Are all men bad?
The short answer is no.
But if you have not been under a rock or in a blissful state of media blackout you might be thinking it is possible that all men are bad. You may be thinking that men are driven by their sexual urges and will sexually harass or assault a woman any time that they have the opportunity and think they can get away with it.
The men that have been called out recently have included those that everyone knew was a predator and those we all thought were nice guys. After the Weinstein story women began sharing their stories with the hashtag #metoo. It seemed as though every woman has been harassed or assaulted. I have a few of my own stories. But even if all women have been harassed or assaulted, does that mean all men are bad?
I have always been surrounded by men. I have 3 brothers and two sons. I am the girl who has more male friends than female friends. I have been the only woman in start-up companies multiple times and I have been the only woman on boards multiple times. When the #metoo campaign picked up steam a few months ago I was able to discuss what was happening with the men in my family, my male colleagues, and friends.
What I learned was many of them were shocked about how widespread the problem was. It turns out to be a math problem. If only 10% of the men are sexual predators but they harass or assault at least 10 women in their lifetime, that is 100% of women harassed or assaulted. Most men are not showing their penises, groping women, or using their power to blatantly solicit sex, but the few who have, have had a big impact on society.
And no, not all men are complicit bystanders watching other men be pricks without speaking up. The good guys, which are most guys, tend to hang around each other. Perhaps they hear a guy make a crude comment, but they won’t respond encouragingly and so the conversation will not go much further. Until women started speaking up, many of the good guys did not know how bad things can get.
But now women are speaking out in droves. Men who have been ignorant of the problem are realizing there have been times that they needed to speak out when they hear what was probably considered crude but harmless joking.
There are also men who have played the role of being “manly” or “funny” that are starting to realize that their behavior, which was based on social norms, was actually hurtful and insulting to women. Their behavior was wrong and bad but their intentions were not. With women finding their voice we will change these norms.
However, each day I watch the news stories of the latest sexual harassment or assault allegations with trepidation. I question if there is a sinister motive behind this sudden wave of accusations, many that are from decades ago. I worry that each case is being handled with a single brush stroke of ruining a person’s career as opposed to being looked at independently and having the punishment fit the crime. I worry that the emphasis seems to be on always believing the woman. I witnessed an intoxicated woman willingly engage in sexual behavior change her story the next day. Women do lie and for many reasons. It will take just a case or two where it was proven that the woman lied to discredit the stories of so many other women. I worry that people will quickly grow weary of these daily stories and therefore not want to hear any more about sexual harassment accusations and will just shut out and ignore future incidents. I share the concerns of many other professional women who worry that they will be shut out of opportunities for fear from the men in power of being accused of sexual harassment or assault in the future.
Women, I know we have put up with a lot of shit for a long time. I get it. I have dealt with it. It sucks and it needs to change. But just because we have been the victims of careless, thoughtless, misogynistic behaviors does not mean we should blame all men or to claim any type of gender superiority. That will not help anyone in the long run. We need to handle this “awakening” with much more care.