Did you know that? Is that a dumb question? Men. Can. Stop. Rape. I know plenty of men who know that. I know plenty of public servants who know that and care deeply about preventing violence against women.
On Tuesday night, San Jose City Councilman Lan Diep tweeted: “City Council ended at a decent hour tonight! I still have 5 hours left to hit the bars pre-Valentine’s Day, but I’m gonna go to the gym instead. Finding dates as a public figure is tricky. Finding dates as a public figure in the Me Too era? Fugget about it! #DesperationDay.”
City Council ended at a decent hour tonight! I still have 5 hours left to hit the bars pre-Valentine's Day, but I'm gonna go to the gym instead. Finding dates as a public figure is tricky. Finding dates as a public figure in the Me Too era? Fugget about it! #DesperationDay pic.twitter.com/nBr0J6KrFQ
— Lân Diệp (@LTDiep) February 14, 2018
This tweet is tone deaf at best and just sad at its worst. Let me tell you why. It indicates that Councilman Diep cannot find a date because he is a public figure. It implies that he is going to be a target of false allegations or that he’s innocently going to go to a bar and strike up a conversation and end up on the 11pm news hour looking nefarious. But that is a construct that requires people to live comfortably within their own privilege and dismisses the loss of great talent by women in the workforce.
Thread: Men and women share equal parts in combating harassment. In the past year, women have stepped it up tenfold by speaking their truths and blowing the whistle. Men - especially elected officials - should do the same. https://t.co/joHzuV0Ehp
— NWPC_SV (@NWPC_SV) February 14, 2018
Here’s something Councilman Diep and all public servants can learn: men and women share equal parts in combating harassment.
In the past year, women have stepped it up tenfold by speaking their truths and blowing the whistle. Men—especially elected officials—should do the same. In fact, I bet women would welcome the help.
Author Jaclyn Friedman nails it in her latest Huffpost piece: “You wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, but a some of us have been doing this work long before #MeToo as well … transforming the sexual culture can prevent sexual assault and make sex better for everyone (except those who enjoy using it to do harm). ... The only people for whom #MeToo is making the world less sexy are abusive men and their enablers. For the rest of us, it opens up a world of erotic possibility free of fear, shame, pain and trauma. If you think we’re ruining the fun with our insistence on consent and respect, it’s time to ask yourself whose ‘fun’ you’re really defending.”
I would like to offer this councilman some counsel on the tone deaf manner of his tweet.
(1) It shouldn’t be hard to date in the #MeToo era unless you’re a predator.
(2) Being an elected official is a privilege, not a right.
(3) This is a unifying moment for men and women. It will take men speaking up with their friends, their family members, within their workplace to really change the norms that keep the culture of harassment—in person, online, in the workplace—pervasive.
Hi Lân, constituent here. Your flip dismissal of #metoo and legitimate and necessary criticisms of this massively embarrassing, gross tweet and your equally embarrassing, gross rebuttals are not only perpetuating a culture of dismissal of women but reflect poorly on our district
— Alysa ?? (@carpe_futurum) February 15, 2018
Men can stop violence and here is an example where public servants are stepping up. The San Jose Police Department recently announced that it’s poised to roll out a series of public service announcements about domestic violence. The setting in each of the five PSAs are familiar ones, such as a gym, where advocates say comments and jokes among men about domestic violence often occur. The scenarios in the ads, however, contain unexpected endings, with one man saying, “Anybody think that’s funny? Not funny.”
I am grateful for those at the San Jose Police Department for educating the public and providing amazing community outreach—these ads are only one component of that effort. That is public service.
In closing, just because a deluge of women are speaking up doesn’t mean that all men do the abusing, but it also doesn’t mean that those who do not abuse are off the hook. Councilman Diep proudly made national news on identifying with with Captain America and “making government fun again.” However, even Marvel understands how power works, via Peter Parker: with great power comes great responsibility.
It is only then that you will understand that, no, you are not accused of predatory behavior because you’re a “public figure.” We said enough. It’s time for you to step up.
Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.