Will the real men please stand up?

Video is such a powerful medium that sometimes no amount of media manipulation, either by deliberate magnification or intentional disregard, can reduce the arresting nature of an event so captured. One such episode in late March showed a 65-year-old woman on her way to church being kicked in the chest and knocked down to a New York City sidewalk where her male assailant further kicked and stomped her.

As searing as this image was, its poignancy may have been eclipsed by the image of at least three large men inside the hotel lobby, mere feet from the attack, watching. They said and did nothing. They then closed the lobby door and remained inside as the woman lay motionless and her attacker walked off.

While we have grown accustomed to seeing senseless acts of violence, we have not fully grasped the abject failure of grown men to perform in their ageless role as protector. Whether due to cowardice, fear, sympathy for the attacker’s motives, or any other reason, how could these men so callously have only watched and done nothing else?

That was my first question. My second was: Is it possible that these men merely reflect the state of manhood we have created?

Why have men stayed silent while masculinity has been mocked as “toxic?” Why have we not spoken up in defense of the traditional roles of men as protectors and providers? Why have we allowed bullies to escape the tried-and-true remedy of a good butt kicking? Why have we let the workplace embody the anti-male bias so aggressively groomed on college campuses? Why do we support companies whose ads show traditional married couples as often as vampires wear crosses? Why have we allowed the overly feminized teachers’ unions and public-school administrations to lock our kids out of the classroom while ignoring the common sense and effective models of opening safely that many Catholic, some private, and selected public schools have created? Why are we forcing our high-school daughters to compete with biological males in soccer, basketball, and track? Why are we letting our grade-school sons be taught that they might really be girls?

In the month of June, all men and women might ponder just how neutered and emasculated an image of men is now reflected in all spheres of society: government, religion, education, entertainment, business, and even the military. And all men — and particularly fathers — might ponder why we have been so complicit in our own emasculation. Maybe we should start by doing 100 pushups a day and work our way up to 500. Perhaps we should enroll in martial arts, and teach our kids how and when to fight. We ought to develop a stronger social media presence, and use it to post WABOBS (“What a Bunch of …”) to the nonsense from CEOs, elected officials, entertainers, and pro athletes; we should “like” and “share” the fearless voices, most of them seemingly female, who support traditional values and who still want men to be real men.

Maybe we should pray to St. Joseph that we might become better fathers and husbands. We should pray to St. Michael that we might become better defenders of the defenseless. We should ask our Father for courage and for freedom from fear. Maybe then, when it’s our turn to be tested, we might stand up better than those three men who watched the 65-year-old woman get beaten up on the sidewalk in New York City.