I’m a feminist straight man.
In my adult life, I haven’t done enough to combat the rampant abuse, harassment, and intimidation women face daily.
I’m surely guilty of talking over women. I saw myself do it, blatantly, last night. I apologized immediately, but the damage was done, has been being done – by me – for decades. I try not to, daily, but I often fail. My socialization is hard to fight.
As a teen, I repeatedly touched the breasts of a girl (Sherry, I’m really, really sorry), because I could. At the time, I think I thought she liked it, or at least thought it funny. As an adult, I understand it to have been assault.
As a somewhat younger adult, I had a subordinate who was accused, credibly, of touching a female subordinate of his in a manner that wasn’t explicitly sexual, but that was uninvited, and unwelcome. I had witnessed, first-hand, as he had belittled and patronized the same woman whose shoulders he later massaged.
I’m ashamed that I allowed a business partner at the time to prevail over my (correct) impulse to terminate the asshole. The asshole is still out there, in a position of considerable power, presumably still engaging in the same odious shenanigans. It’s worth saying: he’s politically progressive, active in politics, and a stalwart defender of women’s rights. When he’s not assaulting women.
The #metoo campaign is powerful, but I fear it misses the point, that it highlights the wrong story. I don’t mean to denigrate or dismiss the millions of women who’ve been harassed, assaulted, raped, intimidated, silenced. I mean, instead, that the numbers are such that clearly, we men are the problem, and we men will be the solution, if there is to be one.
I’m thinking about whether and how I can rectify the mistakes I’ve made, the ones I continue to make. I’m all ears if you have ideas. While writing this, I also drafted a note in my mind to the asshole I described above. I can’t really do more than apologize to Sherry.
But I’ll say this: I won’t make the mistake of even momentarily tolerating that shit ever again. And if I talk over you, ever, please smack me upside my head.