If I’m the ‘Good Guy’ I Think I Am, I Need to Advocate for Women — Like My Daughters
By Paul Simard
Photo © rastlily/stock.adobe.com
May 27, 2020
I have spent a large part of my life in locker rooms.
Whether it was hockey or soccer, at school or in the community, sports have been a big part of my socialization.
I’m now a father of three daughters and I’m trying to raise them in a post-#MeToo world, a world that I believe is seeing masculinity severely challenged, if not outright attacked.
This mother credits the #MeToo movement for giving her daughters opportunities she didn't. Read about that here.
Reflecting on a life in sports, I am now keenly aware of how much of that socialization was, and continues to be, unhealthy and dangerous.
That’s because #MeToo mobilized an inspiring movement. Men and women everywhere stepped forward and shared stories of their abuse.
Pretty soon, I — perhaps like you — was watching in shock as story after story filled the headlines. And in many cases, people I knew began to share the hashtag on their own timelines. No explanation required.
I was shocked, horrified and angry. But I fell asleep at night knowing that those men were not me, and I was not like them. I was one of the so-called “good guys.”
But my radar had been triggered, and as I began to learn more about what made this kind of behaviour possible, I started to see more and more of it in my own world.
It also got me thinking: am I sure I am not like them?
Looking at Myself
So I dug deep, searching for stories that may put me in the same camp as a Harvey Weinstein or a Bill Cosby.
Upon examining my own life, I came up empty. But my memories were jogged and I did not like what I was remembering.
I remembered more than one coach or parent yelling for someone to stop “playing like a girl” or to “man up.” At the time, hearing “play like a girl” suggested to me that girls lose and are inferior, and it was a message coming from adults.
Where the Conversation Is
Off the field, these conversations flourish. They can be in the locker room, boardroom or anywhere men might gather.
As a dad, hearing the stories floated casually makes my stomach churn.
And they’re stories about exploits in the bar from the weekend, or describing women in graphic and demeaning detail.
The office, meant to be a space where professionalism reigns supreme, can be just as bad.
I can remember men making comments about who we should hire or how “good” a new co-worker was based on how they looked or dressed, and justify it by saying it is no more than a joke.
I hate in-person confrontation. I avoid it at all costs. Especially in situations like these.
"Knowing that I was one of the 'good guys' helped me sleep at night."
To challenge someone for this kind of behaviour takes an incredible amount of courage, a level I cannot claim mastery of. Until now, I’ve turned my head, averted my eyes and kept quiet.
In the end, I would fall back on the ever-reliable, "That's not me."
Knowing that I was one of the “good guys” helped me sleep at night.
Because I believe most men are “good guys.”
But like me with my head down, many don’t speak up. Which I think makes us enablers normalizing patterns of abuse.
Don’t Be Quiet
Stepping up and confronting people who are exhibiting these behaviours is a step I feel compelled to take, because if I don’t — there is no reason to expect it to stop.
It is easy to stay on the sidelines. I know, I was there.
It’s a safe feeling not being the one implicated. That is, until a hashtag hits home.
For my daughters, my role as I see it is to not only give them the tools to navigate this world, but to contribute to making it as safe a place as possible.
"It’s a safe feeling not being the one implicated. That is, until a hashtag hits home."
One day, the locker room talk, the office jokes, the stories of a night out, or worse… any of it could be about them.
Thinking of my kids as the victim of lewd comments makes me sick to my stomach.
So I believe it’s time for men to be more than just self-satisfied “good guys.”
It’s Not Easy
Finding the courage to step up and speak out against this kind of behaviour will put most men “on the outside.” Especially with other men.
In the dressing room, maybe you’ll be a killjoy, a wuss or worse. Depending on where you work — I currently don’t work with a team where these dynamics are present — there may be eye-rolling, excuses and more jokes.
I’ve decided there’s really no choice in the matter for me. If I want to be the father my daughters deserve, who leads the way I want them to lead — with courage and vulnerability — then this is how I plan to “be a man.”
What’s more, other men are doing it. They are strong men that we can emulate: Justin Baldoni and Dwayne Johnson are a couple of examples. Thanks to them, and every man reading this, we can become the men others can reference and say, “I am like them. They are me, and I am them”.
And that world is a better, safer place for everyone.
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