If the feminist men—the men who proudly declare their progressive politics and their fight for quality—aren’t safe, then what man is? No man, I fear.
I have two sons. They are strong and compassionate—the kind of boys other parents are glad to meet when their daughters bring them home for dinner. They are good boys, in the ways good boys are, but they are not safe boys. I’m starting to believe there’s no such thing.
I wrote an essay in The Washington Post last year, during the height of the Brock Turner case, about my sons and rape culture. I didn’t think it would be controversial when I wrote it; I was sure most parents grappled with raising sons in the midst of rape culture. The struggle I wrote about was universal, I thought, but I was wrong. My essay went semi-viral, and for the first time my sons encountered my words about them on their friends’ phones, their teachers’ computers, and even overheard them discussed by strangers on a crowded metro bus. It was one thing to agree to be written about in relative obscurity, and quite another thing to have my words intrude on their daily lives.
One of my sons was hurt by my words, although he’s never told me so. He doesn’t understand why I lumped him and his brother together in my essay. He sees himself as the “good” one, the one who is sensitive and thoughtful, and who listens instead of reacts. He doesn’t understand that even quiet misogyny is misogyny, and that not all sexists sound like Twitter trolls. He is angry at me now, although he won’t admit that either, and his anger led him to conservative websites and YouTube channels; places where he can surround himself with righteous indignation against feminists, and tell himself it’s ungrateful women like me who are the problem.
(Link to more)