My husband and I talk a lot. Every evening, we get home from work and we share the details of our days. He’s very loving and supportive of the work I do at CAPSA. However, sometimes he’ll comment or joke about all men being monsters.
I told him I watched #That’sHarassment PSA’s by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. I explained how uncomfortable I felt watching them, and it made me feel like I never wanted to be near a man again. After that comment he jokingly asked if that’s why I didn’t want to hug him when I got home.
Sometimes it seems like advocacy against sexual assault is advocacy against men. There has been a lot of discussion about Aziz Ansari and if the publicized sexual encounter with him was assault or not. On Twitter, there are women and men making comments such as, “If that’s assault then every woman I know has been assaulted.” In response to those comments some women are saying, “That’s exactly the point.”
The #YesAllWomen hashtag indicates that all men may not be abusers, but every woman has been abused or harassed within her lifetime. The #MeToo movement also had many women telling their stories of sexual harassment and unwanted advances. I was surprised when I read #MeToo stories written by my friends and family members.
Sexual assault and domestic violence are no small issues. 1 in 4 women nationally, and 1 in 3 women in Utah will be affected by abuse within their lifetimes. There are heart-wrenching, disturbing stories of abuse. Two notable examples are Warren Jeffs & the FLDS community and Larry Nassar’s abuse of more than 100 athletes.
This is a big deal, and I agree that #TimesUp and it’s time for women and men who have been abused to be heard, validated and liberated from fear. I also just want to emphasize that not all men are monsters. Not all men take advantage of a situation. Not all men are sexist and not all men are looking for a sexual favor in return for a kind act.
I want to thank the many men in my life who have kept me safe and made me feel safe.
First among them will always be my husband. He has never pressured me into anything. Before or after we got married, he understood and respected my feelings and desires. He accepted it if I needed space; he accepted it if I wasn’t in a cuddly mood and he never has asked me to do anything I may not want to or may feel uncomfortable with.
My co-workers have also made me feel safe. As a college student, Brandon was my boss. I knew he would always protect me if ever there was a need.
Also in college, I received a soccer jersey from Mexico with the bread sponsor, Bimbo, on the front. I liked the jersey so I decided to wear it. Though one man did ask me how others felt walking with a bimbo, the majority of men respected me and talked about how cool it was that I liked soccer and knew the team.
In high school, there was a classmate named Wyatt who ended a conversation when it became sexist. I was grateful for Wyatt and grateful for his desire to end the conversation instead of participating or speaking in hushed tones.
And still there’s my father, my father-in-law and all my brothers. There’s my current co-workers, and my neighbors. There are the kind strangers and grocery store workers who will cheerfully help you to your car when desired. Though the world can be a tough place, and abuse is prevalent, there are still so many wonderful, amazing men in the world, and they deserve a shout out.