Why Men Aren’t Speaking Up About the #MeToo Movement

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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.

Join our conversation (465 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 21
    KK

    The sad truth is that women do not have the same freedoms as men. Never have. Never will. In my own family, growing up, my older brothers were allowed to do all kinds of things that I wasn’t allowed to do. At the time, I didn’t understand it and thought it was totally unfair. With age and a bit of wisdom, I finally realized my parents were only trying to protect me.

    Unfortunately, the world is not the way it  should be  and if you choose to live your life based upon  shoulds, you are increasing your odds of becoming a victim at some point. That being said, you can be assaulted even when you’ve done your best to be cautious. I hope no one reading this thinks I’m a victim blamer, because I am not. My point is that women should be smart. Going out alone at night or drinking too much while you’re out isn’t really a wise choice if you’re a woman. Hanging out in bars that someone named Lizard frequents is probably a bad idea too.

    1. 21.1
      Sylvana

      I understand your view. Most women are physically weaker than men, and as such more vulnerable to attack. On the other hand, some of what you say almost sounds a little bit like (I hate to say it) victim mentality.

      I see no reason why a woman shouldn’t go out alone at night. Should she walk into a dark alley in a bad neighborhood? Of course not. But neither should a man. Should she go to shady or dangerous areas? No. But neither should a man.

      Drinking to the point where you can no longer make rational decisions is also not a good idea for either sex. But as long as you can still object (even while drunk at a bar), I don’t see how the risk would be any higher (you’d probably make an even bigger scene drunk than sober, so the risk might be less).

      And why should a woman not frequent a bar that has ONE man (named Lizard) groping women?

      Granted, a bar, in general, will have a more sexual atmosphere. If you don’t feel like dealing with that, don’t go. But to say a woman shouldn’t go to one alone just because of the possible risk is taking it a little too far.

      By that logic, a woman better not drive – she might just get in an accident.

      Anyone in a weaker position than others has to be smart about their choices, of course (don’t bring a knife to a gun fight). But being smart does not have to mean restricting your life, or living in a state of worry.

      I, personally, have to say that I was never in a situation where I could honestly claim I didn’t have the same freedoms or rights as a man. Growing up, I was taught to be smart about what I do, but was treated no differently than the boys my age.

      I can’t even recall a single incident where men told me (or other women) that we weren’t included, or couldn’t do something.

      We were always welcome to hunt with them, do even the toughest ranch work, go mud-bogging, air-boating, work on cars, etc. They weren’t cutting us any slack just because we were women, but they never discriminated, or treated us any differently. If we were physically and mentally able to do so, they never had a problem with us. (there was only ever problems with those who couldn’t do it – men or women.)

      While I don’t doubt it exists, I’ve been lucky to where even in a professional setting, I’ve never encountered any limits just because someone is a woman. Most of my clients are women in very high positions of power.

      They will tell you that they had to fight to get there, but so did any man in an equal position.

      In any situation, people are less likely to mess with a person who has a dominant or fearless personality, no matter how small a package they might come in. I would go as far as to say that harassment (and some assaults) are a form of bullying. Bullies do not tend to go after those who might put consequences to their actions.

      So by worrying too much, I think you might actually increase the chances of being harassed or even attacked, since that very much puts you in a submissive state of energy.

      I fully agree that no matter what you do, you might end up being attacked. But we take risks with everything we do in life.

      To say, for example, I wouldn’t spend a night sleeping in a room with 100 men because one might take advantage of the situation is giving that one person way too much power. You’re focusing on just the bad guys, not the good ones.

      Having hobbies and interests that mostly men have, I’ve been in countless situations where I was the only woman (or we were only a few) amongst forty or more men. Including camping in the middle of the woods overnight, alcohol involved, etc. Did some try to get laid? Of course. But they always stopped when told to stop.

      Was there a chance things could have gone wrong? Certainly. But I chose to trust that most men are good. And even if something would have happened, I trusted that the good men around me would have seen to the problem as soon as they found out.

      I don’t consider that living my life based on what the world should be. I consider it living my life based on the fact that good men outnumber the bad. And being aware of the risks, but not letting them rule my life and overpower the good.

       

       

      1. 21.1.1
        Rampiance

        TOTALLY agree with your message, Sylvana.     As a woman whose worktime and playtime is spent with men in the majority (often the only woman present), I use the same approach you do, and I have been very pleased with the results.     On many occasions, men defended me against the jerks in their midst.

        1. Sylvana

          Maybe it is because we are mostly surrounded by men (and yes – often as the only woman present), Rampiance, that we have a different outlook on things. Our positive experiences with men outweigh our negative ones, by far.

