Some Things You Can Say When You Realize Every Woman You Know is Mad That You Didn't Say a Damn
So, look my dudes. I know this is tricky. I know it's not easy to talk about sexual assault and sexual harassment. I know it's hard to acknowledge having any part in it. I know it can be hard to come up with the right thing to say. I know that many of you had the best of intentions when you chose to say nothing rather than risk saying the wrong thing. But dudes? YOU GOTTA SAY SOMETHING. Because as we were all baring our souls and begging for acknowledgment of these painful shared experiences, here's what we heard from 99% of you:
And, uh. That felt awful. In part because we felt exposed and unsupported--a feeling that is ALL TOO FAMILIAR when it comes to sexual abuse and harassment--and in part because it was hard to tell if anyone was listening at all.
It felt like screaming into the void. As usual.
A few of you did speak up and acknowledge these terrible experiences that all women have gone through, and for that I'm grateful. But so, so many of you said nothing. And that sucked. SO. Lemme help you out, my dudes. Next time a woman tells you about something awful that happened to them (or the next time pretty much every woman you know tells you about something awful that happens to all of us), don't ignore. Don't say nothing. Don't scroll on by.
Try one of these handy-dandy cheater lines. Everyone will feel a lot better. (Especially if you mean what you say.) “I don’t know what to say, but I want you to know I support you.” “I don’t know what to say right now, but I’ll keep trying to find the right words. In the meantime, I see you and I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this.”
“I hear you.” “I believe you.”
“You’re not alone.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“That must have been so difficult to experience.”
“How can I help?”
“I will do what I can to help end the patriarchal system that has facilitated the abuse and harassment of every woman I know.” “This is horrifying and I promise to say something if I ever hear or see any of this behavior.”
“Dude, that’s awful.” “I have done these things. I won’t do them any more.” “I will teach my sons that it is not okay to treat women like this.” “I promise to treat women like people.” “I’m sorry.”
“I’ll do better”
“I will fight with you.”
“I stand with you.”
“I want things to change, too.”
“I will do everything I can to stop this.”
“I haven’t spoken up before; I will now.” “It didn’t hit me how far-reaching this is until my entire Facebook and Twitter and Instagram feeds were completely and entirely filled with ‘me too’ and finally I thought, ‘OH.’”
“Thank you for being willing to do the intense emotional labor of rehashing every instance of harassment or abuse you’ve ever experienced in order to point out to me and people like me that yes it really is all women and that these experiences are brutal.”
Or, really, literally say anything at all that doesn’t add to the harassment and abuse we experience. ANYTHING.
Anything at all. Now would be good.
Hello? Is this thing on?
P.S. We'd also really love it if you took some action. Read this fantastic Op-Ed by Smartner Alex Miller, and then help us dismantle the patriarchy. We literally need you to do it.