Why #MeToo Matters to Men, Too
Boy, was I indifferent, arrogant and wrong.
As women have found the courage to share their stories of sexual harassment, I've been surprised by those who have had stories to share and saddened or disgusted by the stories themselves. Stories of being touched inappropriately in 8th grade Social Studies. Stories of being shown unsolicited photos of boy's private parts. Stories of catcalling and lewd comments. Stories of silence from those observing. When my own wife shared her instances of sexual harassment -- first with me, then online -- I was first appalled then angry.
Online dating (which introduced me to my husband) had an ugly side for me. I encountered so many creeps that said horribly crass things to me. I still think about it and how not ok it is. #metoo
After taking the time to understand the #MeToo campaign, to seek out the stories of sexual harassment and to empathize with the women who have voiced these burdens, I found a common denominator -- men.
Every story of sexual harassment I read or heard came down to a man or boy using his words, body, actions or non-actions to strip a woman or girl of her innocence, to make her feel uncomfortable or to compromise her worth.
Men, we are the problem. We are the root of the #MeToo stories. We are guilty of our words and actions. It's time we took responsibility.
As blogger John Pavlovitz wrote:
Men, the onus should not be on women who have been harassed or assaulted, to expose themselves to further injury just to show us the scale and the depth of our own sickness. This is our responsibility. We should be the ones doing the soul excavation and the mirror-gazing, and we should be the ones now openly confessing our #MeToo’s, in these moments when the world is watching.
It's time we put an end to "locker room talk" -- that talk doesn't pass outside of the locker room, and too many boys don't have the sense to know it. It's time we stopped excusing "boys will be boys" behavior -- if they aren't taught at a young age that certain behaviors are inappropriate, they certainly won't understand it when they're older. It's time we did away with pornography and other sexual misrepresentations that undermine women. It's time dads were present and showed their sons how women ought to be treated. It's time to start honoring our mothers and sisters. It's time we stood up against sexual harassment when we see it and held accountable those who commit it.
The #MeToo stories are those of mothers, daughters, sisters, wives.
That's why they matter to men.
Men, let's be better.