To the ladies:
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, if a man has exposed himself to you, if a man has physically tried to force himself on you, if a man has tried to coerce a sexual relationship with you through threats of retaliation (express or implied), you have our condolences, and we have your back. We wholeheartedly condemn such acts and such men. They have abused their masculinity and their positions and thus are the objects of our shame.
They are usually bigger than you and stronger than you. They often have positions of power over you. There are no good solutions for you in these situations. But here’s one that has not been used nearly enough: Tell us. If you need protection from such men, there is a brotherhood who stands with you and against them. We offer our strength, courage, skills, and toughness to protect you. We exist. Find such men and bring them into your life. In fact, when choosing a significant other, “Will he protect me?” should be high on the list. It’s not a bad quality to find in your male friends, either.
To be clear, you’re not being blamed if you don’t have such men in your life – but it’s part of the solution. Look, I get it that the first part of the solution should be that men stop abusing and harassing women, and I agree. But I also know that there have always been evil men, and always will be. As a result, men must develop the ability to deal harshly with other men who abuse and harass women, and women have to surround themselves men who are willing and able to protect them from abusers and harassers.
But here’s what we need you to understand: men are going to notice and sometimes compliment your appearance. Some of you are going to get catcalls when you walk down a public street. Men are visually driven. Compliments and catcalls are going to happen to some of you. Men will flirt with many of you. It happens. Sometimes you’ll like the flirting, sometimes you won’t. When not attached to threats, either express or implied, such incidents are not harassment and certainly not abuse. However, it seems that some of the #MeToo crowd desires victimhood so much that they’re claiming to have suffered sexual harassment or abuse because a man complimented their appearance or flirted with them. We can’t help when we as an entire sex are made to be the enemy or the problem.
Our cause against true predators is undermined both when you don’t push back and when you push too far, when you overlook legitimate harassment and abuse and when you claim harassment from men who gave you an honest compliment. Both are unbecoming of strong women. Both promote victimhood. If we really want women to be empowered, stop equating compliments with harassment. Report the abuse and harassment every time, knowing that we will help you, and move on when you receive an unwanted, awkward, or stupid compliment, knowing that we do awkward and stupid things when we see beautiful women.
Harvey Weinstein and his ilk are scum. The man who implies that you will not advance in your career unless you engage with him romantically or serve as his eye candy needs to lose his position or his teeth. We can help with both. When there is unwanted flirting or compliments that don’t stop after you’ve made it clear for them to stop, we can help. When bad men cross the line, men who are good at being men can help you. The relationship between men and women has always been a synergy where the two sexes complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Together, we can make life better for each other. Ladies, many of us stand ready to help against those who would harass or abuse you. You don’t have to take it, even from powerful men. If there’s a Harvey Weinstein in your life, we can help take him down, literally and figuratively. Because if there’s one thing that’s always been true of men, it’s that we love women.
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