You can’t open up a newspaper or watch the 6 o’clock news these days without some guy being outed as a lech, pervert, scumbag or abuser. From politicians to the Hollywood elite, everyone seems to have used and sadly, abused women.
Even sadder, we have this strange sliding scale about when it comes to this piggish behavior. While we’re hanging Harvey Weinstein out to dry in Hollywood, we’re pretending the guy in the White House never said all those heinous things about women in a tape recording.
Locker room talk, my ass! Long ago, I learned there was no such thing. It came about around the time my daughter became a teenager and I realized that if someone talked about her in these terms in my presence, they’d be laid out flat on the floor.
But this isn’t about the guy who’s in the White House at the moment. That’s hardly worth my time.
It’s also not really about my own transgressions for I am hardly without sin here. Afterall, I was part of the Seattle Seafair Pirates, a group of chauvinistic pigs who preyed on women and treated them like whores. Sounds a lot like today’s Congress, but without the diversity. For six years I watched the wholesale bedding and belittling of women. I went through a brief period of sluttiness myself (I told you I was not without sin). I fell for the whole thing, hook, line and sinker for about a year.
And then it all came to an end. I realized that this wasn’t who I was. That these women – groupies or not – were someone’s daughter, sister, aunt or even mother. They weren’t chattel. They had dreams and hopes and feelings, that should not be trifled with, especially at such a debasing level.
I left not long after this revelation, realizing that this macho culture was not for me.
Why does this happen in general? And how did this happen to me specifically? Well, I can tell you, after years of soul searching and some therapy, that part of it was cultural. The fraternal organization I was in celebrated this behavior. To fit in, it was important to put a few notches on the ol’ cane, if you get my drift. I told you. Congress.
It didn’t help that this was a period in my life when I hated myself. I guess it’s easy to think little of others when you’re heading for rock bottom yourself. It took a long time to come to realize that this was not who I wanted to be in life.
Thankfully, I was only in my 20s when I started to figure this whole thing out.
Times change. So must we. But looking back, I’m pretty sure none of this behavior was ever O.K. It was certainly never welcomed. I have heard a lot of horror stories from my female friends in the intervening years that certainly opened my eyes. So when the #metoo movement took hold, I was hardly surprised that nearly every woman on earth has a story to tell.
And yet men continue to be shocked at the outfall. Worse, some of these men have tried to skate around the subject, pointing at others with a “they did it too” finger or outright denying that the episode ever happened. In their eyes, maybe it never did. Maybe those in Congress or Hollywood live in that same strange culture the Seafair Pirates do. It’s a man’s world to them. The feminist and women’s movements never came along. They are there for my pleasure…, blah, blah, blah!
Spare me, please. None of this is O.K. If a woman you work with, dated or encountered anywhere thinks you crossed the line, you did. Their private space and their private parts are the final arbiters here. Live with it. Own up to it. Apologize for it. And most important, change who you are right now because it was never O.K. to begin with.
Geez, if for no other reason, remember that these are someone else’s daughter, wife, girlfriend, sister or mother. If you have girls of your own, think how you would feel if someone took a photo with them, touching their privates. That should anger you, just as you should be angry at yourself for not evolving above the level of a primordial ooze (sorry ooze, I didn’t mean to insult you here).
Yes, I wasn’t always on my best behavior and if my mother had heard about my behavior, even in her advanced age, she would have slapped me stupid. She didn’t raise a pervert or a degenerate.
I offer no excuses for my own past. I don’t justify any of it. I should have figured it all out sooner, but I was an immature piece of sh** back then who had no regard for himself or others.
But those days are long gone. They need to be long gone for all of us. I know that somewhere in those locker rooms I keep hearing about, there are men speaking in hushed tones about how this is all blown out of proportion and it will eventually blow over.
Go ahead and lull yourself into a false sense of security and revel in your own stupid self-righteousness. It’s no longer a man’s world. And if you hadn’t managed to somehow suppress women to the point that they were once treated as legal property, I doubt it would have ever been a man’s world.
To all the women I know and all the women out there in the world who still have a story to tell, I applaud you for your courage. I know it’s not easy. But I know there are guys out there, guys like me, who will listen, who will understand your anger and most important, believe you because we know it happens – a lot.
In the Emerald City, coming to terms with the past in order to move an inch or two out of the primal ooze,