I’m about to mansplain something. I could use the trope – ‘As a father of two daughters’ – but that would only mildly deflect from my obvious attempts to impose my male worldview on to a female issue. I could say that my favourite book of the last year is Mary Beard’s Women & Power – A Manifesto, but that would be seen for the weak attempt to garner credibility that it is.
So no, I’m holding my hands up and admitting from the outset that I am mansplaining.
The #MeToo ‘phenomenon’ has not gone too far. It is not even a phenomenon and it isn’t a reckoning either. I’m sorry, it’s just not.
A phenomenal speech at the Golden Globes is not a reckoning. A handful of men losing their jobs is not a reckoning. Thousands of phenomenal women (and men) telling their stories AND being believed is not a reckoning. Me and you no longer being able to watch House of Cards is not a fucking reckoning.
For so many people to so quickly take the line that it’s gone too far, or its become a witch-hunt is nothing but a patriarchal hegemony reasserting itself under the guise of #NotAllMen.
Unless we look at our workplaces, our social structures and ourselves and then call-out the power imbalances, the inappropriate behaviours and the personal blindness, then we are not any closer to a reckoning then we were a few months ago.
#MeToo isn’t a destination, it’s a step on a journey. Getting off the path because it’s gone “too far” is just letting ourselves off the hook.
In Ireland we are hours, maybe days, away from the wording on a referendum to repeal the 8th amendment. In less than six months we will get to vote on this, and it’ll pass. And it won’t be a reckoning. It’s a simple matter of numbers. The baby boom generation are now in the ascendancy. Those of my age are the most significant voting bloc in the country today.
The 35-45yr olds are beginning to realise they hold the reins of power. Even the Taosieach is one The Pope’s Children. So it’ll pass. But the wording might echo the #MeToo backlash, by saying that full bodily autonomy for women is “going too far”.
I even heard the echo of Donald Trump in his (thankfully) ill fated attempts to destroy Obamacare; the Trumpist language of repeal and replace has crept into the Irish abortion debate. I’d argue it should be a more Irish repeal and feck off. But you might think I’m going too far.
Think about it again. How can calls to stop sexual harassment go too far? Why is an awkward conversation about something that was or wasn’t ‘just horseplay’ going too far? Where is the line?
The only thing that’s gone too far now is the call to halt progress. Rosa Parks wasn’t too tired to give up her seat. She was tired of inequality, and yet there were those in the NAACP who said she had gone too far. They were wrong; we can all see that now.
#MeToo is, as The Badass Feminist Coloring Book author Ijeoma Oluo explains, a women smacking away at the tip of an iceberg with a small ice-pick and not even getting close to what is below the surface. It is not a phenomenon and it is not a reckoning. But it might be the start of both.
If I know anything it is that I know nothing. So I question myself, as a husband, a father, a friend and a work colleague. I’m not going too far when I say I have gone too far and overstepped lines I pretended not to see. I could play my Lad Card, or I could use the locker room talk defence, but that would be more mansplaining, and there should be a reckoning for that.
There was never a night that could defeat a sunrise.
Tony Groves Jan 2018