“That’s What She Said” - A Man's Perspective on the #Metoo Movement
The #Metoo movement has become the latest movement in America which of course has its benefits and downsides. The obvious benefits are that there is growing empowerment for women who were sexually assaulted and raped to face their predators and seek justice; this I have no issue with. Before I go on, I feel I must state that I do not condone rape or sexual assault. I can never understand or imagine the pain, the fear and the internal torment victims of rape have to live with; nor what it feels like to go through the grueling and humiliating judicial process of getting closure and justice. I write this following essay with care because I known women who are victims of sexual assault and I wish not to demean them in any way.
Now that I have made the prior statement, I feel I must talk from a man’s perspective of the ills that may come with movements such as #Metoo and the adverse effects that may have on men. To merely summarize my viewpoint: Women are afraid to be raped, and men are afraid to be accused of rape. I will provide four anecdotes of experiences I had which could help give a perspective of the dangers of forsaking due process and condemning a person just because he is a man.
In my freshmen year of college, I had a crush on this beautiful sorority woman; I’ll call her Sue for her privacy. My formal (basically proms for sororities and fraternities) was approaching, and I wanted to take her as my date. I nervously asked her, and she said yes to my delight. We had a few weeks before my formal, and we decided to go on a date. We had a nice dinner with a walk on the beach, and she agreed to come back with me to my dorm room. I didn’t have a couch, so we laid in my small twin bed and watched the movie Hitch. I was nervous because I wanted to kiss her, but I was still not experienced enough with women. At some point during the movie, I worked up the courage and made my move. Sue was caught off guard by it because she didn’t see it coming. We talked about it for a moment, and I tried to make a move again, and she stopped me. I didn’t know what happened and I felt awkward about it. She texted her friend to make an excuse for her to leave and out of chivalry I still walked her to her dorm because it was dark and I didn’t want her walking alone. I had felt awkward about the incident, but the awkwardness turned into guilt when Sue canceled going to formal with me, only stating that we wouldn’t be a good fit together.
Fast forward to my junior year. Over the three years, I had secretly felt tremendous guilt over the innocent kiss. “Did I force myself on Sue?”, “Did I assault her?”, “Am I a bad guy?” These were the thoughts which plagued me for three years because I was afraid to talk to her about it, even though when we were cordial when we saw each other in public. It wasn’t until I went to a banquet for my Student Government that I finally got some answers. Her “Little Sister” from her sorority/ best friend was at the banquet, and we sat together and shared some stories and laughs. It was a pleasant conversation, but I needed a resolution, so I asked her about Sue and what happened with our date. To my surprise, she laughed and told me Sue’s side of the story. Sue indeed felt awkward about me attempting to kiss her, but she didn’t think of me as a creep or anything beyond that. She felt weird about the rejecting me and thought it was better to not go with me out of it. After three years, I felt relieved to hear this and only wished she told me sooner. It would have saved me from the neurosis and guilt.
Due to legality, I must remain vague, but the facts of the story are real.
When I was a police officer, I was called to the hospital to start the preliminary investigation of a rape. During this process, the police officer is sent to begin the investigation and then report back to the duty Sergeant who in turn informs the chain of command, forensics, and Special Victims detectives. I arrived in the hospital and was led to her room where she sat on the hospital bed with her friend sitting by her side. At first glance, my intuition told me something was wrong with her, but I reminded myself to be impartial. Lana (an alias) stated that she met a guy, Rick, who was in the military the night before at a bar with a group of friends and they were flirting with each other. They exchanged phone numbers. The next night they went out drinking with the group of friends, and she took a taxi home, where she lived with her roommate, who was working overnight. It was past midnight, and she heard a knock on the door, and it was Rick. Lana let him in, and they talked for a few minutes before he pulled out a knife and forced her into the bedroom where he raped her. Rick then slept until 7 am, at which time the roommate came home, but Rick woke up and held the knife again to Lana’s throat and told her to tell the roommate that she is fine. Then he raped her again and left.
I had to hide my disbelief because there were glaring holes in the story but her friends’ face said it all for me when I looked at her and saw the confusion on it. I walked outside and talked to my Sergeant who called another cop and forensics to go immediately to Lana’s house and search for evidence. Before I went back inside the hospital room, a male nurse pulled me aside and told me that he felt there was something wrong with Lana because she had come to the Emergency Room a week prior for using some chemical burn on her cheeks to make them look permanently blushed. I re-entered Lana’s room and began asking her questions such as: How did Rick know where she lived? How come she did not run or call the police when he was asleep?
The truth showed itself when she allowed me to look at her phone and read the text messages. It turned out they mutually exchanged sexually explicit text messages, and Lana asked him to come to her apartment. I then asked about these messages, and she said she forgot to mention them. I walked outside and showed the text messages to my Sergeant and forensics. Her friend and I talked while she was recorded and she admitted that she thinks her friend is lying because she told a different story. She believed Lana lied about Rick out of guilt because Lana’s husband was deployed with the Army and she didn't want to be accused of adultery.
