Sexual allegations and horrifying stories about abusive men have become daily events.
Last night I read one more heartfelt personal account about sexual harassment and abuse. Even one story is unacceptable, but the overload of so many stories is overwhelming. I think of the less traumatic, but still impactful stories of my own life. I think about stories I have heard personally from friends as well as stories I have been reading. Most recently I have been remembering a roommate from college who was raped by her professor. I don’t know where to find her now, but I want to apologize. I think I must have conveyed the belief that somehow what happened to her was her fault. I’m so sorry. It was in no way your fault.
Don’t all these men have women in their lives? How do they behave in this abhorrent way?
Why don’t they think of their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and female friends while they are making bad choices? Clearly the female voice needs to carry further than it does.
I added my #metoo piece (http://www.thoughtbeforeaction.com/one-more-voice/) to the voices raised in protest. I shared my story. I read the stories of so many other women who are just now feeling empowered to speak out about their experiences. I am angered by what has happened to them. I am saddened. I doubt our humanity. Yet I am compelled to write a few words unity and hope.
I am married to a man. He is smart, dedicated and caring. He is a terrific father and husband. He is an adventurer, an enthusiastic participant of life and a finder of truths. He has two brothers who are also loved and respected. I am also the mother of a man. A wonderful man who is insightful and understanding in ways I have not mastered. A critically thinking man who grew from a determined yet sometimes out of sync adolescent. He was a boy who never wanted to fight. A boy who delighted in sports, even though he didn’t always excel in sports. A boy who surprised us all by growing six inches in one year and couldn’t seem to figure out where his feet and elbows were going.
I want to write about my own father. The most gentle of men who suffered from many tragedies. He carried a great weight of having fought in WWII in the streets in Germany. He never recovered from the loss of his own twin brother due to illness when he was only in his early thirties. He was greatly diminished by life, yet he raised me and my sisters the best he could. He came to school events. Built me a go-cart. Went on family trips and adored my mother. He wasn’t much of a speaker, my dad. But he did his best, and he never hurt anyone.
I have brothers-in-law, friends, nephews and cousins.
I am a daughter, mother, sister and friend to these excellent human beings. Of course they make mistakes some times. So do I. And so do you.
Sometimes they fail to reach the goals they have set themselves. Sometimes they are rude and cranky, tired and hungry, loud and argumentative.
But they are good people.
There are men out there who assault, manipulate and take advantage of women in the worst ways possible. Because they are bigger, stronger and seething with testosterone. Because they can. The poorest possible reason.
Men who call out rude comments on the street while telling themselves they are giving compliments.
Men who corner women in dark places while telling themselves they are only giving women what they want. What they have tacitly agreed to by letting themselves be in those places.
Men who knowingly use power and control over anyone who is weaker than they are. And sometimes the power and control takes the form of sexual intimidation and force.
I know these men are out there.
But that is not all men, or even most men, and certainly not my men. Not my father, or husband, friends, son.
Just as women should not be defined wholly by our gender, so should men not be defined by this either.
Let’s not pile all these human beings together and just call them “men” and make an assumption about their behavior.
We need to learn from each other. We are not two different species. It is funny to laugh at the concept of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”, but maybe it is time to realize that we are really all from Earth, and we need to behave not like two warring species, but like humankind. One species. We are one body.
And if women are the hands of our human body, we do not cut off our own hands. We do not remove our heads if they are filled with religion or science. We do not remove any part of our societal body if it looks a little different.
We need to treat this body better. Feed it healthy food, give it enough sleep. Counsel it, understand it, love it and train it.
I have to believe it is possible. I have to. Because of my own men.
We need to speak out. The head and hands and heart of our human body need to say what they are experiencing. We need to treat this disease together.