Men talk about their place in the #metoo conversation

Men talk about their place in the #metoo conversation

Thousands of women are speaking out as victims of sexual harassment or assault with the hashtag #metoo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Now, men are jumping in on the conversation to take responsibility for past actions, encourage better behaviour and offer support to victims.

The movement ignited after sexual misconduct accusations against Harvey Weinstein. The Hollywood mogul was fired from the namesake company he co-founded following the allegations dating back decades and expelled from the academy and stripped of his voting rights.

In just a few days, the posts have taken over social media.

Spurgeon Root, a Regina pastor and outreach worker, weighed in on the movement online. He said he was prompted by the number of friends who identified themselves as survivors.

"I knew how pervasive it was but seeing it in your face like that definitely makes you think about it some more," he said. "I know that I did and said things that were very offensive and probably made women feel uncomfortable and in hindsight I'm really sorry about that so I suppose that's part of the motivation now too."

Root said he has experienced unwanted sexual advances, but was never in a position where that would've led to something more.

"So while I can't and won't say 'me too' maybe I can say, 'I am here,'" he wrote in his post.

What others can do

Tom Gallet works with the Man Up Against Violence movement at the University of Regina, which will run from Oct. 21 to Oct. 27. Gallet said he expects #metoo will factor into the events.

"We need to listen. The reason why 'me too' was so surprising and the reason everyone's talking about it is because nobody was listening in the past," he said.

Gallet said he was taken back by the #metoo movement.

"It was really hard, honestly, to think about some of these people I had grown up and been friends with since elementary school. Never once did I have any inclination that this was going on with them," he said.

Aaron Hooke, a youth care worker in Regina, said when he scrolled through Facebook on Monday he saw #metoo posts from his mother, most of his other female relatives and many friends.

While learning that women you love are victims might bring the issue closer to home, Hooke said it really shouldn't.

"It's important to remember that women are people too and they are defined by more than their relationship to the men that they love and care about," she said.

He shared a post taking responsibility for being complacent in condoning and perpetuating rape culture.

"Men as a collective are silent on this and that's why it's so pervasive and that's why it's been going on forever," he said.

Hook said he plans to teach the youth he works with, and younger male family members, about appropriate behavior and enthusiastic consent.

"Consent is more than just a 'yes.' Consent is creating a space where the person you're with feels they can say no and there will be no consequences," he said.