I’ve always spoken up about unfairness and injustice, and it has gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion. (I was once arrested twice in one day for having the temerity to defy the authorities. A sense of moral responsibility can be a burden.) I’ll keep doing so.
As an elementary school teacher and an animal rights activist, and coincidentally in other realms, the large majority of my relationships have been with women, both as a superior and as an employee, as a leader and as a follower, and in most cases, as a collaborator. It galls me now to be told that I ought not voice my opinion on the spate of examples coming to light of women being taken advantage of or otherwise harmed by men, because I am a man. But, I’m not a dog, a monkey, or a chicken, and I speak up for them, so I’ll keep voicing my opinions on whatever injustice, unfairness, or misleading claims I think I see, and making suggestions about how to fix the problems; I am after all, a man.
Most recently, I agreed with a man who commented on a FB post that to him it did not appear that Al Franken was actually groping Los Angeles morning TV host Leeann Tweeden. It does not look to me like he is actually touching her. He seem to be miming a grope. If he did touch her after the photo was snapped, then he did. But the photo does not seem to me to show him groping her.
I was chastised for saying this, even though I said that his behavior was inappropriate or juvenile. I was told that if Ms. Tweeden felt like she was being groped then we should just accept that she was. Who was I to question her? I was told to stop defending Franken, even though I commented only on the photo. Franken says he is sorry for having taken advantage of her.
This was the second time that I commented on a FB post related to the rash of women speaking up about their previous experiences with men’s sexual predation. In both cases, I was told that because I am a man, I can’t really know what it would be like to be one of those women, and thus, I can’t have a valid opinion on the subject. But that’s like saying that I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a monkey strapped in a chair and having someone experimenting on my eye. I think I can.
All that aside, here I am writing mostly to affix blame and offer suggestions for how to fix this ugly problem.
Gentlemen, stop being dickheads; treat everyone like you would want to be treated if you were them. If you see or hear about someone acting wrongly, abusing their power, speak up. Tell someone. If something isn’t done about it, yell louder. Make them stop. Do all you can to fix it. Intervene. Don’t be a dickhead.
Ladies, the same thing goes for you. Because you are so often the victims, the burden on you is much heavier, but you must speak up because if you don’t, you may be allowing it to happen to someone else. This isn’t fair, but much in life isn’t. Further, whether we like it or not, essentially every man who treats women or anyone else in their power unkindly, unfairly, or disrespectfully, was raised primarily by a woman. This means that men’s behavior and mores can be changed by the group from which the greatest number of victims come. Fathers, uncles, brothers, or male friends also have a responsibility to instill an ethic of fairness and compassion, but the weight of the solution to the problem again rests more squarely on women’s shoulders.
I wish life was a lot more fair than it is. I’m working on it. I am, after all, a man.
I stand with all the victims, no matter their color, creed, species, gender, sex, or any other damn thing. I will not stand mute. And, finally, if you, dear reader, don’t want to read comments you disagree with about the things you post to FB, well, tough. Want to stay in your bubble? It’s easy to un-friend someone.