          Like you, I’ve also been lucky enough to have men defend or protect me on countless occasions. To me, the good guys are the norm, the bad ones the exception.

           

           

      2. 21.1.2
        KK

        Sylvana,

        I knew at least one person would misinterpret what I stated or read something into it that wasn’t there but “victim mentality”? I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how you came up with that. My mentality is to make smart choices that would decrease your risks of becoming a victim. I also acknowledged that regardless of what you do or don’t do, you could still become a victim of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment.

        If you’e comfortable being the only woman sleeping in a roomful of 100 men, more power to ya! IF you’re assaulted, the law is on your side. My POV is that I’d prefer to avoid taking that risk in the first place.

        You also mentioned your personality. I’m confident as well and it shows in the way I carry myself. I’m strong… for a woman. However, I’m also very aware that even a small man could easily overpower me.

        Not long ago, I needed to change out an exterior lightbulb. I could not get the old lightbulb out. I must’ve tried a good 30 minutes or so. It was just stuck. A neighbor noticed me struggling and offered to help. With one twist, he had it out. We laughed about his “man hands”. Here’s my point… This man is probably at least 15 years older than me, not very physically fit. But if he wanted to harm me, his hands alone could do serious damage. My only hope would be to outrun him. If I was forced to physically defend myself against an average size woman, I wouldn’t think twice. But I’m no match for a man. Neither are you, Sylvana.

        1. Sylvana

          KK,

          I’m always the first one to point out that even a small man is physically stronger than any woman. My physical strength has nothing to do with the fact that I choose to trust that the majority of men will not assault or   harass me (at least not in most “civilized” nations).

          I do have to say that where you live likely has a LOT to do with your decisions. In countries where the percentage of men willing to assault women is higher, a woman certainly has to make adjustments to stay safe.

          Even in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Western Europe, etc. there are certain neighborhoods/areas a woman would be wise to avoid altogether.   But the MAJORITY of men are good.

          So I guess what is smart and what is paranoid depends on the percentage of risk involved.

          From the way you sound, I assume you live (or grew up) in a country with a higher percentage of men willing to be violent or abusive toward women. If that’s the case, I can understand where you’re coming from.

          But by U.S. (western Europe, etc.) standards, you come across as too focused on what might go wrong, rather than the fact that – most of the time – it doesn’t.

          “Victim mentality” therefore would only apply to countries were women are relatively safe.

          Still …

          This man is probably at least 15 years older than me, not very physically fit. But if he wanted to harm me, his hands alone could do serious damage. My only hope would be to outrun him.

          That seems a little bit over the top to me. I would never even think that far. Yes – men are definitely physically stronger than us. And I’m fully aware that they can attack. But I’m not gonna worry about graphic details of   what they could do if they did attack, what would happen, how I would escape. I’d have to kill every man on the planet in order to feel safe.

          I don’t know where you got the idea that I think I could win a fight against a man, or physically overpower a man. I said I had a dominant and rather fearless personality. And that that tends to deter a lot of harassment and even attempted attacks. (It also makes me much more likely to take risks).

          If a predator has a choice between attacking or harassing someone who is highly aggressive (even if physically weaker), and someone who is much less aggressive, he’ll likely pick the less aggressive person (sometimes even if that person is physically stronger).

          Harassment, at least, generally tends to be about power and control. You cannot intimidate someone who refuses to be intimidated.

          That doesn’t mean that I think what you’re doing is wrong. Depending on where you live, it might be the smartest choice.

          Where I live, that overly cautious approach could make you more vulnerable to harassment or even attack. Since it makes it seem like you’re easier to intimidate.

          It is not meant as an insult or criticism. But, to me, everything you say comes across as if you actually fear men in general. Or, at least, as if you fear the damage they are capable of inflicting, rather than just having a healthy respect for it.

          Overall, in this whole “me too” campaign, I think we all need to keep different cultures in mind. What would make a woman safer in one culture might doom her in another.

          And send out good wishes to those women who still do not have a voice (or rights) at all.

    2. 21.2
      Clare

      KK,

       

      I’m with you. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that I live in South Africa, and the crime rate (which includes rape, sexual assault, murder, robbery) is many times higher here than in the first world. It is absolutely taken for granted here that there are many things you shouldn’t do – going out at night alone, walking in bad neighbourhoods, getting drunk without a friend to keep an eye on you… I could go on – and that doesn’t just go double for women. It goes triple, quadruple, ten times over.

