The Me Too movement cannot possibly be fought by women and survivors alone. Like any struggle for equality, progress requires a change from those who, thanks to our patriarchal society, sit in power: men.
Real progress isn’t limited to taking down high-profile alleged predators like R. Kelly and Harvey Weinstein; it comes when everyday men, the “good guys,” join the conversation. But as in any fight for equality, assuming allyship can be a complicated process, requiring men to hold themselves accountable for less obvious forms of sexism.
“[Men] don’t want to talk about those more subtle things because they don’t want to look in the mirror,” said Taryn Finley, editor of HuffPost Black Voices, speaking on “ICYMI by HuffPost.” “They don’t want to actually change because they don’t want to be seen as a predator themselves or as someone who does predatory behavior.”
For men to truly show up for the Me Too movement, two things need to happen, added Aaron Rose, a conscious masculinity coach. Men need to heal from the patriarchy, and they need to hold each other accountable. In that order.
Healing is where Rose steps in. Through online workshops, he empowers men to shed the elements of toxic masculinity they have learned and adopt a healthier masculine expression. And as a trans man, Rose intimately understands the identity crisis that he’s seeing among men in this moment.
Drawing parallels with own his transition, Rose said he has “deep compassion for what it feels like to have been told over and over and over again that your authentic emotional expression was going to get you in trouble.”
“I feel, currently, like men are feeling more challenged than they’ve ever felt challenged in their life.””
Engaging in self-inquiry is critical, however. As journalist and filmmaker Milos Balac asks, “Who have I been up to this point as a man? What has that meant? Even if you think of yourself as a good guy or a nice guy, how have you maybe been part of the problem?”
For comedian and DJ Mamoudou N’Diaye, the Me Too movement presents a moment of transition for men. “I feel as if we are still building a vocabulary and lexicon around [toxic masculinity]. I feel, currently, like men are feeling more challenged than they’ve ever felt challenged in their life.”
And rising to that challenge is where accountability kicks in. Everyday men holding themselves and their male peers accountable can come at all levels, as HuffPost Personal editor Noah Michaelson pointed out. “I think maybe you think like, ‘I haven’t raped anyone. This is not my problem.’ ... We can talk about the different levels of Me Too. Sort of like the assault, the harassment, the catcalling.”
N’Diaye thinks that change starts with the language we employ. “It feels like we use terms like ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ that end up forcing you into this binary on this continuum of good and bad stuff.”
“And there’s dudes who stand here and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, everyone who’s behind me is doing bad stuff. Everyone who’s ahead of me is doing good stuff.’ But they’re OK with where they are,” he added. “We shouldn’t be content, we should be reflecting and building on those sorts of things.”
While it may look different for everyone, accountability is the bedrock of this movement — the reason that we have come this far, Michaelson noted. “[Me Too] is over a decade old; it’s not like Me Too hasn’t been around. But what has happened is that we’ve seen consequences, finally.”
In a conversation with HuffPost editors, a conscious masculinity expert and men living through it all, “ICYMI by HuffPost” attempts to break down the first couple of steps for allyship with Me Too. For the full conversation, watch the video above.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.