#MeToo has trained men to fear women. Why should they? How can men change the conversation? It's time for all of us to speak truth to power.
Okay, it was a really weird thing to talk about at a professional holiday sales mixer. But, in my defense, the gentleman did ask what I did on my off-time when I wasn’t doing sales. So I answered honestly.
“I have a website called Grow Some Labia,” I said, and as soon as it was out of my mouth I was like oh fuck.
“What? Grow some Libya?” he asked, clearly confused.
Waytago, Sushi-For-Brains, I thought, but I plowed forward.
“Grow Some Lay-bi-a,” I said.
“Grow some labia?” I don’t think he knew what the word meant, or perhaps wasn’t sure if he understood me right.
I am not explaining to this guy what labia are, I thought, but also realized I had boldly chosen this name for my mission, and I was going to have to explain it to an awful lot of people.
Okay, I’ve been out of the in-person professional networking thing since the pandemic, but usually people ask me stuff like, “So what do you do?” with the understanding they mean, How are you keeping yourself off the streets and out of the pool hall?
And absolutely everyone else did that night. Except for this guy.
Instead of explaining what labia are, I said, “I write about how women and others can reclaim their power—”
“Oh, so you’re a feminist!” he said, wide-eyed, like I’d just told him my profession was ‘serial castrater’. “I come from a very patriarchal country!” It sounded more like fright than warning.
“It’s okay, I’m not the scary kind of feminist!” I said.
So I told him a bit about Grow Some Labia, without mentioning the name again, and emphasized how my mission was not just to help women, but men too, to avoid bad, abusive relationships, to speak truth to power even when you’re not marginalized. He and I shared something in common: We both are. And not. He’s a man, and I’m white. I explained I also want to bring the masses together on the left and right so we can take liberalism and conservatism back from, well, the crazies. I didn’t define the crazies. I didn’t want to get too political.
Shortly after, another gentleman joined us, and we returned to more business-like conversation. At some point the first guy said he’d left a job because of a female manager. Twice, she had said something extremely personal about him in front of other people. He was horrified. He was humiliated. He resigned the next day.
He didn’t tell us what exactly she said, but I asked, “Did you report her to HR?”
“Yes, I hope you reported her!” the other guy chimed in.
“I didn’t,” the first man replied. I didn’t ask why. I know why women don’t do it. “Maybe I should have.”
“Women aren’t allowed to do that either, you know,” I told him. “We aren’t allowed to harass or say humiliating things to men in the workplace. The rules are for everyone.”
There. That’s the kind of feminist I am. If he figures out how to spell ‘labia’ maybe he’ll visit my website and see I’m not the kind of feminist who thinks The Patriarchy is, like, this overwhelming male-only Illuminati controlling the world. with their own Patriarchal space lasers aimed at Amy Comey-Barrett’s head.
“That’s right,” the other guy concurred.
I felt so bad for the first guy. Did he not know the rules apply to us, too?
Maybe he did, but didn’t feel comfortable reporting it. Maybe the HR manager was a woke woman, or worse, a DEI consultant. Maybe he didn’t think he had the right. I didn’t feel comfortable asking him about it, I had just met the guy.
Maybe men really don’t know we can’t do pull this stuff either. Maybe that’s a failure of feminism. We need to upgrade.
So. A year ago this past spring I went down to the States to visit my Mom. She lived at a retirement home and I had to pack her walker into my rental car. I asked for help with one of the older assistants there, a guy about my age.
“Hey, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a very beautiful woman!” he said. “Please don’t get mad!”
“Awww, I think you’re a very sweet man for saying so!” I replied sincerely with a broad grin. He started getting really nervous. Like he’d just fucked up.
“Please don’t get mad, I shouldn’t have said that,” he reiterated. “I don’t want to get in trouble with HR again. I said this to someone once before and she reported me.”
“I promise you I’m not like that,” I assured him. I saw where this had gone. The poor man! He was my generation, old enough to remember when telling a woman she was pretty couldn’t get you fired for being a galactic-level asshole.
“I got in so much trouble before,” he said.
“Listen,” I said, and I looked him right in the eye, “I’m not that kind of woman. I’m a feminist, but not the victim kind. We’re of the same generation. I don’t get bent out of shape over stupid stuff. I’m flattered when a man tells me that, and I know he’s not trying to get a date. I don’t believe women are disrespected when you say stuff like that.’
“I know I shouldn’t have said that,” he said.
“Yeah, I’ll agree, since you got busted once already, but only because you never know who will take it the wrong way even though you didn’t mean it that way. I’m sorry someone reported you. Y’know, if I’d been upset by what you said I would have told you, nicely, why. I wouldn’t have gone ratting you out to HR.”
Why is that always the first line of defense? Why can’t we first explain to the man why what he said rubbed us the wrong way, and if he’s a jerk about it, then you take him to HR?
This guy was so worried I was going to report him. I crossed-my-heart-and-hoped-to-die like I was six and told him may God strike me dead if I’m lying: I am not going to change my mind in a few days and report him. I am not going to talk to my gal pals and let them change my mind.
