To The Men Who Are Not Responsible For My Problem
Today, I tagged eleven men — friends of mine, mostly — at the end of a long tweet thread, asking them to reach out to a popular Texas music critic who these eleven men follow on Twitter. I figured they follow him, so they at least know he exists — which is more than I knew when I woke up this morning. The critic had said a gross thing about Louis C.K., about how his jokes are more valuable than the women he sexually abused, and I asked for these eleven men to talk to this critic about what a gross thing he had said, and maybe explain to him why it was wrong. I did this because men who endorse and perpetuate rape culture do not care what women think — but they might listen to other men, guys they respect. This critic doesn’t care what I think, but maybe he cares what a few prominent men in the Texas journalism industry think. I don’t know. It was sort of a shot in the dark, because I’m sort of running out of ideas on how to end rape culture all by myself without bothering the men in my life too much about it.
A few of these guys responded enthusiastically and quickly, and I am so glad they did. Some reached out to this critic directly, others wrote tweets to him. I appreciate it. It is a tremendous relief to know who the good ones are. But it is always terrifying and disappointing to learn about the others, those who expressed anger and frustration at being asked, too publicly and on a Friday, to acknowledge and repudiate rape culture. I knew I was taking a risk by asking men publicly, directly, to help me name and shame a creep in our midst. I knew asking my former bosses and current colleagues to take a moment to speak out against rape culture could backfire.
It did. Some of the responses were not good. I don’t know this guy, why should I say anything to him? Or, He’s always like this. Or, I’m busy and this isn’t important to me. In short: This is not my problem.
Oh, my friends. I know it is not your problem. I know more deeply and fully than you ever will that this is not your problem. I feel the sting of this being my problem every day. I carry the weight of this being my problem along with me everywhere I go. It is not your problem. It is, in ways you will never be able to comprehend, my problem.
But you are the solution.
I will score myself no points with many of my guy friends and colleagues by publicly asking for their help like this. I will probably do some damage to my already mediocre career. I will be talked about in private messages and e-mail chains and bar booths and back patios by guys who think I’m too bitchy, or too hard to work with, or too negative, or too combative, or too whatever, because I tagged them in a tweet instead of emailing them personally or messaging them privately about this. They will say that Andrea Grimes needs an attitude adjustment, and that Andrea Grimes is too big for her britches, and that Andrea Grimes really would be something if she could just control her mouth, or that Andrea Grimes was a lot more fun when she was 22, and that Andrea Grimes could catch more flies with honey.
That is all true. I am too big for my britches. I really would be something if I could control my mouth. I was definitely a lot more fun for men to be around when I was 22. I could write some motherfucking honey. If I wanted honey to flow from my fingertips down into the thirsty throats of men who need me to reassure them that they are good before they will acknowledge that I am human, it sure as shit would.
Who would I protect, if I lived and wrote and talked like that? I would protect myself. Who would I serve by holding my tongue? Men — men who are always going to help later, at some undetermined time, when they decide it is time to stop rape and abuse and assault, a time that will come, surely, someday, when women ask them nicely enough, or maybe when they meet a wife or a daughter. Men who will only lend their voices at a whisper. Men who will only confront their fellows in the dark, behind closed doors. Men who were never really going to help, and who know they were never really going to help, but who pretend they were, before some woman cried out, Please! Try to stop that man from hurting me!, in the wrong tone of voice, at the wrong time of day, when it was not convenient to try to stop that man from hurting her.
I am not a cool, chill girl any more. I am a woman who is very angry and very tired. I know that that makes me unlikeable. I know this will literally cost me money in lost bylines and recognition and respect from men who decide who gets hired to write what and when, who decide not to recommend me for a gig or who tell their buddies to steer clear of this particular gal, because she’s crazy about this thing, she’ll nag the shit out of you, man — she’ll fuckin’ tag you in a tweet about rape culture on a Friday, dude.
But I don’t need men to like me. I need men to hate rape culture. I’m not trying to make friends. I’m trying to destroy my enemies.