There’s no shortage of public accounts. People are ignorant of it because they don’t listen to the deluge of people who’ve gotten up the courage to speak out. People also confide in me or to private groups I’m a part of, and I have my own experiences.
This is real. It’s not a feminist conspiracy or a money grab by the media.
You might think that, as a gay person, I never felt the same urges that make a straight guy go bonkers for a woman and lose all self-control. You would be wrong. When I was younger and confused about my sexuality, I tried to play straight. I modeled the other boys and did what they did. I’ve got a teensy, tiny, itty bitty bit of bisexuality, and one girl triggered it. I crushed hard and pestered her for weeks, trying to turn her no into a yes.
I modeled the behavior of the people around me. I figured maybe that feeling would come back, and I could fit in with all the other guys. I understand what it’s like to be head over heels for someone, and completely lose yourself in pursuit. I get it. But being the subject of that pursuit when you don’t want it is terrible and isolating. I’ve been there too.
So what was the problem? I didn’t listen: she said she wasn’t interested. What you can do, as an enlightened and informed individual, is catch yourself when you do those things. Catch your friends and colleagues when they do those things. And if you don’t know what it is that you’re doing wrong, read and listen when people tell you about their experience. When you know, and when you see, challenge it.
Is it risky? Do you risk your livelihood if you rock the boat?
I can’t deny that.
Look, I’m gay. I risk being unemployable, and I risk losing a job if I get it, for being openly gay, and I have no recourse. I risk someone beating me for minding my own business. Someone might kill me for speaking up. But living an authentic life is safer for me than it was just ten years ago because people rocked the boat.
This is the price we pay, the risk we take, to see to it that our society is free and equal. Sometimes you have to demonstrate the principles you claim to have, and it can be risky to do that. You’ll note that in many of those links, people rocked the boat. They got people rehired. They got investigations going. They held vigils and protests and marches. People got loud and mad, and change happened.
And you know what? I’m not just talking to men. I’m not just talking to women. A subset of people reading this noticed the gender-neutral pronouns outside my anecdote and hoped it was more than a fluke. I’m talking to everyone across the gender spectrum and to everyone outside it. We are better than our instincts. We are better than our socialization. We can prove it. You can prove it.
Women: listen to people’s stories. Make yourself heard.
Men: listen to people’s stories. Make yourself heard.
Enbies: listen to people’s stories. Make yourself heard.
Be excellent to each other.