It has been clear for some time that, as a group, men are in flux about their place in the world, a world of dizzying change.
With women, their consciousness raised, now asserting their rights, including the right to seek power in the public sphere and to share power in the domestic sphere, men can no longer expect always to be in charge, always to be the voice of authority — as has been men’s “natural” right for eons of human history.
If and when we achieve equity between the sexes, it will truly be a New Day. But so far over these last decades, progress has been sketchy. Expecting men to voluntarily surrender their “natural” entitlement and share the end-all-and-be-all of power and status: It has been a big ask, going to the essence of personhood as well as manhood.
Kudos to the men who have adapted to this new social context and who treat women as co-equal human beings, colleagues at work, partners in life. Whether they modeled themselves after an admired figure they knew or, more impressively, determined for themselves that they would extend the principle of fair play to all women: These men don’t need their consciousness raised, they are their own enlightened model.
But for some (insecure) men, it’s been too big an ask — to share power and status with women — and the asking accounts for tragically high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault. The rise of #MeToo has revealed shocking instances of men in high places abusing their power with women, interpreting their authority to mean all is permitted, even criminal behavior. Apart from this violent misogyny, angry young men are the public face of gun violence — they invariably are the perpetrators of our too-frequent shooting massacres — and of the white supremacy movement, whose members decry white America giving way to a more diverse populace.
In the past, the President of the United States often served as a model of male behavior — there was George Washington, father of his country, and honest Abe Lincoln. But the current one, who in addition to lacking all character is a misogynist, cannot fill that role.
Fortunately, we have a new model, right here in River City, specifically Gig Harbor, Washington: Recently in a public setting, a remarkable young man, a graduating high school senior, reacting spontaneously and from his heart, created a new mold.