#MeToo: For The Gentlemen

This post is for the men out there who want to be part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem. 

Every single woman I know has been sexually harassed and/or assaulted.

Every woman I know grips her keys or her phone a little tighter when walking somewhere at night. 

No matter what we wear, what we do, or how we exist in the world, being female automatically makes us targets for harassment and violence. 

The first time I remember being the target of unwanted advances from a male person was when I was nine years old.
(I actually hadn't thought about this incident for YEARS until yesterday when #MeToo started popping up all over social media.)

I was on a camping trip with my mom, grandma, and brother at Acadia National Park in Maine. 
I went to use one of the toilets, and I was harassed by a teenaged boy going in and coming out. 
It's been 18 years since then, so I can't remember exactly what he said to me, but I remember being really creeped out and scared to the point that I wouldn't go back to the spigot near the bathroom to get water for our campsite.  
I felt so....icky. 

The worst part about this story is that it's just not that bad when it comes to the spectrum of abuse that girls and women face every day. 

Some of the women whom I am closest to have experienced far, far, far worse. 
Their stories aren't mine to share, but they are mine to believe. 

Gentlemen, here's where you come in.

Look, we know not all men are rapists, but it is an absolute fact that most rapists are men. 

I am KEENLY aware that men can absolutely be survivors of sexual assault and many have experienced sexual harassment, but this post is directed at men who want to understand how to support the women around them and help end Rape Culture. Harassment and assault are never acceptable, no matter who the target is or who the perpetrators are. Ending the culture of rape will help ALL of us. 

If you're a truly good man, like so many I know, you want to help but you don't know what to do to help combat Rape Culture, so here are my tips for the good guys out there:

1. Believe her.
When a woman in your life shares an experience about harassment or assault with you, believe what she is telling you. 
Believe me when I tell you every. single. woman. has been harassed or assaulted. 

2. Educate yourself.
If, in your head, you quietly think something like "Yeah, but she is really hot, and that guy was just trying to compliment her. She probably secretly liked it." or "I bet she was wearing something that gave him the impression she was interested.", YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

Bro, check yourself.

Take the time to read articles like this one: Men, It's Our Moral Responsibility to Combat Rape Culture
Then spend a few minutes really thinking about it and the implications it has for your life. 

3. Speak up. 
This is probably going to be the hardest step, guys. 
Remaining silent means you agree with what's happening. 

Look, I know it's scary to put yourself out there and say something. Some guys might look at you funny. Some men might make you the butt of a joke. Some dude might even yell at you or threaten you physically. 
But wait.
Those things are what women experience literally just walking down the street every single day. 
Put on your grown up pants and be as brave as ALL of the women in your life are every day. 

So read up and most importantly, speak up. 
You'll make the world a better place for everyone. 

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