Practice Silence

In light of the better-late-than-never conversations I’ve been having with male feminist friends (my husband included) about discussions here and abroad on routinely accepted male behavior toward women, I have one piece of advice for you guys at this moment in time: practice silence.

Take the time (a long time) to listen to what women have to say on the subject before jumping in with all your knee-jerk responses:

a) The eventual backlash will be fierce

b) Some woman will lie to get revenge and be exposed and the whole house of cards will come tumbling down

c) You can’t take down the entire male establishment over this

d) Men of power also abuse other men

e) Unless the man in question is in a position of power, women should just suck it up and deal with the reality of the world as it is

f) All allegations aren’t created equal

f) All men aren’t pigs and assholes

g) This is another iteration of the artist’s talent versus the artist

h) Men are being tried in the court of public opinion instead of in court

i) Some women are liars—not everyone accused is guilty

j) Groping is the new flirting. Waaah!

Obviously, some of the above go without saying. If you’re a man and you’ve been falsely accused, that’s a terrible thing. Life isn’t fair. We know that. This is not the point.

I get it that regular guys—meaning not gropers, sexual assaulters, abusers and rapists—are flailing at the moment. Whether or not you’ve engaged in some variation of obnoxious and noxious behavior with women, you know someone who has, and you wrote it off as guys being guys; and you probably didn’t say anything. You’re not sure what’s appropriate or not anymore; the whole relationship-between-men-and-women thing has become so fraught with potholes! Yes, yes and yes. I understand that you’re confused. But stop gnashing your teeth for a minute and remember: this isn’t the time to look after yourself or try explaining away the disgusting behavior of lesser men, even though you feel an innate need to conserve the integrity of your gender.

You’ve been speaking for a long time, men. Seeing how you’re physically stronger than women, you’ve been running the show since you crawled out of the cave. You’ve been pushing your weight around in ways obvious and not ever since you could. Women have been putting up with your shitty straying hands for thousands of years. We don’t like being pinched, grabbed or touched without our permission. These are our bodies, not yours. Yes, you need to say May I? as much as that goes against your manly self-regard.

If it’s an intimate situation, I’m not for making men ask in loud voices whether they can touch a woman and wait to hear an unequivocal yes. We need to leave room for nuance in the art of seduction. But let’s face it guys, you know when a woman wants you. And if you aren’t sure, then yes, you should ask out loud. And I know this makes you uncomfortable, but, yes, we are angry. Angry that it took this long for you to hear our objections to what you call innocent and playful, what shall I call it, bullshit.

Listen up, men. This is our time. Our anger doesn’t mean we don’t love you anymore. Just please shut up for a minute and see if you can learn something about how your planetary female partners expect to be treated.

I have a spiritual teacher who once said that everything with two arms and two legs isn’t necessarily a human being. The part of me that loves all things cosmic wanted to hear in that statement that there are other beings—possibly aliens or angels, or something—in our midst. And maybe that’s what he meant. But I think he also meant that there are beings so unconscious in this world that they cannot be classified as humans. As the recent revelations have shown, there are predators walking among us. And regardless of the severity of the action in question, the outing of predatory behavior is a good thing. Get used to it, gentlemen. Because given the extent to which men have looked upon us as objects to be possessed, these exposures won’t be ending anytime soon.

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