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So Aimee Byrd has written a book called, “Why Can’t We be Friends.”  You can also find it on Amazon. The subtitle is, “avoidance is not purity.” She is discussing  relationships between men and women, the so-called ‘Pence rule,’ churchian culture, and the #churchtoo, #metoo movements. Her views are very close to mine, yes indeed, we can be friends, in fact, men and women really need to unite as brothers and sisters in Christ. That is actually pretty radical, sure to change culture,  and I like it. Our strength is in our unity.

I also beleive it’s biblical.

I’m quite pleased she wrote this book because I think it’s a discussion we really need to be having. Also, I haven’t quite finished it on account of…multiple trigger alerts, and a slight deviation off to read all her critics, critics who just make me go, “Ewww. Listen up Bro, I don’t even WANT to be friends with you.”

When the Pence rule came across the media, I was kind of like, Meh. Whatever. This is so not my world. This is not even my planet. I have no idea what it is like to be a politician or a celebrity. I simply imagined our VP had some enemies waiting to pounce. If I were in his shoes, I probably would not be dining with women who were not my wife either, especially in front of cameras and a hostile media.

Then I found out the “Pence rule” was actually the “Billy Graham rule,” and rather than just being a rule for famous men facing paparazzi, this actually IS  Christian culture that has trickled down to the little people. That kind of changed things, that kind of made me groan. It’s one thing to be wrestling with a public relations image, but it’s a whole other thing to be pretty much a nobody perceiving ALL women as a potential sexual threat. Or yourself as a sexual wildebeest with no self-control. Or maybe you care more about image, reputation, and people favor, then you do about actual people. Regardless, I didn’t like it one bit.

To drive the knife in a bit farther, a lot of men I rather like, respect even, began talking about their fears of false accusations, fears of attacks on their reputation or integrity, their jobs and their livelihoods. While I can certainly empathize with the fear, with the sheer powerlessness of falling prey to a false allegation, it was really painful because I clearly saw how the empathy did not go both ways.

I don’t mean to sound angry here, but the guys were worried about the harm that could be done to their reputation while the women were worried about being sexually traumatized and left in shallow grave somewhere.  I’m not sure if you can tell, but all things are not equal there. Women are often concerned about suffering forcible rape, enduring a lifetime of emotional, sexual, physical, spiritual, trauma, post traumatic stress, or perhaps even death. The guys were worried…..someone might talk. It might impact my job. My reputation could be harmed.

Wowsers, that was hard to hear, because there was zero concern for women’s fears, and a complete lack of awareness of  the truth and reality of our lives.  Also, I had this dawning awareness that women have no reputation to protect, no status to preserve, no…privilege to be concerned about loosing. We are never “an innocent man falsely accused,” we are ALL Potiphar’s wife or the cursed Eve, so unclean, so dangerous, so guilty already, all men would be wise to steer clear of us, least we set them up, dance for a king and get their head on a platter or something.

The number of references to Potiphar’s Wife actually made me feel a bit sick. Has no one in faith ever heard of the rape of Tamer? Yeah, true story, the woman couldn’t even trust her own half brother. He raped her and she simply spent the rest of her broken life, sad and alone. There is no happy ending. She was the daughter of a King and that didn’t even protect her.

I’ve actually had to take a deep breath in the mist of all this, several of them really. I’ve had to remember this is so not my world, not even my planet, and also, my world is way better, vastly superior. My world is just this crappy little speck on the map, where no one really cares about their “reputation,” where no one is obsessed with side hugs, where men and women have always worked alongside one another.

I’ve walked through some dark alleys full of men of questionable mental health, addiction, drugs, gang bangers. I’ve worked in bars, fishing boats, and hospitals. What’s always protected me, relatively, has been the honor of men. Some are pretty awful, so then you have the honor of other men who will look out for you. I’ve never had a guy go, I can’t give you a ride because you’re a woman and people might talk or you could falsely accuse me of something….

If someone ever said that to me, I think I’d just burst out laughing.

In kind of a darkly cynical way, there is actually some honor among thieves, some integrity at the bottom of the pack. That’s my world. Men and women have always been friends. We are brothers and sisters, already.

I’m going to say something that probably won’t be heard or it will be denied, but false allegations are extremely rare. Rape is not a “sexual misunderstanding” or a “communication problem.” Victims of sexual abuse are not “misinterpreting the problem.” A rape trial is far harder on a  rape victim then it is on an accused rapist, even one who is found innocent.

You are not going to say the wrong thing and some woman is going to falsely accuse you of rape out of revenge, especially not if you are a nobody. There has to be some form of motivation, wealth, power, politics, some reward. Even a crazy woman with major mental health problems is unlikely to falsely accuse a bus driver or janitor. Also, there has to be some form of corroborating evidence. Cops don’t just run about taking someone’s word for something. They have to forward evidence to a prosecutor and it has to be reviewed. They have to decide if there’s enough there to back them up if they were to take it to trial.

Yes, false accusations can happen, but they are still very rare. They are extremely rare when some guy has 9 accusers coming forward over a period of 15 yrs. Like c’mon people, Occam’s razor should really start to kick in at some point….

I had to set Aimee’s book aside and take a break because the question inside me had moved from “why can’t we be friends” to why would any woman in her right mind even want to be friends with men who were so disrespectful towards women, so fear based, so self-absorbed, so incapable of seeing anyone but themselves in the equation? The question soon became, can men even empathize with women or are they just so biologically defective, they can’t even perceive women as actual people?

Harsh but true! Yeah, that’s what I was actually thinking, about men in the church. In. The. Church.

I did what I always do. I took a walk, unsupervised I might add, with some men who aren’t really so fond of “the church.” Deplorable men, even. And ironically, that’s where I found my unity, my friendship, the like-mindedness I was seeking.  It was those very same men who soothed my soul, who reminded me of who I was, who affirmed the truth of Aimee’s book, that yes indeed, men and women can be friends.

And if we can do it outside “the church,” then we can do it within, too.