I recently spoke with some young men about the MeToo and TimesUp movements.
They all said that being a guy in today’s world meant that they’re basically “scum” (their word, not mine) and no matter what they do, they’re left to feel less than appreciated, simply because they’re male.
While it appears that women of all ages are finding the strength and support to come forward to report long-time abuses, harassment and general mistreatment — some guys are left feeling confused. It’s important to remember that the attention given to the MeToo and TimesUp movements is long overdue but I want to point out that not all guys are pigs.
The comments of the young men made me very sad. MeToo is about the discontinuation of a misogynist culture that allows sexual misconduct to go unchecked — it’s about speaking your truth, ending the silence and stigma of shame. It wasn’t meant to be a man-hate thing, but it’s clear some are feeling exactly that.
This is a perfect time to sit down with our sons, nephews and other young men in our lives to educate them about what’s going on as we all experience this powerful paradigm shift. They need to be taught how to respect not only women but also themselves. The whole idea of ‘boys will be boys’ is not acceptable — it hasn’t been for a long time, but now, even more so (that’s a whole other topic).
The movement has brought about a universal awareness and solidarity that went viral so fast, heads are still spinning. The voices roared loud and the pendulum swung quickly to the side of the accuser. The intensity of the MeToo movement can be overwhelming for anyone. It’s like a fast-moving train, driven by a force of long-standing pain from those silenced by years of abuse and humiliation. The momentum of the movement illustrates the overwhelming systemic problem that’s been festering but we must not — I repeat — must not — paint all guys with the same brush.
It seems like every time I turn on the TV, another man is resigning or has been fired from a position because of sexual misconduct, harassment or rape. For the young men I spoke with, this was one of the concerns they expressed. The lack of due process and the media frenzy acting as judge and jury. While it appears that many of those accused have stepped down to avoid the frenzy, I’m hoping too that we see criminal charges brought and due process given.
Some of the confusion for the guys comes from not knowing what’s acceptable anymore. No one wants to come off sounding sexist, insensitive or ignorant. Nor do they want to do something that could be construed as abusive or inappropriate.
Guys ask yourself this: if you’re acting/speaking in a certain way towards a woman, ask yourself if you’d be upset or offended, if another guy were acting/speaking that exact same way toward your mother/sister/aunt/wife/girlfriend? If you wouldn’t want someone talking like that to your mother then stop, because it’s obviously an issue. Does that make sense?
Don’t go around thinking that women can’t take a joke or are overly sensitive. You’re not stupid — so don’t act like it. Stop and think. Be respectful. Treat a woman as you’d want to be treated. Simple as that. If there’s any doubt in your mind then it’s probably something you shouldn’t say.
The world has changed and everyone needs to catch up quickly. Even actor Matt Damon got himself into hot water for making comments comparing the severity of different allegations — a pat on the bottom versus sexual assault, for example. The fact of the matter is that they all degrade, they invade personal space, and they cause shame, secrecy and humiliation. It’s about the bigger picture. Go back to the test — do you want your wife’s boss patting her on the butt? I don’t think so.
Use your common sense. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to compliment some one for looking nice and it’s not sexist to hold the door open for a woman — it’s just kind. You can hold the door open for me anytime and believe me when I say, I’ll hold it open for you too.