It's come to my attention that some of you are feeling kind of uncomfortable at the possibility that women in your life -- in your community, in your trusted circle of friends -- might call you out in the event that you engage in behavior that hurts them or someone they care about. Some of you have been telling me that you're especially worried that you'll be called out in front of other people, labeled persuasively as a bad guy, and that this will destroy your good name, your career prospects, your happiness.
I don't doubt that you are anxious here. So, I have a few questions about how you'd like us to proceed.
First, can you provide assurances that, when women bring criticisms of your behavior to you privately, you will take those critiques seriously and change your behavior accordingly?
If so -- and if you make this commitment public, so the women in your world know about it -- you should be fine! You'll address the harm you are doing right away, and everyone will move on.
In the (I'm sure rare or non-existent) event that you don't respond to privately raised critique of your harmful behavior in a way that addresses the harm, can you provide assurances that you will respond promptly and constructively to a gently worded public critique?
If so, you should be fine! You'll address the harm you are doing promptly, and everyone will move on.
In the (purely hypothetical) event that you don't respond to a gently worded public critique of your harmful behavior in a way that addresses the harm, how many free passes on your harmful behavior do you believe you are entitled to?
Give us the number -- is it two? five? ten? -- so we know the point at which you recognize that you deserve a critique that is not private and not gently worded.
Yes, having your behavior criticized makes you feel defensive. We know this. As fellow human beings, we have those feelings, too.
But if you are defaulting to the position that it's never OK for the women in your life to tell you when your behavior is harming them, never OK for them to expect you to address those harms, you know what? The women in your life will be defending themselves against you.
They will not trust you. They will not see your good-guy status shining through your actual behavior. When you proclaim yourself an ally, your best-case reaction will be eye-rolls.
It does not feel good to be told your behavior is hurting others. But it does not feel good for others to be hurt by your behavior.
Prioritizing your own hurt feelings over growth is a sure way never to be trusted as an ally by anyone paying attention.
And we are paying attention. For our own well being, we have to.