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The #MeToo movement has been making headlines since last fall. Women have been taking to task industries in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and around the world in the effort to hold men accountable for sexual harassment. But is the #MeToo movement as popular in “real life” as it seems to be online?
Glamour and GQ recently surveyed 1,147 men across the U.S., all between the ages of 18 and 55. Their troubling finding: 41% of them had never even heard of the #MeToo movement.
Those who reported being ignorant of the movement were generally younger, Southern, married, and more likely to report an annual income of $100,000 or more, Glamour reports, while having a college degree didn’t make a man more likely to know about #MeToo than a man without one.
With recently published accusations surrounding big name celebs like Morgan Freeman, it may seem unfathomable that such a large number of men surveyed reported being unaware of the movement.
Tammy Cho, co-founder of sexual harassment awareness and resource organization BetterBrave, doesn't find it shocking at all.
“In many ways, #MeToo caught fire on social media and was amplified by celebrities, and it’s important to remember that not everyone engages in these circles,” Cho told Oxygen.com.
“To some of us, who spend a lot of time on social, it seems almost inconceivable that a day goes by without hearing another high-profile harassment story. To those that do not follow news or pop culture as closely, it's possible to see how #MeToo may not be on their radar.”
Discussion of the #MeToo movement seemed to be rare among those surveyed, with 47% reporting having never discussed the movement with anyone, and only 31% reporting having talked about it with a female friend.
Fear may be a determining factor when it comes to why so many men seem reluctant to broach the topic; 84% of men worry that accusations of sexual misconduct could harm the reputations of men who don’t deserve it. One man wrote that “the movement doesn’t come across as inclusive to men.”
The survey indicates that the #MeToo movement has had a real-life impact on some men, with 38% saying that the movement made them reevaluate their past sexual experiences.
“This movement needs more male allies, especially those who are in a position of privilege and power, to stand in solidarity with those who were targeted by harassment and assault,” Cho said.
“The steps we can take to promote positive change in our personal and work lives are smaller than we think. It can be as simple as not laughing at an inappropriate joke your co-worker has made, or checking in with your colleague after you witnessed them getting harassed by their manager to see if they’re okay.”
BetterBrave even has a list of strategies detailing what allies can do to promote positive change.
Change is something that seems sorely needed. While 77% of men surveyed said that it’s necessary to get consent at every stage of a sexual encounter, 59% think that husbands are “entitled to” sex with their wives, and 50% think that if a partner is willing to kiss you, she must be willing to do other sexual acts.
“The best way we can work together to change this culture is to really open up honest and nuanced discussions,” Cho explained.
“Even if it may be uncomfortable, I encourage you to spark a conversation about this movement with at least one other male friend, family member, or colleague to start. The more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes for us to discuss and share experiences that made us uncomfortable and to counsel others on how to navigate these situations without shame or fear,” she said.
[Photo: Stock photo via Getty Images]