A few years ago, I worked for a women’s rights NGO, mobilizing men and boys both to stop violence in their communities against women and girls and to advocate for gender equality. Though the funding ran out for my position, and I no longer work for the organization, I haven’t stopped. Why?
Because, according to the CDC, one of every five American women will be raped in their lifetimes, meaning 23 million American women alive today have been raped or will be.
Because, according to the CDC, 44 percent of all other American women will still experience some other form of sexual violence, meaning 53 million other American women have been, or will be, violated in some other way.
Because only one out of every three sexual assaults is actually reported.
Because study after study affirms that 92 to 98 percent of all sexual assault accusations are true, similar to accusations for other major categories of crime.
Because, according to the Department of Justice, over 75 percent of rape victims know their attackers before they are assaulted, a number rising to 90 percent in college.
Because Clarence Thomas was still confirmed as a justice on the United States Supreme Court.
Because Bill Clinton was still elected, and then re-elected, President of the United States.
Because Arnold Schwarzenegger was still elected, and then re-elected, governor of California.
Because Donald Trump was elected and remains President of the United States, despite 22 women coming forward, including friends of mine. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said.
Because Woody Allen still gets to make films with A-list stars, as if nothing ever happened.
Because Bill Cosby still has defenders, despite 60 women coming forward.
Because Harvey Weinstein could attack and violate even one woman, much less dozens, yet be protected by a conspiracy of silence that enabled him to victimize dozens more.
Because Florida State’s Jameis Winston still won the Heisman Trophy and was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the first pick in the NFL draft.
Because Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger still made gazillion$.
Because while preparing to defend us by land, air, and sea, nearly half of all women enrolled at West Point, the Air Force Academy, and the Naval Academy reported that they had been sexually assaulted during their time there, according to the Department of Defense.
Because of those football players, fraternity brothers, or other male students at Steubenville High School, Baylor University, (You-Name-It) High School, and (Fill-in-the-Blank) University.
Because Brock Turner is a sex offender, not just a swimmer at Stanford University whose prospects for the future would have been damaged if he spent more than three months in jail.
Because of the astronomy professor, the philosophy professor, and the law school dean at UC-Berkeley.
Because it has almost certainly happened at your own high school and college.
Because it definitely happens in your own neighborhood and place of worship.
Because there are Trumps, Cosbys, Weinsteins, and Turners in every industry, field, and sector in America.
Because men who commit sexual assault almost never stop at one victim, and they never admit to all of them.
Because I have so many friends who have experienced sexual violence.
Because you do, too. You just don’t know it.
Because for most of my life, despite being a highly empathetic guy, my male privilege still blinded me to how rampant sexual violence is and how many times every day women have to think about their personal safety.
Male privilege is so powerfully blinding. We men must help each other to see and act.
Because men are the vast majority of perpetrators of violence against women and girls, and if I, and other men, don’t do something about it, it won’t stop.
Because #MeToo breaks my heart, makes me pissed as hell, and reminds me that there’s nothing I can do in this lifetime more sacred than working to stop violence against women and girls.
Because so far in this post, I’ve only mentioned conditions within the United States.
Because I want this world to be better for daughters – both mine, and everyone else’s.
To all who posted #MeToo, and to all who could have, I am so, so sorry for what you’ve been through. I’m just one man, without much in the way of resources, but I pledge to you that I won’t ever stop working for justice and change.