Not all men are guilty of sexual harassment against women in the workplace and outside of it. But all men have a critical role to play in the broader effort to combat bullying of women, and it begins by simply talking about it with other men.
Failing to condemn sexual harassment, be it verbal harangue or outright physical assault, can herald dire consequences for those close to you, as comedian Daniel Sloss explained on his 2019 HBO comedy special. Talk plain about a friend who raped to her friend, and how she did nothing about the countless warning signs that foreshadowed the horrible event. He could have acted, perhaps simply saying something to his friend who often displayed multiple red flags, but instead shrugged off the danger.
Given the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault around the world, nearly one in five women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, according to 2010 figures compiled by the National Resource Center on Sexual Violence“The words of loss are a stern warning.”
As Sloss points out, the process of depriving sexual harassment of its normalcy begins with men talking about it, rather than ignoring it. This is how you can get started.
Listen when women talk about their experiences.
One way for men to fully understand the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in society is to listen when women talk about their experiences. According to Heather Stevenson, a psychologist who specializes in men’s issues, talking to women can drive home the insidious nature of the phenomenon in ways that discussions with men simply cannot.
She tells Lifehacker:
Coming from a place of genuine curiosity and openness, you will generally come across receptivity, and hearing direct stories from people you know is likely to have a greater impact on the way you process information. If you still don’t feel comfortable starting a conversation with a woman in your life, check out one of these videos of women recording their experience walking down the street and the harassment they experience from men. Then use it as an opener with someone you know.
It is impossible for men to rationalize the scale of bullying globally, whether on the streets, online, behind closed doors in private homes, in the workplace and beyond, without hearing it from the women themselves. Listening to women will help men understand how those close to them may have been enduring this type of bullying for years, perhaps encouraging them to take action.
Take action with male allies
Beyond talking to women, men can go from being unwitting bystanders to allies by speaking up when they witness other men’s bad behavior. Having these conversations regularly is good and necessary, and men should constantly bring up cases of misogyny spoken by their friends, family, and coworkers.
But work becomes more viable when men join forces with others dedicated to the cause. The University of Southern California School of Social Work He implores the men to “maintain an ongoing dialogue with friends, colleagues and family, with the ultimate goal of encouraging more people to become active allies of the cause.”
For his part, Stevenson recommends some more specific advice, targeting organizations such as A call to men Y Enough man as specific resources. She tells Lifehacker that men should consult these groups, as they will allow them “to find other men who are already having this type of dialogue or who are open to this type of conversation as a way to continue and deepen the work.”
When it comes to casual friendships, Stevenson makes a clear distinction between positioning himself as an educator and simply questioning comments that may be inappropriate.
“We don’t necessarily need you to always take on the role of educator with other men, although it is appreciated when you do,” she says. “But we do need you to at least take on the role of questioner or rejectionist of comments / conversations” that perpetuate harmful notions about women.
Rethinking the way sex is talked about
Much of the casual misogyny woven into today’s social fabric begins with the way men are socialized. Much of that is determined by the media and the way women have been hyper-sexualized to accommodate stereotypical male tastes. To help a broader segment of men understand that their conception of femininity has been designed by a culture that positions women as objects that exist only in relation to men, men need to analyze the ways in which they have been brought to bear. taught to talk about sex. .
As Stevenson explains, men should question popular images, depicted in advertisements, movies, and pornography, that openly sexualize women:
When the programming to which we are all subjected only portrays stereotyped roles, we all passively condition ourselves to assume those beliefs and therefore act from a place of law in response to those messages. The problem really comes from not stopping to question what is feeding us, why and who is behind the wheel driving those messages.
When men begin to understand that the representation of women in the media is a manufactured ideal, it will help to eliminate the lasting impact of the problem. Fortunately, if you are a man who wants to help make a difference, you can do your part in relatively simple ways. It is imperative that you do.