I have to admit my surprise when Hollywood starlets started speaking out about sexual misconduct in their industry. At first I thought it was just a few brave ones who had the guts to post #metoo on their Twitters, but pretty soon I realized, this is not just a trend, but a possible revolution. At first I was skeptical, worried that this was just a social media phenomenon that will quickly be replaced by a new controversy. When the first few women spoke out, I wrote on my social media pages that I wish they had the guts to name names, point fingers, go a step further, and expose the men, rather than just dance around the subject.
Little did I know, that this was just the beginning. A few months ago, I remember reading Taylor Swift’s court testimony, and thinking to myself how much I liked her assertiveness, her accusations, and her confidence- the girl was playing offense, rather than defense. While she was on the stand, the defense attorney insinuated that she enjoyed the groping she endured on camera, and implied that she even asked for it. This girl didn’t back down. She talked back, she pushed, she demanded, she stood firm. Not once did she apologize, ask for understanding, whine, or make excuses. Like a pit bull she barked back and never backed down. I was really impressed.
And I am so pleased that women from all walks of life are finally speaking out. Every day, I read a social media post from a woman with her own #metoo story. For most women, it isn’t just one incident, but multiple ones along her career. The harassment and misconduct is so prevalent, that it does not surprise any women at all.
And, I am not surprised by the posts of disbelief, the accusations of exaggeration, the men who make light of the matter. Not many like the idea of answering for their own misdeeds or being called out in public. What I am disappointed about is the case we are attempting to make, the defensiveness we approach the subject with, and the weakness of our arguments. Sure, this is a sensitive subject for all of us, it makes our stomachs turn, brings many of us to tears. Nevertheless, we must persist. So, to make our accusations stick, and our statements more powerful, we have to have a game plan. We cannot afford to “lose it”, get overly emotional, and forget what we are trying to accomplish.
Let’s face it, we are not fighting all men, we are fighting only the ones who have done something wrong. And the men who are guilty are slick. They are pros at deflecting blame, dodging responsibility, hiding behind their ‘nice guy’ image, corporate brands, their wives’ and daughters’ skirts. We are not fighting real men, we are fighting those who don’t know the meaning of the word. Our arguments have to separate the men from the perverts, if our words are going to stick.
Here is where I think we fail with the #metoo campaign, and are losing credibility.
1) We play defense, rather than offense. We speak as victims, rather than accusers. Victims are powerless, accusers are powerful. No man is afraid of a victim, and he has nothing to lose, if we are just going to whine about misconduct.
2) We get off point, and make the fight about politics, gender wars, feminism, equality, attacks on masculinity, rather than saying “it is YOU”. Harassers know how to sidetrack the accusation, so it is no longer about him, but an attack on manhood now. No dude, it is only about YOU, and we are only going to talk about what you did.
3) We allow them to use the terms “manhood, manliness, masculinity, real man” when in fact harassment is about weakness, desperation, loneliness, and deep insecurity. By allowing him to use the word man, we let him hide behind other men, when in fact he is not a man. Harassment is not manly. Harassment is a desperate ploy for validation.
4) Rather than complain about the state of female victims, let’s talk about the sad state of today’s men. They live in fear of “losing it” to women who are much younger, better educated, more determined, quickly gaining financial leverage. We are leveraging our own assets to buy houses without them, have babies without them, have sex without them, explore the world without them, asking for no support and no permission. That empty man who buys attention from women, or takes what is not his, no longer has a role in our world. Let’s talk about the decline of manhood, and how certain males are not capable of coping with it. Instead of making excuses for our lifestyle choices, our singlehood, and the price of our accomplishments, we should be talking about how men are losing out, their desperate ploys for validation, the narcissism some manage their employees with, their struggle to remain relevant as men.
5) I rarely see women name names, and that allows harassers to remain anonymous. It is costly to be called out to your face in public, at the time the harassment is happening. It costs nothing months later, when it is just hearsay or a rumor. I’m a solid arguer, and one thing I know about debate is that men are just as illogical as they accuse women to be. Called out to their face, supported by evidence and pure logic, they are unable to argue back. But when we let them change the subject to an attack on manhood, they win, we lose. When we aren’t afraid to call him out directly, to his face, using his name, he will shrink like a violet.
6) We forgive them, and continue to work with them or give them attention. If a loser you know has been accused of harassment, why are you still his friend? Why are you still his employee? Why are you still clicking Like on his posts? Why are you still going to his events? Why are you still buying what he’s selling? Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is healing, and it is a necessary part of moving forward. But, there is no reason why that narcissist should still be getting your attention. A harasser, a pedophile, a sexual aggressor has no place in this world. These people are propped up by our attention, support, and forgiveness, and by doing so we lick their wounds for them, and make what they did okay. There is rarely a cost to him. He still gets female attention, he still gets the girls, he still gets the applause. No. Delete.
I love that women are speaking out. But we have to be more tactical about this. We cannot allow the media or critics to muddle our message. And as you can see, they are already doing a good job confusing the issue with feminism, partisanship, attention seeking. I have even seen interviews with actresses who claim that some young ladies are asking for it by wearing provocative clothing. Let’s not let media, nor defenders of harassment to sidestep the accusations. Stick to the point, name names, list the offense, provide proof, and by all means, do Not call him a man. Man is the guy who listens objectively, gives support, steps in, offers a solution. The men are the ones giving us a forum to speak, firing harassers, creating a safe work environment, admitting mistakes even at a cost to themselves. They are men. The other guys are losers, harassers, narcissists, rapists, con-men, abusers, pedophiles, deviants. Call them anything you want, but please don’t call them men.