Men's responses to #MeToo

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Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:33 pm

A lot of people I care about have been sharing that status-more than I knew. It's pretty horrifying. As a man, I'm not sure how to respond-other than work on setting a good example and intervening in my own life, which I already do. However, I don't have a perfect record. In my late teens/early 20s I did the whole "nice guy" thing, and I was really bad about it. I was resentful, and even though no one told me this, I feel, now, that I almost certainly made women uncomfortable (by trying to make "grand gestures", and other things that I thought were okay but weren't. I also made some really unacceptable remarks at various points). Probably more than once. As I started hating myself less with the help of therapy, I also started to realize how toxic some of my thought patterns were towards women, which was not okay, and there was no excuse for it. Should I publicly acknowledge that I was part of the problem, or is that making it all about myself? I don't want to be congratulated by being a better person-being a better person is the right thing to do regardless of whether or not you get a "reward" (and I'll never be perfect. I feel like it takes years for most men to get some idea of what it's like to grow up as a woman in a society that's driven by, I think, a male perspective, and we'll never totally "get it").

Just curious to see what other people think. Any positive examples of respectful ways men can react to this topic are welcome.
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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by Enail on Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:21 pm

I don't have that great a sense of what the hashtag-starters were hoping would come out of it, what angle they're going for, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. I think I'd lean towards not saying anything. Maybe a good way to contribute if you want to would be to keep an eye out for other guys commenting who could maybe use a little 101-level guidance or whose responses seem to be asking for extra explaining/labour from the women posting, and take on some of those conversations - it sounds like your experience would put you in a good position for that?


Last edited by Enail on Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:50 pm

Enail wrote:I don't have that great a sense of what the hashtag-starters were hoping would come out of it, what angle they're going for, so take my thoughts with I think I'd lean towards not saying anything. Maybe a good way to contribute if you want to would be to keep an eye out for other guys commenting who could maybe use a little 101-level guidance or whose responses seem to be asking for extra explaining/labour from the women posting, and take on some of those conversations - it sounds like your experience would put you in a good position for that?

That sounds like solid advice. I had a text conversation with a friend about this, and that's his approach-he said he has had a similar experience, and he said he was going to wait before deciding if he was going to talk about his past mistakes/attitudes. I guess I run across posts from friends on Facebook asking why more men aren't weighing in on this and that, and I wonder...do I really need to be weighing in on this? I mean, the male perspective is already dominant, aren't there some situations where I'm better off just listening? Like, I want to actually do something, not just make sure everyone knows how I feel about something without actually doing anything about it.

I just wish I'd started listening to women earlier, like when I was a teenager-but I didn't, and there's nothing I can do about it now other than just encourage younger men to just...be better. I'm going to take your advice about talking to other guys when it comes up.

Thanks!
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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by Datelessman on Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:20 pm

My response, at least on FB (since I am not on Twitter) was to note via like/emoji/etc to all of my friends who noted ME TOO to acknowledge their statements and then let their comment threads be. Most of the replies were fellow women sharing sympathy and/or horror stories and I didn't feel it was appropriate to intrude. The last couple of months, to say the least, have provided a lesson in being extremely careful how my online actions appear despite the best of intentions.

Instead I posted a status acknowledging it, so that way the reply feed is mine and I am not intruding. Sadly, the ME TOO movement only confirms the obvious to me. By the time I was midway thru college I came to the realization that every woman I knew, whether family or friends, if and when they trusted me enough, would eventually reveal they'd been a victim of sexual abuse or violence, or an intended victim in an attempt that was unsuccessful. Every. Single. One. National statistics say it's 1:3 or 1:4, but I'd say it's 1:2 if not worse from my anecdotal experience. Many of my friends who said ME TOO, I was already aware of. That isn't to say seeing how many casual or professional "friends" I have confirming their own horrors was pleasant, either. But the main takeaway is this is about raising awareness and allowing women a space to communicate, not easing male feelings. Men, as always, are free to discuss this among themselves without intruding (unless welcomed, of course, which is a case by case basis).

The best I, or any man, can do is to be understanding, supportive, and willing advocates. And as DNL says, do our best to combat sexism from the trenches of masculinity. I've lately been...trying to pick my battles with a very adamant anti-feminist dude who is at best an acquaintance on FB and embodies a lot of macho stereotypes. It's been a tightrope between trying to drill in a point vs. going too far, he calls me a slur regarding vaginas and blocks me (as he has done with others). Last year, I did directly intervene when another acquaintance of mine went too far on a cold PU on the train and verged into harassment territory. He wasn't pleased, but that was too bad. You don't have to be a superhero, but do the best you can when you can, IMO.
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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:18 pm

Sounds like you're doing good work. These days, I don't have any friends who I'd consider anti-feminists who I talk about politics with. In the past, I've had similar experiences to you where they shoot the messenger in response. Has your other acquaintance grown to understand why he was in the wrong when it came to the aggressive PUA stuff?
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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by Prajnaparamita on Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:32 pm

Hey Doubtful, I just wanted to give you props, I think you're asking really awesome questions here! I agree with Enail that right now, its probably best not to have this be the time to share your personal story of redemption and all that, because right now with the #MeToo campaign its very much about women making space to share their stories that previously were hidden or denied. Which doesn't at all mean that I think your story isn't meaningful or valuable--in fact if you brought that up I would find it fascinating and want to ask you a hundred and one questions in order to try to understand where you had come from, what got you to where you were, and how you came back. I want to understand, because I want to prevent other men from going to that place, and helping them come back when they do, because otherwise there's no eliminating toxic masculinity.

