To my fellas…At the L7 show in Toronto, someone left a “shit list” in the women’s bathroom – a list of men “in the scene”, for lack of a better word, who are known or alleged to have assaulted women. The list exists as way to warn women that these are men to watch out for. Men living in Toronto, eating nice food, partying and enjoying life with their friends (maybe with you), living it up while having created awful feelings and memories in others with their actions. The only reason this became more than hearsay is because a photo of it was taken and shared on Facebook. You can say “where is the evidence?” or “innocent until proven guilty”, but a community is different than a court. People can be acquitted from crimes for a variety of reasons, even if they committed the act in question. If bad behavior goes unchecked, it continues. And this goes way beyond ”bad behavior”. Don’t excuse predators because they’re your friends. You have no need for a code of silence. You are not in the mafia. You are a barista. It’s important to remember a list like this has always existed – women telling each other to watch out for people, but it’s rarely in writing and even rarer is it made visible to men. We are lucky that it’s being shared with us, allowing us an opportunity to discuss it openly. Don’t let it pass us by. Men need to remember that women are always discussing and processing what has happened to them. Just because you don’t hear people talk, it doesn’t mean they’re not talking. Because you never ”got in trouble” for something you did, it doesn’t erase the fact that you did it. The only way to be sure somebody wants to have sex with you is to ASK THEM. Anything less and you are deferring a responsibility that is yours alone. Communication is the only way to know someone else’s boundaries – and respecting boundaries is key. If you are someone accused of sexual assault, instead of immediately going on the defensive, be honest and focus on your behavior and thinking. There’s a reason you wound up on that list. And if you’re not on that list, ask why we so often excuse these men we know, or even worse – excuse ourselves from the conversation, saying it’s not our problem. It is our problem. Support victims of sexual assault, and don’t let victimizers walk among us unchallenged. If you’ve been wrong in the past, you can admit it. You should admit it. Men have been conditioned to behave in some fucked up ways. I wish I could take back past behavior where I treated women poorly. It happened and there’s nothing that can make that better. All I can do is move forward and try to be a better person. This is an opportunity – so much destructive behavior stems from fear and self-hate, and owning it is the only way to create even the possibility of forgiveness (which assaulters are not owed in the least) or at least the chance of peace being made. Don’t let it pass us by. A lot of bad things come out of shame, self-hatred and guilt. Addressing your wrongs can be the first step to dealing with those feelings and reducing the chance of hurting people in the future. But we need to be honest with ourselves. Silence = shame = death.