With the recent leak of yet another email from a Georgia Tech fraternity member to his brothers regarding the best ways to take advantage of women and, for all intents and purposes, sexually assault them, I want to offer a response of my own, as well. While much of the attention (rightfully so) has focused on the misogyny and underlying aggression and violence towards women that this email exhibits, I think it is also important to think about what emails like this say about the view that men have towards themselves and towards other men. I would be offended if a fraternity brother sent this to me, not just because of the total disregard for the humanity of women, but also because of what that message assumes about me as a man. If I could give a response to the author, and to those who received the message, and to so many millions more young men in the world who get these messages every day, it would be as follows:
Dear Fellow Men,
You’re so much more than this, and you’re so much better than this. You are more than your ability to seduce and sexually assault women with copious amounts of alcohol. You are more than a walking sexual predator-to-be, who just needs the right encouragement and methods to take advantage of others. You are more than your ability to have sex, or to “score” with multiple women, or to get them drunk or high in order to take advantage of them. You are more than a drunk peddler of alcohol, biding your time between parties so that you can again go through the process of numbing yourself to engage in behavior that you most likely find morally degrading, or at least highly questionable. You are more than a robot programmed to think only about sex, alcohol, video games and sports. You are more than a robot who has been programmed without emotions or the ability to show them.
Not only are you more than all of this, you are better than all of this. You are a complex human being, with a wide range of interests and a wide range of emotions. You have sadness, you have pain, you have love, you have compassion, and empathy, and kindness, and you have hopes and dreams inside of you. You have the ability to share these emotions with others, and the need to do so in order to fully function as a healthy human being. You have the ability to help others, and ensure that they are safe, and ensure that you are doing everything you can to make sure that, at the end of the day, the humanity and dignity of every human being is affirmed.
And, I bet if you look inside of yourself, you realize that not only do you have these abilities, but there is a part of you that really wants to be able to do all of these things, to be free from the self-repression, and the expectations of never-ending toughness, and the day-in, day-out competition that never allows you to relate to another man as anything more than a challenge to overcome. You want to be able to say that you love your friends and family. You want to be able to say no to sex when you aren’t interested, because there are going to be times when you aren’t interested, and that’s okay. You want to be a human being, and not a one-dimensional walking stereotype, someone who has to do everything to hide who you really are and what you really feel, numbing yourself with alcohol, drugs, sex and violence.
And the truth of the matter is that you can be that person. It is not easy, and it takes courage and a willingness to stand against the mainstream, but it can be done. Because the fact is that there are so many others just like you who are yearning for the same thing, but everyone is terrified that they are the only ones. So please, stand up and let go of these destructive ideas. Realize the potential you have to truly be a whole human being, instead of letting yourself be so narrowly defined by people who really don’t care about you outside of the mold they are trying to fit you into. Doing this may make you different from others around you, but I imagine that you will be a hell of a lot happier, and the world will be a better place for it.
With Brotherly Love,