I’ve been talking about this for months, and frankly working up the courage to make this post.
I’m not going to express shock here, as so many men have done, and say that I was astonished to see the number of women sharing “me too” stories. Because I am NOT surprised by the number of women who have experienced harassment, assault, and derrogation. Not in any way.
I am not surprised, because I am a man. In this society. And I KNOW the things that men do. That we think are OK. That nobody calls us on. That harm the fabric of our society.
…That I have done.
Look, I try my very level best to be a forward thinking and aware person. But I KNOW I’ve done things that were not ok when I look back on them in retrospect. I want to own up to that here and now. I’m not going to pretend that things have not been done to me as well, and that all of us do not behave inappropriately… but those aren’t mine to own.
These? These are.
When I was with my first real girlfriend in high school, I remember distinctly saying that quintessential bullshit line. We’d been making out and petting and she was ready to stop and I was not.
I said “I can’t believe you’re going to leave me like this.”
… I said that.
I know I said that. I look back now with absolute abject cringing horror. I can cite all the hormones and bullshit and frankly anyone who was a teen knows that. But I should have known better. I SHOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER.
What is even worse is that I didn’t even realize I’d said something wrong, until a few weeks later when a mutual friend mentioned that I’d “pressed for sex” with her. I was floored, and my then-immature brain immediately went into defense mode, but thankfully some part of reality settled in and ate away at the walls.
Kim, I don’t think you’re going to read this, hopefully you did get my message… but know that I am sorry. I apologize for that action, it was wrong in every way. That put you in a terrible position… and thank you for being firm in your “no” because it reminded me to be a good person. I never apologized to you in person prior to today, and that too was wrong. I was a coward. I HAVE learned. I have tried to be better every day since then.
When I was a theater major in college, there were parties where I know that I said things that were over the line to people. I know it was pervasive enough that I do not remember incidents and things I said. I am sorry about that too… because it’s precisely that sort of thing which normalizes behavior and perpetuates the acceptance of that behavior.
I cannot apologize to you specifically and individually because it was pervasive enough that I DO NOT REMEMBER. And THAT horrifies me as well.
As recently as last summer, I was in a place where I feel comfortable and where I assume people are comfortable. It blinds me, and it dulls my perceptions.
I failed to see things going on that I should have. I failed to notice that there was undesired groping happening around me. I DID NOT SAY SOMETHING. I allowed things to go unchecked under my nose and did my own thing. It was not until someone came to me months later to say that they would not be returning to this event because they were not comfortable that I realized what was going on.
I will not mention your name because I know you are still navigating things, but I. Am. Sorry.
I am learning still. I am trying to do better. I am sorry I wasn’t there to make things better at that time, to reject things that were hurting us all.
My greatest horror is wondering. Wondering what I’ve done that I STILL DON’T THINK ABOUT.
Every day I interact with the world – trying my best, and trying to do better. I know that I have made mistakes… I will make mistakes. I will, however, try to reduce those. To fight the complacency. To improve. To challenge.
I am a man. I have been guilty of the same shit that every man I’ve ever met has.
WE. CAN. DO. BETTER.
We MUST do better.
Own your mistakes. Everyone, regardless of what they are. Learn from them. REALIZE THEY ARE MISTAKES.