Men at Sunday’s ceremony largely remained silent on the national and industry-wide reckoning on sexual harassment and assault
Their pins said “Time’s Up,” but their mouths said virtually nothing.
Men at Sunday’s Golden Globes ceremony largely remained silent on the national and industry-wide reckoning on sexual harassment and assault — accessorizing with the custom-designed pin promoting gender equality, but failing to address the issue in any meaningful way.
Save for host Seth Meyers’ string of jabs at accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, male mentions of the topic dominating the evening were few and far between. “The Handmaid’s Tale” executive producer Bruce Miller briefly referenced his own show’s theme of female oppression — “To all the people in this room and this country and this world who do everything they can to stop ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ from becoming real, keep doing that” — while Gary Oldman, accused in 2001 of domestic violence, called for “change.” But it was women like Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Frances McDormand and “Big Little Lies” costars Laura Dern and Nicole Kidman whose rallying cries carried the night.
Plenty of men in the room are undoubtedly supportive of the mission to stamp out abuse and achieve parity — and the solidarity expressed Sunday signaled “small steps in the right direction,” said educator and author Jackson Katz, whose work focuses on preventing gender violence. But what’s missing, he told Moneyish, “is the next step.”
“The almost total absence of men saying anything (during the ceremony) about the unbelievable present movement and activist energy in the room articulated by women — it was pretty notable,” Katz said. “Men are committing the vast majority of harassment, abuse and violence. Nothing’s going to change until both individual men’s behavior changes, and institutions that are still largely controlled by men (start) becoming accountable.”
Men in the public sphere may feel unsure of what to say on the subject or fear their well-meaning comments could be misconstrued, Katz said; plus, they lack role models in this area. “Very few men have been publicly talking about these issues,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that they don’t care … It just means that a lot of men don’t have the language.” Men who do speak out often face pushback from other men who question their manhood or loyalty to the gender, he added. “The reason why it’s a leadership issue is because it takes some self confidence and strength to do so.”
The most important thing men can do, Katz said, “is to educate, organize and politicize other men.” In a workplace setting, male managers, directors and CEOs with a disproportionate impact on an organization’s culture should think about what influence they have, then work to proactively set the tone of what is and isn’t accepted in the workplace. He likens the situation to military “command climate,” responsibility for which ultimately lies with the commander.
At the peer level, men can break their “complicit silence” when they see a male colleague acting toward women in ways that raise red flags — taking the coworker aside privately to say they’ve noticed interactions in which women seemed uncomfortable, and urging the person to rethink his behavior. “(That) could be so powerful coming from a peer,” Katz said. “If that kind of lateral intervention was normalized … it could be revolutionary.”
Employers, male allies and coworkers should demonstrate a zero-tolerance policy towards bad behavior, call out sexist talk at the watercooler and ensure there are safe spaces for dealing with harassment, American Association of University Women CEO Kim Churches told Moneyish. Men should understand the basic definitions of sexism, harassment and assault, she said, and the spectrum of gray areas they span.
Male leaders should also proactively strive to close the leadership and pay gap for women by asking themselves some “key questions,” Churches said: “Are we including women at the table? Are we including women in the C-suite? Are we providing mentoring and investments to help women to grow in those skills?”
But the easiest course of action — especially for men reluctant to wade into the minefield of fighting injustice — is to help ensure women’s voices are heard. “Include women. It’s that easy,” Churches said. “It doesn’t take that much to say, ‘Hey, did we think about bringing Sally or Amy to this meeting?’” Men supervising women can check in every quarter about their career aspirations, she added, then connect them with resources to help guide them there.
“It can’t just be on women to fix these issues,” Churches said. “We really need the other half of the population to help us in this — to really get us to a place where have equity.”
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