North Texas Daily

Men need to hold one another accountable for their misogyny

Men need to hold one another accountable for their misogyny

Men need to hold one another accountable for their misogyny
March 06
08:00 2022

I was working in Willis library last week when I overheard a conversation between two men. I wasn’t very invested until I heard one of them refer to a person he had been seeing as “a b**** in heat.” I was shocked — I had heard the phrase, but never thought I would live to hear a person in real life use it, especially in the context of someone having a romantic interest. Of course, his friend laughed — all too ready to give the disrespect a green light.

In a society that necessitates the #MeToo movement, those of us men who are not responsible for the pain caused by our abusive counterparts need to hold one another accountable.

For men, it’s all too easy to nod your head in agreement when someone says to treat others with respect, and easier still to call yourself a believer in equal treatment. But for many men, the real challenge lies where the commitment actually needs to be made.

Letting misogynistic humor or comments persist simply because no one else is around to reprimand you or your friends is a betrayal of any sincerity about caring for your non-male friends. It is you who can be there to tell them it’s wrong. Think of the long car rides, the late-night calls gaming with your friends and the private conversations with one another. In those private moments, what reflects on your character the most?

We are always shocked to hear when someone we know has some sort of accusation levied against them, and quickly try to back it up with an explanation. We hope the people we surround ourselves with would never do anything that would constitute harassment. Yet whenever we see the warning signs, we choose to brush them away as “dark humor.” But why would is it funny to objectify someone?

If we laugh when our male friends make generalizations about women, then it’s easier to chuckle whenever they objectify a stranger. From there, it’s just a bit easier to hear them talk about someone you know in a degrading way. That hole just gets deeper and deeper, and when we finally take a moment to look around, we find ourselves unable to see what’s “just a joke” and what’s a sign of real misogyny.

We may feel like it’s OK to let things like that slip. It’s just one phrase, right? It doesn’t really matter what we say when we’re in private as long as we are tolerable in public. Not only is this an absurd lack of integrity, but this duality actually numbs you to critical thinking.

Holding men accountable also includes partaking in some metacognition. How do you think about your female and nonbinary friendships and relationships? What have you said in the past that may have been disparaging? It can be a harrowing experience to hold the mirror up to yourself, one that leads to anxiety:

What if they misinterpreted an experience? Could I have been more appropriate?

These questions are normal, and the display of concern alone is a healthy start to being more mindful about these kinds of things.

What’s so important about self-review is that a lot of the things we do to perpetuate the negative mindsets of others are such minuscule things: laughing instead of showing disapproval, nodding your head in agreement instead of saying something or not standing up for those who are not there to defend themselves.

The change required of us and the world is not going to be something that happens overnight, and there is still a long road filled with accountability, listening and responsibility we must go down before we can say we’ve truly made progress.

The final piece to this guide to accountability is to listen to your non-male friends. If they are comfortable sharing, listen to their experiences. Don’t quantify them, don’t try to justify anything or promise some form of vengeance in their name. Just listen. Most likely, there are more stories out there than you know. Every time one of your male friends decides it’s funny to put someone down based on their gender, remember their experiences.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Ayden Runnels

Ayden Runnels

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