A few years ago, a Twitter hashtag became a global movement because it created a collective power that could not be attained individually. #MeToo founded a union among women who had grown exhausted by having their daily encounters with sexual harassment minimized, patronized and ultimately ignored. For once, social media produced a powerful positive. Men began to audit their own behaviors, and many ofus came to the conclusion that changes need to be made.
Every movement has its counter. In the wake of #MeToo came a quieter, cynical movement spearheaded by men whose hands grip the ancient levers of power. For this particular counter-movement, the doctrine decreed that women were the aggressors and than men were the victims. #MeToo was a money grab – just a discarded lyric in Kayne West’s popular song “Gold Digger.”
Women banded together and saw courthouse victories against the grossest of offenders, such as Larry Nassar and Harvey Weinstein. But recently, the counter-movement has pushed back, revealing its enormous power by securing the release of Bill Cosby, who had an estimated 60 women accuse him of sexual assault. SIXTY WOMEN!
A tenet of this counter movement maintains that society is obligated to respect a man’s need to forever remain an immature asshole. This is the “Boys Will Be Boys” Proposition; a blanket statement that excuses men from slapping a woman’s behind, drugging her drinks without her knowledge, or overpowering her in the name of satisfying an animal urge to procreate. Today, more than ever, we need men to recognize this as utter bullshit.
And that’s why Coach Blake Anderson’s words are so damn disheartening – why it pains me to write this post. Anderson, a leader of young men, became a vocal ambassador of the “Boys Will Be Boys Club” by announcing to his locker at Utah State that it “has never been more glamorized to be a [sexual assault] victim.”
Are you fucking kidding me, Coach Anderson? This insidious statement was made during a team meeting – a team of impressionable young men who are too often told that the things they want must be taken.
Furthermore, Anderson propagates the myth that men are the victims and that women are the slutty and immoral instruments bent on separating boys from their stuff. Anderson’s lesson isn’t to treat women as equal human beings, but to protect themselves from temptresses looking to turn their own dicks against them.
Anderson apologized: “I regret the words I used, and I apologize to anyone who has bravely come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. We have to do everything we can to encourage and protect anybody who has been the victim of a wrong, or whose personal rights have been violated.”
He added this: “Anyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this.”
Do we, Coach Anderson? I’m the father of two boys. The sentiment expressed by Anderson horrifies me because its something I often hear within circles of men. There is a real sentiment among too many men that women are seeking to emasculate men by denying them the seedy liberties they’ve enjoyed since the days of the cave. #MeToo was/is a pivotal moment of growth, but it also threatens the power structure that ensures that 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs remain white men and that 75% of those serving in Congress are men.
Young men need to grow up, and old men need to be the guiding hand. Men like Anderson, who weld an extraordinary amount of power over the lives of young men, should never promote the idea that to be harassed, assaulted or raped holds any amount of glamour. Instead, men like Anderson should hold his team accountable and lead them by example. In an age where Art Briles is mentioned again and again in coaching searches, I find myself despairing.
Boys will be good boys, when we demand it from them.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mine