Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?

Amanda Todd.  Steubenville.  Now Rehtaeh Parsons.  When declaring one’s opposition to bullying seems to be the most in vogue catchphrase nowadays, why is the act itself still happening?  Why do young people continue to think that assaulting girls, sharing photographic evidence of same to Facebook and then tormenting the victim relentlessly until she takes her own life is within a galaxy’s reach of acceptable?  Why are wealthy libertarian op-ed writers continuing to excuse this utterly reprehensible behavior in the guise of “freedom of speech,” “boys will be boys” and “she was asking for it”?  Joseph Welch famously brought an end to Senator Joe McCarthy’s career by saying “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”  In a similar vein, I am left to ask, “seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?”  Truly, what in the name of God has gone cockeyed in the wiring deep in the cobweb-strewn recesses of your addled little misogynist brains?  How many more young women are going to have to suffer before you grow your ass up and act like a goddamned man?

I don’t understand it.

I went to my share of house parties when I was young.  I was intoxicated at a few of them.  I was surrounded by intoxicated women.  Some of them were very beautiful, and being near them in that kind of environment would stir the expected physical reaction.  Yet never once did I or any of my friends take advantage of a girl in her most vulnerable moment or try to document the act to laugh at later on.  No matter what might have been aching down below or how much beer was flowing through my veins I never forgot about the humanity of my fellow partygoers, and never failed to treat them with the respect they deserved.  Perhaps it was how I was raised.  What I don’t get is why respect for women by men seems to be considered in many circles effeminate; that the way to get on with “the boys” is to describe in nauseating detail the perverse sexual acts one would like to perform on the stunning blonde who just sauntered by (that is, if, in reality, the one doing the boasting could manage to get his pants off before an, um… early finale.)  No one is telling any man that you don’t have to enjoy the sight of a beautiful woman or relish the desire that she makes you feel.  But you’re not a hulking, lumbering cro-Magnon who has to stick it in every available hole and then publish the evidence to the Internet while your buddies giggle like glue-sniffing hyenas.  You are better than that.  Despite what you may believe, the brain in your head can actually overrule the one in your boxers.  You can tell your pals that “that’s not cool, bro,” and see that the girl who’s had too much to drink makes it home safely and unharmed.  You can tell classmates who mock her to shut their filthy mouths.  That’s being a man.  And I wish so desperately that someone could have been a man for Rehtaeh Parsons.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about International Women’s Day in which I stated that I was ashamed of my gender for some of the things men have done.  An anonymous commenter whom I imagine was short of a few IQ points (not to mention the cojones to use his real name) suggested I should seek therapy, and whatever happened to personal responsibility?  That is the essence of the problem, right there.  We don’t take responsibility for each other.  We watch acts of misogyny and femicide on the news and shrug.  We let our governments slash funding for social programs that help the less fortunate so we can buy a new iPod with the few bucks we save on our tax bill.  We have “professional,” highly-paid mouth-breathers with massive bullhorns like Tom Flanagan polluting our discourse by asserting that looking at child pornography is a victimless crime (because for him it’s a question of individual liberty, or some other “don’t tread on me” bullshit) or Barbara Amiel claiming that had only the girl in the Steubenville case been wearing something like a burqa, the jumped-up little cretins who attacked her might have been able to resist their primal urges.  We reduce everything to right versus left and shun compromise and common sense in favor of ideological purity.  I am sick to death of society washing its hands of crimes like this one with the cop out that “it’s not my fault.”  We are all at fault because we don’t challenge each other to better ourselves.  “I’ve got mine, to hell with all of you” is going to be the epitaph of humanity.  Homo sapiens may endure for some time yet, but humanity will be lost in a flood of apathy and indecency if we don’t start working to correct this right now.  Let’s not lie to our kids that it gets better and then do jack to actually make it better.

