Three things that decent men can do in response to #MeToo

After this week, you should now understand something of the experiences women go through every day. It’s your job to explain it to the men around you

Hannah Slarks
Wednesday 18 October 2017 10:39 BST
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Bob Weinstein, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO John Antioco, and Harvey Weinstein appear together at a press conference in 2006. Bob Weinstein says he was not aware of the 'extent' of his older brother's alleged actions and calls him 'sick and depraved'
Bob Weinstein, Blockbuster Chairman and CEO John Antioco, and Harvey Weinstein appear together at a press conference in 2006. Bob Weinstein says he was not aware of the 'extent' of his older brother's alleged actions and calls him 'sick and depraved'

Almost all women have had bad things done to them by men. But not all men are bad. Lots of men are reading their Twitter and Facebook feeds this week in horror. Lots of them are wondering what they can do. Lots of them are wondering what they should have done differently in the past.

Decent men: here are three things you can do.

Understand the context of your actions

This week, you have learned about the experience of the women around you.

Every time you talk to a woman, you can feel pretty confident that she has been touched without her consent. That she has been followed. That she has been afraid of what will happen next. That sometimes, she will never have forgotten what did happen next.

Take that knowledge, and apply it.

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Now you know that the last man who stared at her on the train followed her home. The last boss who complimented her appearance at work put his hand up her skirt. The last man who touched her in the club wouldn’t stop.

She will experience your actions in that context. Think about how that feels. Be more careful.

Above all, be very sure that she wants you to touch her before you do so. If you’re not sure, ask her if she is comfortable. Be one of the men who makes her feel comfortable again.

Teach your sons about the context of their actions

Our sons need to learn this context more than anyone else. The future of our daughters depends on it.

We don’t teach our boys about consent. When we do, we teach them a very basic message: no means no. That’s only the beginning. We need to trust that they can handle the whole story.

We just accept (and often encourage) the idea that a teenage boy’s signature move is to push a little further, see how far he can get. As far as we’ve taught him, that’s OK, as long as he stops when she says no.

It’s not OK. He needs to understand the context too. He needs to understand that when he puts his hand up a girl’s top (just hoping, just to see), she has probably already been a victim of sexual assault. Even if she hasn’t, she may well not be ready to be touched. She may well not know how to say no, or that she is allowed to say no.

Your son needs to ask her if it’s OK. He needs to be active in telling her that, if it’s not OK, she just needs to say. He may not get as far that night, but it will be worth if he doesn’t become that girl’s #MeToo story.

Call out abuse in others

Bad men walk among us. Decent men who don’t understand women’s experiences walk among us.

After this week, you should now understand something of these experiences. It’s your job to explain it to the men around you.

This is not just a story for women to tell. You can be a powerful voice speaking to other men. They may hear you in a way that they haven’t heard us. Speak up.

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