It has been a rough couple of weeks.
I was supposed to write an article about the best television shows written by women, but wow, does that seem beside the point now.
Last week, sexual misconduct allegations against comedian Louis C.K. were reported. According to The New York Times, five women claim that Louis C.K. asked if he could masturbate in front of them, and he actually did so in some instances.
This came only a couple hours after The Washington Post published an article about a woman who says that Roy Moore, the current Republican nominee in Alabama for the U.S. Senate, initiated sexual encounters with her when she was 14 years old and he was 32.
The same article also details the stories of many other women who had similar encounters with Moore.
And as everyone knows, these accusations come amid the recent surge of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men, such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey.
Now is the part of the article where I’m supposed to say something about how great it is that women are speaking out and how we must learn from this to stop or even just reduce how often sexual misconduct happens.
But everyone already knows that.
Is there a word for feeling disgusted, defeated and unsurprised, all at the same time? Because that’s how I feel.
I know that you’re not supposed to say that you feel defeated. You’re supposed to use your outrage to inspire action. You’re supposed to be disgusted enough to call for a change.
But how else am I supposed to feel about this besides defeated? From Anita Hill to #MeToo, what has really changed?
Women tell their stories. People are outraged. Maybe a social media movement spawns from it that makes women feel empowered for just a moment. And then what? We forget about it. We move on. We wait for the next accusation, because there will be one.
So yes, I feel defeated.
And I think that’s because the solution doesn’t lie with the women. Women know this is happening. Women are the ones speaking out, running organizations and being affected by this every single day.
The solution has to come from the men.
They’re the main culprits, so they are the ones that need to change their behavior. I honestly don’t know what makes some men think that these actions are acceptable, but maybe — and here’s a radical idea — just don’t do it.
If you feel like masturbating while talking on the phone with someone without their permission, don’t.
If you want to have sex with someone but you know they’ll only do it if you threaten them, don’t.
If you feel like coming on to a 14-year-old because you know you can take advantage of her naivety, don’t.
Just be a decent person. I’m not asking you to be a great person or even a good person. Just be decent. I’m fine with you being average because average people don’t take advantage of people in these ways.
And if you do feel like doing any of these things, go talk to a therapist or a doctor because there is something bigger bothering you and traumatizing someone else isn’t going to help anybody.
If you are a man, at this point of the article you might be thinking, “I’m not like that.” Well, good for you, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You need to condemn other men for their actions: call them out, shame them, don’t let them get away with it, offer support to the victims.
If you really find the actions disgusting, then do something about it. Women, unfortunately, can’t enact this change ourselves.
If we as a society decide that committing sexual misconduct has serious repercussions, then maybe, just maybe, we won’t read about women being taken advantage of by men of power every week.
This isn’t what I set out to write this week, but it’s what I felt I needed to say.