Within the past year, the #MeToo movement has put emphasis on the importance of public conversations about women and their stories of sexual violence, harassment, and abuse. Although the praise for these courageous women stepping forward has been thoroughly discussed in the media, a neglected issue is the noticeable silence of how men fit into and respond to the movement.
Responding to #MeToo is the #TimesUp movement in which many male celebrities have come forward in support of women. However, a key question is whether #TimesUp is fighting for the movement, or fighting for publicity. Soon after Aziz Ansari was seen wearing a #TimesUp pin at the Golden Globes, reports revealed that he had sexually mistreated a woman while on a date with her. News of Ansari’s questionable and repeated actions left many people, especially men, unsure of where they fit in the public conversation about the treatment of women and women’s rights. In a January 2018 Guardian article, Sarah Solemani explained that although the movement has exposed the truth behind men taking advantage of their positions of power, it still leaves some unsure of their actions. Solemani states, “The cautionary tale of Aziz Ansari has split the room…Men are scared. What are the rules? Where are the lines?”
The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements are generating discussions that have needed to happen for quite some time. In a movement so centrally focused around women and their struggle to gain respect and be seen as equals, men too would like to receive assurance that they are not overstepping the boundaries that the #MeToo movement is helping to define. In a February 2018 article for Women’s eNews, Rob Okun encouraged men to be critical of themselves and to “look inward” in order to understand how they may counter sexism and avoid perpetuating harassment or abusive behavior. Working alongside women in the #MeToo Movement is only the first step. But in order to generate serious change, men must also make the effort to learn about masculinity and gender inequality. Okun offered one remedy: If men can be allies to women in their fight for equal status and recognition, then dismantling the gendered issues that persist today will no longer be a dream but become a reality.
Since the beginning of #MeToo, establishment media have chosen to focus almost exclusively on women’s perspectives. Although this is a refreshing change from a male-dominated view of society, it remains important for men to gauge where they stand and what now needs to be done by them. Gender roles are evolving and men’s positions within the culture need to be rethought. The pedestals that they have been placed on are no longer theirs and theirs only. Women are finally speaking up and they’re saying, time’s up.
Rob Okun, “‘Where Are The Men?’–Hiding in Plain Sight for 40 Years,” Women’s eNews February 08, 2018, https://womensenews.org/2018/02/where-are-the-men-hiding-in-plain-sight-for-40-years/.
Sarah Solemani, “The Aziz Ansari Furor Isn’t the End of #MeToo. It’s Just the Beginning,” The Guardian, January 22, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/21/aziz-ansari-metoo-sexual-equality.
Student Researchers: Katherine Lyons, Lauren Maher, Jaclyn Nicholson, Kacie Quinn (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)