SWANTON – Chris Virtue has had a rough week. After hundreds of thousands of reports of women being sexually harassed or assaulted began flooding the internet using the hashtag #metoo, the Swanton man began to do a little digging into what he calls “an almost unbelievable situation.”
“I’m not saying I don’t believe it,” Virtue clarifies quickly, “because some people have been upset with me about that. I do believe women. I’m just saying that I find it hard to believe. Not impossible. I never tell a woman that she is lying. That would be rude. So maybe I’ll just post under somebody’s status ‘Are you sure?’ That way they can clarify or provide more information for my benefit. I really want to be an ally here, but I don’t think I have all the facts.”
Many of Virtue’s friends in the small Vermont town admit that they have been doing their harassing and assaulting at times when he was not present as a way to protect him.
“Look, Chris is a decent guy,” says one man who wishes to remain anonymous. “We don’t want to make him uncomfortable, so when we denigrate women, or grab their butts, or anything like that, we just make sure Chris isn’t in the room. I mean, I think he’d be pretty disappointed in us if he found out.”
Virtue admits that he can’t think of anyone he knows who would ever treat a woman poorly. “I asked them!” he insists. “I said, ‘Guys, have you ever participated in any sort of systematic societal oppression of women that includes everything from micro-aggressions on the personal level, up through and including sexual assault and rape?’ And they all said ‘no,’ so again, it’s just hard to believe. But I do believe them! It’s just hard. Because I would never do anything like that to a woman, even by accident. Is everyone involved in this except for me?! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only decent guy on the internet.”