I was shocked to find out what my friend had done. But chances are, we all know someone who has hurt a womanby Musa Okwonga / October 16, 2017 / Leave a comment
There was a phrase Emma Thompson used her excellent Newsnight interview that I can’t stop thinking about. Speaking about the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Thompson said that there was “a crisis in masculinity.” At first, I didn’t understand why those words resonated so much. But then I realised. It’s because it was the sound of a fire alarm going off in your own house.
We men can talk and we can tweet all we like about Harvey Weinstein—and I think that, so long as we are finding ways to keep pressure on those who enabled him for so long, we need to. But we can also do something much more difficult, which is to look closest to home, and to our friends.
I think that men are afraid of calling out misogyny for a couple of reasons. One reason is that they fear they are misogynists themselves. Another reason is that they are worried about holding themselves out as beacons of virtue, so that when they fall short of these publicly announced standards they will receive a firestorm of criticism.
These reasons are connected, in that they both relate to how men view themselves, or want to be viewed. In other words, they have nothing to do with the horrors that women are currently enduring due to misogyny. Those fears are keeping the scaffolding of misogyny firmly in place, and it’s time many more of us overcame them, or at least tried to.
I will pause here to acknowledge that men get far, far too much credit for speaking out against misogyny. It is an absurd state of affairs and only proves how little is expected of usand how grave the situation is. Nevertheless, I wish to share a quick story, for whose contents—distressing as they may be to those who have been subjected to sexual assault—I apologise in advance.
“I must have friends who have sexually assaulted women”
A couple of years ago, I was reading an article where the author, Soraya Chemaly, described violence against women as “a global pandemic.” Like the phrase “crisis in masculinity,” it put the problem of misogyny in startling focus.