You shouldn’t be shocked. This shouldn’t be eye opening. If you live in the world then you’ve seen and experienced sexual harassment, abuse and assault.
Not to brag or anything, but I consider myself to be a Good Person. But I was 12 once, and I told a dirty joke to my 12 year old friends. I cried in front of my mom as she had me retell the joke. I was 13 once and I grabbed a schoolmate’s butt in the hallway on a dare. Nothing came of it because EVERYONE was grabbing butts. It was funny from my perspective at the time. I was 14 once and used the words “faggot” and “pussy” to rag on my friends. I’m not proud of any of that, and I’ve grown to realize how hurtful, disrespectful and shameful that kind of behavior is. But how, on earth, someone is surprised by all the women who posted “Me Too” over the last few days is beyond me.
Do you know any women? Talk to them about their day. There’s a good chance they got creeped out by some dude today. That sucks. That doesn’t happen to me, and I can’t fathom what it must be like to live with that kind of consistent anxiety. So, yeah, the “Me too” status is a good thing. Something us men should all be thinking about and reflecting upon. Do you know people who make women uncomfortable with the way they speak or behave? Do you make women uncomfortable with your own words or actions? What can you do to help make things better? For me, it’s remembering these women. My friends and loved ones who’ve been subjected to the abuse. And it’s remembering my past behaviors and understanding the impact of the words I use and the actions I take.
Plenty of people don’t grow up. Plenty of people are still out here grabbing ass and catcalling and telling bad jokes. There’s famous ones: Harvey Weinstein. Bill Cosby. Jim Brown. Floyd Mayweater. Cam Newton. And then there’s your coworkers who casually call women “bitches” or tell their female colleagues that they only got their job to fill the diversity quota. It’s difficult to not be aware of these things.
Without alienating too many of my friends who were in Greek life, let’s think about Greek culture. I don’t want to generalize and condemn all of Greek life because there are lots of genuinely good and positive things about it. If I didn’t go to college right down the street from where I grew up, I likely would’ve joined one myself. But go to tfm.com and tell me that sexism, female objectification, and sexual harassment isn’t alive and well in these communities. I know good people who do good things and proudly represent their fraternity or sorority. You probably do too. But if you can’t see the harassment and assault that exists there, then there’s a good chance you’re blind.
Often when it comes to these types of issues (the types that don’t really affect straight white males like me), I don’t really know what to say publicly. I like to talk about it with the people close to me, self reflect, and decide that I’m not a part of the problem because I know what’s right and what’s wrong for me. Why come out and state what should be obvious? But I guess these are some frighteningly regressive times, and every little voice counts.
It’s good and healthy and important to talk about this stuff, and the more people are aware of the impact of their words and behaviors, the more compassionate, considerate, and respectful we’ll be.