Matt Lauer is a piece of shit. That’s an easy thing to say after watching his story blow up CNN and every other news station in America a few weeks ago. Only a piece of shit has a button installed in his desk to lock women in his office, right?
It’s easy to say he’s a piece of shit, but doing so is also immediately dismissive of the fact that Matt Lauer isn’t a serial killer, a serial rapist, or any other “monster” of sorts. He’s a married man, a family man, and a popular public figure. He’s also, clearly, a very troubled man, and up until recently, his position granted him immunity from any repercussions from his actions.
Sexual harassment is the topic of the day here in the United States. Every morning, we get to wake up and read about which of our beloved celebrities or not-so-beloved politicians has been caught with his pants down or had the Ghost of Poor Behavior Past come to visit.
For men, the heat is on us. Our behavior is under scrutiny, even for well-behaved men. By virtue of our gender, our word and integrity has been called into question—and perhaps rightly so.
In this article, we’re going to explore why the explosion of sexual harassment awareness is happening now, and speak to the conversations I hear men having about it. What does this new paradigm mean for men? And what do we do moving forward?
Hold onto your hashtags, let’s get into it.
SEX AND THE AGE OF AQUARIUS
Back when I was just a face-punching MMA fighter, I heard a lecture by spiritual author Caroline Myss, and she told us that humanity was leaving the “Piscean Age” and entering into the “Age of Aquarius.” Having no reference for what she was speaking about, I dismissed the comment until she followed it up with,
“In the Age of Aquarius, nothing will be kept a secret. Anything and everything you do behind closed doors will come to light.”
Her comment came as a response to an audience question about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky making the headlines, and the shift it represented after powerful men had openly had mistresses without anyone batting an eye for millennia. We, as a population, have continued to see this explosion of truth. Everything from police corruption to government scandals has become public knowledge. We’ve seen abusive professional athletes, outed clergy members, and Hollywood tycoons have their secrets exposed.
With the advent of cell phone cameras and social media, we, the people, have become the front-line news source. A single Tweet now has the power to reach millions of humans and create a massive ripple in the populous before CNN ever gets wind of it. Truth no longer needs sanitization from the editing department of Time magazine or a government agency (nor fact checking, for that matter) before we digest it.
Truth now has the freedom to travel at lightning speed.
What we are currently witnessing is the ripple effect of this mass amount of information being available at our fingertips. What was once easily hidden has rapidly diminishing places to hide. Whether you believe in the Age of Aquarius or not, it’s undeniable that truth has become king in 2017.
Sex and Unsportsman-like Conduct
What does any of this have to do with Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein? And more importantly, what does this have to do with you?
Here’s how I see the issues of sexual harassment playing out in terms of football.
Imagine for a second that we men are players in the NFL. For years, our poor behavior or that of our teammates went unpunished, unless it was so blatant it was simply undeniable. We were able to break rules and make illegal hits, especially if we added to the team’s winning streak or financial success.
Sure, there were “rules” in place, but only a few people agreed to enforce them. And the rule-breaking was so rampant that even the refs could only see the tip of the iceberg. So, we operated with relative impunity and, quite truthfully, felt we were above the law.
Then something happened.
Not only were cameras added to the game, but a shift in the viewership decided that enough was enough. The cup overfloweth and change came quickly. Now, if we cheat, we get penalized and fined. But, here’s the kicker…
In this scenario, the good people at the NFL are also going to go back and review as much old film of our games and practices as they can. They’re going to interview our teammates, opponents, and fans. If anyone can state that we are or were making illegal plays, we’re going to be retroactively fined.
Yep, we’re still responsible for what we thought we got away with. Oh, shit sticks.
You getting this?
What was once acceptable simply because it was so commonplace is no longer, whether you’re the starting quarterback or the water boy. If you play by the rules, you can still thrive in the game. If you don’t, you’ll be asked to leave. Plain and simple.
Are you nervous about your past? Maybe you should be.
But only if you were taking people out at the knees and grabbing jerseys when you should have kept your hands to yourself.
