Where have all the gentlemen gone?
One of the main functions of a culture commentator is to say things that should go without saying.
So it is quite unremarkable to remark that there are few gentlemen left. When you think of a gentleman, do you conjure images of some tuxedoed dandy with jutting chin and a long nose, the better for looking down? That is not the kind of gentleman I mean.
Every generation has had its share of base men and those with gentlemanly airs. What they both had in common was their lack of respect for their fellow man. As it is with the cowardly, lack of respect for your fellow man is most visibly made manifest in their treatment of women.
The way I hear some men speak about women, I wonder if there are any gentlemen left. If I were able to wave a magic wand and erase one despicable habit from our culture it would be ogling. I hate ogling.
I have met men in all walks of life, wealthy and wanting, professional and blue collar, married and single that think nothing of looking a woman up and down and then commenting on her appearance, often within earshot of their unsuspecting target.
“Hey, did you check out the ____ on her?”
This drives me crazy. It is pointless to try to have a discussion with these guys (I can’t call them men) about such things as custody of the eyes. That would be like handing a car-repair manual to a blind man. But is it too much to expect that they not comment on the form of another human being?
But there is one particular flavor of this offense that drives me crazier. When married men, parents of daughters, do it.
So recently I have taken to calling them on this behavior. Not too long ago I was having lunch with some guys at a steakhouse. As soon as we entered, one of them made numerous comments about the wait staff and about a woman at a nearby table.
Then the waitress showed up. I would put her age at around 240 months. At that age, they are still babies to me. As soon as she left, this guy says to me “Hey, did you check out the ____ on her?”
I immediately responded, “She is someone’s daughter.”
“She’s not my daughter.”
“What would you do if someone said that about your daughter? And you are a married man. What would your wife say?”
He sidestepped the question with a litany of shame.
“Hey I’m not dead.”, “I can look, I just can’t touch!”, “I can browse, I just can’t buy.”
Well, as any woman can tell you. Excessive browsing eventually leads to buying.
I have long suspected that one of the key signs that a culture is destined for the ash heap is when we lose all sense of shame. Men such as I describe above should be ashamed of themselves, but they are not.
This is not how men should act. I have a simple, yet effective rule of thumb for how men should act. I would never look at a woman or say anything about a woman that I would not do or say in front of my wife. To do otherwise would bring shame upon her and me.
Shame is the one bad thing I wish we had more of.