Ever since the bombshell sexual harassment allegations involving Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein made headlines, there has been a push to have men step up and help change the work environment for women.
After days of women sharing their experiences of sexual harassment using the hashtag #MeToo, more men are speaking out about the need to address a culture in which such predatory behavior is routine. It is increasingly clear after news reports on allegations surrounding Weinstein and other men in power (including President Trump) that if women are going to stop being disrespected, it starts with the actions of men.
Some men are sharing tools and action plans about changes they can help facilitate, while some are finally confessing their sins against women. Others want to see changes occur systemically, starting with politics.
Several hashtag pushes rose up after #MeToo gained traction, challenging men to take responsibility to help end sexual harassment by using hashtags such as #HimThough, #IHearYou and #ItWasMe.
— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) October 17, 2017
— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) October 16, 2017
— Naomi Law (@NaomiMLaw) October 16, 2017
Men in a variety of fields, including politics and religion, said sexual harassment isn't unique to Hollywood and spoke out about the need for men to join the fight against sexual harassment.
Only White people can end White supremacy. In that same vein, only men can stop violence against women. #MeToo
— #DefendDACA (@joseiswriting) October 16, 2017
The sheer scale of #metoo should wake us men up. Sexual harassment isn’t the gross actions by a few bad apples. It’s systemic.
— Nate Pyle (@NatePyle79) October 17, 2017
— Aaron Huertas (@aaronhuertas) October 17, 2017
Guys, it's our turn.
— Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw) October 16, 2017
Former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman at the time, the summer before the presidential election. Her going public with her claims has been deemed the “tipping point” in the most recent national conversation on the issue and reportedly inspired other women to come out with their stories — including those allegations against Trump.
But Carlson would now like to see more men at the table in this conversation, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday.
“We need men like you in this fight. I have a whole chapter — you’re included — ‘Men Who Defend,’ we need men to help us with this mission,” Carlson said after acknowledging that Tapper had been supportive of her when she came forward.
Carlson wants men on Capitol Hill to take a more aggressive role in the conversation. She’s advocating for a bipartisan bill to purge the secrecy from arbitration clauses regarding sexual harassment, which she argues are one of the many things that keep women from coming forward to tell their stories. She previously met with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to discuss the legislation.
At an event this week at The Washington Post, Carlson spoke about the infamous “Access Hollywood” videotape that showed Trump bragging during a 2005 conversation about sexually assaulting women. She said respect for women by men in power should be something both sides support.
“I think that that was a teachable moment for millions of parents across the country,” Carlson said, referring to the “Access Hollywood” tape. “And that’s what I did. I showed that video [to my kids]. And I said, ‘This is not how you treat a human being.’ And I don’t care what political policies you agree with: taxes, immigration. Who cares? Sexual harassment is apolitical. When somebody harasses you, they don’t ask you what political party you’re in before they do it, and this is why we should all care. And this is why human decency supersedes any political policy.”
Meanwhile, conservative politicos connected with Trump attacked Hillary Clinton and other Democrats for their association with Weinstein.
Whose side is Hillary Clinton on: Harvey Weinstein's or his victims?
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 7, 2017
Clinton, a recipient of campaign donations from Weinstein, weighed in on the conversation.
“Look, we just elected someone who admitted sexual assault to the presidency,” she told Britain’s Channel 4 News. “So there’s a lot of other issues that are swirling around these kinds of behaviors that need to be addressed.”
It will be a while before this conversation ends, even as it involves the president. A subpoena related to an ongoing case involving a woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct was delivered to his campaign during a Rose Garden news conference Monday.
But much of the chatter among men on this issue is happening at the grass-roots level online, not in Congress. And, unfortunately, some of the loudest voices seem to be politicizing the issue rather than pushing for policies that toughen punishment for predatory, intimidating behavior toward women.
There has not been much bipartisanship in Washington in recent years, but if there’s any issue that women on both sides of the aisle could benefit from seeing lawmakers champion, it’s ending sexual violence against women. And since men hold the vast majority of seats in the House and the Senate, any policy change in Congress is likely to be the result of men taking the issue seriously.