I’ve read so much panic from men recently who are worried about women coming forward with their experiences of sexual harassment.
“Where will it all end ”
“can we no longer put a kiss at the end of emails?”
“Can we no longer ask a woman on a date ?”
“No man is safe from these allegations ”
I’ll be generous and say yes there will always be people who make up stuff. Believe me though when I say the number of women who do this is so , so small compared to the number of women who play down their experiences , that have never and will never speak of what they’ve been through , that have been told by their harasser or abuser that they are making an unnecessary fuss and have believed it . That have had their lives made worse by their experiences ,whose mental health has been ruined by what they have been through.
I’ll again mention of course this happens the other way around too.
Sexual harassment towards women is there all the time , every day.
It’s been in our lives forever , it’s exhausting and relentless . Our mindsets have been trained over years to behave in the way we can best protect ourselves. We don’t walk alone in the dark. If we do we’ve our phones in one hand and our keys ready to use as self defense in the other. We know the creepy guys in work that we would ensure no other woman was left in a one on one scenario with.
Some men probably should be worried that we are daring to speak out . That we are daring to say no more. That names are being named. That we are coming together to protect women who are being silenced , that we are backing other women , that we are saying #metoo.
I’m not close to many men. The ones I am though aren’t worried or fearful. They’re ready to stand by these women too. Men who use power and privilege to harass and intimidate women make them ashamed to be a man .
As a man , if you have never laid your hands or any other part of your body on a women without her consent (in fact call me a feminist loony I’m going to say enthusiastic consent) , if you have never made sexual comments to a woman that has made her feel uncomfortable , if you’ve never invaded a woman’s space or relentlessly persued her ignoring the word no , then there’s nothing at all to worry about and I think the good men know that.
Keeping silent about something awful that has happened to you doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. Sometimes we keep quiet because we just can’t face digging up that memory.
Sometimes we keep quiet because we put ‘just’ before our experiences “it was JUST his hand on my leg”
Sometimes we don’t speak out because we minimise our experiences as it wasn’t as bad as what had happened to another woman.
Sometimes we’re still intimidated by the man’s power or influence and stay quiet.
So when women do speak , loudly . When we come together .When names of men who ‘aren’t like that ‘ are mentioned. Then listen , give oxygen to their words.
There are so many of us , with so many stories whether they are ever told or not. The good guys , the men who love us and respect us will stand by us as women , not just because we’re sisters or mums or aunties or wives ,but because we’re human. They’ll stand by unworried and supportive. We need as many of those as possible.