Dear Men, Sexual Harassment is Not Funny

With the #MeToo movement you would’ve thought that men would be more careful when it comes to making jokes and comments about sexism and sexual harassment, but no.

So I thought I’d write these men that I’ve encountered recently, a letter, to tell them how their words have affected me.

There’s a guy at badminton who thinks it’s funny to say “oh that’s a bit sexist” and then immediately look at me for my reaction and make me look like a fool in front of everyone.

This older man knows that these things aren’t sexist, but for some reason he’s offended by my feminist views, which is just stupid because feminism is as much for men as it is for women. It’s about equality but some people are too dumb to realise that. 

To the guys that use #MeToo in a joke or say things like “she looked at me like I was going to sexually harass her”, would you say to a black man that another black man had “looked at you like you were going to enslave him?” No, you wouldn’t. Or at least I’d like to think you wouldn’t. But maybe that’s because you feel more superior to women, but to feel like that about black people is a lot more socially unacceptable.

You seem to think that it’s ok to dumb down women’s experiences and that you have some sort of power over them and that it’s ok to make these kinds of jokes even though you, as a man, have no idea the fear that women have and have always had since they were a little girl about men, their strength and the threat of being sexually assaulted. So your comment, which may have been light humoured and meant as a joke, is actually very damaging and offensive. 

Are you not a brother, a father, a husband or a son to a woman? 

Making light of something that is so important and in the forefront of our society at the moment shows that you either don’t believe these women, you don’t care about them or you just like to throw your big balls around to show that your privilege, as a white man, is more powerful than any woman. I’m guessing this makes you feel better and inflates your sense of self even more, but you need to stop it.

A few years ago an ex-colleague of mine pretended to do me from behind, in front of everyone, but I didn’t know about it until the next day. You making these comments are basically saying that it’s ok for men to do this because “it’s a joke”. 

And it was just last week in a restaurant that a guy on his own kept staring at me menacingly and made me feel so uncomfortable that I had to speak to a waiter about it.

Next time you want to make a sexist or stupid remark, think first “would I say this to a black person about race?”.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the guts or the confidence to say how I felt at the time because of my own issues with thinking that my voice isn’t important. But I’m learning (thanks to my therapist) that I need to make sure that my voice is heard and to challenge these people.

It’s not going to be easy, because I tend to shy away from confrontation and unpleasantness, but this is too important to not talk about.