Chatelaine asked 1,000 Canadian men between 25 and 65 about everything from mansplaining to #MeToo for its most recent survey about what it’s like to be a man in 2018. They talked to men like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jane the Virgin actor Justin Baldoni, as well as people like your neighbours and co-workers.
The survey results are enlightening. Who knew as many as 46 percent of men feel guilty about their health and diet? Or what about the divide between men who believe in equality between the sexes (79 percent) and the men who would actually call themselves feminists (18 percent)?
One of the most interesting stats to come out of the study is the way Canadian men are currently interacting with the #MeToo movement. According to the survey, a quarter of respondents say they feel “nothing” when women talk about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment. Of the remaining 75 percent of men surveyed, here’s how they report feeling:
Sad: 42 percent
Angry: 32 percent
Bored: 12 percent
Persecuted: 9 percent
Guilty: 5 percent
“Other”: 8 percent
Chatelaine notes that among the “other” answers, the responses ranged from: “Reminded that men need to call out other men when they are creeps;” “That most women are bringing it on themselves;” “Ambivalent. I see little evidence of sexual harassment everywhere;” and “I feel bad for the ones who have actually had it happen to them, but also persecuted by those who just want attention.”
The range of emotions and responses reveals exactly why we need to keep engaging in this conversation. It is unnerving to discover that a quarter of the men surveyed feel “nothing” when they hear a story about sexual harassment—especially during what feels like such a turning point for women’s collective voices.
One respondent named Mike said that he felt it was “impossible to talk about sexual assault with any nuance in this environment.” He continued, saying that “we can’t as a society sacrifice the presumption of innocence of accused men.” He also noted that he has stayed quiet—or gotten tongue-tied—during many discussions where the focus has shifted to #MeToo because he doesn’t want to “look like a misogynist.”
But backing away from the conversation, or responding in tone-deaf manners, reveal the systemic issues people face with sexual harassment.
We don’t want men not to engage in the conversation or to shift the spotlight away from a topic that needs light shined on it so it can longer hide in the dark. We want to talk about it in ways that challenge everyone to think more broadly because that’s the only way to change how we approach discussions about sexual harassment, assault and other forms of misconduct.
In conjunction with Chatelaine’s survey, Rachel Giese delved into the idea of toxic masculinity and how it can misrepresent the #MeToo movement. “The flood of accounts of women’s humiliation and hurt at the hands of men, and the rage that has accompanied them, is both cathartic and disruptive—understandably so,” she writes. “What’s been revealed is not only the ubiquity of sexual violence, but the way gendered power dynamics continue to hold women back on every front–professionally, financially, psychologically, and in ways we may not have articulated yet.”
Giese zeroes in on the problems that can occur when men make themselves the focus of the #MeToo movement. It reveals a very toxic masculinity. But she also argues that we need to create spaces for men to sincerely talk about issues such as a sex, consent and power—and those spaces need to feel safe so men can explore even embarrassing questions, fears and anxieties.
The fact that Chatelaine’s survey shows such a wide range of emotions that men are feeling about #MeToo should raise some alarms. We need to figure out a way to have these conversations—no matter how angry, sad, bored, persecuted or guilty they might make a person feel.
For the full results on Chatelaine’s Man Survey survey, click here.
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