Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#yesihave

#yesihave

Have I been part of the problem? Yes I have.

Am I the reason why some woman somewhere is either posting 'me too' or mentally listing me as one of the reasons why she would post 'me too' even though she will not do so.

Yes I am.

There can be no doubt.

It's only relatively recently that I have begun to become dimly aware of just how widespread the sexual assault and harassment of women by men is. All women know this. Very few men do.

There's no cookie for becoming even dimly aware of it, as a bloke. It should be obvious but it is not.

We live in different worlds.

Men can just get up and go out and do stuff every day without having to worry about a whole bunch of things that women do. Walking down the street. In the pub. At work. Taking the tube. Recruiting musicians for a band. At a party.

Meeting someone in a work context. Going on a date. At a job interview. Starting a new project with someone. Going for a walk.

Men can go and do all of these things without thinking about it. Women have to navigate a risk calculus. Every time. Every day. It must be utterly exhausting. I can't imagine it. I really can't. I can intellectualise about it but the truth is I have no idea. No fucking idea. None.

And that's why my timeline is completely lit up with women posting 'me too' right now.

And yes, I have been and am part of the problem. I am mortified. I am working on it.

I have stood by and let things go when men friends of mine have said and done things that are causing women now to post 'me too'.

I have - and my intent or lack of it is not relevant - made women, including women I like and care about, feel uncomfortable around me.

I'm pretty sure I never raped or sexually assaulted anyone, but can I actually be 100% sure of that? No.

I'm 46. Was it enthusiastic consent every time without exception, or was it easier, sometimes, for her just to give in to pressure back when I was younger and way more of a needy dick than I am now?

I'll never know.

And on balance, probably, almost certainly, #yesIhave.

I am mortified. I am working on it.

All those women posting 'me too'. So many. So very many. So many more gritting their teeth and thinking "I could post that too but... I won't. Because reasons."

It's probably easier to assume that any woman not posting 'me too' could, but has decided, for her own reasons, not to.

To the men also posting 'me too' - just don't. Delete that post. This isn't about you. This isn't about us. By 'us' I mean the minority of men who have also been victims of sexual assault, compared to an overwhelming majority of women who can say the same. Sure, men like us exist, and yes it's shit, isn't it. There's almost no support, nowhere to turn, very few people you can talk to about it that don't find it hilarious. But there's also a reason for that. That's because it's relatively speaking way more rare. And it's a different problem, and the #metoo thing is not the place to talk about it.

Better yet, men, how about having a good hard think about whether or not you can step up and say #yesihave.

That's a whole lot of women posting #metoo. Where are the men saying 'it was me'?

Because it isn't women who need to change their behaviour. It's us.