I’m really, really tired of explaining to stroppy men that I am not attacking them when I write about misogyny and sexual assault. Somehow, despite the thousands of MPs, doctors, directors, actors and comedians being outed as abusive by women, this has become a debate about ‘attacking men.’
Guys, I love you. Legit. I can’t believe I have to point that out. But if your first response to institutional gender abuse is ‘what about me' you are part of the problem. Yes. I’m sure you never groped a woman at a conference. Well done. Cool, you’d never have sex with a woman who was under your care. But by denying our right to discuss how widespread this is, you are saying your assumption of innocence matters more than our right to justice.
This isn’t just a few creeps. I wish you knew how categorically frightening it can be to inhabit the female body. What do you do to protect yourself from rape when you go out? Who do you call when a man follows you home? How often do you get changed before you go out to avoid sexual attention? What streets do you prefer to walk home on after a football game? When was the last time you asked your strongest, most macho friend to escort you home? How often have you lied about your address after a date so you don’t get pressured into sex? How often have you pretended to have a girlfriend to avoid being harassed? When have you had to call the police over a rape threat? When have you hid in the club toilets from a sexually aroused drunk? Do you feel sexually threatened when your lecturer or senior editor locks his office door behind you without asking?
If you still respond to this with ‘not all men' just know that it isn’t just directors and evil serial rapists. Most rape and sexual assault occurs between individuals known to each other. It isn’t the monster in the dark alley way, it is George in HR, Uncle Solly, Jack in Fresher’s week and you. Yes, you.
The friend we trusted but still groped us when you were drunk or secretly kept our nudes shared by a disgruntled ex boyfriend. The nice guy. The feminist who really cares about women but still called me a bitch when I asked you to stop ‘accidentally' brushing against my breasts. If you are terrified of being ‘criminalised' for this instead of maybe reflecting on changing your behaviour then you are exactly the guy I want to challenge.
So yes. All men. All men, no matter how progressive and kind, need to think about how women are treated and how they interact with them.
End the snowflakery of your ‘feelings’.