You might have noticed that I take the #YesAllWomen movement very seriously. I also feel like I should be doing more about it. So when I saw on the news that there were #YesAllWomen rallies being organized, and that they were actually getting airtime on TV news, I thought I should organize one. I’ve never done anything like that, so I don’t really know how. I imagined I’d choose a time and place, post some signs and spread the word, get some kind of speaker system so people could be heard, and see who shows up. Maybe as time went on I’d get better at it.
But I’m not going to. Because my wife asked me not to.
Of course I asked her “Why?” First she said that she would be afraid. She’s particularly worried about all the hate that has been heaped on those who express support for the movement.
So I told her I wouldn’t expect her to do any of the organizing, or be in a visible position, or even attend. But I could see, by the look on her face, she was still worried.
So I asked again, why would she still be worried? As she replied, I tried my best not to “counter her arguments” or suggest all the ways it would help, instead to just shut up and listen. That’s something most men, including me, should learn to do better and more often.
Her two reasons were a bit of a surprise. For one thing, she lives in constant vigilance about the threat from men. Like #YesAllWomen do. It’s a terrible burden to bear, so most women do not obsess about it. They don’t focus on it because they’d really like to escape from it, if only briefly. It’s sad when a problem is so pervasive that the victims feel the need to put it “out of mind” when they can, just to get some fucking relief. And if I organized a rally, my wife said, it would “shine a spotlight on my vulnerability.”
The other reason also surprised me. She was afraid for my safety. There’s been a lot of hate heaped on those who support the movement, so much so that I hear the woman who started the hashtag on Twitter has asked people not to use it, hoping that would reduce the stream of abuse she now faces online. The hostility is so extreme that it’s easy to believe, even easy for me to believe, that we men too might be targets for those who are so afraid of facing the truth, or so petrified at the thought of women being equal, they’ll resort to violence.
Me personally, I’d do it anyway. People have to stand up, and if that means courting danger then I wouldn’t tell anybody they should but I would say that I will. There are causes worth dying for, and this is one of them. If I were single, I would. By I’m married to the finest woman I’ve ever known, and for her sake, at her request, I’m not going to.
I’ll continue to do what I can — mostly online, I suppose. I’ll continue to listen to what my wife thinks and feels, and try to remember to shut my mouth while she’s talking (something most men, including me, should learn to do better and more often).
It’s a shame.