Let’s Hear It For the Boys by Grace McCormick
TIME magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as “Person of the Year” for 2017. These people shared their sexual harassment experiences to help further a movement that promotes justice for victims of sexual misconduct through encouraging them to speak up. The media is calling it the “Me Too Movement.”
The most shocking thing about this movement is the number of harassers who claim they did not know their behavior was inappropriate. A culture that neglects to educate civilians how to handle feelings of attraction definitely needs the Me Too Movement to help them realize how big of a problem sexual harassment is.
Most cases of sexual harassment involve female victims, and these victims often have trouble trusting men after their experiences. The men who try to understand what victims of sexual harassment are going through are instrumental in this movement for justice.
When it seems like every man is a sexual predator, we must understand that many men are supportive of sexual harassment victims in their everyday life.
There are some men who:
- Contribute to solving the problem, instead of merely denying involvement
- Encourage victims to seek therapy and treatment
- Are gentle with victims and help them heal
- Call out other men on sexist jokes and mistreatment of women
- Avoid gossip of sexual harassment
- Support and trust victims
While the statement “not all men are harassers” is true, it is not what a victim wants to hear when she is still struggling to trust people again. Treating victims with respect will help them regain lost trust.
Sexual assault is a tragic experience. Asking victims how they are doing can help them realize they have good friends they can trust. Therapy can help victims learn to trust again and heal quickly.
Gentleness is important when talking to sexual harassment victims. No one should threaten to beat up the harasser; they should simply be there for the victim. Aggression will not help the victim heal. There is no need to tell everyone about what happened, only the people that need to know, such as the victim’s family, is fine. The family can then decide how they will handle the situation.
Even in our progressive society, people still come in contact with sexism regularly. After hearing a sexist joke, a good man would tell the joker he was out of line. Women can generally hold their own when they hear an inappropriate joke, but in more serious situations, such as harassment or assault, many victims do not know what to do.
An anonymous hospital worker from Texas told TIME magazine, “I thought, What just happened? Why didn’t I react?”
Adama Iwu, a lobbyist in Sacramento, asked the same question after her experience of being groped in front of her colleagues. TIME said, “she was shocked when none of her male co-workers stepped in to stop the assault.”
Many businessmen are now being more careful of their interactions with young women in the business. This is a good effort, but Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times reports that this can hold young women back from building relationships with leaders and getting promotions. Elder men in the business are keeping younger women at a distance to avoid being gossiped about. There is no need to fear rumors or keep women back from meeting with bosses and leaders regularly.
Respect and trust should be the core values of any relationship, be it professional or personal. If women can trust their colleagues and bosses, they can serve justice to harassers. Support is necessary when reporting sexual assault. Too many women fear losing their job or being shamed by their community as a result of sharing their experiences.
We do not need to interrogate the victim. Chances are they are telling the truth to the best of their memory. Often, trauma victims do not remember the order of a series of events. Rebecca Campbell, a Michigan State University psychologist, told The New York Times that remembering a sexual assault is similar to trying to organize “hundreds of tiny notes that are scattered across a desk.”
The New York Times reports that “only 5 to 7 percent of sexual assault reports are false.”
Questioning will likely make victims more stressed out and upset. They do not need help getting the timeline straight, what they really need is support and trust.
The Me Too Movement has taught us many lessons. Among these lessons are harassment affects people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and wages, sexual harassment allegations are most often true and despite countless stories about men being perverts, good men are still out there.
All the men who trust harassment allegations, who encourage victims to seek help, who avoid sexual assault jokes and gossip and who trust and respect women are valued and applauded.