The following is written by Mr. Ian Mendes. Ian is a long time supporter of the ManUp Program and an active member of our community. These are his personal thoughts and his opinions.
YOUTHFULNESS IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR POOR BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS WOMEN
On Wednesday afternoon, I devoted one segment of my four-hour radio show on TSN 1200 to discuss the Auston Matthews story.
To summarize the situation, the Toronto Maple Leafs superstar is accused of accosting a female security guard inside her vehicle at 2am and then after she confronted him and a group of his friends, Matthews allegedly dropped his pants and grabbed his buttocks.
As I was partway through the 15-minute segment, my inbox started to fill up with some predictable messages.
“Stop blowing this out of proportion”
“He’s just a kid. Leave him alone.”
“We all made mistakes at the age of 21. Why are you ripping on him?”
The truth of the matter is that Auston Matthews isn’t a kid. He was a 21-year-old man at the time of the incident. The most troubling residual effect from this story is the idea that some men believe that youthfulness is a legitimate excuse for poor behaviour towards the opposite gender.
Let’s be clear about one thing: There should never be a cut-off age where treating women in a demeaning, aggressive or threatening matter is considered normal. The idea that somehow it would be acceptable for a 15-year-old kid to be menacing or rude to a teenage girl is ridiculous. Whether you’re seven, 17 or 47 – you should know how to treat other human beings with respect and dignity.
Why should young girls have to live with the consequences of reckless teenage boys because these young men are simply getting something out of their system? There shouldn’t be a rite of passage where boys and young men get an opportunity to mistreat a woman – and then pass it off as “youthful exuberance”.
The notion of “boys will be boys” is an antiquated phrase that should be banished to the dustiest history books you can find in the library.
We need to replace that outdated phrase with something more modern and forward-thinking.
Quite frankly, instead of saying, “Boys will be boys”, we should start saying, “Boys will be respectful”.
Yes, young men are prone to mistakes – often driven from a dangerous mixture of adrenaline, overconfidence and alcohol. But that does not give them a free pass to act inappropriately towards young women. Every guy doesn’t have a ‘one-time free pass’ inside his wallet that allows him to act aggressively or rudely towards a woman. And then after he gets caught, he simply hands in that card and calls it a learning experience.
Life shouldn’t work that way.
It was disappointing to see the negative reaction on social media and in my inbox towards this story. So many men were accusing us of blowing a story out of proportion and painting all men with the same brush.
“Ugh. I’m so tired about always having to hear about how men are jerks.”
The lack of empathy from some of my male counterparts on this issue is staggering. Imagine, feeling like you were bothered or inconvenienced because you had to hear about a story like this one.
You know what’s inconvenient?
Not being able to walk alone in a parking garage after dark.
And feeling like you can’t come forward with a sexual harassment claim because it may damage your career.
So guys, while you’re tired of HEARING about these problems – women are damn well tired of LIVING it.
You want to stop hearing these stories on sports talk radio while I’m on the air?
Maybe help change the conversation by holding some of your peers, colleagues, teammates and sons accountable to a higher standard.