One Woman’s Message To White Straight Men

Plenty of women in your life are now being empowered to call you out. Be prepared.

For the past month, most of the women in your life have been triggered or worse. No, make that for the past year, exacerbated by the waves of news now hitting us about issues we already knew existed — and have been telling you about for decades: gender bullying, abuse, inequality, sexual harassment, assault, and rape. I have experienced all of them — online and in real life — and am qualified to post these observations.

More than two years ago, I made a personal commitment that I would no longer actively support white cis male candidates. Given a choice, I would put my efforts into getting people from underrepresented groups into those positions. Yes, I still vote for white cis males, but almost always because it is the only option I have. And in light of this article referenced: It’s damn depressing.

Here is what I want to say to white, cis, straight men:

* You are not “special,” nor do you have a “right” to leadership positions. I find that sort of attitude, which I’ve experienced since I was a young child, positively maddening. Yes, I may be looking at YOU…

* You might want to take a detailed inventory of your actions as a male throughout your life. I can almost guarantee you that you have, at the least, bullied or abused or harassed a girl/woman at some point in your life. If you got “woke,” have apologized and intentionally plan on actively learning to recognize and change your behavior — good for you! But no prizes. Plenty of women in your life are now being empowered to call you out. Be prepared.

* The patriarchy is real and it is EXHAUSTING for women — especially women of color.

* If you are being called out, there is probably a damn good reason for it. Please Sit Down. Be Quiet. And LISTEN. Period. A recent article shared by Norwegian National Public Broadcasting cites statistics that of those who were banned from social media commenting on one of the country’s major news sites, 9 out of 10 were MEN OVER 50. If that is Norway, just imagine what it’s like in the United States. And think of what those statistics tell women.

* It is time for you to step down from (and quit running for) leadership positions and let women and those from other underrepresented groups lead for a change. Are you afraid of “losing your power”? You should have thought about that while the rest of us have been fighting for equal rights and protections. If you had fought for us as hard as we fought for you, you would not need to worry so much right now. Your “power” underlies rape culture and is supported by fragile, toxic masculinity. We have had enough.

* Do not underestimate THE RAGE that women and other underrepresented people have historically held (and continue to hold) in check. Frankly, I’m tired of being “polite” and I am finding that I have less patience and time for trying to protect fragile male egos.

For EVERYONE: If you remain silent when you see someone being bullied, abused, harassed, YOU ARE COMPLICIT. As someone who has experienced abuse, I can tell you that it physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually changes the victim. And thereby, it changes the dynamics of relationships, groups, and organizations to which the victim belongs: family, friends, church, political organizations, etc. In most cases, the abuser acts with impunity and is not held accountable.

As far as I’m concerned, NO PERSON is “too valuable” to an organization that s/he should be tacitly permitted to abuse other people. I have limited my involvement in some groups and/or campaigns because of blatantly abusive and clueless behavior toward me and others — the majority of it from white males. I’m ready to talk. And women (of all colors), please join me in speaking out to people you trust.

Ruth Sylte waited far too long to speak her truth. Now she won’t shut up. She has worked and lived around the world. Her hobbies include reading, travel, and dark chocolate, not necessarily in that order. She currently lives in a charming town in the Midwest.

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