We are male by birth. We are men by choice.
I’m not sure when I heard that for the first time. It was back when I was very young. The events of the last few days have left me revisiting this powerful statement and reexamining it with new questions. Am I being the best man I can be?
Probably most of us have seen or heard about the Ray Rice situation. His violent attack on his fiancé has horrified us and left many seeking answers. Domestic violence is a reality that many women live with on a daily basis but now we have a face. Now we see what it looks like when a grown male uses his fists to attack a woman and it is chilling.
God creates us to be either male or female. I guess I see it as some sort of gender lottery with neither choice better than the other. Both have strengths and weaknesses. That is why God created us different so that those differences can help us to have a sustainable society. When we use those strengths against the other gender that is when things become very dangerous and our society shakes at its foundation.
Violence against women is not a new thing. Since the beginning of time man has used his physical strength as a weapon. Unfortunately it is often directed against those who are far less able to defend themselves. This use of strength undermines manhood in ways that are never acceptable. I believe that we have to figure out what it means to be a man before our God-given strength destroys us.
Society has changed in the last few decades. I can’t tell you the surprised reactions I get from women when I do something as simple as hold a door open. Many of the simple acts of chivalry that were expected of men have disappeared. These acts of deference were never intended to be signs that men thought women to be weaker but a sign of respect for their strength. The loss of chivalry has not made us a better society. In fact it is doing the opposite. We are slowly becoming a society of Neanderthals and it is time for us to stop before it’s too late.
I have wondered as I have seen the reaction to the video why there is now suddenly such uproar. After all, the abuse of women is an accepted part of culture. They are called all sorts of vile things in modern music. Video games routinely teach young boys that women are nothing but sexual things placed here for our pleasure and to be discarded when you’re done using them. The modern sports culture is so testosterone-infused that crimes against women are often swept under the rug and the woman is labeled as having asked for it. Even in law enforcement I have been told many stories of domestic violence attacks disappearing behind the thin blue line. Even the military has come under heavy scrutiny for its culture of male aggression against women. It is dangerous to be women. Something has to change.
I am thankful for parents who taught me what it meant to be a man. How a man takes care of those he loves. How man uses his strength to help not hurt. How a man shows respect by opening doors for a lady and making sure you’re on the outside when you walking in the street with a girl. And the biggest one of all was you never raise your hand to woman no matter how provoked you are. You walk away. The thing is, you can be taught but in the end it’s a choice what you do with that knowledge.
We have many young men who are missing an important part of their education. The images of manhood being driven by our culture are creating a void of true men in our country. Instead of men being looked to for protection more and more they are viewed as aggressors who can attack without warning.
Again may I say that being male does not make you a man. It is a choice how we treat those around us. I don’t care if you’ve missed the chivalry lessons on how to treat women. A man must live by certain codes of what lines he will never cross. A man may not have been taught to open the door for a woman but he can still have the unwavering conviction that no matter how provoked he will never raise his hand against anyone who is weaker. Whether it be the elderly, a child or a woman we need a man code that we again teach young males so that they too can make the choice to be a man when faced with a situation where they respond with aggression against someone weaker.
I challenge every man reading these words. Are you listening to music that demeans women? Would you want the words from the songs on your phone to be spoken about your mother? Are you allowing your son to play a video game that glorifies the objectifying and violation of women? Are you living a life that respects those who you have been asked to protect or do you place them in vulnerable positions to fear you?
My wife through the years has said many things to me that have moved me. One of the greatest compliments she has given me is that I take care of her. My wife is one of the most capable women I have ever met. She doesn’t need me to take care of her. She would be okay if I was gone. That said, she sees me as someone who makes her life more complete because of my choice to be a man. To be someone she doesn’t have to fear. To be someone she can respect. To be someone she can count on. To be someone who will make the choice to be a man when the easy road of being a male beckons.
We are male by birth. We are men by choice. Being a man isn’t always easy but it is the only way you will be able to look yourself in the eyes and know that though you may not have always lived a perfect life you did lived an honorable life. You live like a man.