Defensive & Confused Post Kavanaugh

The fallout from the Kavanaugh nomination has again brought into focus a number of issues raised by the “Me To” movement that impact on how men and boys behave and should behave in a gender equal world.   Men and boys are clearly on the defensive and confused.  Is it time for men to apologize for our Y chromosome and accept the notion that we are predisposed to sexual assault and abuse of women?  Instead, how about some practical advice:

Boys –  A recent article in the Washington Post entitled “What Boys Really Need To Hear” told about a mother who instructed her son, “Do not ever, ever  think that  because you’re both drinking and you both think that it’s consensual that it’s necessarily  okay.”  Her intent was to warn her son that when the girl woke up in the morning she could then declare that their encounter was non-consensual and that her son would face an accusation of sexual assault.  This is what we should be teaching and telling our boys about their sexual behavior:

Fact: teenage boys, especially between 14 to 17, and even young men until 25 do not have their brain based inhibition controls fully developed and are at most likely to engage in risky behavior

Fact: alcohol reduces inhibition for both boys and girls

Fact: inhibition makes decisions about consent even more imprecise

Fact: boys face the risk of false accusations while girls face the risk of not being believed

– bottom line if either of you are drunk sober up before you have sex

– no means no without exception

Men – Sweden, the country on top of the food chain for gender equality is facing some new realities about how far social engineering can change gender roles.   Yes, Swedish dads do get paid paternity leave and spend more time with their children then the typical American dad.  That’s great, but in Sweden women do more child care and tend to take more time on maternity leave even if it does have a negative impact on their careers.   A clear message that gender equality does not mean that men and women view their life’s journey in the same way.   Equality means equal opportunity not that we have to make equal choices.   Some practical advice:

Fact: you do not have to apologize for the actions of sexual abusers, they are the minority, most men treat women with respect

– be cool, we are in hypersensitive times so be extra mindful about your casual remarks and behavior towards women especially in the workplace

– when discussing gender issues with women validate what you hear as being real for that person, even when you disagree, before giving your point of view

– maintain your confidence as a man displaying the best of masculinity

Kavanaugh & Masculinity

I was attempting to resist commenting on the Kavanaugh/Ford Senate hearing because I try to keep the blog apolitical.   However, after much thought I realized that after putting politics aside what annoys me the most – understatement-  is my sense of Judge Kavanaugh’s  inadequacy as a man.  The question is whether or not his performance reflected the best of masculinity?   On one hand he attempted to appeal to stereotypical attributes of manliness – jock, beer drinker, weight lifter – while simultaneously trying  to demonstrate that he is a  highly evolved man not afraid to show strong emotion as he teared up  in front of a TV audience of millions.

My problem is that neither  approach felt terribly authentic.    I have no doubt that he was an athlete and did drink beer but his harping on the subject, especially his frequenting mention of his love for beer, was contrived and clearly a  blatant appeal to his perception of what “real men” think of manliness.  In addition, his display of emotion did not feel sincere.   Was he simply trying to appeal to female watchers by showing that he is a sensitive guy able to unashamedly choke up and cry in public?   What bothered me was not the fact that he got emotional but what prompted the display.   What great personal loss in his life was so powerful that he repeatedly lost his composure.   Yes, the need to defend oneself in public is stressful and does have an impact on family life.   However, remember the worst outcome of the process, if he really did not sexually assault Dr. Ford or lie about his past, would  be that he would become a Supreme Court Justice.   In other words his only loss was having to be questioned a second time by a Senate Committee that was determined to nominate him.  My takeaway is that his crying and sniveling were either crocodile tears or an overreaction to those who dared to question his self proclaimed destiny.   In either case, hardly the best of masculinity,.