I was about 21 when a group of my male friends started playing a game they called Summer of Love. I’d been in one intimate relationship and had sex a total of twice in my life.
The game was as follows: you get points for having sex with a member of the opposite sex over the summer, extra points for blowjobs, threesomes and different partners. It was negative 100 points for starting a relationship in that time.
I remember finding the whole thing repulsive. It reduced women to points to be scored, encouraged and perpetuated predatory behaviour. I came in at dead last with -100 points when I stopped counting.
I did the wrong thing.
I didn’t call out anyone involved, didn’t challenge this awful behaviour. I refused to take part, but sitting back and watching is still being complicit. I was a coward.
I don’t like the word hate. I believe hate only festers, only gets in the way of progress and understanding.
I hate my world’s culture of toxic masculinity.
I hate that the actions of males have turned people I respect angry and bitter.
I hate that my wife has to dress a specific way to feel comfortable just walking down the fucking street.
I hate that writers I know who are way more talented, thoughtful and dedicated than me don’t enjoy the same freedom to create without abuse or criticism, solely for the reason that they are women.
I hate that people I love, my mother, my sister, my wife and every single woman I know have been degraded, assaulted and intimidated by the disgusting behaviour of men.
Most of all I hate that my cowardice has been a part of that.
Women have always been braver than men. They’ve had to be. Men can hide behind a system they’ve created, a world where the supposed natural order of things makes it a living nightmare for half the population.
Men need to be brave. It is not our nature to act like this. Human nature is to rise above ourselves, to tear down evil constructs and replace them with what is right and good.
We can be better. It is not an impossible task to make this world a safe and equal place for the women in our lives. It is not too hard to change a thought, and once we lose the part of ourselves that raises us by dragging women down we will be ten times better for it.