What The Fuck Are We Supposed to Do with the Men in Our Lives Right Now?


They are all complicit

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

a woman holds onto a man's arm

Recently, a friend of mine posted a status update on Facebook. “I’m glad I’m not a man right now,” it read. And within a second I replied, “I’m not even sure I like being MARRIED to a man right now.”

After the preceding few weeks of the much needed #MeToo campaign, every woman I knew was deep in re-traumatization, with all of our repressed—or otherwise managed—memories of sexual harassment, abuse, assault, rape, and molestation flooding to the surface. Already, my social media feeds were just scrolling stories of flashing, the bruises left after a rape, what it was like to carry the secret of child molestation, or that time your boss told you to show more cleavage, because that’s why you had the job.

It was bad. And worse, was trying to explain it to the men in my life. Even the good, liberal, feminist men in my life. Even the man I married. Because it seemed that the gulf between walking through the world knowing that your body is in danger of sexual violation at all times, and not ever having to do that, is a gulf too wide to scream across. And just when you think a man in your life really gets it, he says something that makes you realize that, no, he really doesn’t.

And I know, it’s not him. It’s the culture we all swim in. It’s the culture he was raised in. It’s rape culture. We live here.

But then the Al Franken allegations dropped. And for some reason, even though that set of allegations was far milder than literally any story from the Weinstein playbook (and let’s not even get into the Roy Moores of the world), that’s the one that went off like a nuclear bomb in our living room. Because Al Franken is, by most accounts, a good, liberal, feminist man. Women who have worked for him say he’s professional and respectful. Colleagues say the same.

And yet. A picture says a thousand words, and that picture made me sick to my stomach.

At that moment, it went from the abstract to the specific. The fact is, all men are complicit. Hell, most women are complicit too. And here I am, married to a man I love, questioning literally everything about the nature of manhood.

Did I know it was this bad? Of course I did. But do I want to believe it is this bad? Of course I don’t.

Luckily for us, we had a trip away from the kids planned, and during a defenses-down conversation over breakfast, I asked a lot of questions. I got some decent answers. I cried.

And you know, exactly nothing was better. But at least I felt like it was more out in the open.

Because as Rebecca Traister wrote on The Cut in her excellent essay on complicity:

As cries of alarm for the ladies pour from the mouths of men we know through experience or plausible rumor to be culprits themselves, it’s easy to feel jaded and apprehensive: One day, my friends and I learn that a man who’s been bemoaning the prevalence of harassment also stuck his hand up a colleague’s skirt when he was her boss. “It feels like Allison Williams with the keys in Get Out,” says my friend Irin Carmon. “Trust no one.”

And I know I’m not alone. Not just because every woman in my life is having similar conversations, but because an APW reader wrote in:

How do you have an intimate relationship with a man right now? I have a long-term male partner, who I love and respect and value, and he gives that right back to me. But the refrain in my head right now is, “I hate men.” I don’t know if that’s healthy, but what can I say. And it can be hard to separate my feelings for men in general with how I feel having an intimate relationship with a man. More and more frequently, I find it difficult to be my non-angry self, to allow myself to be vulnerable with him, to be intimate, to not just say FUCK ALL MEN and go join a commune of only amazing women forever.

Which brings me to you guys. For those of you in intimate relationships with men, how are you engaging on the issue of #MeToo? What hard questions are you asking? What answers are you getting? What answers are you not getting? And for those of you who just have men that you love in your lives, how are you handling the conversation?

And where do we go from here? Because I honestly have no idea.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Zoya

    Oh god, everything about this post is my life right now. I’ve been talking about this with my husband a lot lately, and I had a long conversation about rape culture with my dad and brother over Thanksgiving. These are all good, feminist men, and they still don’t quite *get it*. But they acknowledged that I was right, and I felt heard. So that’s something.

    At one point recently I asked my husband–a cisgender white man–what it’s like to live without that constant low-level sense of fear and self-protection. He thought about it for a minute and said, “I think the default state for men is less scary and more lonely than it is for women.” I’m still chewing on that.

    • emilyg25

      I still remember the time that my then-boyfriend and I were leaving a music festival, walking through the dark woods alone to our car. I was just curious so I asked if he was scared. “No. Why would I be?” Oh.

      • Zoya

        When we were freshmen in college, a close male friend was telling me about how he’d gone to a party and met a girl who was clearly very intoxicated. He offered to walk her home, and her friends immediately formed a phalanx around her and made sure he didn’t get close to her again. He was baffled by this and asked me why her friends reacted that way. It was an eye-opening conversation for both of us…

      • sofar

        I once was walking across our apartment parking lot at night. My husband was in slacks and a blazer (which he never wears) and had gotten a new haircut for an event he was attending — and I wasn’t wearing my glasses. When he started striding toward me, I gave him a startled look and hustled to the next row of cars to put space in between us. He said that look I gave him broke his heart.

      • Jane

        This reminds me of a night my husband returned home from a run (on a dark unlit trail, after the sun had set, and earbuds in). He came through the front door and I just made a statement of “just so you know, I would never feel safe doing what you just did”.

        • My boyfriend goes running at night with earbuds in too, and often on a low-traffic trail. I was surprised he felt safe doing that because I NEVER would, and he probably initially thought I was way too over-worried.

      • theteenygirl

        A few years ago at a work Christmas party I was getting ready to leave (walking, it wasn’t that far to my house) and a couple of my female coworkers asked me to text them when I got home safe. I told them I would, and that sparked a conversation with a male coworker who genuinely did not know it was a common thing for girls to do – text each other to let them know they were safe. We ended up telling him things like, “I keep 9-1 dialed on my phone so I can press 1 and call really quickly if I don’t feel safe” or “I keep my keys in my hand in case I need to strike” or “I stopped wearing heels because I can’t run in them”. Why do girls overthink things? Because we have to.

        • MC

          I was in a class in college where the prof asked all the girls what they do to “stay safe.” (In quotes because these things don’t actually keep people safe all the time.) The list went on for a long time – wolverine keys, never walk alone, pepper spray keychain, talk on the phone to a friend if you’re walking alone, always look under your car or in your backseat before you get in, park under a streetlamp, etc etc etc. The prof then asked the boys what they do to stay safe, and it was silent. I hope it was eye-opening for them, but it was also kind of a gut-punch for me because I had never thought about the fact that I spend all this mental and emotional energy thinking about my safety, and that some people just… don’t have to.

          *I should add that I went to a mostly-white college and I know non-white boys and men have things they do to keep themselves safe from violence, so it’s not just divided along gender lines.

          • AP

            I went on a date with a guy once who had participated in a similar activity while he was active duty in the military, and it inspired him to become a volunteer sexual assault victim’s advocate for women who’d experienced assault while serving in the military. (We didn’t hit it off, but I think fondly on how that dinner conversation was one of the best from my online dating years!) I think exercises like the one you describe have the potential to be really eye-opening for people, especially men.

    • Mary Jo TC

      My dad, who’s brainwashed by conservative talk radio, was trying to make an argument that Harvey Weinstein proves that liberals are hypocrites. At least I think that was his point. I had to explain to him what rape culture is. He had never heard the term. He agreed with me on points like, ‘it shouldn’t matter what she’s wearing, if she says no, that’s rape.’ But then he also said that there should be penalties for women who lie about rape, as if that’s a real problem. Ugh.

      • Violet

        Yeah…. as if there aren’t already penalties for filing a false police report. But okay, dad…

        • Zoya

          Or, in fact, a whole bunch of social consequences for reporting any kind of sexual harassment or assault, at all, ever. Ugh indeed.

          • Pannorama

            Yes! This! A (male) coworker of mine recently said that we really need to be able to tackle false accusations of rape because it’s the only way to get others on board with dealing with the real horror of assault. And I was like ????? Who do you think lies about rape???? There are so many horrific consequences for speaking out about assault, even when there’s rock solid evidence, even when everyone knows it’s true. Your reputation is ruined, people harass you, your house gets burned down. What gain is there in lying when this is how we treat the people who are telling the truth?

          • Anna

            This is absolutely true and also something I kind of hesitate to bring up because then it kind of sounds (to a certain kind of internet asshole) like “good, we should keep harassing people who speak out about assault, because that gauntlet is what’s currently preventing false accusations.” Which is why it was so comforting to read that article about how false rape accusations are pretty much akin to false accusations of any other crime in terms of who makes them and when. We can tell when rape accusations are false! We don’t need to keep harassing every accuser just to increase the cost of false accusations!

          • Jennifer

            While I do think the amount of women (and men) who lie about being raped are so negligible that, in the grand scheme of things, seems silly to be a focus in any conversation about rape culture, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it doesn’t happen. I’ve known women (two) who falsely called rape for their own very complicated, selfish reasons. I think that in the discussion of rape culture that it’s important not to dismiss the idea that someone could lie about being raped. It’s partly what led to that fiasco of an article Rolling Stone wrote. BUT we can acknowledge that and still point out that, like someone else mentioned, there are punishments for lying about rape unlike the men who sexually assault and harass and get away with it for decades and even get elected president.

      • Anna

        The “there should be penalties for women who lie about rape” thing is bonkers to me, because there ARE. Falsely reporting any crime is illegal. Libel (or is it slander? I can never remember which is which) is illegal. That’s already true.

      • Nicole

        No, it is a problem. Take Emma Sulkowicz. She was the “Mattress Girl” at Columbia. She willingly had sex with a guy and CONTINUED to pursue him. When it appeared he wasn’t interested in the relationship that she had in mind, months later she decided she was raped. Absolutely flipping’ insane.

        The man’s life was totally ruined and he ended up leaving the University. He is now suing Columbia. She gets off scott free.

        Now, you may say she is an anomaly, and I would agree only to the point that sheet this is a story we actually HEARD about – probably because of her mattress “performance art”. But I mention this because I’m guessing that your dad thinks that the definition of rape is forced sex, NOT regretted sex, or unreciprocated affection sex, or I-Was-too-drunk-to-know-what-I-was-doing-sex. Contorting those irresponsible situations into accusations of rape are the lies.

        As for Weinstein and his ilk, I applaud that these powerful men are being called out and forced to take responsibilities for their actions. Nothing less should be expected of women.

        I am a middle age mother of two college-aged daughters. While I would never say #metoo, I was sexually abused as a child by a family friend. While raising my own girls there were, a few times, men who set off my radar and I made sure they were never alone with.

        Still, the VAST majority of the men in my life have been wonderful respectful and honorable men, as it sounds like the men in your lives are as well. Why would you lump them together with predators? Why would you ask your good man to explain these creeps that they deplores just as much as you do?

        The country – or maybe just the media – is losing it’s freakin’ mind right now. When did it become unreasonable for adult men and women to act like adult men and women?

    • sofar

      Last time my husband and I went to NY we got a little turned around at night. I immediately went into my default of, “Look like you know where you’re going, keep up an even pace, don’t stop to look at a map on your phone, don’t look confused, don’t ask a man for help, go into the nearest local business and get your bearings.”

      My husband, meanwhile, kept saying, “Where are we? I have no idea where we are? What street is this? Hmmmm let me check my phone. Are the street numbers going up or down? OK if this is north, then we are heading the WRONG WAY. LOL NY is confusing isn’t it?”

      I punched him in the arm and shushed him and later explained why what he did made me twitch and how being a lost woman at night is different from being a lost man at night.

      • ART

        One of the recurring themes of scary dreams for me is finding myself alone at night somewhere, needing to get home, and there’s this dark, unlit chasm of mysterious streets between me and there, and it’s like, I can’t walk into that, but I can’t stay here either. I doubt my husband would ever have a dream like that.

      • Jessica

        Oh my gosh. I got lost in Amsterdam pretty much 3x a day and would always just find a coffee shop to look like I knew where I was going at all times. My dad would just take out his phone to find the way. It made me itch.

      • hummingway

        Wow, until you said this I never realized that *THAT* is why I never want to seem lost or like a “tourist” anywhere, whereas my male partner is super comfortable with that… because I am so afraid deep down of being approached by someone with less than good intentions…

    • Janet Hélène

      This has been a good way to bring the men in my life to actively participate in in gender-equity efforts. By calling down the gender stereotypes, it also benefits them. No longer will you feel the pressure to be stoic, man up at the gym, not cry during Titanic, etc. etc. And isn’t that worth advocating for?

    • My husband does spend so much less time worrying than I do.

    • MC

      When Husband and I were in Mexico City and walking around on our first day, he said to me, “Wow, guys sure are looking at you a lot here,” right as I was thinking to myself, “Huh, sure is different to walk around a big city with a man next to me and not get whistled at or catcalled by everyone!”

      • Another Meg

        I mentioned to my FIL that I love our neighborhood because no one talks to me on the street. He thought it sounded terrible because he loves his small town where everyone says hello to strangers. I had to rephrase – I love our neighborhood because no one harasses me on the street. He shut up pretty quick.

    • Jess

      I have been chewing on the “I think the default state for men is less scary and more lonely than it is for women.” comment for a while now, too.

      I think it feels very true and very sad.

  • sofar

    A man in my social circle has been outed as an abuser. His current girlfriend called the cops and he got arrested after the abuse escalated and he choked her. As the news circulated, another ex and another person he harassed (after she rejected him) have come forward with their stories.

    I hate to say it, but none of us had a clue. His nickname is “Disney” because he looked and acted like a Disney prince. He used to surprise me by showing up to our house with his latest foster dog. He switched his gym membership so he could coach my husband and me.

    He’s banished from our life now. And it’s REALLY REALLY hard for my husband. And you know what? I understand it. This is one of his oldest friends. So he’s mourning the friendship (which I totally get) and also wondering how he could be friends with a “bad guy” when he likes to take pride in the fact that he’s friends only with good people. All the men in our circle have been in lock step about providing assistance and housing to this guy’s ex as she looks for a new place to live and a job where this guy can’t locate her. So, you know what? I’m pretty damn happy with the men in my life right now.

    • KRS887

      I’m so sorry your friend went through that horrific experience.

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  • PeaceIsTheWay

    I actually feel like my husband and I are on the same page regarding the rash of sexual harassment revelations in the media (horrifying that this is the reality, good that some powerful men are finally being held accountable, but obviously many more are not, and our culture needs to change). Maybe we’re not digging deeply enough to find areas of disagreement? Most days, I feel like my husband understands me better than I understand myself…

    • emilyg25

      We’re on the same page too, and we think the patriarchy is harmful to both men and women, though more of an existential threat to women. Burn it all down.

      • Zoya

        Agreed on all counts.

    • Jess

      I kind of feel similarly – we are mutually oblivious to a lot of famous-people-rumors, and these reveals have been met with mostly a “this fucking guy” response from R. He is a silent type generally, so mostly I will rage and he will be like, “Yes. I very much agree with that.” or offer a “Yes. And also this thing proves your point too.”

      But honestly, we haven’t had a lot of hard questions between us. I’m not even sure what hard questions to ask. Where would I start? Do I want to start?

      • Meg Keene

        I mean, do you want to start is really the question.

        • Jess

          It really is. And I really don’t know.

      • jem

        “Do I want to start” is exactly what I’m wondering right now

      • AP

        I…think it’s ok not to start if you’re not up to it. I’m not talking about this stuff to my husband, because I just can’t carry that emotional load right now. I’m currently carrying a fetus, which might one day grow up to be a man, and honestly that’s *enough* for me to deal with emotionally. But you don’t have to be pregnant to decide it’s just not something you want to tackle right now.

        • PeaceIsTheWay

          I have a 3 month old son, and am determined to make sure he grows up to respect women as his equals. In my most rational mind, I know this isn’t totally realistic- he will grow up in America and enjoy white male privilege no matter what my husband and I teach him at home… pretending otherwise would be like blaming Harvey or Trump’s moms for their treatment of women, which is ridiculous. But I just can’t escape the passion I feel that MY son will be different, and part of me wonders whether if enough parents shared this passion that wouldn’t be an answer to the question of ‘where we go from here.’ And it’s hard! Our peanut already has a whole wardrobe of onesies that say things like “Tough like Dad” or “Dad’s smart, Mom’s beautiful, I’m both”.

