There’s No Need to Argue…Men Just Don’t Understand…

So much talk about sexual harassment has got me thinking.

I’m not gonna talk about the whole giant issue because it’s too big and I’m not really an expert. Obviously, all those coming forward should have their complaints taken seriously and investigated fully without presumption about who might be lying and why.

That said, I also want to say this. I believe the men.
The men who say and think and do these things (#NotAllMen, yes, we know) seem to share a singular mindset on these issues. I’m speaking here about things that are NOT rape. Groping, jokes, literal grabass, whipping it out for a wank at work, etc. So before you all cry to your mamas about how oppressed this post is making you–please understand that when I say “men” here, I mean THIS TYPE of man, and only this type.

When men say, “that wouldn’t bother me if a woman did it.” I believe them.
I believe that they wouldn’t feel frightened, demeaned, or diminished by a female (pardon the heteronormative language, used here for brevity) colleague because she spontaneously touched him in his bathing suit area even though they’re supposed to be working.
I believe that these men don’t have a sense of how dismissive, how mean-spirited doing that is. They see it as playful sexuality and nothing more.

When men say, “I don’t see what the big deal is,” I believe them.
I believe that a random hand on their nipple wouldn’t ruin their whole day. Men would be unlikely to focus on that for days, or weeks. ‘Can I safely be alone with this person?’ ‘Should I have someone walk me to my car?’ ‘Should I tell someone? What if there’s retaliation?’
I believe that when men are touched in what they might call a “playfully sexual manner,” that they aren’t also getting the message that their boobs and butts are more interesting and important than the person they are, or the work they do. They don’t worry that they’re in danger.

When men say about accusers, “She’s only saying that because she wants attention,” I believe them.
I believe that they think women might lie just to feel powerful when they ‘get men in trouble’ (not stopping to think that it’s not the snitch who gets the mafia don arrested–that he’s getting arrested for crimes HE committed). I believe men don’t know how awful, demoralizing, agonizing, humiliating and frustrating reporting allegations is. My experience with this has been laughably minimal, and I can still feel the clutching in my chest when I think of filling out a report with language like “He said {X}, which I found demeaning and embarrassing.” It’s not fun. It’s not powerful–quite the opposite, actually. And that’s before all the ‘what were you wearing, how much did you drink’ bullshit starts.

I don’t know what the way to illustrate this to men is. I’m told that men fear women laughing at them in the same way we women fear men killing us for saying or doing the ‘wrong thing’ ie: a thing that makes them feel bad about themselves.
So maybe the equivalent would be that.
Maybe the way to help men understand would be to subject them–not to grabass or inappropriate sexual humor.
Maybe the right way would be to pass by someone’s office and say, “Aw, bad mood? Did you catch a glimpse of your dick in the mirror or something?”
Because see, men are apparently mortified at the idea that they are less than manly.
“You don’t want to go get a drink with us? Is that because your paltry paycheck isn’t enough to support your family? Awwww…”
Even writing these last few lines feels gross to me. I don’t want to engage in body shaming, or any kind of shaming for perceived inadequacy. But honestly–I want to find a way to help those who still don’t get it–to get it.

Little help, internets?

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