Since The New York Times’ investigative piece on Harvey Weinstein’s decades of serial rape and harassment blew open the ugly underbelly of rape and harassment culture and the #MeToo movement took root, women en masse have called for an examination of that culture. Now Times columnist Charles M. Blow has issued a call to action to deal with the problem of toxic masculinity and the rules of attraction or suffer the consequences in a piece titled “This Is a Man Problem.”
Blow, who came out as bisexual in 2014, began his essay by acknowledging these watershed Weinstein effect moments.
“It is impossible to say too often or loudly how important a moment this is, when many women feel brave and empowered enough to speak up about being sexually assaulted or harassed by powerful men,” Blow wrote.
He continued by highlighting that most survivors of sexual abuse and harassment are women without a voice, recourse, or a “celebrity attorney” who will help bring the accused to justice or, at the very least, to light.
Blow excoriated the culture that has rewarded masculine aggression while also teaching women and girls that the only way to avoid that intense male behavior is to protect themselves, which is an impossible situation.
“We say to boys, be aggressive. We say to our girls, be cautious,” Blow wrote. “Boys will be boys and girls will be victims.”
Since Weinstein was exposed there have been 40 or so men in power across industries including Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore, Charlie Rose, Glenn Thrush, Jeffrey Tambor who’ve been accused of sexual abuse, often by several accusers. In his column, Blow highlighted behavior men like Weinstein and Ratner have been accused of, like taking their penises out in a business situation, forcing women to watch them masturbate, and ultimately, of rape:
“There is no 'sex' without consent. To believe that is a twisting of terminology. Rape is not sex; it’s rape. Unwanted touching is not sexy; it’s assault. Sexual advances in a professional environment, particularly from a position of power, are highly inappropriate and could be illegal.
“Also in business environments, rubbing your penis against people — known as Frotteurism, in case you’re wondering — masturbating in front of them, or even showing your penis is wrong and humiliating and possibly illegal. In fact, doing these things in almost all environments is wrong and possibly illegal.”
Beyond shining a light on the abhorrent behavior of so many men abusing their power in various ways, Blow placed the onus on men to learn to notice and better understand cues around consent.
Most importantly, Blow debunked the myth that a male erection is a thing that must be serviced at all cost, an important admission.
“Women are not responsible for men’s bad behavior. The idea that horny men can’t control themselves is a lie!”