August 2, 2013 – Much is being made of a literature review published on Tuesday, in which scientists conclude that violent behavior will increase as the temperature does. (Sixty articles are included in the review.) Group behavior will show a 56 percent increase in violence, individual behavior will show a 16 percent increase. There is little of a surprising nature about the study, in my opinion. My beef centers more on the way the study is being reported.
Time and again we’re being told that “people,” “human beings,” “humanity,” or “humankind” will behave this way. Speaking on behalf of the 50% of humankind which rarely resorts to violence, I’d like to voice my serious exception to this manner of reporting! What a pile of crap. More and more women are being victimized by men who barely qualify to be called human, yet we are lumped in with these same perpetrators. If men are expected to take responsibility for their inhuman behavior, we must all be clear about their degree of responsibility.
Let’s recap: a woman working in Dubai is convicted for reporting her own rape; women in Cleveland were held captive as sex slaves for 11 years; women are being gang-raped on buses in India; a doctor rapes 12-year-old girls visiting his home for his daughter’s sleepover; a girl is held prisoner in a coffin by male captors. Are you getting the picture? Meanwhile, 91 % of the inmates in American jails are male. Interestingly, 9 % is actually a very high prison population for women. In countries where statistics are gathered, the percentage of female inmates lies within a fairly close range, from 1.9% in Nigeria to 7.1% in Australia, with Kenya being a distinct outlier at 42%. (For more statistical data about this subject, go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/uk/06/prisons/html/nn2page1.stm .)
The review so recently published would bring matters to a head, if only it told the whole story. Permit me to take on that unpleasant but oh-so-necessary task. Men, you need a plan, and you need to get to work on that right away. Whatever you do, make sure it works. Remember, you learned your bad behavior from others, men and women who set a bad example for you. Now you not only need to learn a new way of behaving, you need to be the good example your children so badly want and need. If you can learn to treat women decently, you can learn to treat each other decently, too.
How does one learn a new behavior? By practicing it. Role playing: you pretend you’re in a touchy situation, but instead of behaving the way you shouldn’t behave, you act out behaving the way you should behave. Not once, not twice – many times. Then you watch others do the same thing – many times. Then you meet again in order to practice again. Men and women should be part of the group and part of the role playing. Write different scripts. Collaborate. Practice treating each other with respect. Discuss what you’ve just acted out. Do it so often it becomes part of you.
Why? Because women don’t deserve to be raped, beaten, or killed. Because your mother, your sister, your daughter, and your wife don’t deserve to be raped, beaten, or killed. Because every woman in the world is someone’s mother, sister, daughter, or wife. Every single one of us loves a wonderful woman somewhere in the world. Do it to honor her.
Better yet, do it to honor yourself.