       

      Of course I’d love to live in an environment where my gender wouldn’t matter when it came to my safety. I feel like a prey animal almost all the time when out and about in town, and there is absolutely no doubt that the fact that I’m a woman plays a big part in that. My country is unsafe, but it is statistically even more unsafe for women. I wish it were not so, but we don’t live in a perfect world.

       

      We can all muse about what “should” be, but that doesn’t change the way the world  is. I guarantee you, not one South African thinks it is victim blaming when they warn their daughters to be careful. People really don’t care about that here. They care about being safe.

       

      Just another perspective. And again, I feel I need to emphasize, I  wish  the world were different. I hate feeling anxious and unsafe when I am out and about. A couple of weeks ago, I had four huge men barrel towards me and I had to yell “fuck off” at the top of my lungs in a crowded bottle store. Just awful. But I just feel it’s only responsible to educate our daughters to be safe and careful. Everyone, in my country anyway, feels that way too.

      1. 21.2.1
        Sylvana

        I never blame the victim. And I cannot understand those who do.

        And I thank you for pointing out that not everyone here actually lives in a country where women are relatively safe. In discussions like these, it helps if that is actually pointed out.

        In every country, it is responsible to educate your daughters to be safe and careful. But what is needed to be safe and careful can vary greatly from place to place.

        Where I live (and the countries I have lived and grown up in), KK sounds more paranoid than careful. Surrounded by a bunch of women who do not share the same concerns, she could easily be considered the easiest to intimidate by a predator.

        Where you live, my behavior and attitude could easily be considered suicidal.

        I have to admit that I did not take into consideration that not everyone here lives in one of the more “women friendly” nations.

        1. KK

          “Where I live (and the countries I have lived and grown up in), KK sounds more paranoid than careful. Surrounded by a bunch of women who do not share the same concerns, she could easily be considered the easiest to intimidate by a predator”.

          This is complete BS, Sylvana. In one breath, you say you’re not a victim blamer, and in the next breath you claim women like me are easy prey. Give me a break, lady. There is an important distinction to be made between paranoia and caution. And yes, I live in the good ol USA, one of the women friendly nations as you call it. Have you had your head in the sand?

          Do me a favor, Sylvana. Use Google to find registered sex offenders near your address and report back what you discover.

  2. 22
    McKiwi

     

     

    Yup sexually assaulted once  (not raped but pretty damn scary). Many other very unpleasant experiences.  I am now over 50. Before I reached this age I heard lots of complaints by women about being invisible to men. Actually it has been a relief. I no  longer feel intimidated by groups of men, I no longer get that  feeling of being hunted when (some) men look at you. I hated that and it is a relief to have it all  in the past frankly.

    That said I do feel a bit sorry for good men. It is not a simple world. Women DO like to be pursued, wooed and treated as  irresistibly sexually attractive  by (the right) man. It must be hard to be manly but not overstep the mark at times.

    1. 22.1
      Sylvana

      I agree that it can be hard for good men. I think a lot of times, men aren’t even aware that what they are doing might be conceived as “threatening” to a woman. A group of guys hooting and hollering at a girl might not see it as threatening because they do not mean it that way. To her, on the other hand, it an seem awfully uncomfortable.

      I am very open sexually, with an extremely high sex drive. On top of it, I have a very dominant personality naturally. So there is very little behavior that actually makes me feel intimidated (short of the extreme). I actually enjoy the attention (the cat-calls, the comments, etc.), and the game of power. I don’t purposely tease, or push a man’s limits. But, overall, I find the type of attention that a lot of women will consider too much rather complimentary (from most men, not all. There are some that have given me the creeps).

      I’ve been groped and harassed, but it does not get to me the way it does to other women I know. (Despite being full out assaulted in my twenties). I find it annoying rather than threatening. Just the other day, a friend of mine was complaining about her ophthalmologist rubbing his equipment up on her elbow and side while her eyes were dilated. She said it was very   obvious what he was doing.

      When I asked her whether she confronted him, she answered no. She felt too weirded out, in too much of a vulnerable position (not being able to see), completely embarrassed, and she just wanted to get out of there. (I managed to talk her into reporting it).

      I would have grabbed his junk and twisted it off. All the while informing him of how pathetic he is.

      But that’s me. A much more aggressive personality. (I’ve always wished I could encounter a flasher. So far, no luck).

      On the other hand, I can completely understand why many women would feel intimidated or uneasy with certain behavior that might not bother me as much.

      And once a woman has been assaulted or been in a very uncomfortable position, she is likely to be much more guarded. But the good man who is interested in her will not be aware of that. So even behavior that he doesn’t perceive as threatening might make her feel uncomfortable.

      It can certainly be very hard for good men.

