Home Comment What’s Different About #HowIWillChange?

What’s Different About #HowIWillChange?

Beth Lindsay discusses how men can help combat the prevalence of sexual harassment in our society.

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If it can be said that any good has come from the accusations made against Harvey Weinstein, it is undeniably the response from women and men all over the world coming together to say #MeToo. On the 16th October, Australian author and journalist Benjamin Law tweeted, “Guys, it’s our turn. After yesterday’s endless #MeToo stories of women being abused, assaulted and harassed, today we say #HowIWillChange.”

In my opinion, this movement is proof that the #MeToo campaign is, as CNN senior news correspondent Ben Stilter tweeted, “a wake-up call for a lot of men”. The response on Twitter is overwhelming, with men pledging to not only intervene with any sexual harassment they see, but also to call other men out on making sexist remarks, catcalling and the infamous ‘locker-room talk’. But, really, we’re still just scratching the surface of a problem which has been engrained into our society since its very beginning. Therefore, while fighting sexual harassment is obviously essential, an education process needs to begin as well.

Does everyone tweeting about how common the problem is actually normalize the idea of sexual harassment?

The fact that so many men are taking to Twitter and owning up to their past mistakes is a very encouraging response to the #MeToo campaign, something that could not have come to light without social media. But the sincerity of simply tweeting a promise to change could be brought into question. Does everyone tweeting about how common the problem is actually normalize the idea of sexual harassment? Does the fact that the issue is being talked about so extensively make people feel like they have done their part to help and the problem will now be swept under the rug until next time? In reality, what will sharing a few tweets really do to change this mentality that so many people seem to have?

Mark Ruffalo tweeted “I will never catcall a woman again. Growing up we were taught from watching movies that a catcall was a compliment”

If anything, the #HowIWillChange campaign is a way of acknowledging that ‘the way things are’ is no longer acceptable. One thing that has become evident is the considerable number of men who blame their past behaviour on ignorance rather than a lack of respect for women. Mark Ruffalo tweeted “I will never catcall a woman again. Growing up we were taught from watching movies that a catcall was a compliment”, but he spoke about how his wife explained to him that this approach was wrong. Whether he should have needed a woman to instruct him that yelling at someone you don’t know in the street isn’t acceptable could be something to be questioned. But if this realization occurred to every man, it would be a move in the right direction. However the #HowIWillChange campaign has also been met with opposition, as many men tweeted that they refuse to believe any change needs to be made because after all, its ‘not all men’. Law, following his first catalytic tweet, commented on these responses, saying “lots of fragile dudes in my mentions insisting they’re ‘not part of the problem’. You’re the definition of the problem.”

This attitude is certainly how I see it. In a society where women are afraid to walk home on their own from a night out, or be left alone with their bosses, a change needs to be made. But this change is not only required from men. Many women are also guilty of turning their heads when they see another woman in trouble. I believe that society needs a united front, where rather than this being ‘the way things are’, it is the aggressor who is condemned for their actions rather than the victim. And if all the men tweeting #HowIWillChange stick to their promises, this goal may now be one step closer to becoming reality.

If you or anyone you know has experienced any form of sexual harassment and needs support, Exeposé recommends the following confidential advice services:

Exeter Nightline

Phone: 01392 724000
Email: exeternightline@gmail.com

Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services:

Phone: 01392 204174
Email: support@devonrapecrisis.org.uk

Devon Rape and Sexual Abuse Helpline: 0808 800 0188

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