In Response to Tommy Callaway’s “Side of the Story.”
This is a story of a women’s joy turning to shock, anger and shame.
This article summarizes a tweet stream posted today on Twitter, the day after a video surfaced of a runner striking a female reporter.
First and foremost, this is a story of a women’s joy turning to shock, anger and shame. It happens millions of times a day in America. Women, doing their jobs, living their lives are reminded that they are not free.
I have watched this video a number of times. What I see in reporter Alex Bozarjian’s expression is the shock of being reminded, yet again, that she lives in a world where Tommy Callaway feels free to slap her body. A man she does not know. Has never met.
I do not presume to speak for Ms. Bozarjian. She is eloquent and strong and empowered to speak for herself. That said, while we men can never fully understand what it means to be a woman, WE MUST TRY HARDER. We must seek to grow some genuine empathy for women’s experience.
#MeToo seeks to end sexual harassment, assault and violence against women. The deeply human pain of #MeToo is so very visible in reporter Alex Bozarjian’s expression. It is the moment her joy in her work, her happiness in the day is taken from her by a man she has never met.
I ask us as men to imagine we are Ms. Bozarjian. Take a moment. Put yourself there in her place. What do you think arrives a split second after being belittled and humiliated on live television? “I was working, now I am ashamed. I was using all my faculties, now I’m in shock.” I’ll tell you what I would be feeling. “I can never let my guard down. I can never fully relax. I can never stop looking for the next Tommy Callaway.” This watchfulness colors every waking moment of women’s lives. This is the world that men like Tommy Callaway sustain.
Women are murdered by the men closest to them. They are murdered by ex partners, by spouses, by men they know intimately. Women are silenced in the workplace, marginalized by men the work with. Their hard work and creativity goes unheard, unacknowledged. Men must imagine these concentric circles of physical and economic violence done by men in women’s daily lives. Add the concentric circle of strangers who rape or kill, fondle, cat call, stalk. The range of ways in which women need to stay wary, to not trust us, grows.
Then, on top of those terrible actions, add the millions of daily Tommy Callaway moments. This event in this reporter’s life is not isolated. Women’s personal histories hold thousands of Tommy Callaway moments. A vast oppressive layer of harm done by men who just don’t care. If there is anything men are failing to FEEL it is this. Even the smallest abuses, the slightest jokes, the micro aggression against and dismissals of women are taking place in Tommy Callaway’s world. Any women you know can tell you what this world feels like. THEY ALL KNOW.
As long as millions of men stand by and remain silent in face of the Tommy Callaway’s of the world, hardworking decent human beings like Ms. Alex Bozarjian will have to remain on guard for the next Tommy Callaway. And as a result, women will not be able to trust any of us.
Listen to Alex Bozarjian: “He helped himself to a part of my body,” she added, saying it left her in “disbelief” and “inundated with some female guilt” because of some of the harsh online comments suggesting she was at fault.”
“It’s not OK to help yourself to a woman’s body just because you feel like it. It’s not playful. He hurt me, both physically and emotionally,” Bozarjian said.
As for Tommy Callaway’s “side of the story?” There is no he said, she said, here. We don’t to need hear his excuses after being caught in a moment that came quite naturally to him. He has no version of the events that will somehow further inform this. When Tommy Callaway is ready to apologize completely and entirely without any excuses of any kind, his voice will be welcome. When he is ready for some kind of effort at restorative justice and bringing balance, his voice will be welcome. But I don’t hear that from him.
Meanwhile, the people we need to hear from are the millions of the men who remain silent about our epidemic of abuse, rape and murder against women. We are living in a world where women ARE NOT SAFE. Men, ask yourself, what are YOU going to start doing right now, to change this?
This article originated as a thread on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RemakingMan…/status/1205146208643244032…
Mark Greene is author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men.