For Men Who Think They Can Wait This Out, Time’s Up
For my next trick, I’ll need a volunteer. A well-known white man, please. One who seems “good.” One who remembers to thank his mom at the podium. One who is the father of daughters.
This man means well, but sometimes interrupts women interviewers. He means well, except for when he accepted that role in a movie and didn’t demand pay parity when he found out how much more he’d make for it than his female co-stars. He means well and it matters to him that we all know it, which is probably why he tweets so much.
For my next trick, I will make this man disappear. Ha! I wish. Instead, I will make him shut up! It goes like this: Famous man, let’s have an honest conversation about your privilege.
Shh, listen. Do you hear that? It’s his sudden, complete silence. He hasn’t just gone quiet at awards or in press rooms. If the public donations to Time’s Up are an indication, he’s decided to sit out the entire conversation. Because even a quick peek at the initiative’s donor list makes it obvious: Women dominate. Patricia Arquette donated $10,000 this afternoon. Since the fundraiser started earlier this month, Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Aniston have donated $500,000 each. Scroll down, and find contributions from Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Taylor Swift, Cate Blanchett, Melinda Gates, Uber’s Bozoma Saint John. Between them there are Elizabeths and Laurens and Sallies — women we don’t know who’ve given in dollar amounts that run from $10 to thousands more.
Last week, I insisted in a (somewhat sarcastic) piece that men should sit out the award shows this season, send moms in their place. Who needs them, I reasoned. Over the past few weeks, we’ve watched women raise hell and over $16 million. We’ve seen them rail and vent. If it were even
possible for them to achieve their aims without men, I’d be all for it. But of course, the men can’t be excluded. It’s impossible to leave the people in power out of the revolt. The rule of revolution is “join or die.” It isn’t “join or die or watch the telecast from your couch, until this mess blows over.”
I keep thinking about a seminar I took at 19. The class was four women, two men. We had no official homework, just the books we were meant to read and a term paper due at the end of the semester. It was obvious to me that one of my classmates had never so much as flipped through the texts. “Why bother?” he said one afternoon, when I made fun of him for his unpreparedness. “I get points for attendance, and she never calls on me.” I think I grimaced.
“Don’t make that face,” he said. “If it weren’t for you and your class participation, I’d never be able to pull it off. The more you talk, the less I have to do.” We did not remain friends.
In an op-ed for The New York Times last week, the writer Lindy West summed up our endless frustration. Some of the most powerful women in the world have spent months in a struggle to remake their own realities—and with Time’s Up, to support women in industries less glamorous than their own. Meanwhile, men are in an apparent struggle to formulate a coherent sentence, instead “apologizing for their gender, fretting about old drunken hookups and begging for guidance on what they can do to help.” West doesn’t even contend with the scores of men who aren’t so much unsure as they are unmoored, no doubt worried that their own misdeeds will soon be splashed across social media, some damning headline coupled with a photo of them at the Globes, a “Time’s Up” decal on their black tuxes.
“You know what you could do to help?” West writes. “Everything.” But West knows better than to speak in such generalities, and so she rattles off a few possibilities—protests men could corral, standards on which they could insist, boycotts they could undertake. “How about anyone but the oppressed and John Oliver”—and, I’ll add, Seth Meyers and Sterling K. Brown—”lifts a finger to change anything at all?”
So far, few have heeded her advice. After the Globes, Page Six published a list of men who wore Time’s Up pins to the awards, but have so far not donated to the cause’s GoFundMe under their own names.
For centuries, women have been instructed to be seen and not heard. Men, when we suggested you take a walk in our shoes, this isn’t what we meant. Write a check so big it makes you gulp. At the Oscars, rip up your speech and just recite how much you earned on your last three roles. Don’t be so scared! Honestly, men, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.