How Hollywood’s men should talk about #MeToo
On the night of the Golden Globes Justin Timberlake tweeted a picture of himself and Jessica Biel with the caption, “Here we come!! And DAMN, my wife is hot! #TIMESUP #whywewearblack”
Jessica Biel is, indeed, a very lovely woman. But I don’t think her beauty is “why we wear black.”
If Timberlake was confused, he wasn’t alone. David Harbour, who plays the sheriff on “Stranger Things,” was asked during a red carpet interview with ABC what “Time’s Up” meant to him — a reasonable question considering he was wearing a “Time’s Up” pin on his lapel.
“Uhh,” Harbour replied, “I mean. Time’s Up on, umm…”
“Sexual harassment?” his interviewer helpfully suggested.
In these sometimes fraught times, men seem to be tongue-tied on what to say regarding #MeToo. Most are opting not to say anything. There is, however, a lot to talk about right now.
Celebrities like Michelle Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross and Reese Witherspoon started the Time’s Up Now organization to combat sexual harassment in Hollywood. Since the organization’s founding on Jan. 1, the group has raised a $16 million dollar legal aid fund for women fighting sexual harassment in the workplace. At the Globes ceremony, many celebrities brought with them prominent female activists, like Tarana Burke, the creator of the #MeToo movement and the founder of the youth organization Just Be Inc., to highlight their important work.
When it’s women who have put in so much effort, surely a man doesn’t want to grab the microphone and take credit for their efforts. No bro wants to be seen as “mansplaining” a topic like sexual harassment. Or, even worse, be accused of making the #MeToo movement all about his feelings.
So, what can men, on the red carpet and elsewhere, do to offer their support?
If men are worried about seeming to speak over women, they can make an effort to share their spotlight with women. Just as celebrities amplified the work of female activists by bringing them as their guests, there’s no reason men couldn’t have done the same.
If that feels like overstepping, then, at the very least, you can talk about some other women who are doing good work. We’ve learned that sometimes people listen more to men than women. Use that power for good.
Rather than simply saying it’s a shame there aren’t more female directors in Hollywood, name specific female directors you think are doing a great job who deserve bigger projects. Talk about female co-stars you think are amazing who have been paid less than you, and how that seemed wrong. Find something nice to say about women beyond the fact that they’re hot.
There were some men who did this at the Globes and they came off looking fantastic. Bravo to Milo Ventimiglia who talked on the red carpet about how “A spotlight has been shined on a very, very horrible problem and injustice to women in general.” William H. Macy spoke glowingly about his wife Felicity Huffman’s involvement with Time’s Up.
It was great to watch. Men have been supported in their endeavors by women for ages. These are the kind of guys a new generation of women will want in their corner. All of which is to say: Men, we want you, too.