Tuesday, October 17, 2017


I wish I could say #IHaveAndNeverAgain

But I can't.

I take promises seriously, and this is one I cannot make. I cannot say that I will never again exercise the privilege I am granted simply because of my gender in a manner that hurts people. Because every time I act with that privilege, it hurts people. The problem here is that not acting is an act of privilege, too. Sounds like a catch 22, and it is.

This problem is too complex for hashtags, so I'm not trying to critique the men who are striving to be supportive. I've been sexually harassed, coerced into sexual activity, so I get, too, how important it is for men who have are survivors to say #metoo out of both solidarity and finding voice. But I am going to explore this because when I saw #IHaveAndNeverAgain, something in me said I couldn't say that. I'm glad there are men who can say it. I just can't. There have been too many times when I have done my damnedest to help, and I have hurt the very people I'm trying to help. There have been too many times when I've done things I thought were agreed to, only to learn that because of the privilege and power I have, there was no way for the person I thought of as a partner to consent. My understanding of what is helpful or appropriate has changed over time, and, I hope, will continue to change over time. As change moves forward, I see my past behavior in new light and know that I must do better. Even as I write this, I wonder if I am taking up space that isn't mine.

All of that adds up to a big pile of broken promises if I say #IHaveAndNeverAgain. While it is my intention to never use my privilege in a manner that hurts, I know that it is unrealistic to never hurt people with it as long as I have privilege.

Instead, I'm sticking with #IHave. I'm standing in the place of responsibility because it is the only thing I can do.

I have abused my power
I have assaulted
I have violated boundaries
I have sexually harrassed
I have coerced
I have pushed
I have ignored my conscience
I have objectified
I have made women small
I have taken up space that wasn't mine
I have occupied
I have colonized
I have forgotten

The last one hits me hard. When I have been victimized by power, I don't forget, but as someone who has abused power, I have forgotten. How many of my early sexual experiences or explorations as a child with boys and girls, were consensual? None of us could consent under the law. But more importantly, power imbalances were a part of so many of those early experiences. Some days I don't think any of my relationships before my current one were consensual.

Consent isn't just "no means no." Consent is "only yes means yes," and the person saying "yes" must be able to consent. That just wasn't a part of my thinking growing up. I'm horrified by my behavior in some of my past relationships. I met with a high school friend a few months ago and while we were talking I told her I felt lucky that anyone I was sexually involved with back then would talk to me.

All too often in my relationships I have assumed that the person I was with could say no. The reason I am a feminist, the reason I wrote this blog, the reason I am looking for an end to the system of Great White Male privilege is because I feel terribly alone. It is horribly difficult to have relationships with other men. Relationships with women cannot be equal simply because no matter how much our constitution guarantees equality under the law, our society refuses to change its rape culture.

So take my fucking man card already. Take my white bro card. Until the system of privilege ends, I will shovel this shit.

#IHave an extra shovel if you want to join me


  1. Nice post - I created the #Ihaveandneveragain post so this caught my eye (and Antonia is awesome). I get your concern and more importantly your bigger commitment to create a just world. I say that happens one small step at a time and guys like us can play a big role by owning what we have caused the then commit to creating a better world. So will it take something to make a bold declaration and is there great likelihood that we will stumble - absolutely. But the more we can own how we have created this world, the more likely we can create something new. But we have to do both. Friend me on FB if you want to talk more. You aren't alone. Joey Chandler

  2. Absolutely!! Looking forward to connecting!