This is an appeal to Men.
All of you.
Ladies, you can read this too, but there has been something on my mind a lot lately and it concerns the guys.
As I watch stories unfolding about sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood, I see a lot of reactions. Prior to the outpouring of ‘Me Too’ posts, I saw/heard very few reactions from men to the Harvey Weinstein abuse allegations, and many of the reactions were jokes, rationalizations and distractions. It seems much of those responses have quieted in the past day or two, but in their place, silence. I wanted to write this post in the midst of the initial reactions to the allegations surfacing in Hollywood, and before Me Too brought it home to the women you know and love, but it was very difficult to find the words
How do you really feel beneath the defenses, the rationalizations and jokes, the discussion of what predator supported which political party….
Beneath even the silence….
Are you feeling shame, as a man, even if you were not responsible for the attacks against women?
I understand, and so do many other women. We, too have lived with shame even though we were not responsible for the abuse and harassment inflicted on us. It is confusing as hell, and it sucks, and it keeps us silent because we don’t know how to articulate a level of guilt and shame for something we also know is not our fault.
How does this feel, for you, as a man, raised with the social pressures to fit into a predetermined masculine persona?
Does it make you feel targeted? As if all eyes are on you, wondering if you are one of “those people”? Do you feel as if you have been put under an unfair spotlight that calls the intentions of all men into question?
Have you been quiet because you don’t want to lose the respect of your peers who are doing their best to live up to the social norm of masculinity?
Or because you are waiting for this all to just go away?
And I would guess that many of my female peers would love to reach a point where all of this heaviness and anxiety and tension disappears, but for us that day doesn’t seem to be in sight.
Does it touch a nerve, your own abuse or victimization and the distinct social stigma that being a man who has been sexually abused, and the levels of silence and shame you have carried?
Understood. Abuse and harassment are difficult for all of us to talk about and hear about. It took me an hour to post the words Me Too on Facebook yesterday. An hour of typing, then erasing, then retyping.
As men you have an additional stigma distinct from the stigma faced by women but no more or less damaging.
Are you overwhelmed by story after story, and all of the “Me too” posts?
I get it. I can’t speak for all women, but I would bet that most of us are overwhelmed by this reality as well.
We know that even when the media attention and social media campaigns fade into the background, we will continue to make daily, calculated choices based on avoiding harassment and violence, and some of us will even realize that our best “safety” strategies will fail.
Most of us are as fed up with this shit as you are- the difference is, most of us don’t get to turn off the news and pretend this effects “other” people.
Are you in shock? Are you wondering about some of the women you know, or even some of the women you love, and why you didn’t know about their experience until you saw it on Facebook?
I have seen reactions from men, and some women, suggesting it is the responsibility of those victimized to speak up immediately. Easier said than done. It took me a week to write this blog and a ridiculously long time to type two words yesterday.
We keep silent for many reasons.
I- and perhaps most other women- want to be honest with you. We want to be able to be open, we don’t like hiding things or keeping secrets.
But we’ve also heard you talking. Since we were little. We’ve heard how you refer to women, and the jokes you have made.
We’ve also heard your silence while others talk disparagingly about women, or make jokes or comments.
We’ve heard you question the news, or respond to allegations in high profile cases of assault and harassment with your own disbelief.
We also know that some of you get it.
Those of you who know that the world can be a dangerous place for women. And while you mean well your desire to protect us has also kept some of us quiet.
Because we don’t want to be locked in a tower out of harm’s way.
I want to hear what this has really been like for you.
And then I hope you will hear us.
And hear each other.
About the jokes, the comments, the behavior you wouldn’t want to see perpetrated against someone you love.
Your silence speaks volumes to us. Please, men, especially men of integrity- that is you, isn’t it?
Come to the table. Enter the conversation. Speak up about what this brings up for you. And listen to what we have been trying in subtle and not so subtle ways to tell you.
Women are coming forward with their truth and their stories.
I know your truth goes deeper than ridiculous jokes, denial, minimization.
If we are going to truly create significant change we need you to join us.
We need your energy, heart and soul to align with us, and with the true Divine Masculine reflection of Spirit that you are and were created as before society taught you to idolize Hugh Hefner.
We need you to stand apart from the crowd and be true to your intuition and heart.
To assert that this society’s treatment of women does not align with the way you want the women you love to be treated. Perhaps this is a challenge to the basic rules you were taught about masculinity and power, but if the change does not begin with you, when will it begin?
And how much will your wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister, neighbor, cousin, friend, co-workers, suffer while you wait?
Will you step up to the challenge?