As a man, I am often frustrated by our (men, that is) inability to police our own and control ourselves. I will admit to having a temper, and on occasion being guilty of using my size and voice to intimidate, conscious or not. I am not proud of the this, and work hard to keep my cool. I do not believe it is just “boys being boys” when this happens, or when men sexually harass, hurt, or rape women. These are problems that seem endemic to the culture. So how do we make it stop?
While I could blame testosterone for some of our problems, I really need to blame the culture. Men are raised to squash our fears and tears, and taught to lash out when we are in danger. We are usually bigger than women, so we use that to our advantage. We also promote ridiculous religious and cultural ideas that support our false ideas that women are weaker and inferior, and therefore should be controlled. Any Scripture that supports that idea should be thrown out, along with teachings about clothing, food, and sexual orientation.
But when will we get it? We have a president who has admitted that he has sexually harassed women. The recent ado about Harvey Weinstein and the cloak of protection afforded him in Hollywood has everyone in a tizzy, but we know this is not an aberration. Rape is an epidemic, and women are molested in every part of the culture. Colleges and Universities often try to keep it quiet, concerned about the bottom line, and the church? We know all too well what the church hasn’t done to fight this problem. And while professional sports pretend to care, they do nothing about it. They would rather flap their wings about who is sitting, kneeling, or standing during the National Anthem.
It is never appropriate to cause pain or fear in another person. We should only use violence to defend ourselves, and words will usually work in most cases. Women have been forced to be the only defense against violence, while men have stood by and clucked their tongues, pretending to care while not getting involved. This problem will not begin to subside until men stand up to other men. The No More campaign that has gained much traction uses this approach. But we need to do more. Religious people need to be honest about our failure to protect against violence, as well as our cowardice to admit that our traditions and scriptures have been an important part of this evil behavior. And that is what it is – evil.
Men will only show that they get it when we support a zero tolerance towards this kind of behavior. Women are waiting for us to be real men. It’s about time we grow up. Peace.
Steve Ohnsman has been the pastor of Calvary UCC in Reading, PA, since 1999. He has a B.A. in Religion & Philosophy from Wilmington College (OH), a M.Div. from Drew Theological Seminary (NJ), a D.Min. from United Theological Seminary (OH), and a Ph.D. from Alvernia University (PA).