What You Can Do

Originally posted on Facebook on October 16, 2017.

Some men are asking what they can do. Here is what I think you can do:


When your daughter is young, tell her that if anyone ever tries to touch her in a way she doesn’t like, she should: scream as loud as she can, run away as fast as she can, kick them in the balls, knee them in the nuts, kick them in the shins, stomp on their foot, take two fingers and poke them in the eyes, take two thumbs and gouge them in the eyes, and tell someone. Tell someone. Tell someone. Tell someone. Right away.

When I was young, my father told me to do these things, if someone ever tried to hurt or touch me in a way I didn’t like. And when someone has tried to hurt me or touch me, I have, more often than not, done these things. I have fought, I have fled, I have fought, I have fled, I have fought, and then fled.

Many women freeze rather than fight or flee, because this is the trauma response wired into their bodies by previous trauma that their nervous system has learned will help them survive. Many women learn this response because they are victims of their own fathers. Their fathers did not give them good advice. Their fathers gave them trauma.

I have not always been able to fight or flee. Being told by my father, and my mother, to fight and flee was only part of the message I got. I was still being raised in a society. Other times, I have felt icky, wondered if I made it up, remembered the incident later, wondered why I didn’t do anything, realized, as I have heard stories and stories and stories and stories like mine, worse than mine, same as mine, different from mine, that it is so very, very normal to wish it weren’t happening, to believe that you can make it not happen, or stop happening, by pretending it isn’t happening, to believe, at some level, that it must be your fault, for wearing that outfit, for smiling, for going to the party, for leaving it.


Do not take your daughters or your sons to spaces, even houses of worship, that are segregated by gender. Do not show them a world in which men have access to power, or even a certain set of benches, and women do not. Do not explain this as “tradition,” or “the way we do things” or God forbid, “what God intended.” No matter what you tell your children, you will be showing them that men have access to one space, and women do not, and you are normalizing that separation and inequality.

Maybe a sweat lodge. Maybe a bath house. But not a place where your children can see, on the other side of some kind of physical divider, the other gender in a state of greater or lesser power.


Do not associate with relatives or family friends with anger management problems. Do not expose your children to people who cannot control their anger. Do not explain that these people have “a problem,” or that we have to “help” or “understand” them, because of what they went through in the war, or because of their old football injuries, or because they have “issues.”

Show your children that if someone does not treat everyone they meet with respect and care and sanity, then that person will not have power or presence in the community or the family system. Do not let rage and the ensuing fear of rage become a mechanism of power in the community or the family system. Do not make a place for this rage, or normalize this rage.

It was partly the widespread fear of Harvey Weinstein’s rage, vengeance, and bullying that enabled him to rage, avenge, and bully—and grope, grab, harass, assault, and rape—for decades.

Anger and rage have power as emotional forces. We amplify their power when we engage with them, or explain them away. The only way I know to disempower rage, or the fear of someone else’s unpredictable rage, is to walk away from the relationship—even if it is a close one, an important one, a blood one.

I have done this. I do not regret it. It has made more space for relationships with people who are not abusive.

Do not teach your children that the rage of others, particularly the rage of large men, is ever their problem. Do not teach your children that they must bear witness to, tolerate, or process this rage.


Do not valorize or worship the wealthy or powerful in your family. Do not speak with admiration or envy of people who are very rich and also violent or cruel.

Speak of the very rich, mean, violent, cruel, and corrupt with criticism and consciousness—with critical consciousness. Do not ever give the impression that wealth excuses violence.


Model healthy sexuality and gender equality for your children. My dad did laundry, wiped counters, wiped bottoms. My mom worked outside of our house. My father told me constantly that my mother was very, very smart. He did not ever denigrate my mother in front of us.

My father, like our namesake Harvey Weinstein, *came of age in the 60s and 70s.* He knew women and men were equal. No one told him. He just knew. So I did, too.

My parents hugged and kissed. I never saw or knew more than that, but I knew what sex was, and I knew it was a good and healthy and happy thing. I did not know until later that it could be a form of violence, or power. I now know that I was very, very lucky in this way. I was not molested by any member of my family. I was told, when I was old enough, what sexual violence was, and that it was wrong. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was not normal. I had not seen or experienced it in my house, in my family.

Teach your children that sex is good, and rape is wrong, and that rape is not sex.


Call out sexism where and when you see it. Let your children call it out. Celebrate them when they do.

We went to a picnic with some other families once. An older man from an older-world culture brought a bocce set. I asked my grandmother if she would come play bocce with me. She told me that the man with the bocce set only allowed men to play.

Why? I asked.

Tradition, she said.

Fuck HIM, I said, loudly. I used his name. I was nine or ten.

The old man’s adult son overheard. He was offended. He complained to my mother that I had used the F-word toward his old, old-world father. My parents did not make me apologize. I think maybe they said they would “talk to me about it.”

Driving home, my parents told me they were proud of me for what I said. That it was okay for me to say FUCK misogynists whenever I wanted to, no matter how old they were, no matter who they were.

Maybe that was bad manners. Maybe they should have helped me find a more constructive, less profane way to speak truth to power. Maybe if they had, I wouldn’t have a FUCK YOU protest sign. Maybe I wouldn’t write and speak publicly with the message FUCK MISOGYNISTS.

That’s a personal choice whether you want your child to use the F-word or not when they see misogyny. If I have children, I’ll raise them to use the F-word when they see misogyny, whenever they want. That word has power.

The family of the old man with the bocce set who wouldn’t let women play was afraid of him. He had a temper. He had money. These things gave him power.

The F-word made me less afraid. It made me, a little ten-year-old girl, feel powerful enough to say to a large, rich, old, white, man: FUCK YOU!


If you are a man, don’t be friends with men you suspect or know are sexual predators, or who just don’t like women very much. Don’t explain their behavior away as “just the way they are,” or tell the women who find his behavior offensive or threatening that “he doesn’t really mean it.” I think we can all agree based on recent events and those since the dawn of time that he very often does.

If you are a man who does not predate upon, mock, denigrate, or threaten women, do not associate with men who do. They will bully you, too. It’s part of what they do. But they will bully you in a modified and different way than the way they bully women. They will, with their predation, create a hierarchy that is itself sexist. They will mock you and rage at you, but they won’t rape you. Not being raped by the rapist will be the way you will wield your male power. Getting to snicker and laugh with and merely have towels snapped at your ass by the rapist, being in a state of camaraderie with the rapist, will be your prize.

Think about whether you want your prize to be that you are bullied, but not raped, by a rapist. Think about whether being complicit in the acts of the bully, the rapist, is really empowering you.

A great many Americans thought that if they sided with the bully, the sexual predator, they would gain some of the power they perceived him to have. But so far, this turned out not to be the case.

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