Why Men Aren’t Speaking Up About the #MeToo Movement

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I scrolled through my NewsFeed and read through the names.

It was overwhelming. Shocking. Soul-crushing.

The old co-worker who is an animal and human rights activist.

The founder of a teen literacy program.

The woman who works at a prominent tech company.

The CEO of a Silicon Valley start-up.

The former model who runs a high-end lifestyle brand.

The girl I went to summer camp with in the early ‘90s.

The woman who is dating my brother-in-law.

The entertainment lawyer who danced with me at a friend’s wedding.

Louisette Geiss, one of the women who accused Harvey Weinstein.

Hundreds of women. My friends. And I didn’t know what to say.

I wanted to express my support.

I didn’t want to say anything tone-deaf.

I wanted to join the outrage.

I didn’t want to come off as phony and insincere.

I wanted to be on the right side of history.

I was paralyzed by fear of getting it wrong.

I wanted to say something about being a happily married man, a father of a daughter, a dating coach for women.

I learned that none of those things mattered because this is a human problem that shouldn’t be impacted by my relationships with women.

So I kept reading, but I said nothing. And it forced me to think:

Are my female Facebook friends taking my silence as a lack of sympathy?

Are my female Facebook friends taking my silence as a lack of sympathy?

Is it better to speak up even if you have nothing meaningful to say?

Do we actually need another voice in the cacophony condemning Weinstein, or are the millions of women who are telling their #MeToo stories good enough?

Then I thought: is my silence part of the problem?

Is it anything like the silence of the enablers at Miramax, or the Hollywood community who turned a blind eye because “hey, what are you gonna do?”

I flash back to a rape awareness lecture during college orientation.

I remember my neighbor, an overly earnest guy, raising his hand in his overly earnest way, and asking the facilitator, “What can I, as a man, do to prevent rape?”

Twenty-five years later, I remember my snarky response: “Don’t rape anyone.”

In retrospect, it doesn’t sound good, but I meant it.

Thanks to #MeToo, I know way too many women who have been sexually assaulted.

I’ve never met one guy who has admitted to sexual assault.

So if we’re being honest, what can an average guy — your accountant, your handyman, your brother – do to stop sexual assault?

It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a sincere and confused one.

It may sound nice to think we’re going to get Derek to engage in a conversation with Brayden about the denigrating nature of catcalling, but it’s simply unrealistic.

You can’t “make” men talk to each other about this, any more than Starbucks made us conduct coffee-house conversations with its “Race Together” hashtag.

You can’t “make” men talk to each other about this, any more than Starbucks made us conduct coffee-house conversations with its “Race Together” hashtag.

Author Laura Kipnis acknowledged the same in her book “Unwanted Advances.” “As a teacher with some experience of college men, I’d say that a large problem with focusing social change efforts on men is that the men most likely to be assholes to women are precisely the ones most likely to resist being enlightened.”

Sadly, she’s right.

The bad guys — the ones who think it’s okay to routinely force themselves upon women — are sociopaths who are impervious to this type of discussion.

The good guys — the ones who would never commit sexual assault — can only throw up their hands, wondering how to avoid getting lumped in with the bad guys.

It’s a societal conundrum.

Men are causing the problem, but are men the solution to the problem?

I don’t know.

The fact is: most of us tend not to think about issues until they directly impact us: Health care. Climate change. Immigration. Tax reform. Education.

All seem distant until YOUR health care is cut or YOUR house is under water.

Is it any surprise that the 94% of men who don’t commit sexual assault also don’t spend much time thinking about sexual assault?

What men don’t realize is that sexual assault DOES directly impact them.

Sexual assault creates a culture of fear, distrust, and wariness that millions of clueless men cannot grasp until watershed moments like this.

Sexual assault creates a culture of fear, distrust, and wariness that millions of clueless men cannot grasp until watershed moments like this.

Which is why I think #MeToo is vitally important.

It shines light on the horrors faced by women which most men cannot fathom.

It creates a swell of awareness that this behavior is more rampant than we knew.

It makes people perpetrating these crimes profoundly uncomfortable at being outed.

And yet, conversations like this remain the third rail of the internet.

If a man proffers his thoughts on sexual assault without impeccable sensitivity and understanding he risks being called a victim blamer, rape apologist, or misogynist.

I know. I’ve done it before. Despite my best efforts to offer an open, honest, male response to sexual assault statistics, I got my ass handed to me.

I know. This isn’t about me. But it is about men.

We’re half of society, and we all have to live together on this planet.

So how are the 94% supposed to contend with the 6% who are tarnishing our gender?

How can a man who is an ally strike the right tone much less make positive change?

How can we wrestle with the problem and talk about these issues without rancor, ad hominem attacks, or slippery slope arguments?

