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What men can do in the era of #metoo

Jan. 12, 2018
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Last Sunday, the 2018 Golden Globes cemented the #metoo era as a defining moment for the entertainment industry. The energy shift was palpable from the first minute the cameras turned on: actresses paraded the red carpet with leading feminist activists by their side, and you couldn’t swing a diamond bracelet without hitting someone proudly wearing a Time’s Up pin—men and women alike.

But as the night wore on, a sharp divide emerged. Over and over again, the female winners’ speeches sounded a clarion call for change. But the men? With the exception of host Seth Meyers, the dudes in the room were strangely silent. And in the aftermath of the awards show, some of the men wearing Time’s Up pins were roundly castigated for their hypocrisy—like James Franco, who has since been accused of sexual misconduct, and Justin Timberlake, who recently made a movie with long-suspected abuser Woody Allen.

So how are men supposed to behave in the post-Weinstein age? Well, don’t harass or abuse anyone, for starters. But “not being the bad guy” isn’t the same thing as “being an ally”. Initiatives like #metoo and Time’s Up may be driven by women (and rightly so), but they will need the support of male allies if they are ever to reach their full potential. Here are some things guys can do to support the anti-sexual misconduct movement taking over the zeitgeist.

1. Listen to women.

Yes, it really is that simple: when a woman tells about her experience with sexual misconduct, keep your mouth shut and listen—especially if she’s privately taking you into her confidence. It is key for you to understand that false accusations of sexual misconduct are extremely rare, so the single most important thing you can do if a woman says she has been harassed or assaulted is to believe her.

2. Speak out—but don’t speak over.

At the end of the day, this is largely a women’s movement. Sure, there are men and nonbinary people of all sexual orientations who have experienced sexual harassment or misconduct, but the vast majority of survivors are female, and much sexual violence is driven by extremely gendered motivations—so if you’re a dude, maybe don’t try to dictate how this conversation plays out. That means making room in your social circles and communities for women to speak about their experiences.

But what you can do is use your platform to uplift women’s voices. If there are no women in the room to weigh in on something dicey, be the person to bring it up. If people are trying to ignore or talk over a woman’s perspective, bring the conversation back to her. And if you’re, say, giving your acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, acknowledge the incredible work that your female peers in the industry have done to bring this issue to light.

3. Create consequences.

Let’s face it—a lot of the time, people would rather do the convenient thing than the right thing. Instead of icing out a socially-connected abuser or halting a known rapist’s career by refusing to work with him, people will hold their noses and continue on with business as usual for fear of making waves.

So you know what you have to do to be considered a good ally? You have to be that guy: the one who makes a stink, who calls attention to the fucked-up shit that’s going on so everyone else can’t pretend to forget it. Refuse to play a show or make a movie or work on a project with someone who you know has committed sexual misconduct. Tell the dude who just made a rape joke that it’s not funny. Don’t invite your ex’s assaulter to your party. If you want to earn women’s trust, you’ll have to show us you deserve it. But if you put in the effort, we’ll notice.