#MeToo Reminds Us Men That We Need To Mind Our “Humanity”
“I’m a human being” is a pathetic excuse for sexual harassment.
The allegations keep coming and coming against more and more men. It is clear that there been so much silent suffering on the part of women for decades in our country, coming further into the light with the #MeToo movement.
I am a father to four daughters, a husband to a wonderful woman, and a brother to two sisters. To know that any woman has suffered, or is currently suffering, from sexual misconduct is painful for me. These women need to be supported, and the men behind the harassment must be brought to justice.
And #MeToo is a potent reminder for me, as a man, to heed the call by God to protect myself from my “humanity.” The Qur’an says it loud and clear:
The love of desirable things is made alluring for men — women, children, gold and silver treasures piled up high, horses with fine markings [read: fast cars in these days], livestock, and farmland — these may be the joys of this life, but God has the best place to which to return. (3:14)
Women are listed first, and it is not by accident. As a result of this, God tells me that I must lower my gaze and guard my modesty:
[Prophet], tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do (24:30)
It literally says “guard their private parts.” And so, it is my duty as a man, who strives to be a true believer, to do just that: lower my glances and check myself.
This doesn’t mean that I don’t look at or even talk to a female colleague at all. I am not advocating removing women from public life, as some other societies do. No. “Lowering my glance” means that if a scantily-clad woman passes by — or is shown on the television, or phone, or billboard — I don’t look and gawk and lust after her. I lower my gaze and look somewhere else. And if I try to cheat and steal a lustful look, “God is well aware of everything” I do, as the verse says.
Because, in reality, lowering the gaze is all about respect, respect for women as fellow human beings and not objects of male sexual desire. Women are partners with men, who are graced by God with dignity. And every woman who has been a victim is someone’s daughter, or sister, or — most horrifically — someone’s wife. It is not befitting for us to treat someone else’s family in a way we would not like for our own family.
Moreover, it always strikes me as curious when a man, such as Matt Lauer, is exposed, his statement after the fact is full of humility and remorse. Where was that humility and remorse, however, when he was committing such terrible deeds?
And what is most infuriating to me is the excuse: “ Well, I am human.” I’ve heard this excuse try to explain away truly terrible conduct by men, even religious scholars. It drives me crazy.
Yes, we are human; yes, we make mistakes. Yet, we should never put ourselves in situations where our “humanity” gets tested. We must stay with the bounds of safety that God has placed for us so that we may be protected from committing sin in the first place.
I do not write this to wag a self-righteous finger at others. While I would never — ever — even think to sexually harass any woman, I write this piece, nevertheless, to remind myself first and foremost to be on constant guard against my base desires. I must be on constant guard against looking at that which I should not look; going to where I should not go; being at where I should not be.
It is a constant battle, especially in this day and age. It is, in fact, a jihad. And it is a jihad that is far more noble and holy than the “jihad” that the terrorist savages label their cold-blooded murder. I pray to the Precious Beloved that He gives me the courage and strength to win this battle so that, by His Grace, I am able to join the Company of the Righteous in the hereafter. Amen.