Watching the continuing coverage of the slew of men being accused of sexual assault gave me an unexpected sensation; guilt. It crossed my mind that there are probably men out there who have done nothing wrong and who are watching all these other men topple down before them and they are might be worried. They might be thinking, “What if someone accuses me of sexual assault?”
And I felt sorry for them for a second. I felt guilty…and l wanted to protect these men them from that fear, because that is what women do. We immediately seek to comfort, to protect.
Because women have learned to cope with fear; fear is something we live with every day. Do not misunderstand me– I’m not implying that women are weak, or that women are victims. What I mean to say is that we have all adjusted our mindset to include the rational emotion of fear in our daily lives. We account for dark parking garages and walks home alone. We avoid bars without the company of a friend and we know we cannot leave our drinks unattended. We prepare ourselves both mentally and physically because we know that the threat to us is real.
The irony has fully hit me; here I am worrying about men and what their feelings might be when there are women out there who have a right to be afraid. We see them pouring out of the woodwork with stories about sexual harassment in the work place of almost every profession. They are accusing men that we have come to love; men we admire. But you know what? I don’t think any woman is surprised to hear it. I’m certainly not.
I keep hearing men say, “I can’t believe it about Louis. I can’t believe it about Al…”
I want to be shocked. But I’m not. I’m sadly complacent in my smugness.
When the #metoo campaign began I did not change my status. Nothing truly horrible has happened to me in terms of sexual harassment (knock on wood). It felt like if I put #metoo for something seemingly small, like an older man grabbing my 16-year-old ass at work or someone trying to take advantage of me at a party, that I would be taking the spotlight off of the accurately dreadful things that other women have endured.
But I’ve realized now that that is exactly the problem, and that is what the #metoo campaign is trying to remedy. We have learned to put sexual harassment on a sliding scale when the point is that if something is metered on the scale at all, that IS assault and it IS unacceptable. Unfortunately, most women experience some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. That means your wife, your daughter, your sister—and most definitely your mother will have interactions with sexual harassment during their existence.
It should not be acceptable for all of us to collectively push any form of sexual harassment under the rug. And ladies–I am talking to you, too. We need to say fuck the rug. We’ve got to pick that dusty piece of crap up off the floor and give it a good shake. We must stop excusing men for their behavior and instead challenge them to be better—to do better.
The only people we are protecting by minimizing our experiences are the bad men. In doing so, we are showing yet another generation of boys that is OK to use power over women sexually.
That it is OK to use fame to get what you want.
That is par for the course to expect women to watch you masturbate into a poor, undeserving ficus plant simply because you can.
For the sake of women and vegetation everywhere– #metoo, friends.