And additionally I think there's a really important place for those stories, like when former neo-Nazis share their stories of leaving hate groups I think it can really effectively work to undermine those hate groups and their legitimacy. I think there's something similar to that around toxic masculinity. Additionally, just as a woman and a feminist those stories are so helpful to me personally for my mental health and self care! I mean damn, when I feel just so depressed about the world and like nothing will ever get better I'll read accounts of dudes who renounced MRA or incel beliefs, and its just so powerful and moving in the hope it inspires in me.

So yes, I think there is a place for your story, and its an important one, but once again right now I want to give space to survivors to share and have that recognition first and foremost. And I think when you share your story it is important to frame it in a way that's about "here's how men can make a difference and change ourselves" and not "women are saying something so I have to say something too!" Like, in some ways Doubtful your story is a timeless one, it will always be relevant to the larger conversation around sexism and gender. It doesn't need a viral campaign for permission, in fact its probably better served as a separate conversation that people can choose to opt into. That way no one feels like they're being obligated to discuss and take care of the emotional needs of men if they just can't do that (which is totally within their right!)

As for weighing in on the #MeToo campaign, I think it can be powerful to say something along the lines of "I hear you, I believe you, it wasn't your fault what happened and I'm listening" (pro-tip from rape counseling training: the two most important phrases are "I believe you" and "it's not your fault"). I think that's often what women are really feeling angry about not getting, that sense of being listened to and heard and taken seriously in what they're saying and these traumatic experiences they're sharing. So yeah, when men don't share anything, it can seem to you like you're trying to give space, but to us it can come across as you're ignoring us (especially on virtual platforms where there isn't that nuance). But yes, the male perspective is often dominant... except for when it comes to saying "I believe you and its not your fault." In those cases, it is often anything but. So please, help change that.

(Forgive me if any of this is rambling or doesn't make sense, Prajna just came back from a three hour training on identifying child sexual abuse and is in massive brain fry mode)

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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by Datelessman on Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:47 pm

Don't worry, Prajna, I think you did fine.

DoubtfulGuest wrote:Sounds like you're doing good work. These days, I don't have any friends who I'd consider anti-feminists who I talk about politics with. In the past, I've had similar experiences to you where they shoot the messenger in response. Has your other acquaintance grown to understand why he was in the wrong when it came to the aggressive PUA stuff?

For the record, these two are not friends. The FB anti-feminist is at best a friend-of-a-friend; I barely remember ever meeting him in person and when I had it was likely one more misc. brawny guy a pal knew at a bar. The other one is a born-again Christian/performance artist whose entire technique to making friends is finding people he can annoy who won't slug him. I sort of tolerate him and dread the random times we run into each other in the community, or the train. I consider both acquaintances. And both are stern shooters of messengers.

Unfortunately, the dude on the train did not get why I was intervening nor see what he did wrong, even after I explained it to him several times. We ran into each other on a train, I did my best to ignore/tolerate his continued conversation at me and then he decided to talk up a woman reading a book. I am, as my URL implies, not a Don Juan or master at chatting up people. Yet he had no understanding or empathy for what women go through on a daily basis. He ignored the notion that someone reading a book (or who has ear buds) on mass transit is not eager to chat to strangers. He did initially capture her curiosity and they did briefly talk. However, he asked for her email and she declined (he insisted he "recognized her from a club" and merely wanted to "share his comedy videos", but c'mon). Rather than taking it with dignity or having any empathy, he began to range from angrily whining to ranting about being holier-than-her via his faith (which he tells everyone about). It was so awkward I am sure the whole train saw it. I pretty much told him to knock it off and was suddenly cast as coach, trying to explain when he crossed the line, etc. He refused to get it after I tried summarizing stuff like POV and so on. I shared one, unspoken, apologetically exasperated look with the woman, which seemed to amuse her. Now all of a sudden he accused me of sabotaging him, and then went on to insult me a few times before he left the train in a huff ("Now you'll finally get a chance to talk to a beautiful woman," was among his zingers). I thought I was rid of him, but he tried to apologize to me on FB. I haven't accepted it.