       

       

  3. 23
    Michelle

    Food for thought – I’m sure these statistics are difficult to obtain considering the very low reporting and even lower conviction rate of rape and rapists, but I wonder how many of those men were sexually abused. Perhaps as part of a holistic solution to reducing violence and sexual assault against women, major inroads need to be made into the empowerment of   men and boys who have experienced sexual abuse and rape by other men to seek therapy and to be supported by family, friends and society at large; therefore preventing a cycle of abuse.

    1. 23.1
      Sylvana

      This. Very much so. Thank you.

  4. 24
    Pistola

    There is not a strong link between being sexually abused and being abusive in the clinical research. Most sexual abuse survivors never abuse anyone.

    And people develop PTSD from harassment. It’s very damaging.

  5. 25
    Erin

    I shared my #metoo story via social media this week. I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the response. I was flooded with supportive and loving messages and comments. I’m still processing all of it.

    I was talking to my sister today, and she asked how I was feeling with sharing my #metoo post. One of the things I brought up is the lack of men who responded to my post. They hit the like button to show support (which is how I’m taking it) but they did not comment or message me. We decided that they probably didn’t know what to say or how to say it.

    Thsnk you for your thoughts, feelings and perspective on this subject and time in history. I really needed to read them.

     

  6. 26
    Vicki

    A guy I dated last year tried to hook up with me this year by messaging me on facebook. He was polite, and was able to communicate he was only interested in me sexually, but when really stung was when he told me he was still waiting to find someone “worthy” of a long term relationship. So here’s the thing: a woman’s worth is not yours to decide. My “worthiness” doesn’t come from your approval, or from your ability to categorically deny me respect based on your conscious (or subconscious) virgin-whore dichotomy. I think all men who seriously want to help and don’t know what to do should start reading and listening to women who have a lot to say about the topic. I recommend Jessica Valenti’s book “Purity Culture” as a starting point. Mary Beard is a professor of classics who has some great interviews on Youtube. Look for the one about how misogyny in ancient Rome shaped modern cyberstalking, and the one about misogyny as the underbelly of western civilization. Subscribe to Jessica Valenti’s newsletter – “This Week in Patriarchy”.   The problem with male privilege is that it comes right from the book of Genesis – men having the privilege to give things names, and naming things defines their inherent worth. It’s not enough to not be a rapist. You have to stop mansplaining to women, stop interrupting women, stop devaluing women or defining them by their relationships to spouses and children, or by a number on an arbitrary scale. We exist outside the male bubble, and our value and worth is independent of any male opinion.

    1. 26.1
      Tyrone

      @ Vicki

      The guy was definitely not tactful. But if we are being honest, who doesn’t do this? Do you date and engage in ltr’s with every single man that has hit on you ever? Or did you sometimes decide, based on factors of your choosing, that some of those men weren’t worth getting to know?

    2. 26.2
      Clare

      Vicki,

       

      I’m sorry for your experience with the Facebook guy. I’ve had that happen to me a handful of times, and it definitely sucks.

       

      But… I’d really like to ask you to reconsider your request that men do this and men do that (subscribe to this newsletter, listen to that YouTube channel, read this book, stop defining women as x, y, z). If women have inherent worth outside of men’s opinions of them, and of course they  do, then they have inherent worth outside of men’s opinions of them. Period. They have inherent worth outside of  anyone’s opinion of them. They have inherent worth. Period. They do not need men to go changing their opinions and filling their heads with pro-feminist viewpoints in order to have worth. Women have  inherent worth. In other words, it does not matter what men, or anyone else thinks, your worth remains unchanged.

       

      You are right when you say “My “worthiness” doesn’t come from your approval, or from your ability to categorically deny me respect based on your conscious (or subconscious) virgin-whore dichotomy,” but I don’t think you need to be so angry about it. Your worth is whatever  you  make it, and by insisting that men change their viewpoints, you are giving power to them over how you feel about yourself.

       

      Decide what  you  believe your worth is, and stand on that. You do not need anyone else’s participation to do this, and no one else needs to change one iota. Your worth is your worth. And if some guy feels you are only worth a casual sexual encounter and you feel you are worth more than that, then the two of you are fundamentally at odds and must part ways. No need to convert him. Just move along to someone whose opinion of your worth aligns with your own.

       

      See, it is incredibly liberating to realize that if we truly believe that our worth is not defined by other people’s opinions of us, then they do not need to change, and we don’t need to change them. Our worth stays the same regardless of them, and we get to make empowering choices.

       

      Of course it is beneficial to try and make the world a kinder, more respectful place. But none of it will ever change your worth. It will not make you more worthwhile if every man on suddenly starts behaving like a respectful gentleman. And it won’t make you less worthwhile if every man on earth behaves like a jerk either.

