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    Is Silence a Statement?

    challenge posed by Bruce Watson 335 days 6 hours 2 minutes ago

    Category: Politics
    Challenge Forum

    Is Silence a Statement?

    This year’s Golden Globe awards have been lauded as both a victory and a failure. For women, they were an unquestionable victory: across the audience, women wore black in solidarity, and many brought women’s rights advocates as their dates. Throughout the night, women commented about this watershed moment in Hollywood’s fight for gender equality, culminating in Oprah’s speech tying her award to the civil rights struggle. Paired with Natalie Portman’s comment about the all-male nominees for best director, Oprah’s speech put the #MeToo year in the context of a larger historical movement, while showing that the struggle is far from over.

    But for men, the impact of the evening was a little cloudy. Many showed support by wearing all black, but when it came to words, they were almost universally silent about harassment. For many, their silence spoke volumes.

    Many critics have argued that the male silence at the Golden Globes was shameful, but some have pointed out that it’s also part of a larger question of how men should men approach the #MeToo movement. Should they share their own #MeToo moments, or should they stay silent? Should they make statements of solidarity, or should they step aside and let other voices be heard? Should they apologize for their behavior, or just resolve to improve it?

    These aren’t simple questions: it easy to condemn male silence, but there have also been recent articles criticizing men for trying to weigh in on a topic that they don’t understand. Men who tell their #MeToo stories have been criticized for making the issue entirely about sexual harassment, and missing the larger context of the gender struggle. And men who have come forth to apologize for their poor behavior, like Morgan Spurlock, have also been criticized for the manner in which they did so.

    At the height of the Civil Rights struggle, a woman approached Malcolm X at a college campus and asked what she could do to help. He told her “Nothing,” and passed her by. Years later, writing in his autobiography, he said that he regretted his words, and wished they had been more productive.

    Your Challenge:
    What do you think men should do in response to #MeToo? Should they remain silent, in respect to other voices? Share the stories of their own struggles? Apologize for their actions? Work with other men, but remain silent in public? What is the best way for a gender that is often the villains in the harassment struggle to help promote change?

    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hey Bruce,

    This is an excellent forum, and paradoxically, I'm not sure how or.. what to respond with. As a male who grew up with a single mom and a sister, I have the upmost respect for women. I've always seen people as individuals who cannot be defined by their gender or even race. The idea of committing the acts so many men have been accused of baffles me, as I can't imagine having the capability to do so myself.

    .. but again, I'm at a loss on how to respond to your challenge. I want to offer as much support as I can, but is that best served by letting those effected be heard, and fighting against those that try to stifle them? Is it best to try to raise awareness..or is that my place at all? Does it vary by scenario and the people involved? I would never want to offend someone by weighing in on something so severe by trying to stand up in a place that isn't mind.

    I can't wait to see what everyone else has to say about this.

    Le Penguin

    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hey Bruce!

    I think this is a great question, and one that is very apparent. I think when men remain silent, it is just feeding into the problem. During this time where women are bravely coming forward to join the movement and say #metoo, we need men to speak up as well and to be a support system. That being said, we also need to let men have an opinion without completely bashing what they say, and if anything educate everyone more on how prevalent sexual harassment and abuse are today and what we all can do to help combat it.



    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hello Bruce!

    Thank you for this question today! Silent is a very powerful message and statement. When women wore black to the Golden Globes it was a very powerful moment. People knew they are wearing the color in solidarity. We all knew that this was in response to the #MeToo movement. I think this powerful message speaks volumes and we should all listen!

    As a man, I don't want to sit on the sidelines. I want to encourage anyone that wants to fight for this cause. Scream it from the roof even! I want those to who want to come forward to feel empowered and brave. People that are coming forward must be extremely brave and willing to risk/throw everything away, including their career, friendships, and so much more. As a male, I need to educate myself on how to be an advocate and not just a bystander. I think this will bring this movement to a new light if men of all walks do this!

    Thank you for this forum and have a great day!


    Re: Is Silence a Statement?


    I think that men need to learn about the struggles of women and then speak up. Rape culture starts with small, seemingly insignificant behaviors: calling girls "bossy" while boys are "leaders," etc. If men would like to be allies instead of hindering the success of the feminist movement, they need to call out sexist behavior as it is happening. I understand why many women feel that men should stay silent on this matter: after all, it isn't their struggle. However, the greatest movements in history have always had allies on the opposing side and the smartest movements knew that these allies are integral to their success.

    To the men reading this: please educate yourself. Think: would you want to be a woman in current society? If not, examine why and work to change that. If a friend or even a stranger says something to any woman that you would find offensive if said to your sister or mother, call them out. Women often prefer not to be confrontational and will silently avoid the harasser in fear of physical retribution, but that doesn't solve the problem. We need men to stick up for us and show that all humans deserve equal respect.

    We understand your silence- but please speak up.


    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    The best way for men to reconcile and help be a part of the #MeToo Movements is to listen to the stories of other people and share those stories and such with other men. Men are more likely to listen to men and Since they consist roughly half of our society, their voice will make a huge difference.

    Don not sit on the sidelines. Educate yourself, listen to the stories of women, and take take what you learn out into the world by sharing and creating conversation about this is helpful.



    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hi Bruce,

    I would have to agree with Le Penguin in that I am having a difficult time finding an answer about this topic. And, my response might receive some negative criticisms, but here it goes:

    I am so proud of #MeToo and #Time'sUp movements and it is refreshing to see the Hollywood elite express their concerns for a tainted industry. Women have long been scrutinized by their looks, their weight, and their body shape. They have been significantly underpaid compared to their male counterparts. Sexual harassment has been so common that now, it is a regular thing to hear. Speaking up about it can bring a drastic change that our society desperately needs. Coming together in a public platform is a great way to say, "Time is up!", and that equality in the workplace needs to change and sexual harassment needs to stop.

