A decade ago, Tarana Burke began the #MeToo movement to let victims of sexual violence know they weren’t alone. Last October, the movement exploded after an investigative report accused Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein of assaulting and harassing nearly 100 women. Since then, several men and women have come forward to accuse a slew of high-profile men of acting inappropriately, causing the rest of us to have frank discussions about consent, harassment, and how not to be a creep.
As we grapple with these important issues — and support victims in the process — many have wondered what men really think about living in a world where #MeToo exists.
A new joint survey from Glamour and GQ sheds light on just how they feel.
While conversations about the #MeToo movement have felt ubiquitous to many of us, Glamour and GQ’s poll found that almost half — a full 41% of men — had not even heard of it.
According to Glamour, “Those who were unaware were generally younger, Southern, married, and more likely to report an annual income of $100,000 or more. Oh, and having a college degree doesn't make a man any more likely to be in the know than his less-educated peers.”
Though 41% of men had never even heard of the movement, those who had didn’t feel super comfortable talking about it. The survey found only 31% of men had discussed #MeToo with their female friends, and 47% hadn’t had a conversation about it at all.
Of the men who had discussed #MeToo with friends or colleagues, some felt pretty anxious about navigating in a world where people are paying more attention to personal interactions.
"Most men are unsure of how to handle speaking to women on a normal basis,” one respondent said. “Now they are even more unsettled and confused about how to approach a woman, handle a conversation, or give a compliment. Some have said that the movement may not have a true, lasting effect."
While some were supportive of the movement, others were worried about getting caught up.
"Most men I talk with have been extremely supportive. Others have expressed fears of a mob mentality, especially when the pitchforks go up immediately without due process,” another man said to Glamour. “But many have mentioned Donald Trump as the cover boy for sexual harassment. Men are disturbed [by the fact that he] is suffering no consequences for grabbing women 'by the pussy.'"
The survey also found that while 77% of the men who were polled felt it was important to get consent from a sexual partner at every stage of an encounter, many of them still felt they didn’t have to explicitly ask for it.
“A full 77 percent of men said it's a must to get consent at every stage of a sexual encounter. But go deeper into our findings, especially about married or dating couples, and the data is a bit more...patriarchal,” Glamour reports. “In fact, 59 percent of men agreed that husbands were "entitled to" sex with their wives (46 percent agreed that boyfriends were "entitled to" sex with their girlfriends). And in terms of communicating consent, men aren't waiting for clear, verbal cues: 35 percent told us that when it comes to gauging whether a sexual partner is enjoying a sexual encounter, "I don't need to do much; it's usually obvious."
Though promising, the survey shows that there is still far more work to be done to educate men and women on what healthy and respectful (personal/professional) relationships should look like. And although many men are afraid to get it wrong, the fact that they’re even willing to have these difficult conversations in the first place is a a step forward.
Head over to Glamour to read the entire findings from their survey.