In light of the current #meToo movement (and previously #yesallwomen), many amazing friends and survivors have reminded me that, while pointing out how shamefully prevalent sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are, is terribly important, maybe survivors shouldn’t feel obligated to relive their trauma? Shouldn’t us men feel MORE obligated to take responsibility? The fact is, as both the beneficiaries of privilege and the vast, vast majority of the time—the perpetrators of rape culture—MEN MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. We must bear the burden of the work if the problem will ever be fixed. Helping those heal who have been hurt is terribly important—the only thing that would be even better is if we stop patriarchy, sexual harassment, and sexual assault from happening in the first place—and that can only happen when those of us who are most responsible challenge ourselves to take responsibility.
So I would genuinely Love it if any and everyone who feels comfortable admitting that they have EVER been “that guy”, would share #iveBeenThatGuy
It doesn’t mean you are a predator and it doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you haven’t grown and changed since the last time you were “that guy”. It doesn’t even mean you acted out of malice or bad intentions—we live in an all pervasive culture that seeps into our minds and habits, which often makes us support systems of injustice, even when we don’t intend to. And that is really the point: patriarchy, sexism, heterosexism, etc., are not problems because a few bad apples hate all women and think rape is their right—rape culture is still a problem because it’s so pervasive, so insidious, so ingrained that it’s a part of ALL of our lives. Men who work in domestic violence shelters have objectified women, including myself. The best, most kind, woke men in the world have used misogynistic and homophobic language at some point in their lives. Men with strong values have sexually assaulted because they did not know what sexual assault really is, cause our culture teaches that many forms of sexual assault are just “boys being boys”.
The problem is not that women/trans/queer folk are assaulted. The problem is that Men keep assaulting. Of course anybody can be a perpetrator and anyone can be a survivor/victim. But the point of this post and hashtag is to address the specific problem of problematic masculinity that uses privilege and power to make cis-straight-men, not only feel entitled, but Obligated to take advantage of that power and privilege to dominate anyone who is not a heterosexual cis-male. If your friend, brother, boyfriend, father etc. may not be super down with this entire article, maybe copy and paste the middle. Because, while some may get defensive (and understandably so—after all the men I’d like to jump on board are not the monsters who we already know are shit, but all those good guys who have at some point been caught up in the momentum of culture), I think any any honest man can admit that they have at least 1 time in their life, treated a women in a way they wouldn’t want a stranger to treat their daughter.
And let’s not forget that ending problematic masculinity helps us men too; While the overwhelming majority of violence and dehumanization of women is perpetrated by men, the vast majority of violence and dehumanization of Men is also perpetrated by other men.
Let’s also pair our honesty with action:
Step 1: share #ivebeenthatguy
step 2: Share a specific instance of when you have been guilty. Perhaps the time you most regret, if you feel safe and comfortable doing so publicly.
step 3:When you see your friend post #ivebeenthatguy and STILL act/talk disrespectfully, call them out and point out that pretending to be woke for the Facebook likes, and not backing it up with real world change, is lying and wont be ignored.
step 4: Encourage the men in your life to share; it doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just means that, unfortunately, if we are honest, at some point in our lives (maybe years ago) we have ALL treated a women in a way we wouldn’t want a stranger to treat our daughters.
Let’s stop treating Only symptoms. Lets treat the actual cause. Let’s start by admitting that just as pervasive as survivors of rape-culture, are us perpetrators, who, even if we are not aware or didn’t intend to, have participated, and therefore it is OUR responsibility to raise awareness of our own part in the problem.