I’ve never once asserted that men are evil or all walking around with bad intent or that women are perfect. I have a husband, another male partner and a son. I love men! And I’ve also been subject to the poor behavior of men since I was 10 or 11 years old. The fact that many of them don’t even realize they are behaving badly is a part of my point. It’s the ocean they swim in (patriarchy) and so they don’t know how to behave.

The Ansari case illustrates that fairly well, and you minimizing the importance of consent (whether it’s overt or more tacit) just shows how you fail to adequately understand the problem. Men (even nice men) feel entitled to women and like they don’t need to bother with all of this cumbersome consent stuff. It’s their role as men to pursue (the problem with that being that women are human beings and not prey).

Which brings me back to how we started this discussion — nothing is sexier than treating the other person with the level of respect that operating without entitlement entails. I’ve been with my husband 30 years and we have a stellar relationship. He still is not entitled to my body, time, attention, etc. He needs to communicate with me, either verbally or non-verbally about his wants and I get to decide whether or not to give them to him. Same goes for me, btw.

Interestingly, shortly after #MeToo broke I said to my husband, “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t upset with and mad at men.” (for the way they treat me and other women.) His response was “Me too!” Meaning he also has been subject to the poor behavior of men his entire life, even though he is the kind of guy you might characterize as an “alpha.” That’s a function of the constant dominance posturing that is part and parcel of a patriarchal system.

There is also a baseline built-in patriarchal assumption that it’s a man’s world and that women can play there if they can hack it, but that mostly women are there to support, to be pretty and smiling and make men feel comfortable; that women are there for men’s pleasure and enjoyment. That may be subconscious but it still colors male/female interactions in a negative way.

I spent all last evening with my husband’s best friend and his wife. The men talked the entire time about their work and what was in their life/world and we wives were expected to sit back and play supporting roles but never talk about our work or lives. It was really tiresome. One time I sat next to a man I’d known for 15 years at a benefit luncheon and he spent the entire time asking me about my husband and his job, rather than my job or life. This is not evil or malicious behavior, but it’s harmful none-the-less. It undermines women as actual people, and contributes to a host of other issues.

If you refuse to believe in patriarchy despite all of this, I’m never going to convince you (despite all of the laws and customs that I cited before). But, if you don’t see it, it’s only because you don’t want to, because it’s pretty damn glaring. It’s all over the news ever couple of days, the pervasiveness of this attitude in all kinds of institutions and the way that it consciously or unconsciuosly keeps women as second-class citizens. Have you read about Pixar -because that kind of sums it up in a nutshell; what so many companies and so much of the world is really like? If not, I hope you will take the time to read that eye-opening first person account.

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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