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In Response To: #MeToo: Real Men Stand with Women as Allies Against Harassment

Isabella Lopez, Co-Editor

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The Los Angeles Times recently published an article entitled “#MeToo: Real men stand with women as allies against harassment” by David Horsey. In this article, Horsey claims that “for every Stone Age, brain-in-his-pants male running loose… there is at least one man — and, I would argue, many more — who knows how to be a gentleman in the fullest sense. These are real men who respect women…” The problem with this narrative, this idea of “real” men against the “Other,” is that it does not exist to offer true comfort or support to victims of sexual harassment, but rather to comfort men and stroke the egos of self-proclaimed allies who need to assure themselves that they are in fact as “gentlemanly” as they feel themselves to be.

I find the phrase “real” man to be almost as comical as it is tone deaf. Real as opposed to what? The monster in a fairytale? The villain in a superhero movie? Obviously, I know that isn’t what Horsey meant, but I’m still not entirely sure what he did mean. Because these are “real” men–grown men with the mental capacity to understand right and wrong. Real men who received “real” educations, understand the “real” consequences of rape and sexual assault, and still abuse real women who now have to deal with the very real trauma they have been left with.

These men probably help set the dinner table, tuck their children into bed, kiss their wives goodnight, wake up in the morning, go to work and smile at the secretary, then go home and do it all again. These are not monsters. These are not another species of people lacking our logic or feelings with a different, stronger set of capabilities. So when we separate ourselves from the evil acts of others as something only an Other is capable of, we lose sight of the most important truth in stopping further harm: everyone is capable of committing some type of evil. “Evilness” is just as human as goodness, and “good” people can commit evil, which is why it’s so absurd to me that Horsey would state the following:

“Women who have suffered harassment need to know that the old cliches, such as “all men are alike” or “all men want the same thing” are fallacious. There is an army of men who are very different from the brutish stereotype. When I think about the males of various ages that I know well — my friends, my closest work colleagues, my son and son-in-law and their good friends — I can testify that there is not one among them who would harass a woman at work or sexually exploit a woman under his supervision.”

It baffles me that anyone could be so oblivious as to offer this as a consolation to women by essentially saying “just trust me;” as if Quentin Tarantino did not turn a blind eye to Harvey Weinstein; or as if pedophilia in Hollywood is not regarded as an “open secret.” Of course we all like to believe that we’ve surrounded ourselves with “good” people and I do believe that someone can truly know someone else enough to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that they would never commit such atrocities against others, but this is not the conversation in which you should offer a claim like that. Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock was remembered as a “kind, caring quiet man” by his girlfriend. Infamous Stanford rapist Brock Turner is remembered as “happy go lucky” with a “welcoming smile” by his father.  Would their family and friends at one point not testify that they could never commit evil?

Finally, I want to address the idea of the “good guy.” Horsey states, “Women need to be assured there are men they can count on as allies when some jerk with more authority than he deserves and far more self-regard than is justified tries to exert his droit du seigneur to exploit a woman in a workplace or at a party or on the street. There are good guys. We are here.” The thing is, women know that there is “at least one man” who won’t, at the very least, disrespect them, and these men don’t have to say that to let us know: they just show it. If you have to campaign to prove your goodness, maybe you’re not so good.

You can’t expect your goodness to be highlighted by the evil of others. Until women don’t have to be reminded that there are “good” men out there, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you yourself are good or that your friends are good. It doesn’t matter that you feel you are different. It is not enough to be good. Horsey ends his article with a promise to women: “…if you are looking for someone to stand with you, we say, “me, too.” But this article was not a hand extended in support of women, acknowledging the pain that they’ve endured at the hands of real men, but rather an attempt to absolve yourself of crimes no one accused you of in the first place.

So if you are looking for someone to pat you on the back, we say, “Try again.”

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The student news site of New Milford High School, New Milford, New Jersey
In Response To: #MeToo: Real Men Stand with Women as Allies Against Harassment