For the last 9 months, there has not been a week when the #MeToo movement did not make a “victim”.
At this point in time when this article is being written, we’re seing the Nobel Prize for literature cancelled, the Nike company with 6 of its top leaders leaving the company, Bill Cosby finally sentenced and expelled from the Academy of Oscars just like Roman Polanski was.
Yet who are the real victims? Indecent men, stalkers, predators, rapists or the women they attacked and from whom we are finally hearing?
When JUMP surveyed more than 2,000 men in Europe to understand whether they really wanted equality at work, 1 in 4 admitted to having already made a sexist remark or an inappropriate gesture towards a woman. And yet when such a person is interviewed, she doesn’t want to come across badly. If 1 in 4 men claim to have behaved inappropriately, what is the reality experienced by women? Here’s what more than 3,000 womentold us: 98% have already been subjected to sexist behaviour in the street or on public transport and 94% at work. One in two women was physically assaulted in the street or on public transport, one in three women in public place and 9% at work!
How to explain that in the 21st century, men are still mistreating women?
Sexism is about taking power or keeping it.
From the innocuous remark, under cover of humour or paternalism, to the most serious psychological and physical violence, these behaviours exclude, marginalise or belittle women.
Sexism in companies is a major obstacle to gender equality in the workplace. 80% of women say they have been subjected to the phenomenon of “mansplaining” and “manterrupting”, in other words men interrupting them frequently in meetings and explaining things to them in a condescending manner, reinforcing women’s feeling of inadequacy and lack of legitimacy in their working lives. But sexist behaviours and remarks do not only happen in the work environment… More than three quarters of women have been subjected to remarks on their dress sense and just as many have had comments on how they manage their families.
Companies can make the world’s best efforts towards diversity; however, if women do not feel listened to, as respected and as valued as men, they will either leave the company or tend to limit their level of ambition to avoid being exposed to the violence of power or to the competition of those attempting to obtain power. Diversity without an inclusive culture brings suffering to all who are different from the dominant norm. All men benefit from the reduced competition from women competition for positions of power, even when they represent 60% of university graduates in Europe.
The need to recognise your own privileges.
If we want to build a fairer society where all humans are equal, we must first recognise that some have privileges that others do not.
If we want to increase the capacity for performance and innovation of our organisations by benefiting from all its talent to its full potential no matter how diverse, we must recognise that corporate culture is never neutral and reproduces the privileges that have existed in our society since the beginning of our civilisation.
White men are not responsible for the domination they exert over the world. But their responsibility starts if they do not make the effort to recognise it and adapt their behaviours to become an ally of women and minorities.
If men do not change, the #MeToo revolution will simply worsen the war of sexes. Women will feel even more humiliated that they are not being listened to despite the millions who finally dared to speak up. Even today, 8 out of 10 women who report sexual harassment in the workplace end up leaving their jobs. The same applies to women victim of domestic violence, who are forced to leave home with their children. If we do not protect the victims and apply firm actions against the aggressors, we simply add to their suffering.
It is up to each of one of us to stop accepting and stop remaining silent. But it is above all up to progressive men to rebel against virile toxic behaviours. Silence is conniving. There will be no appeasement to society if men do not turn their hegemonic masculinity into chivalry.