#MeToo: When Good Men Do Nothing
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
You may not know who is responsible for this quote (Edmund Burke, an Irish political philosopher), but I’m sure you’ve come across it at some point in your life. As a man, I guarantee you’ve even taken a few seconds to internalize it and came to the conclusion that you are one of these “good men.”
Like many good men, we tend to share a few common traits:
- We treat others how we want to be treated
- We try our best to practice empathetic listening
- We are not always the most confrontational people
- We learn from our mistakes
- We always respect women (or so we think)
Like most men who respect women, I have my mother to thank.
Growing up, she instilled a sense of fairness and empathy that later translated to a certain level of comfort when communicating with women. Admittedly, most of my interactions aired on the passive side, playing it safe rather than being too aggressive.
Thanks to both of my parents, I also have an inherent sense of self-worth that isn’t tied to the opinions of others. Personally, I think this plays an important role in my friendships and relationships with women.
As men, society teaches us to be strong, assertive, and that we should aggressively go after what we want, both in our personal and professional lives. This inevitably leads to some amount of rejection.
In my opinion, rejection can be healthy.
However, for others who don’t have that intrinsic self-worth I was talking about, rejection can be a little more cutting. It can lead to lashing out in the form of verbal abuse (calling someone a “bitch” for rejecting you) or worse.
Unfortunately, society also has taught women to act in the exact opposite manner. They are encouraged to let men pursue them instead of taking initiative. It’s no wonder the institution of dating is fundamentally flawed.
At the same time, you can’t blame society on the ugly, misogynistic actions of men who don’t know how to handle hurt feelings and care too much about the validation of others.
Honestly, sexual harassment is systemic and the appropriate response isn’t always crystal clear.
This lack of clarity has always been an issue for good men.
I have never experienced rape, physical assault, or even overly-aggressive behavior towards women.
What I have witnessed is a combination of unwanted physical touch, sexually-loaded jokes, and hurtful comments at the expense of others. For many men, these pale in comparison to other, more extreme cases. However, if I had to guess, these cases are probably more commonplace. These are the examples that eventually add up.
As an attempt to make things marginally better, here are a few ways in which good men can help create solutions instead of adding to the problem:
- Don’t let your discomfort outweigh the discomfort of others. Whether it’s a friend or a stranger, say something. Do something. Even if it means taking a punch.
- Speak out against this type of behavior at work, in your friend group, or wherever you have influence.
- Learn to love yourself. As humans, we undoubtedly seek belongingness. However, don’t let your self-worth be directly tied to others. Seek validation from your thoughts and ideas instead of your sexual attraction.
- Stop and truly think about the golden rule. In all honesty, how would you feel about a constant barrage of unwanted attention, day in, day out?
- Honestly, if you have to, start masturbating more. I know this sounds like a joke, but the lethargy that comes after may help you think with your head and your heart instead of your dick.
After seeing the sheer number of women (and men) who have been impacted by the ugly actions of others, it’s time for us to do something. Inaction was, and still is, unacceptable.
It won’t always be easy or comfortable to make the right choice. In many cases, it will take all of the courage and empathy you have.