I have been broken open this week, a thousand times, a thousand different ways. The news has been bad, and so soon after other bad news that also broke me open.
I have had a lot of thoughts as I’ve watched this most recent, more personal-feeling bad news. I thought of the women involved, the roads each has travelled to the point where each was able to tell her story to someone. I thought of the importance of critical thinking and media literacy. It seems the more we stew in information and opinion, the less adept we are at sorting through what we receive in a meaningful way. I thought of the culture of silence and shame in which violence and sexual violence are perpetuated. I thought of the good work of many fine people over decades trying to make change.
I have watched in awe as people change their perspective in real time. As they hear the voices of women saying This happened to me, this is how it felt, this is why I never spoke up. I have watched people develop understanding and empathy for those who have been subject to sexual violence. It has been confusing, actually, to see that happen. We have become so polarized, so dedicated to our own opinions, and our own opinions only. So it is refreshing to see people admitting in the public sphere that they’ve changed their thinking.
But there is a long way to go. And holy god I am tired.
I am so tired. I have known since I was a tiny child that I needed to be concerned about my personal safety because I was a girl. It was clear to me in dozens of ways. I remember the names and faces of little girls who disappeared, Christine Jessop. Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan. Allison Perrott. And of course Kristen French and Lesley Mahaffy.
I remember grappling with why I felt angry, when I was a teenager, to hear politicians dismiss calls for equality as the work of “special interest groups.” Women’s equality. Fifty one percent of the population. Special interests.
The Montreal Massacre happened when I was nineteen years old. I tried to understand why people in my classes at Ryerson and in the media were saying it wasn’t misogyny. Hadn’t Marc Lepine separated out the women so he could shoot them? Hadn’t he railed against feminists? You didn’t have to read between the lines there. He laid it out for you, didn’t he? Why weren’t we all agreed that misogyny was at play there? Because he also shot some men?
And there are more examples to lay here, but as I say, I am so fucking tired. And here’s what wearies me the most.
I am so fucking tired of educated, privileged men (yes, of course, god help me #notallmen) trying to shoulder women out of the way, even in this discussion. When Rehtaeh Parsons killed herself — after she was “disappointed to death” by a legal system that offered her no justice — I saw men who really ought to know better, because they have had every opportunity to pay attention, I saw them express their outrage online and on the radio and in the newspaper. Why isn’t the government doing more to help victims of sexual assault? Why aren’t the police helping? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this? This is AN OUTRAGE. AREN’T YOU OUTRAGED.
And I thought, yeah, buddy, of course I’m fucking outraged. I have been since 1976. You’re a little late to the party. Why isn’t the government doing more? When did you tell the government this was a priority for you? Just this morning? That’s why. As far as the government knows, your main priority has been paying lower taxes. Support for victims of sexual violence, an actual JUSTICE system, these are not things you have asked for with your vote and with your voice. Get out in the streets if you want change. How else will they know it’s a priority?
And in this latest bout of terrible, terrible news, I am seeing so many men blaming women for not coming forward earlier, for not putting their names to allegations, for not making formal complaints to the police. Blaming women who have warned each other away from predators for not coming forward, for not DOING SOMETHING to stop this. Just because you haven’t noticed us trying to change it doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing it. Stop and think about that for a minute. Think about what you have had the good goddamn fortune to have been blissfully unaware of. Stop. Think. Are you sure you want to go on castigating women for not stopping the evil that (some) men do?
And here’s something else: I am seeing men complain that they’re not being allowed to speak! That women are shutting them down! It’s such an injustice! I have a right to talk about this! I have opinions to offer! You’re not giving me any space to do that! That’s reverse sexism!
To you, I say a hearty fuck you. Honestly. My better nature tells me to explain to you why your complaints are unfair, but my better nature is so goddamn tired, see above. I’ll add this: Now you know, a little, what it’s like to be a woman in the public sphere. Consider that.
Much as I’ve been heartened by the ability of people to change their point of view through discussion and careful consideration, I have been disheartened by the number of times this week I have been lectured to, by men who ought to know better, who’ve had every opportunity to educate themselves and think critically. I’ve been lectured on equality, and the need for it. I’ve been lectured on the suffocating culture of silence around sexual violence. I’ve been lectured on the necessity of letting the courts do their work. I’ve been lectured six ways from Sunday on issues I’ve been breathing like air and drinking like water since I was six fucking years old.
Men: it is time for you to shut up if you can’t be helpful. It is time for you to stop assuming you know more about this than we do. Just stop it. Listen to us. Don’t jump in to give us solutions as if we haven’t thought of them, tried them, watched them fail, started again just in case we hadn’t tried hard enough the first time. If the pace of social change on the issue of women’s equality is too slow for you, well, we have that in common. Why don’t you ask yourself why that pace is so slow, instead of blaming women for not getting it done faster?
We have been rolling this boulder up the hill for decades. It is time for you to help.
And if you can’t do that, then get out of the goddamn way. Sit down and shut up. The women are talking.
EDITED TO ADD: HOW TO HELP ROLL THE BOULDER
164 responses to “Now is the time for all good men to get out of the way if they can’t lend a hand”
Powerful words. Thank you for sharing them. Time to rest now so that you can be well enough to fight another day. It does not end here unfortunately.
I agree. With every word. Every word in your comment. Every word in Ms. Domet’s article. We must rest. For a moment. Tomorrow, we must forge ahead, again.
OMG, what an incredible article you’ve written, Stephanie. I agree completely with everything you’ve written here. Powerful.
right on. I’ve been working with a sexual assault centre in my town for about 25 years now and its amazing how few people really understand any of the dynamics of sexual assault – and sorry, that also includes women who have never encountered it. I spent 1/2 a morning trying to explain to a female friend why someone wouldn’t come forward, why they don’t report to the police, why they might not want their name known, or why they might not even leave an abusive relationship. I am a man who suffered threats of sexual assault by an older and much more powerful “man”, but was fortunate to escape with only minimal violence – sometimes the victim is male. I can empathize, but I know I don’t live it every day and for many women it is much worse.
Thanks for this note, John. Yes, women are also part of the patriarchy, often, and men are also often victims of sexual assault and violence. You have my compassion. I hope this week has not been triggering for you. And thank you for your twenty five years in the trenches. Best to you.
Sadly, women often internalize patriarchy. It is a tough shackle to break. Especially in this toxic culture.
but .. I did come forward .. over and over and over .. Every time it happened .. I shouted..
.. Ok .. maybe not the last few times.. but .. I have been ‘weakened’ .. ..
Weakened.. not by the assautls (as much) ..
Weakened .. not by the person committing the assaults.. (not as much) ..
Weakened . by a system that blamed me..
weakened by a family that blamed me..
weakened by a society .. that Still blames me.
My “fault”> Speaking up .. 😦
I was held responsible for the decay of my “family” .. because I “ratted out” my mothers .. last husband… and I wouldn’t just “let it go” ..
When I ran to the streets at the age of 15 .. to save my life from that predator .. I was attacked .. more than once.. left for dead .. more than once. WHen I went to the police to report the Gang Rape / Assault .. after being rescued from the closet I was tied and left TO DIE in.. the cop looked me up and down .. and said: “no wonder, look at you” .. 😦 .. I had tshirt and jeans on .. I was 15 .. there were 6 of them .. that time.. the next time there were only 5 .. 😦
The Last tiem I was assaulted (in that way) .. it was a doctor .. he also assaulted 11 more women where I live. I reported it .. and I have since then Begged to be given a doctor so I can get my health and go to work… My report apparently doesn’t exist. But .. if you “look at me” .. you can probably guess why ..
I’m older now .. x over 50 .. I am unkempt .. as unattractive as I can be.. not that that has ever stopped an assault .. but .. If it happens again .. no one in authority can blame it on me being attractive or dressed provocatively. I dont’ dress up these days.
Some of us Have Spoken out..
Many of us Have reported…
Sometimes the Revictimization that comes of that .. is “almost” worse than the original assault.
“why don’t they speak out” … smh 😦
My mother was also assaulted by a doctor. And I believe I narrowly missed being assaulted by a doctor in Toronto, when I was in my 20’s, who was trying to insist I needed a pelvic exam, although I had come in to be checked out because I had been kicked on the KNEE by a horse! I told him in no uncertain terms, NO. And I left. Thank God.
