For over 18 months, we have heard women sharing their stories about sexual harassment and violence through #MeToo. For most of that time, men have been largely silent, with periodic comments or displays of support.
This has been true in Louisville, Kentucky as well. In the midst of the national #MeToo movement, we have had a local Metro Council member ousted for sexual harassment, and another round of accusations of sexual harassment in our state capital. As a result, we’ve had multiple speak-outs and other kinds of public displays by and for women – with men being primarily there (when we were) in solidarity.
As a consultant and activist, I felt it critical to add to the conversation by engaging men’s voices into this dialogue – with a particular focus of what we see as our role in responding to and preventing the harassment and violence that women and some men face. For the panel, we included representatives from various sectors of our community including Metro Council and School Board member. We also added the Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator from one of our universities, an Evangelical Southern Baptist minister, and a professor who focuses on Masculinities.
The panel focused on men’s responsibility to respond to #MeToo and our collective experience, as men, to #MeToo. The base for our conversation was that the #MeToo movement has which reminded us that sexual harassment, sexual assault, and the threat of sexual violence is so prevalent that it has become normal for women. Since men make up half (roughly) of any community, if sexual harassment and violence is normal for women, it must also be normal for men. And so what does it mean for men that men’s sexual harassment and violence is normal? Continue reading…