April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I can’t think of a better way to kick it off than with (another) piece on the era of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
This is the first time sexual assault has been recognized at such a global and crucial level.
Victim after victim went head-on and caused a shift in power across the United States with numerous cases following a somewhat similar trend of sexual assault stories, including workplace harassment and an abuse of power.
It has been only about half a year since NBC’s Matt Lauer, movie producer Harvey Weinstein and prominent elected officials have rightfully had their careers and dignity taken from them by silence breakers worldwide.
This movement has not only encouraged countless women to share their stories, but encouraged necessary dialogue regarding abuse of power and gender equality.
The movement has also, hopefully, inspired people (mainly men) to think. To think about their past actions or encounters with other people. Unfortunately, more men haven’t seemed to jump on the train of supporting survivors. Remember when men wore Time’s Up pins at major award shows, but didn’t actually address the movement during their speeches?
Before I continue, I want to highlight that this is not a “meninist” trash article. I’m not advocating for men’s rights, or for men to find a way for them to feel good about themselves in light of this shifting time.
Like basically all social movements in the past, the oppressed party should initiate the movement. Also like any social movement, the oppressor should join the battle.
More men should be supporting the movement. This has nothing to do with that stereotypical “bra burning feminism” (but also, go off). It is simply about supporting those who have been abused physically, verbally and emotionally.
I think this movement has caused so many men to think because, frankly, this is a problem we have caused. We’ve all heard the statistics about one in five women being sexually assaulted, but it seems like only now that more men are finally thinking about their actions.
And we can’t expect women to fix this problem by themselves. We shouldn’t just not sexually assault people (and good for you if you have done the bare minimum and not done it before and feel like that’s an accomplishment. Do you want a gold star for all your hard work?) but need to actively help find a solution.
We can do this through various ways, including calling one another out for crude jokes or ask women questions and take the time to learn more about what they want. Listen to what they’re saying, what they’re sharing, what they’re tweeting. Again, men are to blame for this wide abuse of power and men need to be the ones that educate themselves to do something about it.
Men have been raised in a world that teaches young boys that they are entitled to anything, including access to women’s (or their sexual interest’s) bodies. You may not have drugged someone’s drink and you may not have stalked somebody, but the fact is, you were raised to assume that women want what men want, and again, that men get what they want.
While there are a lot of thought-provoking discussions that are being held, at the end of the day, one thing is simple: listen to women.
This is the time for men to finally adjust to the reality that is finally setting in and stop mistreating others. This is the time for men to learn that yes, you can be rejected. This is the time for men to learn that no really does mean no.