Following recent allegations against Hollywood producer women took to social media in an effort to show solidarity and raise awareness of just how big the problem of sexual harassment and assault is in today’s society.,
The ‘#MeToo Movement’, which was originally inspired by a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to stand up and use their voice to share their own struggles, regardless of how big or small they be, to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano)
Women took to social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook to share their own stories, experiences, and challenges in hopes of changing the time. They stood in solidarity with one another, encouraged survivors who had previously been silenced to speak up, helped to clarify all the situations that can be classified as sexual harassment, many of which are often explained away or overlooked, and called on today’s leaders to make a change.
While the movement did a great job of opening the door to the conversation, bringing the topic into the spotlight, our efforts can’t end there. More importantly, the efforts of men can’t end there.
We live in a world that perpetuates a double standard. We raise our young women to understand the ‘rules of society,’ teaching them that they need to dress appropriately in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention, learn to defend themselves, avoid walking in unsafe areas or walking alone at night and learn to have eyes in the back of their heads. All of these lessons are great and highly proactive, but there is one important lesson that is often missed – rather than focusing all our attention on teaching women how to avoid being raped, we, as a society, need to focus instead on teaching men not to rape!
It sounds too simplistic, but by overlooking this point we are further enforcing the problems that perpetuate rape culture as we know it. Rather than standing up and fighting alongside the women in their lives, lending their voices to the movement, men far too often allow the problem to be swept aside. Their response to accounts of sexual harassment comes in the form of defending themselves, pointing out that ‘they didn’t do it’ and therefore they aren’t responsible, or explaining away the behavior claiming its ‘just guy humor’ or ‘that guy’s just being a jerk.’
Instead, we need men to be strong enough to question the toxic notion of ‘masculinity’ as it is being perpetuated in today’s society. We need men that aren’t afraid to feel and be vulnerable, talking honestly and openly about today’s struggles. We need men that can sympathize with the victims, taking them by the hand and walking alongside them in the effort to change society’s response to rape culture as it exists today.
John Pavlovitz, the author of ‘A Bigger Table,’ discussed this eloquently in his blog post ‘ .’ He called on his fellow man to open their eyes to the bigger problem, providing the following times that the male population has truly been complicit with this negative culture:
“In the times we stood silently in the company of a group of catcalling men; too cowardly to speak in a woman’s defense.
In the way, we’ve voraciously consumed pornography without a second thought of the deep humanity and the beautiful stories beneath the body parts.
In the times we pressured a woman to give more of herself than she felt comfortable giving, and how we justified ourselves after we had.
In the times we laughed along with a group of men speaking words that denied the intrinsic value of women.
In the times we used the Bible to justify our misogyny.
In the times we defended predatory bragging as simply “locker room talk.”
In the times we imagined our emotional proximity to a woman entitled us to physical liberties.”
You can do better men! These are your wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, aunts, cousins, sisters and friends. Don’t allow them to stand alone out of fear of being vulnerable or of the judgment that you may receive in going against the ‘norm’ in society. It is only through us all standing together that we can change this culture for the better!
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