My apologies for the delayed gratitude, I got wretchedly sick and wanted to be able to respond thoroughly here.

Thank you for the links to your articles. Listening is one more methodology whose brilliance is so simple and familiar we take it for granted and neglect to invest in it and develop it the way we do “sexier” skills like a foreign language or kick-boxing. We tend to “yeah, yeah” it like the golden rule and various other stodgy admonishments we ignored from childhood that actually fully function as moral compasses. I’m getting reacquainted with many — like not saying anything if you don’t have anything nice to say. Sorry, trolls.

One of the best listeners I have encountered in my private life was unexpected. He would greatly benefit from reading your article. So I was genuinely gobsmacked that he helped me handle #MeToo more than most of the good guys in my life. Because he listened. It was a gift I wasn’t expecting.

And it’s a gift I can give too. I am trying be brave and capable, as you say. And I appreciate your word pairing there. In exploring ways that I have inadvertently been racist, homophobic, ableist and ignorant in my worldview and, consequently, words and deeds, I am capable of admitting past mistakes and eradicating their present residuals. You’re right, it takes David Blixt-level self-reflection, vulnerability and honesty.

What we all need to learn is that it’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to accidentally say/do something sexist/racist/ignorant. Mistakes don’t make you a bad person or stupid. They don’t blow your cover and prove that you’re a bigot. But not acknowledging them when they’re pointed out, being unwilling to learn and refusing to change? That could mean you’re a bigot.

That’s why I like Blixt’s quote too. All we have to say is, “Well, shit. That was _______,” fill in the blank with whichever line we crossed, (toxic/racist/sexist/Islamaphobic) and do our level best to right our wrongs.

There are so many ways we can hurt our fellow human beings. But if we’re willing to listen, reflect and change I think we can grow together. Which reads like lofty idealism but I prefer it to ignorant hibernation.

#MeToo has been a staggering cultural shift I wasn’t prepared for. And the backlash has been as painful as all of the harassment and assault that many of us are reliving. Your work, and that of the men here, and many others, feels like teamwork. And it is crucial in convincing the men who don’t listen to women. So thank you for your work — for your deep reflection, your passion and your advocacy. From my heart, thank you for being one of the good guys.

twitter @h_m_edwards unsplash @heathermedwards

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