I’m not like them, but I can pretend. A nice suit helps too.

Maybe rich people do have more fun.

A couple of friends and I got dolled up last night and attended a fancy party. I’m feeling pretty fragile today, so don’t expect me to write a masterpiece. But anyway, the party. A super glitzy affair, Hush Hush is an annual library fundraiser, which turns a local library into an all out barnburner. The tickets were super expensive, at $100 each, but the event was goddamn out of this world. Everyone was dressed to the nines and looked dynamite. The essence of cocktail chic. I feel like every time I turned a corner I’d walk into yet another unbelievable set piece, each of which could’ve been an event in themselves.

  • A GIF photobooth. A stack of props and a camera that took four consecutive photos that it then turned into a GIF, which they in turn emailed to you.
  • Two servers walking around with oyster utility belts. Chainmail gloves, a knife, A bucket of iced oysters, a selection of different sauces and a bucket for the empty shells. I’ve never really enjoyed oysters before and I was convinced I just hadn’t tried the right one yet. One server had East Coast oysters and the other had West Coast ones. I couldn’t taste the difference, but they were damn delectable. I tried a hot sauce version and a champagne vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was amazing.
  • A cartoonist who’d draw your portrait. The line was 40-50 minutes long, which seemed like a waste at a four hour event.
  • A robotic hockey game, with little car robots controlled by iPads.
  • Liquid nitrogen cooking. There were cheetos on sticks, which were crazy. When you bit in, you’d get a mouthful of chilly smoke. If you were an idiot and accidentally put the whole cheeto in, you’d get surprised as smoke shot out of your nose. They also did nitrogen infused coffee flavoured ice cream, with little syringes filled with maple syrup.
  • Three HTC Vive VR setups. I didn’t get around to playing, but it seemed pretty rad.
  • Open bars. They had about four different stations set up. Custom cocktails, a couple of Ontario craft beers or wine. There was even a Bloody Caesar bar going all night.
  • They kept the same DJ as the previous year and she fucking killed it again. They had a different spin (pun mostly intended) on it this year, as they’d pulled a bunch of vinyl from the library’s collection. They had them set up in crates by the DJ. You could leaf through them and find songs to request. Lots of old classics and deep cuts, mixed with a little low hanging fruit. It was great.

The event was absurd and a total blast. Servers were constantly coming around to take empty glasses/dishes and offer hors d’oeuvres. The crowd was surprisingly great. One or two finance bros, but mostly chill, friendly people. Everyone seemed to have come determined to enjoy themselves. Super low douchebag quotient. The event ended around 1am and a couple of us were still looking for something to do. Someone my friend and I met on the dancefloor invited us back to hers with a couple of others. I had no expectations or idea of where it was going, but it ended up being this mega wholesome gathering. Six or so of us in the basement listening to music, chatting and singing along as someone strummed on the guitar. I took an Uber home just before 5am, grin plastered on my face. Being rich wasn’t too shabby. Maybe that’s what I’ll do with my life.

When you’re rich, DJs don’t give you shit for requesting Wild Wild West.

Advertisements

Have a nice strip. See you next fall.

So yeah, looks like medicating with alcohol helped. Oh boy, I’m sure that’s healthy. More accurately, blowing off steam while hanging out with friends helped. Without plans, I put a plea out to the internet and the internet pulled me in with both hands. Friends invited me out to an Amateur Strip Show Judged by Drag Queens event. It was a blast.

Amateur also seemed like more of a misnomer than I was led to believe. For the most part these were polished acts with some props and definite intent. Someone’s scene involved “flaying” themselves, cutting “skin” from their forearms and nipple, with bloody “flesh” underneath. Another lady began in a thin slip that was soon shed to reveal a nude body beneath (started from the bottom? -Ed). Her scene cleverly turned the concept on its head and, starting with a little rope self-bondage, had her fully dressed by the time the song finished. There was a phenomenal “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” piece complete with glitzy period clothing. It was something else. Thing is, watching all of these people perform had me itching to do something.

