Alternative Facts: On Male Abuse

Alternative Facts returns.
By    October 17, 2017


Art by Rhododendrites

Israel Daramola turned pyrex stirs into Cavalli furs. 

[Ed.- The country seems to be disintegrating at a remarkable pace. Every day brings a fresh deluge of horror. In Alternative Facts, Israel Daramola pauses for a second to look back and take stock of the previous week to ten days. There’s danger in retreating into a shell and letting it wash over you; it’s important to catalogue each new, impossible wrong.]

When I was in college, a female friend of mine told me that I was too touchy of a person. Literally. She’d relayed to me stories from other women who felt uncomfortable with my habit of touching them by rubbing their shoulders, grabbing their arms, or hugging them for too long. In my mind I thought I was just being friendly; but being friendly was the problem. I didn’t respect boundaries because I saw myself as innocent—a nice guy. I was not going to take advantage of them, I thought, so I believed my behavior was naturally permissible. Shortly after hearing this, I changed behavior.

I became more aware of how I behaved around other women on campus because it hurt to know that these women saw my behavior differently than intended. This was not, however, my first response to this news. My first response was defensiveness because of course it was. Men who see themselves as the exception to other men will always choose defense over self examination. More than wanting to be better I wanted these women to be wrong about me, to be mistaken. Even worse, it bothered me that these women whispered amongst themselves rather than talk to me about it personally. I would’ve been receptive I thought; I’m one of the good ones. They could’ve come to me. This was a callous and shortsighted opinion on my part.

There is no reason for a woman to feel comfortable around any man in our society unless there is a great deal of trust between the two. A trust that—no matter how well intentioned I thought I was—I had not earned. Once the rush to defensiveness subsided, I knew there was no one else to blame but myself for my wrong behavior.

This has been a week in which the horrifying, traumatic stories of women in the entertainment and media industry have been center stage. Snowballing from the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse of power as a Hollywood player to women sharing their stories of harassment and abuse by bosses, musicians, actors, fellow employees, notable media members, and comedians, the past week has been a harrowing ordeal of the permitted evil carried out by men in the shadows their privilege and power has afforded them.

The sexual abuse of women (and men) by the men in charge have been the topic of conversation. No one would’ve predicted, though, that Weinstein’s charges would cause a domino effect and lead to the outing and discussion of the sexual abuse rampant throughout media. The whispers have turned into shouts and it’s made plenty of people nervous. There has been skepticism towards most of these stories because there always is. People are rarely capable of outright believing the stories of women, regardless of how progressive they paint themselves as. It’s easier to believe in a lie than embrace the sinister truth of the evil around us.

I have spent a large part of this week being surprised that I could still be surprised about stories of abusive men under our noses, within the same circles, smiling at your face. I am disappointed and I admit I wish I didn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard over the years, but I believe all of them. The false accusation is so much of an outlier yet has been propped up like a boogeyman to counter the very real narrative of men who abuse, plunder, and put people in danger because they can get away with it. I own up to my bad behavior in the hopes that other men read this and actually evaluate how they behave around women: whether it be in school, work, bars/clubs, the gym, or just on the street.

Being a man oftentimes means never having to consider the effect your behavior has on the people around you but now the time for excuses is done and the time to actually change your actions begins. Women should be believed, men should be held accountable and it’s time for us to fucking be better.

In Other News:

Trump is still bad.

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