This ones for the menz, the blokes, the lads, the fellas, the mandems, the guys, the chaps etc.
If you’ve been on your social medias you will probably have seen a lot of people saying #MeToo lately. They are probably women or another marginalised gender. As you can read here it started over 10 years ago but is now trending because of Harvey Weinstein. You might be wondering what you can do to be useful right now. Here are some ideas.
1. Just notice it
First and foremost for many people the most important thing you can do is to notice just how many people have been sexually harassed or assaulted or raped or followed, or creeped out by men. It’s a lot right? There will be a lot of people who don’t want to share their experiences too — so yeah, that’s a lot.
2. It’s About Men and Masculinity
They may be referring to you, or mates of yours or your partner but they may also be referring more generally to masculinity. What we are taught about being a man is that we meant to be more dominant, leadery, controlling and active and that women and other genders are meant to just do what men want. Women have been and are taught that basically the only space they can take up is whatever men allow them.
3. Realise your power
You may not realise that you have done some of the stuff in point 1 yourself. The fact is that men (not you necessarily but in general see point 9) have a huge amount of power and might be hurting people without realising. A lot of the shit that people put up with from men is stuff that we are just taught to do from day one (all that dominant, leadery stuff). Men are given more power in society about sex, we need to realise that we might be doing stuff that seems small to us but can be huge to others. So listen to what people are saying on the #metoo hashtag and think ‘hmmmmmm — could I have done better there?’
4. Power and consent
Learn about power and consent. How hard it is to be consensual with people in a relationship with a power imbalances. There are lots of reasons why people may or may not have power in a relationship, but there are usually imbalances of power. How can you make adjustments in your relationships to even this out a bit?
5. Learn about consent
Learn how to do consent and how to practice it. You don’t need to have sex in order to learn consent. Here’s a quote from a recent article (it’s just quicker, not arrogantly quoting myself, honest)
“Think about how you arrange to do something with a friend. Can you ask open questions: “what do you feel like doing?” so that they are never in the position of having to say no (which is a very difficult word to say). Maybe you could give people options and ask where they are on a scale of -10 ———- 0 ———- 10+ Then you can think about ways to meet their needs as much as yours.You can explore how consent feels by thinking about other kinds of ways of touching people that aren’t about sex. Handshakes or hugs or other ways to greet each other are a good way of learning about how to do consent but also how consent feels. By trying to tune into people you can get a sense of what kind of greeting they would like. Here’s an article by me about this.”
6. Share what you’ve learnt
Share what you learn about how to do consent better generally. There’s loads of stuff on this website about it but also over at Scarleteen. Put it out on your social medias but also just talk to your friends about it. Sadly the bar is so low for men around this kind of stuff. Let’s raise the bar.
Like, for example, here’s a post about how to chat to someone you fancy without being a creep. First question is do they want you to?
7. Be a go between
Offer your services as a go-between. On your social medias you could say ‘if anyone wants me to have a word with a mate of mine about something they did or are doing, give me a shout.’ If someone has felt scared, harassed, annoyed, violated or hurt by you that is easier for you to hear from a mate than from. It’s also (more importantly) a lot easier for them to tell someone other than you. The person reporting could tell you to tell your mate:
- What your mate did
- Why that was a problem
- What they should do now (eg not talk to them directly about it until they want, explain themselves, apologise, or start a conversation with you as the go between)
- As the ‘go between’ your job is to ‘go between’ and offer support but not to make judgement or come down on either side. If someone approaches you be go between be honest with them (at any point) if you can’t be a neutral party.
8. Change the culture where you can
If you’re in a school, college, uni, place of work can you ask those in charge about how people can report incidents and how to get supported. Can you share these on your social medias? This is also true for things you might go to like football matches, gigs, clubs, conventions, meet ups or parties. But also when you’re out with mates, can you pull their necks in if they are harassing people or going too far?
9. Yes mate, intersectionality
Yes you probably don’t feel all this power. You really might not feel this power if you are disabled, or Black, Asian or from an Ethnic Minority (or Person of Colour) or poor for example — but remember that women can be these things too. Remember it’s society that says that being a man is the most important thing to be — so even if you are anything else and also a man, you are a man. As I say above that can give you a lot of power.
10. Yes men suffer too
All this stuff harms men too. There’s this huge pressure on men to do men type things and because this is really hard to do and because men are told not to talk about feelings this is doubly hard. Double whammy. This is something that we should definitely talk about more but not right now. Because then you’d be taking up the space of women talking about this like I say in point 2 — don’t play yourself mate.
For further reading you might really like this great article by Ally Fogg
© Justin Hancock, 2018