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.


  1. I am still processing my thoughts on the #metoo campaign that has exploded worldwide. We’ve had a lot of conversations about this already, but I am not ready yet to write up my thoughts… not until I can write something that at least makes sense.

    Rebel xox

  2. Well, I agree with you that men are going to be the solution to this problem (and thank you for not using the assault YOU suffered as an excuse, a way of saying ‘men too’ ).

    But for that solution to happen, first ALL men needed to get their noses rubbed in it, to see how rampant that problem really is.

    I have been the victim of sexual assault more than once, of sexist harassment, of sexual and emotional abuse. It took me years to be able to see it all as such, sometimes decades, and certainly decades before I ever shared it with a man.

    I think with the #metoo phenomenon, more good men like you are starting to wonder what THEY can change in their lives, in their behaviour, to make it better.
    And a good few women have felt empowered to share their story, told their story matters, and no, it’s not normal to still have flashbacks and tears when they revisit events that happened decades earlier. It was assault. Their reaction to it was normal, IS normal. They shouldn’t feel ashamed or try to minimise it. And they are entitled to share it, or not, however much they feel comfortable with.

    I know I try to be careful NOT to harass or assault anyone. I hope I am successful most of the time.

  3. We are all battling with our socialisation, it’s good that you have named it for yourself. And it’s complicated, and ongoing. But you’ve made a start by thinking about it and if you follow through with what you’ve said then you will have taken another positive step forward. Keep going. Indie

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