Although men want to be allies and to show their support they are feeling unsure how to do this. They do not want to make missteps or cause offense. Many men are trying to adapt and understand the pervasiveness of sexual harassment as well as unequal access to opportunity. For some, this may be the first time they are starting to grapple with this reality.
It is easy for women to get frustrated with men “that don’t get it.” But we need to address this issue, and while the burden of educating men should not fall solely on women, we should realize they are trying to offer support. Just as women need safe places, so do men.
A survey done by cosmopolitan in 2015 found that 71% of women do not report sexual harassment because they fear retaliation. Bystanders rarely report the harassment they have witnessed. If we want this to change, we all need to take responsibility “If you see something, say something”. Sexual Harassment can be experienced by anyone, yet of the incidents of sexual harassment that are reported, cases involving women are more than double.
Here are 5 ways men can be allies
Don’t be a bystander
It is easy to turn a blind eye, but choosing to ignore it can cause harm. How many people remained silent for years, enabling Harvey Weinstein. If you see a coworker being sexually harassed, or hear demeaning or derogatory comments about women Say Something!
A simple “This makes me uncomfortable” will signal to the harasser this is not acceptable.
Stand up for coworkers even when they are not there
Being an ally for women means speaking up all the time, not just in their presence. Next time there is “just locker room” talk call them out.
There is a difference between passive and active gender inclusion.
Passive gender inclusion would be attending gender diversity workshops.
Active gender inclusion would be demanding respect for women even when no one’s watching.
Speak to co-workers directly.
Do not report sexual harassment without first talking to your co-worker.
Ask your co-worker how they are doing, tell them you would like to action and take their lead. Make sure they want it reported.
If they want you to report the harassment follow your company policy.
It often helps when people dealing with sexual harassment have a group that is supporting them.
Talk to the women in your life
The #MeToo campaign has led to positive outcomes; men are starting to realize how immense the problem is. They have taken the next step and have started talking to the women in their lives. This is fine, but remember sexual harassment and assault are traumatic, and you may find women do not want to talk about it, but checking in and asking shows that you are an ally we count on in the future.
This would be a time to check your privilege; this is the time to do your own reflection and the time to educate yourself. Educating you is not the job of women. Google can be a good source.
What is your company policy?
If your company’s policy is not clearly defined or training, you should talk to your superiors. Ask for training. Ask for a clear company policy. Ask for procedures on reporting.
Reflect on your experiences and your beliefs.
- How did you grow up thinking about men, women, and nonbinary people?
- What were you taught about rape, sexual violence, and sexual harassment? What kinds of conversations did you have with your friends in high school? What habits have you learned or unlearned?
- What sexual situations have you felt uncomfortable in?
- Do you think you have ever made a partner feel uncomfortable in a sexual situation?
- What do you think about asking for consent?
- Do you know people who are out, either publicly or to you, as survivors?
- Did you believe and support them when they told their stories?
- Have you read writing by people who identify as survivors?
- Have you watched films about sexual violence?
- Do you believe sexual violence is primarily about sex or power? Why?
- Do you know people who have been identified as perpetrators?
- How have you treated them?
- Does this square with your idea of how perpetrators should be treated?
- What do you think about the term “rape culture”?
- Do you think men who are not assailants participate in or benefit from it?
- What did you think when the Pussygate tape came out?
- What did you think when the Harvey Weinstein stories came out?
- What do you think about supporting male creators and businessmen who are known perpetrators?
- Have you offered public or private support to your community?
If you’re unsatisfied with or unsure of your answers to any of these questions, those may be areas that can offer paths to greater education and awareness. Discuss these issues with other men who are not survivors of sexual violence.
Design your own plan of action. There are several paths to dismantling sexual harassment and violence.
- Using results from Action # 1 identify where you can make personal change.
- Identify your particular skills, and reach out to organizations that support survivors of sexual harassment and violence to see if you can volunteer your skills for them.
- Fight for policies that support women who are survivors of sexual assault, including at your workplace, in in our healthcare system, and in our legal system.
- Vote for politicians who champion policies that will support survivors.
List compiled by Refinery29.com
Action # 3
See Actions on Sexual Harassment Reforms
Sign the Petition to End Sexual Harassment in the Music Industry
Continue Reading Self Care for Trauma