Boys to Men

I feel like there’s an idea going around the men folk that you qualify as “good” because you don’t beat or rape or harass or catcall women. Congratulations! You passed the test of BASIC human decency! Here’s the thing – you don’t get points for the things you DON’T do. What makes a man a MAN is that he STANDS UP for those who can’t always stand up for themselves. Be it in word or action – he steps in. You don’t pat yourself on the back because “youre’not that kind of guy”. Rather, you break the “boys will be boys” trope and show the world what MEN are made of and what kind of guy you really are…

My brother and his friends were my introduction to men and that makes me the luckiest girl in the world. Ever since I was a kid, they looked out for me.  I was reminded of that a few weeks ago at his wedding. After a fun night at the casino, at around 2am, Daniel (my old neighbor and one of Ian’s best friends) walked me to my room and made sure I was safe. Some drunk guy was pulling a girl’s hair and Paulo (my brother in law) stepped into the situation to help. When I had one too many, he carried me to my room.  I was never worried for my safety that week because I was surrounded by GOOD men that I knew would protect me should anyone have tried anything. One night, Daniel’s girlfriend was intoxicated (as we all were…) when a guy approached her and said “we need to get you another drink!”. I took action. My sister and I walked her back to her room where she laid her beautiful drunk head and slept all night 🙂 The next morning Daniel and I were talking about this sleazy guy and he said “I don’t mind that he was hitting on her. She’s a beautiful girl. But when you see a girl whose that drunk and you take advantage of that to get her even MORE drunk – you’re a bad guy”. You know what Daniel DIDN’T say? He didn’t say his girlfriend “shouldn’t have been drinking so much”. He didn’t say “she should have worn a longer dress”. He didn’t imply that there was something she could have done to avoid the situation. No. He blamed a BAD GUY who was doing a BAD THING.

I have never once heard my brother refer to a girl as “hot”. He’ll say “attractive” or “pretty” or make his “impressed face”, touch his index to his thumb and raise the other three fingers. I don’t know why he doesn’t use that word, but I think it’s sweet. That doesn’t make him a good man though. Let me tell you a few things that make Ian a good man…

When he was 17 or 18, Ian came to church w/ a bloody hand because he stepped into a fight between a man physically abusing a woman on the street. A few months ago he confronted a group of men that were catcalling my sister and best friend. A few months before that, he noticed a man harassing and following a woman on the metro. Ian got off at her stop (which was not his own) and distracted the man until the girl could get away, got back onto the metro and headed home. And the list goes on.

I was in a fit of rage all day after reading an article about the Montreal police suggesting girls should “limit alcohol consumption” to avoid getting assaulted in cabs. Although I’m still pretty pissed, I decided, on this Thanksgiving weekend, I would turn that rage into thankfulness. Thankfulness to my sweet big brother and the men in my life. As I watch the news and listen to guys I know who are, for all intents and purposes “normal” guys spew such reckless vitriol; I’m realizing how rare good men are to find nowadays and how blessed I am to know so many.

My brother didn’t teach me how to avoid assault. He didn’t teach me to drink less. He didn’t teach me to not stay out late or cover myself up. He taught me self-respect. Then he showed me what real men looked like. So I would know one when I saw one and never blame myself for some asshole being an asshole. I go to a bar every other Sunday to see the “Chris and Shawn” duo sing sweet drunk people straight into alcoholism and I am never worried about my safety. I trust that I can handle myself and if ever things get out of hand – those two will have my back. Paulo and Kayin are the BEST brothers in law in the world and are constantly encouraging me or checking in and making sure I’m on the up and up. And of course… Hot Daniel just being classic Hot Daniel. I am blessed to know these guys and I hope you have some of the same kind in your life. If you do, thank them. Let them know how rare and wonderful they are. Real men. Who respect women. Who stand up for the little guy and step in when someone needs to. The next generation of boys raised by you will be much better for it!

Happy Thanksgiving friends, you are gentleman and scholars.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one” – Marcus Aurelius

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