Men don’t get to absolve each other

Published

Credit: Creative Commons

Georgina Hayes
Editor-in-Chief

It was my second Glasgow Guardian meeting as Editor-in-Chief and we were all at the pub. The week had come to an end, the meeting was a success and, to be blunt, I wanted to get hammered. I was going to have a nice evening.

It was a nice evening too until I went to the bar to get my second or third drink and was approached by a guy. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to this guy as Woke Twitter Boy (because, like so many other performative male feminists, he seems to hold everyone else to standards that he doesn’t expect from himself or his own friends).

Woke Twitter Boy is someone I’d known for some time – he used to be on The Glasgow Guardian’s management team for a brief stint (not when I was Editor) and it was perfectly reasonable for him to now show up as a contributor. Now, at this point, I feel it’s important to make clear that Woke Twitter Boy did not assault me or harass me in any way. It was only his good friend and flatmate that did.

So, Woke Twitter Boy is queuing behind me at the bar and asks if he can speak to me privately. I had a hunch what it may be about, so I said yes – I’d let him know a few months previously that his flatmate had sexually assaulted me when we were in first year, so I assumed he was going to tell me that he was no longer living with this guy. I’ll now refer to the guy that sexually assaulted me as Creepy Pervert.

We sit at a table just away from the rest of the crowd, and I assume that the conversation will be quick, because what kind of oblivious moron would pull someone aside in the middle of a pub to have an objectively triggering conversation with them unless it was to say “I support you”?

“I’ve spoken to Creepy Pervert,” says Woke Twitter Boy, with the assertiveness and confidence of a guy that wasn’t pulling a girl aside from a meeting she was leading where her absence would definitely be noticed. Here, considering Woke Twitter Boy’s progressive pontifications on social media, I assumed he was going to tell me that he’s no longer living with Creepy Pervert.

He carried on, and I may be paraphrasing a bit here, but it was something along the lines of this: “I don’t think he’s going to do anything like that again. A few girls have spoken to me about him, and I think he understands that what he did is wrong.”

At this point, I clenched my fist around my pint so that I wouldn’t waste a good drink by pouring it all over him.

“He was, y’know, only eighteen at the time,” mumbled Woke Twitter Guy, as if this wasn’t the conversational equivalent of spitting in my face.

There were a lot of things I wanted to say at this point: I was also eighteen, you apologist fucking weirdo; he could have been eight at the time and it still would have been wrong; he was actually nineteen, you prick.

Instead, I looked him coldly and said, “You sound like one of the guys defending Brett Kavanaugh right now.”

At that, he nodded and winced pathetically in a way that told me he knew I was right but that it wouldn’t change his loyalty to Creepy Pervert. He then said, and I’m genuinely serious: “I’m confident that he won’t do anything like that again in my flat.”

I’d checked out of the conversation at this point. I didn’t even feel “triggered” or particularly upset; I was just really aggravated and wanted another drink.

The conversation ended pretty quickly after that (but not before almost everyone had noticed that I was missing for a while). I was so exhausted, disappointed but ultimately unsurprised by the whole encounter that it took me a few hours to summon the energy to even get as angry as I was justified to be.

Woke Twitter Guy, who most people still think is just as progressive as he pretends to be, renewed his contract to live with Creepy Pervert despite hearing from me – and apparently other girls too – that his flatmate is a sexual predator. Apparently, though, this doesn’t matter to Woke Twitter Boy because Creepy Pervert was only eighteen (nineteen) at the time, and he’s confident that Creepy Pervert won’t repeat his behaviour under their shared roof.

I’m glad that these two guys are living under the same roof – they deserve each other. What I’m sick of, though, is men absolving other men to women who have been harassed, degraded and abused. Especially when these men masquerade themselves as progressive, feminist allies. I’d honestly rather men like Woke Twitter Boy be upfront about their blatant misogyny and save women the effort that disappointment takes when we find out that, actually, they’re only willing to condemn other misogynistic men if they aren’t pals with them.

Women’s safety and lived experiences aren’t fun party debating points, nor are they something to be diminished and dismissed by guys wanting to defend their friends. So next time you feel the urge to insert yourself into the conversation, just keep it to yourself.