This is a rare blog where it is probably actually going to be helpful. I am not going to lie here, that helpfulness is a by-product. This is grounded in being self-serving. I, specifically, have a problem. And I don’t know what I am supposed to do about it.
This problem has me thinking about the #Metoo movement, and thinking that as a man, there isn’t that much help out there for me, not much in the way of examples to follow, not much in the way of confederates. That is not great for me specifically and also I think that might be holding the whole thing back to some degree. I said this is a self-serving blog, but in it’s self-serving roots, it can probably do some good.
Let’s all take a step to the sidelines for a moment first, okay?
This #Metoo movement, it is meant for good, yes? I think any reasonable human being can get behind the basic principals of it, and can agree it is/can be/should be a force for good.
Somewhere along the way it quickly became a lightning rod for arguing with each other. AND…and you women may not see this or want to hear it, from the outside looking in, a lot of it feels like woman’s club of knee jerk reactions and projecting past a-holeness from men onto men who may or may not actually be a-holes.
That is where we are at. I’m speaking pragmatically as someone who thinks the movement is important, who has seen what harassment, assault, and rape, does to people…including people I love and care about. Read that last part again. So, I’m not here to throw any monkey wrenches in the works, I’m here to make sure this does not end up on the ash heap of internet causes of the day.
Let’s start with some things we all need to understand, before I move onto something specific and personal.
First…most cases go unreported, many cases are not mentioned for years. You guys out there…imagine the shame, the embarrassment, the fear, the aversion to having to re-live it, to explain it a thousand times. Imagine your friends and family knowing and reacting, and looking at you differently for the rest of your life. And some, who don’t have the tools or insight to handle it, and know that they don’t, just avoiding you from now on…and now imagine the very thin prospect of anything getting done about it anyway. Look at the risk vs reward, especially in cases that are less severe than an actual rape, and cases where evidence is slim to none.
Did I say we should instantly believe everything, no matter how long ago or how little evidence? No…I did not. I just asked you to look at things from a different perspective. Do that, would you?
Second…women also lie. Women are human beings, just like men. And human beings can be spiteful, vile, underhanded, selfish, dangerous creatures. Given an atmosphere where there is little to no repercussions for falsely accusing someone, and an atmosphere where they are confident that 50% of the people who hear the accusation will believe it…lying for whatever reason is a tempting scenario. An irresistible scenario for the more nefarious human beings.
Did I say they all lie? Or even many? Did I say to always be cynical? No…I did not. I would not. I asked you to look at things from a different perspective.
I see women demanding that victims be believed, and I see men demanding there be some level of evidence to delineate “accuser” and “victim” lest ANY accusation is able to ruin an innocent person. I see woman pointing out that evidence is hard to come by. I see men saying that evidence to the contrary is also hard to come by.
In and around this movement you have women who are angry and scared and have been victimized, and men who are angry and scared and feel like they will be collateral damage.
And at forefront in the minds of everyone is the worry “if it were me, would anyone believe me?”
Understand this please. Try to understand each other. This is a topic that is 90% fueled by emotion at this point; understanding the root of the other side’s emotions will help you, them, and everyone else.
Third, no one is harmless. Some people have been harmless, or seem harmless, but no human being is harmless. Human beings are good at one thing above all else and that is finding ways to do harm. They are harmless until they are instantly not harmless. I say instantly…but often there are warning signs. That’s part of what the #Metoo movement is about, the education, the “no tolerance policy” (for lack of a better term). There are some victims of the worst actions, who can look back and see a red flag they wish they had paid attention to…and much of this atmosphere is them screaming for others to see the red flags before it is too late. Not every perpetrator has red flags, nor gives you time to see them. Not every person who exhibits a red flag is going to sexually assault someone. But, you can certainly see a victim of such not taking any chances and calling out for others to pay attention to the red flags and take them deadly seriously.