    • Janet Hélène

      That’s place of your spouse understanding you more than you do yourself is probably a sign of a very healthy marriage :)

    • Amanda Smith

      I feel the same way. Sometimes I think my husband is more angry than I am. He acknowledges that he’s stayed quiet when he shouldn’t have and participated is some sexist language when he was younger. He doesn’t do it now and I’ve challenged him to continue speaking up when in groups of men.

      But I don’t have any issues with him personally. We also got married about a month ago and are working towards our honeymoon in January. I suppose I don’t want to give up this happy time in our lives to push for harder conversations where I might find disagreement? I don’t know.

  • Anna

    One time, when we were living in Boston, my husband went to a Red Sox-Orioles game, of course wearing his Orioles jersey, without me while I was out of town. The Orioles routed the Sox in that particular game, and the Sox fans in attendance were obviously not thrilled. When I got home, he was telling me how everyone he passed “felt the need to make a comment” on his jersey, even people who didn’t say anything were clearly scrutinizing him, he was afraid that some drunk guy was going to attack him (he’s 6’1″, 200lbs, and coaches wrestling, but somehow at Fenway there’s always someone bigger and drunker)… and as he’s saying all this, it’s clearly slowly dawning on him what he’s describing, until finally he says, “man, this is the closest I think I’ve experienced to what it must be like to be a woman in public.”

    At which point I pointed out that, well, yes, but you can take off the Orioles jersey. I can’t take off being female. But either way it was clearly a pretty illuminating metaphor for him.

    • Huckleduck

      Excellent story and also GO O’S!!!! (and better luck next year)

    • Laura C

      After a big conference where everyone’s name and university affiliation was on a lanyard, a grad school friend said (jokingly) “I feel like I just learned what it’s like to be a woman — everyone was staring at my chest and using what they saw there to decide if they wanted to talk to me.”

  • Eenie

    I really just don’t understand why it’s happening now. Why is now the time that all this comes to light, but a year ago we elected someone to the highest office in the land who is accused and admitted he’s sexually assaulted women? Why are there no repercussions for him?

    I did finally tell my husband about when I was raped. I didn’t participate in the #metoo campaign, but I felt like it was something he needed to know when I was feeling like the news was just too much so often.

    • Jessica

      Bravo for sharing that with your husband–it must have been a very difficult conversation.

      I wish we didn’t have to keep fighting to watch this system of abuse crumble, but I really hope it’s like Berlin in the 80s–most of the work was done before the wall was actually torn down.

    • Katelyn

      I think our society is finally realizing they’ve gotta walk the walk, instead of condemning Trump and then being complicit with all the other fucked up human beings doing the exact same shit.

      #metoo was a great way to unite us and to bring out a collective anger that I don’t think has been seen in decades. I didn’t participate either. I was molested by a family member when I was a child – so I carry two sets of very heavy invisible baggage.

    • Anna

      My husband was saying the other day, “Okay, now can everyone Trump assaulted just re-come forward with their accusations again and we’ll pretend we’re just hearing them for the first time now?” I almost cried. Like, I’m glad we got Harvey Weinstein, but this has all just been too little, too late to get Trump. My husband seems convinced that now it’ll just be forward progress and everyone who’s assaulted people will sooner or later be accused publicly and be removed from power, but until we get to the point where people don’t feel the need to wait a decade or two before going public, where someone can consistently have their reports of sexual assault taken seriously even when they’re against powerful people, I don’t feel like we’re safe from backsliding. These stories aren’t going to stop just because of a few high-profile cases of assholes and predators getting their comeuppance. It’s an improvement, certainly, but it’s not enough.

      • Zoya

        I had a similar argument with my dad last week. He’s optimistic that we’ll see more predators facing real long-term consequences; I am not.

      • Eenie

        Or any of the women who didn’t come forward before could come forward now, but I still don’t think that would matter. Le sigh.

        • Anna

          It’s terrifying. I don’t think there’s anything in my life that’s made me feel so unsafe as a woman as knowing that nearly half of this country thinks that sexual assault is not disqualifying to be president. What I learned on Nov 8, 2016 was that America does not have my back. As a country, we decided that my bodily autonomy is not something we value. (This shouldn’t necessarily have surprised me the way it did.)

          But yeah, it feels like because we already know Trump is a rapist and that news came about prior to this cultural moment of at least some subset of accusations resulting in real consequences, the public has just sort of accepted it as like… past its statute of limitations or something. A new accusation wouldn’t be shocking and therefore nothing would happen, but the old accusations are just hanging there, inert, because we didn’t do anything about them at the time.

          • Jess

            This comment feels very true, and that makes me feel very sick.

          • BSM
          • Jess

            “remove the plank from thine own eye” comes to mind…

          • Anna

            That’s disturbing.

            Wait but actually how the fuck do Republicans think that sexual assault is a Democratic problem?! That’s a completely bizarre conclusion to come to. Sexual assault is pretty clearly equal opportunity across political party, race, class, geography, etc; gendered violence doesn’t see anything except gender. (Well, and power disparities.)

          • BSM

            Yeah. I don’t know. Things that are clear to me and based in fact don’t seem very compelling to some people. I don’t know what to do about it.

          • Jess

            Because… facts don’t matter. It’s all fake news. ::sighs in exasperation at the world::

          • flashphase

            “how the fuck do Republicans think that sexual assault is a Democratic problem” was recently in a hotel where they were playing Fox News and OH BOY you would think it was broadcast from a different planet than CNN.

          • Ashweck

            Bill Clinton comes to mind… :/

            Adding more because it needs to be said… it is equal opportunity. It’s a “people” problem, not a party problem. But until the democratic party squares with Clinton’s legacy, it’s going to haunt us all and be thrown in our face. Which is terrible and unfair but also, Gloria Steinem defended him. Those women were treated truly appallingly and we can’t just insist that Trump’s accusers are heard. We have to also listen to Clinton’s

          • MTM

            “Family values”

          • Anon for This

            But what about the other half of the country that wasn’t bothered by Hillary Clinton intimidating Anita Broderick after Bill Clinton raped her and bit her lower lip? Does that make you feel unsafe?
            You simply can’t point at Trump, where there is not even circumstantial evidence he raped anyone, yet there is circumstantial evidence that Bill Clinton did rape someone and Hillary Clinton backed him up! Anita Broderick had a witness. A friend who went to her hotel room right after the rape and saw her lip and heard what happened.
            Why do we have such a double standard going on?

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        I’m definitely worried that we’re on a hump, where there are consequences now, but sooner than later we’ll numb out as a society and go back to how it was. Like it’s trendy right now to crucify the perps, but society will get bored with that eventually and move on to something else.

        • Anon anon

          Yes. Even worse, I’m worried there will be some kind of backlash to this moment in time.

          • YummieYummie

            I agree with you, and I think it’s already starting. I used to be pretty active on reddit, but there have lately been so many posts on main subs dedicated to demeaning women and scouring the globe for stories where women are the antagonists. There are a lot of guys out there that are mad that women are pointing out issues in our society, so instead of looking at what they can do to make things better, they double down on their bullshit and try to undermine the people who want things to improve. What I’m afraid of is the possibility of this trend turning into guys believing that they need to hurt women “before the females get us”.

          • anon anon

            This is exactly the kind of thing I’m worried about. This moment feels good, and yet I’m super suspicious that it is too fast and too “trendy.” I’m afraid that it isn’t the beginning of real change.

      • Sarah

        My husband and I had the same conversation about how optimistic he is for a better/brighter future and then I told him he was being naive and he said I was being pessimistic and then the mother with her children next to us at the Christmas parade (oops..) moved her family when I said Roy Moore is going to be the second outed rapist elected in America in a year. Glad it’s not just me fighting with my husband about this.

    • Brooks Moses

      For what it’s worth, I think a lot of this is _because_ there were no repercussions for Trump. There certainly were a lot of people angry about his sexual assault and his callousness about it, but not enough of them formerly on Trump’s side to cause more than a small dip in the polls.

      So we have this state where a significant number of people are angry about Trump’s misogyny, with that anger inflamed by the fact that Trump is unaffected and continues to be unaffected, and that anger quite reasonably broadens to encompass other high-profile abusers — some of whom, in Hollywood in particular, are going to be much more vulnerable targets to strongly-voiced opinions of an angry minority of people. And, if we can’t touch Trump, we can at least make a pattern.

      The reason this took down Weinstein and not Trump is not because fewer people cared when it was Trump (I’d guess the opposite was true), but that Weinstein could be readily taken out by threats to studio pocketbooks, whereas conservative politicians (and Trump in particular) are far more unassailable.

  • Jessica

    A lot of these conversations make me come back around to my ex. Yes, he said the right things–but then he gaslit me, slept with a woman from his work (who I have no idea if she was/is managed by him), called me a prude because I didn’t want to have sex in public, and once went after me about the #notallmen thing even though I hadn’t said anything about it in that conversation. He liked to walk the line between #goodmalefeminist and #notallmen and took things pretty personally–now we know why!

    The guy I’m with now is pretty opposite as far as I can discern, but it’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop at all times.

    • Pannorama

      That “waiting for the other shoe to drop” feeling is so real. I spent probably the first year of my relationship waiting for the other shoe to drop. So many bad things had happened to me and to other women, and my perspective on relationships had been so bound up in having to protect yourself from your partner. I really hope that it turns out there is no other shoe for you.

    • Jess

      Now we know why, indeed.

      I think part of my dilemma (see: do I want to ask the hard questions?) is what do I do if the person I know today… isn’t that person?

      Like, there are no signs of that, but… it’s always possible? There could always be another shoe.

  • Angela’s Back

    I didn’t have a car until I was 25 and working in my first real job. I lived walking distance from work and a grocery store because even though I was living in a car-centric, basically no public transit city, I couldn’t afford a car and therefore didn’t have one. Until I walked about a mile to the nearest Dollar General one weekend to get a muffin tin to make muffins for a work party a couple months after I started and some absolute creep followed me halfway home in his car, slowing down and pulling up next to me and asking if I wanted a ride, repeatedly. I called my mum and made her stay on the phone with me until I got back to my apartment and a month later, my dad spotted me for my Civic. In some ways this pisses me off more than the professor who sexually assaulted me because at least that guy could have deluded himself into thinking we had some kind of relationship. This car asshole just felt entitled to creep because I was a woman in a public space.

    • Anna

      When I had just turned 18, I was in Berlin for a summer language program; stayed out late with a bunch of friends in the program and managed to miss the last train back to my host family’s neighborhood. I was with a friend whose host family was in the same direction, and we figured we’d just sleep on the benches in the station until the next train at like 5 AM.

      At something like 3:30, I wake up to a couple of drunk dudes pestering my friend. She has no idea what they’re saying; her German was terrible, she keeps asking them to speak English. As soon as I was visibly awake, they start pestering me, too; turns out they’re saying “It’s not safe for girls like you to be out here alone – come back to our apartment, it’ll be much safer.”

      I immediately called my host mom, who had said I could call at any time if I needed to (fortunately); when I explained the situation, she drove over and picked us up, dropped my friend off at her host family’s, and took me home. She never mentioned it again.

      Two things I took away from this: first, when my host mom said I could call her at any time if I needed to, I sort of scoffed, like, I’m pretty good at handling myself on public transit, how am I going to get in a situation where I need you to pick me up or whatever. 18-year-old me thought that shit like this happened on TV, not in real life. Thank god my host mom had been hosting students for years and knew that an 18 year old won’t necessarily make that call unless prompted in advance :-P
      Second, holy shit, those fucking assholes, playing off the very fears that guys like them create! “It’s not safe here, you’ll be safer with us” is infuriating (in retrospect; it was mostly just terrifying at the time) because it’s such an overt play to the underlying violence and intimidation of the patriarchy: “In case you’ve forgotten, men are scary and will hurt you. Men like us. But we promise we’ll keep you safe from the scary men who will hurt you, if you come with us to a place where absolutely nobody can verify your wellbeing.” It’s borderline “nice bodily integrity you’ve got there. Shame if something were to… happen to it.”

      • Angela’s Back

        When I think back on some of the things I did in grad school–walking 2 miles from downtown Austin to my coop by myself at midnight, for example–it just boggles my mind. I could never do that now. And yet at the time I felt perfectly safe, not a care in the world, just walking home. Which is how it should be, and that’s the saddest part, looking back and feeling angry at myself for taking that kind of risk instead of feeling angry about living in a world that makes that dangerous for me just because I have a uterus.

        • Anna

          I still do those things, more or less out of defiance, and I’ve gotten very good at my purposeful I-know-where-I’m-going walk, but I no longer do them with the same sense of teenage invincibility I once did. I used to walk home alone in the dark because I assumed nothing could possibly happen to me. Now I walk home alone in the dark – when that’s the best way for me to get home – because fuck this society if I’m going to have to inconvenience myself for the assholes who think they are entitled to my body. I mitigate risks as best I can, and I don’t live in or near any especially dangerous areas, but I know I’m still taking a risk. I just need that to be a risk I’m willing to take, for now, in order to feel even marginally okay about my existence as a woman.

          • I definitely walk (well ride my bike) home alone coming back from lab in the middle of the night. Now, admittedly I feel much safer on a bike than walking, but I’ve got places to go and I’m not going to let people stop me from doing that–although I don’t always mention it to my parents. Also though, I’ve looked up the crime stats for my neighborhood and the vast majority of the personal/violent crimes occur between 9am and 6pm, and so it doesn’t actually seem more dangerous at night than during the day. (It also gets dark so early so there really isn’t a way to AVOID walking in the dark if I want to work a full day).

            Also, my neighborhood of Chicago is just so lovely at 3am when there’s no one else but me. I love how quiet and empty and lovely the streets are at night, when it’s just be and the occasional newspaper delivery truck.

          • Of course, right now I am both fairly young and in grad school, so who knows what older me will think.

          • Anna

            My hazy recollection is that the research indicates that most people’s brains get past the teenage-invincibility thing incrementally from about ages 20-25, but who knows haha.

          • Well, I am definitely past that age range! (And generally a fairly cautious person, just not in regards to night-biking apparently.)

          • I lived in Chicago in my 20s and early 30s and walked home at night a lot too. I was always on the alert though and walking with purpose…

  • Rose

    I feel like most of the conversations I’ve been having about this recently have been between women. Now, I’m not married to a man, so that makes a difference in terms of the people I talk to regularly. Mostly the ones in mixed groups that I’ve had have been the women talking and the guys just listening. I’m never sure what to make of it. I feel a little self-conscious having the discussion (“ugh, men!”) when the only man in the room isn’t contributing, but I also kind of feel like that’s him taking an easy out. It’s also making me super appreciate the spaces and times in my life that are women-only, where talking about things like this can just be so much easier.

    • Jessica

      I would hope that the men are listening and learning. If I’m in a room of mostly POC discussing their experiences, I listen and try to learn how to be a better ally. Those moments are not about me, and I assume the conversations being had are not about those men in particular.

      • Rose

        That’s a good point. No, they haven’t been about those men, and honestly the conversations didn’t need their input. They’ve also been more about the political/social landscape than personal experiences (especially the ones with my in-laws over Thanksgiving–I love them, but even if I had darker personal stories I wouldn’t feel like sharing with them).

        • Snow

          I agree with Jessica – a man should be able to listen in these conversations and learn something without feeling ganged up on. And if the conversations make them uncomfortable because they have (inadvertently or not) done some of the things being discussed, they should be grateful for the opportunity to learn that their behaviour was/is wrong. This is the attitude that I take when I’m listening to POC or others who have less privilege than I do.

