Every Man Should Graduate Early from “The He-Man Woman Haters Club”
By Dr. Sparky Reardon, Ole Miss ’72
(Reprinted with permission from the author)
Since Donald Trump’s remarks surfaced on Friday I have watched with great interest the outrage, the defections and the deflections, the apologies, and the fallout. I have seen that Access Hollywood bus probably a hundred times. I’ve heard Billy Bush’s silly, childish prodding. As David Axelrod said earlier tonight, “This is a profoundly sad time for our country.”
I’ve watched the talking heads who have expressed their outrage. I’ve watched the defenders try to change the subject. And time and time again, I’ve heard someone lament having to talk to their daughters about the ugliness and hurtful nature of Trump’s comments. I can’t imagine having a daughter and having to explain to her why a grown man running for the highest office in the land would be so crass.
But what about our sons? I hate it for them also. I hate that they will be painted with the same brush that painted Donald Trump, that painted Billy Bush, and, yes, that probably painted me at one time. Carl Paladino, a Trump supporter and a onetime candidate for governor of New York conceded that Trump’s filthy diatribe was something “that all men do, at least all normal men.”
How sad for our sons that they might feel that they need to try to be “normal” by Paladino’s standard.
I once had a mother call me when I was investigating her son’s fraternity for hazing. It was the usual forced calisthenics, eating putrid food products, paddling, sleep deprivation and humiliation. “I know that you were in a fraternity,” she said, “and you know that boys will be boys.”
I was silent; afraid that I might tell her that she had lost her mind and probably wasn’t fit for parenthood. Instead, I took a deep breath and said, “Ma’am, if you send me a boy and I send you back anything less than a man, I’m just taking your money.” It was her turn to be quiet. She eventually said, “Thank you” and hung up.
There are men the same age as her son was who are working two jobs to support a family, who are busting their tails to get into graduate school, who are spending time serving communities, and who are sleeping in a barracks in a land far away serving in defense of our country. These are men not boys.
“Boys will be boys” is a lame excuse. Sure, boys can have fun, but at some point they will cease playing mud football, or endlessly playing video games, or watching “Beavis and Butthead” or “Jackass” reruns or laughing at their persistent flatulence. At some point, they will no longer say, “Hey, bubba, hold my beer. Watch this.” And, at some point they will learn to value, appreciate, and respect women. Everyone should graduate early from the “He-Man Woman Haters Club.”
At some point, well before they are 60 years old as was Donald Trump at the time of his taped interview or before they are 33 as was Billy Bush at the time of the interview, I hope they will not talk about groping women or trying to bed them regardless of any celebrity status that they might achieve.
At some point, I hope that as men, not boys, they will respect and appreciate women not because they are someone’s mother, daughter, sister or wife, but because they are someone.
At some point I hope that they as men will not only not use language like Trump or Bush, but that they will stand up to their friends who insist on doing so. At least, I hope that they will walk away and refuse to listen to it.
I am sad for women and girls. I am sad for our country. But, I am also sad for our sons.
Talk to them and ask them how they feel about Donald Trump’s interview. Use his words. Ask them how they feel when they hear those words. Let them know that that’s not what men, real men, do. Let them know that if they are bothered by Trump’s words, they are “normal.”
Frederick Douglas might have said it best, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Time to start building.
About the Author
Dr. Thomas J. “Sparky” Reardon is a former Assistant Vice Chancellor/Dean of Students at the University of Mississippi. Now retired after serving the university for 36 years, he retains the title of Dean Emeritus. Brother Reardon is a member of Phi Delta Theta’s General Council and a recipient of the fraternity’s Legion of Honor Award.
Phi Delta Theta is a non-partisan organization. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of the General Fraternity, its members or affiliated entities. Opposing viewpoints are always welcomed and encouraged.