Enough is enough. Between the response to Verily’s Gentleman Speak article yesterday and the commentary on Miley Cyrus’s exposé at the VMA award show, I fear we have slipped into a vicious cycle of contempt—and it needs to stop.
In yesterday’s Gentleman Speak series piece, Chris Marlink encouraged women to set the bar high for men. “A gentlemen is, first of all, a cultural achievement,” he explains. Marlink reminds women that a man of virtue is not born but made, and a culture that esteems a virtuous man will beget virtuous men. The same, I think, could be said for women.
But I was surprised to learn that many readers seemed to feel that the burden of a community's conduct falls solely on a woman's shoulders.
One woman responded to Marlink's article explaining,
“When the majority of my fellow women begin acting like Ladies again, you will see Gentlemen re-emerge. Unfortunately, with the current state of affairs, we’ll be waiting a long time.”
Another reader commented,
“My son (and I) have had to adopt a modified policy – verify that you are dealing with a lady before acting like a gentleman.”
My suspicion is that readers are still smarting from all of the Miley Cyrus that is being shoved in their face all over the Web. This is understandable. Miss Cyrus behaved badly. Is it all that shocking? Was she trying to make a point? I honestly don’t care. But, if Miley’s foam finger teaches us anything, it's that our respect for others should rise above the way they treat themselves.
A society of respect doesn’t start on the premise of “I will be respectful if you are respectful.” It starts with one person saying “I choose to be respectful, period.” To blame the rest of the world as not being respectable is entirely beside the point. Both men and women should strive to be the best versions of themselves, not only to inspire others, but also—and perhaps more importantly—because we respect ourselves.
So please, let’s all take a deep breath. If you have kids, perhaps this is a good opportunity to talk to them about negative attention. But most of all, let’s stop pointing fingers—foam or otherwise—and rise above.
(Photo by Nima Salimi )