Perhaps it’s a sense of entitlement, or our inability to listen, or maybe we just don’t give a shit. But it’s happened. It’s clear men don’t understand women. Many in our ranks think that women want us to hit on them, or grope them, or try to “get in their pants.” We somehow have mistaken aggressiveness for confidence. Shouldn’t these women be flattered after all? We think they’re hot.
Take a look at some of recent the high profile confessions and apologies for sexual misconduct (emphasis is mine).
“… when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” -Donald Trump
“…I always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken.” – Charlie Rose
“… I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first.” Louis CK
In all of these situations, they felt their actions at the time were acceptable. Let that sink in. They thought, “grabbing pussy,” parading naked, and masturbating in front of women was OK. I’m sure before these allegations came to light these men wouldn’t have thought of themselves as abusers, and probably still don’t.
It would be easy to blame the entirety of this problem on a handful of famous men. But let’s be real, We didn’t get here with a few serial abusers. The sheer volume of women speaking out in the #MeToo movement is breathtaking, and the cause couldn’t have been a just a few creeps. What we are experiencing is a systemic problem. An epidemic.
For instance, many of the #MeToo posts were being like and getting “supportive” comments for the same men that did their abusing. These guys don’t see themselves as one of the perverts. They are “nice guys, ” and their past actions were at best a show of affection, at worst a misunderstanding. They were drunk, after all. They are trying to validate themselves. If it was so bad, why were they still friends on social media? They like a post as a form of comfort — to themselves.
Of course, recognizing the courage of the women stepping forward and believing their stories is important, but it doesn’t address the real issue at hand. Men, we are the perpetrators and enablers of this epidemic. Unless WE change OUR actions, we are squandering that courage and this moment.
We need a culture change. That means It doesn’t matter how rich, powerful, handsome, or charismatic we are you are not entitled to a woman’s body. Sexual aggressiveness is not acceptable. Communication requires listening and caring about the responses. Being drunk is not license to abuse. Hold our friends accountable. Finally, we need to apologize.