Yes All Women

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For a while I wrestled with whether or not to write this week’s piece on the #YesAllWomen movement. Part of me wants to show my support, but part of me thinks that I shouldn’t be the one speaking about all this and drawing attention away from the heroism and stories out there from all the strong women I know and the many I do not.

Part of me wants to write an eloquent piece about misogyny, and the other part of me wants to rageslap every men’s rights activist until their teeth fall out.

Part of me didn’t want to seem like I was hopping on a bandwagon for clickbait and the other part of me cares way too much about this to NOT write about it.

So I wrote about it. Because hey, I have a platform at a great publication and my editor is a good man and a lot of people still don’t know the hashtag or the stories (my grandma is surprisingly Twitter-illiterate). I also wrote about it because I’m a guilty party in this thing – in a bystander capacity and in a sympathetic capacity. That’s what this about.

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I was raised to respect women and I owe that to my parents and the fact that I have two younger sisters. I fight for equality in words and in actions and I want to be a force in the right direction. But I’ve been guilty of some things that I’m still grappling with; things this movement made me grapple with even more.

In college, I was too trusting when I allowed a very inebriated female friend of mine to get in a car with some guy that the group of us half-knew. She couldn’t walk herself home and we couldn’t carry her half a mile.

The group argued intensely and I was one of the voices pushing for the “easy” option; the trusting option. I feel horrible to this day. I was wrong. There didn’t seem to be another way at the time, but there always is. I just figured, “I’m sure she’s fine. We’re meeting them in five minutes. They’re fine. He’s not a bad person.” I don’t know what happened. I still think about it. I’m profoundly sorry for that.

I once dated a woman who’d been sexually assaulted in the recent past. We hit it off really well, but after dating for a little while, she said that it was still a sensitive wound that had been reopened by an incident, and that she just couldn’t date right now. My immediate reaction was, again, to find this guy where he lived and rageslap him into oblivion because I couldn’t comprehend how someone could hurt such an incredible person in such a horrific way.

Understanding (I thought) where she was coming from, we stopped dating. I utterly respected her decision and knew that I couldn’t fathom what she went through, but in all honesty, a part of me was wondering about the future — how long would it take to recover? Six months? Nine months? I liked this woman a lot and selfishly wanted a timetable for my heart. I wasn’t in a rush, but the fact that I was asking that question of, “how long until she’s okay?”…naïve. So naïve. And disrespectful.

Now I understand that there is no “I’m all better!” stage, that it stays with you. Reading all these incredibly brave stories has been enlightening in that way. Brutally so.

And I have no idea if she will ever read this, but I’m apologizing for my frame of mind and for thinking in such a way. I’m sorry. I understand a fraction more now — at least enough to not wait for someone to “come to terms with what happened” ever again.

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I like to think of myself as a man who is, above all else, good and safe, in the most serious meanings of those words. And yet I carried a way of thinking that wasn’t understanding of the fear that women live in every day. So who knows what you’ll uncover if you just listen to the stories and soundbites going around from these strong women.

I’m just here to support my friends in what they’re saying and to right a wrong in myself – hopefully it’ll highlight some wrongs in others. We only get somewhere by being honest, right? And thank you to all my female friends for sharing what they have (and friends of those friends whom I’ve never met).

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Go to Twitter and read the posts with #YesAllWomen. They speak volumes and sadly the amount of stories could fill volumes, too. See what you find in yourself. You probably won’t like it. You will probably feel uncomfortable. You will probably feel guilty. I know I did/do.