From the editor: Stacey Craig’s open letter to men in power was posted on Facebook and started a dialogue that lead to more than just an online rant. It led to the start of men redefining masculinity within themselves and in our community. Read more about the Men of All Souls program, Redefining Masculinity and the story of this progressive movement on One Woman’s Righteous Rant Helps Men End Misogyny.
To Men in Power
I write this because I am a mother of daughters, and it’s time for women like me to speak up. I write because women and girls are not objects created for the amusement of crass, uncaring narcissists. I write because women, girls, and male allies—the truly powerful ones—must make their voices heard.
Men who abuse their power to sexualize others must be called out. It’s time for abusive men to be called out of their boardrooms, their back lots, their frat houses, their sanctuaries, and their sports arenas.
You think that back-slapping sex talk is manly? That it’s OK to assault women and then to boast about it? That you can get away with anything because of your position? You think you have power?
Do you feel powerful when you’re boasting about how you avoided the messier aspects of child-rearing? No. Real power is the dad who enjoys changing his baby’s diapers because he wants to ease his child’s discomfort.
Do you feel powerful when you measure a female’s body with your eyes? No. Real power is sitting night after night at the kitchen table teaching your young daughter mathematics.
Do you think you’re powerful when you tell a ten-year-old girl that she’s merely a sex object that you’ll be dating in ten years? No. Real power is taking that girl to dance classes and piano lessons every week so that she can become what she wants to become.
Truly powerful men are not crass or callous. They cry. They show tenderness. They admit when they are wrong. They resolve conflicts without being defensive or accusing others. They work, and laugh, and play with their families. They help others learn and succeed. They care.
I don’t want to give the impression that I’m targeting only one individual, vile and loathsome as he is. Other men in powerful positions use their rank to gain sexual gratification: actors, priests, athletes, justices, and even presidents.
Many of us were sickened by a former president’s testimony that attempted to split hairs as to what constitutes sex. He spent days sidestepping and spinning his actions to look like a consensual dalliance. That wasn’t an “affair;” it was an abuse of power.
My teenage daughters could tell you about power differentials and why it is NOT OK for a person in power to engage in sexual contact with a subordinate. They can explain what constitutes consent. They have a full understanding of all this because their father and I have taught them from the time they were babies, “You are the boss of your own body.”
When men in powerful positions attempt to explain away their actions by dismissively saying it was only locker room talk, that boys will be boys, or that it wasn’t really sex, they attempt to strip away women’s and girls’ personhood. And they are contributing to a rape culture that objectifies, sexualizes, and abuses women and girls—and sometimes boys as well.
Men in power, it’s time for you to hear this: we are NOT your playthings. We are NOT objects to be talked about, leered over, or groped. When you speak degradingly of women and girls, you degrade yourselves. When you violate others, you will be held accountable—in courtrooms and in voting booths.