“We must fight this nonexistent expectation!” is hardly a rallying cry for change.
If you’ve paid any attention to social media this week, you’ve likely seen several posts saying “me, too.”
Meant to amplify instances of sexual assault, and prompted by the innumerable Harvey Weinstein victims, women who believe themselves victims of such an instance have been encouraged by their peers to mark themselves by posting “me too” on their social media platforms. Some posts go in to great detail, others simply post those two little words.
Though it may be genuinely well-intentioned, “me too” unfairly maligns men and perpetuates victimhood in the worst ways. Telling only one side of the story, without proof, and without providing the accused party opportunity to defend themselves is hardly a pathway to progress.
Similar to the campus kangaroo courts that try and punish men using nothing but (often) baseless accusations, “me too” implies there’s an abundance of nasty, anonymously assaulty men lurking around every corner. And it’s simply not true.
Part of the problem lies in defining ‘sexual assault’. Unlike days of yore, sexual assault now could be anything from conversation that’s suggestive in nature all the way up to violent rape, depending on who you talk to. Unwanted jokes, being asked out on a date by someone with whom you’re not interested — any of these once commonplace occurrences could now be construed as sexual assault. When cat calls are viewed as tantamount to rape, nothing about this sexual assault conversation can or should be taken seriously.
Whether intended or not, the end result is the blanket maligning of the entirety of maledom and the implication that everyone with a Y chromosome ought to repent for their original sin of being born male.
It’s the ultimate man-shaming.
Because this is all about women (isn’t everything these days?), men have been encouraged not participate by sharing their stories of sexual assault. Like most progressive movements, right thinking and acceptable participants are the chosen ones and the rest? Well, forget them. Those being accused of sexual assault, whether directly or anonymously can’t possibly have anything to contribute to this faux conversation, you see.
Actor Jim Beaver (“Deadwood” and “Supernatural”)shared his story of sexual assault while in the military and then followed by saying the following had this to say on his Facebook page:
I see women all over the internet posting their “Me, toos.” I recognize these statements not as claims of victimhood but as clarions of solidarity, as posted notice that this shall not stand, as words representing arms-about-the-shoulders of these women’s comrades in this newly-invigorated fight against an old enemy. I salute all who have experienced these ordeals and who stand prepared to fight so that not just this battle but this war ends now.
As a man, I personally cannot, despite my own experience, quite bring myself to join in with a “Me, too,” even though I see some men doing so. I respect and support any man who has been sexually misused or sexually bullied. But what seems to have taken the world, at long last, by storm in the past few days is most prominently an issue for women, because while many men have been victimized in such manner, the painful truth is that we live in a world where women are *expected* to put up with such things, where it is so commonplace that we managed to elect a president who brags about such behavior. (The clear likelihood is that had the current occupant of the White House been caught bragging to a TV reporter about molesting men, he would never have become president. But since it was just women, well, boys will be boys.)
Well, this boy says the men and boys I know and trust and look up to are better than that, and we will join in calling out the curs among us who think “boys will be boys” is acceptable behavior.
And so, since I’m not comfortable taking on what seems most appropriately a rallying cry for women standing up against a repugnant status quo, I won’t say, “Me, too.”
I’ll say, “I believe you.”
No one is contesting the veracity of the “me too” stories, nor is there an effort here or elsewhere to delegitimize or demean actual instances of sexual assault. What is being and should be evaluated is whether this viral conversation is productive or inadvertently destructive.
Typical of most progressive issues, arguments are created where none exists. No one, absolutely no one is arguing that women, by virtue of being born so, are doomed to a life replete with unwanted advances. Yet that’s the implication. “We must fight this nonexistent expectation!” is hardly a rallying cry for change.
Being victimized is not a choice. Choosing a life of victimhood and leaning on past traumas as solely defining events is just that, a choice. Likewise, shaming men and disallowing their perspective is a choice and one not seriously interested in change.
Conversation works best when there’s actual conversing.
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