There are heroes in the seaweed, as Leonard Cohen tells us enigmatically, but they also appear in the most plain and ugly of places, say, passing by a dumpster, noticing a rape in progress, then saying to the rapist, “What the hell are you doing?” Not only that, when the worm of a perpetrator runs off, like the coward he is, one hero chases after him, while the other checks the victim to see if she is breathing. The two heroes then hold onto criminal, until the police arrive. I do believe that's what real men do.
By the way, these two heroes belong to a growing hero demographic. Let's cheer for that:
...something actively good is coming out of this horrible incident and it’s worth celebrating; young men are rejecting the idea sexual assault can in any way be excused or minimised because the perpetrator was drunk, or for any other reason.
A moving Facebook post by Illinois man, Matt Lang, is going viral as increasing numbers of good men (like those many of us are currently raising) express their anger with Turner and rapists generally.
They are taking no excuses for rape.
[From Matt’s FB page:]
I've been drunk many times, even in the presence of "promiscuous" women and men who were also drunk, and I managed not to rape them, so I don't think drinking and promiscuity are the problems.
This here is the problem: some guys are entitled pricks, and they're entitled pricks because their fathers and coaches and friends taught them to be entitled pricks. Because they are entitled pricks, they think they can have whatever they want, and that their worth is defined by what they have and what they take.
Alcohol has this capacity to unlock what, deep down, we've always wanted to do. For me, that means, occasionally, running naked in places I probably shouldn't, like through libraries or deserts (remember for next time: deserts=cactuses). But even at my most intoxicated, I've never lost sight of the fact that rape is wrong, because I was raised to know it's wrong. No amount of alcohol can depress that value.
Brock Turner and his ilk were never taught that. They were taught that they can have what they want, when they want, including women. And that's called being a man. Brock Turner thought he was entitled to a little "action" any way he could get it, and he thought that long before he got drunk. The alcohol didn't introduce that thought, it unlocked it. That thought: "I can take whatever I want, including her", was planted and watered by a whole, rotten village.
For the sake of our girls, we need to teach our boys better. We need to love them and tell them about the dignity of the body, and how to live through disappointment, and how to navigate confusing feelings, and how to understand those feelings and how to separate feelings from action, and how to communicate and listen. We need to redefine for our boys what it is to be a man so that they know their worth doesn't come from that which they have and take.
For the sake of our boys, we need to teach them better. Boys and men have nothing to lose from this. Indeed, we only make gains when we learn how to live as complete and complicated people living in healthy relationships with other complete and complicate people.