Glenn K. Beaton: Let’s be gentlemen again

Glenn K. Beaton
The Aspen Beat

In a physical sense, women are vulnerable to men. That’s because most men are larger and more muscular than most women. Even aside from their larger mass and musculature, men have different hormones. Male hormones not only produce those larger and denser muscles, but also produce aggressiveness and risk-taking.

Political scientists sometimes dispute this and want to believe that the obvious differences between the sexes are a product of different upbringings. But real scientists say that’s bunk. It’s a fact that men’s size and hormones produce significantly stronger lower body strength and, on average, nearly twice the upper body strength.

This is about biology, not sociology.

Women know this. They see the strength of a man in ordinary activities such as moving furniture or playful physical activity.

Sadly, and inexcusably, many if not most women also have experienced the strength of a man in being physically threatened or attacked by one. Some of those attacks not only physically assault a woman but also violate her privacy and dignity to a degree that most men cannot imagine.

The importance of these facts cannot be overstated. It means that men and women have different outlooks on the world. A man is mostly unconcerned when another man passes him on a dark street; a woman often feels threatened. A man sees little danger among other humans; a woman sees potential danger in half of humanity.

Men and women over the millions of years of our evolution have recognized all this and have taken responsibility for it. In those centuries of recognition and responsibility, we referred to such women and men as “ladies” and “gentlemen.”

Gentlemen knew that their physical strength is a gift with which they could protect the other half of humanity — a half they revered for their intelligence, their intuition, their beauty and, yes, their awesome ability to bear and rear a child.

Ladies knew that their protection from a physically dangerous world was the strength and goodness of gentlemen — whom they revered for not just that strength but also their valor and devotion.

The weight of the world rested easily on the broad shoulders of men and in the warm hearts of women. Not all women and men were ladies and gentlemen, but all ladies and gentlemen were real women and real men.

In the past few generations, however, ladies and gentlemen have become passé.

It started when society decided — correctly, mind you — that women should have the same career options as men. But in offering women those options, society also mistakenly foisted upon them an expectation that they not only be equal to men, but the same. They are supposed to be materialistic careerists and also cuss, spit and worse.

And men are supposed to treat them like men. Men are no longer responsible for physically protecting women or even opening doors for them. Rather, men are expected to dominate and exploit women just as they often instinctively try to dominate and exploit other men.

There is a place for domination in the game of life; this is a rough and tumble world, after all. But physical domination of a woman by a man is the path to rape and abuse.

Let’s be ladies and gentlemen again. My daughters and yours can be scientists, teachers, doctors, nurses, oil-rig roughnecks, presidents, plumbers, homemakers, lawyers, writers and whatever else they like, and so can men.

But the men should physically respect and protect the women in a physically dangerous world, because men are gifted with that ability and instinct. Is that unfair to men? No, it’s a privilege. What higher calling than to serve and protect?

And women should expect that protection. They should expect men to revere and protect them for their physical vulnerability, not target them.

One last point. I understand a woman’s feelings of vulnerability. That said, the fact that a man threatened or attacked you doesn’t mean that a different man threatened or attacked a different woman at a different time. It means only that such terrible things do happen. In a civilized society, both men and women are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Don’t believe the man, and don’t believe the woman; believe the evidence.

As for that attack on you, if you want a pound of flesh — and I don’t blame you if you do — don’t take that pound from random men. We’re not all like that.

Take that pound of flesh and take it promptly, not decades later, from the particular creep — I can’t call him a gentleman and I won’t call him a man — that owes it to you.

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