      1. 26.2.1
        Sylvana

        Very well said. And I think you just nailed the problem with the current trend of feminism on the head.

    3. 26.3
      Theodora

      We all have intrinsic value as human beings and we are all free to define our worth as we like and want. But when it comes to intimate relationships, sex and affection, we all have some standards and preferences, men and women alike, and many people don’t meet those standards. It’s fine to reject someone for a relationship, sex or affection for whatever reason we choose. It doesn’t negate our intrinsic value as human beings which remains the same.

      So, while that man was not exactly tactful in his choice of words (I would have chosen “not compatible for a serious relationship” instead of “not worthy”) he was not wrong. In our private life, we can reject any person for whatever reason we see fit, no matter how arbitrary and prejuduced and unfair   – and they can do the same to us. Our body, our life, our choice.

  7. 27
    Debbie Korell

    It doesn’t start with assault.

    It starts when you are with a group of your guy friends and one of them says something inappropriate and you laugh or say nothing.

    It starts when you have young men listening to the radio with a song calling women names and you as the adult let them keep listening to it and not talk to them about it

    1. 27.1
      S.

      Thanks, Debbie.   That’s what I had tried to say about rape culture.   Harassment isn’t benign. Is it as criminal as actual assault? No. But it’s creating a culture where making women uncomfortable and feel threatened is okay.

      I’m really heartened by the comments of the men on this post.   They are really trying to understand and I appreciate that.   I’m not sure how else to re-emphasize this point.   It doesn’t matter how minor a word is, letting things like that go sets the stage.   Sets the stage for women to remain scared and silent and sets the stage for men to think it’s nothing.   Some men will use that stage to escalate.   Even if it doesn’t escalate, those circumstances aren’t creating a culture for respecting the space and feelings of women.

      I’m glad someone else understands what I mean.   I appreciate all the comments, really.   It is good to have a place to have the discussion.

  8. 28
    Vicki

    Also, if you have children, teach them about consent and their right to their own bodies. Everyday Feminism had a really good article about how parenting reinforces rape culture by denying children sovereignty over their own bodies and teaching them not to complain when someone violates their physical being. For example, when the grandparents come over and the child shys away from kissing and hugging them, do you force the child to kiss and hug them, or do you let them say no? It’s better to let them say no. Forcing them to kiss and hug an adult reinforces rape culture by teaching them that they don’t have a right to say no. Teach your boys about consent and proper boundaries. Rape culture won’t go away in our generation, but maybe future generations will enjoy a better culture.

  9. 29
    daniela

    I think it was pretty narrow minded to include the statistic “94% of men dont comitt sexual assault.” That’s a self reporting survey, do you realize that,

     

    thats part art of the problem. To think that there’s only two categories of men – predators and non predators. The truth is many men would not consider themselves predators, but still may have sexually assaulted someone.

    Harvey Weinstein still doesn’t consider himself a predator– that should be enough of a clue.

    How can you help? Ask your female friends to tell you about their sexual assault if you’re close and if they would like to talk about it, so YOU can get educated. They might even tell you the guy that assaulted them is someone you know that’s a self reported “good guy”

     

    how can you help? By realizing that this problem isn’t created by 6% of the population. Realize that the propblem is that men don’t understand how their actions are considered sexual assault. Learn what sexual assault is, teach your peers, and NEVER become the bystander that follows “bro code” and doesn’t confront another male about when he’s inadvertently assaulted a women. Even if they weren’t aware.

  10. 30
    Lisanne

    I found this post incredibly well-written and insightful. Thank you, Evan.

  11. 31
    Jenni Lee

    I highly doubt it’s a near 6% of men who call us liars when we speak out. And when that happens, it sides with that supposed “6%” of bad guys (which I think is ass backwards as many men couldn’t even identify their entitlement over a woman’s body, especially once he sees that woman as his possession).

    So, I’m going to make the one thing needed the most very clear. WE NEED TO NOT BE DISMISSED. OUR COMPLAINTS ARE REAL EVEN IF YOU CAN’T UNDERSTAND THEM. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF WOMEN AREN’T ALL LIARS. WE ARE BEING MISTREATED, HURT, AND EVEN MURDERED! Yet we can’t even get men to listen or care. That’s far more than 6% of men. So, LISTEN. Show us you hear our cries. And you believe us.

     

    Stop making excuses.