Rick was questioned by detectives the next day, and he admitted to having sex with her, but it was consensual. Instead of Lana being charged with False Accusations of a Crime, she was free to walk because most departments and agencies, including the FBI, have a policy not to charge women who falsely accuse men of rape because it might deter women who have been actual victims of rape from coming forward. But, this comes at the cost of men’s reputations who did nothing illegal or unethical.
I have worked for a cruise ship company, which I will not name because in many ways the company is worse than the mafia. I am an awkward guy in general but well-meaning and gregarious. I had made an acquaintance with a woman who worked in a different department than me. It was an odd relationship because I didn’t think we were friends but the human resources department and we would work out together in the morning before work, and she had invited me many times for drinks in the officer’s bar. I had grown somewhat comfortable with her enough where we would make fun of each other. One day, I had learned that she was a lesbian because her girlfriend was scheduled to come on board and I thought that was awesome because our mutual friend is a lesbian and I have a sister who is a lesbian. I didn’t know she knew I knew and I made some funny faces to her as a joke throughout the week because I did not see it as an issue she was a lesbian. When she finally asked why the funny faces I talked to her in private and told her I recently learned she was a lesbian and I thought it was pretty “cool” that she was. She then called me weird and walked straight to HR and made a sexual harassment complaint, insulating I was a homophobe.
This accusation could have cost me my job, so I did the smart thing and told the truth. The HR department knew of our relationship and the mutual friend I had mentioned. Fortunately, I was let off with a slap on the wrist. If I were another man, then I would have been fired for sexual harassment. It was quite distressing because of instead of confronting me if I did wrong by her, she went straight to HR and put me in a spot where it could have hurt my career permanently.
When I was in college, I had feelings for my friends and the emotions were unrequited but we stayed friends. She was beautiful, smart, outgoing; sassy and someone I wished to be with, but she was never into me. One night we were all drinking at our friends’ house when I playfully took her phone outside with me because she had called my friend on it and I was talking to him. We were outside by ourselves when I playfully kept the phone away from her as I spoke to my friend. Suddenly, she grabbed my crotch and seductively came close to my face as if to kiss me. I hung up the phone and went to kiss her, but she grabbed the phone, sneered at me and walked away. Sadly, I realized I was still holding her hand as she yanked it from me. Within that moment I felt a great rage come across me and I had the brief thought of grabbing her and pushing her against the car.
I had promised myself if any woman angered me to the point of me contemplating violence then I would immediately end the relationship and never speak to her again. I walked inside and grabbed my stuff, but she kept telling me to stay and blocked me from going to my car. She left me alone once I started to walk home; later she called, and text messaged me, but I ignored them. I have never spoken to her since.
She not only sexually harassed me but she violated the feelings I had for her at that moment. I hate it when men hit women, but the reality is that some women can cause men to feel great anger to the point of contemplating violence. Now, don’t misconstrue what I am saying. A man should never act on those impulses, but a woman should know that the intensely negative actions and words used will not only hurt a man but cause him to feel a great rage because of the relationship.
The four anecdotes I have written above are up to your interpretation. Of course, every reader will have their own opinions about the stories and outcomes, but all were factual up to the point of disclosing identities. In all four accounts, it could have gone entirely wrong if somebody heard only one narrative and could not be impartial and hear the other narrative. The story of Rick and Lana happens every day where a man thought he was going to have consensual sex until his partner feels guilty and accuses him of rape. He has no protection from the law because it is easier to persecute ten innocent men than to arrest one malicious woman. In my freshmen college story, it was just an honest mistake in dating. Both men and women make awkward mistakes when flirting and courting; most of the time the errors don’t go well, but they aren’t sexual assault. And in the story of the lesbian; yes, I may have made her feel uncomfortable, but I was not homophobic to her.
What I am afraid the #MeToo movement might quickly lose its pure intention of empowering victims to seek justice and become a movement which disenfranchises men as a whole. Already, we see celebrities ostracize other celebrities over rumors and not over facts from an impartial investigation; such as the case with Aziz Ansari. I am afraid mistakes made in courting would falsely be classified as a sexual assault which will cause men to fear to court and to initiate intimacy because they are scared to be accused of sexual assault. To restate what I wrote in the beginning: Women are afraid to be raped, and men are afraid to be accused of rape. I believe we are on the right path where we are weeding out the corrupt men, but we must also protect the good ones. I am for the arrest, impartial investigation and imprisonment of men who commit rape and actual sexual assault but I will not take part in a movement which is becoming hypocritical by behaving like misogynist who recently realized they have power over the other sex.