I’ve had this idea for a strip/burlesque scene for years. Set back in the 40s or 50s, with a husband coming back home after the six o’clock swill. Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” starts playing. He’s feeling flirty, but also sloppy drunk. So the entire scene involves him trying to do a sexy strip tease for his wife, but he’s literally falling all over the place. In reality, acting drunk would involve a lot of control, especially if pratfalls are gonna be a big part of it. I haven’t really worked out the beats, but let’s have a little go at it:

He walks in the door, pulls off his hat and throws it at the coat rack. It obviously misses by a wide margin. He pulls his coat seductively off one shoulder, then goes to shunt it off the other arm in one go, but it gets tangled on his hand. He waves it back and forth, but ends up with a bigger tangle. He puts it between his legs to try and wrench it off. Then he looks up and raises his eyebrows suggestively, pulling his hand out of the mess and stumbling forward. He undoes his tie and starts pulling each side back and forth across the back of his neck. Then it slips out of one side and he doesn’t notice, so he’s just pulling at empty air with one hand before realising it. He drops the tie and focuses on his suspenders, slowly pulling them down a little, then putting them back into place. Back and forth, up and down, left and right at different times. Then with a flourish he pushes them down at once. Except he’s missed the left one and sheepishly pulls it down. He untucks his shirt, stumbling backwards a little. He goes button by button, sashaying as he does. He goes to pull the shirt off, but he forgot to unbutton the top button. So his hands are stuck in the sleeves, he wriggles around and falls to the floor. He wriggles some more and wrests his hands from the sleeves, ending up flat on his face/stomach. He unbuttons the top button finally and, exhausted, pulls off the shirt while in a heap. Then he realises he can wriggle his bum. So he wriggles his bum a little bit, then pokes it up into the air to wriggle it a little more. He tries to unbutton his pants, but it’s pretty tough to do with his face flat on the ground. He rolls over and battles with the belt, pulling it free, but the momentum turns him on his side away from the audience. He wriggles his bum again as he goes for the button. He rolls back onto his bum and pokes his hips into the air, then pulls his pants down slightly. He turns to look at her and raises his eyebrows again, arching his hips up and down a few times.

I need to start getting ready for my fancy party tonight, but that seems like the start of an idea. Maybe I’ll do one for my girlfriend when I come home tonight. There is an open bar…

I believe it was the great philosopher Billy Corgan who once said “Tonight, tonight.”

I don’t know what to do.

That sounds like a larger existential question, but really I’m talking about tonight. I had ideas for plans. One fell through and I didn’t put enough effort in to make the others happen.

In retrospect, that sounds a little like my life right now. Forgive the melodrama, but I’m at the crossroads of change and it feels like a rut. A few months back my landlord let us know that he was going to completely redo the place and we’d have to move out next summer. I figured we have time, but in hearing that both the upstairs and downstairs renters are leaving has landed with a certain amount of gravity. For no logical reason I feel trapped in some Harrison Ford style calamity. The walls of the trash compactor are closing in, a giant boulder is coming to crush me, terrorists are coming and they won’t Get Off My Plane. I don’t blame my neighbours. It’s smart to move ahead of time and settle in before the winter comes. It does, however, mean that this is really happening. I love our apartment. It’s the only place I’ve lived in Toronto. It’s snug, the location is great and it’s pretty damn affordable. Change is scary, right? Because it threatens comfort and security. What if we don’t find a new place? What if we find a new place but it ends up creating all sorts of extra stress, forcing us to move again? How many places will we look through, get attached to and have our hopes dashed when they give it to someone else? We haven’t even made a move and I’m already fearing future heartbreak.

Work right now is not sustainable. Something needs to change. Time and listlessness have been stacking up gradually. A year ago, I told myself I’d be mortified to still be in the same position in a year’s time. A year has passed and I’m mortified to still be in the same position. The common advice in response to burnout is to take a holiday. The last time I did that, the disparity between how I felt on vacation and sitting at my desk all day was crippling. Oh that’s right, I thought to myself, I’m miserable all the time. It only gets worse with each day I spend at the job. It’s getting to the point where it’s affecting my work. I’m making mistakes I never would’ve made because I can’t bring myself to care. It all seems so pointless, so why put in effort? I used to pride myself of doing a damn good job, but I see others slacking and doing fine, so what’s the point of trying? Every day I’m irritable, miserable or just plain vacant. I wonder to myself when I because this joyless. I like my company, I like my bosses, I like the coworkers. They haven’t changed, but the problem is that I haven’t either and I need to.

