Thanks in part to a powerful Hollywood monster, the idea of respect for women is currently at the fore of America’s mindset. Finally. And yes, I choose to call it respect for women instead of rape culture. I’m a father to daughters, I’m a husband, I’m a man, and I don’t understand the idea of rape culture. I do understand the idea of respect for women, however.

My daughters are beautiful, strong young women who were raised to believe that they have the ability to become whatever they want in life. My wife and I have done our best to keep this light aflame, only allowing “the real world” to sneak into their psyche in little bits over time.

Now that they’re teenagers, I’ve had to have serious discussions about men and boys and their intentions when it comes to women. It’s not like we needed to have these conversations, as popular culture and their own experiences have already helped them shape these perceptions about men. My fear all along was that the “real world’ would sidetrack their own self worth. I needed them to know their true value before the world got hold of them.

I don’t know whether keeping them shielded from the stark truth of the world while they were young will help them in the long run, but it felt natural to protect them for as long as I could. Now that they’re teenagers, they’re pretty much on their own.

In 2013, when my girls were in elementary school, there was a gang rape in Stubenville, Ohio that shook the nation. Or perhaps it just shook me. Who knows anymore. I was utterly disgusted with this event and looked to parents (particularly parents of boys) to do whatever is necessary to raise better human beings. To simply parent better. God knows that life is hard, parenting is harder, and just because everyone has the ability to procreate, doesn’t mean everyone should.

And now because of Harvey Weinstein, sexual abuse is back on the front burner. Where it needs to stay. But I’m certain it won’t. After all, we just elected a man for President of the United States who openly admitted to being a sexual predator. And then laughed about it.

Are men so overwhelmed with their instinct to procreate that they can’t control their natural desires to engage in the act of procreation? Even against the will of the woman? 

Apparently so. Except because we’re human, we have the ability to right our wrongs. To curb our appetites and desires. To do better.

To be gentlemen.

Which brings me back to something that’s been eating at me all year–darkness.

After the Las Vegas shooting massacre everyone was like, “He was just this normal guy who snapped.” And others were like, “He had a mental illness”–which, by the way, is total bullshit since women suffer more mental illness than men, and why not considering so many are targets for abuse? But you don’t see any women opening fire on innocent bystanders.

No, the problem is that we live in a culture where darkness has become commonplace. We cheer bloodsport. We watch pornography. We consume TV shows where rape is routine (but they have dragons, so it’s cool.)

There’s an old adage in show business that you “give the people what they want.” And clearly what we want is darkness. We are being served exactly the kind of content that media companies can profit from.

Maybe it’s just fantasy, all this consumption of darkness? Maybe it serves some thing inside of us that represents an alter ego? After all, it’s just a little lie/greed/violence/rape, right? It’s not like we’re doing it. Right?

But with the consumption of darkness comes real life consequences–eventually enough darkness accumulates and we have mass shootings and rape culture and wild greed and deep hate that leaks into our government, our society, our neighborhoods, and our hearts.

There’s only one solution–being mindful of your consumption. You can’t fix anyone else, much less the world, but you can fix yourself. And that starts with the understanding that consuming darkness in little bits has dire consequences. By focusing on yourself instead of the world swirling around you, you’ll begin to become less selfish.

And selflessness is the only thing that will save us from ourselves.

We owe it to ourselves to try. We owe it to our daughters.


Love, Jim

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Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.