There is a lot more to understand, and much of it I’m not qualified or comfortable explaining. But I think that’s a good start. I think that’s enough for anyone who is reasonable to go “okay…I can at least understand the disposition of that side of things”
Something else I think everyone is thinking is “the rules are murky and the rules don’t seem to apply to everyone”. We are all thinking that, but it means something different for women and men.
Remember, Men are also victims of harassment and abuse, and even assault. The percentage of cases of abuse and harassment that go unreported by women is high…the percentage of cases that go unreported by men is really really high (plenty has been written about why that is, and I’m sure you come up with reasons on your own). Men almost never come forward to expose female perpetrators, so female perpetrators are by and large escaping the justice, and ire of this movement. So, the base optics of it, are men seeing a movement that by and large is only coming after men. That’s what you call the law of unintended consequences.
I’ve had a woman try to rape me. That is the truth. I say that as a man, and it brings an entirely different disposition, view, and reaction than if I was a woman. The first thought, and it is reasonable, is that I should have no problem thwarting such an attempt. But, this is not a movie, a woman is a human being and if a human being is wrapped around you, even if you outweigh her and are much stronger, it is very difficult to remove her from you without hurting her. If it is just you and her alone and you hurt her getting her off of you, and the police are called…how do you think that’s going to go down? Someone so unhinged as to sexually assault you is not likely to tell the truth to the police. You are then a grown man who has attacked a women. It is a terrifying situation. The second, and less reasonable thought is that I, as a guy, should just go with it. See…there’s this stuff called venereal diseases, which give me an aversion to just sleeping with just anyone who jumps on me. And there are these things called babies, which I also have no interest in if it involves just anyone who jumps on me. And, how about this for a reason, I didn’t want to have sex with that person.
Most men haven’t been through that. But many men have been harassed, stalked, and threatened by women…and know full well that they will not get the same help, guidance, or belief that a woman in the same situation would.
Women would do themselves, and this cause, a solid by paying attention to my example below…. because it is a common one. And men should pay attention, because even though it is not macho to see yourself as being victimized, many of us are.
I dated a woman for about 9 months, it didn’t work, the end. Right? Wrong.
I got a steady stream of unwanted contact. After it was clear that this was going to continue, I responded via text and email that I did not want any further contact from her. And that was the only response she got from me…since feb. 2016
There’s more. a lot more…and many of the emails and texts are very very long. And full of things that are not okay.
Many of you know the drill by now. You block, they contact you from another account…repeat. From time to time you’ll get a letter or a package, which you either send back or throw out depending on your disposition at the time.
These last few were sent to my online store’s email via her purchasing things off my online store (which many people do). I took some advice when those orders first started coming in it, which was to fill them and not respond, just like it was any other order. I see now that I would have been better served asking a counselor instead of an attorney about that, so that’s a mistake the rest of you can learn from. It’s a long read, even though I’ve redacted stuff that identifies her and redundant rambling. Image about 100 pages of this since the break up. I’ll repeat, she has not heard one syllable from me since Feb, 2016- This one was sent just this very month…
This…is frightening. This is not some ex, who heard a song we both liked and thought she’d check in so see how I was doing. This woman has had no contact from me since Feb. 2016, when I told her in no uncertain terms, that I did not want any contact from her. I have blocked her emails, blocked her on social media, returned packages she sends, blocked her phone number. Yet she is continuing to find ways to contact me, mail things to me, contacting people who know me, constructing scenarios in her head to the point she thinks it’s reasonable for us to get married and live with each other. And is apparently readying her apartment for when this happens.
I ignored that and got this
If your skin isn’t crawling, it’s on too tight. I don’t know where to start…this woman…thinks I sent someone else to try to sleep with her, and is sifting through IP addresses and convincing herself some must be me. They are not me. I have not been on her pages, I have not responded to her texts or emails. I have no interest in her or anything she is doing. …oh, if only the feeling was mutual. Instead, in roll emails with textbook creepiness. No one will love you like I do, I know all your friends, I am where you are, I see you.