I’ve been at this juncture before and I still don’t know what to do. My usual tactics are escapism or straight up escape. Lose myself in experiences, alcohol, food or numbing media’s consumption. Alternatively, running. A new job, new country, new set of problems to deal with, but couched in the excitement of discovery. I’ve been running ever since I could and frankly that’s been too long. Change is gonna come and it’s time I turned around and faced it.

Also I still need plans for tonight. Maybe I should start there.

Are you Heron me correctly?

I got to wake up this morning to the news that New Zealand has elected a new Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern. I feel like this just washed over most of you, so here’s some backstory:

In New Zealand our government runs on an MMP system. To be honest, I’m not 100% on what that acronym stands for. Mixed Member Parliament? In any case, it’s proportional representation. People vote, they tally all the votes and give each party a number of seats in parliament depending on the percentage of the population that voted for them. They get one seat for every 5% of the total vote they earned. That’s super simplified, but my simplistic understanding could be why I think it’s a pretty decent system.

In any case, the two big parties (centre left to centre right) are Labour and National. I’m sure the difference isn’t as stark as the parties would have you believe, but Labour has a slightly more socially conscious bent, while National is more economically focused. Then there are all the smaller special interest parties who fill in the gaps and create coalitions to get the ruling parties over the magical 50% point. We haven’t had a Labour led government this decade, so it feels like a while. In part because Labour hasn’t had strong leadership in some time, but also because the last elected PM John Key (commonly nicknamed the smiling assassin, if you wanted a quick character reference) was oddly popular for some unfathomable reason. Can you hear my bias leaking through? Good. He was an old rich wanker/banker who frequently put his foot in his mouth. No, he wasn’t as bad as Trump, but that’s not a glowing review either.

This last election was straight up bonkers. First off, John Key (in an admittedly Cool Move) decided to retire before the end of his term to let the public get to know his choice for replacement party leader, Bill English. Made sense in the lead up to the election. English had run for PM before, but didn’t get elected. So he still hasn’t been elected PM, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Anyway, English was up against Labour’s Andrew Little in the main event. Little still wasn’t popular and was getting crushed in the polls. With something like three or four months until the election, Labour decided to jettison Little and put popular List MP Jacinda Adern in his place. It was a gamble for sure. Jacinda had been a career politician for all of her adult life, but at 37 that was maybe 15 years or so. She’d been doing a ton of good work, was young and passionate about social causes and well spoken. She didn’t have much leadership experience- which is I guess a desired qualification for the country’s top position- but in a dire time there was no better candidate. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m ragging on her. For years I’ve thought she seemed competent, focused and that her heart was in the right place. Plus she knows how to DJ. You can bet your ass she’d run a fun political party. Maybe now the ‘M’ in MMP will stand for “Mixtape”.

Anyway, she ran a solid campaign, Labour bounced back as the country was hungry for a change. It’s not like she’s our first female PM (third. Only our second elected), but the top governmental seats had been pretty male dominated for a while. I’m sure at this point you’re all “yeah dickhead, we know she won. End of story.” Not so, assumptive reader! The votes came out to something like 37% Labour and 45% National. Greens formed a coalition with Labour (which was always on the cards), bringing the overall coalition to something like 43%. Then came Winston Peters. Peters is a character. He’s been around in Parliament forever. Maybe he’s part bed bug? Kind of reminds me of Saul from Better Call Saul. He was a former lawyer, maybe that’s it. He’s a constant agitator. I’m not sure how great he is in a position of influence, but he sure keeps everyone honest. Old people love him for some reason. Anyway, his party NZ First got about 7%. None of the unmentioned parties got enough votes to gain a seat, so ol’ Winnie was thrust into the position of kingmaker. Would you want Saul Goodman in the position if parliamentary kingmaker? How do you think that’d go? Meetings. Deals struck behind closed doors. After several weeks without a new government, New Zealanders begun channeling that emotional energy into somewhere it could do some good: NZ Forest and Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition. Looks like Kea’s gonna scoop up a first time win this year. Good on it. Clever bird. Destroys cars with its beak, for real.

Anyway, after much deliberation on Winnie’s behalf, we have a brand new Labour led government. It might be idealistic to hope for real change, but sometimes I can be pretty damn idealistic. Congrats to Jacinda and fingers crossed she can live up to our massive expectations.

