In order to even begin wrapping my head around what Dylan Joseph has attempted to articulate in his article ‘The Hardships of Being A “Good Guy” In 2019’, I legitimately had to read it four times, because what I thought I had read the first time was so unbelievably bizarre.
Firstly, I want to address Dylan’s opening paragraph which presents the question - ‘why is it so difficult for young men with differing opinions to Harvey Weinstein to dissociate themselves from him?’. Dylan, I believe, fails to answer this. Surely by definition, having a differing opinion is doing just that.
No one has ever suggested that all men are responsible for sexual harassment or that simply being a male makes you a ‘symbol for sexual harassment’, as Dylan has suggested. With regards to dating in the modern world, if you are not aware of the difference between flirting and harassment then really, you should quit now. The author seems to have confused his emotions with urges. If you wish to make clear that you like a girl you do not have to do so in a way that is so forward and sexual in nature, neither do you have the right to.
The advice given at the beginning of the next paragraph is what I would consider good advice, along with Luke’s addition in a response written for Epigram to simply ‘be a nice person who doesn’t harass/sexually assault/rape women’. Pithy and succinct. Dylan swiftly deviates from talking about this advice, doesn’t insinuate that the boys interviewed have even followed it and then moves on to the insecurities that his friends have when asking a girl out. He makes no specific mention of those boys not doing so because of the public shaming of famous men accused of sexual assault.
My next concern is the notion that he and his friends need to ‘update’ their views towards women as if at their previous schools such disrespectful, backwards behaviour was allowed. As if such monstrous actions have only in the past few years become exactly that – monstrous. If you are uncomfortable with your own opinion towards women, surely you can understand why women might feel the same. Asking a girl out is not offensive as long as you approach them with the same respect you would a friend. What is offensive, however, is waltzing up to a girl and ignoring all hints that she is uncomfortable or uninterested, and then continuing to pester her after she has been clear about her feelings (or lack thereof). I think the ability to correctly judge the situation is important. If you and your friends are at a bar, and someone you like is there with her friends, perhaps simply asking if they want to join your table for a drink or just striking up more general conversation rather than jumping the gun and confusing your emotions with lust is a good place to start.
I completely agree that university is the time for experimentation and many people begin dating and considering relationships at this age. Asking a girl out is not a crime in itself, it is the manner in which you approach the person, and the respect you show towards them. Really truly though, stop self-labelling as a ‘good guy’, because you straight away come across as less of one for doing so. In terms of acting upon your feelings rather than suppressing them, you have to consider the feelings of the other person involved. This can be paralleled to describing catcalling as a compliment; although you may believe your feelings of attraction towards a girl are complimentary, thrusting them upon her is not.
I’m not against encouraging people to express positive emotions, but I am against is the encouragement of young men and their raging hormones that they are confusing with genuine emotions which is what leads to multiple harassment cases at university. This final paragraph does sound, as much as Dylan is trying to deny it, that he blames women a lot and almost seems as though he believes that women use the word harassment as an over exaggeration to reject guys, as if rejection is actually a worse outcome than harassment.
With regards to the response published by Epigram, I obviously think it’s great that someone of the same gender is standing up and saying ‘hold on - we do not all agree with this’, but simultaneously I agree with a comment that the article is limited. As well as stating the obvious – that Dylan is talking utter trash – it would have been nice to hear from a boy’s perspective how he behaves differently and perhaps some advice on approaching girls respectfully.
My male friends had something to say about Dylan’s piece. The main point that came up several times is that they have not had to change their opinions towards women, nor have they felt the need to alter their behaviour towards them. Why? Because they simply weren’t doing anything that constitutes as sexual harassment or assault and already knew what fell into those categories - before Harvey Weinstein hit the spotlight. Their reasoning for not approaching girls was due to shyness, not because they were scared about what they might do or how they might act. I think my favourite response is from a flat mate who said ‘if the only reason you stop doing those things [harassment] is because you’re scared of getting caught and not because it’s the right thing to do then you’re a piece of sh*t’. The same boy also summarised nicely – ‘I sexually assault as many people as I want to but that amount happens to be zero, because I’m not a scumbag’.
The more I read the original piece the more I worry about the need for Dylan to change his views. The #MeToo movement has brought to light the vastness of the issue surrounding sexual assault and abuse. Dylan’s article is disappointing as the views expressed are those I would expect within older generations, not the youth who have been brought up in these times of change. And times HAVE changed, thank God, but Dylan makes it feel like we’re going backwards.
Read the initial article ‘The Hardships of Being A “Good Guy” in 2019’ here.
Read Epigram’s response article here.