Combatting misogyny could be my full time job, but I am glad that it is not.
The United States are currently going through a bit of a re-shuffle with regards to national identity, which is pretty obvious to everyone on the world stage. We’re kind of like your neighbors who are constantly fighting with each other and you’re never quite sure whether or not to call the cops and report potential domestic abuse.
Just to be clear – if you hear something that you think might be domestic abuse, you should call it in.
I kind of wish someone could call the cops to get us out of our current set of problems.
Anyway – the issue that I want to talk about is the spate of recent revelations in the media about men in positions of power acting badly towards women.
The list of influential men being accused of sexual misconduct seems to grow every day, and my suspicion is that it will continue to do so for some time – at least until the backlash comes.
It seems like every politicized event in US current events eventually results in a backlash. We’re already seeing some of it with these sexual misconduct allegations – a lot of powerful men who fear reprisals of their own are being silent for the moment, but I predict that they’ll gather around whoever has the audacity to stand up and make the claim that this is reverse discrimination or something else just as silly.
Firstly – this is not an example of reverse discrimination. Women are not forming mobs and lynching men. In fact, they’re not even really calling for the lynching of the men who are actually responsible for acting like perverts, which would be mob justice, but still not discrimination. In most cases, they’re merely coming forward to tell their stories and not calling for any action at all.
Now, I do think that actions should be taken in most of these cases. However, we’re losing sight of the most important part of what is happening.
In case you missed it – my opinion is that the most important part of this is that women are beginning to come forward and tell their stories.
This is important, because until recently they haven’t felt safe enough to do so, and that represents a huge failure on our part as men who care for women and as a society in general. We must capitalize on the opportunity that this is affording us. We must do what we can to prevent the backlash and keep this forward progress. We must empower every person to tell their story so that we can all learn and grow – together.
Some of these stories are horrible to listen to. Some of them are just plain weird, and as a self-proclaimed pervert of the highest order, for me to say that is … something. But no matter whether they are hard to hear or weird or even just ordinary (I’ll leave that word there for a moment…) the fact is that women are finally feeling like the social narrative will permit them to come forward and speak about the things that they have had to endure. It is long past time that we take such things seriously.
Do I think that every man who has had allegations of sexual misconduct come out is guilty of those things? No, I do not. I think that a small percentage of the stories that are coming out are falsified, but I think that is a rare exception rather than the rule as many of these men would like you to believe and as men have insisted is the case since society began to view women as people.
Despite a more receptive climate than in the past, I think it would be a massive stretch of the truth to say that society is open to such things yet. There is still a strong stigma associated with coming forward with allegations of this type, and the women who do so are courageous and in many cases, desperate.
Part of the blacklash story is that these things happened decades ago and it is not fair to the accused to have to defend their actions from such a long time ago. There is some small amount of merit to that argument – but only because human memory is fallible. It is very likely that the facts of an event that happened years or decades ago will become distorted in the memory of those who were involved over time. This is a proven concept in modern psychology practice – human perception is fallible, and it changes over time. This is one of the reasons why crimes often have statutes of limitations.
That being said, I think every single case should be investigated – even those that happened 40 years ago. I think where there is sufficient proof of misconduct that there need to be serious consequences for those involved. This is how progress is made. These consequences may only be a loss of social capital in some cases, but in some cases, that may be sufficient. If you take a man who abuses his power and remove that power from him, he may not be able to continue his abusive practices, or he may learn that his actions – while tolerated in the time when he committed them – were never really acceptable and will be tolerated no longer.
Ignorance of the law is not seen as an excuse for committing a crime, and while I look at the things that some of these men are accused of and wonder how it is possible that they ever felt justified in some of these things, I can kind of see the argument that opinions on what is acceptable have changed over time. I can maybe see where posing for a photo with your hands someplace they ought not be without consent could be mistaken for humor – because much of the purpose of humor is to make the unbearable, bearable – but I don’t know how anyone ever felt like nonconsensually locking a woman in your office while you jack off is anything but creepy and sad.
Empathy is the thing that would have prevented all of these problems.
Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are interacting with. Try to understand her motives and fears and then think about what you are about to do. Just because you might think it would be awesome for a woman to lock you in her office and masturbate while you sit there trapped does not mean that she will feel the same way. You have to not only put yourself in her place, but you have to put yourself in her mind.
The fact that she is on the other side of the desk means that the right thing for you to do is to go out of your way to be respectful, honest, and engaged. You have all of the power – don’t abuse it.