Earlier this summer, Auston Matthews attempted to pile into Fayola Dozithee’s car with a group of his drunk friends at 2:00 AM. When they were unsuccessful, he mooned her and walked away.
Ms. Dozithee, a military veteran with severe PTSD, was in her car doing paperwork for her job as a security guard.
Matthews explanation was that he “wanted to see what she would do.” The men “believed it would be funny to see how she would respond.”
Here’s a quick multiple choice quiz. Auston Matthews is…
(a) the 22 year old star of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team
(b) an immature boy who showed poor judgment with a silly prank
(c) a grown man who terrorized a women
When news of the incident was released, supportive Maple Leaf fans tweeted, “AM crushes beers and faces. Leads by example. We are blessed to have him in Toronto” and “This is meant to be a dig? Our future captain is a badass. Thanks for the reminder.”
Ms. Dozithee saw it differently: “There’s three of you, there’s one of me. You could’ve done anything to me, and I was at a disadvantage because of that.” As Katie Strang reported for The Athletic, Ms. Dozithee said, “You do not approach a female at 2 AM in the morning thinking it’s funny to see how she would react to get in her car.”
Donya Abramo elaborated on the hockey blog Russian Machine Never Breaks: “Like it or not, no matter who the woman was, Matthews and his friends had the power in that situation. You can have all the self-defense training in the world, but fear can make that knowledge leave you in a heartbeat.” According to Abramo, “it was not the first time that Matthews had attempted to frighten someone on Scottsdale Road that night. But, per a friend that had been out with Matthews at the time, he ‘didn’t give a shit’ about the potential consequences.”
Here’s my problem:
The difference between answer (b) or (c) above seems subtle, but it’s not.
Whether Matthews’ actions seem playful or dangerous depends on what you see as acceptable male behavior. As a man who answers (c), this hits close to home.
Am I in the minority for my gender?
The real question – for men – is what are we going to do about it?
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, men like me are asking ourselves what we can do to address this kind of toxic behavior. No one should feel unsafe like Ms. Dozithee did.
I thought long and hard what my role could be in the world post- #MeToo and Women’s Marches. What change could I help make?
I decided to use my professional skills and leverage to advocate for female-identifying leaders.
“Why women?” you might ask. If I’m a guy, and we agree that guys need help, why don’t I work with men to help them “get it”?
Even though I identify as a cisgender male (my pronouns are he/him/his), I work to grow and expand female leadership for the same reason that I am a Positive Psychologist: to grow the world’s supply of positive, creative energy.
The world is already full of destructive forces. At times, fear can dominate, leading people into fight-or-flight mode. The fear can make them want to hold on tightly to what they already have. Alongside destruction and fear, there is also generous, vibrant, creative energy all around us.
These three types of energy function in a cycle: everything is born, lives, then dies. Creation leads to a period of maintenance, and then eventually, destruction. Then it starts all over again. What dies is reborn, lives for a while, and then is destroyed.
This Fall, I put my shoulder to the wheel of the Creation part of Nature’s cycle. I created a new program called super.BUILD to support and promote female leadership. Using Creation energy, I put Maintenance energy next and push Destructive energy into third place in line.
We each have a choice. I don’t need to feed into the Destructive part of the cycle. I aspire to build the future and let Nature take its course.
What is a Positive Psychologist?
Positive Psychology is the science of happiness. It isn’t about “putting on a happy face” or attempting to banish negative thoughts. I stand in contrast to the find-and-fix mode of Clinical Psychology that most Psychologists practice (and the way I was trained).
The most powerful way to increase your happiness is to change the ratio of positive-to-negative emotions in your daily life. You can experience an “upward spiral” in your life by hitting the magic number of 3-to-1. This isn’t some touchy-feely pseudo-science. These results were discovered and verified in lab research at UNC-Chapel Hill.
According to UNC’s Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, achieving a ratio of three positive emotions to one negative emotion (on average) in their daily life experience an upward spiral of more energy, stronger connections and relationships, and greater health. They can concentrate better, they attract more positive people, and they are more creative and less worried about outcomes.
The cool part about Fredrickson’s positivity ratio is that you don’t need to suppress your negative emotions. Just let them happen. Her research showed the incredible results when you worked to increase your positive emotions by exercising your character strengths. I will share more on how to do this in a future article.
Am I open to working with men who “get it” or want to “get it”?
There are many of us out there. And some men are just confused by the changing standards or fearful of the #MeToo movement and what it means for them at work. In the meantime, I am working to grow a larger base of leaders who use humanity and compassion in making decisions about our planet, our future, and our children.
Photo Credit: YouTube (NHL)
If you find yourself in the Philly area, drop in for a Free Intro Talk, and you can see for yourself what super.BUILD is all about.