I am so sorry for what has happened to you 😦 I believe you.
Ive had a similar history ( no gang rapes but multiple assaults from 11yrs to to 22 and Toronti police who did nothing and accused me of lying and evidence lost) the frustration has unhinged me completly at times.
Yup, the revictimization is sometimes worse than the original violation. I think that is one of my biggest beefs about the shit I’ve been through.
In my town, when a friend of mine was raped, he was effectively told by police that as a gay man, wouldn’t that be what he wanted? And the local sexual assault crisis centre would not speak to him, as he was male. Much work needs to be done along the entire gender spectrum…
Agreed. Men are left out of the conversation about sexual assault because men are less likely to report because of just what you wrote. If a man is sexually assaulted or raped, his sexually it questioned, and if he is gay, he must have wanted it. It still all stems from a system of patriarchy that rigidly defines men’s and women’s roles. Any deviations from those roles is met with scorn at best and severe punishment at worst.
It’s important to remember that it is overwhelmingly men who are the attackers, assaulters and violators of women and girls and of men and boys. Every time a man hears a sexist joke and does nothing, sees another man make a comment or gesture or threat or attack upon a woman–and backs away, firmly avowing that he would never do such a thing — he is also reinforcing patriarchy. It is not enough to not be violent. It is not enough to be respectful of women but not hold other men accountable and insist on better from each other. I would be more thankful to you for 25 years in the trenches if I knew you were standing up to abusive men, teaching boys about the toxicity of masculinity, and interfering with the everyday sexism of ordinary men. I know men who do this pay a big price — I know it is not easy. But still it is nowhere near the price that every woman pays, every day, living in patriarchy.
I’m at work in a combination of grateful and furious tears. Thank you for writing this. I’ll be sharing it as broadly as I possibly can.
Thank you Stephanie. As a man (and a “good” one, I hope), I needed this reminder today that my help is wanted. I’ve had my ears open and my mouth closed all week, and I’m ready to lend a hand in the trenches. Deferentially, of course.
You’ve got it right, Stephanie–let the women speak (and make the men listen). The world would be a more sensible, and peaceful place.
Dear Stephanie, I want to thank you so much for your voice. I am so goddamn tired too of having to explain our culture of normalization and acceptance of violence, all this week. Not just to strangers, work colleagues and acquaintances, but horrifically, even to members of my own family.
If I hear one more person say “well we’ll see when all the facts come out” or “this should be decided in a court of law, not a court of the media”, I may scream so loud my head will explode. “Innocence until proven guilty” is a right that in our culture is only afforded to the accused, not accusers, and people who choose not to see that – both men and women – indeed need to step aside. As a survivor, this week has felt like being taken back to my own horror of the humiliation, ridicule, and physical and verbal threats that come with speaking up. However, I still hope this causes a genuine shift, no matter how small, in the awareness of how people approach cases of violence and sexual violence, and some real changes begin to take place.
So we should convict people base on what other people say with no investigation?
Sit down, John. Shut up. Listen. For once.
Thank you for giving a coherent account of the anger and frustration women feel from birth. Trying to explain exactly this to friends, colleagues, and even my dear husband this week – what we as women are up against daily, and how we empathize so deeply with victims anonymous and not – has been an exercise in extreme patience. Your post brought stinging tears to my eyes.
Standing ovation from this corner of the world! Thank you.
Very powerful and well articulated. For what its worth, I’d love to hear more of the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” perspective from women and men alike. It seems to be the only language that gets through to some people.
I’m crying. You hit the high notes. There was so much more that could have been said, but that’s for another time. This was compelling. The truth usually is. I’m sending this a a number of people as I don’t have the writing ability you have.
Assault has been seen as a woman’s issue. But it’s often perpetrated by a man. So it’s an issue for all of us.
I’ve been in the place you write about. And been frustrated by the current legal system/process. Not believed. Even worse, even when believed, shrugged off because it wasn’t economical of resources/money/time to be on the System’s radar.
I hesitate 2 blame myself, but admittedly I’ve voted for lower taxes at various levels, while working hard for women’s rights and equality. In retrospect how counterproductive was that?
I’ve been in correspondence with my MP and PMO for months trying to explain how unproductive the current system is. In essence, their response has been *We can’t allow a man to be convicted by any false accusations from a woman.* Where does a person go from there? My MP is a good caring man. From a good caring family. Who cares about HIS family. But he hasn’t been where I’ve been. And I suspect the women aren’t him haven’t either. Lucky them.
I too am tired, both physically & emotionally especially after the last two weeks. However, I didn’t feel I’d lost my innocence with the murders of the two soldiers by lone *terrorists*. I lost my innocence a LONG time ago when I was terrorized by people I trusted.
I’m not less tired, but I’m more resolved. Thank you for this.
I have had quite a few “but what about MY right not to be falsely accused??” reactions from men in my life in the past few months of really actively discussing consent. Of course, that right is soundly protected, but they are just so fearful of losing any bit of privilege. Today, one of those men reposted Stephanie’s article and gets it. I asked him to sum up what it meant to him. He said, “help when you can, shut up when you can’t.” So… I feel like there’s some hope. Even though it often seems easier to move mountains than minds.
I have been “falsely accused” before and it’s NOTHING like what these fearful men portray it to be. Police quickly determined I was not their guy and no harm came to my life. I did not know the accuser, had never been to the location, and can only assume (with complete disgust) that a rapist shared or, more likely, used my name. That’s what so-called “false accusations” look like in the real world.
Also, there is definitely hope. All of us are learning and growing as we engage.
C. Anderson, thank you for sharing that experience here. A valuable window, one I have never heard.
I’m a man who has never experienced sexual assault. But I understand 100% completely why these women never come forward. I don’t think pigeonholing all of us in one category is the way to go about it. I have never abused a woman (or anyone for that matter), I have never been assaulted but, I AM a brother to a wonderful sister and a son to a remarkable mother and just having these women alone in my life, I am sensitive to issues concerning women. I understand the frustration to having to explain the culture to many (especially men) but just remember, some of us DO get it.
I’m also a man who has not personally experienced sexual assault. I also consider myself to be sensitive to issues concerning women, and I also get the knee-jerk reaction that we, as men, feel to being put in the box with those “other men”.
But the thing is: women know that there are good guys out there. Many have such men in their lives as husbands, brother, sons and friends. We need to check our (#notallmen style) defensiveness and instead take up Stephanie’s call to the good guys out there: lend a hand.
You are literally #notallmen. You are a case in point. That you feel the need to come in here and comment at all, on one article, in one space, to explain how it makes you feel, means you don’t fully ‘get it.’ (And maybe don’t get irony, either.)
As a woman I’ve been socially conditioned to feel bad about posting something even slightly critical of a potential ally, so I’ll just say this. These bad feelings about #notallmen? Tell the men. Find blogs and Facebook posts and tweets from people who *aren’t* sensitive to issues concerning women. Tell them. Teach them.
Please do be critical. As men, we often think we “get it” re: women’s issues long before we actually do. I know I’m not there yet either, and criticism helps me more than applause.
Yeah and it’s all well and good that you’re willing to talk to us about all this but do you ever confront the OTHER MEN in your lives when they step out of line? Like maybe at times when there are no women present and you men are free to be yourselves? That’s how you know you’re actually capable of doing something.
Yes, but not often enough. Trying to do better.
How do you know he came ONLY here to comment? How do you know he doesn’t talk to other men?
Irony? Pot meet kettle..
Kindly notice that I asked for criticism and that Ella never accused me of anything, but offered up important questions to consider. She pointed to the kind of REAL change that many other men are asking about below.
Please direct your anger elsewhere; we were having an adult conversation.
“I’m a man who has never experienced sexual assault. But I understand 100% completely why these women never come forward.”
Your first sentence directly contradicts your second. You’ve never experienced it but you understand its effects 100%?
Check yourself. Your privilege is showing.
We have to embrace our allies when they show up. If critical words are actually needed, we should do so with care. Otherwise, the discordance continues. One doesn’t have to have had the same kind of violation to understand the effects. There are myriad kinds of violations, they occur to boys as well as girls, at all ages, and when a survivor – man, or a woman, eventually grasps the impact on his or her life, or on that of a sibling, or other family member, or some other loved one, it becomes clearer how other types of violations affect other people. We all have a story (or two, or more) to share. We must keep the avenues open to this sharing, because listening to other people’s pain makes an enormous difference. The men here actually read Stephanie’s article, and they didn’t condemn her. THAT is something!
