I hope it wasn't because of #metoo

I was recently talking to my best friend about the outbreak of sexual harassment/abuse claims that have been recently lobbed against some of the biggest names in the world of entertainment and politics.

This issue became even more personal to most of us as women from all walks of life took to social media using the #metoo tag. These are my friends, relatives, former co-workers, colleagues, and former classmates. None of them have ever encountered members of the Washington or Hollywood elite. They have been victimized by just regular guys.

So it made me look at myself and wonder, have I caused someone to type the words #metoo ? I can say definitively that I have never done any of the egregious things that some of these people have been accused of and many have admitted to. But through words or actions have I made any woman feel uncomfortable in my presence. Have I said things that can be construed the wrong way? And even if I didn’t mean it, if someone took it that was it's still wrong.

I am pretty sure that physically I have always treated women respectfully. And I am not the kind of guy to do catcalls or what not, but am I the kind of guy, who might take a second look at a lady in tight-fitting yoga pants? Might I say or laugh at an off-colored joke in what I believe to be in non-mixed company? Those are both probably yes. Have any of those things made someone uncomfortable? I don’t know. But they might have and that’s not cool. Those are things I now go around trying to avoid doing.

Often times we hear why aren’t the good Muslims speaking out against radical Islam. Why aren’t the good cops speaking out against police brutality? Why aren’t more men standing up against these so-called men who have been systematically victimizing women for generations? Those women are our daughters, wives, sisters, mothers, and friends. Why does it have to take an over-publicized controversy to bring harassment for us to do something about it?

What can we do about it?
Don’t be afraid to call out someone else who you see is harassing a woman or girl. I’m not saying start a fight, but don’t just walk away and say that’s not my problem. Make your presence known, make it clear that this is not acceptable behavior.

Believe the accusers. Don’t dismiss someone for any reason. This has gotten to a tipping point where the accused have to prove them innocent. There are a lot of reasons that people don’t speak up immediately. You have heard the phrase “There is Safety in Numbers”, that is why so many people are speaking out now. Do you think a 14-year old girl in the 1970s living in a small town in Alabama would be very comfortable publicly talking about being abused by a well known and influential 30-year old lawyer? What do you think the people in her town would say?

Speak out with your dollars. I love the show House of Cards. But can I really support a show that stars someone who victimizes other people? Perhaps if they kill off or recast Kevin Spacey’s character I can come back. But on the local level, if you see that the pizza guy is constantly making the work environment uncomfortable for his employees, go to the other pizza place.

Be a good role model. It is time for all of us men to make a change in the way we talk and act in front of women and girls. And more importantly how we speak in front of our sons and other young men that we influence. That is the only way that this wheel is broken.

I know this is a hollow apology, but we (Men) have been jerks. We have either said or done horrible things. Or just as bad we have sat on the sideline and done nothing about. We fall back on recycled mantras of “Boys will be Boys” or “Locker-room Talk”. But that is unacceptable. We need to be better. And we need to be better right now.

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