Friday, December 1, 2017
Hey Men, Can You Be Quiet for a Second
[TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, RELATED APOLOGIA]
So I'm working this internship right, and the guy I've been working with who I guess you could say is my boss, or at least he clearly has some level of power over me, is driving the both of us to a meeting. And he brings up all the reports of sexual harassment/assault happening.
I immediately tense up. Here's the thing. I've only known this guy for a little over two week. I don't know anything about him. He is barely more than a stranger. And he brings up something that is starkly divided by gender and very, shall we say, "sensitive."
He says that he believes most of the women, but some of the reports seem off. He brings up Al Franken. Says some things don't add up or something like that. I (obviously) have opinions on that, including the fact that all the articles claiming that the victim was in on the joke or that it was a running gag between them or whatever are from right-wing conspiracy sites at best, and what the fuck is he, a supposed liberal working for a liberal campaign, doing not only reading that kind of shit but believing it? Also, why the fuck should I care what he, a white dude, thinks about this issue that he should know overwhelmingly victimizes women?
What I say is, "Al Franken didn't deny it, though."
And he replies, "True, but you can't deny it. Then you're calling her a liar."
I go quiet at this point, knowing that I can't say what I want to say, which at the moment is "dude have you ever considered just not talking about this at all, especially to women?"
I have lots of thoughts about what he said. Such as the implication that any man who doesn't deny what he did or even admits it could still be innocent because they're just trying not to "make things worse," meaning we should pretty much always disbelieve the victims. And the fact that Al Franken didn't just not deny it, he apologized, basically admitting it, and called an investigation onto himself, so are you just defending him because he matches your political leanings or what?
But what I really just want to ask all men here is that maybe you just do not bring this up to women at all. Especially if you don't know her well. Especially if you have any kind of power over her. I honestly don't know what the fuck this guy was thinking. There is so much ridiculous shit going on in the world right now that he could have brought up, but that? To me? When we're alone in his car? Come on.
I don't trust this guy now and almost certainly never will. And not because of his frankly everyday opinions on a sexual assault report. I mean, a little that. But mostly because he apparently didn't take the time to think that it would be entirely inappropriate to bring up this topic to me? And that's best case scenario. Now I'm also afraid that he brought it up intentionally to weigh my response.
There's also the fact that you never know who is a survivor, and I expect men to know by now how many women are. It's hard enough hearing about these reports every goddamn day, steadily increasing the feeling that no one and nowhere is safe. Do not make that worse by bringing it up to random women. Do not risk triggering them. Do not insist upon airing your man opinions to her.
Just, for the love of god, for once in your lives, BE QUIET.