If I were a woman, everyone would understand that continuing to contact me after I clearly say I do not want any further contact, is not okay. And the more times I am contacted afterwards, the less okay it is, and eventually it goes from “not okay” to “red flag” to “this is a problem and a sick, possibly dangerous person”. If I was a woman…that would be clear. As a guy…I’m expected to put up with it, laugh it off, perhaps be flattered. It’s not an actual problem because she’s a girl…tell that to Phil Hartman, or Steve McNair. Or watch any news story ever about when a woman goes off the rails.
I’d like you to consider something, in case you haven’t thought this through (especially any men who are going through this), someone only needs to be capable of attempting to do you harm for you to have one of the worst days of your life. And what about your personal property? Are you just going to stare out your window all night, keeping an eye on your car? By the way “Sunday morning” I was at a hotel restaurant alone, eating breakfast…so that’s great.
Look through all this again, pretend she is a man and I am…your sister. At what point would you start to think her ex is unhinged? At what point there would you start to think she is in danger? At what point there would you have to stop yourself from intervening? Can you now see the red flags? Can you now see that this a person to be wary of? You men out there, dealing with something similar- this is not okay.
There are literally hundreds of pages of texts and emails from her, but you get the idea. I posted those last two because I feel obligated to, to drive the point home. But I think if I was a woman and this was a man…just showing there are many texts and emails after I said, “don’t contact me again” would be enough for people to say “you have a problem on your hands”.
The ex that won’t let go is viewed very differently when that ex is a woman, than when that ex is a man.
This is a grown adult, in her late 30’s, who refuses to leave me alone, who thinks there is some connection between us that does not actually exist. Who is not willing to accept that there is no connection between us, who is capable of god knows what. I ask you #Metoo…that’s not okay, right?
You men…look through that and pretend I am a woman. This is what they have been going on about. If you think their ire is casting too large a net of suspicion…you could be correct, but I can tell you it is, for me, a bit hard not to have my head on a swivel for the possibility that this behavior is going to be present in every other woman.
I did mention texts, right? Many guys I know have had a stream of unwanted texts like I’m about to show you. Guys being guys, most of us don’t bother saving them. Because what’s the point? We have every reason to believe they won’t be taken seriously, will be laughed off, or even cast us in the light of being the bad guy who broke some girl’s heart…casting us as the problem and not the target of harassment. How many texts, after I say I don’t want any more contact, would you say is appropriate? Put a number in your head, right now, of when it’s over the line.
As tempting as it is to just post all the texts as they were written, in all their insane glory, I know attention spans are short. I’ve redacted pretty much all of this, leaving a few mile markers here and there so that you are confident she hasn’t strayed off the point. The jist is, she wants me back. I just want you to have scroll through so, you understand what months worth of un-responded to text messages looks like.
I was as clear as I could be on Jan 25,2016
And that’s that, right? She’s deleting my number…right? Wrong.
…Y’see, you tell yourself “okay, this person’s gotta burn this out of the system eventually…that’s gotta be the last few drops of fuel in the tank.” But no…
At this point I finally got around to figuring out how to block a phone number…turns out it’s not as hard as I thought it would be. But that was fun, huh? It was nice of her to admit she knows I blocked her, and the part about my silence being “punishment” is worth noting. Me not responding to her harassment makes me the aggressor in her mind. That’s very common, this is all very common. A lot of men, and women have been in my situation. I think though, a lot of women don’t know men go through it to. We do. It’s interesting, in a scary way, how the actions of this woman harassing me is a mirror image of male harassers. It’s almost like, it’s a specific pattern of behavior. It would be helpful if someone, or many someones, in #Metoo with an education in psychology could put somethings out there so we can spot some warning signs before we’re already involved.
This is someone who needs professional help. Pure and simple. I find myself saying that only because this person is a woman. But if it was a man sending the same quantity and content to my sister, I would have a completely different attitude and resolution.
Among the emails and texts she managed to get to me, despite me blocking her, are many that state they will be the last time I hear from her. So far that has not been the case…I have no reason to believe this time it will be the case. And there doesn’t seem to be a whole hell of a lot you can do until it escalates. You just get to sit there and wait for whatever comes next, as they continue to fabricate scenarios in their head.