  12. 32
    Molly

    I think it helped that you were punched out in the face at twenty four .   It stopped the behavioir ..lol . Right ?    The nice guys need to punch the bad guys out ! Sounds silly and simple –-I have brothers 4 ….I have a husband and I know they are affected when another guy / father   / guy friend tells them off –punches them out !   The good guys should punch the bad guys out .    They don’t care what women say …they do whatever they want ( rapist , assaultist , and   assholes .   So punch them out !   Lime them up –or actually when you see a guy friend that talks about rape –or how he over powered a “ girl “ “ woman “ ,   punch him in the kisser / face .            Maybe their behavior will change   ….be tough back !   Beat the asshole up !       😀      I want good men to beat the bad guys up .

    1. 32.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      To be fair, getting punched out wasn’t a turning point in my life. It’s not like I had a history that got beaten out of me. I was young, drunk and unable to control my worst impulses. It was embarrassing, to be sure, but most of this #MeToo moment is about men who are NOT embarrassed by their worst behavior, men who routinely engage it in despite the fact that it is obviously wrong. How do we reach them? I think it’s greater consequences – more being outed, losing jobs, going to prison.

      1. 32.1.1
        Pistola

        Those of us who work with women know that violence against women is a continuum. It doesn’t start with the most egregious actions. It starts with cultural norms that degrade women, allow things like street harassment, and from there the continuum escalates as men try more and more stuff with both women and kids and get away with it.

        I saw this morning that the French government is going to try out a new measure that fines people on the spot for public harassment.

        https://qz.com/1106465/a-new-french-law-will-fine-men-on-the-spot-for-harassing-women-in-public/

        Personally, since measures like this have been effective for other public health issues that damage the innocent, like smoking, I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work for this issue as well. When there are no real and immediate consequences, men do whatever they want because they know they can get away with it.

        I just spent 6 days in Saigon, a city of 8 million people, and experienced no episodes of street harassment and saw one the entire time I was there, that’s with being out every day shopping and eating and engaging in daily life. The minute I hit American soil coming back, I was harassed within my first day back here. This is a cultural problem. Policy measures do work. No one smokes publicly in Saigon because you will get fined on the spot. It makes it a much more pleasant city than other places in Asia that don’t have such policies. I see stopping public harassment as the first step in cleaning up our public spaces and sending the message that this kind of treatment of women will not be tolerated and has consequences.

  13. 33
    Brook

    Thanks for being honest about your experience and thoughts. It’s a helpful place to start conversation. I’m curious about what you personally and men in general consider to be sexual assault, especially given the statistic you posted that 94% of men are not sexual assaulters.

    I’m sure that I can’t define this for all women, but for me sexual assault is a broad spectrum of behavior, a culture that allows the gross and the subtle to continue. Perhaps if I had kept track I could confirm or deny this 94%. My gut feel is that more than 6% of men behave in ways that feel like assault to women, though there may not be any physical contact. Thinking of the ass grabs, the breast grabs, the hands on me, the interference in my personal space, the non consensual sex and the rape I’ve experienced could amount to 6% of men but I think it’s more. Then there are the wolf whistles, the cat calls, the conversations in my presence that are demeaning, the comments about my body, or other women’s bodies, the slut shaming, the offhand remarks, the “jokes” about how women can’t xyz, the silencing, the men who tell me to smile when I walk by on the street, being called a bitch for turning a guy down, getting talked over and interrupted… the list goes on. Are there any men who have not been involved in these behaviors? Maybe- I have no idea. I do know there are amazing men in my life who I feel equal too and respected by. Who I have deep and meaningful and supportive relationships with. Who I love and trust with my personal space, my touch, my ideas, my experience. Have/do these men behave in ways that add to the problem? Probably.

     

    This conversation is is super important. What is tricky here, at least for me, is that my response from a very very young age was to feel ashamed of being a girl and then woman. I trained my face and body not to respond – to not show my fear/anger/pain/weakness- to the hurtful behavior of men. It wasn’t allowed. There was no space for my experience to be relevant. My family is awesome and open and my parents taught me to be strong in many ways but societal norms are a vast influence on growing minds. Culture becomes engrained. We all make meaning and the meaning I made was that I didn’t matter. This   has affected my entire life, world view, and confidence that I am a person worthy of love and respect. I’ve spent time and money to heal myself from the trauma of being a woman in our culture, but it keeps going- if all men somehow changed all these ingrained behaviors tomorrow I still will have a lifetime of trauma to heal from.

