I’ve been watching and listening to the news concerning the progress of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and all the ‘stuff’ surrounding it, and it’s caused me to think about some ‘stuff’ in my own life. Hearing Christine Blasey Ford state that she’s been sexually assaulted (and other men’s actions – from Washington D.C. powers, to Hollywood elites, to the countless men in church leadership) has given me reason enough to stop and take a long, hard look at my own life and the way I treat(ed) women.
I’ve been asking myself a few questions about the whole ordeal: if I were placed in Kavanaugh’s shoes, would any controversial issues from my past come out? This question terrifies me (and probably you) because no one likes to have their lives scrutinized; no one likes to face tough questions regarding what they may or may not have done in the past.
But this question also terrifies me because I am not sure who or what issues would come up. While I’ve maintained control of my faculties and have been aware of what I have said and done in my life, I’m not overly confident that I’ve always lived my life above reproach.
I’ll confess that in my life I’ve cat-called, I’ve told jokes in poor taste, I’ve leered – I’m willing to admit to these assaults. But I wonder if I’ve done other things that have made women feel uncomfortable. Have I inadvertently touched someone inappropriately? Have I gone too far with a woman when she didn’t want to? Did I use my position of power to get something from a woman? Have I caused a woman to feel uncomfortable around me? While I can’t explicitly recall specific moments when I have done these things, did I ever do any of them without my realizing?
This is what terrifies me the most – my not knowing if I’ve done harm to women. I want people – both women and men – to feel safe and comfortable around me, but have I messed up at some point in my life? Have I ever done something I shouldn’t have?
Personally, I’m learning from these allegations of assault, misconduct, and rape, and that is a good thing. I’m learning that I need to be more active in choosing my words and actions – not out of fear that it might come back to bite me in the ass – but because what I may think is acceptable may not be so for the other. I’m learning that what was once accepted may not be accepted now, and I must continually work to change my behaviors. I’m learning that I must be proactive in changing my behaviors and societal norms instead of waiting for women to come out and say that something is wrong.
I’m learning that women don’t always feel safe around men and that I need to work to change this – not by telling women they can be safe, but by helping other men to change their behaviors. I need to be with other men and guide them in living a good life that respects, honors, and upholds women as God’s beloved.
I’m learning what these words ‘above reproach’ truly mean: it’s not that I need to live a life void of sin (I can’t do that), but that I need to live a life that sets a high standard for myself. I need to be a good model for others in the church (and outside of it) – I need to be someone others can emulate. I’m learning that I need to live a life where I have no doubt about the answer to the question “have I done something I shouldn’t have?”
May my Creator guide me in being a good, decent, uplifting man. May God give women the strength to stand up to the wrongs committed against them. May all men have ears to hear these women’s voices and work to change before women have to speak. And may we all live in peace, in love, and in respect for one another.
much love. sheth.