Dear men who have never assaulted a woman,

First of all, relax. Men who have assaulted women are vultures. The women who call them out are brave. The act of sexual assault is more painful for the woman to endure than your fear of being accused unjustly.

If you have never sexually assaulted a woman, good for you and us. But many of you have. Or think you have. Or might have. Or at least once you didn’t ask before you pushed onward, removed clothing, touched where you should not have. And there was your error. And here is your fear. Will she tell anyone?

Yes, we are telling someone now. We are telling each other. We are helping each other through the pain by talking about it. But don’t defend an obvious predator because you fear being accused. Don’t deny the voice of the victim, and disregard all women who call out a man’s actions. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by lying about this. It happened. We carried on. We survived. We are stronger together.

But he still did it.

So. The innocent among you don’t need for me to tell you to relax, because you already are relaxed. Keep an open mind, and so will we. It is natural for women to believe other women, because the crime is so prevalent. Really. And it is natural for most men to believe the accused who deny, especially for a man who has personal doubt in his own past actions.

If you’ve always respected women. If you’ve taught your sons to do so. If you have behaved as though women should not be treated as pawns, used for your pleasure and tossed aside. If all these ifs apply to you? Relax.

But consider the math. So many women, easily more than half of them, have been threatened or groped or raped, or leered at, or abused. It make us feel horrible. And if half of us have suffered this, half of you did it. Simple math.

I do not want this to continue to be the societal norm. I do not want my granddaughters to suffer. Speak up, women. Innocent men, relax. Guilty men, there is nowhere to hide.

Teach your girls to be brave. Teach your boys to be gentlemen.

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One thought on “Dear men who have never assaulted a woman,

  1. This is a very complex issue. It is an issue that needs to be discussed, but probably will never be adequately discussed. There are also a lot of long term societal consequences – some intended and others not intended. I think the topic need to be discussed it openly, intelligently, and respectfully. I am not sure what the right forum is, but since you have made this post, I will make a comment here.

    Here are just a few of the issues that should be discussed and considered:

    1. False accusations. False accusations do occur and for the accused, this can have permanently devastating consequences on a career and a person’s life. The accused is assumed to be guilty just because they have been accused, and there is no way to prove oneself innocent in the eyes of the public. The reality is that accusations have been weaponized for political and/or personal purposes.

    2. What happens after someone accuses someone else of sexual misconduct? This is a big issue. Fortunately, this is often discussed in the public forum, but it is not yet clear that any improvements have resulted. It is hard to accuse someone else of impropriety, and there is a price to pay for the person making the allegations. Certainly many victims of sexual misconduct are unwilling to come forward, and this is also a problem.

    2. We humans need to examine the entire courtship dance. The line between what is clearly acceptable and what is clearly unacceptable is not a sharply defined line. For the most part, the line has been drawn by women, but there is not universal agreement among women where the line is. And even with individual women, the line can shift depending on that individual’s particular mood that particular moment.

    3. As a society, we have emasculated a lot of men who have become so afraid that they might be accused of some sexual misconduct that they have just withdrawn from the game completely. Women need to think about how they want to signal to their potential male partners that they are inviting them to participate in the courtship dance.

    4. As a society, we have a lot of conflicting messages about what is or is not acceptable sexual behavior. How do we learn what is acceptable and what is not?

    5. There is a lot of blaming of men in the feminist press, and has been for a long time now. Much of this has been positive in that it has forced men to re-examine their own behaviors and to modify it appropriately when appropriate. What is not often in evidence is an examination in that same feminist press of the role of women in these issues. Women are not blameless. Women have a role in creating the sexual mores of our society. I think this is a hot button issue, and probably women, for the most part, are not ready to accept or even examine how, collectively women also have been responsible for how we got here..

    6. Where and how do we expect children to learn what is and is not appropriate sexual behavior? And who should decide what is and isn’t appropriate sexual behavior? These are important issues for our society, but as a society we have done a poor job of addressing it. There are a lot of conflicting messages about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. The reality is, as a society, we have not addressed this. Is there any wonder that the line gets crossed when nobody is sure where the line is or even if there is a line at all?

    I see a lot of the issues. I don’t have the answers, but I think I know some of the questions. I think you are right to bring up this issue, but I think you are looking at it only from one perspective, and more perspectives are necessary if we as a society ever hope to address the issues. I am not saying that your perspective is invalid or wrong. In fact, I agree with much of it, maybe even all of it. But I think it is incomplete.

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