As the father of a son on the cusp of his teenage years, when hormones he can’t control start flooding his body with feelings he can’t manage, it is my responsibility to teach him the importance of respect and what it really means to be a man when it comes to how he treats women and indeed anyone who is vulnerable.  As long as I’m breathing he will never be one of those fratboy douchebags who would stand idly by while a girl is being violated, or worse, record it and share it with the world.  He’s going to be the guy who escorts her out of danger and threatens to kick the ass of anyone who gets in his way.  So help me, he’s going to be a crusader for girls and women, the way real men are.  And he’s going to pass the same lessons on to his friends and his children and everyone else he meets.

I mourn Rehtaeh Parsons deeply.  A light in the world that should have shone for decades has gone out.  And I fear that unless we change our ways she won’t be the last.  One looks at the U.S. and how even after schoolchildren were massacred by a gunman, outraging the world, they still can’t pass any kind of sensible gun control legislation because of too many powerful people whining about “personal liberty.”  In a world where children’s bodies can be shredded by a legally purchased firearm, and where a young woman is driven to kill herself by a pack of hormonal cowards shaming her on social media for something that wasn’t her fault, no one is free.

We should all be ashamed.  What the hell is wrong with us?

12 thoughts on “Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people?

  1. Well argued. I also feel us dads can play a very big part in addressing many of these issues by instilling a sense of personal integrity in our sons. Mine’s only three, but starting early shouldn’t hurt. Good post.

    1. Thank you very much. I’m lucky that my son is friendly and has a good heart to begin with, but I agree, we need to make them champions of integrity.

  2. Querido Graham:Como mujer y madre de una mujer, me siento reconfortada al leer tus palabras y saber que hombres como tú harán de sus hijos grandes personas, dándoles una educación basada en valores como el respeto. la humildad, honestidad y el amor. Qué es lo que está pasando?, hay muchas cosas a que atribuirle la falta de respeto hacia el otro, o el abuso de un ser indefenso , pero creo que todo parte desde el hogar, la educación y el amor con que fuiste criado. Solo puedes devolver lo que recibiste ( que quede claro que esto no es una justificación para tanta barbarie), pero si siembran en ti amor, devolverás amor!. Si la base es buena, podrán luchar con todo lo malo que el mundo de la inconsciencia ,la ignorancia,la falta de dignidad y tantos seres retorcidos que andan por ahí les ofrezcan-.
    La indiferencia es una actitud y una forma de vida de mucha gente.Todos debemos comprometernos con el otro, no importa quién sea, si lo conocemos o no, si hay una mala acción frente ellos que no condice con nuestros valores. pues no lo permitamos, denuncien, ayuden, protejan y por sobre todo amparen a ese ser!.
    Gracias, con todo cariño- Cristina

    1. Thank you so much Cristina. I’m reposting your comment below for the non-Spanish speakers among us, thanks to Google Translate:

      Dear Graham: As a woman and mother of a woman, I feel comforted to read your words and know that people like you will make your children great people, giving them an education based on values ​​such as respect. humility, honesty and love. What’s happening?, There are many things to attribute the lack of respect for others, or abuse of a defenseless being, but I think everything starts from the home, education and the love with which you were raised. You can only return what you received (to be clear that this is no justification for such barbarity), but if you sow in love, love goeth!. If the base is good, will fight all the evil that the world of unconsciousness, ignorance, lack of dignity and twisted many beings out there offer them. Indifference is an attitude and a way of life for many people. We must all commit ourselves to the other, no matter who it is, whether we know it or not, if there is a bad action against them that is not consistent with our values​​. not allow it, denounce, help, protect and above all that being amparen!.
      Thanks, with all my love-Cristina

