Break Out of the Culture of Complicity

by | Oct 28, 2017

I’m a guy. Therefore, other guys expect me to be like them (a guy’s guy). But, I have never been that guy, a fact that disappoints some men, and makes a certain percentage of them afraid of me.

Many men expect other men to understand their need for sexual conquest, and to have their backs. Sadly, millions of complicit men have learned to nod along or to look away from the bad behavior of men near them, because they find it too hard to challenge another man or a group of men.

No one wants to be the lone wolf, but I’m well suited for it. When I was in college, I joined a fraternity for three months, before walking away in disgust. I was then known as a GDI, which stands for “god damn independent,” neatly showcasing the wide acceptance for independent thinking at our nation’s colleges.

Have you ever considered why so many young women are viciously preyed upon and attacked while attending college? Could it have anything to do with fraternity brothers glorifying and in some cases demanding sexual conquest from their frat brothers, and then encouraging or demanding that the details of the “sex” act be shared and celebrated widely throughout the brotherhood?

I distinctly recall a guy from another college bragging to me, and our mutual friend, about how he and his frat brothers penetrated a girl with a lacrosse stick while she was unconscious from alcohol overuse. The fact that this happened is horrific. The fact that the guy thought we wanted to hear about the crime and someone celebrate it with him is the larger sickness.

Dirty old men don’t just get that way one day by chance. Many of them have been sexual predators for decades. Some are sly about it and pursue their sick attacks until caught. Others, like Don Trump, are utter buffoons who brag about it, just like they did back at the frat house.

Mimi Kramer, former New Yorker theater critic and longtime writer on books and popular culture explains the impulse behind sexual harassment.

It’s about getting away with something. It’s about seeming to be one sort of person, a ‘pillar of the community’ — responsible, dignified, respectable, a family man, a liberal, a progressive, Presidential, whatever — while really being A Very Bad Boy. That’s exciting for some men. Not the being bad part. The getting-away-with-it part. It isn’t just about power over individuals, the women you victimize. It’s about power over society and the court of public opinion, the thrill of risking everything on one roll of the dice, knowing that it isn’t really all that much of a risk — because nobody will believe her.

Now, the question is where do you, as a man, stand? Are you with the sexual predators and harassers? Or are you with the women of the world?

If you’re with the women of the world who are your sisters, mothers, and daughters, then it’s time to stand up and be heard. Next time some jackass starts spouting off, or whatever other sexist bullshit the guy is pulling, intervene. Not because the woman in question can’t defend herself—intervene because you can’t stand the pattern of abuse for one more moment.

There have times in my own life when I failed to intervene and take down a predator. I hope those days are behind me now, and that I can find the strength to kick the living shit out of the patriarchy (while consciously working to remove any shreds of sexist indecency that continue to live inside of me—after all, I was raised in and live in this deeply sexist culture).