To All the Boys Accused Before: An open letter for men in the #MeToo era
In recent years, an intriguing, fascinating phenomenon began to bloom in the field of social media, beginning initially as a small hashtag 11 years ago, but rapidly matured in late 2017 when Twitter netizens — primarily female — participated in droves, sharing their own experiences with sexual harassment using the now well-known hashtag of #MeToo.
In the midst of this, more and more women in America have come forward to the public to tell their stories of undergoing sexual assault of different kinds, and have begun to hold the men accountable for their actions, and more importantly forced them to face the effects of their actions.
And in the midst of this, we know it is difficult to be held accountable, and to be forced to face the consequences of your past actions. The new movement of #MeToo is an unfamiliar one, and one not entirely comfortable for you — when so used to power and privilege and having the upper hand in nearly every single field and area, facing any kind of opposition can feel like a threat. But the #MeToo era, and everything it represents — women reclaiming their agency and voice — is not meant as a threat to men. Gender is not a dichotomy, and the surge of women coming forward with accusations of sexual assault is not, and has never been, meant as an all-out war against men. All we are asking of you is to take a step back and reflect and re-evaluate your actions, and take the blame for any past harm, and ultimately move forward with better care and awareness to women — and this goes for both those who have harmed in the past and those who have not.
To people complaining these sex abuse cases have created a world where men now to have to think 10 times before they touch a woman.
Yes, that’s the point. It’s called consent. Welcome to human decency.#BelieveSurvivors
- Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) 27 September 2018
And to those who have not: we understand that you are good men — we do. We are inherently aware of the fact that Not All Men are rapists or sexual harassers, and navigating relationships with women is much, much trickier and more complicated than it was 50 years ago, when it was commonplace for men to hit women up at bars and make the first move. The politics of gender were much easier then, but it was also much more dangerous for women to be sexually assaulted — whether or not it was within their knowledge. Issues and definitions of rape and assault were extremely vague and blurry, and certainly not many people knew where to draw the line. But it is now the 21st century, and it is only appropriate that we move forward towards equality, and that means pushing women forward as well as men taking a few steps back, if only in the delicate area of sexual politics. So dealing with all this confusion, and un-learning the decades-worth knowledge of traditional masculinity is all a normal part of change, as it is for women disentangling themselves from decades worth of silence and repression. Change has never been, and will never be an easy task, but it will always be a necessary one.
And in the line of women coming forward after years of silence in the midst of #MeToo, please do not ask the women why now, but ask the men why did they ever? The politics between men and women are vastly different, and victims’ hurt often translates to shame and denial, according to Psychology Today’s Beverly Engel, as well as the fear of not being believed, and the possible repercussions of reporting. In the decades since time immemorial, women have historically been relegated to the sidelines, and have since fought their way to equality in different fields, and in 2018, the field is defining and overcoming the inequality of sexual politics. In the name of feminism, women have been doing all the work, but it is time for men to step up too. Equality is, as many a Twitter user has pointed out, a two-way street, and takes both sides of the party to achieve.
To the men who are confused and hurting, no one is blaming you for your pain — in fact, we welcome that pain, and ask that you process it into something more helpful than anger towards women. Male privilege and the harmful climate of sexual assault is not your fault, but is your responsibility as well to amend. There is no way to correct the mistakes of the past, but all there is is to prevent its possibilities in the future. Every action made from this point forward will contribute to either the problem or the solution, and the responsibility to make the right choice lies in your hands as well as ours.
Your mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and friends
Featured image by Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Originally published at http://www.snippetmedia.com on November 9, 2018.