Men –It is Up to You!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.”
~ Margret Mead ~
Sculpture at the Center for Civil and Human Rights
In Florida, it is not unusual for homes to be built on canals or small lakes, or ponds or fountains to be present on commercial properties, and to easily interact with the ocean and the Everglades. Thus one has ample opportunity to enjoy beautiful wildlife, lush vegetation, and all of the pleasures of a water rich environment, however, when I first moved to Florida, someone told me to always assume alligators were present in any body of water – period.
Recently, I sat in a food court, waiting for my order, when I saw a young girl; about 13, walk over to a table, to take a seat. As she approached the table, a man, sitting nearby, in the 25-35 year old age range, made eye contact with her and smiled. She returned the smile. He then proceeded to look at her intently, scanning his filthy eyes up and down her body, with his smile becoming a full grin, until that is he saw me staring at him, with the most menacing look, I could master.
I would not break eye contact with him; he eventually turned away from my glare, but kept checking my way, no longer, however, looking at the girl.
He looked like the kind of man who is not easily intimidated, able to defend himself, and under other circumstances I feel certain he would have had more than a few choice words to lob my way; but I had the upper hand, in my encounter with him, and he knew it.
I had caught him red-handed. For him, he saw a crime of opportunity, as the girl searching for some place to eat her lunch, happened to sit near him, and he eyed her as a target.
The disgusting look of lust he displayed toward this child sickened me, and as I sat staring at him, making sure he knew I was watching him, I ran through my options of actions. In no uncertain terms was I leaving this food court without making sure that the child was safe; and as I sat there thinking about what I would say to her or him, the recurring thought, in my head, was that we live among predators and at the very least we need warning signs, but there are not because we live in a society that has accepted predatory behavior.
The child was not at fault for what was playing out in front of me, a person had smiled at her, and she smiled back, exactly like women have all been trained to do; even more so if the smile comes from a man. Whether the lesson comes directly, by example, or through the multiple forms of media that dictate and dominate so much of our lives today, girls are taught that if a member of the opposite sex thinks they are pretty, or their outfit is nice, or their hair looks good or they have a pleasing voice . . . they should feel complimented. Girls are still told that their greatest value comes from being admired by man.
Thus, whether one is conscious of it or not, women work to fulfill this ideal set out for them, an ideal that is most assuredly interpreted through cultural, religious, and socio-economic context, but in the end always shares the defining precept that a woman’s goal is to achieve a man’s seal of approval.
So a little girl returns the smile of a man, and the man thinks she is attracted to him and trying to engage him, and ultimately wants to have a sexual encounter – no, she is simply doing what she has been taught to do, smile back.
As I continued staring at the dirty old man, sitting next to the girl, her father approached the table, with a stack of napkins in tow. In a rather grand and pronounced way, like he was marking his territory and proclaiming his authority, he took the napkins and rubbed down the table and chairs, where his daughter was sitting, he then excused himself, and made his way between the line of site established between his daughter and the ogling man. I continued watching them, but started to feel much better.
After a few more minutes, the father sent the girl to retrieve their food, while he stayed firmly planted between the man and his daughter’s seat. We finished our food, and got up to leave; but on my way out, I stopped by the man’s table and in a very clear and audible tone congratulated him on protecting his daughter and told him I admired and respected his actions. He looked up at me, nodded, thanked me, and gave me thumbs up.
I went to my car thinking this girl would be alright, her father would protect her, her father understood the way men can treat women and girls; unfortunately, however, not all men seem to embrace their role in their daughter’s lives the way this man did, and that thought makes me sad.
Shortly after this encounter, I read a statement from a father of daughters, who talked about how it would be better for women, if prostitution was legalized – not better for men, who could then approach prostitutes without the fear of legal incrimination, but better for women because they would then have a better work environment.
It was one of those statements where the writer says that studies and statistics show that women who work as prostitutes legally, have a higher quality of life, but no studies or actual statistics are sighted – just sad and old opinions whose only purpose is to make the men who go to prostitutes feel better about treating women as objects; men who engage in sex in the same fashion as they do when buying a pair of trousers or a car or picking out a restaurant – looking over these objects and then finding a price they are willing to pay to have their desire satisfied.