“NOT ALLL MEN!”
Why Yisheng? Why be so hateful? Because this article gives us permission?
This article, although I get it, made ME angry. And I’m a woman.
Not ALL Men is right!! I’ve heard more of these ignorant comments the writer accuses the men of, from women. On message boards, in articles, and in person. This isn’t a men vs women issue. It’s time we stop perpetuating this binary. This is an ignorance issue, and countless women are part of the problem. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we’ll all be better off.
This man is a human, just like you, and he has every right to voice a reaction to this article, that I feel uncomfortable with myself. Again, I am a woman. I have been assaulted. Several times unfortunately, yet I’m capable of seeing the facts. Men are not the enemy. Ignorance, lack of compassion, and lack of humanity, however, are.
Men hate women; they make it clear every single day. I can and will hate them right back. Somehow, I will manage to not commit any violence towards them. That is because I am better than they are in every way.
December 6, 1989. I was a third year honours math student at a Canadian university. That was the day that Feminism got it’s capital F in my life. I went on to engineering graduate school. These fourteen women were often on my mind: Genevieve Bergeron; Helene Colgan; Nathalie Croteau; Barbara Daigneault; Anne-Marie Edward; Maud Haviernick; Barbara Maria Klucznik; Maryse Laganiere; Maryse Leclair; Anne-Marie Lemay; Sonia Pelletier; Michele Richard; Annie St. Arneault; Annie Turcotte.
I’m tired too. Maybe this whole event will at least gather our sisters together. As someone that has been at a radical feminist conferences that receive rape and death threats and as someone who has lost girlfriends over what type of feminism I believe in, I am really fucking tired.
I could kiss you. You NAILED it!! Thank you!!!
Standing ovation from me too! I was fist pumping, getting goosebumps – thank you for sharing this and writing it.
Yes, yes a million times yes. I want to send you, I don’t know, a bouquet or a crown and sceptre or something else because you are a queen for taking the time (and being smart and thoughtful and funny enough) to post this. It is perfect. I will link to it forever.
There would be faster results if senior female bureaucrats would also push for action. Note I said also not instead of men
As the husband of a ‘senior female’ leader, I see, hear and witness the crushing details of what is like to be a female in a male dominated world. I could recount here for hours what she has had to endure just to hold ground in her field. She has been marginalized, ganged up on, patronized, and shoved aside because she was ‘too much trouble.’ She has been passed over by men who are inferior to her in many ways.
And still she fights on. She is strong beyond measure. She is my hero.
Yes. yes yes yes yes, thank you for saying this so beautifully. Now is the time for all good men….I have hope.
Thank you, Stephanie. Your words have given voice to my own deeply held beliefs. I met you at Carsten Knox’s place a few weeks ago. It was nice to meet you and today it was even better to hear from you.
hey. i am a burnt out social worker who worked in child sexual abuse and VAW issues for over 25 years. the last 10 almost killed me. not the work with the women or even work with abusive men – but the public education and prevention work – that is what really got to me. The extreme and entrenched denial, the WORK to educate people and the backlash we had to deal, the undoing and unfunding of many great programs and the pathetic criminal justice response to the issues that only seems to get worse in neo-liberal times. but reading your post made me, funnily enough, feel energized and hopeful. your post and the wonderful response to the issues from many, many bright young men who actually think differently about these issues and are not afraid to speak out about it. it heartens me to see men speaking out as allies – and who don’t concern themselves with taking up all the airtime. thanks!
I was in fourth year at Trent on December 6, 1989 and I remember the sorrow and pain that we all felt so keenly when we heard the news. Someone spray-painted “OUTRAGE” on the bridge over the canal. In red. I remember seeing and thinking that was it. That one word. And it’s the one that I have thinking of all week. Thank you for your post. I have read so many excellent pieces in the past few days but this is the one going up on my Facebook wall. Sit down and shut up indeed.
YES, YES, YES!
Reblogged this on maryandcancer and commented:
Yes. This. Dammit.
Thank you, you nailed it. I’ve been triggered all week by this thing. You’ve eloquently added the words to the sinking feelings.
Thank you for validating the triggering and really rough week.
Respectfully Stephanie, I think that a lot of us are “good men”. But we don’t know how to help so we bluster. I don’t do that myself because I have sisters (and brothers) and they have daughters, and my way of helping might come out as “I’ll kill the m-f er”. I don’t do that because that is not help. I do what I can and I think that’s what a lot of men (at least men I know) do….listen, ask, listen some more, and most importantly shut up..
Excellent reply, Stephen! And frankly, if someone, especially a man, were to say they’ll kill the m-f er, I would LOVE it. I would feel validated, I would feel value, I would feel I was worthy of being defended.
Thank you. You are not the only eloquent writer to make a comment, but the one who touched me enough to speak up about my ongoing frustration with all the issues this raises. I was assaulted by Gerald Reagan, then Premier of Nova Scotia, on a train when I was 19, somewhere in the Northeast US. He boarded the train in a flurry of importance. I was awed. He made sure I knew who he was. He offered me a summer job at “The Pines” resort in Digby. I did not expect what happened. I never reported it, who would believe an art student? Also, who would I report it to? And, I thought it was my fault. I came forward when charges were being laid many years later. Many others did too. He was found “not guilty”, the only comfort the RCMP officer could give was it was not “not guilty”, but not sufficient evidence. Many women came forward, but because of his position, and power, and influence….it came to naught. It was traumatic to relive it and come forward when I was in a work position of some responsibility, so it was a risk to expose myself. ( and that is how it felt) But I was prepared to testify if need be. I was not raped, the conductor came to my rescue. I have always blessed him.
Wow, Pamela. Thanks for sharing! I am a (former) Nova Scotian, I’ve been through the so-called NS justice system (I only refer to it as the LEGAL system now – although much gets through that is NOT legal), though not for anything as serious as sexual assault. I have lost all respect for that whole fallacy. As well as the fallacy of politicians. Keep sharing. Justice was not properly served, but hopefully some justice can be achieved via plenty of “blabbing.” Even if the injustices were in the past, if we keep talking out about them, things have to shift.
I have been thinking of you and the other 5 or so women who came forward when Gerald Reagan was charged. One I know of could never work after her experience as a young woman.
I thank you for your bravery.
I also and still very angry that a not guilty verdict was the ending.
not listened to; not believed.
not much comfort with the ‘not sufficient evidence’.
we have a long way to go
Thanks Stephanie for speaking up for all women, we have almost always been blamed for the abuse no wonder no one wants to complain. My best wishes to these woman who have spoken up, it can’t have been an easy decision putting yourselves in the media but you now have each other for support. With so many women coming forward ” consensual” doesn’t doesn’t ring true now.
I tried to send a nifty comment, which disappeared into the ether. Too bad.
Nice turn of phrase: A HEARTY FUCK YOU. I’m from a lumber town. Sometimes crude and rude says it best.
Take a deep breath. We can’t kill ourselves; we won’t give up, so the best we can do is lie down a while, to rise up and fight again. By your timeline, I figure I’ve got a generation on you. The engine sputters and coughs at times, but I’m still chugging along, if anything, more pissed off and less willing to accept sexist shit than I was 50 years ago.
Courage, my dear. Kathie Housser
Reblogged this on travellingdoris and commented:
“Men: it is time for you to shut up if you can’t be helpful. It is time for you to stop assuming you know more about this than we do. Just stop it. Listen to us.”
There are a number of ways that the centuries of ongoing neglected abuse can be prevented in future, but they will need a unified and mobilized coalition of voting interests to get through. First, at the municipal and provincial levels, reform human resource policies of all police departments so that moving forward, there is a quota of at least 60% of new hires required to be female officers, and institute more internal (and external civilian oversight bodies with at least 80% female representation) investigations for sexual assault and abuse by police forces to improve accountability and transparency for the organizations that have failed and belittled hundreds of thousands of women every single year when crimes are brought before them. Second, amend the Criminal Code so that cases of sexual assault, harassment, and rape become reverse onus charges, where the burden of proof shifts from the complainant/accuser to the defendant. This would do two things, help alleviate a lot of the stigmatization of the victim in the court proceedings, and also ensure that it would be much harder for those charged to be let off on legal technicalities. The level of prosecutions and convictions of actual sexual assault charges is around 0.3%-0.5% per year in Canada when compared to the number of cases reported to sexual assault centres and other non-profits/charities. This has to be improve, now. Third, start more joint peer support organizations and legal clinics where you can have anonymous discussion forums where people can vent the anger and negative emotions that they feel towards the people who abused them and look at what legal options are available for them to pursue. Fourth, make it a summary offence to publish threats or harassment/victim shaming in public forums and social media where you must pay a fine of 50 thousand dollars per infraction if found guilty. If people won’t listen to their brains or the majority of society, they will pay attention to their wallets.
