This whole article is quotable.
But a few choice excerpts:
In almost every conversation I have had about this issue, with people of every gender, the topic has tilted slowly back towards how we’re going to help men, as opposed to how we might make all our communities kinder and better and less fucked up.
The problem is that men’s pain is, still, so visceral, so dominating, and women’s pain is so easy to dismiss. Men’s panic about being accused of violence has overwhelmed women’s actual experiences of violence in the public imagination.
Why can’t we be nicer?Well, here’s the thing. We’ve tried being nicer, and it didn’t work. This movement did not come out of nowhere. It’s not some sudden outbreak of “hysteria,” much as it might be comforting to return to Victorian superstitions about women’s wombs overheating and leaping up en masse to strangle our critical faculties. Women have been trying to reason with men for some sort of sexual and social justice for — oh, god knows how long, but I can certainly speak for my own entire adult life. I’m a sucker who believes in infinite second chances, and even I’m sick of waiting. Fuck it. They were warned.
While discussing how a women in her friend group outed an abuser on Twitter, and how everyone freaked out at said woman, including the author for not giving the guy another chance:
I was wrong. She did the right thing. We only found out how much of the right thing she’d done when all the other stories started coming out. The guy had spent 20 years hurting women on three separate continents and — I find it hard to write this, so give me a moment — he wasn’t going to stop. He wasn’t going to stop until the women who loved him stopped giving him chances. He might have wanted to stop, but he didn’t have to, so he wasn’t going to. (emphasis mine)
That last bit is the why it’s so important to hold men’s feet to the fire. If they don’t have to stop, they probably won’t. And this is where male allies are most important and, in my opinion, men are failing the most right now: most people figuring this shit out, outing abusers, dealing with the aftermath on BOTH sides are women. Men are still taking a pretty passive stance, at least in the circles that I frequent.
And to be honest, I think that this is where parents really need to step the fuck up. If you let your boys get away with everything, they experience a world without consequence and NEVER HAVE TO FEEL BAD, which means they never have to cope with said bad feelings:
The problem is not simply that so many men are unable to cope with fear and distress — it’s also that society at large is unable to cope with male fear and distress, whereas women’s pain is normalized, made invisible, and accepted up to a certain degree as our lot in nature and creation.
I’m amazed at how much the young men in my classes feel so much more entitled to my time and “special treatment” if they forget to hand in shit or miss a quiz or something similar. Sure there are women in my classes who do this, but the men drive me fucking crazy. It’s clear how much they’ve been coddled and expect me to coddle them as well. And, ya, I blame parents because they learn it from somewhere.
I think couples really need to think about the message they are sending their kids with how the emotional labour is split up households and how Mom and Dad treat each other...and especially how Dad treats Mom.
I get that nothing is perfect, but in the very few interactions I’ve had with parents (because at the level I teach, we have almost zero contact) it’s been Mom’s complaining that their son isn’t getting a fair treatment (i.e. not getting special treatment). Making men comfortable (and parent’s making excuses for their kids, especially their boys) is a very real thing our society is programmed to do. It needs to stop if we want to see any progress.
The whole thing is a great read, but I’ll leave you with this last quote:
Suck it up and let go. Let go of your resentment at women’s lack of patience, let go of your wounded pride, let go of your useless shame, and let go of the idea of being a “good guy.” “Good” is not a thing you are, it’s a thing you do, or don’t do. The world is not neatly divided into good and bad men. It never was, and we need to let go of the idea that it ever was, so that we can finally be better to one another, finally learn to deal with our shit like grown-ups in this strange new cityscape we’re crawling through together, trying to find our way to the light. That’s the only way we’re going to move from a place of holding abusers to account, into a future where abuse is less likely to happen.