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Soapbox: Why I’m Coming for The Good Guy

28 Sep 2018
Saraid Cameron elaborates on the infinite truth that “all your faves are problematic”

Sit back, relax, and let Saraid Cameron fix you a drink over the course of her show Drowning in Milk. It comes with a story.

You and I both know so many Good Guys.

Guys who help you out whenever you need them. Guys who give up their time and generously drive you to the airport when you’re stuck. Or happily clear out of the living room so you can chill there with a mate. Guys who always say “hey”, who make strong eye contact, who ask you how your day was, and then really listen.

And these Good Guys will be the hardest ones for you to make eye contact with, when you find out something about them that really doesn’t fit.

Maybe it’s what he said to a girl at a party he thought was beneath him? Could be something he whispered in your ear while his wife was out of the room? Or it’s probably your realization that the girl he’s been pursuing for a couple months now is only just 18.

Saraid Cameron in rehearsal (for Cult Show). Photo by Amanda Billing 

Whatever it is (and trust me the possibilities are endless), the moment you find out something about a Good Guy that doesn’t compute with the way you’ve always seen him, will be a terrible day.

On this day you will sit in your room, contact people you trust and ask them for advice. You will go over every single fact you know about him, comparing it with what you just learned, to try and see how you could have possibly missed this.

It isn’t an enjoyable activity. But in my experience - uncomfortable knowledge of this nature is something that will be presented to you again and again if you, too, are a person who lives with their eyes open. It seems to go hand in hand with the legacy of toxic masculinity and white supremacy we’re all trying so hard to say we’re not perpetuating.

You might do nothing. You might sit on your knowledge for a long time before acting on it. But at some point you will need to act on it because it will become apparent to you that his behaviour will not change otherwise.

You might just get drunk at a party and tell a friend. At least then you won’t be carrying it alone. Someone will be able to really help you. This will feel like a mistake at the time, but in the morning you will be so relieved.

You might just get drunk at a party and tell a friend. At least then you won’t be carrying it alone. Someone will be able to really help you. This will feel like a mistake at the time, but in the morning you will be so relieved.

You might tell all the women this man will soon come into contact with. So that at least they will be prepared - armed with knowledge like a shield, wearing special little lenses that spot danger.

You might go to the Police or to his employer. While often necessary, this is an especially hard thing to do, because those in power never like to turn on one of their own.

Or you might contact this man directly, tell him you know exactly what he’s up to, and inform him that you are taking every precaution necessary to make sure his behaviour will not be allowed to continue.

I don’t know what you’re going to do, or exactly how you’re going to feel. I do know it’s going to be really, really hard. You’ll probably wish many times that you didn’t know this thing about him, so that you didn’t have to cope with the burden of responding to it. Factoring in all the feelings of the people this man has hurt in your response, in a way he never has.

I promise that if you reach out to some of the women, trans or queer folk around you, at least one of them will be able to help. People who have experienced discrimination or marginalization based on sexuality, gender or ethnicity are better at spotting the telltale signs of an abuser of power. I don’t specify this to place the burden of rectifying his actions on those more likely to suffer from them, but if you have  the luxury of more than one person to talk to, the one who actually understands will make you feel better than one who doesn’t.

I can also promise, that while you may take the burden of his actions upon yourself when you say them out loud, feeling their wrong-ness drip off you like beads of sweat; that what he did was not your fault.

And what I know most of all is this: the worst of the worst hide in plain sight. Behind huge smiles and helpful hands, because somewhere in the pit of their stomach they know that this is how they get away with it.

Cause everyone loves the Good Guy.

Following a sold-out Auckland season and an appearance at the #MeToo Late at the Museum session, Saraid Cameron’s award winning show Drowning in Milk runs at Bats Theatre October 2 - 6. Ticket price includes a cocktail, produced by the artist. Get your tickets here.

Saraid Cameron in rehearsal (for Cult Show). Photo by Amanda Billing