An Anonymous writer responds to Inter:Mission’s recent article on the difficulties of being a ‘Good Guy’ in the #MeToo era. CW: reference to sexual violence and harassment.
The #MeToo movement is a viral campaign against sexual assault and violence that has empowered people of all genders to speak openly about their difficult experiences, report their abusers and show solidarity with others who have been abused. In the wake of #MeToo, a parallel hashtag has also arisen: #HimToo. #HimToo is considered the antithesis of #MeToo. It caters for men, the ‘good guys’, who are worried about being falsely accused of sexual misconduct. #HimToo is a fear mongering campaign which trivializes the problems of assault and violence and takes the focus off of survivors. It vastly overemphasizes the prevalence of false accusations, with false claims only occurring in approximately 2 to 10 per cent of cases in an already underreported crime.
The author writes that ‘men have been made well aware’ of the ‘new code of conduct written for men to adhere to so to avoid offending the opposite gender’. This new code of conduct he discusses is simply the act of respecting women. If men have been made so acutely aware of this then they should have no problems with navigating their interactions with women.
Additionally, the author problematically reduces the issues surrounding the #MeToo movement to merely men’s fears of false harassment accusations when asking women out. Women have every right to be on the defence when 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of sexual assault at university.
The author states that the #MeToo movement has lead to men ‘internalizing their emotions rather than expressing them as the risk of being seen as acting inappropriately has become greater’. This fallacy connects men’s emotions with their urges to ask women out. Equating sexual desire with freedom of expression is dangerous. Of course, men should be encouraged to express their emotions in order to combat toxic masculinity and male mental health problems. However, this should not occur at the expense of others and the feelings of one person should not be privileged over the safety of others. Sorry to state the obvious, but women do not owe men anything. When a man approaches a woman, being respectful should be a requirement, not a bonus. I completely acknowledge that not all men harass and assault women, but sadly it is not hyperbolic to assume that most women have experienced, at a minimum, one uncomfortable moment of harassment with a man. Whilst men may want to use their time at university to ‘experiment with all aspects of themselves’, women will be using that time trying to stay safe.
I am exhausted from policing men’s behaviour. I am tired of hearing anecdotes from friends about a man taking a woman home after the woman has gotten too drunk and hearing him being praised for not making a move because he’s such a ‘good guy’. I am sick of being expected to congratulate men for doing the bare minimum.
I will most definitely not wait for men to ‘figure out’ what behaviour is acceptable when interacting with women. I am bored of reading articles with oversimplistic, unnuanced and essentialist views on issues which effect marginalised genders.
It has never been, and certainly not in 2019, a scary time to be a man.
Illustration by Rosa Stevens.