What is Himpathy?
A pathological moral tendency to feel sorry exclusively for the alleged male perpetrator — it was too long ago; he was just a boy; it was a case of mistaken identity — while relentlessly casting suspicion upon the female accusers – Kate Manne
One need not look further than Donald Trump to see this at play in multiple ways. We note the deference that he has been afforded when there has been irrefutable evidence of his misogynistic actions, views, and language that is unacceptable of anyone, let alone someone in the position he currently holds. This bad behaviour extends most recently to his response to Christine Blasey-Ford and her testimony about her experience with Brett Kavanagh.
The response is not only asinine and completely negligent, but it speaks to everything that is wrong with the discourse of violence in society, period.
It is imperative to create space for women and girls to be safe, both to in their daily lives, but also in their expression of experience. There needs to be empathy, unconditional positive regard, and a sincere desire to understand their experience and not respond in any way other than to be supportive. Understanding that making excuses for those that have played any role in perpetrating these experiences is harmful for any victim.
Over the years, I have become more aware of my own privilege as a white male and what it affords me, but it is certainly still something that I am working on understanding and applying appropriately to better understand the experiences of those around me. Examples of my privilege: the ability to walk alone at night without feeling unsafe, the worry of sexual assault is completely off my radar, the fact that I enjoy the safety in nearly every single aspect of my life to show up however I choose with low risk to my health, safety, reputation or experience. Privilege. I regularly challenge myself to check my own biases in how I show up to others in my life to support equity and be an ally. Ally is a verb.
When someone expresses an experience about an assault, a moment they felt unsafe, a time when they felt fear, then I need to check how I respond and how I reply. I need to be there for that person and not respond about anything other than what that person is expressing and being there for them however they require. I may not be the person to find the solution, but I must not be an addition to the problem or discourse that anyone, who has experienced any type of violence, holds any responsibility for what happened to them. I need to recognize that my experience in this world is wildly different than another person, most especially when it comes to the lived experience of other genders and races.
I read today a quote by Brene Brown that captures this sentiment for me, ‘your words and vote matter. They can arm hate and give it cover, or they can fuel justice, equity, and love.’
Join me on Oct 30 at Lululemon - 96 Ossington Ave at 7pm with Next Gen Men to have a broader conversation about himpathy.