It is not that difficult. Empathy, that is. All you need is to feel for the person who is injured, hurt, or violated, or molested and terrorized. But somehow not all men are behind the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and voice their support for women who have had to face abuse of power by men. But I am assuming not all of these men are molesters themselves. So why aren't they in support?
In order to invoke this feeling of revolt in men a lot of women say something along the lines of: “Don’t you have a mother?”, or “Don’t you have a sister?” or "What if this were to happen to your mother?” Now, let me tell you. Stop saying that. Because clearly it is not working. And it is not working with some reason..
Have you ever seen in a movie where a guy gets kicked in the groin? Now all men cringe upon seeing such scenes. They physically show that they feel for the man that is shown to be hurt. I, on the other hand, have no such reaction. I am very empathetic person, but I just can’t relate to this injury, this pain.
Something similar happened last week that made me think of this: During a baseball game, the catcher for the Cardinals, Yadier Molina, was struck by a foul ball in the groin. (It was bad. He needed to have surgery, and has to rest for the rest of the month). Again for men, it was traumatizing just watching this. But it didn't affect me the way it did men. And if in that moment someone had said, “Don’t you have a father?”, it still wouldn’t have made any difference at all.
So, for women, for these movements of #MeToo and #TimesUp to really catch up with all men and create change, I think one of the first steps is to make men realize for one, that it is all about power. When someone molests you, violates you, it is because they can; they are powerful and they are exerting their power. And, secondly, that it can happen to them too. Instead of saying, "What if it’s your Mother?", we should say, "What if YOU were violated?"
In season 4 of the HBO series Veep, Jonah, a despicable character whom actually no one likes, faces a situation like this. One day, the Chief of Staff of the Vice President goes ahead and grabs Jonah's balls. A shocked Jonah can’t do anything about it. The scene is all about power. The Chief of Staff has power and does this because he can. The molested is powerless. Shocked. Violated, and also unable to do anything about it. His job, his success depends on his not reacting.
I don’t know any woman who hasn’t ever felt treated differently—unjustly—than if she had been a man. Who can’t say #MeToo? But I accept this doesn’t hold true for all men. Not all men have been harassed, to say it mildly, because of their sex. And they are an integral part of the solution to the problem (as men are the ones who are doing the harassing anyway).
The solution lies in showing that sexual harassment happens to men too. And it has to be portrayed in television and film and all types of fiction and media that male sexual harassment occurs not only in say, prison scenes, or in some kind of actions by sadists who are just innately perverse, or in some connection to retribution. It has to be portrayed in small ways, in ordinary daily instances, like in the way that Jonah in Veep experiences, as a type of power exertion that it is, so that given your job and your future being on the line, even a physically big person cannot defend oneself, or even say anything to anybody.
We need to make men realize how unjust it all feels. Not only because it can happen to their mother, sister, or daughter, but also because it can happen to them too. That they too can feel powerless in a situation beyond their control.
We definitely need to change the game.
With thanks to Lusitto, Frank, David and Hernan for the photograph. No men were harmed during the staging and capture of this image.