I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding going on with some men right now concerning the #metoo movement that goes something like, “Gee, if I flirt, or express my sexual or romantic interest towards a women, no matter how innocuously, I might just get hauled off by the PC police, and be pilloried in the court of public opinion for sexual harassment or assault. I guess that means courtship has been effectively criminalized, and we’re headed for a completely desexualized society, certainly at work, and potentially wherever men and women interact.” And they start worrying that they’re never going to be able make a romantic connection with a woman.
That’s the fear.
That’s also not what’s really going on here.
First of all, none of these complaints that we’ve been hearing of are about flirting – unless you think that pulling out your penis at work is flirting. Or asking for a massage as part of a business meeting. Or complimenting the body of a woman with whom you are in a purely professional relationship. (“Nice ass” as an opener is neither professional, polite, appropriate, or effective as a way to express interest in a woman.)
Secondly, as others have pointed out, the behaviors we are hearing about actually have little to do with courtship, romance, or even sex. They are about power. A man who says or does these things is not doing so because he wants to develop a loving, respectful, intimate relationship with a woman. He’s doing it because it satisfies his own desire for control and power. He’s doing it because it satisfies his ego. He’s doing it because he can. With little to no understanding or concern about how the woman might feel.
These are the guys getting called out on bad behavior who have never worried about, or even thought about, the appropriateness of their behavior. If you’re not one of those guys, then there’s very little to fear.
For the rest of us men, there may be some discomfort because we know that there is a heightened awareness around this issue. But if we’ve been behaving respectfully up till now, what’s there to worry about? We continue behaving respectfully, and if our behavior is ever called out, or we sense some discomfort, we apologize and adjust.
If we’re in a position of power, we just don’t go there at all.
Within these parameters, I think we’re a long way from having a sexless, touchless society. Yes, there may be less flirting in the workplace, but is that such a high price to pay for giving women a safe working environment?
So it’s not that it’s suddenly inherently harder for men to connect with women in the workplace; rather, it’s that we have to be more conscious about how we approach women. That takes heightened sensitivity, and empathy, and reflecting on our own motives, and those things may be unfamiliar to some of us, because those are not usually things we’ve been taught to consider, and so we have some learning to do.
I don’t want to diminish the very real challenge this will be to some, maybe even most, men. And the very real discomfort some men may be feeling as they navigate this new terrain.
But I think we need to be careful not to blame our discomfort on the fact that women are now finding their voice, and being heard and listened to when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. Women are not ruining flirting and romance, and to suggest as much is a disservice to them, and it runs the risk of shutting down the stories that need to be told.
So let’s manage our own discomfort without blaming anyone else. Let’s take responsibility for our actions and for our evolution.
Maybe that feels difficult, and it will be, at least for a while, but it really just means we guys have to pay a bit more attention. And while that may be more work, in the end, everybody wins, so I would think it’s a kind of difficulty, and even discomfort, that we can welcome.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to help discuss and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join now!
What Now? Participate. Take Action. Join The Good Men Project Community.
The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission. All members see the site AD-FREE!
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request new password if needed).
Your ANNUAL PLATINUM membership includes:
1. Free and UNLIMITED ACCESS to participate in ANY of our new Social Interest Groups. We have active communities of like-minded individuals working to change the world on important issues. Weekly facilitated calls that lead to the execution of real-world strategies for change. Complete schedule here, with new ones starting all the time. We now offer 500 calls a year!
2. Free and UNLIMITED ACCESS to ALL LIVE CLASSES. Learn how to build your own platform, be a better writer, become an editor or create social change. Check out our training sessions. As a Platinum member, you can take them all.
3. Invitation to the MEMBERS ONLY Good Men Project Community on Facebook. Connect with other members, network and carry the conversation no one else is having one step further.
4. Access to our PREMIUM MEMBER LIBRARY with our recorded ConvoCasts and classes. ConvoCasts are a new form of media—and you are in them! Only Platinum Members get access to our recordings. And recordings of our classes are really valuable for those who do not have time to take the live classes or just want to review.
5. An ad-free experience. No banner, pop-up, or video ads when you log in.
6. Weekly conference calls with the publisher and other community members. Our weekly calls discuss the issues we see happening in the world of men in a friendly group setting.
7. PLATINUM member commenting badge. Your comments on our website will appear with a platinum member badge, signifying you are a part of our core community.
Price for ANNUAL PLATINUM membership is $50/year.
Your ANNUAL GOLD membership will include:
1. Free access to any ONE Social Interest Groups. Try them out! We have active communities of like-minded individuals working to change the world on important issues. Weekly facilitated calls that lead to the execution of real-world strategies for change. Complete schedule here, with new ones starting all the time.
2. Free access to any ONE of our live classes. Each month, we have the following: Learn how to be a Rising Star in media, build your own platform, become an advanced writer, become an editor or create social change. Check out our classes here. RSVP for any one class—if you want to take more, just upgrade to an Annual Platinum Membership.
3. Invitation to the MEMBER-ONLY Good Men Project Community on Facebook and all Weekly Conference calls with the Publisher and community. Connect with other members online and by phone!
4. An ad-free experience. No banner, pop-up, or video ads when you are logged in—as long as your membership is active.
5. GOLD commenting badge. Your comments on our website will appear with a gold member badge, signifying you are a part of our core community.
Price for ANNUAL GOLD membership is $25/year.
Your ANNUAL BRONZE membership will include:
1. Invitation to the MEMBER-ONLY Good Men Project Community on Facebook and weekly conference calls with the publisher and community. Connect with other members, network and carry the conversation no one else is having one step further.
2. A listing on our Friends of The Good Men Project page. Your support of our mission is noted and appreciated. See the page here!
3. An ad-free experience. No banner, pop-up, or video ads when you are logged in—as long as your membership is active.
4. BRONZE member commenting badge. Your comments on our website will appear with a bronze member badge, signifying you are a part of our core community.
Price for ANNUAL BRONZE membership is $12/year.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
“Here’s the thing about The Good Men Project. We are trying to create big, sweeping, societal changes—–overturn stereotypes, eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, be a positive force for good for things like education reform and the environment. And we’re also giving individuals the tools they need to make an individual change—-with their own relationships, with the way they parent, with their ability to be more conscious, more mindful, and more insightful. For some people, that could get overwhelming. But for those of us here at The Good Men Project, it is not overwhelming. It is simply something we do—–every day. We do it with teamwork, with compassion, with an understanding of systems and how they work, and with shared insights from a diversity of viewpoints.” —– Lisa Hickey, Publisher of The Good Men Project and CEO of Good Men Media Inc.
Photo Credit: Getty Images