It’s a viable set of next objectives if there is the right coalition of people to stand behind it. I will happily be one of them.
Once broken, things are forever changed. I’ve been feeling the change, the shift. This article is filling up my backpack. Thank you.
I’ll be 70 tomorrow. November first and my biggest regret is not being a rat, a tattle tale, Not stupid unfeeling vengeful ratting, but not telling about bullying or threats. I was a proper Jesus at times took the punishment for someone else’s crime. Used as a scapegoat not trusting that love would find a way. We are bullied and assaulted anyway might as well get some sense knocked into us. Persistence .Yayyyy for all the girls saying enough, wrong. Wrong is wrong. Please your words.
I really appreciate this commentary and hope it is widely shared with the public. I have thought a lot this week about how some members of the public have dismissed the allegations of violence, sexual harassment and assault brought forward by the women who spoke with the Toronto Star. In particular, I have thought about the argument “Well why didn’t they come forward?”
When boys or men are assaulted by other men, many of them do not come forward until years later. That is rarely questioned. The stigma of assault is accepted in those cases, and the time lapse in reporting is often met with more understanding. It should be no different when a woman is assaulted by a man.
I have (thankfully) never been sexually assaulted. However, a number of years ago I lived through a horrible night of a violent physical assault when my partner returned home severely drunk and altered. I was punched, tackled, shaken. I managed to escape from my apartment but had to run barefoot into the street in the middle of the night with no where to turn aside from the hospital. A man walking through the city on the way home from the bar called an ambulance for me. Because of these circumstances, the police were involved. I told them my story. I told doctors my story. I told my family my story. I felt pressured by the police to pose while they took photographs of my bruises as documentation for the prosecution. Everyone I encountered started calling me “the victim” – a word which I thought robbed of my own power further in an already overwhelming, devastating experience. It was extremely difficult to go through the experience of reporting the trauma of that night repeatedly; to have it documented, photographed, questioned, scrutinized. My judgement was questioned by a number of men after the fact (lawyers and police, my father)- why would I have picked this person as a partner? Did I see warning signs? The answer was no – there were none. And no, I was not a young girl blinded by emotions.
I have no doubt that the women in the Toronto Star article weighed the risks/benefits of reporting their assaults and saw the enormous barriers in their way. I’m sure the thought of having to relive the experience, and have their credibility questioned was not something they wanted to endure. I am sure they wanted to take charge of their lives again and more forward without a cumbersome legal system, not to mention scandal-thirsty media, invading their lives.
The unfortunate, indeed tragic, catch is that these barriers to reporting put other women at risk. That having been said, I will never question why someone didn’t come forward. I will understand that they had deeply personal reasons for wanting privacy and the opportunity to move forward on their own terms. I will listen to those who come forward and know of the courage it takes to do that.
So I would ask that the question of “Why didn’t they come forward” be abandoned until someone is truly asking it as a means to address the myriad of barriers that face those who do chose to report sexual violence. No one should ever ask that question as way to criticize the validity of someone’s report. It adds nothing. It’s insulting. It needs to stop.
Thank you for sharing this story, this perspective. I hope you are looking after yourself as all this somewhat triggering news pours out.
I have been living the trauma all week as have so many of us, for so many different reasons. I have read and shared all of the articles and important posts to help educate others, to express how those of us who know in the worst way how this feels and what it means.
Thank you for creating and sharing this commentary. As of late, I have been tiring of hearing you on the radio.
I am now in love with you again. Go get the bastids!
Stephanie, So very proud of you !!!.I have lived many years of growing up” keeping the secret” and I can speak for the toll it takes on a person’s very soul.. It changes who you are and who you become, how you relate in relationships .and how you feel about yourself. .What a great service you have done here…..Bravo !!! LUV AND HUGS.
It’s a difficult one… There are a lot of people who try to do the right thing, but figuring out what the right thing is can be challenging at times.
I’m reluctant to say anything, because it’s not my space, but try winding the calendar back about 15 years or so, and imagine what it would be like to be sexually assaulted by a woman. As a man, there was no where to go, no where to turn, no one to tell.
Trying to bring up the subject got blank looks at best, “that can’t happen”, is more common, and, well, cruder comments that question your own existence. How can one fight back when you aren’t supposed to hit, or even make contact?
I’ve seen my attacker several times since then, the first few times were the worst, and I almost gave in to the urge to run her over with a car. Now I just run, as fast and as far as I can, and try to be alone, so I don’t have to explain why I’m shaking and crying.
Another poster wrote about how one doesn’t “dress up”, I’ve been calling it “dressing for comfort”, but the end result is the same. It can be tough to be social when you are overcome with fear. At least, people know this sometimes happens to women. Too bad there are some who feel the need to make others know what it feels like.
You’re right. This is NOT your space. But, still you had to come in and crap all over it with your very questionable story, try to take the focus off of male violence and make it all about you. How typically entitled and male.
Nelson Mandela, after he was released from prison, didn’t end up by treating his oppressors in the way they treated him, let us not forget. Telling men to shut up and treating them like idiots in an uncompassionate way is just using celebrity gossip as an excuse to act like a jerk.
If you think being asked to shut up for once, or even being “treated like idiots in an uncompassionate way” is “treating [our] oppressors the way they treated [us],” then you really REALLY need to shut up and listen.
Ha ha ha ha… As if men or boys don’t experience rape or sexual harrasment ever… Sure, let’s turn this into an exclusively feminist issue. What lunacy.
No one is trying to turn violence or sexual harassment into a feminist issue. Many are trying to portray violence and sexual violence against women as a feminist issue (i.e. caused by complicated present and historical gender imbalances).
Violence against men is just as deplorable, but here it is used as a tool used to shut down conversation around gender as a factor in violence against women. You have been asked to stay quiet because you are derailing the conversation instead of helping work towards solutions. You’re use a mix of semi-related rhetoric and name calling to silence others. That IS the problem.
The very fact that you use the phrase “celebrity gossip” tells me everything I need to know about your thought process.
You’re jumping on my statements and choosing to demonize me. What I mean by “celebrity gossip” doesn’t mean “b.s.” it just means water cooler tower talk, as important a conversation as this is, it should not degrade into exclusivity and self-righteous arrogance. This does not help a situation.
Josh, you have missed the point. Other men posting here do get it, fortunately. Penelope is correct in her reply to you.
We don’t live in a culture where anyone is standing up for rape. We live in a society with some very troubled men, who do horrible things that needs to be dealt with, it is a society with a rape culture within the society. But we don’t live in a complete rape culture. There is lack of proportion in a lot of people’s sentiments and a rage in this essay which is good at creating more divide between folks than anything else. I hear hatred and this is the responsibility of a writer to push it at folks who deserve it, not all men, some of which have been raped by other men, too.
count yourself among the people responsible for this essay, Josh. well done. may the vile river of shit running between your ears long inspire flowers elsewhere to boldly bloom.
It’s OK, Davie; I forgive you. I understand you live in Onterrible, home of the highest number of assholes per square mile in Canada.
The fight for equality is everyone’s fight and to everyone’s benefit. Men need to not only accept it, but take it to heart. As men we’ve just sat back for the most part and let women fight, even the good men, but that is no longer acceptable. All men must join the fight for gender equality as well and as you say not pretend like we understand what it’s like to be a woman. It’s time for us to support and not play the lead.
Thank you. You have given voice to the real reason it matters that the Jian Ghomeshi travesty is getting such prolific news coverage. I hope you don’t mind but I’m good my to be positing this prolifically. 🙂
Let us not forget the almost equal number of men who have been sexually assaulted. It’s worse, in a way, because what man will admit to it? And don’t forget, if the courts actually start dispensing justice, that a LOT of women will get a rather major surprise in family court. Of course no one should be raped or assaulted: but that’s NO ONE, male or female.