As for the other looming election, voting closes on October the 23rd. I’d say the Bird of the Year competition will be less controversial, but you never know…

Is a Blade Runner someone who walks the razor’s edge frequently and at high speed?

Spoilers: There will probably be Blade Runner 2049 spoilers.

Probably. I saw it last night so chances are I’ll want to talk about it. If that’s the case I’ll leave them until at least the third paragraph.

This is the second paragraph. I can’t say for sure that there’ll be spoilers in the next one, but there won’t be any in this one. This one’s reserved for my semi-weekly work bitching. I’m in this weird position at work. I don’t like my job. I don’t like my job because I’ve done my job for almost three years now and I really only wanted to be there for two years max. One year after that, it’s hard not to look at the static nature of my role and feel crippling disappointment. Yes, I’m lucky to have a job. My co-workers/bosses are nice people. I’m not being harassed or compromised on a moral/ethical level. The job isn’t even that bad, it’s more that I’ve been doing something that holds zero interest for me for almost three years now. Boo hoo, right? I guess I was raised in a culture that said to follow your passions. Past generations and many cultures don’t have that luxury. Now I’m stuck at 30 at the intersections of responsibility, creative expression and ambition. I feel like I should have accomplished more. I’ve put energy out there a bunch of times and each disappointment makes it harder to justify continuing to put out energy. So the rut deepens.

The biggest weight at the moment is that we have performance reviews scheduled for next week. I guess I lied about the Blade Runner spoilers in this paragraph. Guess you’ll have to keep reading. Anyway, at my last performance review I talked candidly with my boss (she’s on the level) about where I was at. How I had the ability to do the job no sweat, but had no real interest in progressing along the career path where this specific role would lead. She said it was fine to use the job as a jumping off point to something more suitable within the company. She’s been supportive when I’ve asked, so none of this is on her. I told her I’d be pretty disappointed to be having this same discussion in a year’s time. So I guess I have that to look forward to. I haven’t nothing, but I also haven’t done enough, clearly. So with morale at an all time low I’m basically checking into work to cover the bare minimum, get the job done and go home demoralised every day. It’s not the team’s fault, it’s not my boss’s fault. There are things I need to do and I a) haven’t figured out what they are because I haven’t b) figured out where I truly want to be and c) put the work in towards making that happen. With time it gets harder. I’m not a joyless person, I’m not an idiot, I do have potential but as time progresses it’s becoming harder to believe that any of these are true. Maybe two years back my therapist said that I needed to get out of this job, that it was taking more than it was giving. Time doesn’t change everything.

Am I still gonna be doing the same thing in 32 years? What year would that even be?

OH. ARE YOU ALRIGHT? OR DID YOU LOSE YOUR BALANCE ON THAT SLICK TRANSITION? It’s time for me to share some thoughts on Blade Runner 2049.

In this paragraph. I thought it was fantastic. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, of course I was gonna think that. It looked stunning and managed to capture the daunting atmosphere of the original, but larger in scope. I liked the eye motif. I thought Jared Leto’s scenes were maybe 20% longer than they needed to be, but thought the creepy role was a nice fit for him as a person. Dude creeps me out big time. To be honest, I was fine with the overall length of the film. It was nice how scenes were left to breathe. I was too absorbed to notice, anyway. I thought the pacing was fucking brilliant. The action wasn’t too protracted or sparse. Has Robin Wright ever been bad in anything ever? I thought the aspects of homage were tasteful for the most part (like that fluorescent ramen sign in one of the first glimpses of night time LA). Ford got more screen time than I expected, but I really enjoyed how he was used. For basically the first time in history, I got the twist right away. I’m a dummy when it comes to film twists, so either it was super obviously telegraphed or I’m getting better. It just made sense for the script. The line “buckle up” felt really cheesy and I assumed that was intentional. My girlfriend said that while she hadn’t seen the original, it seemed like it was probably a throwback or reference. I hadn’t seen it in about 12 years, but I thought she sounded on the money. I don’t know how much sense the line made, because I wasn’t totally sure about the physics of the JOI unit. Oh, let’s talk about her. I don’t know if their attempts to craft her into a character really worked, but wasn’t sure if the lack of her three-dimensionality was intentional because she was a computer program. I did kind of like how that dovetailed back into the plot/twist. She seemed well programmed at giving the audience exposition, in any case. The sex scene seemed super unnecessary for plot purposes, but as a self-contained scene looked cool, was a neat idea/implementation and felt like the SFX department cracking their knuckles and saying “MUM! DAD! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO.” To this day I don’t know how well dogs can process alcohol. I kind of like the mystery of not knowing. I also had a ton of other thoughts, but they’ll probably get lost in time like tears in rain.

