Where are the men that know what they did is horrible?
There’s something missing in the deluge of discussion about sexual assault.
We struggle with the defiant denying of wrongdoing. We boil over in rage at the dismissal of victims. We loathe the smug faces of men who swat away accusations from the air like the accusers are mere pests to be done away with. The justification of actions attributed to boys being boys.
I laid in bed last night trying to finally process the events of the last week in order to get to the point where I stop thinking about it. One thing kept coming to the surface:
There is one voice we don’t hear. I have scoured the internet trying to find it. I have come up empty. It’s better that it we don’t hear it but I know it’s out there.
It’s the voice of the men that have watched this circus and are hit by the realization that THEY are one of THEM.
They have committed sexual assault.
If there are millions of women who have been sexually assaulted, there are millions of men that did it. I can’t believe that every single one of them has lived their lives as horrible monsters of human beings.
They are the men that would not deny what they did and that it was wrong. They would not ask a Senate Committee to defend them.
Just as women are coming to their own realizations about being victims, assailants are having the same realization. I imagine a man sitting in his living room, watching this coverage and thinking back to his own high school or college days and it striking a chord.
He did this. That there is some woman out there that feels the same way as these scores of women. And it’s his fault.
Let me be absolutely clear. I am not accepting what this hypothetical man may have done. I am not saying it’s okay. I am not saying that he should not feel like a terrible and horrible human in the process of his realization.
What I am saying is that my concern lies in the man processing this himself. So, if you are reading this and you woke up today struggling with being one of the bad guys, I have some words for you.
You can’t take it back. You can’t undo it. But, if you could, you would. In a fractured, broken heartbeat. You must live with this and that is your lot in life.
Being sorry is the best you can do. You can’t change history. Let your acknowledgement be your start but don’t finish there.
Do something with your realization. Steep yourself in it. Be compassionate. Be humane. Stand up for women. Essentially, now that you know you were part of the problem, be part of the solution. Teach your sons well. Speak respect.
Lastly, talk to someone. Find help. Confide. Seek a professional. Be obligated to populate the world with better men. Actively be one of the good guys now. No one is going to make you feel better. That’s not our job.
Forgiveness will never come to you. You will not be absolved. If your shame needs to be reconciled, it’s on you. Just do the work. Carry the weight.
Mostly likely, we will never hear from these men. I don’t think it is within human nature to out oneself for public shame. But, my fool heart and forgiving soul allows me to understand that everyone needs and is deserving of healing.