No one is forgetting them. Because every time we talk about violence for women someone like you pops up to talk about violence to men. But what I never see from people like you is that the perpetrators of both these kinds of violence is also men. Toxic masculinity hurts us all, and patriarchal and sexist justice systems are something we want the end of too.
So please, listen, we’re talking about how to help us change everything, not just for us but for everyone.
It’s not always by men. (Although it seems to be predominantly so.) And without meaning to be critical, I think it’s going to be harder to bring about change if we continue reacting with language like “people like you” and “toxic masculinity” which reinforce the idea that there are “sides” to this issue. The appearance of sides is part of the problem; it makes it easier for the evil and ignorant to perpetrate the myths that stigmatize victims into silent fear. Sexual assault is never a genderless crime, but the horror of sexual assault is not gendered.
I know this is an extremely unfair suggestion, but shouldn’t we try not to exclude anyone who wants to be part of the solution? Even those of us who seem ignorant at first might prove to be willing to learn.
Actually, as hard as it is to talk about, I was assaulted twice, both times by women. That makes this topic especially hard to talk about. I tried to come out, and was met with ridicule from both corners (male and female). I even questioned replying here, due to some of the comments made… it isn’t men, it isn’t women, it is assaulters, it is rapists. This is a conversation that effects us all, and with both sides fighting about ‘who should be talking when’ we get nowhere.
I don’t agree with language policing, but if we are going to fix this, we need to change the mindset, and approach everyone with compassion and caring, so that no one feels like they have to go through this alone. I think a good step to take is to understand that we are all products of our life’s experience – the only way to change this is to welcome all people to the table, and try to recognize everyone’s position in it.
Thank you for sharing your experience, and your ideas. All the best to you.
“The almost equal number?” I highly doubt it, but can you link to any evidence of that? This kind of “but think of the men!” reaction is not likely to help matters. You may think you are contributing a message about stamping out prejudice, but it ends up sounding like knee-jerk defensiveness. And for “a LOT of women” to get a “rather major surprise” our court system would need to change drastically. If you truly want to be part of the solution, I think you need to re-evaluate your motives here.
The equal number likely is coming from some of the domestic violence studies out there – the results do show gender symmetry for overall violence, but not for specific areas of domestic violence. Many of these studies are as misleading as the NA wage gap studies, making the same mistake (job for job, equal hours, people have same pay, with their being an imbalance of men to women in the executive level and ‘big business’ jobs). Domestic violence is symmetric, but with the ratio of physical violence/ assault being at about a 1:4 ratio (women to men), and non-physical abuse and control pushing the ratio back to symmetric.
If you google ‘gender symmetry domestic violence’ a lot of these studies come up – sorry, I don’t have access to my university databases anymore, so can’t get you the full papers.
As Anne Theriault so eloquently puts it… We all know that men can be victims of rape. I know you think you’re blowing everyone’s mind here, but you’re really not. You’re derailing.
And I thought, yeah, buddy, of course I’m fucking outraged…
…a hearty fuck you…
…it’s time for you to shut up …
… get out of the goddam way. Sit down and shut up.”
You say that your purpose for writing this article is your frustration with a majority of men who haven’t rallied to the cause in any meaning way. Do you honestly think that this type of language is the dialog that’s going to bring men onside? Your words sound like those of the abusive alcoholic stepfather I had the pleasure of living with for a while as a child – who, I assure you, spent very little time caring whether his evening target was going to be my female mother, or my male self.
I’m sure it felt good to get that out. I know it felt good for many women to read it. But as a male who actually grew up under the iron fist of an individual who perpetrated the kind of violence you’re speaking so passionately, though vicariously about – I had the luxury of growing up knowing that I wasn’t abused by a man because he was a man; I was abused by a man because he was an asshole.
(And please – I’m begging you – do not have the audacity to now say that when an asshole hits a woman, it comes from a completely different motivation than when one hits a male.)
You are obviously an angry feminist. No one is as mad as hell for no reason. Rage comes from two things: experience and perspective. I know women are scared everyday. A dark street is a different world to a woman than a man.
But telling the entire #notallmen movement to “sit down and shut the fuck up because mama is fucking outraged tonight” is the kind of narrative that used to make me pretend to leave the house through the front door because I was “going to spend the night at a friend’s house,” then sneak in the backdoor and sleep under my bed to avoid exactly the kind of rage you’re expressing.
Sorry, but your article is polarizing and betrays it’s own goal. I’m sure you rallied more women to be militant, and maybe that’s what it will take, but a battle cry against all men is only going to have one effect, and it isn’t going to be: getting men to fall in line.
If the article isn’t about you, it isn’t about you.
Sorry you can’t hear the exhaustion and frustration and only hear anger. We need your help, we have spent our lives doing this alone, and you won’t help us because a life time of suffering has made us angry and that reminds us of your mother? I’m sorry your mother was an asshole, but just as you are #notallmen, we are not your mother and we are literally asking for your help and you said “not until you calm down”? Do you see how this is exhausting?
My mother was an asshole for being beaten by a man? Wow.
I didn’t say I wouldn’t help. You have no idea what I have done in the name of curbing domestic violence.
And I am trying to help, by giving you some insight into how your words are going to received by the troops you’re trying to rally.
I think you hit the nail on the head, and thanks for posting this; you’ve candidly shared your situation and it brings to light the loose cannon style of this writing which, I agree, does more to just fling vitriol than do any healing to society on any level. Never before in my life have I been more inclined to wave my hand in the peace sign and smile at this sort of poison.
“lookforthewoman” implies that the article is not about you. Hunh? It is asking for help from good men but yet, is trying to act like someone on steroid rage, like an archetypical dominant silverback gorrilla style man.
Really? I thought it a fairly contained and cogent comment of women’s frustration and despair as opposed to a ‘loose cannon’ style. Buddy, you have no idea whatsoever what it’s like to wear a skirt. Wait a minute, you might so let me rephrase – Buddy, you have no idea whatsoever what it’s like to be a woman in the 21st century where this shit is STILL happening. ENOUGH ALREADY !!!!
Contained? Barking at people to STFU? I mean, really.
There are diff. kinds of feminism. The kind that is patriarchy with lipstick on it, is not my scene. We all have to be responsible for not spitting vitriol at innocent people. That would be like blaming all S. Africans during apartheid for racism. That’s b.s. especially after Johnny Klegg and others.
Josh (and Youbring Backmemories),
Did either of you read the article or only the expletives? Did you digest it? Think about what it actually meant as a whole, coherent piece? The author is tired of being silenced, tired of being judged, tired of being demeaned by men who use their privilege to drive the conversation.
Nowhere does she make claims or calls for oppressive matriarchy.
Nowhere does she attempt to silence all men.
Nowhere does she advocate for turning the tables on men.
The article is a call for men to step up, and it is a plea for the men (and women, see comments near top) that perpetuate the silencing, judging and demeaning of others to stop. the kind of silencing you are perpetuating by dismissing her as too feminist.
Yes, the article is also an angry rant. Good! Are you not angry about our culture?
“politicians dismiss calls for equality as the work of “special interest groups.” Women’s equality. Fifty one percent of the population. ”
So where is this voting majority when it comes time for change? Perhaps you need to tell these women to step up instead of telling men to “get out of the goddam way. Sit down and shut up.”
Sing it sister. I have been railing about sexualized violence, specifically non-State torture for 21 years. You did an excellent interview about my work http://www.nonstatetorture.org. I am very angry too about the willful blindness realted to violence against women and I’ll march with you anytime Stephanie!!!!!
We are the choir and we are just tuning up 🙂
When I was 14, I came home drunk one nignt. My single mother was frustrated because I had done this a few times, so she asked her male friend/neighbour, to try to talk some sense into me. He said he would take me for a drive to try to talk to me.
We drove and parked at a beach. He immediately offered me a joint. I knew this man very well, but I felt like something was wrong. I didn’t feel safe saying no so I smoked it with him. The nignt continued with him telling me how special and pretty I was and I don’t need to drink, but he wouldn’t tell my mother if I did..
He reached over and hugged me and start touching my breasts. I asked him to stop and he did. He dropped me off that nignt and I have never been the same person.
