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.
9 thoughts on “I Have – in solidarity with #MeToo”
Wow! Good on you Luke. Totally respect you for this!
I knew I’d get one this comment eventually.
For some clarity, I’m 31yrs old and have been fighting against misogyny, patriarchy and other forms of inequality for several years.
I am not a serial ‘sex pest’ nor ‘predatory’ nor a ‘rape apologist’. I won’t deny having been a ‘perve’ – in the observational sense – but I will say it’s absolutely incorrect to say women are unsafe around me.
Yes I have had a problematic pattern of behaviour in my past. Most of the problematic behaviour occurred when I was a young teen (14-15), and I learned better rapidly.
Some of the behaviours took longer for me to identify as problematic – not because I have a lack of social understanding – but because they are so normalised in masculine culture.
Like ‘casually chatting’ about ‘how hot’ women are with groups of other men.
I was well into my 20s before I realised groups of men chatting about ‘hot women’ is exactly the kind of thing which normalises objectification and consequently encourages predatory behaviour.
I try and avoid that now, and call people out who do – especially when their comments are predatory or objectifying.
So, If you think what I’ve mentioned in this article is wrong, and should be condemned, I agree. That’s why I wrote it.
I didn’t see other men around me taking specific responsibility for their own part in this, and I know they have all been a part of it.
So I decided to lead by example.
The unfortunate fact of life is my behaviour has been far less problematic than 99% of other men in our society.
That’s the thing. I learned, I grew up, I changed. But masculine culture hasn’t.
It’s an awful culture we’ve been raised in to, and we must take responsibility for changing it.
*I’ve removed the original comments this was in response to, as the person who posted them was disingenuous, used false details and seemed only to be here for the purpose of smear. If anyone wants a copy of the comments for ‘transparency sake’, send me an email and I’ll happily provide.
Thank you for your honesty, Luke. Your behaviour as a young man was disgusting and unacceptable, and had you continued that way, you would have continued to be part of the problem as a serial sexual offender. However, you changed. You developed insight into your own behaviour and stopped. You went further and began to call out the behaviour you saw around you. And now you’ve taken a courageous step in in actually writing and sharing this post. If you had only posted your current behaviour, it wouldn’t have the integrity this does; it would have a sheen of hypocrisy visible only to you and to anyone who knew you well enough to have experienced or seen this past behaviour. I hope that where possible you’ve made specific personal apologies. In an ideal world, our young men would grow to adulthood with the values you now hold. In the real world, i hope more men of all ages make the journey you have. And yes, your post will attract anger, and you will feel the shame. Accept it, absorb it and deeply anchor the changes you have made to turn your life around. I hope others have the same courage.
Thank you Lesley.
Alexia, I’m not looking for my ‘sins to be absolved’. And I’ve never sleezed on to a woman in the activist scene. Not once.
It is incorrect to say I “hide behind a cloak of activism to sexually assault and abuse women”. I have never sexually abused a person in my life. Indeed I’ve only ever had one sexual partner, and we’ve been monogamous for 13 1/2yrs.
I’ve never laid a hand on a woman in the activist scene.
Those actions which I confessed to which in hind-sight potentially fell in to the ‘assault’ category, were in the context of being a young single teenager out at raves/parties. And to be frank the people who were involved were people I knew and didn’t have negative reactions at the time.
None the less, I recognise (and have recognised for many years now) that it is never OK to do that, even to a friend in a partying environment, and if at the time as kids it seemed OK.
If you’d like any clarification about any of the things mentioned/discussed in this post and subsequent comments, or if you’d like to talk to some people about my role in the ‘activist scene’ // ‘Perth left’, I’d be more than open to doing it in a facilitated way that you feel comfortable with.
Honestly, I’m just not the person you are describing here.
Oh yeh, and Jay is a woman not a man.
I spent 12 years or so in a supposedly progressive political group only to be bullied out by men for insisting we needed a ‘grievance committee’ to deal with ‘uncomradely’ behaviour, including things like sexual harrasment, sexual assaults and predatory behaviour of older members on new younger ones.
It can’t describe the disappointment, frustration and sadness I experienced to realise that these men were no better really than the men who had directly attacked me and victimised me and harrassed me over my lifetime. I expected more from men on the left than the same tactics and attitudes of men I have encountered on the right and those politically ignorant men that you are confronted by on a daily basis.