    I understand how confusing this must be for guys. If I trained myself not to respond to the hurtful things they were doing how would they know? I’m so curious what it is like to be a man. I’ve read that the experience of being white is invisible to most white folks- white in our culture is just “normal”- being a man is also just “normal” and the experience of being one must also be invisible. The entitlement to womens acceptance of them, to womens smiles, care, emotional support, forgiveness, admiration… all in the face of intolerable behavior. It’s only a joke, it’s just one time, what’s the big deal… but the behavior of one adds to the pool of experiences and builds up toxicity in our systems.    I have tons of love for men and I know we all grew up in this shitty system and we all are hurt one way or another. I’m hoping #metoo spurs more conversations and understanding about what a huge difference even the “little” things make. You don’t have to rape someone to cause them harm. You don’t have to have physical contact to be contributing to the problem.

     

  14. 34
    Janice

    We have many cultures and traditions around the world that continue to degrade and assault females. Good men need to adopt a zero tolerance policy.   Good men need to call out abusive men and shame them when they cat call or tell derogatory dirty jokes. Abusive men have a need to exert their power over a weaker person   because they’re feeling weak in controlling their own lives.   Good men should speak out when the guy next to him   says – she was asking for it just look at the way she dressed, walked, talked, make up, etc.   Good men need to break the silence.   Stop quietly standing by.   Stop   implicting approving of bad behaviour through your silence. Stand up for respecting all persons.   Women alone can’t change society. Men make up the other half of society.   Men must break their silence too.

  15. 35
    Molly

    Well yes of course in the long run . But early on we teach boys now to share , be good , sit down , listen , behave , act nice .    It’s not like the old days , of course . I think it is fair . Guys don’t want to be confrontational …the want to be friends and get along for business etc . To make money , etc .    But if their was a consequence early on ….for starters … boys / men when they know a guy is being a cruel asshole to a girl / child / an innocent person ….it’s like a shock collar …or a painful consequence . It’s just obvious ….. One can talk and discuss and try to rationalize –but a   man / boy   has a lot of influence on his friends   and nobody said you did this behavior   for a long time –-you did it once and drunk or not –you got punched in the face .    Made you think again –never again you said . Right .   It’s a metaphor –-punch in the face – a big fine   by a police Man who is authoritarian acting – a time spent in jail , A humiliating   response from another strong male figure …..fill in the blanks . So many other consequences   one could come up with .   A Clint Eastwood response 😉

  16. 36
    Deborah Ahonen

    The roots of this issue run very deep in our society- as someone pointed out, going back to Genesis in the bible, and the authoritarian, patriarchal structure of our society. These views of women as 2nd class citizens are still very strong in many “Christian” churches and other sects of our society.

    A French woman on NPR the other day said France is full of ads all over the streets, advertising everything from cars to electronics, to food and everything else- that use semi- naked images of women, even though that has nothing to do with whatever is being sold! She pointed out that this pervasive use of young women’s bodies as objects used for commercial purposes, creates the impression that women are sexual objects to be used for whatever purpose needed. “Objects to be used” being the operative phrase. These images are so rampant in our society that we’ve become accustomed to them, but they exert a subliminal message to both sexes, that women are sexual objects to be used for whatever purpose.

    In your online profile from when you were single, Evan Marc Katz, I was struck by your statement that you wanted a woman who would “compliment other womens’ bodies.” It made me wonder if you compliment other men’s bodies? (You didn’t mention that). If not, it’s another example of how our society condones objectifying and judging women’s bodies but not men’s.

    I think it’s beneficial to look at the more subtle (yet damaging, and contributing to the issue) aspects of our society that subliminally turns women into objects.

    1. 36.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I do compliment other men’s bodies. I am many things; a hypocrite is not one of them.

  17. 37
    Tron Swanson

    This is the first I’m really hearing about this MeToo stuff, as I’m not on Facebook or Twitter or anything like that. I did see the name mentioned on a forum that I visit, but I didn’t click on that thread.

    I don’t have much to say about it–aside from the possibility of false accusations, it isn’t very relevant to my life–but I’d like to advise against trying to intimidate adult men, or trying to punch them or what have you. For those of us in America, well…it’s a heavily-armed country, and a growing number of states have concealed carry. I’ve heard stories where Guy A confronts Guy B because of Girl C, only for Guy B to shoot Guy A. I’ve never been a gun person, myself–I can still remember being the only boy in my sixth-grade class who didn’t miss a day of school to go hunting with his father–but there are enough gun people out there that one should be careful about starting fights in public.

    I’m about as far from being a tough guy as a heterosexual male can conceivably get. I’ve been in maybe two situations where men have confronted me because of women, even though I didn’t do anything–and, let me tell you, despite being a wimp, I was not intimidated. Given that, I can only imagine how non-intimidated most other men would be. That sort of confrontation simply isn’t a good strategy.

  18. 38
    AMA

    Am going to say this as clearly and directly as possible.