I waited almost a year to tell my Mother and when we tried to press charges, I was told that I would never win in court. My word against his. I was intoxicated. They questioned why I would accept a joint. They said because it was past 6 months, the statute of limitations ran out and he would most likely select an unsympathetic jury. They also mentioned numerous times that it wasn’t violent, rape, etc. It wasn’t that serious since he only touched me above my clothes.We listened and never proceeded.
After that all of our mutual friends started to question if it was true. Innocent until proven guilty. Maybe Aahley misunderstood what happened. He stopped when she asked. At least it wasn’t rape.
I felt ashamed for a long time.
I blamed myself because I was drinking, because I said yes to the joint. And downplayed all of it because I didn’t feel it was bad enough. I wasnt raped so I should get over it.
I’m 32 and I am a fully functioning adult who is happy and healthy, but I still struggle with what he did to me. My confidence will always be an issue, alon witn my trust in men.
Thank you for being tired.
It means you are fighting for us and your writing inspires other to think.
My heart aches when I read some people’s stories, and I am grateful to have only experienced smaller transgressions of my personal space. Ashley’s message beautifully expresses how abuse can be subtle and easily ignored. Even a sneer can put a sensitive person down and people easily push their own agenda onto others without considering the situation. More sensitivity is needed so we can all be free to be ourselves, and to be respected, while leaving space for others. How do we teach this?
Grassroots change is needed to face up to the glorification of sexism and violence in our culture, and the entrenched denial, both perpetuated by the media and daily TV for the kids with minimal guidance. Men (let’s include all “stronger” people) have to start showing their “soft” side and use their mettle to fight for respect for the more vulnerable, especially women. I mean let’s speak up for a resurrection of human values (not just rights) to replace sex appeal and “rough and tough macho-ness” on the cultural pedestal.
I’ve known good men who do this, and ask more to join them: help youth learn how to express good values, and embarrass and correct their own fellows who start with jeering, catcalling and bum pinching. Its all part of a future culture in the making.
Stephanie- thank you so much for saying it in plain language, outraged language, language that begs the question WHEN WILL ENOUGH BE FINALLY ENOUGH!?! How old and tired to still have people asking such inane questions as ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ or a newscaster this morning saying that we should leave this (Ghomeshi situation) to the courts, rather than HR folks in workplaces, or civil suits, or media display… why indeed? Can he be so ignorant as to have missed the fact that our justice system, very much a staunch patriarchal structure, has for decades and eons, itself mistreated and blamed women who come forward to accuse the almighty ‘men’ who do them harm. And still for Rehtaeh- no charges of rape, just child porn- seriously??!!
Stephanie, thank you for voicing what millions of women cannot, and what millions of men refuse to. You speak for so many of us.
And you know, I have gone to the police about a rape. It did go to court. He did go to jail. I tell everyone I would never do it again. I know damn well why woman bite their tongue and try to forget about it. Going to the police is the worst possible option.
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Thank you so much Stephanie. These events are so discouraging. A number of women in Sydney are getting together to plan an event to (re) open the conversation. More as it develops, I am sharing your piece, of course.
Beautifully done. Thank you. Just so tired of the “hey I’ve been thinking about this for all of two minutes BUT HERE IS WHAT WOMEN OUGHTA BE DOING” grrrrrrr…..
I will continue to help, by healing from my own sexual addiction and abuse that helped it develop, so that I can help men heal from their own addiction and honestly face the truth of what they have become, what they have done to others, themselves, their families etc.
I aim to go into some form of professional counseling of others.
But unfortunately, access is limited, both the cultural acceptability and financially etc. Noone wants to admit to this. Being abused and becoming an abuser is intimately linked, regardless of gender. It’s learned.
My part: working on myself so I can help do damage control for our sick, unintimate culture, where compassion for everyone is forbidden: it’s take sides, us or them, victim or persecuter (because we all must be rescuers): make a choice. Are you good or bad? This just drives someone with out of control behaviours underground. Gamblers kill themselves— in secret, expected to manage an insane addiction themselves, they mortgage the house and lose their families in seconds. Sex addiction is a slow, silent burn: NOONE talks about it especially if there is abuse involved.
Why do some aggress on others and others don’t? (This crosses gender lines btw but those with testosterone trump the stats overwhelmingly). What can be done so the shame around 1. RECOGNISING when sexuality is out of control, or fused with violence etc. and 2. GETTING HELP, aren’t prohibitive?
These are massive questions.
But am I to sit down and shut up? Maybe yes when it comes to anything but conveying compassion for the victims of abuse of any sort. But not when helping other men; but how do we create a culture where the TRUTH can come out, this is about healing and not shame, discipline and punish?
all this sort of thing serves to do is derail this conversation, which marks you among the men responsible for her essay. so, you know, good job.
Thank you for opening it up to further conversation!
All we can do is our own work, and hep others do theirs, and I asked alot of questions that are on point given the topic—try reading again to see if somehow it’s an agreement with the author, and with some of the other posters, and how maybe, because as you said, this is conversation, not a rant or vent, this is putting in a piece that SO often missed when looking at, simply, the problem—how they are, how they got to be that way, how they stay this way, and, the solution—how they could be better.
I understand the impetus to police each other etc. as males. And I am not trying to contradict or sway things away from the author’s intent. Her anger is righteously justifiable and deserves space, of course. But what if opening it up the window a little into what’s happening with people who abuse helps people who are victimized, or prevent more? If we can just try to imagine the potential healing for some child, or adult, somewhere down the road who doesn’t have to become sick or wounded, because a generational chain was broken early on, then we can add to the solution. This is about the long game.
The cultural context is too vast and entrenched in dislocation, that’s not the point. If one person reads this and says ‘…oh sh-t, I think I gotta see a CSAT therapist’ (hint), or ohhh… I know someone who could use that, I’m worried… then it’s worth some mild discomfort 😉 But I did not write intending to bother you or anyone else. But I can’t control that. Comments are open for a reason, I’m coming at this genuinely, willing to meet more than halfway, but not going to be so codependently wussy that online I’m going to let your sarcasm stop me from throwing out some questions that are surely not just mine, and what could be a beacon for someone that is affected by this disease.
Make no mistake, Gomeshi has a sexual addiction, a really violent, malicious strain, plus god knows what else. Despite how he came to abuse others, he is responsible for his actions and the treatment of his conditions, and owning up to the truth, and amending things the right way. The disease kills, and tears down everyone in its path. It loves youth, fame, intelligence, wealth and physical health. Hidden in as plain sight as possible—nightly.
When can we get this out in the open early? Imagine how many women could have been spared if:
1. he knew early what the signs of an escalating addiction were in himself,
2. he knew he there was a name for it, a place to go and arrest its development, and
3. that it wasn’t so shameful to admit there’s a problem, that denial for the next 20 years was preferable, and not even his therapist/s probably knew what he was up to.
If this post pisses you off, just take what you like, leave the rest, it’s maybe not for you—but it sure as hell might help someone you know—and even love. Imagine a son who you find out is hooked on violent porn. Or a daughter who is going out with someone who is. Don’t cut them out.
To sign off—Being angry or even vindictive is kid’s work, and necessary at the beginning of real grief healing. A wounded person who stays wounded can kill someone, themselves or other. But moving through all that is adult shit, and my job is to listen to others who keep reminding me that we are here to help each other through that process. Sometimes it means walking away, being silent, holding a space for someone else or entire groups while they grieve. And sometimes it means asking some questions.
And sometimes it means throwing a line out to others so they don’t drown, even if it some people are disappointed or angry, and aren’t yet (understandably) through their trauma, and ready to see that we’re in the same boat.
One trick pony?
Well written Stephanie, and greatly appreciated. You do CBC proud Girl!
On another case of abuse, did you see W5 tonight? It is a case from Nova Scotia, that of Nicole Ryan. W5 just crucified her, the supposed victim. Unbelievable! I will have trouble taking W5 seriously in the future. Nicole’s story is one that should to be told. On so many levels she was failed in the ways that women are.
