What Makes a Man Defend a Woman’s Honor, and Vice Versa?

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It was out of love & compassion that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars, and that Cory Booker defended Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s honor at the SCOTUS hearing, and non-Ukrainian volunteer fighters are risking their lives for others.

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Two men defended two women’s honor last week, in public, to the world: Will Smith and Cory Booker.

US Senator Cory Booker's impassioned speech at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s PROTUS hearings was out of decency & compassion for others, said Joanne Z. Tan.

“I’m Not Talking About Racism. I’m Talking About Decency.”

Cory Booker’s impassioned speech at Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings moved her, himself, myself, and many others to tears.  Even though it was a speech prepared in advance, it was delivered in such a heartfelt and compassionate way that it completely overpowered the vicious attacks Judge Jackson had endured during the hearing.

At the Oscar Academy Awards ceremony, also broadcast live to the world, Will Smith’s slapping of comedian Chris Rock in reaction to Rock’s inappropriate joke about Smith’s wife’s medical condition was a “heat of the moment” reaction, yet both men, in their own ways (even though in Smith’s case controversially), were selflessly defending another woman’s honor.  

I myself, as one of MANY women who have often fought our battles alone, defended ourselves and our honor alone, shared the tears of gratitude Judge Jackson shed, for the genuine understanding of what Cory Booker quotes Ginger Rogers as saying: “I did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in heels.” Booker went on: “Nobody is gonna steal the joy,…”  “You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American…. You’re here. And I know what it’s taken for you to sit in that seat.”

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominee for the US Supreme Court, received US Senator Cory Booker's impassioned speech out of love & compassion, said Joanne Z. Tan

Booker called Jackson’s historic nomination his “harbinger of hope”, and said: “you’re a person that is so much more than your race and gender. You’re a Christian. You’re a mom.” Jackson was one of the most qualified candidates for the US Supreme Court.

Booker later reflected that “I’m Not Talking About Racism. I’m Talking About Decency.”

Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscar Academy Awards ceremony opens the question "What Makes a Man Defend A Woman's Honor and Vice Versa" by Joanne Z. Tan

Will Smith’s intention was out of his love for his wife, and to defend his wife above and beyond any considerations for himself

Even though I wish Will Smith could have used the Oscar stage to first VERBALLY extract an apology from Chris Rock, instead of slapping him and using profanity, I know that Will Smith’s intention was out of his love for his wife and to defend his wife above and beyond any considerations for himself, such as being charged for assault, or being criticized, or even barred from the Academy. I’m sure Will Smith didn’t worry about any of those things.

The good and the great that came out of these two men moves me, and frankly, I know for a fact that I am not the only woman who wishes their quality in a man who deserves to be called a husband, or a partner, or a true friend, or a decent human being who gives a piece of his or her true self in an unjust or even humiliating situation. 

These two men did what they did out of compassion. This is how love manifests – not as a personal barter trade, a political quid pro quo, “what are you going to do for me, if I will do this for you”, but powerfully in the “your pain is my pain, insulting you is insulting me” spontaneous action and reaction. 

Love transcends race, gender, nationality, and all barriers to humanity. 

This kind of compassion and love is not limited to a man’s protection for another woman (in Will Smith’s case), or vice versa. This kind of love transcends race, gender, nationality, and all barriers to humanity. 

You see it in so many non-Ukrainian volunteer fighters risking their lives in Ukraine, because they feel that the pain and suffering Ukrainians are going through is not something they can bear to watch on the sideline.  

American volunteer fighters in Ukraine risking their lives out of compassion & love for others by standing up for truth, love, justice, said Joanne Z. Tan.

This kind of love can more than move loved ones to tears; it can inspire true love, which is the most powerful thing, more than tanks, bombs, and more than life itself.

The key to the human heart works by the contagious and multiplying power of selfless love.

True love is not motivated or delivered as an exchange, like “you did this for me, so I will do this for you”. When a man (like Will Smith) or a woman demonstrates this kind of selfless love for others, they are loved and admired by their loved ones, in spite of personal flaws, – Will Smith is still being criticized by comedians for his slap to protect his wife’s honor at the Oscars, even after his apologies. 

As a branding expert, I branded my own company with this slogan: “Stand for Something”.  

Perhaps the highest quality of humanity is in standing up for others,- whether for a spouse who was being ridiculed for her medical condition on a world stage, in Will Smith’s case, or a fellow human who is unfairly treated in public, or a suffering nation brutalized by a bully country… 

Stand for truth, stand for justice, stand for compassion, stand for love. Even though it may not be politically correct, even though you are flawed and imperfect yourself, when you share the deep compassion of humanity, when you speak and act to defend another suffering human, you become a hero in someone’s heart. Your brand will have lasting power.

Here’s to love–the unselfish, unconditional love from flawed, imperfect people, that nonetheless binds humanity for a better world.

©Joanne Z. Tan  March 30, 2022 

Edited by Susan Olson.

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