The Conversation We Should Be Having

I’m not writing this for praise, for clicks, or likes. I’m writing this because I believe this is a conversation we need to be having. I have made great strides over the last two years in becoming the person I want to be, but that doesn’t negate my previous terrible actions to the women I’ve encountered during my life.

It’s easy to point fingers at “people” like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. and call them monsters, because they are. They should be held accountable for their horrific actions. They should be stripped of all their power and give all of their dirty money to organizations that help people that have been abused and suffered by the likes of people like them. That being said, I am here to talk about my own actions and how they are as big a problem as rape and sexual assault; in fact, they are the insidious seeds that are planted that grow into rationalizing the ghoulish actions that the aforementioned people did, the perverse tree of entitlement.

I need to take ownership of what I have done to women in the past: I have emotionally manipulated them, I have gaslit them, I have made them feel guilty for not wanting to have sex with me, I have invited women over to do drugs in the hopes that they would be more likely to have sex with them. I wish I could go back and change things but I can’t.

I am currently thirty-five-years-old and I look back now at my former self in disgust. I hope there are young men out there who will read this and realize that not only are the above actions completely unjustified, they are what lead you down the path to thinking that you are owed something for the simple reason of being a man.

The real question for me is: why did I do these things? What was the real motivation behind my actions? And the answer is something that is glaringly obvious but hard to talk about: I did all these things because deep down, I felt inadequate and I hated every fiber of my being. Instead of going to a therapist or taking actions to change the way I looked at myself, I rationalized my behavior: “Sure, I’m making another human being feel small to make myself feel better because deep down I hate myself, but I’m not raping anyone! I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone!” I’m “one of the good ones.” These excuses are just that: excuses, they don’t address the root issue.

As many of you know, I have abused alcohol and drugs for most of my life and have survived a suicide attempt. I am currently sober and have been able to do a lot of reflecting. Why did I smoke embalming fluid, snort Oxys, freebase, sniff heroin, smoke fifteen metric tons of marijuana, and drink at least five lakes worth of beer and whiskey over the last two decades? The answer is the same: I hated who I was and I convinced myself that because of this deep-rooted pain, I deserved an escape and I wasn’t hurting anyone but me.

“Women should be respected because I have a sister, a wife, or a mother and I can’t imagine them having to suffer.” I agree with the beginning of the sentence but vehemently disagree with the rest. Women deserve to be treated like human beings because they are human beings. Same as minorites. We are all a hodge-podge of meat and bones trying to make our way in life. It’s that simple. Stop overthinking it or try to rationalize bad behavior.

People can change and it’s never too early to start. I have been thinking about this tweet from the extemely-talented writer, Eve Peyser every day since I read it:

The first thing I have to do is admit my own sins. I have made amends and apologized to many of the women but still have work to do. The next step, in my humble opinion, is to talk about all of the disgusting actions I mentioned above and let men, especially those who are young and haven’t gone down this path yet, know that wrong is wrong is wrong. You are owed nothing in life. You are lucky to be alive. We all are.

I have made women feel small, insecure, guilty, and less than human at points in my life because of my fragile ego. I believe in karma, so I will get what’s coming to me as my life progresses and I’m at peace with that.

My mother confided in me over the last year (note: she gave me permission to share this) that she was raped in law school. I have friends (men and women but mostly women) who’ve told me stories over the past few months where they were sexually abused or assaulted in such graphic detail that I almost vomited because I want to think people aren’t capable of being that evil. But they are. I didn’t need to know my mother was raped during college by a man she trusted to know rape is bad.

What I need to do is shut up and listen when women are speaking. And I need to believe them. No one who has come forward has gotten a book or movie deal, or cash and prizes, if anything they are being tormented by insecure men who refuse to look in the mirror because they know they are culpable too.

I can’t commend the women who are coming forward and sharing their heartbreaking stories enough. We need to bring all this sick and perverse behavior out into the sunshine, that’s a huge step towards preventing it in the future. But, as I said, men, “the good ones,” should step up and say I was/am part of the problem, here is why I did it, and these are the steps I’m taking to change.

Just because I have an ego made from broken glass doesn’t mean anyone should pay a price for my failings, my shortcomings. I am not perfect, I never will be but I am trying to grow as a human being.

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(NOTE: I will be updating this with a list of things men shouldn’t do to women, the so-called “small things” that take place all across the country every day and, though they might seem like “small things,” they are the toxic seeds that help perpetuate the cycle we’ve been stuck in)