The bad news is that sexual assault is epidemic.
It is ubiquitous because male culture envisions women more as inferior sex objects than as peers.
It is rife on college campuses.
It is prevalent in the military.
It is notorious in professional sports.
And it defines the morally debauched entertainment industry.
The good news is that the cure is in plain sight and costless.
Fathers need to teach their sons that sexual assault, lesser forms of sexual coercion and sexual promiscuity are morally reprehensible, vile, criminal and unmanly. They bespeak the gratifications of a savage, not a human. Men should arrest their sexual impulses with self-restraint and the higher excitements of virtue and selflessness.
Fathers also need to practice what they preach. As Ralph Waldo Emerson sermonized, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
Accordingly, fathers must eschew adultery or promiscuity. They must rebuke jokes or banter in which women feature as sexual objects to satisfy male lust.
They must voice disgust to their sons at the sexual conquests of Tiger Woods, Wilt Chamberlain, Newt Gingrich and other knaves. They must deplore the treatment of Briseis as an object of commerce between Achilles and Agamemnon in The Illiad. They must praise the wisdom of Athena more than the beauty of Aphrodite, the justice of King Arthur more than the dashing narcisissim of Sir Lancelot.
A male unable to provide such moral tutelage should not have children, and should be stigmatized if he does.
Professional, collegiate and high school athletic coaches should reinforce the moral teachings of fathers. For good or for ill, the majority of males instinctively find their identities in physical strength, domination, and prowess. Hormones overpower their undeveloped or stunted cerebral or philosophical faculties.
They are impressionable.
Coaches are highly influential both because they stand atop a hierarchy of power and control a player’s career. Penn State’s Joe Paterno performed yeoman’s service in inculcating moral values, including respect for women. In contrast, Florida State University’s Jimbo Fisher’s indulgence toward star quarterback Jameis Winston is sending the opposite message. And National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has been morally derelict in imposing sanctions for player maltreatment of wives or other females.
The Heisman Trophy should be complemented with a Moral Virtue Trophy of greater size and luster.
Male political leaders are also pivotal. They are role models. They also enjoy a “bully pulpit,” as President Theodore Roosevelt emphasized. They must deliver the same moral message of fathers to sons, but to a nationwide audience. And they need to censure their colleagues who fall short of the mark.
The case of President William Jefferson Clinton speaks volumes about how far the male culture has to go. He has notoriously exploited his position and power to indulge in serial, loveless adultery without public remorse. Monica Lewinsky was exemplary. Putting aside whether impeachment was justified because of his lies to a federal judge and grand jury, the moral reprehensibility of his philandering and routine treatment of women as sex objects is indisputable. In 2006, NBC’s Tim Russert asked Sen. Claire McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, whether Bill had been a great president during a “Meet the Press” debate against then-Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican. “He’s been a great leader,” Ms. McCaskill replied, “but I don’t want my daughter near him.” No mother or father disagreed.
Yet Mr. Clinton’s stature among male colleagues remains largely undiminished. At present, he is a superstar in the Democratic Party. Think of the terrible message he is sending to male youths. There is no shame or penalty in using women to gratify your sexual appetites. Sexual assault is not far away.
Male culture needs to change because of what the current debauched culture says about men, not because women are all chaste and virtuous. The change will be difficult because lust and domination is in the DNA, and virtue and self-restraint are learned thrills.
All the more reason why conversation among males needs to begin now to begin the long and arduous process.
For more information on Bruce Fein, visit brucefeinlaw.