News and Views

News

Voices

Arts

Life and Work

Milestones

Submit your news

Submit commentary

Support us

Become a member

Advertising

Print advertising

Web advertising

About us

Contact us

Privacy Policy

The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

Angle of advocacy was, at best, seriously confused

Originally published in The Commons issue #437 (Wednesday, December 6, 2017). This story appeared on page D1.



RE: “The space between indifference and #MeToo” [Viewpoint, Nov. 29]:

I think it’s very, very good for men to talk about their experiences. If they seem authentic, I care about them, even if they are confused.

On encountering this piece, I asked myself repeatedly, what is MacLean Gander’s point?

The best I can come up with is a direct quote: “It is fair and good to regulate conduct, but not to make it unlawful when it does no harm. If we are ever able to be enlightened, we might find some capacity to recognize the challenge of being human and the complexity of our beings, and in that fashion, perhaps we might become saner and less sick as a culture.”

Gander is asserting a claim of “no harm” when it comes to the drugging of a minor by an adult for the purpose of having a sexual encounter. Even if he feels only “indifference” about his own experience, his adult self should have no difficulty seeing the actual harm and knowing that a line was clearly crossed. A line that defines propriety, safety, and, yes, harm.

No matter how one “feels” about it, a drugged child is not fair game in the conversation about cautiously regulating conduct or even about the age of consent.

I hope MacLean has a good experience of putting himself out there. I hope he realizes that the angle of his advocacy is, at best, seriously confused. I also hope he can connect with feelings other than indifference on the matter at some point.

This isn’t meant to say that he should feel traumatized by the experience, just not numb to his own — according to the facts as he describes them — legal and actual victimization. Like the way he might feel if someone drugged him and was “gentle and kind” as they took him to his ATM to drain his bank account.

Then there is the #metoo element of his piece.

I think it’s hard for men to relate to what #metoo represents to women surviving a culture that has refused to condemn or even talk about the acts of men like Weinstein, et al. before now.

I’ve had a lifetime of people telling me I needed to simply reframe experiences of childhood rape as learning experiences, have the feelings, and move on, not be a victim, all of which have not been productive or real.

#metoo has been more productive in terms of healing than years of self-funded therapy, adopting a warrior stance, forgiving assailants, etc. We live in context, despite the incredible power of the imagination.

Importantly, Gander says that on the perpetrator’s third attempt to woo him to an experience remembered as something he didn’t much like, he rebuffed the man and heard from him no more. This part of his story is significant. I’m heartened knowing the final note on his experience was one of being empowered to make a choice without frightening repercussions. This may be the very reason he doesn’t feel traumatized.

For so many women and girls, the act of saying “no” has resulted in more harm than good. Really.

In Gander’s case, he didn’t have to change his phone number or schools. He is free to pursue his passions and his pay level unencumbered by powerful self doubt resulting from this experience. No one will ever say, “Boys will be boys,” or “Gander could have been nicer.” There will be no point in saying, “Why didn’t he report this sooner?” Nobody will ever ask, “Yeah, but what was he wearing?” No eulogy will be necessary.

This is the real context for femmes/women/girls the world over. Exceptions do not negate the rule. And this is intrinsic to the #metoo conversation.

In the year of Trump and Weinstein, it’s time for men to actively, constructively frame the conversation they need to have and let the #metoo event stand for what it is, unencumbered, without putting their own needs in the middle.

Lisa Kuneman


Guilford

What do you think? Leave us a comment

Editor’s note: Our terms of service require you to use your real names. We will remove anonymous or pseudonymous comments that come to our attention. We rely on our readers’ personal integrity to stand behind what they say; please do not write anything to someone that you wouldn’t say to his or her face without your needing to wear a ski mask while saying it. Thanks for doing your part to make your responses forceful, thoughtful, provocative, and civil. We also consider your comments for the letters column in the print newspaper.