Encouraged, once again, by a man who cares about the (mis) treatment of women and girls in our world. I’ve published Melbourne writer Guy Sigley before, here he is again, in a perfect follow up to the previously published piece on ‘Hollaback!’, the new campaign against sexual harassment. Dear universe, can we have some more men like this please?
I’m not ashamed of being a man, but I am ashamed of the things men do
Every day, I read the accounts of assault, harassment and public degradation of women through the @everydaysexism Twitter feed. It’s disturbing. No, it’s appalling.
Who are these blokes? What do they think they’re doing?
Here are some recent tweets; and these are typical of what comes through every, single day.
-at a club with friends, guy comes up to me, says ‘get your tits out’ and pulls my top down. Security does nothing.
-To the guy who likes to slows dwn his car & shout at me whilst I walk to work, get a life you perve
-went swimming, man gets into pool & continually asks female lifeguard if allowed to pretend to drown so she can “save” him.
-my 13yo niece was groped in a fast food place at 9pm.”You shouldn’t be out this late then” – His reply when challenged
-2 boys (max 13) ring door + ask if I’ll sponsor them for charity, say no, they then ask me if I’ll shag them instead.
-A stranger tried to lift me up by my waist on the street. When I blocked his attack, he punched me in the stomach
-Man thrust behind me to amuse other male passengers on train. Apparently the idea of sex with unwitting women=comedy gold…
-Friend + I were fondled/pursued by exhibitionist offering us $ for sex at station. Security officer told us to “ignore him”
-walking down road with 12yr old daughter, man leers *hello laaaddiiess* how do i show her a good response?
-NZ friend told they wouldn’t be given the job as she was of childbearing age and they’d need to pay parental leave.
-Woman gets sexually harassed at work, tells boss, sent home pending investigation, no pay. Illegal?
Initially, you think to yourself – ‘Surely these must be isolated incidents, perpetrated by a small, depraved group of boofheads’. Then you read almost identical accounts from different women . . . every, single day. And you start to think, hang on, if this is happening so frequently, does this mean my mates are carrying on with this behaviour?
I don’t know what percentage of men act this way, but I know enough blokes to fairly assume that at some point in their lives, one or more of them has called out an offensive comment to a woman on the street. Made an unwanted sexual advance at work. Cracked a sexist, degrading joke. Perhaps even committed outright assault.
Who are these blokes?
And what is feeding their belief that this behaviour is acceptable? Is it the ongoing exploitation of women through pornography, advertising, television, movies, mainstream music, clothing – you name the pop culture element, it’s doing it – that teaches the world, men and women, that women are objects? Second rate ones at that.
Does this culture teach us that not only is it okay to abuse women, but they actually deserve it?
That they actually deserve to be called vile and degrading names while jogging on the street. That they’re fair game for shoving your hand down their shirt in a dimly lit nightclub. Or rubbing yourself up against them on a crowded bus. That they can have jobs, of course, but let’s not let them get carried away with ideas of equality. And certainly not a workplace free of sexual harassment.
Who are these blokes?
They’re you. And me. And your mates. And mine. And your husband, and your brother, and your boyfriend, and your father, and your son. They’re all of us in some way or another. All of us in varying degrees, whether we are outright misogynists or complicit bystanders in our everyday sexist culture.
I’m not ashamed of being a man. I’m not proud of it either. I did not earn my gender; it was not awarded to me through some merit-based system. But I can be proud, or ashamed, of what I do as a man; how I express my masculinity. We all can.
So, men. Be not the shameful gender. Be not the brutes perpetrating the everyday sexism that has come to haunt so many women’s lives. Be not the silent bystanders letting it happen.
Be respectful. Be kind. Be role models and advocates. Be loving. Be passionate. Be courageous.
Be everything the world tells you not to be.
This article originally appeared in ‘The world tells me’.