I guess that’s why I’m writing this post.

My belief is that, for reasons previously explained, women — not men – are the best advocates for creating awareness about sexual harassment.

I’m not letting men off the hook.

I’m only pointing out that #MeToo is infinitely more powerful than, well, me.

I’m aware why women don’t want to talk and prefer men to take up the mantle.

Fear of not being believed. Fear of not wanting to relive the trauma. Fear of having to be grilled by the police, go through the court system, and remind herself of the assault.

But if women don’t talk about their sexual assaults — for their own valid reasons — it’s hard to expect men to fully understand the scope of the problem.

But if women don’t talk about their sexual assaults — for their own valid reasons — it’s hard to expect men to fully understand the scope of the problem.

Yet even that innocuous sentiment brought some blowback from a reader.

“Placing the burden on victims and survivors to give and share their horrific traumas and mentally relive them so that other people can take and receive that knowledge, which the victims already know from personal experience is likely to be questioned, doubted, diminished, disregarded, or reacted to with defensiveness, is another ‘taking away something’ from them.”

Honestly, I don’t know what to do with that.

Does this mean I’m unsympathetic? Does that mean I’m one of “those guys”?

I don’t think so, but these days, the lines are blurry for even the most liberal men.

If you don’t speak out, you’re part of the problem.

If you speak out and accidentally offend, you’re part of the problem.

Which leaves pretty much every sympathetic man in a bit of a bind.

Most men agree women should speak out.

Most men agree there should be consequences for perpetrators of sexual harassment.

Most men will never fully understand what it’s like to be objectified at a young age or repeatedly threatened by men of greater strength or power.

If anything, it’s too painful to look at head-on, so we look away. Or minimize it. Or sweep it under the rug.

Or struggle to square the staggering statistics with our own limited experience.

I look at the situation closer. I try to take stock of how I am complicit.

I wonder if I have anything in common with Weinstein, Ailes, and Trump.

I think of every woman I’ve ever hit on.

I think of every sexual encounter I’ve ever had.

I wonder if I was ever “that guy.” The guy who came on too strong. The guy who couldn’t take no for an answer.

I realize I was.

I remember hitting on a woman at a bar in New York City after 8 vodka tonics. She told me to stop. I was too drunk to take a hint. Her guy friend accosted me. I took a swing and missed. He hit me in the face three times before I was thrown out of the bar. I was 24.

Would I have acted that way if I was sober? No chance.

Have I acted that way in the past 20 years? No chance.

But that doesn’t absolve me.

Culture doesn’t absolve me.

“Boys will be boys” doesn’t absolve me.

I’m a man.

I may not be responsible for other men, but I am responsible for my own actions and inactions.

I can’t change my past, but I can change my perspective.

I can be more sympathetic, understanding and vigilant.

Maybe, just maybe, I can help change the future.

This isn’t an easy conversation, but if you want men to actively fight sexual harassment, try not to attack the ones who are openly wrestling with our role in the problem. Rest assured we are equally horrified but don’t know how to express our support and create positive change.

12 MILLION women have already said #MeToo. Please share your thoughts on how men can best participate in the #MeToo movement.

Join our conversation (465 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 101
    James Brigham (Bigg) Bunyon

    Do you know a man who complains a woman cooks for him?   Do you know a man who complains about a woman washing his clothes?   Do you know a man, well … you get the point.   Men aren’t speaking up because women are doing it for themselves.   And doing a fine job too.   Of course women are going to be incensed by this comment, but … well, you know it’s true to a large extent.   If women want to march and protest on football weekends (or whatever) few men are going to jump up and join in.   Look at the faces at NFL, NBA and MLB games and tell me I’m wrong.   Don’t cherry pick now, just do the research.   We love you gals, but you wanted to be free and powerful and now you’re got it.   The ball is in your court so to say and if it’s going to be run, you’re going to do it.

  2. 102
    Sacred fire

    The reason they are not speaking out is either guilt or indifference. All of these sexual transgressions are so embedded in the culture and have been for so long, that they even masquerade as crimes is simply to appease the masses. For most of judicial history, rape only mattered if some other man’s property was damaged (his wife or daughter).

  3. 103
    Bart Mckinnon

     
    STOP, STOP, STOP. There is hypocrisy and manipulation ON BOTH SIDES OF THE GENDER EQUATION!   Years ago in college I asked many women why they call men DOGS!    These were the women who willingly went to clubs, bars, and Dorm parties!   As a man I wanted to know why almost all men were called dogs, but the very attractive guys DID GET A PASS!   What the women told me were that they went to these places just to socialize, to have a drink to listen to music!  They even told me they went there to see what other women were wearing from a purely FASHION PERSPECTIVE!   I then asked, well couldn’t you do that in your dorm rooms?   What they said, so I repeated, couldn’t you dance, drink, socialize in your dorm rooms? Couldn’t you look at television or fashion magazines just for the fashion as you stated?   The true answer is that these women were sexually curious, aroused, and horny, YES I SAID HORNY and these women wanted sex!   Yet, here is the way society fails both men and women, even today.   
     
