Friday, 24 November 2017

Me Too - a response

(From my beloved, Terry Butler)

A long time ago, when I was in my late teens, I hit my girlfriend. It was done in a moment of grief, anger, and high emotion. She was having an emotional meltdown due to factors that had nothing to do with me. In my naivety, I tried to calm her, but being a clumsy teenager, what I said did not help an already volatile situation. She lashed out, hitting me quite hard in the face. I was shocked, not so much by the pain, but that someone would hit me. She hit me again, even harder, on the side of my head, giving me terrible pain to my ear. I was really stunned and now in pain. When she tried to hit me again I slapped her on the face. The slap shocked her into stopping her tirade of abuse, which in hindsight I realised was not really directed at me. It took a much wiser head to explain that to me a few days later. However, I was stunned at my own behaviour.

My brother and I were fortunate growing up. Our Dad instilled in us a good understanding of right and wrong, especially when it came to how you treat the opposite sex. He told us that any man who hit a woman is not real a man at all, rather a coward would be more appropriate. There were many other great bits of wisdom from him, and mum as well, but that was a real deal breaker in his eyes when measuring the worth of someone.

For days after the slap, I was racked with guilt. I was not trying to justify my actions to myself, and I’m certainly not trying to do that now. This is just an explanation of what happened. Eventually, I had to tell dad, mainly because I couldn’t bear to look him in the eye while carrying around the horrible thing that I’d done. So, when I told him, he asked me a lot of questions about the circumstances that drove me to the slap. Some of which were; Was she still talking to me? Yes. Do you still care about her? Yes. Would you do it again? No!

The important part of this story, for me, was how I felt when I did it. I didn’t feel powerful. I didn’t feel manly. I didn’t feel strong. I felt mortified.  I had apologised profusely to my girlfriend, and she said she forgave me, and laughingly apologised for beating me up and giving me a black ear.
The point is, how do men who inflict physical and sexual violence upon women and girls live with themselves? The recent wave of stories about men in positions of power, raping, groping, abusing, and physically attacking woman, makes me feel ill. How do they sleep at night? How do they look in the mirror, thinking things are ok? What kind of twisted world do they inhabit?

I don’t have to name them, you’ve all read the stories, you know who they are. However, there are lots more. Would they want their sisters treated that way? Or their mothers? Or do they just see women as ‘cock fodder’, another scalp to make them feel more like a man? Well not in my eyes.
I’m bereft of an answer to this disgusting problem and I’m still trying to get my head around the motivations, the justifications, the misremembering, and the denials.

I think men should start being real men and call it out when they see it. Groping, touching up, slapping. These things are not ok. Being with a bunch of mates, having a few drinks, and sexually intimidating women with lewd suggestions and catcalls is not ok. Be a real man and have some respect. We will all be better off. 

- TB

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