I would hope by now my three sons (aged 20, 17 and 12) know what type of man I am and still becoming.
I would hope by now they know HOW I interact with those around me.
I wonder if they ever think about how I am seen as a man by those around me?
The way my sons see me is important to me.
I don’t get away with much in my house anyway. I am frequently the butt of many jokes and jibes by my sons. Despite being born in the 70s, I am a “boomer” to them. They now give as well as they get or have got over the years!
They even comment they are amazed that any kid at school would even like me.
“Why do kids even like you?”
“Are you sure you’re as popular as YOU say you are?”
“Do some kids really call you “Mod dog”?” (Note: I guess I haven’t really dissuaded the moniker, taking on the role of “DJ Russ Dog” on our annual Grade 12 Mystery Bus Tour).
Confrontation and in our face
We have been confronted daily with disgusting news of sex scandals in parliament; rape and toxic cultures in schools; sports stars being found guilty of sexual and common assault; women mistreated, raped and killed by their own partners.
I was sickened to hear of this incident recently in Sydney.
According to the person who posted the footage online, a group of men were “having a go” at a group of young boys when girls intervened. It was claimed the men pushed one of the girls first, prompting her to pull out her phone and start recording. At one point, one of the girls is seen hitting one of the men, before a brawl erupts. Several of the men allegedly punched and kicked the girls, who can be heard screaming at them to stop. At another point, a man can be seen dragging one girl by the hair before throwing her over a ledge and punching her.
Two girls - aged 15 and 16 - were taken to hospital for treatment.
Three men - aged 21, 23 and 29 - were arrested a short time after the brawl and were later charged with affray and common assault.
I find it hard to believe these girls deserved this type of treatment- no person deserves this type of treatment.
I find it hard to believe the men thought it was ok to confront a group of teenagers, regardless of what they were saying. Not man enough to walk away from a group of kids?
I find it hard to believe that people think that violence will dissolve and diffuse a situation like this.
What type of men do I want my sons to become?
Brisbane Boys College (BBC) captain Mason Black made a resounding speech in front of school peers, calling on them to "accept this injustice against women and stand up for what is right".
It follows thousands of Australian students anonymously detailing harrowing accounts of rape and sexual assault on a viral petition calling for sexual consent to be taught earlier in schools.
The petition was launched by former Kamabala student Chanel Contos.
It is time for the narrative to change. All men are responsible for this change.
As a teacher, consent education does not need to be taught just in schools.
It needs to start in the home.
It needs to start in our footy clubs.
It needs to start in the pubs and clubs.
It needs to start in our churches, businesses and government institutions.
What type of man am I or could I be?
The Bible, so often disregarded as a patriarchal, misogynistic text, I contend, actually promotes, supports and encourages women’s role in society. All you have to do is read about Jesus’ interactions with women in the Bible to see the value He places on them.
Men, you are challenged to step up- it is our job to be Jesus to the men, women and children around us. Be who we were created to be.
We need to rise to the challenges before us, not play the victim to other men’s or society’s failures. We are not to shirk our responsibility to remove the toxic environment that surrounds so many of our clubs, schools and places of work. I daily deal with the ramifications of the absent father or absent men in kids’ lives at school.
Real men learn love and to BE love
The “Love” chapter in the Bible, so often used at weddings and in counselling could be just the “rules” men, and our sons, could use as the basis for becoming the men our society needs and wants.
I have replaced the word “love” in a number of cases with the word “men”. This is my paraphrase from the first book of Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 1-13.
Put your own name in there- do you stack up?
[Men are] patient
[Men are] kind
[Men] do not envy
[Men] do not boast
[Men are] not proud.
[Men] do not dishonour others
[Men are] not self-seeking
[Men are] not easily angered
[Men] keep no record of wrongs.
[Men] do not delight in evil, but [Men] rejoice with the truth.
[Men] always protect
[Men] always trust
[Men] always hope
[Men] always persevere.
Love never fails.
When I was a [boy], I talked like a [boy], I thought like a [boy], I reasoned like a [boy]. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This is the type of man I want to become.
This is the type of men I want my sons to be.
It’s not up to our institutions to teach us this- it’s up to men to BE this.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html