Not all men. Not all industries. But nearly always men in my industry
I read this yesterday – “First night in Kyiv”
You should read it too.
Not because it is brave or well-written – though it is those things – but because it is important.
It is the story of somebody who works in the same industry as me. Her story of being raped by a senior colleague while out on an assignment.
And if you are reading this blog you’ll know that somebody who works in “the same industry” as me could be a journalist. Or a designer. Or a technologist.
And everywhere I look I see the same story over and over again.
Each of these professions has a constant stream of women talking about how dreadfully they and their colleagues are treated. A couple of days before Balkanist posted the Ukraine piece, Cristina Wodtke was writing about sexual harassment in the UX conference space. As Sarah Parmenter did before. As Sara Wachter-Boettcher has done.
And here’s Ashe Dryden talking about the pushback she experiences from just trying to get conferences in the tech sphere to implement some kind of anti-harassment policy.
So what makes me the expert on this?
Well, I’m with Patrick Stewart: “People will not listen unless you are an old, white man, so I’m an old white man and I will use that to help people who need it.”
I’m not old yet, but life’s lottery has handed me the easier path to getting hold of the megaphone, and now I’ve got it, I want to use it to amplify the voices of those that haven’t.
As I say, every single area of professional life I am active in has an ongoing problem of rife sexual discrimination, harassment, abuse and misogyny.
One of my colleagues recently posted on Facebook some screenshots of abuse she’d been getting. A guy saying he was going to print off his favourite photos of her and cum on them because he was “fighting feminazis one step at a time.” I joked that it seemed a dreadfully ineffective combat methodology, and my how we all laughed.
Except for one guy, of course.
The one guy who feels that, when faced with evidence of the sort of abusive behaviour going on online, they simply CANNOT let it pass without pointing out to the woman complaining that “all men” is a generalisation.
Why do guys feel the need to do that?
“Not ALL men” has become such a cliché that “NOT ALL X” has found its way into my stock of comedy tropes on Twitter.
But here’s the thing.
Not ALL men. But very nearly ALWAYS a man.
Not ALL industries. But EVERY industry I come into contact with professionally.
It isn’t good enough.
If you really believe “not all men”, then you’ve got to proactively do your bit to NOT BE one of those men.
That means calling it out when you see it. Adopting a zero tolerance to misogynistic and abusive behaviour in your profession. Not getting in the way of harassment policies. Not worrying that doing the right thing about somebody else’s sexual assault is going to damage your career, but doing the right thing.
Men. Sort yourselves out.