    1. Your assumption that it is ONLY 6% of men that are predators is inaccurate in a patriarchal culture. Is more like 94%, otherwise 94% of women would “be married” or have healthy loving, supportive and nourishing relationships with men.

    2. Until men are willing to address, and do their social-cultural-government-economic, relationship, spiritual, mental, emotional, sexual/physical, inner and behavioral work to decolonize themselves from the framework of patriarchal constructs a realistic dialogue can not happen.

    3. So until men in positions such as yourself, are willing to “unpack” the HIS-story of patriarchy, all the way back to how this “america” was founded   …(and by the way the Original Peoples of this land warned the “founding fathers” of their errors) …how then can men understand themselves in relation to HER-story ? to Matriarchal Cultures ? to even begin to understand how a woman is Naturally made? let alone understanding that women as Life Givers should have the final say in all matters of conflict resolution…or the Great Law of Peace?

    4. In the American culture, the Rites of Passage into manhood and womanhood for the most part have been reduced to irrelevant materialistic, career oriented “graduation” parties with little if any knowledge or wisdom of what the roles and Relational response abilities are about being Human Beings. Thus we continue to experience mentally, emotionally, spiritually IMMATURE relationships, born from the educational, cultural constructs of patriarchy.

    If we can not address, how generational trauma from priest rape, incest, boarding school abuse , military rape culture,   to BOYS, which shapes their ideas about what it means to be men …how then are we going to have compassionate healing ?

    5. Women have been healing themselves for the last 5K yrs from Patriarchy. You tried to bury Us, you didn’t know we are Seeds. Without women there are no future generations, this includes men. Without the healthy Nature of Earth, there is no future generations of any life.

    The War on Women is synonymous with the War on Earth. Earth is our Mother. Women are Earth’s daughters and they embody Her wilding Nature. Men, lay down your weapons and listen…the American Patriarchal culture of violence is coming to an end.

    Women are not here for regime change. However, where we are at, is were the Best thinking that the Patriarchy has to offer has gotten us. It is now time for women to lead and the men to protect, provide and nourish Us, and Mother Earth.

    When we nourish Women, we nourish the life of Women, and Women insure the health of family, and culture with Mother Earth.   * Any women who doesn’t get this no matter what roles they may have… may need to deconstruct the patriarchal imprints that feed and participate in upholding the patriarch.

    6. So, the “silence of men” is because they are still unwilling to unpack the constructs, ideas and beliefs that shape the CULTURE of Patriarchy and Colonialism that has kept BOTH men and women from growing into mature Human Beings.

    May Love and Truth, Honesty , Humility, and Respect, Courage to Heal and Forgive, bring us the knowledge and inner-standing of Living the Wise Ways and Life Ways, to birth Culture that is relationally Response Able with the human family, Earth and All Life.

    Have a wonderful day…

  19. 39
    Asha

    I don’t think it’s just up to men to be supportive, and pro-active in stopping other men from being predators. It’s also up to institutions and companies to not just make rules and laws preventing this kind of behavior,  but  enforcing those rules and laws when a situation is brought to their attention.

    An example of this not being done is currently being experienced by the women in my apartment building. The second superintendent is guilty of multiple sexual assaults, physical assaults, and murder threats, against women in this building, but the management company has kept him on as second superintendent for years despite our complaints. Recently he was replaced by a very nice superintendent, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. We thought the misogynist super had been replaced because the management company had finally taken notice of our complaints. Second super was still living in this building, but didn’t have the power he once held. 3 weeks ago, the nice super was dismissed, and the misogynist super re-hired. The management company doesn’t care about the safety of it’s female tenants. The female tenants in my building a fearful again.

    If the management company had rules and laws in place to prevent this kind of thing, and enforced them, the super wouldn’t have been rehired. He would have been charged. I was sexually assaulted by the owner of the pest control company that the management company uses, in June. I complained to the police and the management company. Because I had the backing of the police, the management company has forbidden the owner of the pest control company to enter my apartment. But they still do business with him and he’s regularly in the building.

    This is a societal problem, and as such, needs to be addressed firmly and consistently, by all aspects of our society.

  20. 40
    Kit

    I’ll throw the question back to you, Evan: So how are the few% of women supposed to contend with the majority% who are tarnishing our gender by going along to get along, by enabling that 6% of male aggressors? The “Mooks & the Midriffs.”

    It’s no one’s problem in that it is a problem of the system, “the marriage of corporation and culture.” Witness Douglas Rushkoff get it right again in the 16 year old and STILL  relevant.  documentary, especially at 26:36, 29:40, 42:05 minutes:

      PBS Frontline 2001 The Merchants of Cool  

     

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