I would like to start this post by saying it is not intended to spark any political arguments. Being a good human is a trait that should span any and every party line. Only two people know what truly happened on the evening in question in 1982, and I do not claim to be one of them.
“Be a good man.”
This simple phrase is one my husband has been repeating to our son since he could understand the words. Henry, now age (almost) 4, knows what it takes to be a good man at the very basic level. It started simply: holding doors for people, letting his sister go first, being a good sharer and a kind friend. Over time, it has grown as he has: stopping when someone asks him to the first time, apologizing when he is in the wrong, using words instead of force, accepting punishment for his actions when necessary.
If my four year old can understand what it takes to be a good man, anyone can.
But anyone can also claim to be a good man through braggadocios sports accolades, serving at a soup kitchen, or getting good grades in prep school. I know plenty of people from college who excelled in their academics only to enjoy degrading women on the weekends. If you think what makes a man good can be summed up into his community service or schoolwork, I encourage you to read up on the allegations and affirmed crimes within the Catholic church. As it has been proven all too many times, perceptions are unfortunately not always the reality.
That being said, the “Me Too” movement is not a plot by feminists and women to undercut or undermine good men. It is not a “witch hunt.” It is a stance. From both women and men who have been wronged and who have been too threatened – too intimidated – to come forward with the wrongdoings. It has been reported that two out of three survivors fall into this camp of being forced, in one way or another, to remain quiet.
But women are no longer being quiet.
And good men have no reason to feel threatened by it.
Instead of teaching our young men and boys to “be afraid” of this movement, as our President nonchalantly stated in a recent interview, we should be teaching our sons ways to join it. To stand up for people around them who are being violated – or pressured – or harmed. To lead by example instead of joining the “cool kids” or standing idly by.
If you are the parent of a teenage boy, please do not tell him to be fearful of the “Me Too” movement. Urge him to support it and seek the truth. Teach him to join forces with the women, men, and – all too often – boys and girls, who are suffering and drowning under the weight of their experiences. Tell him to reach out his hand rather than attempting to reaffirm his status through outward rage and blind ignorance. Teach him, and show him, how to be a good man to his core. Use this embarrassing outburst in our judicial system as an opportunity to prove to your son that his reputation will always precede him, whether he finds himself someday applying for a job at the supermarket or the Supreme Court. Teach your son to be ever-aware of his actions and how he could potentially be perceived; as even something as seemingly innocent and immature as a quote in the yearbook has the potential to make a permanent mark in his future.
Teach him not to be afraid, but to be aware of his privilege; and show him ways to use that power to work for the good of others.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by plenty of good men. My husband and my father, to name two, have been shining examples of what it means to be respected and respectful in their masculinity. I am also fortunate that I am not a part of the terrifying statistic of those who have been molested, raped, or a victim of sexual misconduct.
I, thankfully, cannot say “Me too.” But that does not mean that I can’t stand in solidarity and seek justice with the men and women who can. And, if my husband and I do our job right, so will our son.
WRITTEN BY SAMANTHA JO
Samantha is the founder and owner of BuffaloMoms.com. Her friends call her Sam, Sammi, or Sammi Jo. Her two favorite people call her “Mommy.” Follow along with her ramblings on Twitter and Instagram, or on her personal blog, Kin + Kindling.