For too long, women have been silenced by a culture that does not believe them. In our new video, “2017: Silent No Longer,” we celebrate the brave women and men who shared their stories and created a sea change. Let’s make 2018 the year we took the next steps to create real and substantive change.
1. Have Broad Conversations about Masculinity: In your children’s schools, at your places of work, and most definitely at home, have conversations about what it means to “Be a Man.” Watch and discuss The Mask You Live In about the causes and consequences of toxic masculinity. This is a great place to start.
2. Have Conversations Specifically about Consent with Youth: Research shows that serial rapists are enabled by a culture that looks the other way. So when everyone understands that “no” really means “no,” or even better when only “yes” means “yes,” the bad actors become even clearer and our culture will more readily punish them. We should even start talking about consent with our kids, especially boys, as early as possible – it doesn’t have to start with a conversation about sex, it can be about respecting other people’s boundaries including one’s own bodily autonomy.
3. Practice Speaking Out and Standing Up for Others: If you hear someone saying something sexist (or racist!) say something. A non-confrontational way to do this is to ask them what they mean by their comment: “Why is that funny? What were you trying to say?” We must call out those who are reinforcing toxic norms while celebrating those who are modeling healthy ones.
4. Make Changes in the Workplace: Evaluate your workplace policies to ensure there are adequate protocol and support for reporting harassment. Also, make it a priority to hire and promote more women into leadership. The number one predictor of a safe working environment without harassment is equitable leadership and employment numbers.
5. Be Wary of Backlash: The pendulum is swinging in the right direction, but the power balance is still off – meaning that men still hold more of it, NOT women. So if you hear someone talking about how it’s “dangerous” to be a man right now – remind them that the facts don’t support that argument. The victims of this epidemic are NOT the men who face consequences. The victims are the victims, end of story.
This week we’re asking you to share and discuss these next steps. Together, we can create a more just and equitable society for all.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom & The Representation Project Team
PS Please consider investing in The Representation Project this year and help us harness the power of videos like this to change our culture.