Dear Men: What We Wish You Knew

Let’s begin with an unpopular truth: men and women are not equal.

The world simply does not treat you in the same way that it treats your mother, your sister, your wife or your female friends.

Sure, things are less shit for us than they were when we couldn’t vote, work or own property, but if that’s the bar we’ve set for ourselves, we better be careful not to trip over it.

Well said, sister suffragette

Women are still paid less to do the same work, have less access to education and are more likely to be sexually harassed, assaulted, raped or even murdered than (and by) our male counterparts.

That’s why the #MeToo movement meant so much to women around the world.

Finally, we felt empowered.

Finally, we were being listened to.

Finally, we believed that actual change was possible.

Yeah the girls

Until it wasn’t.

I still have whiplash from the speed with which the movement was hijacked and pivoted to paint men as the true victims of #MeToo.


A straight white man yelling…how you doin’ Brett Kavanaugh?

‘It is a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.’

‘This is a very difficult time.’

‘What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice. You can be somebody that was perfect your entire life and somebody can accuse you of something.’

It’s a ‘great time for women.’

– The literal President of the USA

Yes, we are clearly having a ‘great time’

To be clear, this isn’t an ‘all men suck’ post.

(I’ll save that for the next time I’m dumped over text or stuck next to a manspreader on a 12 hour flight).

These have both happened to me and, honestly, couldn’t say which is worse

Instead, this is a letter to men everywhere who want to understand where women are coming from but just simply don’t know how to and might even be a little afraid to ask.

Kinda like ‘To All the Boys I Loved Before’ but dark

I’ve had this conversation before with my dad, my mates and a boyfriend or two and, while it’s hard, it’s also important.

Because from my admittedly small sample size, it seems like men – due to their own lack of experiencing the feeling – are truly unaware of the constant, exhausting state of vigilance that women have to adopt every single bloody day just to make it through safe and sound.

1. We are not safe at work/home/outside.

1 in 6 women are physically and/or sexually abused before the age of 15.

1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted and/or threatened after the age of 15.

85% of women have been sexually harassed, with 35% experiencing this harassment while at work.

While for men, the greatest danger is posed by strangers (66%) at an ‘entertainment or recreational venue’, women are most likely to be assaulted by a man we know (92%), and are in even more danger in our own homes than we are in the street.

Essentially, we spend our entire lives taught to fear strangers when in actual fact it is most likely to be someone we love and trust who turns us into a victim.

Sometimes it just feels too damn hard

To be clear, this does not mean that men are never the victim.

However, if you can’t look at these statistics and appreciate that women are in more danger than men, and that danger is most likely to be perpetrated by men, then save yourself the time and close this tab now.

2. We are constantly alert.

On the 25th of September, Danielle Muscato asked her female followers a simple question: What would you do if all men had a 9 pm curfew?

As a woman, to me the responses seemed pretty routine and largely reflected what I’d thought myself.

But men were shook.

But of course, there always has to be that one asshole.

@jozzer182, I see your #NotAllMen and I raise you #YesAllWomen.

Yes, all women have been intimidated, belittled or harassed.

Yes, all women have walked home with their keys between their fingers and their headphones around their neck.

Yes, all women have text the licence plate to their mate as soon as they got into a cab.

Yes, all women have turned down plans because it was too dangerous for them to get home in the dark.

So, no, not all men are sexist, or perpetrators of crimes against women.

But – arguably more importantly – yes, all women have to approach their lives as if they will run into one of those men who is.

Consider yourself warned.

Consequently, there is a considerable disparity, particularly in developed countries, between the number of men who report feeling safe compared to the number of women who do not enjoy this same sense of security.  

This is gender privilege at play.

Privilege refers to those ‘automatic unearned benefits’ that only some individuals are afforded due to their membership of a dominant social group.

As a straight white female, I enjoy both race and heterosexual privilege. However, membership of these majorities does not then preclude me from being discriminated against on the basis of other factors, namely gender.

The normalisation of the above behaviours that women adopt, literally for the sake of their survival, is a direct consequence of heteronormative male privilege.

The patriarchal design of our society ensures that it is not men who are forced to change their behaviour – even if that behaviour is rape – instead it is women who must adapt.

Every. Damn. Day.

3. We are taught that it’s our fault.

All you have to do is look at the rhetoric spewed by the police, politicians, and media commentators whenever a woman is assaulted to know that this is true.

It is always phrased in terms of what we can do to keep ourselves safe, in effect pointing out the deficiency of that poor girl who got herself attacked, that we should avoid repeating ourselves in the future.

This is victim blaming – plain and simple – and irrespective of its psychological origins it is something that, as a society, we should know better than to buy into.

Maybe she was out walking after dark.

