The MeToo Movement – From a Man’s Perspective
September 16, 2019 | Civil Rights
Unless you have been living under a rock or have been lost to civilization for the last few years, you have at least heard of the Me Too Movement and have likely heard at least some of the scandals that have been brought to light. But what is this movement really about? What are its goals? And what does it mean for men living in today’s society? Read on to get a better idea of what the MeToo Movement is all about, from the male point of view!
What is the MeToo Movement?
The movement has really gotten a strong foothold in society over the last few years but the beginnings of the movement have been around for more than a decade. #MeToo was thrust into recent prominence by the exposure of a long string of high-profile sexual harassers and abusers, beginning with Bill Cosby and continuing with many other high-ranking and well-known names in comedy, art, politics, entertainment, and society. It is those high-profile abusers who have dominated the headlines. But the movement is not about high-profile abusers and calling them out for their action, though these cases do give credence and validity to he underlying concerns of the movement.
The point is not to punish a handful of powerful men for the sake of making their lives difficult or in order to get some kind of vengeful thrill out of it all. Highlighting the abuses of the powerful is meant to illuminate the fact that those sorts of abuses are universal. Sexual harassment and abuse go on all over the place, and there is virtually no niche or area of life today that cannot be affected- politics, education, religion, entertainment, sports, and more. Wherever there is a power differential between a dominant male presence, such as in a news room, office space, or certain industry niches, the men can often use that dominating presence in order to harass, intimidate, and assault women.
“Now, of course, not all offenses are the same and not all victims are the same. There’s a big difference between assault and derogatory comments…Women know there are gradations of abuse. They are scholars on the subject. They know there’s a difference between making suggestive dick jokes and waving your dick at her, and waving your dick at her and holding her down, and holding her down and penetrating her, and penetrating her and hitting her, and hitting her and later freezing her bank account and threatening to kill her if she tells anyone — and actually killing her, which happens to roughly three women a day here in the US. Women are quite sensitive to these differences. They rarely need them explained, by even the most well-intentioned man” (Vox).
Of course, harassment and abuse are like any action or behavior seen in society today in that they exist along a spectrum.
There is no one set example of what abuse looks like to the MeToo Movement because it depends on the situation, the woman and man involved, and what was specifically done and said and the connotation it was done in. The point is not that everything on the spectrum is the same, but that it’s all the same spectrum. It is like saying that someone who robs a bank is a criminal while also calling someone who commits murder a criminal as well- there are different degrees of criminal activity and that is how many feel the Me Too Movement should be viewed as well. But what does this mean for men? How are men today viewing the MeToo Movement? Unsurprisingly, you can find men who stand on both side of this movement:
First Hand View of What the Me Too Movement is All About
Some men today see the benefit of the MeToo Movement and stand to be allies to women, recognizing the struggle they go through on a daily basis as well as the unacceptable behavior that men exhibit. Harassment takes on many forms and types and when it comes to cases where men harass women, it is perhaps most evident, and also the most disregarded, in the workplace. Anyone who has worked in sports and entertainment, or indeed in any other male dominant field, will see many situations where females have to work even harder to earn respect and acceptance. These are places where women are automatically seen as inferior to men and where men automatically feel as if they are in control of the women who dare enter into their field. Men have used their positions of power to get away with bad behavior for too long. Men who feel that this kind of behavior is wrong and stand with women are becoming more vocal and are encouraging their male counterparts to think about it from a different perspective, as Kyle Means did in an essay he wrote for Her View From Home website:
“I can’t help but picture my daughters grown up and in professional positions. Will they face the same kind of harassment and scrutiny just for being beautiful, strong women? Even worse, will they ever have to fight off unwelcome physical advances from some disgusting co-ed? I shiver at the thought. It makes my skin crawl. To all the men out there, picture your wives, daughters, nieces and close female friends in your lives. What kind of future do you want for them? One where they feel uncomfortable, unappreciated, undeserving, and fearful? Or one where they feel encouraged, safe, loved, appreciated, and highly valued?” (Kyle Means).
On the other side of the movement stand the men who have never been accused of harassment or wrong doing and who would never dream of taking advantage of a women, yet who feel that any innocent gesture or comment said in jest could be misconstrued as harassment. What these men are afraid of is that the #MeToo movement might lose the original goal that it had of empowering victims to seek justice for wrong that were done to them. The fear is that the movement will instead become a movement which disenfranchises men as a whole and seeks to alienate men and drive them away. Already, we see celebrities ostracize other celebrities over rumors and not over facts from an impartial investigation. Some men are afraid that innocent mistakes made with flirting would falsely be classified as a sexual assault. There is also fear that unwanted flirting and innocent advancements could be reported as assault simply as a way to reject an innocent gesture from a male. An anonymous essay on Taboo Life’s website highlights the concerns of men who see the Me Too Movement as a threat:
“Women are afraid to be raped, and men are afraid to be accused of rape. I believe we are on the right path where we are weeding out the corrupt men, but we must also protect the good ones. I am for the arrest, impartial investigation and imprisonment of men who commit rape and actual sexual assault but I will not support a movement which is becoming hypocritical by behaving like misogynist who recently realized they have power over the other sex” (Taboo Life).
Where We Go From Here With MeToo
“Here’s what men don’t get about the #MeToo movement: It is not about women, it’s about us,” Wade Davis, a former N.F.L. player turned educator and activist, said at the summit. By “us” he meant men. Women “are laying themselves bare to awaken us, so we can do better,” he said to a crowd attending the panel “How to Be a Male Ally.” The two-day conference, held in Brooklyn, focused on gender and the workplace.I’m sick and tired of people saying, ‘He’s a good guy,’” Mr. Davis said. “No one cares if he’s a good guy.”
Maybe in time both men and women alike and come to see this sad but present issue from the same view point.Until then, the MeToo Movement is sure to be one that causes a lot of discussion, which maybe is exactly what it is meant to do!
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