    Women have a built in alibi that is they can act as if they NEVER EVER had a single SEXUAL thought in their heads.   Meanwhile it is the hairy palmed drooling man who is the SEX MONSTER.   So, if things go wrong they can automatically, emotionally and dramatically blame the man! Our society has and still does tell women to be mysterious, not direct, give hints and clues to the mam.   Yet this same society tells men still, to be the Aggressor, Pursuer, that the man is just supposed to know what the women wants.   That sets up a horrible situation for massive MISUNDERSTANDING, and MISCOMMUNICATION!   Whilst I know full well there are women who were raped, I also know of women who took NO ACCOUNTABILITY for their DRINKING, or DRUG USE!   They may have aimed their bodies at BIFF THE HUNK, but woke up with ELMER THE NERD.   Now ELMER IS A RAPIST?   Also there are THOUSANDS of men accused falsely  of rape, and the prevailing thought seems to be “oh well he is just COLLATERAL DAMAGE.”   I think that women are SEXUALY Stronger than men (MULTIPLE ORGASMS AND ALL, Masters and Johnson, Shere Hite and a host of other sexologists who keep disproving the myth that women are more romantically inclined and not SEXUALLY INCLINDED, women are sexually inclined and it has been proven, over and over again) Yet men are the ones labeled the aggressor,  there are Millions of women who have sexually used and oppressed men, yet somehow it is all on the backs of men? By all the laws of numbers and probability is not possible.   The average man is not raised to be an abuser or a rapist!   There are tons of women who like to tease aggressively, use sex to get a man to spend money, time effort and energy on them.   If that man then asks for sex, OH MY GOD HE IS A POTENTIAL RAPIST OR AN ABUSER!   That ladies is your two faced hypocrisy in all its ESTROGEN LADEN GLORY.   I mean why are there FEMALE STRIP CLUBS, where women still go gaga over male strippers?   Or is the new excuse for you going to these places or getting turned on by these men is that you were actually concerned about his health, or perhaps his college courses or some other such lie and or nonsense on your part?   You went there because you were curious, and sexually aroused and HORNY!!     Come on, stop the insanity ladies!!   Fellas I am not giving you a pass either.   Every time you let your sex drive lead you, make you complacent in this female nonsense, all you are doing is empowering women to control you, turn on you when it will benefit them the most.   Again, I am not saying there are not true female VICTIMS, but there are also MALE victims of FEMALES who have SEXUALLY abused and misused these men! If we are going to talk about it, then DANG it TALK ABOUT BOTH DANG SIDES and put those sides in the LIGHT so that the world can see it is not just the men!     Communication would resolve so much of this.   Lastly there are millions of FEMAL PEDIPHILES and SEXUAL PREDADORS, yes Females NOT Males!   Until we put all the ugliness on the table and shine a light on it, women of 2019 will continue to play the SELF RIGHTOUS VICTIMS of so called oppressive men.   In actuality it is so many millions of men who are oppressed by WOMEN!
     
    Here is a thought, since so many HOLLYWOOD ACTRESSES are now the victims of SEXUAL ABUSE, why don’t they use their monies KNOWLEDGE and COURAGE to open a FEMALE VERSION OF “FOLLYWOOD”?    Studios where there are no dark corners to hide in and be abused.   WHY DON”T they come clean about using their power to have sex with MEN and WOMEN?   It won’t happen because it is easier to play victim than to create and risk having your own ARENA! Take the chances and risks that your male counterparts did over a 100 years ago to get this industry going!   The Arena I alluded to is a FEMALE HOLLYWOOD.   Just think now sexual power plays, no abusive actions or words.   Wouldn’t actors flock to this kind of FEMALE OWNED AND OPERATED SHANGRI LA?   Wouldn’t this Shangri LA be a beacon to other THESPIANS, and to the whole world?   Wouldn’t this Female owned Shangri LA show that it is the acting talent not BEDROOM TALENT that get you the ACTING JOB?!
     
