By David A. Chiodaroli
Why men victimize those beneath them and how we can do better
New Years is a time for reflection, both on the memories of the previous year and what we can do to improve ourselves for what’s ahead. Looking back on 2017, there were a number of instances that forced us to confront disturbing facts about society, one of which started with a New York Times article about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual misconduct against the women who worked for him. The resulting aftermath of revelations and tell all’s forever tarnished the reputation of some of our most beloved public figures, from actors to news casters and even politicians. The ugliness that insured painted a grim picture of both the entertainment industry and the professional world as a whole, one where the carnal desires of the rich and powerful held more credence than the liveli- hood of low level staffers.
Amid the accusations and admissions of guilt, one question prevailed above others: why? Why do men of authority feel the need to force themselves on those below them? Some say power, plain and simple, is to blame for such depravity. But while power certainly has a lot to do with it, there are other factors at play that make men at the top prey on the weak.
By the time we reach puberty, we men are told throughout our lives that if we like a girl we should go out and get her. The elder men in our lives tell us of their high school flings, and ‘the ones that got away,’ inadvertently teaching us that women and girls are objects of desire, rather than human beings. Of course, we eventually learn that the reality of courtship is much more complicated than going out and finding the love of your life. Finding a partner, whether they be of the opposite or same sex, is not as easy as going to the supermarket and buying a jug of milk. As we grow older and the strains of puberty begin to subside, we realize that the apples of our eyes are people too, with wants, needs, and feelings just like us. However, even though we may come to this realization, it may take some of us a few hints to realize that the ‘one that got away’ probably didn’t like us to begin with.
Every man, myself included, has screwed up in how we approach a potential love interest. We’ve asked out people who’ve never liked us, we miss obvious clues, and we try and try again to prove to our crushes that we are the ones for them. Whether by ignorance, inexperience, or denial, we make these mistakes, get our hearts broken, and cry about it while listening to Morrissey, or some other good band to sulk to. It’s a cycle that repeats itself time and time again, from our teenage years all the way up to adulthood.
But what sets us apart from those who commit crimes of passion is that we learn to move on. It may take us a while, but eventually we learn to put the tissue box down and just try to forget about it. But to all the Weinsteins and Kevin Spacys in the world, this isn’t the case. When they see someone they want, they’re going to get them. They don’t need to move on because they believe that no one can refuse them. If you live and work in a world where you’re constantly surrounded by yes men, you’re not going to take no for an answer. You will sleep with that woman (or man) that you want to bed, no objections. You will expose yourself to the focus of your desire, and they will do the lurid, filthy things that float around in your mind. Whether it’s because of upbringing, power or a mental defect, some men will always find a way to dominate those who arouse them. It’s the same reason why stalkers and rapists exist, because these individuals refuse to let go. Add power and influence, and you’ve got all the makings of a high-profile predator.
So what can men learn from this situation? How can we do better, both in 2018 and beyond? Simply put, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. The old adage ‘boys will be boys’ should only apply to children, because eventually boys will be expected to grow up and act like responsible human beings. We need to remember that, while lust and sexual desire are natural emotions, created by our brain to make more of us, we should not let them override our sense of judgment, morals, and common decency. If we do, we are no greater than the beasts of the earth that we hunt, slaughter, and domesticate. In addition to our primal needs for food, sex, and sleep, we are also capable of complex emotions, of love, compassion, and empathy.
So for 2018, make a promise to yourself to try and show more empathy to the ones you care about, because you are more than just a hairless ape. You are a human, who can give so much to so many people, and no matter how much you can do, a little empathy here and there can make this crazy world just a little bit saner.