Perhaps a suggestion for men speaking up #notallmen. When you hear a female say that men did something to her, please ask yourself whether or not she has actually staked the claim that ALL men did it. Probably, she has said that the people who did it to her *were* all men, NOT that “every man” did. Thus, you may skip the posts telling everyone that “men don’t” when we all know that some do and some do not, and there will be no need for the long thread recapping the fact that some do, and some don’t, instead of whatever else the original speaker was trying to say. Think, for a little while, on how tiring it is to have that discussion *every* time you try to describe your actual life’s experience as a woman subjected to bad male behavior; you describe it, and then the discussion gets hijacked into a number of men sticking up for themselves and clearing themselves of an accusation that was not leveled at them. Yes, we know that men are also victimized; they ought to talk about this, and ought not to be stigmatized, and ought to obtain justice. There is simply no sense in the question whether “MEN” in general DO something or not– some do, some don’t, and when we say it happened to us, we are talking about men who did. NOT accusing all men, or, by extension, *you*. If no one has accused you, perhaps there is no need to make a public issue of your innocence.
What I *would* love to hear about some time is how exactly men who do abuse women hide it from men who don’t– and they *do* hide it. I’ve seen and heard of enough about male interactions to know that men who enjoy aggressing against women let each other know by a number of subtle signs, body language, leading jokes to see how others react, etc., whether they are in the bad guys’ club or not, whether they can be counted on to go along with aggression against women and applaud it to each other under the guise of “masculinity”. Men who do not make a pastime of abuse… can you see when this is happening, when other men are checking out strange men’s attitudes about women, and then when they don’t get the message from you that you’re okay with it, they quit doing it in front of you? This is one place we can’t reach, and looking out for this kind of thing will foreground in your mind the idea that all men are not the same… and thus some who look fine to you on casual acquaintance you may realize, on much closer examination, to be the men your female friends and acquaintance *are* describing. Ask yourself how you would know, if other men are doing this and purposely not showing signs of it *in front of you*… what should you do to find out, and whether you owe to *all* other men the benefit of the doubt you extend when you measure them by yourself.
Sex addicts and offenders in general operate solo. Anyone else gets in the way. Gomeshi was running in culturally sophisticated circles where infidelity, commercial or degrading sex is really not acceptable. Let alone violence!
So, he progressed in the cloaking device he told himself was ‘bdsm’ or whatever. Noone has ever asked me tacitly, or hinted at the request to be a partner in crime. I have heard about convicts going on assaulting sprees in pairs, or frat boys operating in groups. Really scary. But no info here from this arts-educated male.
Yet you keep posting your long, bloviating and derailing BS.
With all due respect to your elegant post, Judith, may I be blunt? Men, would it be possible for you to actively call out other men’s bad behaviour when they make the sexist joke, make the suggestive (but just in fun!) innuendo, make the bawdy body movement, etc. Really, you’ve heard it time and again – think of your Mom, sister, aunt, etc. We really are, as fellow human beings, worthy of respect. Thank you.
Well Stephanie, I agree with most of your statement. I always try to make other men aware of the issues (I happen to be engaged in such a discussion right now on a web forum) and I understand your frustration but apparently, you want me to shut up and get out of the way. Educating is supposed to be helping, though I realize that when people are stupid you can’t educate them – that holds true in many areas of life, not just gender equality. So, are you painting the men of the world who are on your side with the same brush or were you just trying to close the article with a bang?
“It is time for you to help.
And if you can’t do that, then get out of the goddamn way. Sit down and shut up. The women are talking.”
So, if you are helping, that is not directed to you, Trevor.
Yes! Why does everyone skim over that?
It’s like a dead sound that happens when a bunch of women start talking about the one thing that oppresses them: male violence against women.
That dead sound happens even when there are no men desperately trying to blame women for their violence. We know eventually that dead sound will occur. We know some male, somewhere, has either forced us to internalize that sound or will come forward eventually to make that sound that he hopes will push us back into submission.
I never listen to men when women talk about male violence against us. The reason why I block them out is because it’s just easier to do so than to listen to it one more time that it’s women’s fault for their behaviour or that there are good men out there.
This is what it’s come down to. I must ignore men for my own sense of safety because I can’t tolerate one more male victim blaming me or diverting the conversation away from male violence.
Gunilla Eckberg had a profound statement about the development of the Nordic Model that is meant to abolish male violence against women:
‘One the government became 45% women, the conversation immediately becomes about male violence against women.’
Bingo. I have ZERO interest in another ignorant male “opinion”. You know, they opine that I am at fault for what men do to me, and to girls and women everywhere. DARVO, and male reversal. Beyond sick of it.
You men here — and I’m lookin’ at you, Dave, in particular — are embiggening the thrust of Stephanie’s piece. Ya don’t see it, which is funny as fuck. Remarks like “pompous ass” and “one trick pony” are the reason we’ve been asked simply to shut the fuck up. Men hurt / murder / rape / marginalize women and cause many, perhaps all to live in a near-constant state of heightened anxiety, among other things. Christ Almighty, man: what’s not to get?
Speak for yourself. I don’t hurt/murder/rape/marginalize women. I treat them fairly. The issues are about justice ,first and foremost. I don’t stand in the way of justice. No one is standing up in this country for rape culture. Unfortunately, the resources are not in favour of victims and that needs to change and the question is what are we all going to do. I’m not going to be told to shut up after I’ve listened. I expect to get my fair turn like anyone else. Boys and men are raped too.
OK Josh, it’s clear that this article has been internalized into something personal. I get that YOU treat women fairly. But since you acknowledge systemic issues, what are YOU doing about them?
That’s what the article was, on a personal level.
If you’re helping, that’s great, and no one told you to shut up. If you don’t believe me, read the article again. Those actively shutting out the voices of women and blaming victims have been asked to stop. Those good men (who treat women fairly) but actively derail the conversations of others with their own egos have been asked to stop.
#notallmen is a problem, not because it is factually incorrect, but because it changes conversations to fit the egos of the men who engage.
The same thing can be said about scope-widening. Yes, male victims need our support. Yes, non-sexualized violence is also a problem. Go ahead and pursue that if it’s your cause, but don’t derail the conversations that others have started.
As a parallel, imagine opposing calls for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women because white women also go murdered and missing. It completely misses the point. MMIW is about the endemicity of a problem and the specific cultural context that leads to it. There are complex reasons that Indigenous women go missing more frequently and these reasons can be better addressed within the specific context.
In exactly the same way, violence and sexual violence against women is about the endemicity of a problem and the specific cultural context that leads to it. There are complex reasons that women experience violence more frequently and these reasons can be better addressed within the specific context.
And once more, for the men who are taking offense at the original post: If you are helping (or even willing to help), no one has blamed you or told you to shut up.
It’s not that they don’t get it. They do not care.
Damn GRRL, you just created a document filled with the decades of impassioned pieces and pleas that I have screamed out for most of my life. I have pissed so many men off over the years. F@ck them. Reading your piece was cathartic. It will be the very piece I share with sisters, daughters, mothers, nannas, students and all emerging Goddesses as we reclaim our rightful place in the discourse. And yes, I will spoon feed it to men. Whether they need it or not.
Edmund Burke’s ” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”, seems so very appropriate at this moment. I will try to do better. Thank you Staphanie.
Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it. Spot on!
‘Women: it is time for you to shut up if you can’t be helpful. It is time for you to stop assuming you know more about this than we do. Just stop it. Listen to us. Don’t jump in to give us solutions as if we haven’t thought of them, tried them, watched them fail, started again just in case we hadn’t tried hard enough the first time. If the pace of social change on the issue of women’s equality is too slow for you, well, we have that in common. Why don’t you ask yourself why that pace is so slow, instead of blaming women for not getting it done faster?
We have been rolling this boulder up the hill for decades. It is time for you to help.
And if you can’t do that, then get out of the goddamn way. Sit down and shut up. The men are talking.”
How d’yall reading those words? I could tell you a long story of being violent sexually assaulted by a female babysitter when I was 10, and being raped by a girlfriend when I was 27, but why would I waste my breath. The hate-mongering going on here is as bad as at a crazy “men’s movement” forum. There are a lot of fucked up evil men out there, and there are just as many fucked up evil women. You’ve lost perspective, you are becoming what you despise. I feel sorry for the lot of yah.
Greg, I noticed no one has replied to your candid and straightforward post. I have felt a lot of hatred in here, a lot of barbs and shaming. I don’t feel much healing energy, man. Peace and good luck on your journey (and sorry for the cliches, I’m a bit stuck for lack of better terms other than my new-agisms here. Ha ha.).
