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Running away...perhaps to fight another day - Flourish and Blotts

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September 16th, 2015

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01:41 pm - Running away...perhaps to fight another day
There is an old saying...so old I'm not even sure I know exactly how the real words actual words go. The gist, however, is that he who runs away lives to fight another day.

I think part of that was meant to somehow justify apparent cowardice, while perhaps tacitly acknowledging that sometimes it just makes more sense to pick a different battle than commit suicide in the current situation. I suppose some might call that cowardice, but staying around, knowing you're going to lose...and die in the process...likely doesn't really serve a useful purpose. Well, at least not unless you expect to find those 72 virgins waiting for you in paradise. For the record, that's not something I personally expect to find regardless of how I might actually die.

There is a movement around roughly known as Not All Men, hashtag #notallmen. The premise is pretty simple.

There's a lot of noise, certainly founded upon facts and history, that women are routinely abused by men. That includes everything from simple misogyny to rape and even murder. It is, without a doubt, under-reported crime, and equally troubling, under-investigated crime. It goes hand in hand with the "she deserved it" or "she was wearing provocative clothing" or any number of other excuses that somehow support the idea that men aren't the problem. It begins with the "boys will be boys" mentality and grows.

It also shows up elsewhere, in things like equal pay for equal work, the glass ceiling, and other long-held societal taboos. In some cases it's justified by religion, and often supported by simple tradition. Some even attempt to justify it using examples from the animal kingdom.

In any case, there are, in my opinion, three things wrong with this.

First, there is the reality that it exists. It DOES exist, and pretending it's okay, or acceptable, or even simply inevitable is NOT appropriate. The City of Portland (OR) acknowledged recently that there are something like 2000 rape/sexual assault kits had never been processed, and only 36% of the kits collected were ever sent for examination. The government cites the expense, but in truth, the answer is something else. In short, investigating these crimes is simply not a priority. Why? Well, because the complainants are women. Yup, it's that simple.

There are likely some officers who didn't pursue the cases because they didn't believe the woman involved. Maybe some who listened to the woman's story and either didn't believe it, or figured it was a consensual situation followed by next-morning remorse. That is not the job of the officer! If there is evidence, as witnessed by the woman submitting to the collection necessary for the kit, then it deserves to be processed. Leave the evaluation to the DA!

Second, there are clearly things our society needs to change. This is a battle no different than woman's suffrage or civil rights. People fight the change because they believe they will lose power by granting equality to others. And let's face it, government and the leadership of society is, for the most part, old white guys...the very people who benefit from the current arrangement.

That change will only happen, and it will undoubtedly be far too gradual, when all of society joins together to work against the problem. That means women and men, of all races, of all genders, and of all religions, need to join. If those within the power system don't join, the power system will prevail. Only once has it not worked that way, but I doubt the women in the United States can muster the forces to do what Iceland did. That may be sad, but I still believe it's true.

The third element is Not All Men. While it's easy to paint pictures in broad strokes, using big wide brushes, that methodology doesn't allow for details. While there are plenty of men who are the problem, and more that tacitly ignore it, not every man belongs to that group. Suggesting that every man is a rapist, or that every man is just one moment away from abusing or harassing a woman is not only untrue, it does great harm to the idea that things need to change. After all, it is those very men who form the front line necessary to force the change.

As an example, if women want to do away with the laws that the GOP has created to control their medical choices, it makes no sense to attack the men who have voted against those laws. They should be treated as allies, not lumped together with the crazoids who want the government inside the examining room.

Anytime a stereotype is allowed to exist, it means that some who are not remotely stereotypical will be thrown into the same pot. It's no different than saying that all Black men are criminals. It's simply not true.

What is true, however, is that good men have every right to be offended when someone says "All men do this." And they have even more right to be offended when #notallmen is attacked. The truth is that not every man is a rapist. The truth is that not every man spends his waking hours considering abusing a woman. The truth is that there are Good Men.

If the supporters of this fight want to enlist more soldiers, they need to start by at least acknowledging that there are Good Men, and that those men are willing to help. Blanket condemnation only makes the battle harder to win.

I should make it clear that many women have good reasons for their fears. They have confronted this reality personally. If the various numbers I've seen quoted are remotely accurate, the number is well over 50%. Not all of those are rapes, but they need not be. The damage is real, and lasting. My point is not that those women should not fear, or at least be wary. They have good reason, and every right to feel those concerns, and I do not for a moment suggest they shouldn't, or that they are being unfair by carrying those emotions and scars.

I do, however, believe that openly bludgeoning all men because of the actions of some, even extending those attacks to men who have done nothing wrong, is counter-productive. Personally I have some real historic issues with "women"...but I don't assume that every one I happen to meet is equally evil. Yes, I've been wrong about that a few times, but I honestly try not to let that color my judgement about someone else.

Personally, I've tried to be a Good Man. I'm not sure I've succeeded, and in any case that's probably a judgement better issued by others, specifically women. I have no doubt I have failed at times, but I can state that it was never my intent. I guess, in the eyes of some (maybe in the eyes of every woman) that's not good enough. In any case, I'm going to pick up my things and retire from this fight. I have little time left, and I'd rather devote my remaining moments to things that bring me happiness. I guess that's being selfish, but at least I won't be bringing sadness to the women I've had the privilege to have known.

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