He was older man, dressed for summer golf, and his smile seemed sincere.
“Thank you,” I said.
I wore my Do Good. Be Kind. shirt on the plane and he sat in my row.
“So, do you have the opposite phrase on the other side?” he said. “The yin to the yang?”
He smirked and I smiled.
“No, just the positive side,” I said.
“My wife would totally wear that shirt,” he said.
“Why not you?”
“No, not me. My shirt would read ‘Why do I seem so sincere doing business? I fake it.’ Your shirt isn’t how I make a living; it’s not reality.”
I smiled. “Oh, but it could be.”
“Fair enough,” he said.
Sure, he was honest with me, and it was actually pretty tame compared to how many other men (and women) are behaving these days.
Like the current President of the United States of America recently insulting and undermining yet another female leader and trusted ally, and then walking it back, kind of, if you can call it that, saying the relationship was:
“The highest level of special.”
Whether it had multi-layered meaning or not, the context felt mocking.
I try really hard not to play partisan too much in this writing space. And even though most readers know which direction our family leans, I do my best to not be disruptive in that regard, choosing instead to only sometimes push back on the hateful racist and sexist backlash in our country.
Which is a mistake. I’m not doing anyone any favors when I don’t speak up more often for what I believe in, especially when it comes to inspiring and executing positive change. I don’t have to be disparaging to others make a point; it’s pretty clear our president doesn’t respect women in leadership, or most women at all, and prefers authoritarian men to their empathic and diplomatic brothers. And way too many men and women are celebrating this humiliating trash talk and hate.
Misogyny is a long-term health problem in our society, for women especially, but also men like me. Fathers with daughters (and sons) who they empower to be the best of who they already are, who they are becoming, and who they will eventually be as adults, we all care deeply about the world we're living in and want to become for our kids.
But treating women as the lower class gender because of systemic sexism in global religions and patriarchal societies, degrading them, abusing them emotionally and physically, sexually assaulting them and killing them – has been going on for thousands of years. That's a lot of systemic to fix.
Kidpower workshop recently with families and children ages 7 to 12 years old. Kidpower’s mission is to teach people of all ages and abilities how to use their power to stay safe, act wisely, and believe in themselves. I’ve been training to be what’s called a suited instructor, where during part of the workshops we teach emergency-only self-defense skills when there’s no other option to get away from a dangerous situation and get help.
There was one little girl in particular, so sweet and a little timid, who really came alive when practicing eye strikes, palm strikes and knee-to-groin kicks on me. I’m glad she did, but also hoped she’d never have to use self-defense in her lifetime. Unfortunately 1 in 9 girls under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. This is why my wife and I believe in Kidpower and similar programs around the world that help people stay safe and empower each other to live healthy, productive and positive lives. This is why we feel the Women’s March and #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have been so important.
Our kids are truly the highest level of special and we have to show them we can and want to change how we treat each other as men and women regardless of political affiliation, religious or cultural background, or sexual orientation. Because we can all be better. I really believe that. We really believe that. My wife and I pledge to continue to make this a top priority with our girls, to help transform our community while keeping each other safe in this current celebration of hate.