Are You Worried About Being #Metoo-ed?
This article is for information only and doesn’t call for any action.
Recently, I was listening to a report on WHYY, which is an NPR station based in Philadelphia. The topic was Philly Men Redefining Masculinity in the #MeToo Era. In the interview, there was a quote from a man who said he didn’t want to get #metoo-ed, as if it was a verb. He didn’t want to bear the label of being inappropriate. Having been raised as a cisgender woman, I have wondered what it is like for men who have concerns about being accused of crossing a line. I know that patterns of social interaction are well established and require re-imagining what appropriate physical contact with another person would look like. An important rule of thumb is not only, no means no, but only a full and resounding yes means yes, and either of the parties is welcome to change their minds at any point along the way. It is what I taught my now 31-year-old son that, to the best of my knowledge, he has adhered to. My daughter-in-law thanked me for raising a gentleman and ‘the man of her dreams.’ I reminded him that the rule goes for his needs too. No one gets to touch him without his consent. This was a discussion we had initially when he was a pre-teen. I don’t recall that conversation when I was young, although it was implied. Blessedly, I have not had the traumatic encounters that others I know have had. Sadly, I no one should be the exception.
What if a healthier form of masculinity could replace the ages old, passed down through the generations version we were taught to accept? What if no one felt entitled to touch another person without their consent? What if people regardless of gender followed the golden rule? What if men asked themselves these questions, ‘Is what I am about to say or do to a woman, what I would have said or done by someone with a woman I know and love?’
‘Am I a positive model for the boys in my life?’
Some responses from my circles:
It does have some of them in fear, but isn’t that just part of the process of evolution? We all know the difference between a sweet hearted person and someone who is being devious and selfish. It’s time people act accordingly.
A former colleague loved to say “There is no word that can’t be verbed.
Over the past several decades, our view of gender roles around sexuality has certainly evolved, and we with them.
As such, it is almost inevitable that most people of a certain age, and I’ll apply it to both men and women, have one or more episodes in our lives which we would have handled differently if we had the level of understanding then that we do now. The key is in recognizing that, and in learning from those experiences. Some (such as Cosby to name one), have done neither. And, of course, as has been the case with some of these high-profile offenders, it’s a matter of degree. I think the big anxiety is that, for whatever reason or motivation, someone will decide to cast an interaction that happened and might have been considered pretty innocuous decades ago in the context of today’s understanding and values. That is probably what is meant about being “#metoo-ed.”
If his conscience is clear, what’s he worried about? I read a police report that claimed the statistic that only 3% of rape reports are false. 97% are real. If he’s not guilty he shouldn’t be worried.
Someone close to me was falsely accused of pedophilia. I know him well. He volunteered with children, and he was extremely careful never to be the only adult in a room with a child. But the child pointed him out as having sexually assaulted him. Later, he was cleared, but the whole experience was heartbreaking.
When I walk through crowds of men or in restaurants or bars if I’m walking between them or behind them, I’ll put my hand on their shoulders or their backs to let them know I’m there. I may put my hand on the arm of someone in a store, sort of an, “I’m glad we stopped a moment and shared. I do it in all kinds of ways.
Me too has not changed but intensified a man’s situation. Unless one is truly part of a community. our situation is like being on trial in a court where one is guilty until proven innocent . . . and then is guilty of something else. I’m not talking about an active, chargeable offense but just negativity .
As men, we must realize that the same power inequity that has enabled some men to sexually exploit others (with the others being women, men, and children) has also inhibited the survivors from seeking justice or even telling their stories. That has been quite convenient, as statutes of limitations have run out, memories faded, and credibility eroded with time. What has changed is that those factors are now recognized. And they’ve come back to bite men, as the recognition that contemporary justice has been largely denied has also made it more difficult to be credibly vindicated. So now when, for example, a 30-year-old claim is made against a Catholic priest, or default is to take what the accuser says at face-value. I myself by default believe the accuser, even aware that there is some small risk in doing so. However, since the accused participated to one degree or another in a system which systematically worked to cover for those of his peers who were abusers, he finds himself now in a position of having a credibility problem. So if we, as men, hadn’t been so awful, and in general raised and educated in a less-than-optimal fashion, we wouldn’t find ourselves quite so vulnerable to accusations that would impugn our integrity.
I have no fear of being #metoo‘d. I have good options for dealing with it. I can always choose to do better. If people decide not to work with me despite my best intentions and are just looking for an excuse, that’s going to happen anyway. They’ll just find something else. But if they see value in me despite my past lapses, both active and passive, then that’s what they see. None of that is really under my control. The only part of it that I can control is how clearly I communicate my intention to be safe and maintain a climate of safety for everyone around me. So that’s what I plan to do!
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January 16, 2019 at 09:11PM