    Men and women should be treated equally and harassment needs to end.

    Now, with all of that being said, I feel that criticizing men for their silence or lack thereof is counterintuitive to the movements. It is almost as if society has nothing nice to say about men. If they speak up, they can't understand what is happening because they aren't women. If they don't speak up, they aren't supporting their female colleagues. I am not discrediting anyone, nor am I disputing that a horrible thing has been happening in our society for far too long. But, attacking and criticizing men for their views on this issue kind of reverts back to the issue of equality. Women can speak freely about these topics or can choose to keep their opinions silent, but men are scrutinized. How is that equal?

    I think that all people, regardless of gender, race, age, etc., should be able to express themselves in a manner that they see fit. If people want to stand up and speak out and shout their opinions from the rooftops, great! If people want to "sit on the sidelines" and internally process all that is happening so as not to offend anyone, that is great too. I strongly believe that the only way to end this debate is to stop focusing on what men are doing versus what women are doing, and instead focus on the individual person. As Gal Gadot said during the Golden Globes, she was proud of everyone coming together, equally, to make changes in our society. Gender needs to be dropped from this conversation entirely in order to make any sort of change. We are individual people at the end of the day.


    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hi Bruce,

    I think silence does speak volumes. I believe males often don't know where to enter the picture when it comes to being an activist for a movement such as this. The fact is: most of us tend not to think about issues until they directly impact us: Health care. Climate change. Immigration. Tax reform. Education. It all seems so distant until you are under the water with the issue itself. Also, the 94% of men that don't commit sexual violence, probably don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. And the 6% that would force themselves on a women, would probably be the most likely to resist being enlightened on the subject. I think that men also fear getting it wrong when discussing the subject. However, it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with the women who are a part of the #Metoo movement. The lack of what men have being saying in response to the movement, portrays men as insensitive, but it reality we need to find a better way to discuss the topic with men in our society.

    Thanks for reading,

    ~RIley G. O'Brien

    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hello Everyone!

    I believe silence is a statement but not in every situation. Sometimes you have to know when it is your place to speak up on someone else’s behalf and also know when it is not your place to say anything.
    Short but straight to point.

    Thanks guys!

    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Things like this make me facepalm. To clarify, I'm all for gender quality as well as the idea that people shouldn't be sexually harassed in general. It's good to see that there's a movement creating awareness, but there are always going to be those people who take it a little too far.

    If a man, who minds his own business and doesn't do anything wrong in terms of not treating women as equals or harassing them, is perceived by individuals who are taking part in a movement to be making a statement by staying silent and doing his own thing, then I see that as a huge problem.

    First of all, there's no reason why men who are silent can't internalize what they will inevitably hear about at some point down the line because there are enough people making noise out there that it can't be ignored. People's attitudes about things don't change over night after all. It takes years of taking information in for individuals to adapt to a new world where things are different from the way they once were.

    Second, there are men who have their own things to do in this life and who have not been directly involved in any incident regarding sexual harassment or gender equality in significant way in the past. For individuals participating in a movement who have experience these things directly or indirectly in an overwhelming way, it makes sense to speak up, but to ask those who didn't participate in the battle to begin with to get involved and speak up is a little too much of an ask because it's none of their business.

    There are only so many things people have time to care about in this life. And there's no need for people to have to go as far as pressuring other people to care so much about something while telling them that they would be making a specific statement by not caring enough. Individuals part of a movement that feel the need to do so should really consider examining themselves because their perception of the world has become so narrow that they see things that aren't there and behave as if they are there.

    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hello Bruce!

    In terms of #MeToo in general, it's a movement about assault and harassment and of course has to do with gender, but one of the most important parts about recognizing sexual assault is recognizing that there is not a constant gender equation for it.

    All sexual assault and harassment needs to be seen and stopped. If a man is a victim, then he is brave to stand up. If anyone is a victim they are brave to speak about their experiences.

    Men who are not victims should not necessarily stay silent, per say, but they need to make sure that they do not inadvertently silence victims that want to speak out by way of privilege.

    As for apologies, I think that anyone should publicly apologize for any misconduct that they have committed in the past. I think that said apologies should be genuine and about providing possible healing for anyone they may have hurt, but they deserve no credit, praise, or "brownie points" for apologizing for deeds that they should have never done in the first place. If the public is angry with them, they should be because awful things were done.

    Thank you for the topic!

    - Anna

    Re: Is Silence a Statement?

    Hello Bruce!

    Really great forum!

    Personally, when there's a topic I really care about but do not know enough about to speak about it in public, I stay silent until I have done enough research to feel confident speaking about the subject. I'll still add in my opinions because those I can feel secure about, and sometimes I'll directly ask someone if I feel comfortable enough to ask them for more information until I can get my own. I don't see anything wrong when I stay silent, I'd rather not say something and offend someone and wait until I know what I am trying to say and fight for. In this sense, I see nothing wrong with the men's silence. I am happy to see that they wore black and took that stance, that's the first step, and maybe they weren't feeling comfortable to speak professionally about the topic yet but still wanted to show that they cared about the issues happening and still wanted a way to be involved. Wearing black is something that everyone is able to do and show that they are standing with others who care about these topics without having to feel the pressure of making big speeches like Oprah. I found their actions respectable and I hope now that they take the time to learn more and educate themselves so that they can feel comfortable speaking in public.

    Have a great day!