Maybe she had headphones in.

Maybe her skirt was too short.

Maybe she was alone.

Maybe she was drunk.

Maybe she forgot to text a friend where she was going.

Maybe she was Eurydice Dixon, Jill Meagher, Qi Yu, Larissa Beilby, Sally Roethe, Le Ngoc Le, Marija Karovska, Debbie Combarngo, Noura Khatib, Katie Haley, Margaret Indich, Antonia Tatchell, Amelia Blake, Nancy Barclay, Mary Freeman, Radmila Stevanovic, Marija Karovska, Simone Fraser, Teah Rose Luckwell, Kay Shirley Dix, Ros Thomson, Cecelia Haddad, Ingrid Enalanga, Karen Ashcroft, Caroline Willis, or Gail Winner.

Maybe it was still his fucking fault.


Rest in Power ladies

4. We find it hard to speak out.

Only 37% of sexual assault cases are ever reported to police.

The reasons behind choosing not to report an assault are varied and individual to every victim.

Some don’t want to relive the trauma they endured.

Others feel ashamed and can’t face telling their family and friends.

And then there are those who are discouraged by the system itself – with police and the courts allowing alleged assailants to walk free in 994 of 1000 cases in America and as many as 97% here in Australia.

If, after the events of the last two years, you are still confused about why women are scared to report then I don’t know if my words will be able to convince you otherwise. The President of the United States of America is accused by 22 different women of sexual assault and harassment – some of which he even admitted to – and he was elected anyway.

Someone roll the goddamn bus tape

A Supreme Court Justice nominee – with three different accusers –  threw an absolute beaut of a tanty in a congressional hearing, while his accuser was articulate and stoic, and yet this wasn’t enough to prevent his confirmation.

The man who went on a decade-long soliloquy about his love for beer during a makeshift job interview for one of the most influential positions in the world now has a job for life that is insanely well paid.

This guy isn’t qualified to fry my McNuggets let alone sit on the Supreme Court

So, please, do not come for me with your ‘allegations ruin men’s lives’ take.

No. Nuh-uh. Not today.

Sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, murder – that is what ruins a person’s life and, in some cases, even ends them.

So if you ever wonder why women don’t speak, it’s because moments like this? They tell us loud and clear that this world either does not believe, or just does not care, what we have to say.

I miss you

5. We are not your enemy.

In a plot twist that I admittedly did not see coming, there is an increasingly popular narrative that men are now in danger from the #MeToo movement.

More specifically, men are afraid that this culture of listening to and believing women could result in innocent men being falsely accused and, even lacking credible evidence, be tried in the court of public opinion.

My heart bleeds for you

Let’s first deal with whether such fears have any factual basis.

Only somewhere between 2-10% of rapes are falsely reported. When read in conjunction with the sheer number of rapes that police never even know about, this is a miniscule number.

In fact, you – or your sons, brothers, fathers or mates – are more likely to be sexually assaulted yourself than falsely accused by a woman.

You are also far more likely to be a rapist or perpetrator of sexual assault than be falsely accused but that is, apparently, not the point.

The entire argument put forth by the #HimToo crowd is itself a smokescreen fuelled by powerful elites like the American president – all of whom have much more to lose.

The result is, unfortunately, quite effective.

Men who have never attacked a woman in their lives are now second guessing their every interaction and distancing themselves from women at school, work or uni ‘just to be safe’.

The reason why powerful, vocal men are afraid is not because they fear being falsely accused but because for the first time in their lives, their past actions could have consequences and they know what they’ve done.

What they fear is not a nameless stranger accusing them of a lie but a woman they know being brave enough to share the truth.

So don’t buy into it.

Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the hysteria of a moral panic that was created by the very men who the #MeToo movement is attempting to unmask.

If I can’t convince you, maybe this catchy tune will

6.  We need your support.

The greatest risk to the female plight is the apathy of men who tell themselves ‘it’s not my place’ or ‘I’m not sexist or abusive so my work here is done.’

Your mama did not bring you into this world to have that kind of attitude.

To put it in perspective, we believe that the men who would harm us, with their words or with their bodies, are an exception and not the rule. However, we also believe that the men who would stand with us, believe us, and speak up for us are also such an exception.

I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.

There are ways that you can help.

If a woman tells you no, respect it.

Tell your friends. Seriously, do it.

If you happen to be walking behind a woman at night and you notice her looking over her shoulder, you can always slow down or cross to the other side of the street so that she feels less threatened.

If your mate says something sexist, don’t just awkwardly laugh along – tell him he’s a dickhead.

But above all else?

The best way that you can help us is to listen to us, believe us, and stand with us.

Because if you stay silent, you might as well stand against us.

 

 

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