If you didn’t feel a pain in your chest over the past couple of days reading stories of #metoo, then you might not have a soul. Scrolling through my feed and seeing that blue hashtag over and over was a reminder that so many of us have shared this experience.
My only wish is that the hashtag would have been open to anyone who has been a victim of sexual harassment or assault. The problem extends far beyond women.
In response to this movement, the hashtag #HowIWillChange has been born. This is a response from the men of the world on what they can do to make sure there are fewer #metoo’s in the future. While the thought really is what counts, my concern is with their answers.
The answers are split about 50/50. Half of them are comments along the lines of
“I will speak up if I hear someone harassing a woman”
or, on the flip side,
“I’m not a rapist. This hashtag implies I’m a rapist. Stop saying I’m a rapist. I treat women well.”
And there lies the issue in solving any problem in the entire world. Nothing about a situation can change if the involved parties do not think they are involved. Even those with good intention are making the point that they will work to change other men’s behavior. Not acknowledging their own.
Again, I would like to say that this extends beyond men. This is about how we as people value the lives, thoughts, and bodies of other people.
The college that I went to had a couple of controversies with our basketball team (Which is something I could say about almost all of the Big 10 schools). In my four years there, they had two separate cases regarding sexual assault. Being a relatively small school, the whole campus knew about it and had all of the dirty details of the crime. Both of the cases were very different but resulted in nothing more than bench time for the players. Woop-dee-doo.
Here’s the part where I tell you what makes me feel ashamed to even type. Of course, this became a topic frequently whispered about between students. While everyone was in general consensus that assaulting women was bad, there were nuances of opinion that went beyond the deed and into women, their behavior, and their rights. I remember clearly that when I first heard about it while walking through campus with a friend, the instant thought that came to my head was, “Well, you know the kind of girls that party with the basketball team.”
Me. A self-proclaimed, liberal feminist who often argues with my male friends about how to treat women. Even I occasionally fall from my mile-high pedestal. Even I think horrible things about my own gender. Even I, who have experienced my own #metoo.
And that’s the point. The hashtag #HowIWillChange is not about condemning men. It’s not about calling them rapists or assuming they all yell out to women on the street. It’s about paying attention to the nuances. It’s about listening to the voice in your head and checking it when it’s out-of-line.
I have so many wonderful men in my life. They are kind, thoughtful, and respectful. However, I would be lying if I said that I haven’t heard a few things come out of their mouths that make me shake my head. Yet, if I asked any of them if they thought of women as equals, they would undoubtedly say yes.
So cool, I’m glad they’ve made it this far but we’re not there yet. If I could ask men to do one thing for #HowWillIChange, it would be for them to continue being their completely wonderful selves and realize that we are all fallible. It doesn’t make you bad to make a tone-deaf joke about how a woman in crummy mood needs to get laid. It just means you’re finding something in yourself that you might need to fine-tune.
You’re not alone. I’ve got some fine-tuning to do too.