A Simple #MeToo Thought Experiment for Men
Many men continue to feel uncertain about the #MeToo movement. It’s time for that to change.
This thought experiment is for men, especially those of us who have yet to openly and actively take up the work against the sexual abuse and assault of women by speaking out in our personal and professional circles of influence. This thought experiment is also potentially triggering for rape victims and those sensitive about rape language, so please go forward with care.
But first, this: In the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Approximately 1 in 5 (21.3% or an estimated 25.5 million) women in the U.S. reported completed or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime.” Sexual assault and harassment is worse for women and gender non-binary people who are BIPOC.
Some men will insist that these rape statistics are inflated. Some among us who seek to push back against #MeToo, debate how many millions of rapes are actually taking place. Is it actually fifteen million? Ten million? What kind of culture of masculinity is capable of hosting a debate on the rape of women framed in terms of how many millions of women are actually being raped, instead of how to stop it?
That said, I ask men to consider this thought experiment (Trigger warning):
Imagine ten women you know personally. Statistically, two of them are likely to be rape survivors. Which two? We don't know, do we? Now, imagine your child's or any child's classroom. Picture any ten of those little girls. Which two of them will be rape survivors? Or perhaps already are? Are we there, yet? Are we feeling a little sick? Because this is the place men need to get to on #MeToo.
Sadly, millions of men accept that denigrating, abusing and attacking women is just part of our culture of masculinity. “It’s just the way things are.” Others among us are working to create a new culture of masculinity based on the simple moral imperative that all human beings, male, female and non-binary, are deserving of equal rights, protection, opportunity, and dignity; including the simple dignity of being able to walk down our streets without fear.
If you are a man who has not yet taken a clear and public stand against the harassment, abuse, and sexual assault of women and non-binary people, ask yourself three questions:
- What’s your reason for staying silent?
- If you remain silent who else will be harmed?
- When you remain silent, how do you feel about yourself?
If you don’t like your answers then, make the choice to end your silence on sexual harassment and assault. Join us. Help us end all forms of sexual assault against women, men, girls and boys.
Be the change you know we all need.
Also from Mark Greene: A Simple Thought Experiment on White Privilege That Anyone Can Understand