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Guys, Can We Please, For Two Weeks …

May 30, 2014

I blew my stack on Facebook this morning, after reading one of the many threads where women are trying to have a conversation around the Isla Vista shooting and the #YesAllWomen hashtag campaign.  I blew my stack because there are two things derailing these conversations.  One is misogynist men trying deliberately to derail, deny and distract.  The other is men who want to do the right thing, who mean well, but who feel the need to insert their insecurities, their disclaimers and clarifications and make the conversation about their feelings.

Here’s what I said:

JESUS CHRIST SHUT UP AND LISTEN. IF YOU ARE A MAN RIGHT NOW DO NOT TALK OVER WOMEN. AT ALL. SPEAK ONLY AMONG MEN about whatever you think your valid point is that you so desperately need to hear yourself say and just SHUT THE FUCK UP. Why have I not written about Rodgers? BECAUSE MEN NEED TO SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LISTEN. Two weeks. Just shut your fucking facehole for two weeks. NO! Zip! It! If it’s that fucking brilliant, it will be brilliant in two weeks.

But I know, because women who want the same kind of change that I want are telling me, that if you and me and the guys who care duck out of the conversation for two weeks, we’re only leaving the field in possession of the enemy and abandoning the people we want to support.  If you care enough about what I think to follow my example if I decided to stay silent, you’re actually the guy who should stay in the conversation.

But just because we’re talking doesn’t mean we’re helping, and right now I think to help, I have to be willing to do some really specific stuff.  Here’s what I think I have to do:

(1) Not talk about my insecurities when women are trying to talk about their struggle.

(2) Signal-boost the women who are saying important stuff.

(3) Shut down, shout down, and push back at misogynists who are trying to make the conversation not happen.

So if you care what I think, I’m asking you to do this with me.  Women need to let the anger and fear and frustration  speak now, to know that we’re listening; and we need to hear it.  Lots of us are going to have that queasy, “she thinks that might be me, and that’s totally not me” feeling.  Here’s what I want to do:  just lock that down and keep in on ice until June 13.  Don’t do the “not all men” thing, not even a little; don’t say it.  Live the example, stand by the women you support and don’t let your insecurities get in the way.  Let them know you by your works.  If I need to vent about my feelings, I’ll do that in private with friends, not where the public conversations are happening.

Everything I write in public about Isla Vista or Rodger or masculinity, misogyny or entitlement for the next two weeks, I’m going to ask myself, “is this helping my women friends have their conversation?”  If not, I can change it, or I can hold it.

We need men to talk about how we feel about manhood and violence and the reality of rapists and abusers among us and in our social circles and families, out own sexuality and consent and all the nuanced and complex stuff.  We need that, but not today, not right now, not in the immediate aftermath of a guy planning to slaughter a sorority and trying to do it.  The nuances that men’s experiences add will still be valuable in two weeks; women need two more weeks to talk about the things that scare them out of their minds and the shit they have to live with, and they need us to clear the way for them; not engage to qualify, explain and redirect.

I have a small but influential social circle and readership, and I see a lot of really good stuff that’s being said and written right now, especially stuff by women talking about their own experiences, and I’m going to popularize the good stuff and let it speak for itself.

What I’m not going to do is leave the assholes in charge of the conversation.  I’m going to point out their agendas, their distortions and lies.  I know my skillset, and smacking people around on social media, litigating issues, and showing the bystanders that these people are wrong factually and morally; that I can do.  That’s not about me.  That’s about pushing back on their bullshit so the women who are trying to have the conversation in public spaces right now feel our support.

If I have something to say about my feelings and my masculinity and how this affects me, if that’s so damned brilliant that I should share it with the world, it will still be worth sharing later.  I can keep that on ice until June 13.  Two weeks.  It’s not about me for two weeks.  That’s not much to ask.

So I’m asking.  Not about me, not about us, just support and defend the conversation that is happening, for two weeks.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2014 11:13 am

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Please ignore the tears, it actually feels very supportive to ‘be heard’.)

