I never know how to react when I hear about women being sexually abused, harassed or assaulted. The immediate reaction has always been something involving castration via rusted pliers or a tiny room and a donkey high on viagra.

I’ve been following some threads of #MeToo and found some comments on Gabrielle Union’s page that caught my eye. Amidst some weird and sometimes irrelevant responses to her post, one guy said something that stood out to me. His comment was that we shouldn’t ask why so many women never said anything after the fact, but why so many men never said anything before the fact. The reality is, he went on, that Harvey Weinsteins don’t come out of nowhere. They’re bred slowly—on middle school playgrounds, high school locker rooms, at the office water cooler—when degrading comments about women go unchecked and the men are allowed to grow into monsters. And I wondered how many times I’ve let stuff like “that’s what she said” fly even though it annoyed me.

This isn’t a simple issue by any stretch of the imagination. Victims of sexual abuse never forget. And no amount of castration or bestial vengeance will solve the problem either. Justice should be dished out to those guilty. Comfort should be given to those affected. But things have to change on multiple levels from the systemic down to the interpersonal.

We can’t all be Batman and go around smashing nuts in. And we don’t have Deathnotes to write the names of sexual predators and watch them drop dead. But we do know men and boys. And we can stamp out misogyny before it escalates to abuse. So to my fellow men—be the example. We see the signs around us all the time in men, teens, and boys. Don’t be silent. We can speak up now so women won’t have to speak up later.

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