IF I said I have never treated women inappropriately, ignored sexual harassment and/or inappropriate behaviour in workplaces and society more broadly, or taken part in their objectification, I’d be lying.
Any honest man would have to say the same thing.
Unfortunately the society I grew up in raised me to believe that objectifying women was normal, and that cat-calling, butt-slapping and other forms of sexual harassment were acceptable behaviour.
They are not.
It’s really brave, inspiring, and horrifying, all of these women sharing their #MeToo stories about men’s behaviour. So in an act of solidarity, after speaking with friends, I am going to share some #IHave stories.
I hope this honesty is taken in the vein it is intended, as a condemnation of this pattern of behaviour, not a normalisation or acceptance of it:
I have groped women in social situations inappropriately and without invite.
I have ‘spanked’ female colleagues without invite.
I have taken part in lude and sexually inappropriate conversations about female friends, colleagues and comrades.
I have secretly and not-so-secretly ogled countless women.
I have chosen my train seat based on the best view of an attractive woman.
I have stolen possibly unwelcome brushes-of-the-hand from female service people I found attractive.
I have ‘wolf-whistled’ at women out of the car window.
I have muttered “woah she’s hot” with other men as a woman walked by.
I have ‘read’ porno-mags in the construction site lunch-room.
I have shared and downloaded leaked celebrity nudes, etc.
I have given sleazy winks.
I have ignored totally inappropriate conversation about female colleagues by male colleagues in the workplace, to ‘save myself the hassle’ and sometimes to ‘keep’ my job.
I have ignored and not reported inappropriate sexual advances toward women in the workplace.
I have ignored men taking advantage of positions of power both in the workplace and in other social environments to sleaze on to women (esp younger women).
I have witnessed WAY TOO MANY men try force their way into a woman’s night.
I have witnessed WAY TOO MANY men try take advantage of vulnerable women.
I have witnessed WAY TOO MANY men try take advantage of intoxicated women.
But the thing I am most ashamed of is: I have led girls on (when I was a teen), just for the intimacy and personal pleasure.
One particular girl I actually loved, but was too immature to recognise it at the time – until it was too late – and we were both left broken hearted.
I have also been going out of my way to stand up against sexually inappropriate behaviour and misogyny more generally over recent years. Here is a few of my more positive #IHave stories:
I have stood up to friends, family members, colleagues and strangers about their inappropriate behaviour toward women.
I have put myself in danger defending a high-school-girl who was being called a “slut” by a fully grown, 40-something year old man on a train.
I have repeatedly shut down inappropriate conversations about friends, colleagues and comrades.
I have stopped being friends with FAR TOO MANY men as a result of their awful behaviour and attitudes toward women.
I have given women honest warnings about specific men who were previously friends, colleagues or comrades.
I have excluded men from being involved with things I organise, because of their inappropriate behaviour and attitudes toward women.
I’d like to say that by most measures, I think I’m a much better human being now than I have been in the past. But I’ve still got a ways to go.
I continue to look for and catch myself following problematic patterns of behaviour. I’m not going to lie. But I’m working on making real change – and not just to my own behaviours but to those of anyone who happens to be around me.
Thanks for reading.