At the very least

I feel complicit.

I have read the stories, the few ones we have been allowed to see, and I feel complicit.

It's an unsettling feeling. Perhaps that is the point. Perhaps that is what I am supposed to feel. Perhaps I must feel unsettled, the way every woman - or at least, those who shared their stories - felt unsettled when they found themselves at the receiving end of an unwanted advance, at the very least an unwanted advance. It's unsettling to think that, despite trying your very best to be respectful - to recognize boundaries, at the very least to recognize boundaries - you are still the perpetrator; you are still the antagonist; you are, and always will be, the monster in the closet.

I'm not saying this as a male who hasn't done any of these things. Heaven knows I may have. Heaven knows I have been inappropriate many times. While at the back of my head it was never about getting a sexual advantage, others may think of it as that. Intentions, in everything, are never clearly expressed, but are rather implied - and then we work through that.

I know apologies do not cover the extent of any wrongs done, but still, the least I can do at this moment is apologize to anybody and everybody I may have wronged. The least I can do is vow to continue checking myself. I will not turn into Prince Charming overnight; this world we were born into, this world we find ourselves in, is Mount Everest, and to conquer it takes preparation and practice runs and support, lots of it. Yet many have stumbled. Yet people continue to climb.

At the very least, I should be doing that. Yet I feel disheartened, because I am a monster, I'm told, and I always will be. I will never change. I will always have my carnal interests in mind, first and foremost. I will always look at a woman and think of how I can get under her pants. Or so I'm told, without actually being told that.

Yes, monsters exist. There are those who prey. There are those who use their positions of power to prey. There are those who actively keep quiet, even actively cover up, to be able to stay where they are. But there are also those who find themselves caught up in the system. There are those who are at a loss for what to do. There are those who try their best to make a difference, but are thwarted by the sheer scale of things. There are those who don't know at all.

I feel disheartened that, despite that, we are being painted with broad strokes. Perhaps that is the point. Perhaps that is what I am supposed to feel. Perhaps I must feel disheartened, the way every woman - I will assume it's every woman this time - felt disheartened when they are passed over, or shut down, or ignored altogether, whenever they stand up for themselves. Perhaps I should feel invalidated, the way they have all this time.

I see the whole taking-control-of-the-narrative thing. I get that. I understand that. But that also meant I feel stupid whenever I have thoughts of my own about issues along these lines. I have written about this a couple of times before, and I feel there's always someone out there looking to pounce on me, looking not necessarily to prove me wrong, but to make me look wrong regardless. Then again, perhaps that is the point. We just end up in a loop, stomping on others' feet on our way to the podium with the megaphone. "It's my turn - and you're a monster."

Well, isn't the system the monster? Isn't the system the bigger monster in the closet? There will always be the Harvey Weinsteins and the Bill Cosbys and the Jimmy Saviles, but there will also be those who merely try to navigate the maze and find more dead ends than promising leads. And they are vilified for finding those dead ends, despite the best of intentions. It's difficult to undo decades of mindsets. I have uncles tell me to wear shirts with Ara Mina on them because I am a big boy. I have a father who chastised me for being afraid of a beetle, and made me hold one, never mind my wailing. I have had colleagues who ask me how I rate a woman on the other table while we drank. I have had peers who made fun of me for, at the time, not knowing what "masturbate" is. My point is, we try our best, but right now our best will never be good enough. There is just so much to chip away at.

But it's not about me this time, isn't it? Because I am just a monster in the closet, always lurking, waiting for the best time to pounce, with no hope of changing for the better. For that alone I must give up any right to react, or to have a say at all. And perhaps, at the very least, that is the point.

And your responses...

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