It always starts with flowers...
I recently read an exchange between a new friend of mine and a man, who is a total stranger to her, who wanted her to send him pictures. She's a model, so that's kind of like walking into a business and demanding goods or services gratis. She was polite and explained as much to him. At first, he tried to be charming, which failed miserably. It escalated ... and you can guess how it ended.
With him calling her everything but a child of God.
This was a textbook example EVERY SINGLE WOMAN can relate to. A random cis guy starts out charming, gets rejected, and acts out.
This happens EVERYWHERE. To EVERY WOMAN. Online and off.
Yes, guys, it happens to YOUR woman, too. Your mother. Your sister. Your nana. Your best friend. Maybe she tells you, maybe she doesn't, but it has happened, it is currently happening and, more likely than not, it will happen again. And it shouldn't.
I'm never offended if a woman doesn't trust me off the bat. Nor do I ever put women in awkward situations.
I apologize for my gender, ladies.
It must make you so very weary and distrustful of men — and rightfully so.
Male Fragility is real. We all have fallen victim to it or continue to do it (#YesAllMen). We benefit from the privilege of living in a Cis Male Supremacist Society. Living this way, treating women like they aren't whole human beings, isn't "manly," it's a weak man's idea of strength.
I don't care how many p*ssies you grab. It makes you an abuser, not a macho stud. Your entitlement is not a virtue.
I am ashamed of men who continue to act in this manner and I call out those out I see engaging in this kind of behavior.
But I'm no angel. At one time in my life, I also acted like random women I encountered owed me something just because I found them attractive.
I know how f*cked up we cis men can be when we're trying to impress the rest of The Pack. I was like this at one time, as we all were (again, #YesAllMen — and you too, Mr. Man-Bun).
ALL men have presumed upon a woman with advances that were unwelcome, tiresome and unwanted. We've all acted the fool at some time because we felt humiliated, but that's no excuse. We should do better.
I feel you, ladies.
Sadly, I know one day my daughter will join you in being harassed on a daily basis, and that at any time, anywhere, it can escalate past irksome. It can lead to violence. You can look up the shocking statistics of violence against women and girls and see that for yourself.
I, along with other men, perpetuate this climate whenever we engage in it or allow it within our sphere of influence.
I'm a Black Man in America. I'm part of an oppressed group. But as a cis straight male, I share in unearned privileges in this society.
Both things can be and are true.
Ladies, It takes courage to deal with our Fragile Male Bullshit day in and day out. I applaud you for not giving up on us.
You men sitting there reading this smugly or nodding your head in denial and outrage, whether you agree or not, try to imagine being in ANY woman's shoes for just one typical day. Sure, women are strong. They have to be smarter and tougher than any man ever could be in order to live and thrive within the Patriarchy.
And please know, it's not my intention to demean women, nor am I assuming or stating that all women are victims.
But daily harassment and unwanted romantic or sexual advances are serious microaggressions that WE, as cis straight males, don't have to deal with.
(Let's not even get into pay inequity, which impacts both men and women, or the way women's health care is ruled over by men.)
Imagine, if you will, never knowing when some random will interrupt your flow for no reason other than that he felt he had the right to speak to you. Because HE wants to.
Picture yourself having to put earbuds in your ears or talking on your phone to no one just so you can walk in through a park or sit on a train undisturbed.
Imagine that, because of the hour, you have to strategically think through which way you'll walk home after a party.
Or not being able to doze on a train or having to pay particular attention what route the Uber guy is taking or worrying if he starts to get too friendly.
Think for a moment about having to ditch any drink you had to leave unattended for a period of time, no matter how brief.
Feel what it would be like to walk down the street knowing that, no matter how polite you are, the potential exists for some random dude who wants to show off or thinks he's cute to catcall you — and then call you a "Stuck Up C*nt" or a "Bitch" for rejecting him. Or maybe he'll impede your path. Or threaten you. Or worse.
I'm so sorry ladies. All I can do at this point is raise my awareness and learn more from you about the practical ways I can be of help.
Please assist me in doing so. I need to stay woke to the real struggles women face daily so I can do better and raise my young son to be a better man than I was.
Keep your heads up, ladies. The struggle is real, I know you're not crazy, and I wish for all of you the day when you can wear whatever you want where ever you are without a fuck to give — and men will treat you with due respect.
To the day you can be whoever you are, whatever your profession is, and have no one presume "you asked for it". I promise I'll do whatever I can to help that day come about.
A Man Who Gets It
This article was originally published at Facebook. Reprinted with permission from the author.