          • Rose

            It’s interesting, because I’ve certainly taken that approach myself before in situation where I’m part of the more privileged group, but it didn’t occur to me at all when I was one of the ones in the conversation. I agree, though.

    • Jess

      I had a period over Thanksgiving where my family was discussing the crappiness of being a woman at work in light of the recent news.

      All the men at the table said nothing for most of the conversation. R says very little usually, but he held my hand which is R-code for “I got your back.” My dad nodded and looked really frustrated when my bro’s gf and I talked (like, frustrated on our behalf, because after my mom’s life he was probably hoping this wasn’t still a thing). My brother was like, “Man, I’ve called some people out for shitty jokes at work. I can confirm that this is a real thing and it sucks.”

      It’s pretty much what I want right now. Past that? @Abs noted that listening and affirming doesn’t feel like enough. I’m not sure what the next small step forward is, but there has to be more.

  • savannnah

    I’m getting by in small ways and big ones. One of the biggest ways is hearing my husband rant about how angry he is- and yes as a Woman, I’ve been angry for longer, yelled for longer and cried for longer but he’s here now with me in anger and is much bolder with his friends and family than he was a year ago. I get to hear about all of the conversations, those between men, that I’ll never get to participate in myself. It’s hard work and he is committed to it and we talk a lot about how and when he can speak up at his work- a straight out of Mad Men boys club full of work travel and dubious ‘entertainment’ work expenses. We’ve also been talking a lot about the news in the context of raising potential children. I’m also volunteering more at my local planned parenthood which helps me feel connected and helps me feel like I’m making an impact. One day at a time.

    • Anna

      I had an interesting conversation with a group of coworkers a few weeks ago (prompted by watching a really good talk together about diversity & inclusion) in which I pointed out that although they’re the farthest from that kind of “Mad Men boys club”, very explicitly supportive of women in tech both in general and specifically helping my career advancement and so on, several of them still talk about their WIVES very much in the context of like, nagging-wife-or-nurturing-homemaker-are-your-two-options stereotypes. I felt like I had to tread pretty carefully there, even though I know these men fairly well and am quite close to them as coworkers go, because it’s a fine line between “hey, look at how you’re using language” and “the way you’ve constructed your relationship with your spouse is sexist and wrong”. But they seemed to take it pretty well and it was clearly a bit of an epiphany for at least one of them.

      • savannnah

        Those “wives” conversations are the ones I cringe at the most!! They are terrible and seems so compartmentalized for these men- at least how my husband reports it. He is in a bizarre field though, he has sales guys who still brag about cheating on their wives while on work trips and going to strip clubs. But in my mind, its the edge of sexist conversations that are more troublesome because they are so pervasive and seemingly harmless to an untrained ear.

        • Anna

          Yeah, the compartmentalization is bizarre. Like, they would NEVER consider saying this shit about me or the few other women on our team. They would never say that women in general are nagging harpies or that nurturing qualities are the best that women in general can aspire to. But yet they routinely complain about how their wives “make them” take out the garbage, or talk about how “she’s the boss at home, I have no idea what goes on in the kitchen” and just really unexamined sexist gender roles bullshit. And I’m like… your wives are women too! I have a really hard time believing that my gender isn’t affecting your perception of me when I know that the central relationship in your life is arranged in such a gender-role-reaffirming way.

      • Jess

        I feel like I come home constantly saying, “I don’t like the way [co-worker] talks about his wife. He said X today,” about a different co-worker.

        I try to call them on small things, like rolling my eyes and saying, “Oh really? Tell me how that goes for you.” the time a co-worker joked about handing off the soon-to-be-baby to his wife for all diaper changes, but the big ones are… harder.

        Old engineers who are not in any hurry to change are exhausting.

        • Anna

          One of my coworkers has taken full paternity leave for all three of his children, routinely leaves early about once a week to do childcare-related stuff, is clearly deeply engaged in his children’s lives, and STILL has made a couple really off-color comments about his wife nagging him to take out the garbage. Another coworker with whom I’ve had multiple discussions of why Trump’s election was so personally heartbreaking for me in which he expressed deep agreement and support, and who was extremely enthused to hear about my Hillary Clinton campaign logo tattoo, has made similar comments. That’s partly why it’s so disappointing – I thought I had escaped that old-engineer mentality (they’re all only in their 30s, too), but it turns out it creeps in around the edges even for the “good ones.”

          • Jess

            It’s the insidious sexism that gets you every time.

          • savannnah

            Its because the just ‘a few bad apples’ explanation was always a lie. Its a cultural with a capital C issue and toxic masculinity is toxic to everyone it touches and it touches everyone. I’ve been telling my dad who was accepting but heartbroken over Franklin that he can be upset and heartbroken but he can’t be surprised.

      • Kels

        Yep, the wives thing gets me. I work with two early to mid-30s engineers who are constantly making belittling comments about their wives. I’ve heard so many comments about how their wives do these silly scatterbrained things and one uses baby-talk to calm his wife down on the phone. After a while you start to realize how little respect for women they have and it’s chipping away at my respect for them and my work morale.

      • AP

        Ugh, my husband travels a lot for work and has male coworkers who act like work travel is a vacation from their wives and kids. It’s so gross. And meanwhile, he and I are heartbroken every time he has to leave again.

        • Eenie

          Cosigned as the traveling partner. My coworkers are all men though, and I’ve heard none of them make comments like that. The general consensus is to cherish the time you have at home, since we don’t get a lot of it…

      • Marisa

        oh man I hate the wives conversations. Both my manager and his manager say the weirdest stuff sometimes, and some of my other male peers say things like their stay at home wives are lazy.

        This came up when I was denied for promotion for a bogus reason, and wasn’t given any way to appeal. I was flashing back to this conversations and thinking, will these men really go to bat for me on this stuff?

  • Abs

    THIS. My husband is one of the most respectful men I know, and one of the easiest to be around, because he’s not really hung up on masculinity for the most part. He hesitates to call himself a feminist only because he doesn’t want to shout too loud about it and be that guy. I’m basically happy with how we are together in our relationship, feminism-wise, and with what I can see of how he is with other people in his life.

    But right now, the thing I really want from him is to hear what he is thinking about being a man right now, and his responses are not cutting it for me. He has expressed dismay (of course) about all this stuff, and a willingness to listen to me, but when I say “how do you relate to all of this?” he don’t really respond. The best I’ve gotten is that he said he tries to be a good guy and he doesn’t know what I want him to say, because it’s hard to feel guilty and complicit in behavior that seems alien to him. And then he just looks at me with confused, deer-in-the-headlights eyes.

    It’s not that I think he’s part of the problem in any direct way, but his passivity on this is making me wonder if feminism for him is just listening to the women in his life and affirming what they say. Which is…not the worst, I guess? But feels really unsatisfying right now.

    • Zoya

      Ahhhhh all of this. Wide eyes and sympathy aren’t really cutting it for me right now.

    • Jess

      “the thing I really want from him is to hear what he is thinking about being a man right now”

      This is a thing I never thought to ask.

      The question of “What comes next?” is something I have been asking of myself, though. I don’t have a good answer. Maybe listening and affirming, and even amplifying the anger, has been such a stretch goal for so long, I’m not even sure where to go now that some people are paying attention.

      I want this abuse to stop happening. I want the positions of power men are in to be torn down. But getting to that point feels… monumental and I’m not sure what the next step looks like.

      • Abs

        Yeah…reading this thread I’ve gotten clearer about what I actually mean by that. I feel like there’s this tension for all of us, because #Notallmen is bullshit, but also, I’m not partners with all men, I’m partners with one man, who is basically an okay person. And what I want from him is some indication that he is wrestling with what it means to be part of this group of people. Because otherwise it’s just me wrestling with it and that’s ridiculous.

        I also want him to be angry, but I’m not sure I’ll get that, because he doesn’t really do anger.

        • Meg Keene

          THIS IS IT. And this made me cry.

        • nutbrownrose

          omg. I didn’t realize that what you just said is basically what I want from my husband too. Thank you for putting it so eloquently into words.

    • Transnonymous

      I didn’t want to invade this space, but “what it means to be a man right now” is something I’m really struggling with.

      I was in a long-term abusive relationship back when I was still perceived as a woman by my partner at the time and I understand what everyone is going through with #MeToo. At the same time, I really don’t feel like it’s my place to speak up or say anything about my abuse since coming out as a trans man. It doesn’t invalidate my experience, but I don’t want to make it about me *as a man*.

      I also feel a decent amount of guilt for transitioning related to all the narratives. I desperately don’t want to be part of the problem and have been doing my best to use being trans to educate the men in my life (who do listen to me) about what it’s like to live life perceived as a woman and how dangerous it is. I am fully on board with blanket statements like “men are trash” and don’t feel personally called out by any of the rhetoric while still understanding that something needs to be done and men as a whole need to be held accountable.

      In short, I feel guilty, and angry, and complicit, and especially responsible because I’m transitioning, and I’m sorry.

      • Amy March

        You owe no one an apology for transitioning. That fact that you are a man is not a harm you are doing to anyone else.

        • Transnonymous

          Thank you. I appreciate your kind words.

      • Anna

        I’m somewhere in the range of genderqueer (although I typically present as just sort of butch female, most of the time), with a fair amount of variance in my gender identification from day to day; some days I feel more comfortable identifying as male, and recently I’ve been realizing that those days are more common when I’m particularly exhausted by the experience of living as a woman (e.g.: I suspect that my decision to bind today was in part fueled by listening to my father-in-law come downstairs Thanksgiving morning and tell my mother-in-law – who had already been in the kitchen for two hours – to “start cooking!”, before he went out to do yardwork and then watch football for the rest of the day >.<).

        I'm realizing that for me, part of the appeal of masculinity is on some level wanting to be part of the class in power, and I have mixed feelings about that. I think my masculinity is more complicated than that, too, but that's definitely in there. I was describing this impulse to a friend and she responded with something like "how horrible, to see a system of oppression and think, 'fuck, I'd rather be one of the oppressors.'" I don't think she's entirely wrong, but I don't know how to separate "desire to escape the social penalty of being female" from the rest of my gender identity.

        • Transnonymous

          This is really interesting to me because I feel the opposite! One thing I had to work hard to reconcile with deciding to transition was the privilege that comes with that. I don’t want to be part of a class of oppressors and I mourned the fact that I would no longer be welcome in exclusively female spaces, but I knew that I absolutely was not comfortable in those spaces anyway and felt like an invader.

          It is really difficult to reconcile what masculinity means, both at large and personally, as gender nonconforming people. Being trans is exhausting, but it is exhausting for totally different reasons than being perceived as female was, and I understand where you’re coming from. It is nice to know that I’m not the only one dealing with this.

          • Brooks Moses

            If it helps, I’ve heard very much the same story about difficulty reconciling these things from the trans male friend that I talk with sometimes about this. So you’re certainly not the only one.

        • I think some of this may be a little of the “privileges no one should have” vs “privileges everyone should have” thing. Like for example, does one want to be part of the class in power because they want their bodily autonomy respected, or do they want to be part of the class in power because they want the ability to violate other people’s autonomy?

        • uggggh

          I had a very similar experience. I am a butch lesbian who came very, very close to transitioning and realized just in time that my dysphoria (while real and sometimes dehibilitating) was rooted in the fact that being a woman and being treated as a woman is inherently traumatic. The problem was not inherently with my body, but with the way that my body marked me for violence.
          Especially being a very visibly gay and gender nonconforming woman, it’s hard every day to see men being allowed to wear the things I like and participate in activities that I like and not have to face consequences for it. If I could just be a dude, I would be able to do all those things without the harassment I experience now. And that would be great!

          I would love to talk more about this sometime, if you’re open to that.

          • Anna

            I’d be happy to talk about this more; it’s something I think about a lot. [Contact info removed – even though it’s not tied to me personally, it seems like asking for spam to leave up even an obfuscated email address. Let me know if you didn’t get it in your email before I took it down.]

      • ART

        Seconding Amy, and also of course this conversation is not (or should not be) only about women as victims – and you absolutely deserve space here to address your abuse. Like I would never perceive your involvement in the conversation from that perspective as invading “my” safe space to talk about all of this, though I know there are those who do and that sucks. FWIW, I often feel really ill-equipped to have these conversations that are, in some ways, so necessarily about gender (they feel that way anyway?), and yet be inclusive and not erase others’ experiences with my blind spots. I appreciate your thoughts here and that your voice pushes me to think harder about that. And I’m sorry for those tough feelings you are wrestling with.

      • Jess

        First off, I think this is my favorite answer to the unspoken question this whole thread is asking, of “What do we want from the men in our lives” so thank you for that:

        “I am fully on board with blanket statements like ‘men are trash’ and don’t feel personally called out by any of the rhetoric while still understanding that something needs to be done and men as a whole need to be held accountable.”

        I hope that you and other people of any gender identity who have experienced abuse, assault, and harassment are finding safe spaces in this and the greater conversation to bring up your own experiences. I know that the language can be very gendered in the discussions, but there is a lot of value your story and your voice.

        Along with ART and Amy March, I want you to know that you do not owe anybody, especially not us, an apology for who you are.

      • QUEER

        Hey. It is ok to talk about your abuse, if you want to.

        My husband is a trans man, and was abused as a child. For these and other reasons, he is incredibly empathetic towards women (and men!) sharing stories of abuse. I don’t feel anger towards him, the way many others in this thread rightly feel towards their male partners. Rather, I feel we are united together in our belief of people’s agency over their own bodies.

        Your stories are important. Your lives are important. All of ours are.

      • EF

        I get this – and actually wonder if, in a more equal and progressive society, I would lean harder to trans-masc than to agender…but I don’t know (will i ever sort my gender out? dunno. this shit takes time, doesn’t it?)

        i’m really glad you said something, transnonymous. not that you’re culpable or owe an apology for *anything* but because it’s validating to hear someone else voice these thoughts.

    • Brooks Moses

      If it helps, here’s what I’m thinking about being a man right now, and how I relate to all this. And I’ll try to be honest, even when it goes counter to showing myself as a “good guy”.

      I’m appalled, and astonished, and numbed-from-overwhelm, about all the stories that my friends are telling. Not the big things, necessarily; the little things like [example omitted to not be triggery]. And the amount of “I didn’t think I had a lot, until I started thinking of what my #metoo post would say” that I hear. And, even as a man, I have stories of my own of harassment and of it being normalized away, though they’re pretty minor. But that’s really context.

      What’s getting to me is that it really does seem to be all men. And I’m a man. So, that means me. I don’t think I’ve physically harassed anyone (though, as has been noted, privilege means being able to forget that you’ve done things like that). But I was socially awkward as a teen and young 20-something, and I got misled and misunderstood social boundaries sometimes, and even though in everything I remember I was doing the best I could, I nonetheless know of times I made women uncomfortable. I’d mostly made peace with that — after all, the past is unchanged, and I learned from those times and did better and am doing better. But this is dredging all of that back up, and it’s mixing with all the self-doubt in my head and it’s not an emotionally good place.

      (And most of my emotional support comes from women because, well, I learned young that asking men for emotional support was going to get me mocked or worse, not helped. So I’m not asking for emotional support for this except from my male therapist, because this is a “support inward, vent outward” moment.)

      I’m also feeling really angry at the people — women and men — who are proclaiming that it’s “simple”; men who are worried shouldn’t be because if they’re good people are treat women with respect, they have nothing to fear. I’m angry because it’s erasing my emotions, but also because it’s a load of dangerous falsehood. It supports the idea that people who think of themselves as “good people” can’t be harassers, which leads to women saying “He’s a good person who was doing his best, so what he did to me couldn’t really have been abuse.” It supports men who think of themselves as “good people” thinking “nothing I did could have been abuse” rather than examining it.

