Friday, December 8, 2017

If I Said What I Meant

A male co-worker and I were talking about the resignation of Senator Al Franken today.

Hate Stuart Smalley, love Al Franken.
My co-worker said something along the lines of:

"So is this where we are now? That anyone who is accused of anything has his career ruined?"

I pushed back on this statement. But I also didn't push as hard as I wanted to. Because of the whole "women who advocate for women are radical feminists who probably should be permanently banned to the menstrual hut" mentality that I struggle against every damn day of my life. Male readers: When men self-censor their opinions, it's strategic. When women self-censor our opinions, it's tactical.

Let that sink in. OK?

Anyway, with your indulgence, here's what I would have said if I'd felt comfortable doing so.

"Dude. This is not about 'anyone who is accused of anything.' This is about men who have sexually harassed women being accused of sexually harassing women. If your default mindset is 'Bitches be making shit up' or 'Ladies need to understand how men are' or 'He's a good guy so he gets a pass on treating women as slag heaps,' then this concept probably is foreign to you.

"Millions of men interact with women every day. Those interactions may be friendly, productive, professional, cool, difficult, or hostile. Because that's how human relationships work, regardless of sex.

"But many women - like many members of minority ethnic, racial, and religious minority groups - are routinely, systematically assumed to be somehow less intelligent, less capable, less qualified than the default white male, based entirely on a biological trait over which they have no control. Even if you don't personally participate in this evaluation, you're not allowed to pretend it doesn't exist.

"Imagine if your capability for any particular task - and not just that, but your very opportunity to be considered capable - first had to pass the hurdle of whether someone of your gender could 'handle' it. Imagine if you were automatically excluded from consideration because someone was afraid they couldn't refrain from being 'offensive' toward you.

"Imagine if the people most responsible for your personal and professional success believed it was their right to charge you the price of silently suffering sexual bias/harassment/abuse in exchange for achieving what others get to achieve through hard work and merit.

"Now imagine that society is finally supporting you instead of the abusers. Believing you. Advocating justice for you.

"Can you understand that this historical moment is not the time for mercy? That there is no 'let and let live' mentality that applies here? That it's absolutely not enough to name and shame the perpetrators of systematic abuse of women instead of meting out real consequences?

"I understand that this new wave of holding men accountable for their actions is making you, as a male, uncomfortable. But let me assure you: This isn't about you being a man. This is about the segment of men who are abusive assholes.

"There are also women who are abusive assholes. Let me make it clear: I'm not anti-man. I'm anti-discrimination. Nobody gets a pass.

"But the last time I checked, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, Al Franken, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump were all men.

"As a woman, I simply want justice. Blind justice, as our laws demand. Meaning that wealth, power, influence, or having a penis does not constitute an exemption from being a decent human being.

"No mercy for assholes. To use the popular parlance, I'm sorry if that triggers you.

"This woman is not apologizing for your discomfort."

Yeah, that's what I would have said.



  1. Would he have listened?
    I'm pretty sure my experience is only the tip of the iceberg, but all too often I hear men like me say, "Why are we only hearing about this now?"
    And, speaking from my experience, my answer is, we're not. My entire life I've known women who were assaulted. Some of them didn't speak up, but others did. And all too often the ones who did were dismissed, ignored, or told to be quiet.
    If we--and by "we" I mean white males like me--think we're only just hearing about this now it's because we haven't been listening.

  2. As an old (getting very close to my 70th birthday) white (sort of) male, I think you have every right to tell this coworker to take his crap and shove it where the sun don't shine. Yes, I was a US Marine and did my time in that vile Vietnam war, but I was taught by Dad to respect all other people, women in particular. I was brought up to NOT ever be mean to women, not to hit them, not to demean them. Now, if you pick a fight with me, all best are off.
    My late wife of 24 years had her opinions and I may have disagreed with her at times, but I always respected her right to think for herself. Not all of us males who are of European decent are sex crazed animals. Some of actually DO respect women for their brains and ideas/opinions. The old saying about a few bad apples spoiling the barrel applies.
    By the way, I never thought Franken was funny and in my opinion SNL is/was never as food as many said it is/was. I saw them as having a good idea for a 3 minute skit and trying to drag it out for 5 plus minutes. After the second, or third season, if I am being over generous, that show went down the toilet and stayed there. Franken is a fraud, I never saw him as being a real leftist. But then I am an old sarcastic SOB.

    1. To be honest, I never heard of Al Franken before everybody started talking about him all of a sudden.


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