Confessions of a "Good Guy"
I always considered myself one of the good guys when it comes to women. I am a proud feminist that actively tries to grow in my feminism. Back in the day I was honest with women when I didn't want to get serious. I thought I was doing my part. Then I read this article about rape culture. It was basically a letter to men explaining how we subconsciously contribute to the fucked up situation that is rape culture. I took mental notes and vowed to do better. As I read through it I thought to myself that I was already doing some of the things the author suggested. I was still a good guy. I just needed to get better. It wasn't like I raped anyone.
I'm sold on the fact that rape culture is real. I'm sure that we men all contribute to it in some way. But I had somehow excused myself from much of the responsibility. The real problem was the rapists out there. The predators were making it bad for all of us. They are sick people. Us good guys can do our part to show that we're not one of them, but then what? We're the good ones.
Then I read an article by my good friend Cassandra Klatzkow. I've mentioned her in this blog before. She's a big part of my life. She's one of Swedie's best friends and Bash's godmother. She's smart, funny, talented and beautiful. Please read her article. If you don't understand Swedish, please translate it in an app or something. It's stories that nearly every woman I know can share. Times when a guy crossed the line because he was horny or thought that he had a right to a woman's body because he's a man. That's putting it mildly in her case. She has been through some terrible shit that some terrible men have put her through. It hurt to read it because she is my friend. It also hurt to read it because in some of those stories I was that guy.
I pride myself on being a problem solver. People complain all the time, but where are the solutions? I don't think the solution to eradicating rape culture is doing my best to make women feel comfortable and know that I'm not a threat. It helps, but only to a certain degree. I feel that the solution is to expose the "good guys" for the true threat that we are. Cassandra says at the end of her article that every woman she knows has a story like that, but men don't have a story where they victimize women. The guys and I had recently talked about this very thing on a recent podcast episode. You never hear a guy talking about that time he went too far or did something fucked up towards a woman just because he was horny. In the podcast I nod and agree and say how messed up it is that you never hear those stories from men. It didn't even dawn on me that I had those stories myself. I was in good guy denial. We all are.
So this good guy will now expose himself. I'm going to tell stories that I am very ashamed of. Men reading this can reflect on their similar stories and realize that our contribution to rape culture is deeper than we think.
I was in the third grade. I liked a cute girl in my class. We played outside and I chased her around as kids do. Energy and curiosity ran through me and I grabbed at her as I ran. I got a hold of her shirt and she pulled away laughing. I had a good grip and tried to pull her closer. Her shirt ripped almost all the way down the front. I saw the strap of her training bra. I let go of the shirt. She ran off to the teacher covering herself. The teacher later called me out of my class to talk to me. I remember her asking the girl to show me what I had done. I also remember the excitement of possibly seeing what was under her jacket. In hindsight, why would the teacher do that? Anyway, the girl shook her head in embarrassment. I was scolded for ripping her shirt. That girl never played with me again.
In high school a good friend of mine wore a short skirt to school one day. I teased her that I would lift it up and expose her rear end to everyone. She laughed it off. I was a good guy after all. I wouldn't do that. I had a bit of a crush on her. We were walking up the stairs and I grabbed the skirt and lifted it. The skirt flipped all the way up, exposing her rear and panties to all of us below her on the stairs. She was completely embarrassed and told me not to say another word to her or she would slap me. She kept her word. I remember thinking, "It was just panties."
I was 16. There was this young, kind of dumb and very impressionable girl that used to hang out at my job. She made no secret about the fact that she really liked me. I didn't really like her. I told her that she could have me if she had my friend as well. She agreed. My friend and I went over to her house one day and took turns having sex with her. She asked me to be her boyfriend. I told her I didn't want a girlfriend. She stopped hanging out at my job.
In high school a girl came over to my house. She and I had been flirting with each other since middle school. Now she was here. We messed around in my room. She would stop me at each step when I tried to take things further. Then I would "charm" her and "talk her into" going to the next step. I eventually "talked her into" having sex. I was Jon Juan. My "charm" had worked again. She called me that night and said she didn't like how things had gone. She felt like I had pressured her into doing something she wasn't ready to do. I thought she was just having regret. Maybe religious guilt. I hadn't "forced" her into it. I brushed it off. She didn't come over again.
I was around 19. "Jon Juan" was in full effect now. I thought I was the ladies man of the year. A new girl was at the base. I figured I would go to her room to "keep her company". I guess that was "Netflix and chill" back then. I was over there for a bit when we started kissing. She didn't want to do more. I tried to sweet talk her. I began removing my clothes. She didn't. It was almost like I blacked out or something because next thing I know I was lying there almost naked and she was almost fully clothed. I felt embarrassed. Not that I had made her so uncomfortable, but at how ridiculous it was for "Jon Juan" to be almost fully naked and to still be resisted. I never went over there again.
I'm married now. There are countless times that I've whined and complained and tried using guilt trips to "talk my wife into" having sex with me. Then later complain that she "wasn't into it". The worst thing is when the last thing your wife says before you do it is:
- Well alright then, damn! We'll do it. Hurry up.
It's embarrassing. More embarrassing is that I shut up and do it. Continuing this stupid cycle of mine where I am childish and selfish and inconsiderate.
I shared these stories for the other "good guys" that thought they were just "boys being boys" all their life. Guys like me have been letting our hormones guide us while leaving damaged women in our wake. A few minor detail changes and these stories could be turned into proof of my sexual prowess when they really only prove that I'm not a good guy. Guys, look yourselves in the mirror. Think back on your interactions with women. Have you really been a good guy? Have all of your sexual partners been as "into it" as you told your friends over beers?
I haven't drugged anyone. I have never had sex with someone while they were unconscious. I have never threatened anyone before or after sex. That doesn't mean that I'm a good guy. It pains me to say it, but I have contributed more than I thought to this fucked up rape culture. If you're a man, then you probably have too. I'm not asking that you blog about it. I'm asking that you stop acting like it didn't happen like that. Share the REAL stories with your sons, nephews, younger male cousins and mentees. That's the solution. Teach the next generation that it's not okay to grab at a girl at recess. Tell them to keep their hands to themselves. Tell them that taking advantage of her interest in them for a "cool story" later makes them a fucking asshole. Tell them that once she says no and shuts down, them taking more clothes off is creepy and disturbing. Tell them that once they are in a relationship - no matter how long - she/he isn't theirs. They can always be told "No" and they must always respect that "No". That's how we'll improve rape culture. We'll make real good guys. Until next time...