      A lot of this is confusing, in emotional ways, too. I (perhaps accurately, perhaps not) see the ways that, had circumstances and my personality been a bit different and had I been less afraid as a young man of being awkward, I could have nearly been that woman’s boyfriend who was a good person doing his best but still ending up doing something abusive. So it’s easy to hear a lot of these stories and see how, there but for the grace of luck, that could be me. But a lot of these stories really do seem to be something different, of repeated patterns that the people had to know were wrong, and I don’t understand how so many people could do that.

      I feel very alone. I already had a hard time trusting men enough to be emotionally open with them. I already knew that only having women as sources of emotional support for me was a problematic pattern that I needed to do something about, but going to people I don’t trust (often for good reason, albeit only statistical reason) when I’m feeling vulnerable and fragile is not wise either. And this is making both of those a lot worse — the feeling that “men are terrible” and the feeling that asking women for support is problematic.

      I feel very alone, because so many of these stories are of men who think that grabbing a woman’s breast without being asked to do so is okay, which sounds completely alien to me. And doing it while knowing it’s not okay is as obviously not a thing one does. This brings back all the feelings from high school when I felt like an alien — like there was this “boy” culture that I completely didn’t get and didn’t understand, and I certainly didn’t belong to. It’s not a new feeling; it comes up in conversations about “tech-bro” culture in Silicon Valley, and lots of other places. But this is amplifying it.

      If I speak out against this in some way, do I get laughed at, like I did when I was a young man admitting to having emotions? Am I a hypocrite, throwing stones from a glass house? Will it make any difference — if people don’t think this is obvious, how can I change it? They’re aliens to me; why would anyone listen? So I put my energy into other things where it feels like I can make a difference to someone, like doing the laundry.

      If I said what was on my heart to support women affected by all this, it would be a #metoo story. I hear you. I too have done things that I regret, and I have probably done things I have forgotten and should regret, and I am trying to learn better and I want to make amends. But this is nowhere near a safe time to say what the things are that I have done that I regret, so I don’t say that either.

      I suspect that looks a lot like passivity on the surface.

  • Snow

    While watching the #MeToo campaign unfold on social media, and the reactionary “Please tell me tangible steps that I can do to be a good ally” posts from many men, my biggest frustration has been that I have yet to see any of those tangible steps include “start a #MeToo campaign for men to admit that they have indeed harassed women in some way in their lives and are apart of this problem”.

    My husband is a devout feminist, and does all the right things. I give thanks every day that I’m with a man who is so tuned in to our toxic culture and who actively works to understand what it’s like to be a woman, while never, never saying “not all men” or “are you sure” or “I don’t believe you” (I thank his incredible sister for his level of ‘woke-ness’). But, and this is the important part, EVEN HE is part of the problem. Even he has participated in conversations that belittle women, sexualize them, and contribute to the toxic culture that we live in.

    Now the great thing is that he owns this. He recognizes that he at times in his life has been apart of the problem, and works on deconstructing these to see how he could have acted differently. We talk about how I am also complicit (I live in and was raised in this culture too and have been apart of conversations like the ones mentioned above as well without doing anything about it!), and what the two of us can do in future situations to NOT be complicit, to call people in, instead of out. And we talk about how to use our white-cisgender-upper-middle-class-educated-privilege to amplify voices of folks who have less privilege.

    Anyways, all that to say, until there is a #MeToo Campaign (call it whatever you want) of men identifying and owning that they, by merit of being male, are a part of the problem, I don’t have a lot of hope that things are going to change.

    ps. If you can’t tell, I don’t believe in #NotAllMen – it doesn’t have to be purposeful to be harmful.

    • Abs

      I’m sort of torn about this. On the one hand, I think all men need to reckon with themselves and own their complicity. On the other hand, I can think of few things more exhausting than a Facebook feed full of all my supposedly feminist male friends publicly flagellating themselves. I don’t really see a version of that that isn’t just a demand for more emotional labor from the women around them.

      • Snow

        Ha – I hadn’t thought of that. I guess I mean this more in the sense that I want to see men taking responsibility for their complicity. And I wish I’d seen “taking responsibility for your complicity #yesallmen” in the posts about what men could do. (Full disclosure, I’m not actually on Facebook, so I recognize that I’m dropping the ball and could have been the person writing that, but wasn’t).

      • rg223

        I actually saw quite a few male facebook friends doing what Snow said below, posting and taking responsibility for their complacency, and I for one appreciated it. In those cases, it wasn’t self-flagellation, though. And it was a lot better than complete silence, which was what I got from most of the men online and in real life.

    • flashphase

      Can you recommend any resources on #notallmen and talking to men in your life about this? I struggle because my husband is a feminist, recognizes that he wasn’t always, and that men should be better and more supportive… and also does not like me to say things like “men are awful” (his point being I wouldn’t like it if he said “women are awful”). I’d like a way to approach or understand how we can be more constructive in understanding this.

      • Pannorama

        AHHHH those two things aren’t the same! The difference is the systemic roles that these two groups play. Men ARE awful because they’re (as a group) given much more power, which they exercise with little to no thought against women who (as a group) have much less power. Obviously this varies where it intersects with other axes (say, race, ability, class). A man saying “women are awful” is punching down. A woman saying “men are awful” is a woman reporting on her experience of being hurt and hurt and hurt and expected to take it with a smile.

      • Snow

        This is tough and I don’t have an article or something to refer you to, but I can tell you what helps us. We often talk about how another challenging thing about our culture is the concept that people are deemed “good” or “bad” – that our culture doesn’t really allow for much nuance (personally I think this has religious origins, but I won’t get into that now…). Contrarily, I believe that everyone has done “good things” (hopefully more often than not!), and everyone also has done “bad things” (hopefully less often!). So when it comes to #notallmen, men need to recognize that just because they have participated in our toxic culture, it doesn’t make them a “bad” person. It makes them a person who has participated in our toxic culture and is hopefully trying to learn what about their behaviour was toxic and how they can change their behaviour for next time.

        This is why I can confidently say that I have participated in this culture, without falling into a shame spiral. I am a product of the culture that I was raised in – I can see that not everything about that culture is perfect – and I am actively working every day to see where I’m complicit in perpetuating the culture, and where I can work to change it. It sounds like your husband is doing the same (except that he’s getting a little bit stuck in the shame spiral).

        On a similar note, staying away from blanket statements like “men are awful” is helpful to keep someone from getting defensive. Your husband can likely agree that many men have done many awful things. But that men aren’t inherently awful on purpose (see good/bad continuum above).

        Hope that helps?!

        • Jess

          Oh my god. This approach is really good and I’m going to apply it to my life.

        • Jessica
          • Snow

            OH MY GOODNESS WHY HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE?! Thank you for making my day:)

          • Jessica

            If you aren’t watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend you should be!!

          • flashphase

            I AM OBSESSED

          • kazeegeyser

            Why do men never listen and only think about themselves AS OPPOSED TO WOMEN WHO ALWAYS LISTEN AND NEVER THINK ABOUT THEMSELVES??

          • MC

            ALL 3.6 BILLION MEN.

        • Zoya

          This makes me think of Jay Smooth and his “dental hygiene” metaphor for how to approach conversations about race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU

        • savannnah

          On a similar vein, its much more easy for me to see how systemic sexism is and how we can deal with it when I think about racism- and it becomes easier to talk about to other people as well. My husband and I acknowledge that, as white people in the US, we are both racist because we grew up in a racist society and we are not magically immune to its forces. You have to peel back that layer with every interaction, thought and intention, every time. I imagine its the same way for men who feel like they are not ‘Sexist’ but who have not put the effort in on examine their culture and their own assumptions. From that level it seems easier to discuss actions as sexist, rather than a person as sexist.

      • Amy March

        “Hey you know what? You’re right. 100% of men are not being awful 100% of the time. You know what else? You know that’s not what I mean. Stop policing how I express that [I’m scared, I’m angry, I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it]. Men are still winning. You’re fine. Women have put up with harassment and assault for all time. You can handle a bit of hyperbole.”

        • AP

          Love this. Stealing it.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I saw some guys post something about #changestartswithme or something like that. TBH, I didn’t have the mental energy to be anything but kind of annoyed by it. I appreciate the thought, my dudes, but I’ll care when I see a difference, not a hashtag.

  • CB

    I got into an argument with my dad over Thanksgiving when he kept arguing, among other defensive things, that accusations “shouldn’t ruin a man’s life over a mistake he might have made”. I finally played the last card I had when I told him that the reason I didn’t come forward after my assault was exactly that reason – I didn’t want to ruin my assaulter’s life. I was hoping that it might make him feel differently. Maybe it did, but in the moment, he accused me of “demonizing men” and stormed off. I thankfully got to leave after that to go Thanksgiving Round II with my fiancee, but I didn’t sleep at all. The entire conversation was like a punch in the gut. I’m so tired. I’m so sad.

    • Mary Jo TC

      Your dad can break your heart. My dad voted for 45. I have chosen not to talk to him about how he could do that after hearing the Access Hollywood video, and the way 45 talked about Ivanka on Howard Stern, just to protect myself from hearing him say that it doesn’t matter, and hence I, his daughter, don’t matter, as much as Hilary’s emails, or whatever other fucked up reason he could possibly give.

      • Alli

        My dad keeps breaking my heart.

        I found out over thanksgiving weekend that he thinks I’m not a feminist? And when I argued that I was he went into some weird rant about how he raised me to be smart and confident and driven but I’m not actually a feminist, which leads me to believe that he gives himself all the credit for any of my success. It was very uncomfortable. I am afraid to find out what he thinks of #metoo, because I was sexually assaulted as a teenager and I thought that really affected him.

        • AP

          Ugh, I’m sorry. During the 2012 election when I was campaigning for Obama, my stepdad (who was going through a Rush Limbaugh phase at the time) said to me about my politics “I don’t understand how someone who is so smart can be so stupid.” Not, “We may disagree but I’m proud of you for being civically engaged and a responsible citizen.” It still really fucking stings, and that was 5 years ago. #parentingfail

    • Pannorama

      I’m so sorry that the conversation ended that way. Being basically yelled at for divulging something so vulnerable and private sounds like an impossible emotional situation. And this kind of response is so ridiculous — assaulting someone isn’t the same as leaving your car in a 2 hours parking zone overnight. It’s not “a mistake he might have made.” It’s something that so directly and harmfully impacts another person, and that you can never undo. I hope your dad puts his head on straight and apologizes.

  • Cleo

    Does anyone really not want to talk about it to anyone?

    I work in the entertainment industry and every day, I get a constant reminder, delivered directly to my inbox (thx Deadline) that this industry is probably not safe for me and I have to fight to forget these things to be productive at work — at a job I love, that’s one step below my dream job I’ve been wanting since I was 8 years old.

    When I went to visit my parents (in the Midwest) for Thanksgiving, I was grateful at how disgusted my male relatives were at all the assault happening in Hollywood, but also, I wish they would shut up about it. It made what I hoped would be a respite a more stressful time, especially because I was the “expert” on it.

    • Jess

      I have spaces where I feel like I need to talk about certain things (like… systemic racism with my parents who… aren’t great about that, or APW about feminism because obvs.), or times when I need to talk about them because it’s all just too much.

      When I get together with my girlfriends, I know we’re all dealing with this shit. I wanna talk about my cozy new sweater or my friend’s new dog or a new super cool hiking trip someone took, not about how terrible the world is. We all know how terrible the world is.

      • AP

        Yeah, I’ve been feeling this too. My close lady friends and I have been keeping it light, because we just need some space to feel normal.

    • Anna

      Yeah, similarly, in the wake of the 2016 election, I had a bunch of coworkers who really wanted to process and rehash and delve into the election at every. lunchtime. conversation. every. day. It was exhausting and led to me crying in a phone room after lunch more than once. After a couple weeks of this – as I was getting more visibly upset and the one other woman on the team at the time had just stopped showing up to lunch – our team lead talked to everyone one-on-one about how they felt about these conversations and then gently put out the word that maybe we should pick other topics. It was incredibly appreciated because those discussions would basically fuck me over, productivity-wise, for the rest of the day.

  • tirzahrene

    I’m afraid to have the conversations. He works in a good old boys environment. He can navigate it easily. He treats ME with respect and I don’t think he’d harass anyone else either, but he also blows this shit off as “stupidity” and doesn’t acknowledge its real impact. And I’m too hurt and tired to educate him.

    I want him to be my safe place. I need that. He still thinks it’s funny to make sexist jokes because it gets a rise out of me. It’s not.

    He’s going to get butthurt, but I’m done nicely explaining that it bothers me. Next time, I’m yelling at him. That bullshit hurts our relationship.

    • Angela’s Back

      you go girl <3

    • Jess

      Go you. It is *not* funny to make you uncomfortable by telling sexist jokes. It’s mean.

    • Zoya

      This Shakesville essay is old, but super-relevant to what you’re describing: http://www.shakesville.com/2009/08/terrible-bargain-we-have-regretfully.html

      Good luck. You got this.

    • CMT

      Oh man, I have zero tolerance for anybody who thinks intentionally pushing somebody’s buttons is funny.

      • Jess

        I have lots of words, and many of them are variations on four-letter ones.

      • Jessica

        The devil has enough advocates, friends and family should be compassionate.

        • MC

          Yeah the devil doesn’t need your pro-bono work, dudes!!!

          • Jenny

            Excellent, I shall be using this as a witty retort!

        • uggggh

          “the devil has enough advocates and all of them look like you”

      • Basketcase

        My parents do it and I hate it with a passion.

    • S

      I never feel more emotionally unsafe than when I’m around people (Hi, Dad) who say things they know will upset/make me uncomfortable or unhappy to get a rise out of me. Because it’s making me the joke. It’s belittling and dehumanising. It’s punishing me for caring and for being “too sensitive”. This is also why I can’t stand the “devil’s advocate thing”. A couple of resources that feel relevant: https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/09/playing-devils-advocate/
      https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/tone-policing-and-privilege/

      • jem

        Thank you for sharing these links— first one is EXACTLY the point I was trying to make to my husband last night

    • Hot like Bea

      Oh my god, I’m so glad I found this discussion. My husband plays devil’s advocate all. The. Fucking. Time. It’s aggravating. He’s a high school teacher and I know he likes to stir debate & get his students thinking, but he pulls that shit on me too.

      Earlier tonight I made a comment about how men should be cancelled, after today’s Matt Lauer & Garrison Keillor news. He came back, kind of sarcastically, with, “Are you saying that women never harass men in the workplace?” It struck a nerve. That was like 2 hours ago and I’m getting madder about it as time passes.

      What the fuck, dudes.

      • anon

        Same here on the Devil’s Advocate thing. I guess it’s easier for guys to play that card and feel like their being unbiased or whatever, but its caused some major strife in conversations between husband and I – he’s constantly playing Devil’s Advocate, to the point where I wonder what side he’s really on and then when I finally have enough and break down a little he reassures me of his actual feelings, and I’m like what was the point of that???? are you trying to make me hate you?? It doesn’t help that my husband likes to talk about the same things many times over the help him process them.

      • Another Meg

        That is obnoxious. It’s like the “men get assaulted, too” thing. Yes, absolutely, they do. But does it happen with such frequency that all men make significant changes to the way they do everyday things in order to avoid it?

  • CP2011

    I came on here hoping there would be a thread on this topic today!! So glad there is. I’m a mess of complicated feelings right now. On one hand, “burn it to the ground/ban men”. On the other, “oh shit, is the pendulum going to swing back the other way and make women out to be weak and anti sexual — leading to more animosity between the sexes?”
    I’m logically mostly in the camp of, this is a reckoning, and I’ll be glad to see anyone who goes down with the ship get what they deserve. There has truly been a war on women — on our ability to live without fear of assault and on our ability to control our bodies — since the dawn of time. About damn time for men to start feeling some fear too.
    I’m just afraid that there will be a huge backlash against women and against gender blurring, like that we will return to the days of “men are from mars, women are from Venus”.