A man who tells a woman she’s pretty should not be reported to HR.
Maybe if everyone’s had training telling them they shouldn’t handle it themselves. Or if they think the guy will be a jerk, or worse. But, I think if I was the workplace associate to step out of line, under different circumstances, I would appreciate it if the aggrieved party told me privately, first.
I could be an asshole about it, upon which they’d be perfectly justified in escalating it. Or I could be a big girl (or a big boy, if I was a man) and say I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said/done that, I’m sorry I offended/hurt you, it won’t happen again.
And I’d have been very, very grateful they didn’t report me to HR.
Michael Woudenberg has written a great Substack on clothing, sex, and how everything we wear advertises our sexuality, with some great questions we should ask ourselves before we go out dressed however we are (especially young people who don’t always think about the consequences).
It’s food for thought. Women have social, romantic and sexual responsibilities, too.
I’ve been thinking about these stories a lot because I don’t like the power #MeToo has given me over men.
On the one hand, I like that they know they can’t pull Harvey Weinstein shit. People like that get what they deserve.
On the other hand, men need to understand they don’t have to take endless shit from the sort of feminists who throw tantrums over tiny little ‘microaggressions’ (which we Gen Xers used to call a ‘compliment’). That there’s a way to stand up to women when they get out of hand (as we sometimes do). When we’re being too sensitive. Can a man explain himself like an adult and challenge her notion that she’s been ‘microaggressed’ or whatever?
Can he tell a woman she’s pretty, and respond powerfully and responsibly if she goes on social media to pitch a feminist tantrum, and can he challenge all the anonymous haters who tell him he’s a dirtball and human slime?
I think there is. We should talk about that more.
I think we’ve hit ‘peak woke’ including all its in-your-face, balls-to-the-wall, belligerent feminism. I’m behind feminism 100%. Everyone has a right to a seat at the table. Let all of us achieve our full potential and be held back only by our talent, skills, experience, drive and intellect. Not by arbitrary invisible rules, and senseless identity-driven boundaries. If we’re not achieving yet, it’s up to us.
I hope my non-white mixer friend perhaps drew a lesson from our conversation about my feminist blog and his dipstick manager: We need to hold our own tribe to the same standards to which we hold another. Female managers don’t get to behave badly just because they’re arguably less empowered as women. Women can be sexist pigs too, just as people of color, and especially self-described ‘antiracists’, can be, in fact, racist.
I hope to help sincere men stand up to and challenge over-the-top feminism, just as I, a white person, challenge histrionic antiracism. I focus on non-white racism because the world is full of critics of the other kind. In fact, there isn’t enough actual white racism to go around, so 'antiracists’ have manufactured truckloads of ‘white supremacy’ so they have a reason to get up in the morning. It’s in your chocolate chip cookies! And traffic signals! Even Pokémon! Even water is racist! Don’t drink it or bathe in it or you’re supporting white supremacy!
White people, including non-woke liberals, can speak truth to power too, and yes, even people of color have power. If one can destroy lives with cancellation, or support a filthy terrorist organization like Hamas, as Black Lives Matter clearly does (I can’t find ‘Israel’ or ‘Hamas’ referenced anywhere on their website from their search engine, and ‘October 7’ brings up irrelevant event links), and if it has the power to misappropriate funds, it’s powerful enough to criticize, no natural skin cancer prevention required.
We have to think carefully, and be wary of our words as we speak truth to power, but white people can challenge black or brown racism, even as ‘antiracists’ claim eternal victimhood. Yes, we can do it without being racist, a Karen or a Kyle, although we have to learn not caring when they call us that. We have to know when an accusation of racism is meant sincerely, upon which we should pause and consider whether maybe they have a point, and when to know it’s just being lobbed to shut you down.
‘Progressives’ deserve the reputation for being wusses. They’ll only speak truth, ultimately, to white male power. They pretend no one else has any, despite numerous clear advancement of many people who are neither white nor male, or one but not the other.
Accountability is for everyone. Illiberal feminists, ironically, collude and collaborate with ‘The Patriarchy’ when they refuse to challenge misogynists of color. Especially Hamas.
Women have power we didn’t have before. #MeToo has been fantastic for giving voice to women who’ve been silent about very real grievances against patriarchy, particularly entitled penises. Men know there may now be real consequences to acting upon sexual entitlement. Where Third and Fourth Wave feminism has erred is in blanketing all men with the sins of a minority.
Men who wish to challenge extremist feminism have to be ready for accusations of being sexist or misogynist, and have to be comfortable challenging themselves if they think it might occasionally be true, but know when to look her in the eye and say, “No, men have a right to voice opinions on rape/alleged sexism/Russell Brand too. No, you don’t get to invoke my manhood to shut me up. If you have a logical response to what I just said, let’s hear it. Otherwise, if all you’ve got is defensive victimhood bullshit, come back when you can argue like an adult.”
We need to think, and talk more about this. ‘Woke’ is in the hot seat now for numerous reasons and we, the new Silent Majority, have the power to challenge its power. How can we do this, as rational-thinking lefties and righties?
We will talk about this more. Let me know your thoughts.
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