Part of me is horrified at the stories of rape, assault, sexual misconduct and other inappropriate behavior that continue to come out every day now. I ache with grief and anger for those who have had their lives and careers changed forever by these violations, and who must now also face the judgment and distortions of having their experiences made public.
Part of me has known for a long time that our culture is one that facilitates and encourages these transgressions. That so many men move through the world causing pain and misery, sometimes by choice, sometimes because they lack the courage or will to choose something better, sometimes because the rest of us choose not to stop them.
We all know about it at some level, don't we? That long before we elected a misogynistic, sexual predator bully as President, long before any celebrity accusations were headlines or Twitter non-apologies were made and dissected, we as a culture have accepted that women (and some men) are going to be raped, assaulted, preyed upon or otherwise exploited, and that it's just who we are as a people? Many, if not most, of the women I know have their own stories of violation at some level (many, I'm sure, with stories I don't know about), and can further relay the stories of their mothers, sisters, daughters and friends beyond that.
So I believe women. I am grateful that we are in a moment where more often than not, at least some women are being listened to, heard and believed in the face of denials and cowardice from men who, in the past, got a pass.
What does justice look like moving forward?
I don't know. Though there is history being made, we cannot expect the news media to become a primary or ongoing vehicle for confronting rape culture. We know there are daily occurrences of men treating people badly and abusing their power or committing acts of harm that will never make headlines, never be called out, never reported. We can expect those who value political victories above all else to weaponize this moment in time against those who seek justice. We know that our national and global conversations about any topic can only handle so much discomfort, so much realization about our own complicity before we force ourselves to turn the page or be distracted.
And so I wrestle with what to do, how to be, where to go with this. I try to understand the stories I've heard so far, and be supportive and encouraging of those whose stories are yet to come out. I confront the ways in which I've failed women. I wonder how I can help men and boys in my life be their best selves. I try to think about how I will tell my daughter about the world she lives in, and how to thrive in it, despite it. I try to be a man and a person who is more a part of the solution than part of the problem. And none of it is enough.
Here are some of the writings, tweets and conversations that have pushed and pulled at me in recent weeks, and helped challenge my thinking. I don't always agree with what’s said, but I always found them useful:
I went public with my sexual assault. And then the trolls came for me. by Laura Gianino.
Louis C.K. was so convinced he was going to get away with all this that he made a movie about sexual predation. The patriarchy is wild.
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) November 9, 2017
Men, 1963-2016: Why are feminists such man-haters??
Men, 2017: Oh.
— Kate Harding (@KateHarding) November 10, 2017
How can men be good allies? Speak out to support women, signal boost women’s voices, listen more and speak less. #wcsea
— Andrea Middleton (@andmiddleton) November 4, 2017
I feel we finally are at that “Enough is enough” moment where sordid, even criminal, behavior is not being laughed aside as boys-will-be-boys locker-room behavior. About friggin’ time.
— Mary Beth Schneider (@marybschneider) November 9, 2017
What's helpful to you? What needs to happen next?