#MeToo & #TimesUp
As news unfolded about Harvey Weinstein’s prolific sexual harassment of women across the entertainment industry, spanning decades, a snowball effect swiftly ensued. The #MeToo movement gained rapid momentum. More stories, more survivors, and more perpetrators of abuse came to light, many disclosures previously unreported. The news was flooded with sexual harassment and sexual assaults women have endured, not just in Hollywood, but far beyond, from childhood to adulthood. Soon after, the #TimesUp movement surged. It highlighted globally that for the sexual harassment which #MeToo has proven to be rife, “Time’s up”. This was the call to action.
Snapping at the heels of both #MeToo and #TimesUp like a hungry wolf, was a third movement. This was led by men the who felt tarred with a brush they were not happy to be tarred with, simply as a result of being men. It also imagined itself worthy of its own hashtag…
In case it’s not self-evident, #NotAllMen pipes up as a counter-narrative to women’s disclosures of abuse at the hands of men – “not all men”, of course. Perhaps understandably, some men would not want to be lumped together and chucked in the metaphorical “men-are-bastards” dumpster that women co-imagined years ago to cope with the after-effects of male-perpetrated abuse they suffered. Indeed, my 13 year old son and my adoring husband would be completely justified to play the “not all men” card, being the supportive, feminist-ideology promoting males they are….
….But they don’t. Out of respect for the many women in their lives who are survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including myself, and in acknowledgement of the wide-spread prevalence of male-perpetrated violence against women, they choose not to. As well, they are not so arrogant as to stake a claim to an issue that is clearly about women and gender inequality, and make it all about them.
Hey! We never said….
The funny thing is, the #NotAllMen hashtag is not even a response to anyone having said “All Men”. #AllMen never was trending throughout any of this. No one was saying “All men.” That is a conclusion jumped to by mostly men, men who are perhaps worried they will be accused of something, or maybe are feeling guilt about something they did once when they were young and foolish. Or maybe what they did at the weekend? Some men crying #NotAllMen will be men who have legitimately never committed a crime but if pressed, would probably admit to having “behaved inappropriately” on occasion. Wow, doesn’t that catch-all phrase conceal a multitude of sins?…. Even if they never have “behaved inappropriately” (take a bow!), they likely have a list of friends, co-workers, brothers, cousins or teammates they can name who have. The crux of it is, we are talking at least a significant number of men, considering the amount of women speaking out. And let’s be sure to remember that for all those courageous women who have found their voices, there are countless other brave survivors still whispering “MeToo” behind a closed door.
So it begs the question….
Interestingly, there is a huge question that has not yet surfaced in all of this, and one which would help us all to explore the roots of the problem:
Before jumping in with a #NotAllMen response, has anyone ever wondered why that even needs pointing out?
To be honest, it does seem like there must be a lot of men involved, considering the number of women who have experienced sexual harm. Does it feel like possibly nearly all men have played a part either actively or passively in the sexual harassment and abuse that women the world over have survived?
Let’s take a different example:
Women have always been judged as being the worst drivers, despite the fact they have less accidents and until recently, men’s car insurance was always higher as a result. At no point have women felt the need to say “Not All Women” when men are slating women drivers. Incidentally, I learned to drive a car at 14 years old (on private land), and am much better at driving and parking than most people I know, including my husband.
Why do some men feel justified to speak out and point out that it is not all men? Because in truth, for the 1 in 3 women who experience sexual or physical violence prior to their 18th birthday, it sure seems an easy conclusion to jump to. The statistics are so high for women who have been sexually abused, sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, it is impossible that these crimes are being perpetrated by just a small number of men.
Perhaps those who feel entitled to take a “not all men” approach need to do a little research first. You’re right, it’s not all men. We get it. Now stop wasting time telling us, take a look at the data, and take steps to start educating your male friends/relatives. You can now play a role in stopping the sexual abuse of girls and women which has gone on for far too long – because like we said, #TimesUp.
**Please note, I am fully aware that men are sadly victims of sexual harm too, however the focus of this piece is sexual abuse of women.
**Kind thanks to Thora for the artwork accompanying this post.