I suppose this is my ‘me too’ to the ‘#metoo’s.
There are plenty of them after all. So many of them.
As in, so SO many. Not enough to surprise – it’s not a surprise anymore – but plenty to sicken. As if seeing the first one wasn’t bad enough, every single one kicks you in the stomach in its own way and as part of the ever growing whole.
What’s the right reaction? How are you supposed to feel as anyone, nevermind as a man? Sorry? Angry? Ashamed? The overwhelming thing for me is being gut-wrenchingly helpless, like this shouldn’t stand and if only there was something I could do.
This week it’s been Weinstein and it’s been horrible. Before that it was Ailes, O’Reilly, the now President of the United States or people the UK like Keys and Gray. All of them sickening. But it was never just them in that obvious, creep, we-can-all-agree-they’re-a-predator way.
Even this week there was Cam Newton, effectively saying to a woman that he was in a position of superiority and he could say what he liked to her. Not in those words, but it’s the language he shared.
Once, in school, it was me. I told a teacher I respected that I’d been thinking about it over the weekend and decided that, actually, she had rather nice breasts. I feel sick writing that, just like I felt sick then. What kind of show of respect was that? I’d decided, without thinking, that I’d show the others in the class that yeah of course I dared and forgot everything else.
The feeling of that moment has stayed with me ever since. But I still did it. Same as I still carried on with driving lessons every time my instructor craned his neck and commented on every female we drove past. I never laughed, I never agreed or condoned it. Often I’d make sure I was obviously unimpressed, with a full on angry as heck/holier than thou expression clearly across my face. But I never stopped the car, or him. I never once told him he was disgusting and that he should shut up. No one ever stopped him before me and maybe no one has since.
Somebody never stopped Weinstein once too, I’d wager. Maybe they’re not the same person doing the same terrible, terrible things, but eventually every time there’s a #metoo too. That same thing Cam Newton had going on was there too, that they could say or do what they wanted from a position of strength and without fear that they’ll be shut up and shot down.
For all the times that hashtag has been used in the last few days someone, somewhere missed the chance to say “stop right there dickhead, that’s not ok”. In fact, I’ve just seen that #metoo has been tweeted over half a million times in the last 24 hours. Shit. That’s 500,000+ times a guy acted like a total creep and none of his mates called him out on it earlier. That’s 500,000+ times a guy felt confident enough to be completely out of order.
So I’m going to stop wishing there was something I could do. Maybe we, men, already spend too much time as it is wondering how to be saviours and too little thinking what we’ve actually done or not done before. Maybe it’s easier to, when you’re not proud of what that was?
Maybe Im wrong, but I’d say sat here as a feminist. Not necessarily a good one, but one all the same. I’m good now at getting angry and sad at every account I see in really genuine, furious way. I hate it but so what? More often than not, I’ve not been good enough at stopping one as it happened. It doesn’t feel ok to me that I be outraged now at one person and wilfully ignorant of others, including teenage me. So I’m going to stop feeling sad and keep being angry, but just at myself. After all, I’ll think I’ll listen to me more than Harvey Weinstein will.
So I suppose this is just a long winded promise, really. That from now on I’m not going to that guy who didn’t say anything. It’s time I disagreed a bit earlier. I think it’s probably time we all did.
I can’t help but feel like it’s a conversation we all need to be part of and not just watch from the side if, that is, we’re even a little bit serious about changing. So this is me, trying to be part of it and trying not to be a pathetic teenage boy forever.