Women in Hollywood are now more than ever using their platform to speak out against injustice and abuse. Movements such as TimesUp and #MeToo are working to evoke change. The TimesUp Movement is raising money for a legal defense fund to provide legal representation for those who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace. The organization is also working to bridge the wage gap for women in the entertainment industries. TimesUp is nearly entirely made up of women, they are the ones effectuating change outside of a pin or black attire.
With the conversation finally opening up about sexual harassment and assault, a certain group of people continue to be silent: men.
Of course, all of them made sure to wear their black tuxedos and adorn TimeUp pins at the Golden Globes, but none of them mentioned TimesUp or #MeToo when accepting their awards. Yet, women such as Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman and Oprah Winfrey made sure to mention the causes in their speeches. On the red carpet, Meryl Streep and Viola Davis gave impactful statements about the power imbalance and survivors not longer needing to live in the shadows. However, while the women were being asked about harassment, the men were being asked about their work as if the issues Times Up and #MeToo stand for do not involve them when they clearly do.
Many were quick to praise men such as Armie Hammer and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for wearing black to an event, that they most likely would have already worn black to anyway. Furthermore, men like James Franco, who had a relationship with a minor and who has had five women accuse him of sexual harassment, wore TimesUp pins with no shame. Similarly, Justin Timberlake wore a pin as well, despite starring in Woody Allen’s latest movie. I suppose even if you work on a movie with a man accused of sexually abusing his step-daughter, you can still pretend you care about the TimesUp movement. Men like James Franco and Justin Timberlake’s concern for women is only performative.
Sexual harassment and assault are not only a women’s issues, not just because men undergo sexual harassment and assault as well, but because men are usually the perpetrators of sexual abuse. Men need to help women in these movements because unfortunately they continue to hold more power in our society. They need to use that power for the greater good, give their power to women so we can combat these problems.
We need men to talk about this issue more, we need them to hold themselves accountable for their role in a rape culture that normalizes sexual harassment.
Women must always be the leaders of movements such as TimesUp and #MeToo because they are the ones most impacted by sexual abuse, but men need to help us by donating and using their privilege to work towards change. We need change to start at home with fathers speaking to their sons about consent, teaching them that consent is an enthusiastic yes not the absence of a no.
As actor and writer Kumail Najiani said in his speech at the Critics Choice Awards, “Men have been talking for centuries. We need to shut up, listen and amplify.”
In industries such as entertainment where men hold nearly all the power, we need them to believe our accusations, to step back and give us the platform we need to effectuate change.
Ultimately, men we need you to do more than just wear a pin. We need you to take action so we don’t have to wear pins to begin with, so we can live in a society where sexual abuse is a rarity, not the norm.