I have no doubt she has female friends who are supportive of #Metoo. It’s pretty clear she has mentioned me to her friends. It is pretty clear they have not recognized her behavior for what it is. If she was a man, they would. If she was a man, telling her female friends that he sent another email to the ex from three years ago, asked about the ex, is following the ex online despite being blocked, mailed things to the ex …they would have put the kibosh on it quick fast and in a hurry. Instead, from time to time one of her friends lets me know she misses me…despite me having told them…in no uncertain terms, that I have no interest in hearing from her or about her. I have no interest in hearing from her or about her.
If some male friend was still going on about his female ex from three years ago I’d be all “dude, move the f*ck on. What is the matter with you? You’re going to end up in jail.” That would be my reaction, and I wouldn’t entertain any of his reasoning for continuing his behavior. and #Metoo would approve of me doing this. Does #Metoo give that same reaction to women still unwantedly pursuing ex’s from years ago?
I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, alone as a man in dealing with something of this degree. MOST men I know have had to deal with an individual like this. That means, of course, that a lot of women know a woman who is doing this. If these rules are for everyone, please keep your eyes peeled for that, ladies. To be fair and to be honest, men are not generally in as much danger as a woman in the same situation, but as I understand it this movement is for everyone and it is not restricted to victims of actual violence. It is about defining what is right and what is not right.
It would be helpful, if this movement gave a little more attention to female bad behavior, and female harassment. The rules apply to everyone, right? Men have been told for several years now that they should be policing each other, it would be helpful if women also started doing that more. Part of this is on us. No one told us men that we couldn’t try to use the movement to our advantage, quite the contrary. Instead we just sit here, and absorb whatever gets thrown at us. I think anyone reasonable who read all this, learned a little bit, and hopefully got a different perspective. Men should understand what is not okay and women should understand what is not okay.
It would also be helpful, if there were more education on what to do. I think at this point we’ve got the education of “you are not alone” pretty well kicked in the butt. However, I can tell you first hand, and second hand, that finding out what the f*ck you are supposed to do…is a bit hard to come by. Googling it is about as useful as trying to google anything. I could name off probably 78 famous victims of harassment, but I can’t tell you a website to go to… Not until the harassment has escalated to violence.
It is very possible that the websites you go to after things have escalated are all equipped and happy to help with problems of less severity and completely appropriate to go to. It is also possible, that it is because I am a guy I didn’t push to find out, at first. The male ego having me convinced my problems are not severe enough, and I’m supposed to just figure it out myself…in the murky ever changing landscape. In my defense, when every website has a logo of a flower or a silhouette of a woman, it’s pretty easy to think you are going to the wrong place. I don’t know…I don’t know where you’re supposed to go, I don’t know what you are supposed to do, and I’m not exactly an idiot when it comes to research. As near as I have been able to find out, until things escalate…there isn’t a hell of a lot you can do. And maybe that’s part of the point of #Metoo…and it’s a good point. But two years in to this being a high profile “movement”…I don’t think I, or anyone else, should be sitting here with wondering what the hell he or she is supposed to do. It’s possible there are some answers are out there, some course of action to take, if after every such hashtag from some celebrity there was a website link of some sort…that would help the cause.
It would help the cause if there was more information spread around about what you are actually supposed to watch for, and some general consensus on when is someone just a dope with bad social skills, and when is someone dangerous. If we all had at least a template of when can you say this is going from annoying to harassment to you have to worry about your personal safety or your car getting set on fire…that would be helpful.
#Metoo is about educating and stopping abuse, and harassment. Let’s make sure that education and stopping abuse remains the focus, and that the focus is not different for men and women. I think that can stop it from being a lightning rod for arguments, and keep it as an important big tent that it was initially meant to be.
By the way, here’s a few links…I can’t say for sure they can help you, but it’s better than doing nothing.