There are a lot of questions going around as of late, particularly in light of Dr. Catherine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Kavanaugh. (Blogger’s note for self-reference later: This post is written during the week the FBI conducts a week-long investigation in hopes of ascertaining something closer to the full truth.)
I prefer spending the space of my blog answering questions or elaborating upon thoughts that I’ve already had time to work through. If such a task of addressing today’s difficult matters were so easy though, I doubt we would still find ourselves stuck in our current social-political situation.
Instead, today I’d like to present a question, one that I’ve heard passed around and I’ve passed around myself in conversations regarding the news as of late: “Why…?”
Why are there such few [straight] men talking about this hearing on my social media feeds? Why do we not equip people—both men and women—with the language to talk about sexual assault? Why are we not discussing the subject of sexual harassment and assault more often?
I’ve presented a couple of these questions to a small number of folks, but haven’t received satisfactory answers for them yet.
Largely speaking, I know women have been talking about sexual harassment and assault far more in the past 12 months, but I feel this conversation still struggles to reach men in effective ways. There is comfort to be found in the viral, witty tweets of women across the internet, all promising to destroy the patriarchy in hilarious ways, but humor only serves as a temporary salve.
As a woman who feels unabashed about bringing these personal topics up with men, I want to know, from men: How can we talk about sexual harassment and assault—something that largely happens in a heterosexual relationship—in a way that brings you into the conversation without triggering your defensive instinct? How can we encourage you to start this conversation with your male peers?
Personally, I’m not discounting the instances in which men have told me that they individually believe Dr. Ford. But admitting this to a woman, me, in private, is not the same as bringing this up in a conversation with other men. I don’t think it’s enough just to know or believe you’re standing in a circle of men who also believe Dr. Ford and are otherwise in the same camp as you.
Women have experienced the trauma of sexual harassment and assault and lived their terror—but we’re still talking about it because somehow, the way that we’ve already acknowledged sexual harassment is still not enough to have men address this subject with similar anger.
I welcome any and all conversation about this. Would honestly like to just understand some more.