"Shut up men, women are talking," is the attitude that some guys irrationally offended by this #YesAllWomen hashtag think we want to perpetuate.
And indeed, we want to talk right now. But, that doesn't mean you have to be quiet.
You can speak -- if you hear us talk first. If you don't dismiss the discussions we're starting, you can participate.
A dialogue is a conversation -- and right now, women want to talk. That's it. We want to speak up, not to elevate ourselves above men in any way, but just to be heard. We're not promoting some sort of social construct in which men are now the ones inferior.
We would love to sit down, grab coffee with you, and watch you nod thoughtfully as you consider a different viewpoint, consider the stories that all women have been afraid to tell, or have noticed but not pointed out. We're asking you to be more aware; even if you aren't someone who catcalls or sexually harasses, now you're equipped with the skills to help us change a cultural attitude. We're not accusing you, specifically; just because not all men rape, doesn't mean that other, lesser men don't. Because you are a man who does not rape, you are a man responsible now for helping us make sure others don't.
To the men willing and able to do this -- you're easy to spot. Thank you for being so supportive, of something that some take as an accusation, that makes others uncomfortable. We wish that not all of you were somehow threatened by this movement, but to the ones who aren't, it's obvious because you're secure enough in your manhood -- no, your status as a human being -- to think critically. You're pretty open to listening, hearing about all the situations all women have had to endure over the years. You don't feel "targeted" because you're secure enough in your status as a legitimately nice person (because the word "nice guy" now has a sour taste in our mouths).
We are not trying to shut you down, at all. If you want to participate, but productively, and acknowledge that these things happen, we welcome your thoughtful feedback. We welcome you to try to have a place talking about such things you've heard about, or such things you wonder. The only thing we don't welcome is any presumptions that you can directly relate to these experiences , or any belittling of said experiences. If you hold strong viewpoints prior to a good conversation, please stay flexible and open-minded enough to change or enhance them.
But we want to hear what you have to say if it comes from a place of genuinely good intent, if it is productive in enabling our society to change, to eradicate the word "motherfucker" (which, we as a gender are just as guilty of using as you guys), to stop equating "pussy" with weak (which, once again, we know can be used unconsciously).
Sexism is just as much about men feeling emasculated, by society, to the point where it in turn leads to women being degraded. I see nothing wrong with powerful camaraderie between men. The examples of men who respect women, treat them with care, may end up overshadowing any others.
We're not asking for a prevalence of "male guilt" to last forever. We simply ask to be respected.
This is not to discount that sometimes, we may disrespect you. We're sorry for the few people who ask questions because they're curious, but who may be shut down because we're conditioned already to be on the defense from misogynistic men who do not mean well. We're sorry if we accidentally lumped you in with them.
If you're appalled, but rather for us instead of against us, then we want to hear what questions you have. Just not what "rebuttals" you may try to give. If you can't directly empathize, on a broad societal level, then it's not exactly your turn to speak. But it's your turn to respond.
It's your turn to thoughtfully and critically assess what we have to say. That isn't being passive, or being silent.
Just because you're not talking right now doesn't mean we want you to be quiet.