In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein news, I am disheartened to see so many of my male friends going into silent mode on social media.
I get it, you are afraid that you will say the wrong thing and be attacked.
Rise up anyway.
Start with an acknowledgment of the pain and suffering all women feel each time any woman is assaulted.
Commit to protecting women and all people from harassment.
Ask what you can do and how you can help.
Saying nothing at all is cowardly and hurtful.
If you have never degraded a woman, tell us why. Let other men learn from you, your integrity, your values. Tell us how in the face of peer pressure, frat houses, work culture, etc. you somehow escaped that fall from grace. Use this as a teaching moment.
If you have ever degraded a woman with a cat call, or an ass grab, or any assault whatsoever, come clean now and apologize. Admit that you see the error in your ways and stop blaming bro culture, drinks, drugs, or whatever lame excuse you might have used in the past. Take responsibility that regardless of your reason for doing so, you were wrong and you will never do it again.
If you have already apologized, apologize again. Part of why sexual acts of aggression are perpetuated is because the consequences for doing so are not high enough. One apology is not enough and it never will be. Own that this is part of the punishment for the crime. This is not an act to publicly shame males, rather an opportunity to deepen one’s compassion for the shame that females often carry for life, from even a single assault.
Every man who assaults a woman (by assault, I mean any gesture that is not consensual), should feel the weight of publicly apologizing for it over and over again. Using each new public outing of an assailant as an invitation to confess and make amends again and again.
These men should be forced to sit in on trauma groups where women who have been sexually assaulted process their pain. They should be forced to hear the stories of how they have played a role in the pain and sexual trauma that most women will face in their lives (often repeatedly). This should be part of their time served: day after day, month after month, year after year, having to witness and listen to women whose lives have been marked by male privilege and abuse.
An apology is more than an “I’m sorry.” It is a statement of regret or remorse followed with a plan of action for what you would and will do next time. Don’t just say, “I will do better.” Tell us how you will do better. Give an example. Have a plan. Because if you don’t work that out now, you will likely fall back to past action or inaction in the future.
I believe in the concept that we are one. But we cannot heal through our similarities until we can acknowledge our differences, and the abuse of power and privilege that perpetuate such crimes against humanity. This is why Black Lives Matter. This is why Feminism matters.
I’m disappointed in every man I know who is silent on this subject. I implore you to speak up, now!