I want a large green fur-lined leather coat.

Coincidentally, “Better” was the only half-decent track from the legendarily delayed Guns N’ Roses album Chinese Democracy.

CW – Rape, rape culture, entitlement #notallmen-tality

Hey guys (and I’m talking to the men here. I have nothing valuable to teach women that they don’t already know), still listening? Lest anything in my tone yesterday came off as self-congratulatory, I’m here to hopefully expunge the thought that I have things to congratulate myself for. We saw countless women come forth yesterday and bravely divulge what they’ve been through. Siting back and say “I’ll try to be better” rings a little hollow without divulging any of my own shit. So here’s a thing. Strap in, this is gonna take a while.

I was 100% on course to become a full fledged, trillby tipping #notallmen-onist. Late teen/early 20s Leon would’ve been all over that shit. Many of you haven’t known me that long. Many of you have. Apart from all the commonplace egregious shit (feeling like women owed me anything at all, judging women based on how they dressed, befriending women largely with the hopes that it could lead to sex/intimacy), I sure did love some Devil’s Advocate or tossing out rape jokes. Grade A genius edgelord shit. Of course I thought rape was abhorrent, but I did love me a good rape joke. Why? Because to me (and I’m pretty sure I used these exact words many a time) rape was an abstract concept. It was a stand in for the worst of the worst. Comedy came from the chasm between expectations and delivery. Accordingly, if I was looking to spice up an innocuous set up, rape was an amazing out of nowhere punch line. I didn’t want anyone to be raped, but I did want people to be shocked.

Yep, I’m reading how fucking stupid this shit is as I’m typing it out. You don’t have to bear with me here. It’s the logic of a moronic twenty-something who knows it all while simultaneously has barely experienced the world.

Thing was, to twenty something Leon rape was an abstract concept. It wasn’t something I had to deal with in my everyday life. I could walk the streets at night without fear, but my life sucked because nobody wanted to fuck me. Yep. Super proud.

It’d be nice to say that I just grew out of it, but I wasn’t (am not) that smart. I got frequently taken to task by more intelligent Women who’d tell me how problematic my behaviour was. I’d engage in endless Devil’s Advocate arguments in an affort to prove some kind of intellectual superiority, then when my shitlord tactics provoked an emotional response, claim the intellectual high ground. This went on for years. Cracks in my bullshit appeared slowly, but let’s not overstate things. I still acted like a total piece of shit.

At some stage, a close friend of mine was raped. I didn’t know what to do. I felt stunned. I was heartbroken at what she’d been put through. I’d never been an angry person, but I had nothing in me but rage. I wanted to kill whoever it was that did it, but had no idea who he was. I physically trembled with no way to manifest the fury inside of me. It just stuck around and with no choice, I sat with it. I had literally no idea how to handle those feelings. I was fortunate enough to have access to a work supplied counsellor who talked me through it. It took time, but having sat with this foreign feeling, it was impossible to see the world in the same way.

Please please PLEASE, no sympathy. Why wasn’t I already blindingly furious? It’s shameful and abhorrent that this is what it took for me to stop seeing rape as an abstract concept. The “know it all” persona didn’t last for long after I discovered just how little I knew.

I started listening more, arguing less. At some stage I started learning. The older I’m getting, the more I’m understanding how little I know. As time goes by, I’m trying to listen even more. I’m trying to learn, but there are still so many little things I’ll never truly understand, because I don’t have to face them constantly on a daily basis.

