The #MeToo movement has been a bit overwhelming for men (being oppressed and abused for centuries has been overwhelming for women but, we’ll get to that later). It can be hard for men to know how to respond to the movement. Do they need to respond at all? What is their place in everything? Have they been a part of the problem? Can they be a part of it, and not know it? A lot of men have very, very old ideas about gender equality and how to treat women that have been passed down to them from ancestors long, long ago. Okay, to be honest, all men have those, but some have made an effort to challenge and dispel them. Others have not. I know men feel, at the moment, that they can do nothing right. But listening and trying to understand is always right. Making assumptions is where you get into trouble. Here are wrong ways men have taken the #MeToo movement.
That it is dramatic
It only feels dramatic to men because we are suddenly being vocal about something that we were otherwise silent about. And now that we’re vocal about it, wow is it apparent how prevalent it is. We aren’t being dramatic. It is happening as much as it seems.
That it is only about rape
The movement is not only about bringing awareness to rape victims. The movement spans all incidents of harassment and abuse—particularly as it pertains to that of a sexual or derogatory nature. That is verbal, written, and all non-physical abuse, as well as physical.
That women use it too lightly
Some men think a woman uses it too lightly if she says “Me too” after having a male boss call her “darling,” or a landlord make a creepy comment about her outfit when he collects the rent check. But these incidents are all part of a broader, toxic culture the movement seeks to address.
That it does nothing
It doesn’t do nothing—far from it. So many victims believed that they were alone before. So many believed perhaps they deserved their abuse because they thought it was specific to just them. The movement has shown victims how widespread the issue is, that they are not alone and that there are people willing to come together to fight it.
That it’s only for women
Anyone who has suffered sexual abuse—verbal, written, physical, or even in unspoken, passive-aggressive manners—is a part of the movement. It is not gender exclusive.
That they can use it casually
I don’t want to hear one more man say hashtag me too over things that have nothing to do with the movement. I feel that some men have been searching for reasons to say it, and said it in incidents when they actually did not at all feel threatened or abused. Men: do not seek to prove that you are as abused as women are. You are not.
That only men caused it
Men were not the only ones involved in causing widespread abuse for centuries. They have had female helpers. We have no delusions about that. But their helpers were likely just afraid of being the victims of abuse if they were bold enough to stand against it.
That it is an attack on men
The movement is not an attack on men. To say that is to be dramatic, gentlemen. The entire movement is about stopping attacks. If you believe our desire to stop attacks is an attack on the attackers, well, then, you need to re-evaluate which side of history you stand on.
That it is a phase
It isn’t a phase. It’s not going anywhere. It’s an awakening.
That everything they do is wrong
No, men, not everything you do is wrong. If you feel that you can’t do anything right then, perhaps you have worse habits than you thought. But there are plenty of men who manage to behave just fine in the wake of the movement.
That people say it because it’s trendy
People do not say “Me too” because it is trendy. To assume that is insulting and belittling. I promise you that victims of abuse do not care about whether or not they are trendy.
That they should avoid women
If you feel, as a man, that you need to avoid women right now then what you probably actually have to do is ask yourself what you’ve been doing wrong. Avoiding women is an immature cop out. Address your behavioral issues.
That it’s a double standard
Well, again, the movement isn’t only for women. So to men who ask, “Don’t men get a #MeToo? if you feel you’ve been abused, then you have one. Requesting that there are separate movements for men and women on this issue is to perpetuate one of the very issues the movement addresses (the unequal treatment of women).
That they get to guide the discussion
Men, the movement is not harming you. If it feels like it is, those are growing pains you’re experiencing, and you’ll be better for it. So please stop trying to guide or manipulate the conversation around the movement. It doesn’t hurt you to just allow those who are a part of it to say what they need to say.
That we use it to avoid confrontation
Some men accuse women who say hashtag me too of being too cowardice to confront their abusers. First off, no victim has any obligation to confront her abuser. The abuser caused this problem in the first place and has an obligation to pay reparations. Second off, you’d be surprised how many women did confront their abusers, and it did nothing. The abusers wouldn’t confess to what they’d done.