***Author’s note – the damage caused by sexual assault and harassment is in no way intended to be diminished with this analogy.
Sex, Power, and Witch Hunts
"Everything in theworld is about sex except sex. Sex is about power." - Oscar Wilde
Men have enjoyed the top spot in the power hierarchy for a long time. Inherent in the archetypal pattern of power is increased access to sex. Part and parcel. Anyone at the top of the societal food chain—by position, wealth, or title—not only has the ability to garner sex more easily, but it is also offered to them in vastly greater quantities.
But has there been a shift here, as well? Doesn’t power also grant the holder relative immunity from persecution despite poor behavior?
It does to some degree, but there was another recent and massive shift with the election of Donald Trump. While I am in no way endorsing anything about his politics or person, I do believe his presidency has done more to raise the national awareness on certain social issues than if Hillary Clinton had been elected. His campaign and election were the start of the greatest light being shown on male behavior.
Because this shift is not a witch hunt. It is a rebalancing of the scales that have been massively lopsided for a long-ass time.
For every man you see implicated in a #metoo post or brought to light on national TV, there are infinitely more who remain unnamed, uncalled-out, and undisturbed. Men who have destroyed and shattered women (and men) with their predatory sexuality and attempts at sexual extortion.
For equality to become real, this rebalancing has to happen. The pendulum has to swing to the female side of justice before it can find its center point. This is the what we are witnessing today, and hopefully will continue to witness until it is clear to men in positions of power that, while sex may be more available to them, equal to power and availability is responsibility.
At the end of the day, we are all one hundred percent responsible for our own behavior—whether we hold the corner office or are parking cars.
Always Ask, Only Ask Once
What are we to do as men moving forward? Is dating done? Should we even have female friends in the office? These are great questions and relevant ones. Here are some thoughts.
"The old ways of "boys will be boys" are done. Thankfully. If you’re still operating in that paradigm, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening at some point - and possibly a sexualharassment charge.
What you used to laugh off is no longer funny, so this is a brilliant time to hold both yourself and your brothers to a higher standard. Here in the U.S., there was a shift when saying racially charged jokes and having shitty behavior toward black people first became uncool and then simply not okay at all. That’s where we’re at now with sexuality, gender identity, and rape jokes, whether you’re present to that fact or not.
Do yourself a favor and be mindful of what you say—as well as who you associate with who is speaking and acting poorly—and call yourself forth to be a better man. And don’t touch anyone who doesn’t want to be touched. Just stop that.
Dating is not done. Trust me. Now more than ever, men of high quality, Uncivilized Men, are being sought. There is nothing in the new paradigm of respecting women that says you’re not allowed to approach someone and ask her out. In fact, I recommend giving that a try instead of swiping and seeing what happens.
What is done is using her potential choice to say “no” to your invitation as justification for being a total prick, stalking and harassing her, or throwing a tantrum like a 225-pound three-year-old.
Grow up and act like a fucking adult.
How would you feel if a woman you weren’t interested in asked you out and when you said, “No, thank you,” she screamed at you, called you a fat shit, and told you she never wanted to date you anyway? Or if she started showing up at your work, your gym, and your apartment. Creepy huh?
Now, imagine she can easily kill you…
How would you feel if that happened multiple times in a week? Welcome to any woman on any dating site’s day-to-day experience.
So, here’s a great maxim to follow: always ask, only ask once, and be thankful if you get a no. Trust me, it’s cheaper than getting a divorce attorney later.
Be The Best Version of a Man You Can Imagine
The truth is—it’s a great time to be a man.
Never before have there been more opportunities for travel, freedom, and adventure. Never has more information been available at our fingertips. Never have men been more open to conversation and intimacy. But if you’re struggling with what it means to “be a man,” simply be the best version of one you can imagine.
Be honest. Say please and thank you. Don’t take what’s not yours. Treat other people, especially women, in the exact same ways you want men to treat you and life will continue to be amazing for you.
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