Now I want all the men on Facebook and Twitter who have ever sexually harassed or assaulted a woman to post that fact as their status. It could be something like “I’m one” or “I did it.”
The only thing is, the numbers would not add up.
It would not be because the millions of women posting “Me too” are lying. It would be because many men don’t even get why the things they do are wrong. I do not say this to dismiss the unwanted come-ons, the vague innuendo during business trips, the joking/not joking comments in the break room, the unwanted physical contact throughout the day, the un-asked-for confessions of attraction or love from a boss or co-worker. All of these things cross a line that should not be crossed.
Being a man, I can say with certainty that many men do not see these actions as a problem. They view their words and actions as a compliment to their female co-workers.
Clearly men like Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, and Donald Trump are in a different league. They do what they do because they have all the power and taking what they want is something they have come to believe is their right. They are blinded by their own overblown sense of self into thinking “what woman wouldn’t want my penis in her mouth?”
These men will never be educated away from their actions. The only thing to do with them is to call them out loudly and publicly and press charges and hope they go to jail. Anyone they work for should fire them. Anyone who buys their products should find an alternative.
The obvious question now is “How do we make this stop?”
By “we” I mean “men.” This is not a woman problem. Women are not the ones sexually harassing and assaulting other women in the workplace. I KNOW there will be people who cite examples of female bosses behaving terribly in order to deflect blame from men, but I do not have time for the “women do it to” argument. It is a bullshit argument. This is a man problem, plain and simple.
I have a hard time imagining my Dad pinching a woman’s ass at the office. I cannot picture him touching someone’s leg during a business meeting. I certainly can’t see him demanding sexual favors before hiring or promoting a woman. (I may simply be naïve and he may have done all of these things…if he did, I would have to question everything I think I know about him.)
Most of the men I know do not harass or assault women. But clearly there are a LOT of men who do. If there weren’t, my Facebook feed would not contain a relentless list of “me too”s. For each man that harasses a co-worker there must a few men who witness it or suspect it and don’t say or do anything to stop it. Just remaining an innocent bystander is not enough. Men have to find the will to say “That is wrong. Don’t do that.”
Men need to speak up when they hear other men degrade or debase women, even if there are no women there to be offended----Especially if there are no women there to be offended.
Fathers, uncles, grandfathers, older brothers, and all men who care need to actively call other men out when they say and do harassing and belittling things about and to women. And we should NOT do this because we have a mother or a wife or a girlfriend or a daughter that we love. If the only reason we take a stand is because it affects someone we love, then that is weak. We should do this because it is wrong to harass anyone, and men who harass women need to hear that from other men.