If you have had an Internet connection during the last few years, then chances are you have heard something about the #MeToo Movement. This movement has taught us some valuable lessons in life. There has been so much coverage from major news outlets and social media platforms, about influential men in the movie industry who have taken advantage of their subordinates. Though this has led to people having different opinions; from those who got upset about the widespread prevalence of sexual violence in our society, to those who called it a witch hunt. The fact is, there are some really disturbing stories mostly from women who were victims, and we think it is time for men to rise up and help advance the #MeToo Movement.
What is the #MeToo Movement?
The #MeToo Movement is a movement which started in October 2017 by women who used the hashtag on social media in a bid to expose the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in our society. It is, however, important to note that the “me too” phrase was used as early as 2006 by American civil rights activist Tarana Burke. And it was popularized later in 2017 on Twitter by American actress Alyssa Milano, in an attempt to motivate victims of sexual assault to come forth and tweet about it, thereby, highlighting the magnitude of the problem.
Today, it can be proudly said that the objective of highlighting the magnitude of sexual violence in our society via social media has been reached, because it has touched almost every pillar of society. There has been a lot of discussions and questions raised about gender inequality, victimhood and survivorship as well as responsibility and punishment. Many companies and workplaces have also revised their policies on sexual harassment to improve working conditions. Numerous important lessons in life have been learned from this movement, nevertheless, there is much more to learn.
How can men help advance the #MeToo Movement
1. Listen more
Women have been shouting out loudly about sexual harassment for far too long. It has finally taken a movement in which thousands of women have shared their sad stories for some people to start listening, but more listening needs to be done! Men need to ask the right questions – such as, “can I kiss you?”, “am I making you feel unsafe?”, “is this okay?”, or “did my joke make you feel disrespected?”, and make sure to listen deeply to the answers. This is not just men trying to be polite, it is also about men respecting and honouring women as valued individuals.
In addition, if a woman feels comfortable enough to tell her story to a man, he needs to give her his presence and be empathic. A good number of men find it very difficult to listen without being defensive during such conversations with victims. Just listening and being supportive really goes a long way, in helping to advance the #MeToo Movement and stopping sexual violence.
2. Speak up
Men can help advance the #MeToo Movement by speaking up rather than remaining indifferent to sexual harassment. The sad thing is that an important number of assaults happen openly, and people choose to ignore it. Moreover, the rape culture must not be normalized. Speaking up is one way to change this narrative.
Fathers should teach their children (particularly their sons) that sexual harassment and violence is immoral, unethical and illegal, and must not be tolerated. Society (particularly parents and schools) should teach the younger generation the importance of using their power to protect and support rather than to assault. Men in leadership positions should speak up against gender discrimination. Law makers should speak up by adopting policies that will promote gender equality. More men should speak up by investing in women’s education and related projects.
The #MeToo Movement has certainly created awareness of sexual violence in our society and has also taught us some valuable lessons in life. Men definitely have a say in this matter and can become champions of change by listening more and speaking up.