The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Knock it off. It Needs to End. Now.

Self-reflection isn’t generally a man’s strongest trait.

I don’t know if it’s the way they’re socialized or if it’s something lurking in their DNA. But when connected to something negative, few men default to the perfectly reasonable question: Could I be part of this problem?

As the sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein have poured forth, millions of women have boldly stepped forward and shared their stories of harassment, rape and assault at the hands of men in various levels of power. On Twitter, the #MeToo hashtag tells story after story after story of dehumanizing actions by men.

Former Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney said in a statement Wednesday that she was molested by a USA Gymnastics team doctor already accused of sexual assault by more than 100 other women and girls.

Many men have responded to these stories, often with shock or words of support. There’s a hashtag response coming from men on Twitter: #IHearYou.

The #MeToo idea showed the tremendous power of social media to do well and to highlight, forcefully, the scope of a serious problem.

But with recent events, I worry about the #IHearYou response. It’s too easy. It’s just words fired off in a rush, and if you’ve paid any attention to the hideous tales of male behavior, from Weinstein to other Hollywood power brokers right on down to low-level managers at small companies, you’ll know that words aren’t enough.

Men need to do more than fire off a tweet with a hashtag. Men need to do something internal, something that won’t produce a public show of support, something far more difficult than rote words of encouragement.

“Men need to start stepping up and intervening when they see inappropriate behavior, turning a blind eye won’t cut it anymore,” Melanie Pineda, 21, had some very frank words to say on the matter.

She, along with many other woman are fed up with the male response to the #metoo campaign.

Saniyyah Marks, 20, felt similarly to Mel, “Just saying things and posting a quick hashtag doesn’t prevent the next girl from being raped. The men in our society need to start acting like men and stand up for the injustices they see on a daily basis.”

Men need to look inside their own heads and ask uncomfortable questions. And the first question should be: Are you really that surprised to hear that sexual harassment is this widespread?

This isn’t a new phenomenon, it’s just one that many too often look past or write off with idiotic lines like, “Oh, that guy’s just being a jerk” or “It’s just guy humor.” The president of the United States managed to play off his own recorded description of an act of sexual assault by calling it “locker room talk.”

Many men are reading the Weinstein news or the associated explosion of public stories about sexual harassment and sexual assault and retreating to their mental safe spaces, pretending they’re oblivious to such goings-on or, worse yet, questioning the integrity of millions of women.

If you want to get macho for a moment, if you want to talk about having guts and courage and all those supposedly manly traits, let me suggest this: It takes courage to step back and make sure you aren’t part of this problem.

It takes guts to have the humility to rethink how you’ve responded to “guys being guys” in the workplace, whether you’ve let things slide or looked past the actions of another man and attributed that decision to some kind of mystical bro-code.

Calling out other men who so much as dance along the fringes of harassment with snide comments or veiled sexism takes courage — real courage, not the sad, impotent bravado of men who think demeaning women makes them powerful.

Things didn’t get this bad overnight. They’ve been bad for a long, long time, and we as men haven’t done anywhere near enough to police our own gender and make this kind of behavior wholly unacceptable.

I know many men reading this will recoil to a defensive posture. I know the excuses that will pop into their heads.

Knock it off. Every one of us needs to take a deep look at how we treat and have treated women, and how we react to the ways other men treat women.

Tony Santilli, 20, got candid with me the other day and revealed that “most guys, like [himself], don’t want to just sit by and watch a girl get assaulted, but there’s a struggle with knowing how to intervene and what the correct response is to the situation.”

And that is one of the main issues that we face.

We have to acknowledge that the things we’ve read under the #MeToo hashtag have happened in part because our societal “norms” have allowed them to happen; because too many of us have remained silent as well.

Responsibility goes far beyond an #IHearYou tweet.

Men need to hear the stories of women who’ve been sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by men. But they also need to examine their own thoughts and behaviors and make sure they haven’t, in ways small or large, done something to allow those stories to unfold.

It needs to end.


See other stories about the #MeToo movement