Full Disclosure: I have been an unwitting participant in the objectification of women.
I say “unwitting” because I’m 57. I was born and grew up in a time when even most women just accepted the fact that this was the way the world worked. I was 10 when the Women’s Movement began. For the next 10-15 years my time was spent primarily like many teenage boys-to-men, in the pursuit of pleasure: having girlfriends, buying Penthouse magazine, and experimenting with drugs, but certainly not thinking about how demeaning my perspective was towards women. That was the world in which I’d grown up.
In ‘91 Yoga and my Guru woke me up, but I was still young and focused more on saving my marriage and providing for a family yet to come. When it did come, as twins, it was all about family and job, but there were a number of times when I was still more concerned with my own selfish needs than even the 3 most precious women in my life.
As I grew into my 50’s I believed myself to be evolving into a Conscious Man, ie a work in progress: still flawed but on a Path, with a Vision for what the 2nd half of my life would be like. It was a conversation with one of my daughters last spring, after 45 took office and it became clear what was beginning to happen in this country, that I saw how much work I still had to do on myself. My daughter was recounting an incident she had just walking down the street in Brooklyn. As a father I worry about her. She likes to wear skirts. She told me how she’d been accosted while walking along the sidewalk by some guy and I, the Conscious Man, said “Well if you didn’t always wear those skirts....” She called me out so fast l felt like I was 10 years old. I was ashamed, but it woke me the f up.
Men, it’s time to stop. It’s one thing to fantasize, it’s another to think it’s ok to give it voice, even among friends. It’s an attitude that says “I can look at another human being and actually believe that my desires are more important than her right to the pursuit of her own happiness”.
I have begun to really pay attention to my thoughts and I catch myself in my old patterns, but instead of berating myself I just focus on a fellow human, going innocently through their day with their own thoughts and concerns.
Every human being has the right to pursue their lives without being shouted at, whistled at, belittled as if their lives are less important or less valuable. It has to start with men. It’s not ok. Think of your own daughters, sisters, mothers, granddaughters. Teach your sons that other people have a right to live their own lives without being bullied or made fun of for no reason other than the fact that they’re not you. Teach them The Golden Rule, remember that one? Treat others the way you would want to be treated. If you want to be respected you must give respect. Be the example. That’s the only way it works. This is my Resolution, for 2018 and the rest of my days: Be the example. And if you see me straying from that, feel free to call me out.