Like many men I have watched the viral energy around the ‘me too’ campaign with a growing sense of confusion. To enter the debate seems intrusive and insensitive, and yet to say nothing appears collusive. I don’t speak for ‘men’ or anyone else, my voice is simply my own. I want to add my support to…what? As I read many of my women friends, so many, talk about their experience of abuse and harassment I feel angry, embarrassed, and sad.
I cannot imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of attention from predatory men. Other than a brief attempt by a man in a busy public toilet in my early twenties I have not and am unlikely to have to defend myself against sexual harassment. Against a Weinstein or any boss looking for favours, a stranger on a packed tube or a drunk in a pub.
I was with someone just last week that in their youthful exuberance and bravado was telling stories that criticized others. I felt the harsh verbal judgements physically, like being cut. This was not pleasant, and such is the life of an empath. Stories of abuse of power and harassment against women, be they friends or strangers, have a similar effect on me. It hurts me to know that men do this. It hurts me that it causes pain and affects where women go, how they plan their social lives, what they wear, how they hold their drinks, and how they read a room. And of course the hurt I feel is nothing by comparison with the pain inflicted daily on women by men.
The day after world values day it is more important than ever that we know what we stand for, and what we won’t tolerate. For many years my values have been love, compassion, truth, and freedom. Now, after writing this, freedom needs some qualification. I celebrate your and my right to think freely, to speak and be heard, and to act within the law. If the law isn’t fit for purpose we need to change it. I respect others and expect the same in return.
I do not tolerate bullying, judgement, cruelty, or victimization, or any form of abuse and harassment.
These are my values. If you don’t know what yours are find out and live your lives by them.
I stand straight and tall with women against predatory men.
De hil Roberts, Partner HCubed