More than a few good men

I have had mixed feelings about the #metoo movement. Sexual abuse has been happening, and known about, for many years in the entertainment industry.  But now someone has shone a light on it, all the roaches are scattering for the moral high ground.  Suddenly, the women are saddened, appalled, outraged and standing together. Even though they knew but did nothing for years.  Wearing black to the Oscar’s in support of the #metoo movement, which was founded to support survivors of sexual abuse.  It smacks of hypocrisy.

There have been accusations flying all over the place, and for the most part, it seems once an accusation is made, guilt is assumed, with very little facts available, and prior to any proper process or trial.

Actor Geoffrey Rush had to take legal action in order to not be swept along with a broad brush of assumed guilt.

On the flipside of the argument, the #metoo movement has raised awareness of sexual abuse, not just in the acting business, but across the board. I found myself agreeing with Angela Fitchett in her latest opinion piece about the #metoo movement.

The #MeToo movement is a good thing. I hope more open and assertive declarations from women about sexual assault and sexual harassment herald a change in culture and that such offensive actions come to be seen as contemptible as other taboo behaviours we condemn outright.

Terrible things have happened to women (and, it should be said, sometimes men) at the hands of men, in particular, men who have taken advantage of their position, thinking they can get away with offensive behaviour just because of who they are.

But #MeToo will be a very bad thing if all men are tarred with the ‘Weinstein’ brush, open to ruination through accusation. I believe that the vast majority of men are as appalled as women at sexually predatory behaviour.

I base this belief on the many good men I know as relations, friends and work colleagues.

She makes a very important point. If we each think of the men in our lives, I would bet dollars to donuts that more than a few of them are good men. Working hard and making a valuable contribution to society. Quietly going about the business of being fathers and role models and raising boys to be good men. This is what happens, more often than not.

Men, and in particular, middle-aged white men, have taken a bit of a hammering lately.  New Zealand’s Minister for Women wants them to step down from boards, well, just for being men.

The #metoo movement is giving a lot of attention to sexual predators, and rightly so. But we mustn’t get carried away and demonise all men for the failings of some.

As most women have done lately, I’ve thought about my own #MeToo’ incidents and reflected on my reactions and subsequent actions. It’s a complex and fraught issue for women and for men.

Disentangling the politics and dynamics of sexual interactions is not simple, because this aspect of our lives is where we reveal ourselves as most vulnerably human.

Dealing with incidents and subsequent allegations requires the greatest care and thought. […]

Indeed. They should not be hushed up or swept under the carpet. Appropriate support should be offered immediately. Don’t wait until you think the story might be about to break in the media and then scrabble around covering your behind while claiming it is all for the good of the victims you know. But I digress.

Angela goes on to talk about her own experiences.

 […] In this situation I was helped and supported by a man, a good man who was appalled and shocked by the actions of another man and who stepped up.

And this example of typically good male behaviour is why I fervently hope that we will not, as a society, descend into a witch hunt against men; that we will not generalise about men’s behaviour.

And it needs to be said that a few women will, for reasons of their own, exploit men’s current vulnerability to accusation. […]

[…]  #MeToo is a chance to redress the balance, a balance sorely needed by women in every part of society. But I also believe that black and white, “hang ’em high” solutions will merely create more victims. And that outcome will not be good for women or men.

In the same way that we cannot create wealth by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, we cannot, and should not, tear men down to raise women up.


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