    Like many others I heard Oprah Winfrey’s Grammy/Emmy speech in 2018.   Here is my problem, you had all these self-righteous women with net worth’s in the millions.   I did not see them spearheading a FEMALE RUN FOLLYWOOD, yes I said FOLLYWOOD.   A FOLLY WOOD where equality and respect would be the  HALLMARK of THEIR FOLLYWOOD (FEMALE HOLLYWOOD).   I think that they are afraid to put there #METOO, #TIMESUP Rhetoric to the test.   WHY do I say this, because the first man or woman who accuses FOLLYWOOD of any kind of sexual misconduct would show the world the truth!   That truth being that POWER CORRUPTS and that corruption is not based on GENDER!!!!
     
    Remember how years ago Oprah opened the school in AFRICA for GIRLS ONLY?   There were only FEMALE STUDENTS, TEACHERS, but NO MEN.   REMEMBER her school had to be closed TWICE I believe because of SEXUAL MISCONDUCT?    LET ME REPEAT there were no MEN there, so who the heck was doing the SEXUAL MISCONDUCT?   Well if there were no MEN, then it was the women! That whole situation was swept under the rug.   That is why I see what is happening now as hypocrisy, hysteria, and a MONEY SCAM to get men to pony up bucks to keep things quiet.   
     
      
     
    If I am wrong them I challenge all the MILLIONARE ACTRESSES of all races to sit at the table, put their HUGE EGOS aside and open up a FOLLY WOOD!   Then I want 5 to 7 years to go by without any #METOO, then I will reconsider my stance.   But unless these so called BRAVE HYPOCRITES are willing to do that then all I see is a bunch of whiny self-centered self-entitled   women still hiding behind their GENDER!   LADIES, PUT YOUR MONEY and YOUR MORALS where your mouth is.   Lastly I hope men get the courage to expose female predators, and PUSH IT so that it is not just swept under the run and ignored.
     
      
     
    On that day, then I can say we have the real beginning of equality, not the hypocrisy I see right now by so many women and many men as well!   Victimology and payoff and power plays seem to be the rule of the day.   My fear is, where will this end?   I ask because if this is a peak at how a FEMALE RUN world will look like then I hate to say this, but, IT LOOKS WORST than a male run world, a lot worse.   I also fear we may see a full on CIVIL WAR BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN!!!   Contrary to what some women may delude themselves to believe, there is a Civil War against men right now, women know this fellas.   My fear is that if this CIVIL WAR gets any worse, there will be NO WINNERS, and everyone WILL LOSE!   Yes, I do mean EVERYONE!
     
    P.S. please forgive any typos on my part.
     
      
     
      
     

     

  4. 104
    bart

    Thank you for your response.   Evan you can easily rip me a new one.   I think that there are some realities that have to be looked at here.   I will not believe that every women is a victim or potential victim of sexual abuse.   I was simply stating that I have seen over a 50 year period so many women across racial lines put themselves in questionable situations, then act surprised.   I am not saying that is a excuse for her to be victimized I am asking at what point does she also take accountability and responsibility for herself?   Not the   Disney version, but a real honest version?I have heard over the years many women say they want men to be honest, yet I have seen and experienced at times that when a man is honest, and if the woman does not like the truth that man is shut down.   He is either shamed for his honesty, or worse she may try to change his view point so that she can tolerate a watered down version of his honesty.       I was raised with a simple credo Evan, No means No, hesitation means NO, and a yes from her is a possible NO waiting to happen.Our society still tells women to not honestly communicate their desires or lack thereof to men.   there are women who will use their sexuality to manipulate a man, and men who do the same.   If however women are supposed to be coy, shy, not forthcoming, and many men are raised to be the aggressor, the protector then that as I said in my earlier comment that is a disaster waiting to happen, and it has   and still does happen.When a man speaks his mind and his comments are automatically called misogyny then how does that foster honest communication?I do not have all the answers, but Evan, I think it honesty starts with Women taking a cold hard look at themselves.   Being honest with themselves about what they want.   Then communicating that honesty to men. the same holds true for men as well.   Sanity in my opinion is what we are missing more and more and more.   In my opinion the way you reclaim sanity is to be honest I mean brutally honest with yourself, communicate that honesty so there is no misunderstanding, and also realize there are consequences for your actions. In short #A/R= (accountability and responsibility).   As humans we need each other, to build, love and make life better and better.   Men and women in my opinion are equal between their ears, with their ability to understand each other and to be compassionate to each other and more.The moment we just claim victimology, and not accountability then that is a problem.   Where humans go from here is up to all of us Evan.   However I do not think constant attitudes, victimology, and acting scared of each other or drawing battle lines in the sand helps.I could be wrong Evan, but I will take that chance, and time will tell!Thank you for letting me respond again!

  5. 105
    ezamuzed

    This is one weird rant Bart, it is really hard to follow. Perhaps hone your points and make more concise arguments. Then people will at least listen and try to understand what you are saying.

  6. 106
    Bart Mckinnon

    to Ezamuzed, will do and will try my best.

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