I’ve noticed the “Me, too” posts are shifting. Women are suddenly stopping to make sure we acknowledge the nice guys. I can understand the impulse to try and spin something positive out of what has been a traumatizing week. But if you don’t mind, I need to yell something:
MEN DO NOT NEED TO BE CONGRATULATED FOR NOT HARASSING OR ABUSING WOMEN!
In fact, I believe we as women need to start addressing each other. We need to stop focusing on how to change and enlighten men, but also how to empower ourselves to stand up to assault and harassment. I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not saying it’s always possible. I know some women are just stuck in a horrible predicament. I know the partition of power is not in our favor.
I have punched men in the nose, gotten men fired, pushed off men who have gotten so close they press their erection into my leg. But I’ve also gone quiet. I’ve had conflicts of interest because “he’s normally such a nice guy.” I’ve had moments of “why bother” because it’s so exhausting to stand up for myself all the time, or worse, I’ve politely smiled (SMILED!) and walked away because I wasn’t in the mood for confrontation.
Not anymore. Never again.
The conversation of privilege comes up a lot these days. Privilege is a spectrum. I can’t stop what may or may not happen to me in the future. But I can evaluate what is within my power to speak out to or to stop. Not all women are in a position to do this, but some of us are. If enough of us make it a priority to stand up to assault and harassment then maybe it will start to push the needle of power and control.
Men are going to treat us how we let them.
Okay, now let me yell it:
MEN ARE GOING TO TREAT US HOW WE LET THEM!
“You’ve gotten mean since Hillary lost,” I’ve been told. Damn straight I have. I’m angry. The man who said you can “grab women by the pussy” is now one of the most powerful men in the world. Change doesn’t happen with “awareness,” but with action. Change is incremental, and we have to be patient and persistent. This is at least what I tell my children. It’s what I always tell myself. Women: we have a lot of work to do. Let’s help each other.