Part I, by Ramona McKean
Oh, how the arena of power politics has developed as of late, with men in authoritative and/or prestigious positions being brought down by allegations of sexual misconduct. The power of victims is growing, and for the most part I’m glad. A world dominated by patriarchy has been, and continues to be, plain wrong. In the domain of sexual misconduct, women have been collectively shamed, silenced and dismissed for far too long. (Some men too.) Brutal.
But what about the abuse of “victim power”–claims of wrongdoing being made that are either false or specious (appearingin careers, reputations and very lives destroyed.
Patrick Brown, leader of Ontario’s Conservative Party, was recently forced to resign due to allegations of sexual misconduct. It’s interesting to note the timing, only four months before Ontario’s provincial election.
Ottawa Citizen journalist Andrew Cohen is personally acquainted with one of Patrick Brown’s two accusers. In his article “Patrick Brown Affair Shows We’re Entering a World of Metaphorical Mob Rule,” Cohen comments on “the power of the unchallenged accusation.” I don’t know if I agree with all his expressed views, but I must admit that he’s got me thinking. Some of his other comments:
“Power has shifted to the accuser. The age of the aggrieved is without context, subtlety or nuance. In the court of public opinion, the accused has no chance anymore…Politics has always been cruel; with due process now passé, it is even crueller. All victims are “survivors” and the sins of sexual misbehaviour – the wink, whistle, word or wandering hand – are weighed equally.” [To read the entire article, and in my opinion it’s worth reading, please click here.]
Yesterday a friend of mine named Brian Hawksworth expressed dismay to me and another female friend about the Patrick Brown incident. Feeling vulnerable by virtue of his gender, he asked a question that many men must be asking themselves these days: “Where does this leave me?” I encouraged him to write out his thoughts and offered to publish them here on my website. He did so and asked me, along with his name, to sign him #NotMe.
So, here we have the concerns of a regular, decent, respectful human being. Both he and I would truly like to know what you think. If you have feedback, will you please leave it in the comment section below? (Your honest opinions are welcome, but only those politely expressed will be published. Thank you.)
Part II, by Brian Hawksworth
“Sign Me #NotMe”
Please help me process what you think may be behind the events leading up to the recent resignation of Patrick Brown as leader of Ontario’s Conservative Party.
I am a white, Anglo-saxon, middle class Canadian man and I know it’s popular to slam us these days for all of the injustices we have perpetrated over time to the environment, indigenous groups, women and the poor.
But I need to know more about the motivation of these 2 women who have, behind the veil of anonymity, publicly eviscerated Mr Brown with accusations of sexual misconduct. Yes, there was a miss-step within the dynamics of the work environment – by both Mr Brown AND his accusers – but Mr Brown, in the case of one accuser, did the right thing – he drove her home!! What am I missing here? And as for the other accuser, well, she doesn’t seem too clear on what happened, what words were used, etc.
Given the timing of these allegations – a mere 4 months prior to a provincial election in Ontario – they could have been politically motivated and inspired by any one of the 3 major political parties. I understand that politics can be a very dirty game and I “get it” if the accusers’ motivation was political. Sad, but I get it.
But their action of ousting Mr Brown for events nowhere in the league of the tsunami of sexual misconduct accounts now rolling out for all to witness is, in my view, a dis-service to the many brave women, and some men, who have come forward with their own grievances of sexual harassment and violation.
There are many past examples where decent men have had their lives and careers shredded by false accusations of sexual misconduct. And there will be more to come. Maybe the suffering these men have endured and the suffering others are yet to endure will be the price necessary to tip the balance of abhorrent male sexual behaviour in favour of balance and openness and respect.
These men are not part of the problem, and I am not part of the problem. If you see it differently, help me understand how we are, so I can help to be part of the solution.