The FB anti-feminist isn't much better. His story involves a bitter break up with a fiance or wife, I've never been sure which. He's clearly going thru baggage and despite being conventionally handsome and encouraging (or at least claiming) he gets propositions for casual sex all the time, wants a longer term thing with genuine emotion. Unfortunately he's chosen to blame all women for his baggage, and it doesn't help that he knows a few who share some of his "yeah, women are sluts" views. He posts anti-feminist stuff on his feed constantly and basically considers any guy who is one a white knight (only in cruder words). He's made this bluntly obvious. I know any hardcore confrontation about his beliefs will result in a dramatic online tirade with a few people tagging in to help. So I have picked my battles, going in when he goes way too far with "jokes" in simple yet blunt ways (he once joked that someone should "pull a Bill Cosby" on an actress he probably faps to). This week I slightly confronted him on something and he went on a mini-tirade. So my choice is to pick my spots and try to make a point with a million one-liners or go for broke, get labeled a wimp in far saucier lingo and then harassed.

About the only "success" I had was annoying a guy at a cyber cafe who bragged about taking (or wanting to take) advantage of intoxicated women at parties in other countries by calling him a "date rapist" to his face enough times. He was amused at first, but over subsequent days I kept it up until he stopped showing up.

None of us can singly change society. The true cause of women having to do a ME TOO campaign is a sexist, toxic-masculinity filled world. It will take a long time of dedicated action by many to make a dent. But in the end, it's one person, one moment, one act at a time. At least in my opinion.
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Re: Men's responses to #MeToo

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:54 pm

Prajnaparamita wrote:Hey Doubtful, I just wanted to give you props, I think you're asking really awesome questions here! I agree with Enail that right now, its probably best not to have this be the time to share your personal story of redemption and all that, because right now with the #MeToo campaign its very much about women making space to share their stories that previously were hidden or denied. Which doesn't at all mean that I think your story isn't meaningful or valuable--in fact if you brought that up I would find it fascinating and want to ask you a hundred and one questions in order to try to understand where you had come from, what got you to where you were, and how you came back. I want to understand, because I want to prevent other men from going to that place, and helping them come back when they do, because otherwise there's no eliminating toxic masculinity.

And additionally I think there's a really important place for those stories, like when former neo-Nazis share their stories of leaving hate groups I think it can really effectively work to undermine those hate groups and their legitimacy. I think there's something similar to that around toxic masculinity. Additionally, just as a woman and a feminist those stories are so helpful to me personally for my mental health and self care! I mean damn, when I feel just so depressed about the world and like nothing will ever get better I'll read accounts of dudes who renounced MRA or incel beliefs, and its just so powerful and moving in the hope it inspires in me.


I was a fairly mild case-I'd always considered myself progressive, and supported feminism (in a vague, very mainstream liberal way), and had good non-romantic relationships with women, but I had to come to this understanding (on my own) that I wasn't living up to those ideals as much as I thought I was, because I think I did make some women uncomfortable with "nice guy" stuff, even if I didn't recognize it as that. A lot of people would consider this pretty minor, but to me, it wasn't. "Involuntary celibacy" communities were either less noxious then (still unhealthy, I think, at least for the most part, but less hateful toward others, maybe. For me, it was self-loathing-I didn't hate other people), or I was less aware of the noxious elements. Anyway! You're right-I don't think it's the right time to talk about that.

So yes, I think there is a place for your story, and its an important one, but once again right now I want to give space to survivors to share and have that recognition first and foremost. And I think when you share your story it is important to frame it in a way that's about "here's how men can make a difference and change ourselves" and not "women are saying something so I have to say something too!" Like, in some ways Doubtful your story is a timeless one, it will always be relevant to the larger conversation around sexism and gender. It doesn't need a viral campaign for permission, in fact its probably better served as a separate conversation that people can choose to opt into. That way no one feels like they're being obligated to discuss and take care of the emotional needs of men if they just can't do that (which is totally within their right!)

As for weighing in on the #MeToo campaign, I think it can be powerful to say something along the lines of "I hear you, I believe you, it wasn't your fault what happened and I'm listening" (pro-tip from rape counseling training: the two most important phrases are "I believe you" and "it's not your fault"). I think that's often what women are really feeling angry about not getting, that sense of being listened to and heard and taken seriously in what they're saying and these traumatic experiences they're sharing. So yeah, when men don't share anything, it can seem to you like you're trying to give space, but to us it can come across as you're ignoring us (especially on virtual platforms where there isn't that nuance). But yes, the male perspective is often dominant... except for when it comes to saying "I believe you and its not your fault." In those cases, it is often anything but. So please, help change that.

Thanks. I don't want to come across as self-serving (intentionally or not), or looking for "points", but your advice sounds about like a way to avoid that.  

(Forgive me if any of this is rambling or doesn't make sense, Prajna just came back from a three hour training on identifying child sexual abuse and is in massive brain fry mode)

No, that was very well-put. Made total sense!
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