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dating coach for smart, strong, successful women Evan Marc Katz
I scrolled through my NewsFeed and read through the names.

It was overwhelming. Shocking. Soul-crushing.

The old co-worker who is an animal and human rights activist.

The founder of a teen literacy program.

The woman who works at a prominent tech company.

The CEO of a Silicon Valley start-up.

The former model who runs a high-end lifestyle brand.

The girl I went to summer camp with in the early ‘90s.

The woman who is dating my brother-in-law.

The entertainment lawyer who danced with me at a friend’s wedding.

Louisette Geiss, one of the women who accused Harvey Weinstein.

Hundreds of women. My friends. And I didn’t know what to say.

I wanted to express my support.

I didn’t want to say anything tone-deaf.

I wanted to join the outrage.

I didn’t want to come off as phony and insincere.

I wanted to be on the right side of history.

I was paralyzed by fear of getting it wrong.

I wanted to say something about being a happily married man, a father of a daughter, a dating coach for women.

I learned that none of those things mattered because this is a human problem that shouldn’t be impacted by my relationships with women.

So I kept reading, but I said nothing. And it forced me to think:

Are my female Facebook friends taking my silence as a lack of sympathy?

Are my female Facebook friends taking my silence as a lack of sympathy?

Is it better to speak up even if you have nothing meaningful to say?

Do we actually need another voice in the cacophony condemning Weinstein, or are the millions of women who are telling their #MeToo stories good enough?

Then I thought: is my silence part of the problem?

Is it anything like the silence of the enablers at Miramax, or the Hollywood community who turned a blind eye because “hey, what are you gonna do?”

I flash back to a rape awareness lecture during college orientation.

I remember my neighbor, an overly earnest guy, raising his hand in his overly earnest way, and asking the facilitator, “What can I, as a man, do to prevent rape?”

Twenty-five years later, I remember my snarky response: “Don’t rape anyone.”

In retrospect, it doesn’t sound good, but I meant it.

Thanks to #MeToo, I know way too many women who have been sexually assaulted.

I’ve never met one guy who has admitted to sexual assault.

So if we’re being honest, what can an average guy — your accountant, your handyman, your brother – do to stop sexual assault?

It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a sincere and confused one.

It may sound nice to think we’re going to get Derek to engage in a conversation with Brayden about the denigrating nature of catcalling, but it’s simply unrealistic.

You can’t “make” men talk to each other about this, any more than Starbucks made us conduct coffee-house conversations with its “Race Together” hashtag.

You can’t “make” men talk to each other about this, any more than Starbucks made us conduct coffee-house conversations with its “Race Together” hashtag.

Author Laura Kipnis acknowledged the same in her book “Unwanted Advances.” “As a teacher with some experience of college men, I’d say that a large problem with focusing social change efforts on men is that the men most likely to be assholes to women are precisely the ones most likely to resist being enlightened.”

Sadly, she’s right.

The bad guys — the ones who think it’s okay to routinely force themselves upon women — are sociopaths who are impervious to this type of discussion.

The good guys — the ones who would never commit sexual assault — can only throw up their hands, wondering how to avoid getting lumped in with the bad guys.

It’s a societal conundrum.

Men are causing the problem, but are men the solution to the problem?

I don’t know.

The fact is: most of us tend not to think about issues until they directly impact us: Health care. Climate change. Immigration. Tax reform. Education.

All seem distant until YOUR health care is cut or YOUR house is under water.

Is it any surprise that the 94% of men who don’t commit sexual assault also don’t spend much time thinking about sexual assault?

What men don’t realize is that sexual assault DOES directly impact them.

Sexual assault creates a culture of fear, distrust, and wariness that millions of clueless men cannot grasp until watershed moments like this.

Sexual assault creates a culture of fear, distrust, and wariness that millions of clueless men cannot grasp until watershed moments like this.

Which is why I think #MeToo is vitally important.

