Most men don’t abuse women. The problem that we need to talk about, though, is the men who know abusers — and never confront them.
Let’s talk about fatigue for a second. Not tiredness. Not even exhaustion. Fatigue is less physical than it is emotional. It’s Sisyphus back at the beginning with his ball, staring up that ramp, knowing he was this fucking close and that’s exactly as close as he’s ever gonna be. Fatigue hasn’t snuffed out his ability, but it’s damn close to bodying his resolve.
It’s also the word that best describes what we’ve been feeling recently.
Three times this week already, with who knows how many more to come, we’ve seen women come forward to share their experiences — no, call it what it is, their abuse — at the hands and whims of men who want things from them. Men in the worlds of media and entertainment, men in our world of media and entertainment, men who have accumulated some measure of power and respect. Men who have, by multiple accounts, wielded that power and respect not to lift but to take.
Whether that taking involves sexual coercion in any of its disgusting flavors or something more insidious, it’s all rooted in the same presumption. A man wants something that a woman has — her body, her attention, her loyalty — and decides it’s his by right. As though it can be his. As though it’s something given at all, rather than shared.
Being a man who does the right thing — and if you want to use the word “ally” here, that’s fine — involves both not-doing and doing. You don’t do the bad stuff? Congratulations. But you, we, need to do the good stuff too.
What happens after that varies. When that man has accumulated some measure of power and respect, a woman may feel like she has no recourse. She tells her friends, or maybe she doesn’t. Maybe she blames herself. Maybe she confronts the man, who threatens and gaslights and tells her that it was her fault or that no one will believe her. Maybe he does…