Men Must Stand Up and Admit, I Did That
Where are the men who admit to contributing to rape culture?
By John Harris
I’m glad to see women showing unity, yet sad seeing men cower. I’ve been thinking about this all week. The truth is, change has been glacial, no matter how many women speak out and protest. Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Anthony Weiner, Tim Murphy, Harvey Weinstein, and the predator in chief Donald Trump. That’s just the last year, the most publicized and egregious cases. We all know Trump still won the presidency. Each one refused to take full responsibility and victim-blamed the women they assaulted.
1 in 3 women are the victims of sexual assault or rape.
100% will be sexually harassed.
Women are great at revealing their stories of trauma, supporting one another, and displaying the courage that they are not alone.
But there is a huge voice missing. I’m not talking about men voicing condolences. I’m talking about men admitting to rape.
1 in 3 women.
That means every single woman is friends with at least one rapist.
We love to vilify Trump and other predators, but they are just the product of our culture, not diabolical evil geniuses. Mountains of evidence, voice recordings, dozens of sworn testimony, rape kits and still male privilege is unbreakable.
Or perhaps it’s just that fragile.
If men were serious about supporting women and had the strength to be more than their fragile ego, they would stand up and admit their complicity. Yet, we are more afraid of appearing weak than sincerely ending these vicious assaults on women. Every single man has an excuse, no different than these predators, each believing themselves the hero claiming to never do such terrible things.
Then, where are all the rapists? More importantly, are you men sure you really know what consent and sexual assault look like?
Most rape is committed by people the victim knows. Much of it unreported, dismissed, and discouraged as we shame women for claiming rape in the first place.
Where are the men admitting contribution to that culture?
Nowhere, because they fear reprisal. Male privilege means being more frightened of being labeled undesirable than actually displaying the integrity that a woman must, standing tall in defiance of her rapist.
The only way for our culture to change and for our men to learn not to rape is to own it. Stop putting your fragile insecurity ahead of the victims we create. Women do not trust us, fearing for their safety for good reason. We act like cowards. Justifying your fragile sense of honor with “Back in the 60’s…” “It was just 20 mins of action” “Men can’t help themselves” “She wasn’t that drunk” “Locker room talk”.
Bullshit. You just don’t want to own your guilt.
So allow me now to do what our president and Hollywood’s most powerful man are too weak to say.
I raped her. True, I didn’t understand consent back then, but that certainly doesn’t lessen the revulsion of her trauma. The trauma that I inflicted upon her. The trauma she has carried since that night. The trauma that I only recently realized. I feel shame and disgust at myself, yet it’s pathetic compared to the shame and disgust I made her feel for herself. I did that. I made her feel small and powerless. I robbed her of her safety and violated not just her body, but her entire identity. I chose not to see because my needs were more important than hers. I saw her as an object for my pleasure. Less than human. A slave to my will. I did that.
I could apologize and plead, cajole everyone into believing it was a mistake, a misunderstanding, that it will never happen again, yet she put that same trust in me the night I raped her. Words are meaningless, like the word “No” in my ear the night I did that. Our actions define us and mine deeply brutalized a partner I ignored. Her pain will forever humble my best intentions and most poetic apologies, so I will hold nothing back that I might carry but a sliver of her torment. Feeling that fear, outed as a rapist, with shame in my heart: this is the only honor I can possibly claim.
She now carries the burden of my ignorance, the vanity of my privilege, and the agony of my cruel arrogance. This is the world I have helped create. I did this. I raped her.
(To be clear this was not entirely for example. Violating consent, thus rape and sexual assault comes in many forms. Being intoxicated beyond good judgement, pressured in an unsafe situation, using physical force, emotional manipulation, a sleeping partner, situational intimidation, professional inequity, and on and on, none of which require your knowing intent. She will still be raped even if you claim ignorance.)
Men must learn the nuance of consent.
But in order to learn, we must own what we’ve done.
Men must stand up and admit, I did that.
To see a story about rape and reconciliation, look here.