men who do this. I once posed the question on a message board as to why when a rape is reported by a woman who was drinking, the scorn and contempt that should be leveled at the rapist is instead leveled at her. Why don't people say, that it is disgusting to even want to have sex with a person who is passed out. A man said because that is a given. However, a woman, who was college education and a teacher, went to great lengths to say that any woman who drinks too much around men is an idiot. She took great offense to my position that speaking out loudly against this disgraceful violation of another's vulnerability would aid n stopping the problem and we were never on friendly terms again after this discussion.

At the time this awful tragedy struck my family, the story was in the newspaper and online and there were even remarks made that my daughter 'killed herself' and the person who had hurt her shouldn't be arrested, if caught. This was mild compared to some of the other sickening things that were said online. However, it was the only 'rape' discussion board on yahoo where good triumphed over evil because many people that knew me came and kept refuting this evil and wishing my daughter a peaceful eternal rest.

A lot of things, good and bad, go around the internet. I am reposting this particular article which is one of the best I have seen.(I have edited out the profanity). The beliefs it opposes may not apply to you or anyone you know, but there are an awful lot of people in this world who really do not think doing some of these heinous acts is wrong. Every time one of them is pulled away and out of the sewer system of those values, angels in heaven will rejoice

A lot has been said about how to prevent rape.
Women should learn self-defense.
Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark.
Women shouldn't have long hair and women shouldn't wear short skirts.
Women shouldn't leave drinks unattended. Indeed, they shouldn't dare to get drunk at all.

Instead of that, how about teaching:

If a woman is drunk, don't rape her.
If a woman is walking alone at night, don't rape her.
If a women is drugged and unconscious, don't rape her.
If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don't rape her.
If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 AM, don't rape her.
If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you're still hung up on, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in her bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is asleep in your bed, don't rape her.
If a woman is doing her laundry, don't rape her.
If a woman is in a coma, don't rape her.
If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don't rape her.
If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don't rape her.
If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don't rape her.
If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don't rape her.
If your step-daughter is watching TV, don't rape her.

If you break into a house and find a woman there, don't rape her.
If your friend thinks it's okay to rape someone, tell him it's not, and that he's not your friend.
If your "friend" tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there's an unconscious woman upstairs and it's your turn, don't rape her, call the police and report him as a rapist.
Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, and sons of friends that it's not okay to rape someone.
Don't just tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
Don't imply that she could have avoided it if she'd only done/not done x, y, or z.
Don't imply that it's in any way her fault.

Don't let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he "got some" with the drunk girl.
Don't perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can too help yourself. Rape is not about sex, it's about control and power, and what kind of power comes from taking advantage of others? No power anyone should ever desire.

If you agree, repost it. It's important.


Well, my reply is becoming as long as your article but IT IS IMPORTANT.

One thing I believe the person who wrote this left off is if a woman is mentally ill, don't rape her. The Glen Ridge Rapists - a case study in how a town stood behind its athletes at the expense of a metanlly retarded girl whom they deliberately deceived and planned to abuse.

Taking advantage of the weaknesses of other fellow humans is nothing to be proud of and those of us who truly believe must remain silent no longer.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Matt Soper said...

Ceecee,
Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments. I am so sorry about your daughter's tragic death. Thank you for pointing out that not just men, but often society in general, blames the woman for being raped and/or killed.
Matt

6:14 AM  

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