MAN UP, DADS: Fathers Must Intentionally Educate Sons To Respect Girls And Women In The Sexual Assault Era

Jerome Danner | Member, Project 21 Black Leadership Network National Advisory Council

Since the Harvey Weinstein scandal hit the news and blew up in Tinseltown, it feels as if you cannot go a day before the next sexual assault allegations are hitting the airwaves. Sad to say that the shock has somewhat worn off at the hearing of such events taking place at this point because of the seemingly unending nature of the stories and the furiosity at which they are appearing. Nevertheless, news of such despicable behavior cannot just be simply overlooked and dismissed as isolated incidents only happening in the world of the rich and famous.

Even if the news of sexual misconduct as of late has been from a world that most of us do not know, this does not mean that inappropriate sexual behavior is not in our midst from our neighborhoods to our very workplaces. This kind of abuse is not just limited to one culture, class, or political group.

Since this mistreatment may strike in any location or any profession, all of us (especially fathers, brothers, uncles, etc.) will have to be more intentional in our respect of women (and men) for the next generation as we are their example as to how to live and exist in this world. We should show them consistency in honoring others no matter where counterparts’ positions are located on any social, political, or economical totem pole.

Obviously, training up a child considering this particular ground rule is not some difficult task. However, it may take a bit more thought to continuously nourish this rule as something to live by and place that child around others who live by this rule. This rule that is really a continuation of the “golden rule” with a built-in reminder that consent is not necessarily needed if we avoid putting ourselves in these kinds of dicey situations altogether.

This should come to no surprise: It does not take rocket science to practice appropriate behavior around women. It does not take reading bell hooks, being a follower of all things Lena Dunham, or being thoroughly trained in feminist thought to see the rationale in not harassing or assaulting another human being. It is just common sense.

In this year of the “Silence Breakers”, I have determined to take a step back, assess what has been taking place in society and the news as of late, and commit to raising my son to a standard that I have deemed more than necessary. The reason is twofold: No woman should ever feel unsafe around him or threatened, which should also mean that he does not participate in the harassment or assault of any individual, and, therefore, should live a life free of having allegations being made about him that are actually true.

There are things that may have been given a pass (not necessarily by adults) in the past when I was a child that were clearly inappropriate. Games were played by boys back then that called for them to run up as quickly as possible towards girls and either hit or grope their behinds. This was to be done before the girl would chase to “kill” you or to tell the nearest adult. Some may consider this a childish game with minor to no repercussions. Others may be saying: “Well, boys will be boys! They are not hurting anything by playing a little game.”

However, they would be forgetting that boys do grow to be men. It is quite possible for them to hold onto inappropriate behavior when it is not checked and corrected at the time when they are still teachable.

Whether we knew it or not, we were making sexual harassment and sexual assault a game or a sport. In ignorance, we were seeing it as something to be done for recreational purposes. It may even be possible that while we allowed it to be okay during an immature stage of life, seeds were being planted that may have given rise to a number of young men (maybe even young women) to continue this sort of behavior later in life. Subsequently, the door was open for them to grow up harassing or assaulting a woman, but calling it something else that seemed less offensive and harmful.

Therefore, by calling it another name, they tried to make it appear to be or sound less unusual and normalize despicable conduct.

Nevertheless, unbecoming or aggressive behavior by any other name is just a whitewash of the evil to make it acceptable in one’s mind or permissible to a certain group. A group whose members are allied together because of committing similar offenses (of a demeaning and disrespectful nature) and code that allows for the repugnant habit of having bragging rights over one another.

I desire that my son not be in the company of such fools. I was given a better model of how a man respects women by my own father. I hope to pass on this education to my child.

It has been reported that some actresses will support the #MeToo movement by wearing black to the Golden Globes. Well, I will try to support the “Silence Breakers” and those other victims, who still may suffer in silence, by living by a standard of revering every woman that comes in my path and making damn sure that my son understands the importance of this principle as well.

As a matter of fact, maybe those who produce our entertainment should think twice before allowing a moment of assault or harassment to appear in any of their movies, music, etc. In these times, we should be more careful about what we find funny and possibly are celebrating.

Jerome Danner is a member of Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for more of his thoughts and commentary.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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