I have no pity for misogynist male genetic dead-ends like you. It has been clear to me since pre-school that men do not care about girls and women, and enjoy hurting us.
I will never hurt men the way they have hurt my mother, my sisters and me (as well as every woman I have ever known). I will not, however, waste any energy or time giving a shit about men’s lives or men’s problems.
I’ve heard you say before, Stephanie, about how you couldn’t believe how the Marc Lepine story was reported. You were most definitely not alone. I was 17 when Marc Lepine separated women from men, and proceeded to kill the women, blaming them for the ills in his life. I wondered why the media was entertaining any question that this was an act against women. In fact, it was as though what seemed obvious to me–a hate crime against women–was a “fringe” view. Why? Why was it so important–imperative–to dismiss what was obvious? Why were so many women hushed, lest they be perceived as militants? More importantly, why did the hushing work so well? Seriously. 25 years? There were many such experiences that I didn’t seem to interpret the same way as the media–so many that I decided not to go into journalism. Obviously I didn’t have a “knack” for getting to the heart of the “right” story, because my stories were always more complicated. Less palatable. Not what everyone saw or expected. As a tenured professor, I think I made the right choice. I would have been a really “shitty” journalist.
It is past time women in this society are raised from birth with a clear understanding of their inalienable right to defend themselves from any attack whether from a stranger on the street or a partner behind closed doors.
Thank you, Stephanie. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Seven years old listened to my mother being raped by her common law in a one room apartment. She didn’t protest after a while because she didn’t want to wake us. I was awake she still doesn’t know I know. At nine he almost killed her she went to the police he got a few weekends in jail. He showed up and mom called his parol officer “don’t you two want to work it out.” Since then I have no personal faith in the law. 16yrs cops son has sex with me after I passed out. I woke up and his friend is watching me. Same year I said no he didn’t care. 19yrs out drinking and I asked the designated driver to take me home. Passed out in the truck and woke up again to something awful. There are more of my own stories. I was drugged a couple of times, in a couple of Canadian cities.
Why don’t we report them? Police officers who say well you shouldn’t have had so much to drink, you shouldn’t accept any drinks, you shouldn’t drink with men you don’t know. You shouldn’t dress like that.
Right we should stay at home and dress like Mormons because it is up to us to make sure your sons don’t act like sociopaths.
These boys, men are who you work with, play with, ride along the subway with. No he couldn’t do something like that!
This has happened to me by men I know, even dated that I have become numb to it. I have been fired because I couldn’t get myself out of bed from what happened to night before. My boss said of it really happened why don’t you go to the police. Well because they would make me feel more like shit than I already did. To top it off it was a friend of a friend who did it. Actually a lot of my friends were friends with him.
It was my fault anyway right.
The girls should not be separated and told the does and don’ts of going outside. The boys should be pulled aside and told how to protect the girls from their friends. Told of the sanctuary of the female soul and told how there mothers have fought and suffered for their own soul!
Oh, my heart breaks for you. Thank you for sharing your story, and for keeping on. You are strong, we have your back. Be well.
I hear your pain, and I am on your side. Do not give up, keep fighting. Sisterhood is powerful.
You already are equal in every single way. The only issue is class; Not race, and definitely not gender.
Fuck off, asswipe.
Let’s keep it civil, here, shall we?
Yeah, men have been oh so “civil” to women for thousands of years. /s
I have no obligation to be civil to scum that would rape and kill me if they had the chance.
Thank you so much for this article. I understand your tiredness all too well. I would like to take this opportunity to speak to the issue of a form of judicial betrayal called Court Licensed Abuse of Protective Mothers…where loving mothers with valid and reasonable concerns do speak up and desperately attempt to protect their children from sexual and other forms of abuse, yet are agonizingly alone in their efforts….made out to be “mentally ill” or accused of “false allegations” and/or “parental alienation” by male and female lawyers, judges and child protection workers. These responsible mothers, who do speak up, are treated (by men and some women), much the same as what you describe in your article. Jian Gomeshi’s case is out in the open…..most people have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of a Family Courtroom. The mothers are talking…and “now is the time for all good ‘professionals’ to get out of the way if they can’t lend a hand”.
what frustrates me is the assumption that sexism and sexist abuse, and sexual violence is committed solely by men. I was severely abused by my mother, raped by a woman and dismissed by woman after woman for not knowing as much as a man would about the cars I repaired for years. I helped several male friends with their vehicles, and women would think the guys were helping me with mine, and ask the men questions about their cars. when I would answer, they would check with the men again, as if only he would know best, regardless of his statements that I was teaching him about repairs. and I won’t even talk about the fact that I also have the skills for construction, including electrical and plumbing. men are the only ones who never doubted it for a second. women, even as I repaired their cars and fixed their homes, would not. I have known more male feminists than female ones. I have known more oblivious women, than oblivious men. to assign gender to empathy is sexist- whether you are mad about it or not. you would set a place for those women, and exclude the men that treated me with respect and humanity. and I understand the anger- I have also been abused by men and raped by men, both ones I knew, and ones I didn’t. I have been fighting for equality for so many oppressed groups for so long, I get hoarse at times in quiet conversations. to the men who just want airtime to say negative, nasty, sexist crap, sure, sit down and shut up. but this trend on the web for only some people to ‘qualify for a space at the table and the right to speech’ by means of personal abuse stories, and not to even be considered part of the conversation if you are merely fighting for your daughter, wife, mother, sister or a little more than half the human population to be safe from abuse and neglect is disheartening, to say the least, to those of us who have watched the abused become the abuser for more generations than most of the millennials have even noticed the world around them. anger at the abuse is productive, screaming in the face of men who don’t care doesn’t do anything but tire you out. maybe you would be less tired if you just talked to them like the damaged human beings they are. you have more in common with them than you want to admit, or would be brave enough to publish. it can be spiritually uplifting to see the light come on in the eyes of your ‘adversary’ and so worth it when they become not only an ally, but a fellow warrior.
I notice no one has replied to your post, Lorry. Or, any posts in here which don’t fit in with the neatly packaged stereotypes of male aggressors. Too bad, too. I find the discourse in here frightfully narrow in scope and it sounds like the kind of rage that adolescents spout.
Uh… most posts on here don’t have replies.
Thank you for sharing your story and for all that you do for oppressed groups.
I just want to point out that your comment, “to the men who just want airtime to say negative, nasty, sexist crap, sure, sit down and shut up.” is exactly what the original post was saying. It calls on other men to join the fight; it does not exclude them.
with the new sex education coming forward, now is the time to speak of PEOPLE SAFETY SKILLS AND BOUNDARY SETTING! I have tried to warn the schools that STANGER DANGER DOES NOT WORK ANYMORE. It is usually someone we trust an know in a place of power.
Let everyone unite thru this and teach this in schools, workplace to our young children and old, its never too late!!
http://www.kidpower.org best classes I ever took in my 50’s after living with abuse in my past.
Steph – this is excellent well said! My friend passed it on to me. Thanks for this! keep up the great work!!
Reblogged this on CHANGE THE NARRATIVE.
What exactly is a “good man,” anyway?
I have had several close female friends throughout my life. Growing up I’d never been fond of much casual physical affection — I’m not a hugger. Yet many of my college friends were, so I grew accustomed to it.
I learned an interesting lesson late in college though. I once greeted a female acquaintance with “hello” and a brief touch on the shoulder as I walked past her. Her boyfriend later told me that that simple touch made her extremely uncomfortable. It would be easy to call her overly sensitive, but I didn’t then and don’t now. Her discomfort in that moment was legitimate, and I caused it. I was mortified and felt deeply guilty; to this day I have never done that again, even if a rapport has been established.
Am I a good man? That is for others to judge. As a human, however, I know better than to trivialize any reasonable account of mistreatment.
Here for your cookie? Not getting one here. If you watch porn, use prostitutes, or abuse women, you are a POS. Now take a hike.
Been listening to you practically every weekday afternoon for eight years, just now stumbled onto your blog after seeing it linked in https://ricochet.media/en/165/an-end-to-denial.
Am still readjusting my brain to this astonishing fact, and now my initial reaction to this excellent post is, wow, if only she could speak this way on air! 🙂
Hi Stephanie, thank you for keeping Rehtaeh’s name part of the discussion. Excellent article!
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