It’s a weird subject for me, as I’m sure it is for many men. The call is for not just women, but also men to join in if they’ve dealt with sexual harassment or assault. Many men posted simple “I’m listening” or “What do we do to help?” posts probably with the best of intentions, but this is actually a discussion we need to have as men with men before we have it with women. Before you jump on me for sounding chauvinistic, hear me out. It’s not what you think.
There’s a reason why I didn’t join in on Facebook and Twitter. There’s a reason why it took me a while to write this article. You see us men are terrible for each other. My first worries were what other men would think if I admitted to dealing with sexual harassment at times through my life. At a young age, our gender teaches us to separate emotion from archaic animalistic instincts; the “hit it and quit it” mentality. No strings attached. When we’re down in the dumps or in a bad mood other guys say, “Dude, you just need to get laid.” We over simplify ourselves forgetting just how complex every unique person’s psyche is. We dumb ourselves down to horny cavemen with little to no respect for ourselves whatsoever. Because if you don’t, you’re not a “real man”.
I’ve dealt with sexual harassment several times. Mostly at concerts or something similar where a woman has grabbed my crotch or butt, ambush style and then scurried off. As a guy I laughed it off because that’s what you’re “supposed to do”, but it doesn’t make it right. I also remember sitting upstairs at a bar during a concert when a girl decided to give me a lap dance out of the blue. Most guys would say to me, “Hey good for you, man! Blaaaaah! Woooo! Haha, get some dude!”, but that’s not me. I’m a private, mostly introverted personality. I told the girl that I wasn’t interested and she told me, “Too bad! I’m not leaving.” and proceeded to gyrate on my lap. Finally I pointed to a girl in the crowd, lied and told her she was my girlfriend. That did the trick. I was also stalked by a woman who inevitably blamed me for the fact she was attracted to me.
Now, I hesitate to lists those off, because I’m not trying to one up all the brave women who have come out with their stories this week. The truth is, most of the women who joined in with “#MeToo” probably wish they were able to recollect most of the times they dealt with sexual harassment like I just did, but the number is far too high. I understand that men are lucky in that regard.
With that being said, we, as men, need to recognize that it does happen to us too and understand that sexual harassment isn’t okay in any circumstance. If we don’t start respecting ourselves, how will we ever learn to respect women?
If there was some way we could all spend a week in each other’s shoes, I can almost guarantee society would be much nicer to each other. For now though, I will never know what it’s like to be a woman and so I’m not going to pretend that I do know what women go through on a daily basis, instead I’ll continue to listen and try to better myself. That’s why this is directed towards men and not women, because I do understand what it’s like to be a man and that’s why we need to have these discussions with each other and why we need to be better. Trust me, you can be strong and you can be tough without compromising your dignity and self-respect. Women have been doing it for years.
Sometimes it just takes two words to help, but if you want to help more, go to the founder of #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke’s website, Just Be, Inc. to see the story behind the phrase and more.