My blood boiled; this writer had said that women work as prostitutes because they want to, and because they are able to make such a great living. He had said that women liked being viewed as sexual objects, and thus dancing in lewd clubs that required them to be degraded was a choice. He did not believe that women working in the sex industry were victims, but rather they were professionals providing a service that they were well paid for and enjoyed – yes enjoyed.
I wanted to ask this father of daughters if that was the kind of life he would want for his daughters, if it was legalized, of course? I wanted to ask him if he was prepared for men to treat his daughters the way he treated women? I wanted to ask him what he was going to tell his daughters, when they asked him, if he had ever engaged a prostitute and why? I wanted to ask him if he was going to teach his daughters that they needed to dress in a provocative manner, never “tease” their dates, by going to dinner and then not having sex with them, and tell his daughters that they needed to be open and willing to fulfill any man’s sexually perverse fantasy, because that was their purpose, even as a wife; especially if they expected the man to stay in their lives.
I also wanted to ask him exactly why he did not respect women; but there was no point in that question, because he thinks he does respect women and he thinks women just want to have sex for money and they should be allowed to do so legally. He does not believe women are forced into prostitution by circumstances or other people, rather that it is a great job that just needs to be legal. God help his daughters.
Today, we live in a society that openly supports the objectification of women, beginning when they are girls, and we are not willing to shine a light into the darkness and publically shame those who support and take part in this billion dollar industry and life style choice that is built on the brokenness of its victims.
Children that are sexualized, molested, raped, tortured, and enslaved may survive but they are never going to be alright; yes, they may one day thrive, but the impact of this evil and perversion forever changes their lives; and likewise the women who endure being kidnapped and raped and beaten and tortured because they are young, pretty, or just infidels may survive but they too are forever impacted by an evil condoned by society, because among others things – you cannot expect a man to go to war without their “comfort women” – apparently, today we also think business men, truck drivers, and professionals need “comfort women” too.
I try very hard not to speak in generalizations, but today I am going to make a proclamation on behalf of all women in the world – women do not want to be prostitutes and women do not want to be raped and women do not want to be treated as objects. Women what to be loved, admired, friended and respected and I would bet there are more than a few men out there who would also like to be loved, admired, friended and respected – would it not be nice if we “could do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” But I digress.
Unlike men, who because of their genetic make-up start life with a free pass, women have had to prove themselves from time in memoriam. We have had to fight for everything from the right to vote to the right to preach; and we have fought and we have worked tirelessly and we have proven that we do make a valuable contribution in life; but the fight to not be viewed as sexual objects is not one we can wage any further than we have already – men this one is on you.
(The only thing that has been handed to women is the right to motherhood, and even with that gift there are horror stories that cannot be ignored.)
Men – fathers, brothers, sons, husbands, lovers, colleagues, neighbors, friends, strangers . . . it is your fault that women are not respected and you are the only ones who can do anything about the way women are viewed as sexual objects instead of just people.
There really is a war being waged on women, all over the world. Slavery is a burgeoning business in the twenty first century, yes people are still enslaved for labor, but girls and women, all over the world, from Nevada, where prostitution is legalized, to Raqqa where it is legal to kidnap and rape Christian women, are still faced with the prospect of being forced to endure violence and degradation just to satisfy a man’s desire.
I will never understand why the United States and the United Nations and the European Union did not send personnel to rescue the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram – if it had been a group of professional athletes or movie stars or rocket scientist I think the world would have reacted very differently, but young girls being kidnapped to become sexual slaves are not worth launching a few drones, or landing ground forces, or even cutting off funds to the governments that shelter them. After all, the girls are only going to be raped and tortured, it is not like the world is going to be deprived of anything of value – this shame will not ever go away, and it is a collective shame.
Maybe you are already the man who does not make or laugh at the crude joke or comment, that is good but not enough; it is time to be the man who calls out the man who does make the joke or comment. How long would the sex industry go on if the men who pay prostitutes were not only publically admonished, but more importantly ostracized by their friends and family members for participating in this vile behavior?
I know it is hard, but I do not believe it is impossible. Every time you interact with pornography and the sexual industry, picture the women you are watching as your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter – it should not be hard, after all they are all someone’s daughter, wife, sister or mother. That Is All For Now