My name is Seth Adam Smith. I’m an author, a blogger, and a YouTuber—but more than any of those things I am a husband and a father. The focus of my work is typically on depression and suicide prevention. I am often so busy with those things that I seldom write about political or social events. But as a father, I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus of voices writing “Me Too.”
In recent weeks, a number of women have come forward and accused Harvey Weinstein, a major film producer, of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. These allegations have led to additional revelations (and coverups) about Weinstein’s lifestyle. The subsequent scandal has prompted many women to speak up about sexual harassment.
On October 15, 2017 actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”
The response to that tweet has been overwhelming, to say the least.
Thousands of women around the world have posted #MeToo on social media. On Sunday, my personal newsfeed was flooded with women who had written “Me Too” as their Facebook status—women whom I know, respect, love, and admire.
The sheer volume of responses makes me sick and it makes me hurt for the women I know and the women I don’t know.
And truthfully, it makes me angry.
Failure to Act
It makes me angry at men and it makes me angry at myself. Because even though I haven’t sexually harassed someone, I have blindly accepted the false idea that “boys will be boys” and I’ve turned away from the suffering of others.
Men, why have we accepted this as the way it is? Why do we tolerate this behavior? Why do we wait for more and more accusers before we finally start to see how bad things really are? It’s been said that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” In a very real way, our failure to act enables evil men to get away with terrible things.
So, what are we going to do to change it?
Holding The Future
The answer to that question is important. Because while more and more women (and men) write “Me Too,” it makes me wonder about the kind of world my daughter will encounter.
Because when I held my daughter for the first time… it was like holding starlight—perfect and precious light from Heaven. In my arms, I held the future—a girl—capable of becoming anything she wants to become.
The idea that men could potentially sexually harass my daughter and traumatize her by treating her like an object—and then get away with it—is appalling, disgusting, and completely unacceptable.
I have to do something. But what?
What can I do—as a husband, as a father, and as a man—to prevent those kinds of things from happening? How do I help create a world free of sexual harassment? How can I help create a culture that values my daughter—and all women—not as objects but as people of inestimable worth?
I read an article that stated men should stand up and declare what, specifically, they would do to support women and create a culture that honors women as equals—and then do it. Below this paragraph is a list of some of the things that I will do. This list is a work in progress and one that I intend to add to as time goes on:
I will listen and learn.
I will believe the stories of victims and survivors.
I will counter misogyny, sexism, and harassment when I see it.
I will cultivate friendships and professional relationships with women.
I will no longer tolerate “locker room talk” (i.e. conversations that objectify women).
I will call out individuals (friends, co-workers, and even strangers) whose conversations are misogynistic or sexist.
I will not support (and I will actively oppose) leaders and politicians who harass or make disparaging remarks about women.
I will teach my daughter to be prepared and how to fight back.
I will no longer accept the false idea that “boys will be boys.”
I will teach and mentor boys to be better and to live a higher standard of equality and respect.
I will give my daughter every opportunity to become what she wants to become.
I will publish this article and send it out to all of my contacts. It is not directly related to depression and suicide prevention (the primary theme of my blog), but sexual harassment can cause someone to question their worth, which can lead to depression and even suicide.
I will add to this list as time goes on, knowing that I don’t have all of the answers, but I can always learn and strive to be better.
Hope and Work
Early this morning, I heard my daughter crying in her crib. Mostly likely, she had a nightmare and wanted to be held. I got out of bed (a rare thing for me to do when it’s that early). I then picked her up and held her close. As soon as she sensed that she was safe, she fell asleep and dreamed her dreams.
There was no machismo about what I did. It was just a father responding, in love, to the needs of his child. If I had a son, I would have done the same for him. I want my children to feel safe enough with me to be who they are and chase their dreams.
And that’s what I hope, and believe, men can be for women—no bravado or toxic masculinity—but a safe person, a person who sees women as equals and treats them as such.
I hope our daughters will grow up in a world where they aren’t sexually harassed. I hope they grow up in a world where they never have to write “Me Too.” But if that’s something I hope for, then it should be something I’m willing to work for. So I’m going to do everything I can to create that kind of world. And I call upon men (and women) everywhere to help.
What will you do to help?
Special thanks to Kelsey Petersen and my wife, Kim, for their feedback on this article.