    • Jess

      Unfortunately, I think that backlash completely guaranteed. Every gain by women, every gain by *any* disenfranchised group, has historically been met by a backlash from those in power. Even now, we see MRA’s and Gamergater’s rising.

      When I’m feeling optimistic, I hope that the people bringing that backlash are dwindling, that the pendulum swings smaller and quicker with every gain women have made. That we can keep seeing the MRA’s as pathetic and ridiculous. That when the dirty old men who “came of age in a different time” leave power, they are not replaced by more of the same.

      When I’m not feeling optimistic… I’m only afraid.

    • Amy March

      Almost like the massive backlash against women that was the last election? Yup. Men still hold more power. Men will still collectively retaliate. Still. Got to keep fighting.

  • Anonymous Nelly

    Oh boy, this hits home. The recent flood of allegations has the victim-services worker part of me applauding.

    BUT my partner has recently been accused of harassment/misconduct allegations that I know are false. How? Because he wasn’t in the country or at the event (and was, in fact, with me) at which he has been accused. The female in this situation has a history of bipolar disorder, and works at the same company as my husband, but in a different department.

    I am really struggling with how to process this conundrum and was actually going to submit to Ask APW. I regularly defend the fact that we need to believe women, support the victim, and remove rape culture. I work with survivors and advocate for them. In my experience, people do not lie about this. The power dynamic is ALWAYS in favour of the man.

    But this time it feels different. Because it’s personal, because it cannot physically be true, and because of the current climate making the potential consequences of even allegations for my husband to be disastrous.

    So, how do I navigate when I find myself in the 0.00001%? What do I say to the men in my life who say ‘women can lie and destroy my career?’ So many questions

    • Jess

      You let the truth be on his side. He wasn’t there at the time. He did not do this thing. Stand by him and tell the truth to those who bring it up to you.

      Don’t call attention to the accusers trustworthiness or mental history – smearing someone else is not really a great tactic if what you’re trying to do is preserve somebody’s reputation. It’s also a pretty shitty way that lots of real harassers have gotten away with it in and out of court for so long.

      (I am not a lawyer, so… grain of salt, I guess).

    • SS Express

      What an awful situation, I’m so sorry. If he can prove that the allegations aren’t true (which I imagine would be relatively easy, travel records etc) then you can hopefully handle it without needing to approach the popular “she’s a crazy liar trying to ruin his life” defense. Hopefully your husband can be an example of how false allegations actually DON’T ruin someone’s career.

    • uggggh

      Problem with this is that frequently victims and survivors get the details wrong. This is textbook post trauma. She is way more likely to have got the date or the location wrong. It does not mean that he didn’t do it.

  • Anon for this.

    I did not come to terms with the idea that I had experienced “intimate partner” rape years ago by an ex until well into my marriage to my husband. I know that the way I’m dealing with that realization has had some consequences for me personally and in our relationship, and I haven’t been sure how to move forward – I want to tell my husband about it, but I’m afraid that either it will really upset him, in a way that I just instinctively want to protect him from (I know, the labor inherent in that line of thinking…), or really, worse, that I will have to fight to convince him that it was “that bad.” Honestly, I don’t want to find out that I’m married to a man that wouldn’t see that behavior as a big deal. Because I wouldn’t be sure what to do with that, and I’m not sure I have the energy to be the exhausted feminist wife right now.

    • Jess

      I’m really sorry that your ex did that to you. It is not your fault and you don’t owe anybody the story.

      I hope that you are able to be gentle with yourself and that you have people who can take care of you without needing to know why.

      It’s ok to not feel ready to share it with him just yet, but to leave the door open to maybe share it with him someday. It’s ok to feel afraid about his response. It’s ok to not have the energy to manage his possible reactions. Those are reasonable fears and things to think about.

      I hope that if you do tell him, when you’re ready, he is supportive and says exactly what you need him to.

    • Eenie

      Solidarity. As someone who just had a similar conversation with my husband last month, it went a lot better than I expected. I wish you luck.

  • BSM

    Where DO we go from here?? I have been asking myself that and discussing it with my husband lately, particularly when it comes to the more subtle, mild harassment that happens to women all the damn time.

    For example: my husband was visiting a friend of his in LA when they were a year or two out of college. They wanted to try to get some people together to go out, so they Facebook messaged a bunch of people they went to school with to see what they were up to that night. The next morning, one of the women (an acquaintance of his) responded and gave him an earful about how disrespectful it was for him to try to “booty call” her like that. He genuinely wanted to know if she wanted to hang out as a group that night, but she interpreted it as mild harassment.

    I explained to him that she probably got messages like that from randos all the time, which is why she thought he was being a slimeball. He totally agreed and said he sent her a message back apologizing for the miscommunication, but he still doesn’t know what he should have done at the time. Not message her at all? Phrase it some other way? Something else?

    Not that my husband is a victim AT ALL, but his experience did make me wonder if, in our culture of toxic masculinity where power is so heavily tilted to the side of white men, are we bound to have a certain amount of interactions like this where everyone feels shitty at the end of it, even though there was no mal-intent?

    • Amy March

      I think yeah. He didn’t mean to do anything wrong, and didn’t. She was hurt, he apologized. Seems pretty well handled to me. Sometimes things don’t go smoothly but that doesn’t mean his original actions were wrong.

      • BSM

        Yeah, I was just hoping I was missing something and there was some kind of low-hanging fruit where I could tell him how stuff like that should be handled so that people don’t get hurt. No easy wins, I guess.

        • Jess

          I’m kind of dying to know more details, like was it a group FB message or one-to-one, did he explicitly say “Getting the gang back together tonight while LA Friend is in town. Are you free?” or did he say the always ambiguous and usually implying bad-news, “What are you up to tonight?” but I know that none of that really matters.

          Like, there *are* really easy ways for that to not be misconstrued. But in the end, we can’t go back.

          • BSM

            I don’t know the details (this was 10+ years ago); I’m not sure they matter that much? He could have been endlessly specific, and she could have still felt harassed, imo.

          • SS Express

            I think the details don’t matter in deciding whether or not she was right to feel harassed, but they do matter in terms of him wanting to figure out what he could have done differently/how he can avoid making someone uncomfortable in the future (short of never including women in invitations, which obviously is also sexist and gross). And if the invite was just “what u up to tonight?”, framing questions or invitations in a way that makes his non-creepy intentions clear is his best bet going forward. If the invitation was “we’re getting the band back together tonight, maybe pizza then drinks at the local, are you keen?” then the answer is just keep doing what you’re doing, understand that women will still sometimes feel creeped out by it, and make sure that you’re cool about it if and when they do. (“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that at all and I’m so sorry I made you uncomfortable” vs “Jeez do you have to be such a bitch about it, not all men are like that, how do you think that makes me feel, I wouldn’t fuck you anyway” – not that I think he responded like that, but I’m sure we all know men who do.)

        • lindyzag

          I mean, that case is pretty simple. Instead of “hey, you free?” just say “Hey! I’m in town visiting Rob and we want to get a bunch of college friends together! You free?”

          I think it’s pretty generally good manners to give people more info when you’re asking if they’re available. People like to know if it’s a group event or a one-on-one, if it’s clubbing or a quiet game night, if a friend they don’t see often will be there from out of town, whatever. This is not really relevant but everyone should always give more details!

          • BSM

            I’m not sure of the details. No matter what he said, couldn’t she have still felt harassed? Those feelings would still be valid whether he wrote a novel or just sent “sup?” imo.

    • Jess

      I think in answer to your question at the end… yes. We are going to have to have a ton of conversations and events happen where somebody feels bad even though they didn’t actually do anything themselves.

      Men are going to have to examine how they ask things of their friends and determine if somebody has used them in an offensive way before. Men are going to be made to feel uncomfortable, even for being inadvertently sexist or saying something “as a joke” in the way they should have felt uncomfortable for saying those things all along.

      In short, men are going to have to second guess their actions every day the way women have had to second guess their actions to determine if maybe they really were “asking for it” since the dawn of quote-unquote-morality.

      • sage

        I’ve been impressed at how my fiance lately has started looking back over his past actions and thinking about what he should have done differently in light of what he has seen people post in the #metoo campaign. He told me recently that he has started second guessing / changing his actions to give women more space in interactions where he thinks he might unintentionally come off as threatening or inappropriate.

        • BSM

          Same. And also just… shutting up. He works in a male-dominated field, so I appreciate that he’ consciously giving the few women on his team space to be heard.

      • BSM

        Oh yeah, I completely agree. It’s not clear in my comment, but I’m only really concerned about women coming away from these interactions feeling shitty. I will edit.

        • Jess

          Ah – yeah, that makes sense!

          I think women are gonna feel shitty no matter what.

          I guess I’d rather feel shitty because I called somebody out and was wrong than feel shitty because somebody I thought was a friend was actually not. Maybe I’d be awkward around them for a while, and maybe I’d also have to apologize depending on what was said, but I think I’d rather know that than go on believing my friends were terrible all along.

          Ideally, men would *also* be on other dudes when they see stuff, so it doesn’t just rest on women. But… that’s gonna be a big step.

          I mean, even when it IS justified women still feel bad for calling stuff out. There have been a lot of HH posts like, “Do I say something?” or “I just told somebody this wasn’t ok. Was that the right thing to do?” It sucks and I hope it gets better.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I had a conversation with a friend that was similar. He talked about how he was at a bar, flirted with a girl, she turned him down. After that he left her alone, but because it was a small place he kept unintentionally bumping into her, and she accused him of stalking her. We tried to explain to him that yeah, maybe you take no for an answer, but you may be the first dude who did, and she can’t afford to trust you. It’s not that it doesn’t suck for the innocent dude to be misunderstood. It’s that it sucks more for the woman in that situation to live in a world where she doesn’t have the luxury of judging that man solely on his own merits. She has to make some quick decisions to keep herself safe, and they’re going to be informed by the worst things she’s seen other men do.

      • Zoya

        Yes! I posted below about a friend who was confused about being rebuffed when he offered to walk a drunk girl home. I explained it basically the same way: you knew that you had no ill intent. But she and her friends had no way of knowing that. It’s okay to feel hurt that your kind gesture was misinterpreted, but also keep in mind what it’s like to be totally unsure which kind-seeming dudes are actually predators and which are just clueless.

    • Alli

      My husband had a situation in high school where he went on a date with a girl, but the movie they planned on seeing had stopped showing in theaters and he suggested they just drive around and talk instead. He found out later she was really freaked out and all her friends thought he was a creep. He was saying how embarrassing it was, but he felt terrible that he didn’t realize til so much later that just driving around with him was a scary situation for her because she couldn’t leave.

      I mean it’s not something that he can change now, years later, but I feel like it’s a helpful lesson in just thinking for a damn second about the situation men put women in when hanging out.

  • KRS887

    THANK YOU for this post. The me too moment spurred me to get in touch with some deep hurt from being sexually harassed as a teen (by an adult man who was my boss at the time) over to course of a year and the hurt from not being believed when I reported the harassment to an adult that was supposed to protect me. While the past several weeks have been very emotional and hard I have been fortunate that my fiance has been really understanding and responsive to me as I process this and given me space when I asked for it. That said, outside of him, I’m self protecting and trying to engage with as few men as possible. Like you, the Al Franken revelation threw me. I lived for his books when they were published and it just feels like such a betrayal when self proclaimed “good feminist men” turn out to be harassers or abusers.

    Additionally, the laser focus on “what is the punishment” for these men has been… somewhat disheartening to me? I guess it makes me worry that not much will change from this because, as a society, I don’t see us engaging in a conversation about how our culture has allowed this to happen since always.

    • Anna

      Yeah, the Al Franken bit was also eye-opening for me because my immediate reaction in my own head was to try to downplay it or make some sort of excuse about how “well, comedy is a raunchy field, he probably wasn’t as bad as everyone else around him”, etc etc bullshit. And I was like, oh wow, this is that gut reaction that supporters of various other sexual assaulters have had, this is how they can come out in support of people who have obviously done awful things. I had to take a day or so and just not say any of what was going through my head until I could process it to, no, it doesn’t matter that this is someone whose work I liked and who I respected, his actions speak for themselves. He’s still part of the problem and should be approached accordingly.

    • Jess

      I really care very little about these individual men, how bad they feel, or how much they are punished. And that’s what I feel so defeated about in these conversations – the focus is on these “bad men” and the scandal and not “How do we stop this from happening again?”

      • Anna

        Right? My husband’s like wondering who’s going to be next and I’m like, I really, really don’t give a fuck who it is. None of this matters unless it means that someone who’s about to reach out and grab a woman’s ass, or send a suggestive text to a coworker, or drug and rape someone, or whatever thinks about their cultural environment and DECIDES NOT TO. And we haven’t won until EVERYONE in that situation decides not to, or better, it would never occur to anyone to undermine someone else’s bodily autonomy.

  • BSM

    🙌🏽 🙌🏽 🙌🏽 to the comment moderation going on rn. Thanks, APW!

    • Jess

      AGREED. This has to be hell on the moderators.

    • Jessica

      I haven’t even seen anything cray, yet. Way to be!

      • BSM

        I just saw one, but I didn’t even have time to reply with a “fuck off” before it had been removed. Yay?

    • AP

      I’ve been reading through all these comments and feeling immense gratitude for the conversation taking place here, and for the unseen efforts to keep this space safe for such an incredibly rich and meaningful conversation. Like, I am fully tearing up right now as I type this. Thanks, APW <3

    • We didn’t moderate anything down today you guys. (Well, maybe one comment, not sure.) You’re imagining our hard work (on that front). We kept an eye on things but that’s all.

      • Sarah E

        It’s not just the work in this conversation. It’s the work you put in moderating over the entire history of the site.

  • sage

    I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, defeated, and unsurprised with each new story that comes out. However, I can tell it has taken root in my male partner’s psyche and he has been not just engaging in but starting conversations about it recently.

    He discussed being shocked by the #metoos on social media from literally every one of his female friends, and saddened to hear that it was not at all shocking for me. He admitted that he feels guilty for likely making his female friends (or females in general) feel unsafe at times in the past without even realizing it (basically the opposite of #NotAllMen). He has told me about how he is behaving differently these days based on how he imagines he might be coming off as threatening in situations he would not have thought twice about before. He does not participate in discussions among work colleagues that venture into inappropriate territory… I doubt he has ever actively shut it down, but once he is in a greater position of power at work I believe he will.

    Although I’m personally feeling run down by the current conversation on all this, my partner’s reaction has been encouraging to me and I’m really happy to be marrying him soon.

  • Sonnie

    I had a very long very drunken conversation with my brother-in-law about South Park and how it has contributed (if not founded) troll culture and how it amusing to harass people, especially women and POC, for the lolz. And he would not backdown from defending South Park. He couldn’t believe that a show that he likes and he believed had insightful political messages was made for white men at the expense of literally everyone else. It took me almost breaking down in tears about how it might be funny to him but getting harassed for amusement is not funny to me for him to begin to understand how maybe South Park is beyond complicit.

    But what has made me feel even grosser is that after he gave me that inch I felt the need to praise his advocacy work and tell him what a great friend and ally he is. Why did I need to soothe his ego after all of that? Why did I think him feeling good about himself is how I had to end that conversation? Why did I take on that emotional labor? He certainly wasn’t trying to make me feel better at the end of all of it.

    • Anna

      The maybe positive side of that is maybe it makes him more likely to engage next time, if he knows he gets a cookie when he does? I don’t know. You absolutely shouldn’t have to take that on. You should feel 100% free to tell him exactly how unimpressive his minuscule leap of understanding is, or just not engage with him at all. But you also shouldn’t feel bad for choosing to engage or deciding it’s easier to congratulate him for a tiny bit of progress than to weather his petulance over being asked to confront his own blind spots.

