Great article, Sean. I think it’s important as men to be wary and cognizant of the ways we may have been harassers or abusers ourselves, too. Even if we never said or did anything as egregious as your girlfriend’s host, the fact is that most of us have either made comments or laughed along with comments that have made dehumanized women or made them very uncomfortable.

I personally didn’t say anything when my friends slut-shamed girls that we knew. It didn’t feel right to insert myself into the situation, but these days I wonder if my silence was a part of that culture of harassment?

I teach in a middle school and the boys have a terrible conception of consent and keeping their hands to themselves. Teaching on consent and the fact that no one should touch you without your permission is uncomfortable, but necessary. You have to take very tough measures to drill down lessons to boys who think it’s okay to drag a girl across a girl or slap a girl’s butt because “she hit me first”.

We need to think of the culture that leads men to perceive masculinity as a way to degrade or objectify women, and instead of trying to be an exception to the culture, we also need to reform it. That means listening to the stories of the women in our lives but it also means having these conversations with men in our lives on what’s OK and not OK to do or say.