Dear All Women:
No. Not every guy is a sexual predator or an unbelievable jerk who believes he is entitled to belittle, humiliate, revolt and violate you because he's a man and you're not. It's not normal, it should NEVER be accepted and it is not pervasive to the gender. Most men are not like that, but there are an awful lot of men and an awfuller lot of them, more than most guys ever imagined, are that bad.
What the rest of us want you to know is that those men disgust us. They anger us. They make us want to walk door-to-door and apologize for their behavior to every woman on the planet. Do some of us act as enablers by saying nothing and doing nothing when we hear of or witness this reprehensible behavior? Alas, some of us do. Those guys piss off the rest of us, too.
The stories that have been coming out for the past month or two have astonished those of us who are appalled by what we've heard. It's the number of them. We knew such things happened but because we didn't engage in such disgusting behavior we never realized the scope of it. We like to tell ourselves we would have done something if we'd known what was going on. And some of us would have. But others would not, and do not. And until it happens in our sphere of experience, we don't really know which type we're going to be.
We apologize for that, too. We should have had your backs. I promise you we'll try to do better.
The #MeToo posts we've seen have knocked us for a loop. We knew this kind of thing went on and we've heard rumors for years about some of the famous names who have been mentioned lately. But the breadth of it, the fact that it seemed to be commonplace, that's what surprised men. I suppose it shouldn't have, but enough women have been intimidated into keeping silent and we haven't heard about as many of the incidents as we should have.
So on behalf of the men left who are like me in this regard, I'd like to make you a few promises. First, we sincerely hope nothing of this nature ever happens to any of you again. Seriously, not one. But since that appears to be unfortunately unrealistic, we want you to know you can talk to us. Tell us what happened. We'll bear witness for you. We'll stand behind you when you tell your story. We will not look the other way, we will not let others call you liars and we will believe you.
We promise not to hear other men tell these horrific stories and laugh them off as "boys will be boys." This is not normal or acceptable behavior. We won't allow it to cross the line into something that "always happens" and therefore shouldn't be roundly condemned.
We pledge to listen to you when you speak out, not to try to defend your attackers because they've always been okay to us. We promise not to dismiss you as someone trying to "get something out of it" because you name the names of the men who have abused you verbally or physically. We know you're taking an incredibly difficult step and we will not belittle it. We will applaud your courage and do all we can to remove these men from positions of power.
We will try very hard to understand the awful experience you've been forced to have. We will not see you as lesser than we did before. We will definitely not suggest that you were "asking for it" based on your wardrobe. Clothes don't make it okay to treat you so badly. We know that. We will not suggest you secretly wanted this to happen. That's ludicrous. We know it's not true.
We promise to hear your suggestions about how you think we should act when we hear of these terrible incidents. We will not "mansplain" such actions away. We want to hear from you. We want to help when we can. We want to definitely not hurt through our own actions.
And, most of all, we swear to you that we will do our best not to be the problem. We will never treat you like that. Not under any circumstances. Never.
Because most men aren't like that.