  • Her Lindsayship

    A few years ago, my now-husband was cat-called in the street twice in one day by the same guy. I was doing an internship abroad, so he emailed me the story and said it felt like he now understood what it was like for women. At the time, I was in a feminist rage uptick (you know, it waxes and wanes), and responded that he actually had no idea what it’s like for women because he experienced one isolated incident in twenty-plus years of life. It sparked a looong email chain about feminism that was actually a hugely important development in our relationship, and to this day I’m grateful for that time we spent in a LDR because sometimes those convos can be more constructive over email than in person.

    Some weeks later I went to Cologne alone for a few days. Overall it was an awesome experience, I enjoyed solo travelling. But then I was cat-called in the street twice in one day by the same guy. The second time I passed him, I laughed a little to myself – I guess it was a waning time for my feminist rage, and I was tired and just found it amusing that I’d managed to pass this guy again. He saw that laugh and started following me, asking me questions, trying to get me to come hang out with his friends. His behavior wasn’t necessarily aggressive, his tone was very friendly, but also he wouldn’t let me walk away from him. I started to feel scared when I realized I couldn’t just get to my hostel and run inside and be safe – then he would know where I was staying. I didn’t know a soul in Cologne, no one there was waiting to make sure I was ok, it didn’t matter if my mom would freak out about not hearing from me because by then it would be too late. That was when I looked him in the eye and said, “If you don’t stop following me now I will call the police.” Thankfully that was that.

    But it struck me that my now-husband felt scared when he was cat-called and had a revelation that sparked an important conversation about feminism, and I felt mildly annoyed and laughed it off, sparking one of the most terrifying interactions of my life. Tired is how I feel about that. Sometimes I feel angry and we talk about it, other times I feel tired. I’m tired of not being able to make men understand, because sometimes I think they just can’t. Sorry for rambly comment, got myself in a bit of a funk over this.

    • Jess

      I swing between tired and angry and sad and happy-that-women-can-come-forward-and-be-believed-for-once daily.

      There is a time for being tired.

    • Yes. I love to travel, but I’ve had two terrifying experiences: Once in Italy, a man followed me. He was in a huge coat, and every time I looked back, he pushed it aside to show me he was masturbating. The second time, a man spoke a language I did not recognize, and I just kept shaking my head no. He finally got really close to me, said he would tie me up, rape me, and cut me into pieces, and I started screaming my head off. I still love to travel alone, but those moments are why I’m so very cautious.

  • Andrea Ramos-Lewis

    Meg, thank you for this article. I know it’s a small thing, but can you please try to not address mixed gender audiences as ‘you guys’? I’ve seen this before on APW and it gets under my skin. I see this as such an inclusive place and every time I see it in an article, it ruins it a little for me. I appreciate you taking it into consideration for future pieces.

    • Jessica

      Seconded. I’m from MN and it’s my default, but after some Trans friends told me how it made them feel I’ve switched to “folks” and “ya’ll” (with the occasional lapse, because humanity.)

      • AP

        After years of trying to ditch “y’all” as evidence of my Southern roots, I’ve fully re-embraced it for all its awesome inclusivity.

    • Transnonymous

      Thank you for saying this!

    • Katharine Parker

      This has been one of my projects for the year–replacing “you guys” with “you all” or “everyone” in my vocabulary. It is work, but especially from talking to my students about it (whose responses range from “I did that three years ago–it feels great” to “I’ve never thought about that before”), it feels right.

      • Jess

        I’m not a fan of a lot of replacements (not for any real reason, I just stumble over them), but I do really like “everyone” and “everybody”

    • CMT

      Oh man, this is one of my hills. I remember a long thread on AAM where most people, including Alison, argued that “guys” is gender neutral. (No. No, it is not. Guy is not gender neutral, so how the hell does making it plural make it so???) It made me rage.

    • anon anon

      agreed. Thank you for pointing it out.

  • wannabee

    I feel “lucky” (or whatever) that my husband is in the restaurant business–he’s heard and witnessed a lot about harassment from both men and women he works with (by customers! by other staff! Service industries are the worst!). He’s known it is pervasive and prevalent for a long time, and I didn’t have to do any “wait, WHAT’s the world like?” work with him that I see a lot of women having to do with their partners. I don’t know if I could take that on right now because I want most men to go away and never bother me or anyone else again. It’s been enough emotional labor to have conversations with my father, who’s a nice liberal man. He keeps expressing confusion and concern that all this has been coming out, and seems genuinely surprised in that way only middle class baby boomers can be, and I want to be like “NO DUH OLD MAN” and I just try to keep it in check. “You mean you’ve been harassed?” “YEAH DAD.” It’s exhausting.

    • That’s interesting, my husband is also in the restaurant industry and I didn’t put together that’s probably the reason that he has also been very un-shocked (though properly angry and appalled) compared to other dudes in my life.

      My dad sent me a text at like, 10 PM on a work night that only said “have you ever been sexually harassed?” and then seemed flooooored when my response was “yeah, of course?” It literally was like having a conversation with some one from the moon… Like, when our experiences are so impossibly disconnected how do you tell when a man’s reactions is in good faith?

  • madamegaston?

    My husband is a wonderful man and I love him, but we were discussing when to have children (yay!) and I shared with him that I was a little scared of getting pregnant, because I’ve noticed that pregnant women don’t often get promotions. His response to me was, “Don’t worry, my career is on a great track! I’ll take care of you.”
    I was instantly so angry that I burst into tears (an annoying reality for angry me) and to his credit, he got why I was upset. He got that he made a mistake. This is a week ago now, and I can’t get it out of my head. It stings, and I want to talk about it more – he is embarrassed and doesn’t want to talk about it at all.

    I realize this is mild compared to everything the news. It is easy for my husband, and for good men, to decry the abuse and assault that is everywhere. But this moment made me realize just how entrenched we are in patriarchy. And it makes me feel so helpless to stop it.

    • Angela’s Back

      no substantive comment except a) solidarity; b) now that you all have had this interaction and whatever related ones you have going forward, you’re going work that much harder to raise kids who are respectful and aware individuals whatever their gender and that’s a great thing; c) best username ever for that comment :D

      • madamegaston?

        Thank you for the solidarity! We are both committed to raising little non-assholes, and it’s definitely good to have these moments of realization pre-kids.

    • ART

      Totally feel you on that. I am about to go on leave myself, and I keep telling men in my life: what you do is also take leave when you have a baby, if you have that ability. That is how you start equalizing this shit, so it’s not a “problem” or “risk” specific to female employees! I realize not everyone has the same access to/financial ability to take time off for a birth or adoption (my husband is primarily self-employed and it’s just not super relevant to his work life to take a specific leave), but I want to see men shouldering the burden of taking time away from work, too.

      • Natasha

        The leave conversation is making me so angry right now. I’m also about to go on leave (we’re Canadian so we get a full year) and I’ve had multiple co-workers ask me about my leave plans. Whenever I say that my husband and I will be splitting the year of leave as 60/40, I’m always told “Oh no, you’ll want to take the full year”. Always by men, who have taken less than 1 week of leave when their baby was born.

        WHY is it more important that I take the leave? Why should my husband not get the chance to bond with our child? It feels so much like an implicit “Men’s jobs are more important, therefore you should take the leave”. Ugh.

        • “I Don’t Knowww, Margo!”

          Right? Or conversely, men shouldn’t take the time to bond with their child, which is also hot garbage.

        • Julia

          I got into a whoooooole convo about paternity leave recently with a guy friend who is smart and progressive, and at one point he said that “going on leave would hold him back at work.” I was like RIGHT. IT DOES. FOR WOMEN. ALL THE TIME. You could literally see the lightbulb go off.

        • d

          In the US in my field (academia), leaves and associated tenure clock stoppages benefit men because men “use” the leave time to write their book and women are still having to deal with being pregnant and sick and recovering from childbirth and potentially dealing with the time-consuming nature of even easy nursing.

      • Ella

        Yes! So many people say “I/he would love to take more time off but work expects me/him back…” and yeah, they’re going to keep expecting their male employees back within a fortnight if everyone keeps going along with it!

      • AP

        The Longest Shortest Time podcast just did a phenomenal 4-part series on working motherhood, and the last episode was about parental leave and how important it is for everyone that dads take leave, too. They referenced a stat that when a dad takes leave at his company, the men around him are 11% more likely to take leave as well (or something like that.) This has been true for me and my husband- last year one of his male coworkers took a full 12-week FMLA for parental leave, so my husband didn’t bat an eye asking for the same thing next year when we have our baby. I have my doubts that he would have felt confident enough to ask for that much had it not been for this other guy doing it first.

        • ART

          So interesting, I will look that up – thanks! In some ways it is GREAT that my husband doesn’t have to officially take some kind of leave, it just works out that we’re having the baby during his off-season (mostly) so even if he did officially try to take time off from his “straight” job, it would be like oh, did a tree fall in the forest? Didn’t hear it…so it kind of bothers me that we can’t walk the walk here, but I’m very vocal about how he’ll be the primary daytime care person once I go back to work, at least.

      • madamegaston?

        Amen to that! I have a few male coworkers on paternity leave right now. Looking forward to the day when we can replace, “Good for you!” with literally nothing. Because it’s a normal thing that people do.

    • Jess

      FWIW, I don’t think there are rankings in the war against the patriarchy. We all fight the battles we are presented with.

      That sucks, and I would have been a ball of rage and fire in your shoes.

      R is also of the sort that kind of… evades conversation when he knows he messed up, or even when he thinks I think he messed up. We actually schedule our follow-up-to-fights in advance now (I’ll actually say, “Hey, I’d really like to talk through X event. Can we discuss that tomorrow before dinner?”).

      Good luck, and I hope you get the chance to talk it out. There is a lot of value in those discussions.

      • madamegaston?

        I love your idea of scheduling follow-up conversations. You described my husband to a T! He’s also an introvert while I’m more extroverted, so he tends to appreciate space to think through things. I’ll definitely put this into use.

        • Jess

          I’m pretty sure I got the idea off another APW commenter a few years ago. It helps!!

      • mjh

        +10000 to planned follow up fights/hash outs. I’ll use the word fight with my spouse often as a bit of a mood lightener, too. “Are you ready to fight about x tonight, or should we do it after work on Tuesday? Shall we fight and then maybe make ice cream depending on how that goes, around 8? Cool.” Works wonderfully with my robot/error!emotions-cause-glitches (but long term working on it) spouse.

  • topscallop

    I think my husband is learning that listening and being more aware are important actions he can take. A couple of weeks before the #metoo movement blew up on social media, we were walking to meet friends for dinner in our city. We came up to a stoplight and while we were waiting for the signal, a homeless man yelled violent sexual comments at me. He slurred his words a bit, but they were pointed enough about what I was wearing that I knew they were directed at me, and not any of the other women around us (not that that would have made it less disturbing, just less personal). I turned to my husband, not expecting or wanting him to do anything about it, but just to see his reaction. I asked “did you hear what he said to me?” and nope, it hadn’t even registered to him. It was a drunk homeless guy hollering gibberish. As the light changed and we walked up the street I told him exactly what he said, how I knew it was directed at me, etc.

    My husband was upset for me, and that he hadn’t defended/protected me, but I explained that I really just wanted him to understand that this is a real and very common experience for me and all women, that we’re constantly attuned to our surroundings for danger, and that no, I didn’t want him to beat up the guy, but I wanted him to be with me in the moment and understand the feelings of anger and shame I experienced from being spoken to like that. To bear witness, in a way. At one point he started to say he didn’t want to hear it if he couldn’t do anything about it, but I explained (not so calmly) how unfair that is to me. I’m your partner, I want to hear about your experiences and help if I can, and you should do the same for me. You should understand that I’m going to think about those comments the next time I decide whether or not to wear these boots or that dress, and how these things build up over time and become so, so exhausting. Knowing about it/seeing it/understanding it feels like an important step that even feminist men don’t always get right.

    • Jess

      (Me, at your husband, angrily) But, we have to hear it and we can’t do anything about it, either.

      I really like this story as an illustration of how important listening and acknowledging is.

      • topscallop

        Exactly! It kind of seems like the least they (men) can do…

      • Snow

        If I have cancer and there isn’t anything my husband can do about it but love me and listen to me and validate my feelings, it doesn’t mean I need to keep my cancer to myself. Why is it that men want to take that attitude towards sexism/misogyny/the patriarchy? Also, I would argue that there IS something that he can do about this situation (sexism/misogyny/the patriarchy) – he can acknowledge that this culture is terrible and actively work to change it every day, in every interaction that he has with men and women.

        • suchbrightlights

          This is an excellent analogy.

    • Julia

      “constantly attuned” – yes. The other day I was musing about going for a run, and my (wonderful, progressive, feminist) husband asked why I was looking at my watch and loitering around. I said, “well, it’s 6 p.m., it’ll be dark in 20 min, I’m trying to decide if I should go now or not because I’ll have to be speedy since I wanted to go on the trail. . . And I’m wearing shorts.” Any woman would be like “oh, right, safety.” His eyebrows raised and he was like, “Oh, shit, that sucks that you have to think about all that.”

      Um. Yeah. Everyday, dude.

  • AnonForThisOne

    Sooooo, I’ve got something I don’t know really how to deal with either. My man, a man I love dearly, a man who was already left-leaning but whose awareness and appreciation of feminist issues has blossomed in the years we’ve been together, had a come-to-jeezus/I-fucked-up moment as a result of the #metoo movement. He saw a friend from high school, a tough lady who takes no shit, post the hash tag, and it really threw him off that somebody could have harassed or assaulted someone so strong. Hours later it was still bothering him, and then BOOM, like a ton of bricks, he remembered something. At some point when the were in their late teens, they were hanging out, and her pressured her to participate in some touching that she clearly didn’t want to do, but eventually relented, presumably to get it over with so he would leave her alone. He had completely forgotten about the whole thing until he saw her post, but holy shit her tag could have been about him, and he was absolutely horrified and disgusted with himself. At the time, he hadn’t really thought anything beyond, “Hey, maybe if I do or say X, she’ll do or say Y.” It was as simple as that. He ended up sending her a private message apologizing to her, and then backing way off.It took him weeks, and about 5 doubles, to break down sobbing and tell me what had happened. He was sure I’d leave him, and was prepared to go sleep on somebody’s couch when I inevitably kicked him out. (I didn’t.) We ended up having a conversation about how as a culture we don’t teach men and boys to think about what girls want, we just tell them to go out and convince them to touch them, while we teach girls to be gatekeepers and to fend off boys’ attempts. (See: other gender combinations, but that’s the general trend.) We talked about how it’s imperative that we teach consent and how to ask for it and what it looks like. It’s clear from everything he said to me, and how much it’s fucked with his head, that he GETS it now. He made no excuses, he owned it, but he also just has no idea what to DO with this horrible epiphany about himself, and tbh, I didn’t know what to tell him. I still don’t. As a woman, I wanted to tell him he was on to just fucking deal with it and live with it. As someone who loves him and understands his remorse, I wish I knew how to help him do that. He was tempted to post something about how eye-opening this whole thing has been for him, but ultimately decided not to, because there’s a good chance he’ll be attacked for it. I can’t say I blame him! At this point in time, I wouldn’t want to be a man confessing to having done that sort of thing. I can’t bring myself to talk about this to anybody I know in real life, because I think certain friends might disown him on principle.What do we want from men? What do we want them to do or say? How do we want them to atone for their sins? How does a man who has seen the light deal with his new, painful truth? If they’re all complicit, and they are all complicit, what the fuck do we do about the ones we love?

