No B.S Friday: #enoughisenough has made me realise something… I’m not in the game.
So a good friend bailed me up and said, “Hey, you’ve got a blog. Why aren’t’ you talking about the enough-is-enough protests.”
This has become a zeitgeist. It’s another flourishing of ‘me too’.
Eleven separate allegations of sexual assault within the halls of power was always going to have a galvanising effect.
And until now I’ve sort of seen myself as a sympathetic observer. Watching from the sidelines going “Up you go ladies. Enough is enough. You totally shouldn’t have to put up with that crap anymore.”
But my friend called me out. “But why aren’t you saying anything, Jon? Are you really going to sit by and let us fight this one on our own?”
That stopped me in my tracks.
Women have been trying to tell us this for a long time – that the system feels geared against them, the threat of sexual violence is a constant hum in their lives, and the system and the violence seem to sit pretty cosily together.
They seem to hang out and laugh and buy each other drinks.
Never mind equal rights in the workplace and all that. This was something that cut through to how safe women felt in the world – that there was nowhere that offered refuge from this constant vigilance, except maybe the home, and then even then.
And the message was that the system seemed geared to support sexual violence, not fight against it.
At first we (men, and society) didn’t believe them. We wanted to think that rape was the case of a few bad apples, not something aided and abetted by the unwritten rules of our culture.
We didn’t believe them, but slowly, after the evidence became simply overwhelming (the first flourishing of ‘me too’ was stunning. I simply had no idea how many of my female friends had been subject to sexual assault at some point in their lives. That was the wake-up call for me. This sh#T was deep.) but yeah, after the evidence became overwhelming, we started listening. We started believing.
And yay. Good first step.
But it’s not enough.
What was I going to do about it?
It’s great that I was able to ‘witness’ what was actually happening, but when was I going to realise that this was my fight too?
It’s my fight because this was something that affects my women-folk. All the women I love. All the women in my life. Am I just going to witness it and not do anything about it?
And it’s my fight because the world I want to live in is not one where women feel constantly unsafe – where anyone feels constantly unsafe.
That’s not even a particularly heroic or visionary vision. It’s just a pretty basic measure of society’s success.
Are women being sexually assaulted on a regular basis, Y/N?
So this is my fight too.
And I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. I’m not sure I even have a good handle on what the problem actually is. It’s hard to think yourself out of culture. It’s everything you know.
But right now it feels like I need to just accept and embrace my ignorance (when has it ever stopped me in the past?), and say something, because right now it feels better to say something stupid that say nothing at all.
And so I guess I just want to say, to my female friends who are frustrated that men aren’t stepping up to the fight too, I hear that. I get why that’s frustrating.
And I want to say that I’m not going to place myself on the sidelines of this anymore. I’m in the game. I don’t know what that will look like, but I’m in the game.
I want you to know that this is my fight too.
And I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of fellas stepping up to fight alongside me.