How should a gentleman react to Time Magazine’s choice of Person of the Year?
Time has named “the Silence Breakers” – women who spoke out against sexual abuse and harassment – as its “Person of the Year”. It seems perfectly fitting, given how impactful their horrifying stories have been on removing these powerful abusers from their previously impenetrable kingdoms and on changing the way we treat the victims who have the courage to come forward.
“This is the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said. He told NBC’s Today program that it “began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women – and some men, too – who came forward to tell their own stories”. (Link to Article) You’d think that any decent male human being would first applaud this type of societal evolution, even though it means admitting that some members of our sex have been guilty of being pigs. But what’s the first point some Reddit user named TasslehoffBurrfoot tries to make when he posts the Person of the Year news to Reddit at r/mensrights?
What about Terry Crews?
Then, without taking even a second to see if this concern is valid, another guy aptly named sycophantasy jumps in right away and says, “Because they forgot. Because everyone would forget every man who came forward. It’s apparently not news.” (Link to Subreddit)
Only they didn’t forget.
If TasslehoffBurrfoot and sycophantasy would have just taken the time to read the piece, they’d have seen that Terry Crews is mentioned in the article. In fact the writer makes a constant point to say ‘men and women’ whenever victims are mentioned, but I guess because a man wasn’t pictured on the front cover cave man TasslehoffBurrfoot decided to jump right into what TV host John Oliver calls ‘whataboutism’.
It’s a Trump thing.
Oliver has noticed that the president uses certain techniques “to insulate himself from criticism and consequence.” ‘Whataboutism’ is one of these methods where Trump deflects any potential criticism by pivoting to the perceived wrongdoing of others. Oliver said that this “depressingly effective” tool is used all the time on Fox News and showed a clip in which Fox News deflected from collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia to question the Democrats’ relationship with Russia. (Link to Clip/Article)
Unfortunately, it’s non-productive.
“The problem with whataboutism is it doesn’t solve a problem or win an argument,” Oliver says. “The point is just to muddy the waters, which can make the other side mad.”
Take TasslehoffBurrfoot’s Terry Crews question.
Instead of saying, “Wow, so many female victims – come on, guys, we’ve got to do better,” he insulates from male criticism and consequence by asking, “But what about Terry Crews?” He might as well of said, “Forget the female victims, what about the males?” Now instead of participating in a constructive discussion on how rampant sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace is and how we can work together to change this, he’s muddied the waters and shifted focus away from the real issue.
And that, gentlemen, is exactly what makes the other side mad.
It would be like talking to your neighbor about how his dog craps in your yard and he asks, “Well, what about your leaky gutters?” Not only would that tick you off, it also keeps Duke’s rude owner from ever dealing with the real issue at hand. John Oliver called on Americans to “train ourselves to identify” when whataboutisms are used “because their natural endpoint is the erosion of our ability to decide what’s important, have an honest debate, and hold one another accountable.”
So how should a gentleman react to Time Magazine’s choice of Person of the Year?
A good start would be to acknowledge how important it is that victims of workplace harassment and abuse are finally able to come forward in America instead of having to hide silently in fear of losing their jobs. Another solid move might be to admit to some females you respect that obviously this has been an ignored problem for years and that you’re happy that this discussion is finally happening. It takes courage for cave men to stand erect, but it’s the only way for evolution to happen, and it’s time to get a real backbone when it comes to this issue.
What about it, gentlemen?
- Mike Lukas
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