On March 20th, 1779, Capt. William Jones of the United States Marine Corps, advertised in the Providence Gazette for “a few good men” to enlist. The men that answered that call thought of themselves as “good” but were they really? It’s difficult to ask them now.
In the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men”, Jack Nicholson perfectly played the role of a top ranking military official who was a bad man arguing that the world needed him to be that way. And yes I will provide a link to the classic ‘you can’t handle the truth’ scene at the end of this article.
But first, I’d like to talk about why the current world we live in needs far more good men than it does bad men to fight in a war that isn’t just being battled between countries by military personnel but everywhere that men and women should be co-existing equally. Which is, to be clear, EVERYWHERE. Women, especially women in visible minorities, are in a life or death battle against misogynistic men. And if you’re not one of those men that are actively battling against women (and I really, really hope you are NOT) it’s long past time to join the fight on their side.
This week was another awful one for innocent women who happened to be in the area of terrible men. In the American state of Georgia, 7 women were killed, including 6 of Asian descent, which was then attributed to the male murderer having “a bad day” by a terrible local police spokesman who was later linked to anti-Asian racist materials on his own social media pages.
In Toronto, the trial of the man who killed 10 pedestrians and seriously injured 16 others driving a van onto a sidewalk two years ago, specifically targeting women in the attack, conjured up horrible memories and renewed suffering for the innocent victim’s families.
And in England, the murder of Sarah Everard this month, by a London police officer, was made even worse by police forcibly breaking up a candlelight vigil of mostly women at the park where she was killed.
These are just a few of the seemingly endless examples of women being murdered by men simply because they are women, an act known as Femicide. We all know these things happen everyday but I think that many men who consider themselves “not part of the problem”, like me, are also not making themselves part of the solution.
The fact is, women everywhere have to live in a constant state of outright fear that they will be attacked or killed by men, either strangers or, even more horribly, their own male partners or family members.
Why is this happening? Why, when it does happen, are the victims often blamed? What do you do when the police, who are supposed to protect the public, are the perpetrators of the crime?
I wish I knew the answers to those questions.
All I know for sure is that it’s time I got a lot better when it comes to being an enemy of misogyny.
And no, this doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly become ‘Femiman!’ “protector of all women”, patrolling streets at night in a cape (although my daughters would think that was pretty cool). But good men need to do a better job of calling bad men out. Which could start as simply as not doing jokes about women being victims. Or, even better, celebrating strong women in your life and showing your appreciation for their strength. I’m also calling on all the good men in positions of authority (I believe there are still some out there), be it police, military, government or the heads of companies to take part in the fight. Not simply with lip service but with actual actions such as firing, arresting or incarcerating abusive misogynists. And by promoting women into positions of power. I’m also not sure male judges should preside over sexual assault cases at all. “But there aren’t enough women judges!” you say? Good point. We need more women judges.
And, here’s something I’ll just come right out and plead to a specific group of men to do, coming from a father of young daughters: Fathers of young sons, please teach your young boys to respect girls and women.
I’m sure you believe you are doing this already. But just in case, this is the kind of respect I’m talking about:
1. Include girls in “boys” sports: The more we have the girls playing with the boys the more respect I believe will be shown. And yes there are many who scoff at this idea. Those people are part of the problem. And some may be worried that the little girls are better athletes than the little boys. All the more reason to have them play together. The girls can teach the boys a thing or two.
2. Don’t let “boys will be boys” stuff go. This expression has been around even longer than “a few good men”. It exists to forgive bad behaviour in boys which leads to ignorant entitlement in men.
3. Teach boys that girls aren’t “objects”. If you, as a dad, treat your spouse, your female colleagues and women in general as respected equals, then your sons will see that and there’s a better chance they will too.
Of course, not all violence against women is going to be solved by a few good men in positions of authority and a bunch of good dads teaching their sons things they might not have been taught themselves. But the war on violence against women shouldn’t just be fought by women. They need good men on their side.
This is a truth we all need to get a handle on.