I’m so sorry for all the shit women have had to put up with on my behalf. I’m sorry for the years of emotional labour to pull my shitty lizard brain to a place of burgeoning understanding. I’m sorry for the shit that I still put women through, even unwittingly. I’m sorry that apologies don’t make things better half as well as action does. I’m sorry that I don’t act nearly as often as I should. I’m thankful that so many women somehow never gave up on me. I should not have been your burden to carry. I still shouldn’t…

 

I don’t know how many men are still reading, but there’s something I want to talk about. I saw a lot of bullshit from self-righteous men yesterday when women were coming forth with their manifold admissions of trauma. There’s some bullshit regressive stereotype still permeating our society that logic is the domain of men and emotion is the domain of women. If this is still relevant to your life, maybe ask yourself why. What’s wrong with being emotional, having the capacity for compassion and empathising with others? Why is it more important for you to try and score “points” at the expense of someone else’s emotional wellbeing? When you’re engaging in these arguments, is it causing you to relive painful emotional experiences? Or are you just doing it out of some self-imposed duty to be “right”? Why do you think it’s #sobrave to poke and prod at the traumatic experiences of others when you haven’t had to repeatedly deal with the shit we men put women through. Because so many of us still believe that women owe us anything. That women exist for the purposes of our pleasure. That a woman’s humanity is secondary to what she can do for us. What is the value of this apparent logic that’s so obsessed with the notion of “winning” through technicalities and loopholes.

In what way is this “right”? It’s right in the way that both Bill Cosby and Jian Ghomeshi were not guilty in the eyes of the law, because the trials were predicated upon discrediting the testimonies of these brave (but unfortunately “emotional”) women. Do any of us really doubt they did it? Does that sound like justice to you? Does that seem like the “right” kind of society you want to live in? One that protects predators and makes victims relive their trauma in the hopes that when exposed to scrutinising light, the most miniscule loophole might shine through?

Men, we still have so an unfathomable amount of work to do to dismantle the bullshit biased society we’ve assembled. If that pressure is too much, let’s start small. The next time you’re about to start/join an argument about something a woman has gone through/is going through, ask yourself some questions: “How much of a personal stake do I have in this argument?” “Do I have tangible lived experience with what she’s talking about?” “What’s the worst that will happen if I don’t engage?” “If I listened instead of talking, could I possibly learn something from a point of view that’s outside of my own?” If any of the answers to the above questions are remotely affirmative, try sitting that one out. See what happens.

I know you’re certain that you have a totally unique point of view. I can assure you that nine times out of ten you don’t. I see the same arguments from men again and again. Why did #notallmen gain such groundswell? Because with no exaggeration, every day I see some supposedly well-intentioned dude pop into a discussion about shitty things that men do and say “yeah, I support what you’re saying for the most part, but I’m not like that.” If you’re not like that, she probably wasn’t talking about you. If she wasn’t talking about you, why would you pop in and make it about you? Do you think that any of your female friends talking shit about men think that you’re the scum of the Earth? Why then would they be your friends at all? If you’re so assured of your logic and intelligence, use that big brain and think about it. You’re not helping.

You can though. You can help. Instead of pouncing into an argument and loudly taking up space, listen and learn. Read what women are saying. Re-read it until it sinks in. Consider how these things make them feel. Do they sound frustrated? Angry? Why do they feel that way? Try putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things from their view point. Would you be angry in their situation? Would you just get over it if it was happening constantly? If you didn’t only have to deal with this shit, but when you expressed your frustrations, people told you that your feelings weren’t valid? Would that make you angry? Would it be possible to see their experiences as more than an abstract concept?

Listen… Learn… Repeat…

Take note of how other men treat women online. Does any of their behaviour seem strange to you? Do they seem like they have personal experience with the matter at hand? Or do they just seem like they’re trying to prove a point in order to prove a point? Does that seem strange to you?

Listen… Learn… Repeat…

Does the way that men carry themselves online still make sense to you. If a guy says something about a woman’s experience that shows little to no empathy, question it. If you know him and feel like he’s a decent dude, call him in. Send him a private message asking why feels that his opinion is more valid than hers. If you can’t call him in, try calling out that behaviour. Tell him that it doesn’t make sense for him to be telling a woman she’s wrong about something he doesn’t experience. Because that doesn’t make sense, right?

Listen… Learn… Repeat…

These are ellipses, not fullstops, because this is an ongoing thing. There’s not gonna be a point where you know everything. The more you learn, however, the more you can educate other men. If we’re gonna get anywhere, we’ve got to get there together. It shouldn’t be the job of women to make us work on our own shit.

Because we need to own our shit. Nobody else can. Be better. That’s your job, not theirs.

Are you complicit? #metoo.

