I've always wanted to be a hero; that's why I've been captivated by comic books, movies and all of my other favorite nerdclinations.
I wanted to be Luke, dressed in black, green lightsaber in hand, standing up to the tyranny of the Emperor.
I wanted to be Cyclops, leading the X-Men in defending human and mutantkind alike.
I wanted to Superman, always choosing to do the right thing regardless of external circumstances.
Obviously I wouldn't mind wielding a lightsaber, shooting optic blasts or flying, but I was intrigued by these heroes more for their character than their abilities. I'll never face Darth Vader, Magneto or Darkseid, but I can cultivate the qualities of my favorite heroes. I wanted to stand up against evil, I wanted to defend others and I wanted to do the right thing no matter what. That's what I wanted as a boy. I wanted to be a hero.
Unfortunately, not all boys grow up wanting to be a hero. Or, if they do, they abandon those noble pursuits for despicable ones.
I don't know Brock Turner. I don't know if he grew up with the same desires I had to be a hero. If he did, he abandoned those desires when he chose to sexually assault a woman. His conviction, his victim’s letter and his lax sentence have consumed the Internet. It's a terrible situation, which highlights the dangers inherent in simply being a woman.
I've never lived with the fear of facing sexual assault simply because of my sex. I don't know what that's like, but this story has raised fears in me for my daughter, fears that I never experienced before having Clara.
I'm scared because I'm a man and I know not every man wants to be a hero. Most men probably do, or at least they don't want to be the villain. But there are men out there who want to be the villain, who want to take advantage of any opportunity given in order to exert themselves. There are men with no regard for others who simply want to do what feels good and couldn't care less if it's right.
Those men don't want to be Luke Skywalker standing up to evil and oppression. They want to be oppressors.
Those men don't want to be Cyclops and stand up for the defenseless. They want to take advantage of the defenseless.
Those men don't want to be Superman and do what's right. They want to do what's wrong and hope they can get away with it.
These men are out there and they wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of my daughter.
It's my responsibility to let Clara know that every man doesn't want to be a hero, that every man doesn't have her best interest in mind.
It's my responsibility to love Clara enough so that she doesn't seek that love and acceptance outside the home, feeding into the predatory nature of those who don't want to be heroes.
It's my responsibility to teach Clara how to avoid situations and circumstances in which non-heroes thrive.
I don't have a lightsaber and even if I did I wouldn't be able to protect Clara at all times. Even if I was faster than a speeding bullet there would come a time when Clara was beyond my reach. So for those moments that I know are coming, those times when the non-heroes are prowling, I need to prepare Clara.
I need to prepare her by teaching her how to avoid the circumstances in which non-heroes thrive and I need to prepare her by teaching her how to see a non-hero for who he truly is. And even though I don't have a spandex suit or superpowers, the best way to teach Clara how to spot a hero is to be one myself.
I always wanted to be a hero growing up, and now that I'm grown I actually need to be one.