  2. May 30, 2014 11:40 am

    This is so inspiring and spot-on! Thank you for writing it! I’m sharing it in my social networks right away.

  3. May 30, 2014 7:50 pm

    Very, very well said! Thank you.

  4. Tiffy squid permalink
    May 30, 2014 9:49 pm

    “Women need…” Whenever You find yourself typing that phrase, it should give you pause.

  5. CeCe permalink
    May 30, 2014 10:32 pm

    Thank you. Seriously.

  6. May 31, 2014 12:34 am

    Reblogged this on ~Taken by the Wind~ and commented:
    This. This says all I need to say.

  7. May 31, 2014 1:46 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  8. May 31, 2014 12:57 pm

    Reblogged this on Paula Lindo and commented:
    “Women need to let the anger and fear and frustration speak now, to know that we’re listening; and we need to hear it. Lots of us are going to have that queasy, “she thinks that might be me, and that’s totally not me” feeling. Here’s what I want to do: just lock that down and keep in on ice until June 13. Don’t do the “not all men” thing, not even a little; don’t say it. Live the example, stand by the women you support and don’t let your insecurities get in the way. Let them know you by your works. “

  9. May 31, 2014 9:15 pm

    I can’t even. Exactly. Thank you!!

  10. Anna permalink
    May 31, 2014 10:25 pm

    Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m totally not crying out of appreciation for what you wrote. There’s just something in my eye, is all.

  11. June 23, 2014 10:53 am

    Women need space to vent their rage. Agreed. Guys who need space to talk about their feelings shouldn’t take it in the comments section of a post about the Isla Visa shootings. Agreed.

    So it’s been a month, just about. Exclusive, silencing anger, as you have noted, is patriarchy in action. Invalidating people’s feelings = patriarchy. Excluding voices from the conversation = patriarchy.

    Has the inclusive conversation started now? These were always conversations that feminist men could hold among other men.

  12. Sarah Tully permalink
    August 23, 2014 11:24 am

    Holy hell batman!!!! Good stuff – I really needed this support right now. I can’t say I’ve read many blogs, articles, stories etc. from men who “get it” but you do, so thank you for joining the conversation in a way that makes a difference.

  13. August 25, 2014 12:00 am

    These guys, whether misogynist or not, always use the same tactics: be nice to me no matter what or for how long, be patient, assume I’m really sincere and nice……or else. Or else I’ll turn on you so fast and so viciously——and blame you for it—–that you’ll be sickened. Behave, or I’ll make you sorry. It’s going to be all your fault that I turn into a misogynist at the first excuse, because people always blame the woman.

    This actually works even if it’s a woman “ally”, but with men it’s positively abusive. It’s just like those fake “compliments” that make up street harassment; they turn into abuse instantly at the slightest bit of anything but enthusiastic sucking-up. The standards for the way men treat women are so low that these guys really feel abysed when the slightest hint of pallid non-sexism isn’t greeted with parades and orgies of gratitude.

    The other really pernicious thing is that here are women talking about something horrible men have done to women. Usually, you get a vague excuse or two—-no more than a breezy hand wave—–before the guy establishes that THE really awful thing about rape/murder/whatever is that it makes it harder for him to get laid or chat up women. He’ll say a sentence or two dismissing rape/domestic violence/catcalling/whatever then go on for paragraphs about how women are so mean to men because of…..this thing. Often they don’t want to blame the guy.

    It really wears you down. It can make you despair. It exhausts you. And the reason these guys do this is because they know that. Exhausted women with no hope means their (these men) are the winners. This works even for the sort of guy who protests—-and believes—-that he’s not like those guys. How many times does it have to happen before you just give up? (And if a guy apologizes in private for public offenses, he’s still trying to gaslight everybody.)

    Above all else, women need to vent. That’s what human beings do. That women aren’t tolerated when they do is very revealing.

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