The double standard we’ve created in our society is like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, either rim, and looking to the other side. The harrowing death that awaits a fall from either foothold is the noose around our neck that’s been created in the wake of the #MeToo movement and grossly all-too-common reports of sexual abuse.
These causes are right and fair. These women need to be heard and the monsters that harassed them dealt with. But on that side of the canyon, one can see from the other side a world where this type of behavior is seemingly acceptable — though not based in reality.
The problem lies in what C.S. Lewis would label as our penchant, as human beings, to be far too easily entertained. Lewis takes his cues from the Christian worldview, and whether Christian or not, the truth of what he says spans the vast expanse of all humanity. This is not a theological or religious discourse, it is simply a humanitarian undertaking. Though spoken with a spiritual undertones, the words of Lewis ring very true in our current cultural paradigm.
Here’s his quote,
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
In light of the recent sexual abuse scandal that occurred at Michigan State University, and among the barrage of victims in Hollywood that have recently found their voice to speak out against their terrorizers, it seems as though we have a cultural pandemic.
But have we been conditioned to be this way?
This is not meant to excuse the behavior of these horrible people; monsters that devalue the humanity of someone else for their own pleasure, but a simple question. Does our entertainment, ironically produced in the place that is the main source of these #MeToo issues, create for us a hypocritical approach to sexual abuse.
Again I ask you to envision the Grand Canyon.
On one side of the canyon are the horrific and dehumanizing acts of these men that have violated their countless victims. On the opposite side are Hollywood productions of shows that almost celebrate characters that are nothing more than one-and-done womanizers.
Now, it must be stated from the outset that I have found enjoyment in some of these shows too, but, at the same time, have also been uncomfortable with the outpouring of sexual abuse in our culture.
But maybe that’s the problem. I am the hypocrisy.
I am not trying to take the the moral high ground here and point fingers at society, while forgetting that I am a part of the problem. I love shows like How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men, and Friends. And, I will even continue to laugh at the characters on those shows that are intended for comedic purposes. But there must be some kind of correlation between the entertainment we partake in and the calloused nature we’ve approached sex with.
Take for instance, Barney Stinson — the King Player of New York City — on the show How I Met Your Mother. His entire character is built around the idea of casual and non-consequential sex. We laugh at his jokes, because they are funny — and because Neil Patrick Harris’ delivery is perfect — but, why do we celebrate his actions?
Have we become far too easily entertained?
I am not saying we should boycott shows that promote such a calloused sexual message, but what I am saying is maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised when it actually starts to jump from our television screens and “alternate realities” into the forefront of our true realities and culture.
We celebrate playboys, look nonchalantly toward one night stands — because we’re simply sowing our wild oats — but yet, wonder how anyone could act or do what these terrible men have done. By oversexualizing our culture we have become a walking hypocrisy.
The fix is in a changed mindset — and it starts with the men in society.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about the lack of gentlemen in our society. Maybe this is where our issue starts. And, I might argue that our lack of gentlemen stems from a lack of simply good men. And, now raising a young boy in this world, this concerns me the most.
Being a good man is simply about respect. Respect for yourself, respect for your culture, but also, respect for your fellow man — especially women.
“A gentleman is good to women because he has his own dignity and sees theirs.”
Gone are the days where the notches on your bedpost count. Who cares about notches on a bedpost when your name has been dragged through the mud, your reputation sullied, and your life ripped to shreds because your actions were less than honorable.
Honor and respect should be the name of the game that any gentleman plays, because it is about the humanity of the other person and the value they bring to a given situation, rather than their performance in the bedroom, that matters most of all. And this should also be true of the entertainment we partake in or produce.
It is time we take up for these victims and do our best to help them heal, as a society. But it is also on us, as that society, to stop celebrating the “little boys” who can’t keep it in their pants; truly celebrating the best of the men among us. “Where have all the good men gone?”, the old questions asks. They’re still around, just being overshadowed by the ridiculous lifestyles of the little boys — who live louder and flashier (which makes for good social media posts) than most — who are constantly acting like they have something to prove. Something, a gentleman never has to do.
It is time we raise our standards for entertainment and social decorum. Because if we continue to feed the beast of hypocrisy, epidemics will continue to flourish. The standard must be raised and it must be raised by all of us. For what a sad epitaph will be written for this society that all that can be said about us is that we were “far too easily pleased”.