  3. Your comments are valid and very true….yet we must examin the full issue.I don’t know the full details of this girls story, but being a mother of both a teenage girl and boy I do have some experience.This is what I know and have personal experience with,I cannot access my tv, email or any job site without being exposed to some young girl barely clothed.Our “supposed ” news is all about the lowly Khardhisians and their recent immoral situations.The role models for our girls are dime a dozen , cheap, immoral celebrities.
    Our sons look at this as what they want , need, should have.They’re not concerned with details just the photoshopped pictures.
    That being said I cannot drive 10 km in my city or go to a variety store or liquor store or grocery store for that matter without being completely saturated with pornographic images of women.Why in this day and age does the media have to make it so easy for perverts and deviants?Should I not have the right to log on my computer (with all parental goals in check) with my son to look at jobs or homework assignments without being exposed to nipples!!!!
    I think the whole message to boys and girls is wrong and that’s why girls are “putting it all out there” and boys feel entitled to take it.
    I have been removed from my sons facebook page because I told alot of these girls(14-17) to quit sending nude photos to my son.
    Where does it stop?

    1. Education and setting a positive example are the most important things we can do. I laugh as our PM announces that he thinks bullying is bad and promises a “tough on crime” response when his has been the most bullying government in Canadian history.

      And yes, we are saturated with sexualized images wherever we go. We need to talk about what that means with our children. We need to talk to them about how advertising manipulates images to create fantasy and sell products. And we can turn off reality TV and refuse to watch or click on anything about a braindead rich family who are famous for being famous and stupid. It’s not realistic to expect that we can supervise our kids 24/7 but we need to keep the dialogue going, proactively. Yes, it will take effort, but it will be worth it.

  4. As a mother to two young boys, I couldn’t agree more. If I don’t talk to my kids about rape and injustice and how they have to prevent it, they’re going to learn their lessons from the rape culture they’re growing up in. They’ll learn it isn’t rape if she’s drunk. It isn’t rape if she changes her mind after initially consenting. It isn’t rape if she’s wearing something sexy. It isn’t rape if she’s ABCDE…XYZ.

    I and my husband are the only people who can step up and teach them that all those things are rape, despite what the idiots claim. And they have an obligation to protect others, because they are good people and that’s what good people do.

    From the time they were tiny we have taught them about consent. We’ve done that by asking for permission to do things like tickling them, and frequently getting their permission to continue. We don’t make them show affection if they don’t wish to, and we call them on it when they try to force physical contact on an unwilling playmate. They know that when playing a game, if somebody else tells you no or to stop, that’s final. You don’t continue, you don’t try to cajole them into changing their mind, you STOP.

    Our culture is fucked. Our culture is why a study done at college campuses revealed 30% of boys think it isn’t rape if they have sex with an unconscious girl. Our culture is why rape apologists continue to excuse and excuse and excuse. Our culture is why there’s another commenter on this thread trying to shift some of the blame to girls by complaining about them “putting it all out there” and sending nude photos of themselves, as if that means jack-all. Our culture is why rape has become a spectator sport in a way that we’ve never experienced before. Our culture is why only 3% of rapists are found guilty and face consequences.

    My kids have to grow up in this culture, but that doesn’t mean I have to let it infect them. Every decent parent out there HAS to step up. Teach your sons what rape is. Teach them to protect others. Teach your daughters what rape is, so they don’t get caught up in the rape-apologetics cycle of shame and self-doubt if they are among the 12-20% of North American females who experiences sexual assault. Teach your daughters – and sons – to fight slut-shaming and not participate in rape apologetics.

    We’re the ones who can change the future for our kids, and prevent these horrific events from continuing. If any parent fails to act on breaking this cycle, they have not only failed their own children, they have failed all of our children.

    1. Thank you for your comments Robin. I too am stunned by the utter lack of empathy shown by – as noted in my original post – privileged op-ed writers who have never faced a hard day in their lives or, more to the point, known anyone who was the victim of a rape. This kind of high-and-mighty, dismissive view trivializes a brutal crime and enables rape culture to continue. As I said and you have pointed out, the responsibility lies with all of us to put a stop to it. We have the power to change things, and I’m encouraged by your example.

  5. All this condenses down to one basic premise. Respect,. The young people of to-day have no respect for anything or anyone including themselves and the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the Parents.

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