Do you remember Popeye the Sailor Man? The cartoon character who would see his friends or even himself bullied by the hands of Brutus, until he finally couldn’t take it any longer. Popeye’s signature line was That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more, at which point he’d slam a can of spinach, his biceps would swell to Schwarzenegger size, and he’d mop the floor with Brutus and save the day.
Well, I’ve had all I can stands.
Most men I know like sex. I like sex. Hell, I love sex. In one of Barry Lopez’s books he referred to it as “the Cadillac of natural pleasures.” In my opinion, that’s right on the money. But here’s the reality. The latest numbers on sexual assault are in, and they’re staggering. Actually they’re disgusting. A simple Google search can give you the numbers if you’re interested. But I’d like to appeal to something other than numbers. I’d like to appeal to how you see yourself.
To think that a true gentleman would sexually assault a woman is unbelievable. But what about this – what about verbally pressuring her to engage in any kind of sexual activity, and if she refuses she’s threatened with rumors, harm, or worse? Would a true gentleman do that? I don't think so, amigos. But apparently some men disagree. There is still a strong cultural difference between becoming a man (conquering) and being a good man (caring).
And just so we’re clear, yes, this stuff happens all too often on college campuses, but it also happens in suburban-gated-community marriages.
Now if you've never wanted to be anything more than a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal, and you see women as objects to be conquered in order to prove your manhood, then you've probably already stopped reading by now. But I'm going to roll the dice and say you aim to be more than that, a lot more than that. You appreciate what Buffalo Jackson stands for, those big words like honor and integrity, and you've tried and continue to try to build your life around them. And you believe those words mean something when it comes to how we treat women.
According to Michael Kimmel (known as the Bro Whisperer), “It helps if a big man on campus is the one leading a…crusade.” So here’s my challenge: Be the big man on your campus. That may mean a literal school campus, or it may mean your neighborhood, your workplace, your church, your family – wherever you have some influence, step up and invite other men into this conversation about honor and integrity when it comes to how we relate sexually to women and what's appropriate. Is it a minefield these days trying to figure this stuff out?No doubt. But all the research says men really want to talk about this, but somebody has to be man enough to go first. I believe that somebody is a gentleman. And I believe that gentleman can be you.