In reality, you'd probably be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn't been sexually harassed or assaulted ...and if you do, it's only a matter of time before they are. In fact, I've been wanting to respond to the call with my personal experience after many had encouraged men to do so, but I didn't want to draw any unnecessary attention, nor potentially belittle anyone's experience(s). I worried that it would be like holding up a white lives matter sign at a black lives matter event, which by the way, falls under the assholery category and entirely misses the point (cue Lewis Black’s aggressive pointing and heated rhetorical diatribe). However, the benefit of owning a few gigabytes in the internet's infinite landscape...is the ability to be as poignant, rebellious, humble, crass, or as civilized as I please.
A small, albeit clandestine, part of my response to the #metoo movement, was to include the raising of my own hand in order to bring awareness to the fact that sexual harassment and assault, while rampant and primarily towards women, can also be, and often is towards boys and men. Again, including my voice in the larger discussion was not to highlight my own personal experience (as traumatic as it may have been), nor for any personal admiration or applause, so let me be clear, I am not innocent.
While I may not have intentionally hurt or sexually assaulted a woman, I am guilty of not policing other men and of going along with objectifying and demeaning behavior, which in some contexts can be just as bad. Even in the context of being playful, these actions are not funny, and I now realize how they could have made someone feel uncomfortable, or even unsafe. Allowing someone to be bullied, raped, or murdered whilst having the power to prevent it, in the eyes of the law can get you convicted of aiding and abetting, or in other words, sharing the criminal's intent.
All I can do, is apologize, recognize that I am not perfect, have the humility to realize my contributions to the issue, and change my own actions. I am not proud of it, and while my unique upbringing in a culture that perpetuates this behavior is not an excuse, I recognize how this exposure helped to influence me as a younger man. In any event, my goal is to stand alongside women, to bring to light an issue that merits more scrutiny, support, and awareness, to highlight the magnitude of the problem, and more importantly, to be a part of the solution.
For those who have not seen the facebook post, I’ve posted it below.
I'm sorry that we can be pigs, that we objectify you, ogle you, lust after you and degrade you. I'm sorry that you have to put on armor every day, and carry a shield...I imagine the weight becomes exhausting. I'm sorry that you've had to learn how to give certain looks, how to decipher intentions, to constantly be aware of everyone around you, and that men can possibly misunderstand the meaning of the word no, or that more importantly, there should ever be circumstances we put you in where you feel the need to say it. I'm sorry that comfort is fleeting and so few places exist where absolute safety is a certainty. I'm sorry we live in a world where self expression can be misconstrued, where little girls have to learn the hard way, and where you have to always consider traveling in numbers to avoid being a victim. I'm sorry that I make more than you, that I'm considered less of a risk from employers and insurers because I cannot bear children, and that I've never once had to worry about workplace sexual harassment or unwanted advances. I'm sorry that we live in a society with an unhealthy attitude towards sexuality, where boys think porn is the norm, and that women have to incessantly worry about how they, their behavior or words are perceived in the presence of every man. I'm sorry that you often determine what you'll wear on any given day by the amount of energy you have to defend your choices. I'm sorry if I ever made you feel uncomfortable, if my flirtations teetered on harassment, or if my compliments triggered a previous trauma. I'm sorry for him, for them, and even me. I'm grateful for you, I'm embarrassed for my kind, and I'm so deeply saddened that you've had to endure what you have, and that we have to launch social media campaigns in order to open the eyes of men who still may never see.