Stylist’s Lucy Mangan explains how we move on from #MeToo and prove that it’s #NotAllMen in 2018.
So. It’s #NotAllMen. I get that. The problem is, it’s #somanymorebloody menthanyou’dhoped. I’m finding the Oxfam scandal, centring round news that some of the charity’s staff hired prostitutes (some of whom may have been underage) while in Haiti administering aid after the 2010 earthquake… challenging.
Perhaps ironically, I’m starting to understand how one of my male friends was feeling a few years ago. As yet another revelation emerged about masters at a ‘respected’ private school treating it as a sexual abuse buffet, my friend confessed that he was starting to look at all his mates with a suspicious eye. “You don’t think anyone you know is capable of something terrible,” he said. “And yet – some of them must be. If not now, then somehow as they get older. Otherwise, the maths just doesn’t add up.”
It is becoming more and more emotionally laborious to keep the faith, that’s for sure. Headlines about abuse in the Church or in boys’ schools I could, in fact, cope with. They have, albeit usually in some less public way, always been with us. Jimmy Savile – well, he was such an unsettling character that it at least made a terrible kind of sense of a lot of things. But then the level of collusion revealed… and the number of like-minded souls in powerful positions… The world changed, over those few years, into one in which you felt a genuine flicker of gratitude when a man of any wealth or status died without having been proved to have used it to exploit the vulnerable.
Since then, barely a societal sector has been left undecimated by vile revelations. From the college campus rape crisis in the US to Olympic individuals and institutions, supposedly there to help their charges reach the pinnacles of human achievement, but who functioned as abuse factories instead, to the White House (the pussy-grabber in chief employing the likes of Rob Porter, accused of physically and mentally abusing his two ex-wives). Of course there has been Weinstein – and legions of others in Hollywood, apparently. And now we learn that the aid sector is infected too.
Still, I do, honestly, understand #NotAllMen. But. But. As women do the increasingly heavy work of remembering and believing that, I would like some quid pro quo. Instead of a gathering backlash against the #MeToo movement that says five months of women pooling their stories is quite enough and we all need to Move On, in some unspecified way, now that we’ve stamped our feet and had our little paddy, I would like a loud, clear, constant recognition of the fact that this truth remains: although it’s not all men doing terrible things, most of the terrible things listed above are done by men. These two thoughts are not mutually exclusive. They are very slightly complicated, but they can be understood and held easily in the minds of anyone willing to try.
If we are genuinely going to Move On – by which I mean improve things, build on the work that’s already been done, rather than forgive and forget – everyone needs to try. Including all men. Instead of a backlash to #MeToo, we need to demand louder, stronger support from all those men – the majority! I know! – who hate the horrors as much as we do. Let’s remind those supporting us to reach out to their less enlightened brethren and educate those who would prefer to remain ignorant. Instead of shouldering the entire burden ourselves, we must enlist more warriors. Let’s have proof that it’s #NotAllMen.
Your digital detox is my social Siberia
I admire all my friends who are drastically reducing their social media presence, I really do. But I also think I – and all their other friends who are staying on the digital wheel – should be consulted first. I mean, you wouldn’t go travelling in non-communicable parts of the world without letting me know, would you? (Would you? If so, we definitely need to talk.) So don’t do it here. I need explicit new policies: is it OK to phone you? Will you be weirdly offended that I won’t know what you’ve been up to next time we meet? Will you still be following the rest of us?
All these questions are, of course, proof that we all need to come offline and relearn the basics of friendship and how not to panic if we don’t know every half-thought that crosses each other’s minds between meetings. Equally, we need to remember that a unilateral change in the terms of engagement between friends is also weird. Just send me an emoticon or two to let me know how you’re getting on, at least. Like they did in olden times.
Images: iStock / Rex Features