Where Have All the Good Guys Gone?

So, you’re one of the good guys, yes? Well, we need you. We need you more than I ever realized. We need you to step out of your comfort zone and speak out for us.

When I was young I was sexually abused. The abuse and the aftermath changed the core of who I was.

I went from a creative, confident and mischievous girl to a shell of a person. A person who did not trust those who are supposed to protect her. A shell of a person who, for over 20 years, did not open up to anyone, not even my loved ones.

I know how terrible sexual assault is. I know the piercing sting of victimization. I know first hand what it does to a person. Far too many women do.

There are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.

And I don’t have stats, but I can tell you that if you search Facebook or Twitter for #MeToo, you will see that almost every woman you know has been sexually harassed in her lifetime.

Only a fraction of sexual-harassment or sexual assault cases ever get reported. Mine didn’t.

When a woman is sexually harassed at work, especially by someone with a good reputation or higher up in the corporate or academic ladder, she has to weigh her options. She has to decide if reporting this crime is worth her career and/or her reputation.

Good guys, let me ask you a question. If a woman who is your superior made unwanted comments about your penis, your face or your butt, if she made lewd remarks about what she would want to do to you sexually, how would that make you feel? And just in case this is where your mind went, she is not hot. This is not a workplace fantasy. She is at least 20 years older than you and not someone you would be physically attracted to. Picture that, and ask yourself how would you feel? Now imagine that you have no recourse.

That is what it is like for millions of women in the workplace today.

Until now, I was under the impression that harassment, assault, abuse and rape were on their own plane of existence, separate from the normal “guy stuff.” Good guys don’t harass assault abuse or rape. Bad guys do. Good guys aren’t part of the problem, bad guys are.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Good guys, though they may not harass, assault abuse or rape, they objectify. They look at women as objects to be used for pleasure rather than whole human beings.

I see you. I know the stares you give when you think no one is looking. I have been on the receiving end of the cat calls, the oogles, and the lingering looks. Sadly, you have been told that this is okay and normal and healthy.

It isn’t.

The horrible things women endure on a daily basis do not exist in isolation. Objectification of women is other end of the spectrum in the realm of sexual harassment and assault.

The normalizing and okaying behavior that dehumanizes a women to simply her parts that can be used for your pleasure is on the same plane as the men who commit illegal acts against women. Both behaviors, the “guy stuff” and the criminal acts reduce women to her parts. All day, every day, I am a whole person. I am more than my body. I am more than my smile. I am more than what you’d “like to do” to me.

Good guys, we need you to see that objectifying us is inherently wrong. Good guys, we need you to drop your defenses and be a catalyst for change.

You are our only hope.

Why? Because no one listens to us. We are powerless to create the change needed to make the world a safer place for women.

If you are truly a good guy, this might be the first you’re hearing of the connection between objectification and victimization, and it might make you uncomfortable. Maybe you received this article from your wife or sister or mom or female friend who is trying to tell you, “This is what we endure and I need your help.” You might be surprised at this news. Which further lends to how much help we need from you. Maybe you’re seeing the “Me too” all over the internet. Maybe you should start paying attention.

Women have been speaking this truth for years and years and years and years and years. Just look at these statistics.

No one is listening because the information is coming from the very people who are seen first as objects.

We need you to trust us. Look at the research. Yes, there is a lot of space between objectification and victimization, but please hear me, they are in the same realm. I never saw it before either. I know several good guys who objectify women. That’s why the term “locker room talk” exists, and there is a direct line between men who objectify women by cat calling, participating in said “locker room talk,” etc. and the Brock Turners of the world. If you truly believe you are a good guy, it is time to take a look in the mirror and realize the things you have been told are normal and healthy are not. They hurt us. They dehumanize us. And they lend directly to men thinking they can use their power and influence to have their way with women. Your lingering stares, your “I’d hit that,” comments, they contribute to rape culture.

To the true good guys who want to help make a difference in this world, you may feel powerless yourself. You may wonder what it is that you can do.

Here is what we need:

We need your voice. We need you to say the things that we have been saying for years. We need you to acknowledge your mistakes and change the conversation. Combat the “it’s just locker room talk” myth.

How? Whatever your platform may be. Do you have a Facebook Page? A Twitter? Are you a mentor? A father? A big brother? Have the uncomfortable conversations. Share this post with your guy friends. Don’t assume that women think you objectifying us is wrong simply because it bothers us. Think of it as inherently wrong. We know that you have been lied to. We don’t fault you. We know that you are a product of your environment. You were taught that it is okay to view women as pieces and parts.

That nice set of boobs is connected to a whole human being with a brain and a heart. The ass that you’d like to “hit” belongs to a whole person with hopes, dreams, doubts, fears and ambitions.

At the end of the day, the whole person is what you truly want. You don’t want pieces of a woman, you want the whole person. We need you to see us as whole people at all times, and ask other men to do the same.

Are there any men good enough and brave enough to be vulnerable enough to help us?