Hollywood actresses wore black at the Golden Globes last month as part of the #TimesUp movement that was sparked by Harvey Weinstein’s victims coming forward. Democratic congresswomen donned black at the State of the Union in solidarity.
These demonstrations are part of the larger #MeToo discussion. It began by highlighting how women are treated in the workplace, in Hollywood and beyond, and then broadened to include how women are treated in relationships. These are important conversations to have.
Some are offering legislation to try to fix these problems. For example, in November, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., introduced the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On Congress Act (aka the ME TOO Congress Act) to reform how sexual harassment is addressed on Capitol Hill.
But we can’t underestimate the role that culture plays and the role that all of us have in influencing the culture.
And that raises a question: where have all the gentlemen gone?
In The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan writes:
All the stories we’ve read the past few months about predators—not those accused of rape and sexual assault, which are crimes, but of general piggishness, grabbiness, manipulation and power games—have a common thread. The men involved were not gentlemen. They acted as if they’d never heard of the concept.
We have lost track of it. In the past 40 years, in the movement for full equality, we threw it over the side. But we should rescue that old and helpful way of being. The whole culture, especially women, needs The Gentleman back.
What is a gentleman? After referencing different definitions, she continues:
A gentleman is good to women because he has his own dignity and sees theirs. He takes opportunities to show them respect. He is not pushy, manipulative, belittling. He stands with them not because they are weak but because they deserve friendship. Once at a gathering of women in media, I spoke of a columnist who years before had given me helpful critiques of my work and urged me on. “A gentleman is an encourager of women.”
She’s right. Something is missing in our culture when we talk about the issue of sexual harassment. Where is the expectation that men will behave themselves and treat women, and everyone, with respect? And where is the culture that promotes this expectation?
The Network of enlightened Women, a conservative women’s group I founded, identified this problem on campus years ago. NeW has been promoting gentlemen on campus since 2010, recognizing that many cultural forces were pushing men the way of the cad, instead of the gentleman. Each February, NeW hosts The Gentlemen Showcase, a competition during which peers nominate young men for demonstrating kindness, respect, and other gentlemanly behavior. The winning gentleman in the College Category and now the Under 30 Category is awarded the title of America’s top gentleman and the honor of designating a donation to a charity of his choice.
The 2018 contest launched on Thursday. Neetu Chandak nominated her fellow Cornell University classmate, Jonathan Arnold, saying
Jonathan is the definition of what a gentleman should be: gentle, kind, talented, chivalrous, and honorable. He works as a research assistant and a sales associate at the Cornell store while pursuing a double major in Economics and Math. Jonathan constantly challenges himself with various ideas and knows how to make any person feel valued. Additionally, he is an extremely talented piano player and violinist who understands the importance of sharing his gifts—be it at church or at dances for the elderly. Finally, Jonathan believes in others, especially when they are going through trials. For these reasons and many more, Jonathan deserves to be the NeW Gentleman of the Year.
Alexis Bowman wrote in her nomination of Conrad Pogorzelski, a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte,
His work ethic and selflessness in striving to improve his community is outstanding. He puts others before himself only to better his surroundings. Treating everyone with respect and kindness, Conrad truly has a good heart and serves as the prime example of a modern day “gent.”
Adeline Sandridge described University of Virginia classmate, Jeffrey DelSordo, as follows:
First, Jeff is a gentleman because he is selfless, caring, and goes out of his way to help others any chance he gets. He was sworn into the United States Marine Corps Officer Program on January 26th, 2018, and if selected by the Board, will begin training in September at Quantico. His selflessness and willingness to serve his country is honorable and is a demonstration of his recognition of duty. Also, Jeff has worked in soup kitchens and retirement homes with his local church, in addition to traveling on several mission trips to Orange Walk, Belize where he worked to construct a community center for local residents. His passion to give of himself and help those in need is an admirable trait, and something we recognize each day.
The Gentlemen Showcase gives America the opportunity to recognize young men across the country who possess a strong character. At a time when we are having a national discussion about how women are being treated in the workplace and relationships, this contest features men who respect women and demonstrate selflessness and kindness to all.
We need more gentlemen, both on campus and in society. Let’s give them the praise they deserve to inspire more to follow their path.
Karin Agness Lips (@KarinAgness) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is the founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.