Adria Richards & The Cowardice of Men

Adria Richards is a martyr to men's cowardice

Adria Richards is a martyr to men's cowardice

On Monday when I posted my Steubenville reaction video, I got a lot of comments congratulating me for being a man who is so passionate about ending the rape culture. While I appreciated it, I don’t think I need congratulating. It’s kind of like congratulating someone for being a good person or tipping a waiter who does the bare minimum.

When I considered those comments and the story that broke on Wednesday about Adria Richards, I felt it necessary to say a little more on the topic of men, women and sexism.

Adria Richards – like many other women – works in an industry filled with socially inept men who have never known introspection a day in their lives because they haven’t had to. While at a tech conference, she overheard some sexual jokes about “big dongles” and she was rightfully bothered. She tweeted out her frustration and – to their credit – conference organizers took care of the guys. When the story started making waves, one of the guys was fired. Then the story became viral and the internet happened.

As you would so depressingly expect, the trolls came out the woodwork with words for Adria. Words that formed threats of physical and sexual violence as well as your run-of-the-mill, incomprehensible ramblings. Eventually the headless monster known as 4chan got involved and they began attacking both Adria and the company she worked for. I say “worked” because after the attack, her company fired her.

This situation highlights one of the biggest issues with the fight for female equality. Whenever a woman takes men to task, they are often immediately dismissed and told that their concerns are invalid. In extreme cases like Adria’s, they’re even threatened with physical violence and rape.

Unfortunately this ends up causing most women to just stop talking. Those who keep shouting get labeled femi-nazis and used to perpetuate the myth that feminism is about women thinking they’re better than men. It’s a vicious cycle that is set up to keep women from excelling and protect douchebags from the tyranny of equality.

With that sort of opposition, it’s obvious why women’s rights progress has stalled and even backslid in some cases. But that wouldn’t have happened had men – like myself – spoken up. Even though I’m only 25, I feel deep regret for the inaction of men as whole. If you have a penis and a conscience, you should too.

I know that as a man who is respectful to women, you may not believe you’re a part of the problem but you are. When you don’t stand up for women, you’re sitting down and letting all women discriminated against. You are telling every little girl that she is not worth your energy. You’re telling your mother, grandmother, sisters, aunts, daughters, co-workers, baristas and boss that their concerns do not matter and therefore they don’t matter. You have also told your male counterparts that they are right to keep ignoring, to hit, to rape, to kill.

As a moral human being, I can never look at another person and tell them that they’re worthless. What kind of person ignores the agonizing wails of millions just because they are too lazy to move from their throne? By sitting back and doing nothing, you’re no better than the whites who let slavery happen. You may not be cracking the whip but wearing ear plugs and pretending it’s some extended BDSM scene makes you complicit.

Men, this is our responsibility. At a certain point we have to stop forgiving the messed up crap our brethren do. We have to make the collective decision that our women are worth fighting for and act on it. The rape, murder and sorrow of women will only continue unless we have the strength in our conviction to help them fight and bring it to an end.

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