This past Friday morning I was at the “Calling All Men” rally in Washington, D.C., to stop the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In the next two days after I posted a two-minute interview on Twitter, a few thousand responses from women kept pouring in with the same emerging themes by the hundreds.
“Wow!” “Amazing!” and “THANK you!” kept on coming.
“He GETS it!” women tweeted back as if they discovered an alien hidden among the male human species.
“Every man needs to watch this video,” over and over and over.
“He brought me to tears,” over and over and over.
The words in the video come by way of Mysonne, an activist and hip-hop artist who came down from New York City to Washington, D.C., as part of a contingent of men who not only came to oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, but “to stand with women and for women.”
After asking Mysonne “why he came out today,” he spent only 16 seconds explaining why he opposed Kavanaugh, but the rest of the time discussing “rape culture” and “culture of sexual violence” that “men benefit from.”
Where my previous interviews channeled rage toward Kavanaugh, Mysonne first reflected inward on the “similarities” of Kavanaugh “to things that happened in our lives.” This was bigger than Brett.
Here is the interview:
Why were so many women brought to tears? Here are some of the tweet responses:
“I’m bawling. His admission, his apology, his support just struck me deep inside. All these years of our suffering in silence, ignored, told we weren’t valid in a culture of male superiority & their suppression of women, opened up the hurt to come pouring out. We need this.”
“This man made me cry. Because he nailed it. I love it when he said I may have pressured a woman into sex because we are taught to score. That right there!”
After reading through hundreds of these incredibly powerful Twitter comments on my own and on Mysonne’s timeline, this author was also nearly brought to tears. The power of Mysonne’s words were only surpassed by the massive cathartic reaction to it.
Mysonne’s words struck a deep near-universal chord of “he gets it” among women of all races and ages that flooded my own and Mysonne’s timelines with themes of need for acknowledgement, accountability, hope, healing, reflection, and a call to action by men.
Mysonne’s mere acknowledgement of a culture and complicity that promotes sexual violence and harassment was a central theme. For women in the thread, this is what finally being listened to sounds like:
“To be heard, to be acknowledged is so amazing.”
“We are absolutely begging men to really and truly hear our pain, and understand the extent of the collective damage done.”
“Absolutely BEGGING” to be heard?
Okay, let’s listen:
“I cannot explain how much I would give to have the men who have traumatized me to reach out, acknowledge, and apologize for it. But they just go on thinking they’re one of the good ones. #rapeculture”
This is deep — and revealing for men. The denial hurts her more than the assault and Mysonne is vicariously making amends. This helps explain all those tears, and the untapped healing power of men.
Hope, healing and humanity. These three Hs were recurring words. The women in the tweets are not just discussing Kavanaugh, but men in general:
“Today I was feeling hopeless. I didn’t think I could take any more. I didn’t think things would change. You’ve given me hope. You have IDEA… my god, you have no idea”
“The same way we ask white people to change and stand up to white supremacy,”, said Mysoone in the video. “We have to call ourselves to that same duty when it comes to changing rape culture.”
While there were far fewer men responded (naturally), his words garnered a great deal of introspective responses from men.
“Damn, more men, including myself, need to be more reflective like this.”
More than any other time I’ve witnessed on Twitter, many men were being supportive, wrestling and reflecting.
Some of those voices stood up on Friday.
“We showed up here today” says Michael Skolnik who called for the action, “because women have called on us to show up”.
Soon after, Skolnik, Mysonne and 12 other protesters were arrested for blocking the street.
Moments before the arrest, Mysonne said: “It is us as men who are responsible for the trauma and pain of women, and it is us as men who are responsible for starting to heal it. As a man you have to be held accountable.”
It seems the Mysonne and the arrested men view healing, accountability and ending rape culture as a collective endeavor by all men toward all women. And the video response from women proved it’s working. Even still the hundreds responses left me with mixed feelings.
Witnessing the depth of validation so many women felt was absolutely a beautiful thing. Witnessing the emotional starvation that produced such a need for such validation is a terrible thing.
It’s a pretty good barometer of just how pathetic men are at simply listening to women – myself included. Taking nothing away from Mysonne’s introspective insight, but all the “he GETS its” are only possible because so many of us men don’t.
And it’s also possible because men haven’t been listening to all the women who have been talking about rape culture for decades.
That said, if one man in one video can do all that healing in just two minutes, what kind of revolutionary change is possible if men collectively committed to build a culture of accountability and responsibility to end rape culture?