I’ve written a lot recently on the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment story. As I’ve said, the story is clearly bigger than Weinstein.
In recent days, we are seeing a flood of stories coming from both the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments. Some MP’s have either stepped down or are under investigation.
Much of the discussion has centred on either the accusations or on the need to ensure victims of harassment feel able to come forward.
So, what’s next?
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently suggested that there is a need for all men to take a close look at themselves. I agree 100% with her.
In my recent comments piece in The Herald I suggested that it was time for men to step up. I still hold that view.
So, what can men do? Here’s my top ten.
- Own the problem – Yes, I know that women can harass men and that’s wrong. However, when we look at the cases coming to light the overwhelming majority involve men exerting their power over females. That’s fact. I also know that it’s not all men.
As men, we need to move from the “but men can be victims” to “ok I get this what can I do”. Owning a problem is the first step to solving it.
- Do the knowledge – I heard this phrase from a Professor of Philosophy in the US, Derrick Darby. In essence, it means learn about the subject. There are countless websites and indeed media pieces which highlight the issues that we are discussing. This knowledge will help you talk about it to others.
- Speak to women in your life – Engage with other females in your life. This could be family, friends even work colleagues. Listen to their experiences of harassment. The #metoo campaign highlights the extent of this issue. You will someone who has been affected.
4. Share your knowledge – How often do we assume that people around us know how we feel on a subject. Don’t assume, talk about it, shout about it. Make sure people know exactly how you feel on this subject.
By doing so you will empower other men. The good news is that most other men will actually agree with you.
- Have courage to look inward – Self-inspection as they say is good for the soul. All men at some time in their lives will have said things, been party to comments, even made sexual comments about other women. It’s in the air we men breath. Don’t be ashamed with this new lens be angry and do something to change the air for the next generations.
- Be that guidepost – Men are likely to be fathers at some time in their lives. Your sons are watching how you behave. Be that role model in their lives. Be gentlemen, be kind. Your sons will learn to do as you do.
- Support others – where you suspect a relative, friend or work colleague is a victim of abuse support them. Don’t be a bystander, be a friend. Your job isn’t to fix the issue but acknowledge a victim’s experiences and make sure they know it’s not their fault.
- Be an ally to women – With your new-found knowledge you need to put it to good use. Support women who are taking a stand against harassment. They don’t need your help but an extra pair of hands will always make it that bit easier.
- Challenge others – when you hear peers or others acting in a way that is abusive to others say something. This can be hard, it will take courage but it’s the needed ingredient to help solve these issues.
- Sweat the small stuff – We’re often told not to sweat the small stuff however when it comes to abuse please do the exact opposite. Looking at violence and abuse through a lens which includes words, harassment and coercion will go a long way to the prevention of physical and sexual abuse.
I could go on but I won’t. These ten will do for starters.
Men can make a difference. I know most men are sickened with what they are hearing both on-line and in the media. I also know that most men want to be doing more.
It’s time for action guys.
Are you up for it?