I've been following the #metoo movement on Social Media, and let me just say, certain parts of it have me all fired up.
What in the WORLD is up with the response-hashtag #notallmen?!?
That hashtag makes me SO angry.
First of all, #notallmen is disturbing for this reason: would it have to be EVERY SINGLE MAN doing it for us to say that women's stories are valid and we have a problem as a culture??
Second of all, #notallmen is so dismissive. It's the opposite of listening to someone's pain. It's defensiveness. It's protecting yourself. And I would definitely go as far as to say that defending yourself, thinking about yourself, protecting yourself, as a man, is a HUGE part of the problem we have in our culture of sexual assault, molestation, harassment, and rape.
Even if a man has never assaulted or harassed someone, he can still perpetuate the problem, time and again, by what he does and doesn't do:
- When men don't use their strength to control and discipline themselves in what their eyes look at, in what they allow themselves to think about, whether publicly or privately, they perpetuate the problem: they're embracing the idea that women exist for their pleasure, women's bodies are objects that belong to them, are theirs for the taking, for their enjoyment.
- When men don't use their strength to teach their sons to value and honor and respect women; when men don't teach their daughters about the inherent worth and beauty of who they are and about the dignity of their life and about how they must be treated; when men don't teach their sons about sexuality; when men spend their extra hours sitting their butts on the couch and letting their wives run the household, lead the kids, take care of the family, in their silence and passivity, they are perpetuating the problem.
- When men, even if there is consent, lead (whether actively or passively) a woman into a sexually vulnerable situation, instead of using his strength to take the lead and care for her, lead her, create a safe place for her, he's perpetuating the problem. He's saying, in that moment, that nothing and no one is more important than his pleasure. The woman exists to gratify him. And so she is left vulnerable and unsafe, instead of taken care of and safe.
- When men listen to music or watch music videos (which are so pervasive in our culture) that normalize objectifying women, that sexualize women, it perpetuates the problem: over and over and over these things want to teach us that women are objects of sexuality, meant to be sexy, their role and their purpose solely to be for a man's pleasure. And that is the problem.
This might seem like a rant against men, and in some ways, it is. Men, over and over again, have contributed to fostering an unsafe culture for women and children. Some do it actively and horrifically through assault and harassment and rape, and many men do it passively through complicit silence and lack of speaking up in regards to what is just plain wrong and should not be ignored. Men have collectively failed to use their resources and voices to honor the invaluable worth of women and children. They have so often failed to lead towards what is good.
Women obviously have caused hurt and brokenness, as well. But the hurt that women cause can NEVER be a reason to brush aside and dismiss the pain, horror and shattering women have experience at the brokenness of men.
Men, won't you decide to make a change? Won't you stand up and use your strength to protect what is vulnerable? Won't you hear the shame, pain, and horror associated with the stories of #metoo and choose to listen and do something about it in your world, instead of simply dismissing it all with #notallmen?