It shines light on the horrors faced by women which most men cannot fathom.

It creates a swell of awareness that this behavior is more rampant than we knew.

It makes people perpetrating these crimes profoundly uncomfortable at being outed.

And yet, conversations like this remain the third rail of the internet.

If a man proffers his thoughts on sexual assault without impeccable sensitivity and understanding he risks being called a victim blamer, rape apologist, or misogynist.

I know. I’ve done it before. Despite my best efforts to offer an open, honest, male response to sexual assault statistics, I got my ass handed to me.

I know. This isn’t about me. But it is about men.

We’re half of society, and we all have to live together on this planet.

So how are the 94% supposed to contend with the 6% who are tarnishing our gender?

How can a man who is an ally strike the right tone much less make positive change?

How can we wrestle with the problem and talk about these issues without rancor, ad hominem attacks, or slippery slope arguments?

I guess that’s why I’m writing this post.

My belief is that, for reasons previously explained, women — not men – are the best advocates for creating awareness about sexual harassment.

I’m not letting men off the hook.

I’m only pointing out that #MeToo is infinitely more powerful than, well, me.

I’m aware why women don’t want to talk and prefer men to take up the mantle.

Fear of not being believed. Fear of not wanting to relive the trauma. Fear of having to be grilled by the police, go through the court system, and remind herself of the assault.

But if women don’t talk about their sexual assaults — for their own valid reasons — it’s hard to expect men to fully understand the scope of the problem.

But if women don’t talk about their sexual assaults — for their own valid reasons — it’s hard to expect men to fully understand the scope of the problem.

Yet even that innocuous sentiment brought some blowback from a reader.

“Placing the burden on victims and survivors to give and share their horrific traumas and mentally relive them so that other people can take and receive that knowledge, which the victims already know from personal experience is likely to be questioned, doubted, diminished, disregarded, or reacted to with defensiveness, is another ‘taking away something’ from them.”

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with that.

Does this mean I’m unsympathetic? Does that mean I’m one of “those guys”?

I don’t think so, but these days, the lines are blurry for even the most liberal men.

If you don’t speak out, you’re part of the problem.

If you speak out and accidentally offend, you’re part of the problem.

Which leaves pretty much every sympathetic man in a bit of a bind.

Most men agree women should speak out.

Most men agree there should be consequences for perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Most men will never fully understand what it’s like to be objectified at a young age or repeatedly threatened by men of greater strength or power.

If anything, it’s too painful to look at head-on, so we look away. Or minimize it. Or sweep it under the rug.

Or struggle to square the staggering statistics with our own limited experience.

I look at the situation closer. I try to take stock of how I am complicit.

I wonder if I have anything in common with Weinstein, Ailes, and Trump.

I think of every woman I’ve ever hit on.

I think of every sexual encounter I’ve ever had.

I wonder if I was ever “that guy.” The guy who came on too strong. The guy who couldn’t take no for an answer.

I realize I was.

I remember hitting on a woman at a bar in New York City after 8 vodka tonics. She told me to stop. I was too drunk to take a hint. Her guy friend accosted me. I took a swing and missed. He hit me in the face three times before I was thrown out of the bar. I was 24.

Would I have acted that way if I was sober? No chance.

Have I acted that way in the past 20 years? No chance.

But that doesn’t absolve me.

Culture doesn’t absolve me.

“Boys will be boys” doesn’t absolve me.

I’m a man.

I may not be responsible for other men, but I am responsible for my own actions and inactions.

I can’t change my past, but I can change my perspective.

I can be more sympathetic, understanding and vigilant.

Maybe, just maybe, I can help change the future.

This isn’t an easy conversation, but if you want men to actively fight sexual harassment, try not to attack the ones who are openly wrestling with our role in the problem. Rest assured we are equally horrified but don’t know how to express our support and create positive change.

12 MILLION women have already said #MeToo. Please share your thoughts on how men can best participate in the #MeToo movement.