    • Jess

      Honestly? I don’t want men to post things about that sort of stuff. I don’t want them to go on a public tour talking about how awful they are or how bad they feel. I don’t want them to stand in the stocks and have rotten lettuce thrown at their heads.

      I do want them to do exactly what your husband did – think about their actions. Apologize to those they may have affected if appropriate. Admit their actions to those close to them. Process and fully understand what happened.

      And then? I want them to not do those things ever again. I want them to even stop other men from doing those things. I want them to stop other men from talking about doing those things and from joking about doing those things.

      AND I want them to teach their sons that doing or talking about doing or joking about doing those things is not ok.

      • Abby

        This ×1000. And in the admitting to people close to them, encouraging their male friends to engage in the same level of self-reflection.

      • Jan

        Yes yes yes yes yes yes

      • suchbrightlights

        Yes ma’am. The hair shirt is performative.

        • wannabee

          Exactly. Men really shouldn’t be dealing with these thorny, sensitive issues with “I’ll write a post about it” as the first response. That puts the burden on friends, family, and strangers to process it for them.

      • AnonForThisOne

        For what it’s worth, I think his heart was in the right place about what he wanted to say. There was a post going around that pretty much said, “Ladies, you don’t need to participate in this. You don’t need to use your painful experience as a teaching tool. If the men don’t get it, throwing your individual story into the ring isn’t going to be the thing that makes the difference.” And he wanted to respond to that last point and say something like, “One person’s story actually did make a difference to me. At least one man did actually learn something from this.” He was feeling defensive on behalf of his friend, and felt like that post was trying to shut down people like her who did choose to participate.We talked about that, too, and I emphasized that it was important for people who had experienced this not to feel like they had to share something painful if they didn’t want to (which is something I struggled with). That a lot of people were finding this stressful because they had to think about and relive experiences they had buried out of necessity, and then felt obligated to make those experiences public. I told him about that #yesallwomen tag that was popular about a year ago, and how in general there’s this huge frustration built up because no, this is not the first time that [women] have spoken up about this, by a long shot, and yet here we are doing it again, and everybody seemed surprised about it.I also agree with you on all points, and am ultimately glad that he held back and just continued to read and think and talk to me.

        • Jess

          Thank you for doing the work of talking through all of this with him. It’s not easy, but it matters.

        • uggggh

          Congratulations, you are as bad as anyone else who stands by a rapist.
          I would bet my entire student loan that it did not “boom” hit him. He knew exactly what he was doing.
          Why wouldn’t people disown him on principle?! He sexually assaulted someone. That’s not something you do by accident.
          You know all those videos and stories that come out of moms of rapists talking about how their son is “really such a nice boy”?
          That’s you.

    • Jess

      My answer was a little more big picture and I wanted to take a minute and actually answer your question of what your husband does now inside of himself. Because… I’ve dealt with a lot of guilt over the years and I get what that sort of thing does to a person.

      I think when a lot of us realize we’ve wronged someone in a big way, we can feel like this one event defines us forever and ever. Like it makes us into terrible people with no right to be happy or experience good things ever again.

      I don’t think it does. I think there’s a place where, once we understand what we’ve done and how it affected people, once we’ve made our apologies and done what we can to make a situation right, once we’ve put actions in place to make sure we never do such a thing again…

      The only thing we have left to do is forgive ourselves.

      We don’t need to carry it like the proverbial albatross around our neck all the time. We can process it, with the help of a therapist or our religion or our loved ones or just internally and let it go from our definition of who we are.

      It can still be a thing we regret, we can still feel badly about it when we are reminded of it, but it’s not the only thing we’ve ever done and we can grow to accept that.

      • AnonForThisOne

        Sincerely, thank you. For both of your responses.

        • Jess

          I hope they help – the patriarchy hurts all of us.

          It’s really hard to wrestle with how to forgive ourselves and others but still move forward in the fight. I’m not sure how you’re doing with all of this information, but I hope you are taking time for yourself and coming to terms with it, too.

  • Abby

    APW, I am so happy we’re having this conversation. Thank you for providing the space for it. But tbh, right now I’m so burned out on it all that I’m just coping by watching Wonder Woman on repeat. #themysciraforever

  • CAR

    Question… in addition to sexual harassment, there are lots of people who face issues of unlawful harassment- i.e. discrimination and hostility because they are members of an underrepresented group (ethnicity, sexual identity, disability, etc.). I think there is a cult of complicity around allowing powerful people to perpretrate these behaviors, too.

    I have dealt with discrimination by men for being a woman. However, when I hear the stories about a new powerful man being accussed of impropriety, I am reminded more of my own experiences of being marginalized / harassed / verbally abused by a powerful woman, due to a disability. The latter experiences were more traumatizing and more damaging.

    Should experiences with non-sexual harassment and discrimation also be part of the “national reckoning” that we’re having right now? Does it matter if the abuse endured is emotional or verbal but not physical? Or will discussing these experiences detract from the heartbreaking stories and experiences being shared by victims of sexual harassment? I don’t want to undermine or subtract from their very valid, horrific, and important experiences. I just also think that issues of discrimination are much, much, much deeper than people realize. I’m as horrified as many people on this blog about the allegations and stories that have emerged in the press so far. I also think, sadly, that we’re still at the tip of the iceberg.

    • Amy March

      I’m of the mind that it’s not a suffering competition. You sharing your experience doesn’t detract from anyone else sharing theirs.

    • suchbrightlights

      Abso-freaking-lutely.

      Consideration and basic respect shouldn’t be conditional. I think an important tenet of feminism is a focus on equality, and to tell anyone else “hey, this institutionally and culturally-promoted discrimination that YOU’RE enduring, there’s no time for that right now” is completely against that.

      We need to help people onto the platform, not push them off.

    • Jess

      100% yes.

      Just as, I believe, male and transgender and genderqueer people who have been sexually abused, assaulted and harassed have space to come forward and be part of this conversation.

      Because this reckoning is not just a sexual abuse thing. I am hoping this is a movement to end the abuse of power and discrimination of people overall.

    • Lawyerette510

      I struggle with how the reckoning that is taking place, and the #metoo campaign (as it blew up, not as it was started) have largely been focused on the experience of women who are straight, white, cis and non-disabled. I think a lot of it has to do with how complicit many women who are straight, white, cis and non-disabled have been and continue to be in perpetuating our society that has led to the culture where all of this has occurred.

  • Arie

    It’s impacting my relationship in two ways:
    1. My husband interrupts me, and my fuse about it has shrunk to a remarkably small size in the last year or so.
    2. Guessing I’m not alone in this, given the timing of APW articles this week, but libido game is weak. Weaaaaak.

    • S

      If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend the Broad City episode from a few weeks ago when Ilana has to consult a sex therapist because she hasn’t been able to orgasm since the election.

    • Zoya

      OMG #2, yeeeeeees. Physical intimacy with a male person feels unsafe right now (and honestly has since last November), even though our relationship is so incredibly safe and all about consent. It sucks, because enjoying each other’s bodies is a big part of our relationship, and right now I just can’t get there.

    • Jess

      #2: well. Shit.

    • Basketcase

      Had lunch with a girl friend today. We both agreed it’s nicer to catch up without her husband because he always interrupts. Makes me so angry. I put up with him so I can see her.

    • hummingway

      Tooootally agree about the libido thing. I’m glad it’s not just me haha
      Why can’t we be as easygoing and free with intimacy as men??? Ohhh right, maybe because that’s what got us into this mess.

  • anon

    This encounter has been bothering me since it happened. A few weeks ago, after the Louis CK news broke, I was at a party with my fiance and several coupled-up friends. He works in a very male-dominated field where everyone can be assumed to be loudly conservative. Of course the conversation turned to CK and the men kept talking about how the women knew what they were getting into, and that they could have just left. I was silent for a little bit while they talked, because I was raped in college and was extremely uncomfortable throughout the conversation. I hoped that someone would stand up for the women. No one did, so finally I said something along the lines of “these women were his colleagues. He could have ruined their careers.” I wanted to absolutely rant about how it shouldn’t be like this; how women are expected to make sure men don’t feel rejected or embarrassed. How I know in that situation I would have thought “this isn’t happening” or “he doesn’t mean it” or “maybe I sent the wrong message and it’s my fault.”
    Luckily the conversation lulled and a new topic started, but the entire time my fiance didn’t say anything. He knows I was raped, he knows how uncomfortable I was during the party. He didn’t say a thing to change the subject, or to defend the women, or to tell his friends that what they were saying wasn’t cool. Nothing.
    When we got home we got into a huge fight, one that still sticks with me weeks later.
    He is a wonderful man and an amazing partner, but the fact that he couldn’t say something to his friends while they were absolutely tearing these women apart is devastating.

    • AP

      My husband has let me down a time or two in these situations too. I’m sorry, it completely sucks. <3

  • CP2011

    Came back to say that I made a teeny tiny stab at the patriarchy by going into a 2.5 hr meeting this afternoon and asking the older, straight white man in the room to be the note taker. He was…caught off guard.

    • Cleo

      I am ALL ABOUT doing stuff like that at the office. Unless my role requires me to, I refuse to be the note taker, I don’t offer to make tea/coffee, and I try to delegate those tasks to men as much as possible.

      Fist bump lady!

    • Julia

      This. Is. Amazing.

    • SS Express

      I love you!!!!!

  • Anon for this

    I used to work for Al. I have spent the last several years so proud of him, and of myself, for helping to get him where he is. When the news broke, I was in a meeting and my phone suddenly started blowing up. And, I was heartbroken for everyone who believed in him, for his family… but I wasn’t surprised. Don’t get me wrong, I never suspected Al of this behavior. I have talked with him many times, I have taken many pictures with him (one even hangs on my dining room wall), and he has never been anything but professional toward me or anyone I know. But… you know… he’s a guy. A powerful guy. And this is the world we live in. And I think he needed to be called out. And I think there should be consequences. And, I told my husband all this, and he disagreed. He told me he thought the women were lying. Doing it for political purposes. And I lost it. I started trying to explain why that was messed up. And then I started screaming. We got in a massive fight about it. We slept in different beds that night. We have both since calmed down, but we also haven’t revisited the topic. I… do not know how to deal with the men in my life. Even the good ones. Even the one I’m married to.

    • AP

      Hugs. This shit is so hard.

    • Jess

      I hear you. I am feeling the same way about a teacher from my school growing up right now. I am not surprised. I have no real reason to not be surprised, but yet.

      And I am heartbroken for the women who were girls at the time.

      And I am so angry.

      And I cannot imagine what I would do if I was supposed to sleep next to someone who did not believe these women. It is incredibly hard stuff.

  • ZOO

    I haven’t really been asking hard questions of my husband, but I’ve definitely been bringing stuff up. Together, though, we’ve gotten a lot more focused and explicit about teaching our 1-year-old son about consent, which feels like a step toward fixing the root of the problem.

    • Jess

      Thank you for raising a son to think about consent.

    • Lily

      I’d love to see a separate post or open thread about teaching consent with little kids, especially little boys. We are working on this also.

  • suchbrightlights

    I have to hand it to my husband. Completely unprompted, he’s been doing a lot of listening to podcasts by women about issues that affect women and apparently has been a vociferous part of work conversations about the assault allegations. (Apparently some of the older women in his office are defending the status quo and believe the whole thing is a witch hunt for attention, which made him come home hopping mad yelling “HOW CAN YOU VOTE AGAINST YOUR OWN BEST INTERESTS?!” but his office is the poster child for dysfunction.) He is really trying to walk the walk here, and none of it is new, but he’s definitely doing a lot of self-examination. I hope that he’s policing his friends the same way he does himself, because that’s where change happens.

  • Alexandra

    I’ve been fascinated by the sub-threads here commenting on how different it is to be a woman, safety-wise, than to be a man.

    Last week I went to a fun restaurant baby shower in Chinatown, which is a very sketchy part of Honolulu. I parked in the sketchiest municipal parking lot in all of Hawaii, I think…didn’t realize it until I had gotten out of my car. There was no lighting whatsoever in a giant, urine-soaked stairwell. I turned right around and walked out the car exit to get to the restaurant (it was 5:30 pm). I was by myself and was cat-called several times on my way. It freaked me out; I haven’t had to deal with being cat-called in years.

    A good girlfriend of mine came in about five minutes later and said she had parked next to my car and we had to get a ride together back to our cars after dinner because it was so sketchy. I laughed and said the first thing I did when I got to the restaurant was arrange that with somebody else at the party, and I was glad she made me feel like I wasn’t crazy.

    I was thinking the whole time at the party about how my life has changed since I got married. Just the night before, my husband and I had been on a date in Chinatown. We walked down exactly the same streets, but nobody catcalled me because I was with him.

    It’s so much easier and less scary to be in the world as a woman when you have a man with you. And something about that is deeply unfair. I wasn’t as aware of the difference when I was single (which I was for about eleven years after college), because I hadn’t experienced any other way of living.

    • Zoya

      My husband and I are involved in the local social dance scene. We go to some events together, but there are some types of dances that each of us prefers more than the other. (I like lindy hop, he likes blues and fusion.) He goes out dancing by himself multiple nights per week. I never go out dancing unless he’s with me. On the one hand, I’m shy and socially anxious and probably psyching myself out; on the other hand, I’ve had more than a couple handsy or persistent partners who immediately back off when my tall spouse shows up in his leather jacket. As you say, deeply unfair.

      • Jess

        That is why I stopped social dance. I was made uncomfortable by some in the group, but not for any “reason” and I was so new I didn’t know anybody else there.

        • Zoya

          It totally sucks! We’ve both made good friends through dance, and when it goes well it’s a highlight of my week. But that’s not quite enough to balance out the low-level unease.

          • Lexipedia

            One of the reasons I left a lindy class – having to rotate around the circle in practice meant that I had to dance with people I might otherwise stay away from.

    • Alli

      My husband and I used to walk to work together in (a very nice part of) the city. Then he got a new job outside of the city so I walk to my work alone. The number of times I was cat-called, yelled at, or harassed when we walked together: 0. In the couple months after I started walking alone: at least 4 off the top of my head. It’s made me so anxious walking to work!

    • Eh

      It is so different and some men don’t understand. My ex said he has never felt unsafe walking around any city he has lived in. In contrast, when I lived alone in Toronto (where he went to university), if I was hanging out at my friend’s apartment, her and her bf would walk me home. In the city I currently live in, I have been stalked walking down the street in the middle of the day, I have witnessed a sexual assault on a bus, and, just last week, I was sexually harassed and physically threatened while on the bus. Both incidents on the bus happened on packed buses during the afternoon rush hour.

      The incident last week involved a group of young people who were drunk (openly drinking Jack Daniels) sitting at the back of the bus. Shortly after I got on, someone sitting near them got off the bus so I sat down in that seat. After a few minutes I couldn’t handle the sexual comments from one of the men and the physical threats from one of the women so I got up and left (which was a bit difficult on a packed bus). After a few stops, the bus cleared out a bit and I got a seat in the middle of the bus but I could still hear them and the woman I was sitting with was visibly upset by what they were saying. As space freed up on the bus, people moved away from them, however, a man sat down near them (actually in the same seat I had been sitting in) and he started talking to them. He was able to get them to focus on him, and they had a pretty normal conversation about life. As a result, the sexual comments and threats stopped. When I got off the bus I noticed another passenger (who was also getting off at my stop) talking to the driver. He told the driver what was going on at the back of the bus, and I added in some details of what happened to me (note: the driver did nothing). As we walked away, the other passenger asked if I was ok. I said that I was ok and that I got out of the situation when it got too bad for me. He said he noticed that I moved and was concerned. I don’t know if anyone else talked to the bus driver (though that didn’t seem to help anyways). But no one spoke up for any of the women who were being harassed or threatened. And the only person that tried to intervene was the man who sat down to talk to them.

