Commentary: Where are the men?

Richard Nanna

Once upon a time there was a kingdom, where men were virtuous, honorable, and courageous and women, well, were too! It was a community moray, tradition if you will, for these honorable men to support and protect women. And in this time, when the intelligence, work ethic and wisdom of women were undervalued, the women began to assert themselves. They went to work, in huge numbers, and changed the world. All to their credit. It was a long time coming.

Something, however, happened along the way. Men who would have stood up when they saw a woman in trouble just sat down. “They should be able to take care of themselves,” they thought. Then it became worse. Sitting down instead of intervening moved further on to active participation. Now when a woman is intoxicated and defenseless, and is taken advantage of sexually by one man, the other men do not step up and defend her, only just join in or record the event, and share it on the internet Shame on you.

Where are the men?

In that kingdom, the door would be opened for women or they would go first through an already opened door. A woman could demur of course, but that was her choice. Nice right? Chairs would be tucked in behind them. Necessary, maybe not. Nice, yes. Men would present themselves to a woman and her parents to have permission to go out on a date, at the door. Honking of a car horn was met with an indication the date was cancelled, indefinitely. Now, when a woman declines to go further or to continue a relationship, which is her choice, 100 percent, it is now met with a sore loser mentality, harassment or stalking. So, can men not take no for an answer?

Where are the men?

In that kingdom, it was not perfect. Some men would push themselves on women, and if it went “too far,” it was always the woman’s fault. Men would too often place an obstacle to advancement for women, from their position of power. So the women took it upon themselves to make it better, to raise awareness, to assert themselves that this could not be allowed. And were they supported by the men?—not so much. From the small town factory to the Hollywood producer’s office, to retail work place to the after-work social, the same power inequality plays out. After a few drinks, unwanted comments are made from men about women, sexual interests implied, in the context of a woman’s work future at stake. The women are either the equals, or worse, the man’s employees or supervised collaborators. These comments are now met with only awkward silence, looking away – from both adult men and women. There is no calling this kind of speech out, no statements that these words or actions are inappropriate, no social courage.

Women are used to being silent, but that is changing.

Men, what about you?

Richard T. Nanna is a Christian, father and husband. He is also an emergency department physician at Warren Memorial Hospital.