I’m angry today.
Part of it is because of this story that I’ve become aware of this morning about the story of the woman who was stabbed to death in broad daylight by her estranged partner in front of her teenage son
Part of it is because I became aware yesterday of the abuse that a friend of mine from a long time ago was subjected to. Part of me knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t equipped to ask the right questions. She slipped through the cracks and was left to fight her own battles.
But most of it is directed at this sick perverse society that we live in that glorifies the objectification of women and then wrings its hands when something abhorrent happens.
There are calls this morning for greater stricter controls to be imposed by the courts on dangerous estranged men. It’s a knee jerk reaction to a problem much greater than supervision.
The problem goes deep – right to the basis of how our society views and normalizes relationships between men and women.
What does to be a man mean?
What does to be a woman mean?
What is a relationship?
What is respect?
What is love?
I’m not qualified to answer any of those questions, I’m just a man.
I can tell you what I’m told by the barrage of media images “To be a man” means.
We live in a society where success is measured by power, money, and sexual prowess. All three seem to be inextricably entwined. “To be a man” according to society you need to be in control. You need to possess everything.
To share, to treat others equally, to not really care how others see you in the pecking order, to acknowledge that you might just be human after all – well that’s just plain weird.
There’s an advertising maxim. “Sex sells.”
In essence, what it really means is to cheapen an act of love to a base function. Boys from an early age have access to photos of airbrushed models in erotic poses and performing sexual acts. The message is clear to be a man is to own or possess a woman, preferably one that meets a certain standard of physical appearance (so you can brag about your conquests to your mates).
I’m not a prude. I don’t think you can outlaw pornography, it probably has its place.
But I’m not talking about pornography I’m talking about objectification – the dehumanization of women to the point of possessions – a means of gratification and an affirmation that you the man have the power.
Is it any wonder that when relationships break down, some men see it as a total loss of face and that they resort to acts of violence. It’s almost like they’re conditioned to react accordingly.
When was the last time you saw a movie where the love interest of the all-conquering action hero was of “average” appearance or dare I say it, overweight? It just wouldn’t be right – he’s a hero – he deserves a babe – never mind the fact that she can’t string two words together and the last coherent thought she had was in 2010. Its appearances that count.
Name the ad that appeals to a man’s intellect.
Name the product that does not use a very attractive model to promote itself.
The objectification of women also impacts the female psyche.
A little while ago, my youngest daughter got involved in a classroom debate about Stephen Milne, a footballer who has been charged with rape. It’s a messy case, but let’s say it revolves around the simple concept of consent.
My daughter was horrified to find that the attitude of many girls in the room was that the victim had agreed to have sex with another footballer, therefore she shouldn’t complain if another player wanted a bit as well. When my daughter took an opposite point of view she was howled down. One girl said that she needed to learn her place.
I find that terrifying.
Nothing reflects the attitude of society more so than our youth. They are mirror images of how society sees itself.
I think we’re in deep shit.
For what it’s worth, I think to be a man means that you can rise above all the noise, and be comfortable in your own skin. You can treat others with dignity and respect and that you value your relationships with love. To be a man means that you acknowledge the rights of others to be.
To be a man is to dare to love.
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