      • Lexipedia

        Oh gosh, I got a close to screaming match-level fight with a classmate when I was a university student in Toronto and he made fun of the fact that I didn’t want to walk through campus by myself late at night. He told me that Toronto was completely safe and that I was overreacting by waiting to leave until a male friend was walking in the same direction.

        • Eh

          They have safe walk programs at universities for a reason. There is no reason to take that chance. My ex thought that safe walk programs weren’t necessary, especially when I was at university in London, Ontario (where there were signs in my residence building telling women not to go into the wooded area alone and warning of a man who was flashing women).

          When I was in university (in Toronto and London) I usually walked with friends so I felt safe. It wasn’t until I moved to get a job and me and my ex broke up that I started doing things more on my own. I don’t have a lot of friends in the city we live in and my husband works evenings so if I want to do something I usually have to go alone. I have always been most concerned about traveling when it’s dark but the three incidents I talked about before all happened in daylight and all with lots of people around.

        • Natasha

          I’ve also had multiple arguments about how “safe” Toronto is with guys. Never women though.. funny, that. But just because Toronto is safe, and STATISTICALLY the guy following me trying to talk to me probably won’t murder me when I try to get away, doesn’t make it a pleasant or safe-feeling experience.

          We recently moved to a new part of Toronto, and I made my husband come with me 3 separate times at midnight and later before we moved, to just wander around the area for half an hour to see how it felt, and whether I’d be okay doing it on my own. Because safe doesn’t mean not creepy!

          • Lexipedia

            Yes!! After moving away from Toronto I got mugged in what I otherwise considered a “safe” neighborhood. I was alone, on a residential street, at 8PM, and was called all kinds of stupid by the police officers I reported to – how on earth was I supposed to get to and from my house? I was lucky enough not to be hurt too badly, but I was definily shaken and made FI walk me home every night if I didn’t take a car. When we were moving somewhere new together I looked at all of the crime maps and evaluated the safety of various routes home.

    • anony-nony

      I jog about three times a week. I live in a small, quaint town with a very low crime rate, and the park I jog in is nicely kept and typically full of kids and softball games and family BBQs. A cop will glide through every couple of hours just to lay eyes on the place. But even with all that, when I’m out there alone I’m hyper aware of everyone in that park. I notice if a vehicle is moving suspiciously slowly, or if a man (always a man) looks at me a little too long. The whole time I’m keeping track of where I am in relation to my car and therefore a means of escape. I occasionally think to myself that it’s better to fight and risk major injury or death than to let “them” whisk me away to some awful fate. What’s weird is that I’m so used to thinking this way that it’s automatic and kind of emotionless. I’m not afraid per se – it’s just the way it is. A few weeks ago, amid all this current upheaval, I wondered if my husband ever thinks like this when I’m not around (I already knew the answer was no) and it was the first time I realized what a heightened state of near-fear I exist in when I’m alone, simply because I am a woman alone.

      Like, what would that be like?? To just go jogging and focus on the jogging, and not have to constantly keep tabs on my surroundings? Or go anywhere, really? I can’t really fathom it.

  • Jess

    Following up, because this conversation struck close to my life today. I guess a teacher at my school growing up has been accused and is under investigation for sexual misconduct with students.

    There is a good chance I knew him. There is a good chance he was a person who I relied on when things were difficult. There is a good chance that there, but for the grace of god, go I.

    I believe the women who have come forward now. I am lucky to have not been affected on a personal level. I wonder what I overlooked at the time. I wonder who of my friends were not so lucky.

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  • Fennarama

    Good lord, this post is incredibly stupid. ALL men are not complicit in the behavior of other men and women are NOT walking around, in danger of violence at any given moment. A basic understanding of the statistical breakdown of sexual assault and rape shows that, in fact, if you are married and have not been sexually assaulted, it is unlikely that you will be, since the vast majority of rape and sexual assault comes from established interpersonal relationships. If you don’t want to be married to a man right now, that speaks to your total lack of understanding of how sexual assault happens and I feel so sorry that your husband has to deal with you.

    • SS Express

      I feel sorry for whoever is moderating these comments

      • Brooks Moses

        Yes … but, having read through all of the comments and found nearly all of them insightful and useful — which is exceptionally rare for online articles on this topic! — I don’t feel sorry for them so much as feeling deep admiration and thankfulness for their choice to do it. (So: Thank you!)

  • jem

    One thing that is making my conversations with my husband about this difficult is that he was pretty seriously sexually harassed by a former friend of mine before we started dating, and again by a former coworker. He rejects the idea that this is a men’s problem and is adamant that women are equally responsible. And I can’t find the words to explain to him why that just… sits wrong with me… in a way that he can hear. It feels like we’re speaking from two universes

  • Eh

    I have been avoiding reading a book that came highly recommended. The book is called Exit, Pursed by a Bear by E.K. Johnston. It a YA book and it won the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. The book is about a cheerleader who is raped at cheer camp days before starting senior year. With #metoo and all the memories that brought up I was hesitant to read the book, or give it as a gift (I am always looking for books to give my teenage niece). I read the book this week while travelling for work. A couple things made the book easier to read then I expected:
    1. the main character does not remember the attack because she was drugged so there were not graphic details of the attack, and 2. the book is very idealistic in the support she has (the author acknowledges that the support is not typical). The book shed lights on the rape culture that is pervasive in society (specifically in teen/high school life); while not making the main character a traditional victim and giving her the supports she needed to rise above these attitudes.

    I’m going to suggest that my husband read it. I think it will give him a different perspective on sexual assault, victims, rape culture. And hopefully it will help kick off a conversation.

  • fahlalalala

    I am constantly telling my fiance that I hate men. He ALWAYS listens to my stories. In the beginning he was reluctant to accept the ALL part, but the more stories I open up about, the more he hates men too. It’s really assuring knowing he believes my truths. It’s also really assuring that he’s willing to learn, rather than just saying “not all men”

  • annlynn

    Ugh, got into this last night about Garrison Keillor. I was not happy to hear my husband say that he wanted all the facts before passing judgement because of Keillor’s statement in defense. Though he did seem to agree when I pointed out that companies do not outright fire their biggest names if there isn’t truth to the statements. I am 100% positive that more will come out. Never liked Keillor in the first place and can’t say I was surprised. But ugh, ugh, ugh.

  • arc4242

    THANK YOU for writing this article and posing the questions in it. I’ve been struggling with this over the last few weeks, in particular with telling my boyfriend, to his face, that I’m beginning to feel like all men have this capacity in them and it’s never going to be truly resolved or eradicated from society because it’s a global problem and it has been forever. Men have been raping and pillaging since the beginning days and I struggle to understand how what’s happening now, in this moment, will ever eradicate that behavior. Which just makes me feel like it’s somehow coded in them, which is the most utterly defeating feeling to face when you’re otherwise in a healthy, happy, supportive and loving relationship. And then trying to explain this question of WHY this behavior has been ongoing for as long as we know civilization has existed to my boyfriend, who falls squarely in the “good guys” camp, poses an entirely different host of issues.

    I don’t know. I’m exhausted.

  • Jessica

    Amber Tamblyn just shared this, and it’s really great at answering the people who think the consequences are “too much” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/opinion/im-not-ready-for-the-redemption-of-men.html?_r=0

    • MC

      Ugh thank you for this – I have a female friend posting about this on FB today and my rage is making it hard for me to respond coherently.

    • Jess

      This is an especially meaningful position for her to take publicly given what her personal struggles with her husband’s actions must be right now.

      • Janet Hélène

        I don’t understand…. she is married to David Cross, not Jeffrey Tambor?

  • Lexipedia

    A few months ago my manager came to talk to me after a specific scandal in our field implicated someone we work with, to say that he wanted me to know that I could always come to him with absolutely anything, and that he would go to bat for me – even if it threatened his own job.

    I was talking to FI, who is also a manager, and asking if he knew of any men in his professional field who were whispered about. It happens in my, and from what I hear from friends many, professional communities that there are regularly rumors about a man who is a “secret scumbag” and friends warn friends to avoid him. FI said that he works with in a predominantly female field (education) that it doesn’t seem to be a problem (to the straight, white, cis-man who manages a team of almost all women – naive much?). Yeah, that wasn’t an ok answer to me.

    We’ve been talking a lot about what he could do or say to his direct reports that demonstrates that they can come to him with any concerns and that he would support them, without asking them to do the emotional labor on this.

  • NSS

    I’m so grateful for this thread! I find myself fluctuating between rage and sadness. Half-jokingly, half-confessional, I mentioned to my husband that I’m glad we already got married, because I don’t know if I could do it right now. He was hurt by the comment. I told him I’m hurt by all men, in general.

    My husband– a man with whom I wrote a whole wedding ceremony on being equal partners just six months ago– still says the wrong thing sometimes. To his credit, he gets it right about 80 percent of the time. But the other 20 percent literally makes my heart sink. The other day we were talking about our Fave but problematic politician, Joe Biden. I was reading tons about the Thomas confirmation hearing and getting rage-y. And my 80% Perfect Husband said, “How could his sister Valerie let him do that?” Like women need to police the men in their life to be decent. Like goddamn senators need their sisters to remind them to think of women in the ways they legislate and confirm LIFETIME supreme court justices. He apologized right away for the stupid comment. But it’s been 5 days and I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

  • courtneycm3

    Thank you for posting this article. I’ve had MULTIPLE long conversations with my fiancé about feminism, cat calling and the increasing number of accusations coming out against powerful men in the public eye. He just. Doesn’t. Get. It. He’s come a long way in the last few years re: understanding that just because something isn’t his experience, that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. But he doesn’t understand that we should give these women the benefit of the doubt, and he tends to slip back into a #NotAllMen mentality, even though I’ve tried very hard to explain to him that no, it’s not all men – but it’s a LOT of men, and the fact that he gets more defensive of his fellow men than upset for the women who’ve lived with this abuse is telling – and he needs to do something to actually contribute to the conversation. It’s SO FRUSTRATING to have these conversations over and over again, and I’m exhausted. I don’t know how to keep having this same talk over and over again without something sinking in.

    Ok – sorry – had to get that off my chest.

    • guest

      I know its frustrating, but I think it’s probably essential to keep having that conversation and having it in different ways. I’m in an interracial relationship, and lots of open discussion about race and how various realities effect us differently because of racial difference is an important part of our relationship. I think gender and sexuality issues are similar, and it just takes a lot of conversations because of the cultural we’re in.

  • TingTing

    This morning I got up late, well after my boyfriend had left for class. Usually I wake up and drive him to the university so I can have the car we share to go to work. But today I had work off and I was exhausted. I woke up briefly when he came into the room to get dressed. But other than that he’d carefully and quietly made sure to shut the door while he got ready for the day so I could sleep. By the time I groggily made my way to the kitchen I found a cup of coffee ready for me with the right amount of “extras” in it. And I made a mental note to write a little note for him to thank him for always making me coffee (he also makes me breakfast every single morning, except this morning because he knew I’d rather sleep). We try to write each other notes from time to time, especially when life gets busy and we don’t have as much time to connect as we’d like which has been a lot lately. As I was drinking my coffee I started to read the news, and of course there are more sexual harassment allegations. And somewhere between the joy of finding the cup of coffee and my despair at reading the news, my gratitude for my boyfriend flipped like a switch. It felt weird to write a thank you for coffee. I mean honestly… how many women have made coffee for men every single day and it’s so expected that it isn’t even noticed? Wasn’t thanking him for making coffee an awfully low bar to clear? Was I being unfair taking out my anger at men as a whole on one single guy, and a guy that I love deeply? But then again, would I be as thankful for this cup of coffee if I was male? Is he as thankful for the little things I do for him as I am to him? How exactly should the current reckonings with gender inequality affect my relationship? How can they not? Am I really overthinking this? I finally decide, whether I’m overthinking this or not, I’ll have to put a pause on the thinking because there really aren’t any satisfying answers to these questions. But, pause or not, it still remains that I am thankful to have a boyfriend who makes me coffee and breakfast every single morning so that I can get a few more minutes of sleep. But it also still remains that it feels “off” now going out of my way to thank a man for doing something women have done for ages without thanks. So long story, but I feel exactly the same way and I have no idea how the hell we should go forward.

    • hummingway

      I totally relate to this – feeling like I am overthinking many interactions I have with my male partner and other men in my life, to validate their “good” actions, when I am not so sure men would think quite so much when a woman performs a similar task for them. HOWEVER it also made me think of this: I read somewhere a great quote/article about feminism not being in a vacuum. That sometimes, you do something because you want to, because you enjoy it, because it feels right, and you need to not overthink if it is feminist or not – we were raised in the society we were raised in and of course (as we can see with all these allegations) we are products of that in many ways. And while it is important to recognize that not all things women do are feminist just because we are women and we “choose” it, it is also important to recognize that if it works for you (in your case for example, thanking your boyfriend for a kind gesture he makes towards you) and is not hurting anyone else… then you are probably not under-mining feminism or contributing to the patriarchy. This helps me a LOT when considering my interactions with the men in my life.

  • Esther

    I have two sons, and it honestly terrifies me. How do I make sure they don’t become like these men? I’ve read all these articles about teaching young children about consent, but it’s nearly impossible to make the world follow your rules, e.g., telling my MIL not to make my son kiss her if he doesn’t want to doesn’t go over well, and I’m not totally sure if that’s really the key to making them grow up into good men. I worry their eventual peers may have more influence that I do.

    • Brooks Moses

      If it helps, one of the things that I’m thinking of in reading through all the other comments is the number of instances where a man was trying to do a good thing (e.g., offering to walk a woman home when she’s drunk at a party) and ended up being creepy. I wish as a young college student that I’d had scripts for those situations — “here’s how to be helpful without being creepy.”

      (Also, frankly, f*** your MIL. I have some strong feelings about that, and will try not to get them on you, but the following is to your partner if you think relaying it is useful: “Tell your mother that she doesn’t get to demand kisses without consent, and stand up to the fallout. Your partner and your sons need your support here, and she’s your mother so you have the most power to do it.”)

      As a parent, I don’t have much for useful advice — just platitudes I’m sure won’t be helpful — but I’m ready to sit right here in solidarity with you.

  • Natalie

    I used to be married to a verbally abusive gaslighter who always played devil’s advocate with me on these issues. We are now divorced, and I can’t even imagine going back to being in a relationship with a man after this last year. What is going on in the media brings up so much for me about my former marriage and it’s making it harder for me to heal now. Many of the women in my life are coming out with their own stories of abuse, and what’s disturbing as hell is many of these abusive men have been so admired and sheltered by their social circles, and these are people I know and thought I could trust. What makes me so angry and sad is that women have had to stifle and repress their experiences AND THEIR TALENT/CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLD because of these men. The cost to women is so high. It has a ripple effect on EVERYTHING WE DO. Do men even think about it or appreciate the long-term effects of their actions? I’m furious.

    I feel like I cannot trust anyone right now, and I don’t even know if I will ever feel ready to date again…for so many reasons.

  • Another Meg

    Just want to follow up that I finally had this talk with my husband and it went super well!

    He just received a promotion and is now high enough in his company that he has some sway over not only the hiring process but the culture in general. We had a long talk about the small ways that women get chipped away at in team environments. He had no idea that women often get asked to take notes or grab coffee, or how many well-meaning men speak for women when they’re interrupted instead of providing a platform so women can speak for themselves. He seemed to think that only grand swooping changes would help and was really interested in the small ways he could make his company (tech so mostly men) a friendlier place for women. They’re doing a big hiring push for software developers and he’s helping to make some changes in their hiring that are specifically geared to help get more women on the team. We even talked about ways he could address problematic social behavior without becoming “that guy” who scolds people (which is apparently a thing? I did not know…). It was awesome.
    At the end of the conversation, I thanked him for being so open to the topic. His only response was, “thanks for helping me be better.”

    My heart grew three sizes.