Any of you been on social media today? It’s sad that this #metoo campaign had to exist, but the hope is that the bravery of sexual assault survivors (A.K.A. every woman ever) in coming forward both highlights the alarming frequency of these assaults and provides solidarity for those whom it’s an all too common occurrence. I mean, there should be little argument that any occurrence is all too often, but let’s be real. We live in a world of shitty gendered bias. There are many reasons it sucks to be a woman in our society. Whereby so often these assaults went unmentioned or understated #metoo seems to have changed those ellipses to exclamation marks. Good. I (naively?) hope any who’s been wilfully hiding under a rock starts to take notice.

I’ve seen an avalanche of invaluable conversations. I feel stuck in this weird rally back and forth. It’s not the least bit surprising to hear of how widespread this behaviour is, but that doesn’t make it nice to hear. It’s fantastic to see these aforementioned conversations being raised, but disheartening how commonly the #notallmen brigade jumps in to recuse the statistical validity of calls against men to do better.

I don’t know if any #notallmenonites are reading, but maybe try looking at women calling on men to do better a little differently. It’s another way of saying “the exception proves the rule”. If a woman is talking about her mistreatment at the hands of men and you don’t think it applies to you, maybe you’re the exception that proves her overall rule. If that’s the case, try not jumping in and making it about you, because it probably wasn’t about you in the first place.

The thing is men, we’re all complicit in this societal bias whether we realise it or not. I’d be very surprised to hear otherwise. It’s pervasive enough to be unavoidable. Over the years I’ve said and done a ton of things that contributed to the culture without understanding the insidious ways in which I did so. I’m sure I still do. Acknowledging past faults is important in seeing the path towards better behaviour. Here’s a short list of the stuff I have done and/or may still do unintentionally:

  • Rape jokes. In my teens/early 20s the concept of punching down wasn’t even a blip on my radar. It was all about being as edgy as possible, to push the boundaries to reassert some misguided sense of bravery. Oh no, of course I didn’t think rape was funny, but using it as an abstract concept showed, I dunno, my unwillingness to adhere to rigid social structures? Fuck that. How brave I was as someone who didn’t most likely would never have to face the act firsthand. Fuck off forever, this mentality.
  • Devils Advocate. Forcing people to argue something that caused them emotional strife. Never mind that I had no emotional stake in the subject, I just wanted to argue and flex my intellectual muscles. Or I just liked being “technically right” or some other shitty nonsense. Once again, fuck off forever.
  • Placing my desire for sex above the autonomy, needs and wants of women. Even if I’d never physically pushed anyone towards any sexual activity they weren’t actively seeking (I may well have), so much of this stuff is insidious and ingrained. Did I wilfully misinterpret or ignore “no” signals and keep pushing for a “yes”? Did I objectify women and see them for how their sexuality could benefit me rather than as a person? Befriend women purely because I wanted to sleep with them?
  • Judging women on the way that they looked or dressed. Way to discount someone’s humanity. The clothes that I wear do not fully express the person that I am. Why would anyone else be different?
  • Ignored or spoken above women because I innately didn’t value their opinion? Of course. I’ve spent my life as a loudmouth and it feels like I’ve only recently learned the importance of listening. I have no doubt that I constantly did this and likely still do without thinking.
  • Constant use of gendered language. I’m sure a ton of people mock this kind of specificity, but I feel like there’s something in the way that we talk. Language is an important tool in conveying both meaning and intent. The number of times I’ve referred to large groups of mixed gender as “guys” doesn’t sound like much, but it also sends subtle messages about gender based hierarchy. It’s something I’ve picked up unintentionally throughout my life, but there’s no reason why we can’t unlearn unhelpful patterns. Nobody is truly ever too old to change.

This is not even the tip of the iceberg. Like it or not, all men contribute to patriarchal dominance and oppression. If you’re interested in changing this, maybe examine your behaviours and decide which of these contribute to the kind of world you want to see. Listen to women, not just when it’s trending. If they’re not talking, become the kind of safe space where they feel they can confide. If women are confiding in you, don’t just be horrified. Act, change, grow and help embolden this change in others. Call in shitty behaviour when you can. Call it out when it’s necessary. We can all be better and we have no reason not to continually work towards whatever shape “better” takes in our lives. It’s not a destination, it’s a journey.