Monday, February 26, 2018

Anonymous Confession

In response to the #metoo inspired discussions hosted by Miss Eva in Nov/Dec 2017.

Miss Eva asked if all men are complicit in the societal abuse of women.

Yes, I am. I'm complicit. I have been and continue to be. I'm part of society, not apart from it. I can try to ignore rape culture, toxic masculinity, the sex-obsessed media that's forced down our throats day in, day out. The sort of messages that are designed to make women feel inadequate and men feel entitled.

But I'm not an island and ignoring it, dismissing it, laughing it off as locker room talk isn't going to make it go away.  Complicity comes in many forms.  I've never catcalled a woman, or made inappropriate advances. Frankly, I'm too uptight and introverted to even ask for the time of day most of the time, but that doesn't make me a sex equality hero.

I've not recognised such behaviour in the past, or worse, I've gone along with it. I'll give you an example. A woman whom I respect greatly (and I was line managing at the time) pointed out to me after a meeting that we'd both said the exact same thing. Only I, as a man, had been agreed with and that she, as a woman, had been quickly shut down. I hadn't noticed. I really hadn't noticed. Replaying the meeting in my head made me realise just how right she was (about the sexism. We already agreed she was right on the technical point she had been making). It stunned me. I tried to change things from that point forward, sometimes with more success than others.

It needs to be confronted, challenged, changed. I hope that with #metoo, women talking about their experiences provides the catalyst for men who care to take action. Because let's be clear, it's not women who need to change (yes there are some, but I'm allowed to generalise here). It's overwhelmingly men.  I don't deserve to be put on a pedestal for believing that men and women are of equal worth (not *exactly equal*, because that's a silly assertion) and that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Frankly, it's purely selfish - *I* want to be treated with dignity and respect. But who the f--- am I to insist on that treatment without the courtesy - nay the duty - to extend it to others?

This, and the events of the recent past, have shown me (not shocked me, it's too depressingly obvious that this has been and continues to be almost endemic) that I need to step up and challenge inappropriate behaviour. I won't always get it right, but I'll make the effort. And I don't expect praise or applause 'because I'm a man'.

So what do I expect?  I expect that you, regardless of your gender, just nod quietly, support people against the inevitable backlash, and commit to being more like them than you are now.


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