Why we need to stop applauding men for doing the bare minimum
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, there have also been many instances of men being put on a pedestal for taking up basic tasks like cooking a few meals, doing the laundry, staying at home to take care of their children, or anything else that’s socially regarded as a “woman’s job”. This makes me wonder, what is the need to adorn these men with praises and compliments for knowing how to share the load, or for doing basic household chores?
A clear example of unnecessary glorification can be found on the Instagram account of entrepreneur Robbie Tripp. He constantly posts about how he loves his wife, who is curvy and doesn’t particularly fit ‘conventional beauty’ standards. His posts are flooded with comments like, “Your wife is lucky to be married to you,” and “I hope I find a man like this.” While there’s no doubt that he means well, there has been criticism over the fact that he hasn’t actually said or done anything that deserves this much praise. Think about it. There’s nothing extraordinary about marrying someone you love and are attracted to, regardless of body type, and there is no need to put some women down in order to appreciate others, as he did in this post by saying, “A real woman is not a porn star or a bikini mannequin or a movie character.”
With the same analogy applying to the #MeToo movement, we need to understand and reiterate that we don’t need to overly celebrate a man who is free of allegations and supports women and the movement. It is basic human decency to not sexually harass or abuse another individual. There is no denying that there are men genuinely concerned and informed among us, but the #MeToo movement is not about them. It is about calling out sexual predators and making sure justice is served.
Last December, Hollywood actor Matt Damon said, “We aren't talking enough about all the men in Hollywood who aren't sexual predators.” To my mind, this statement essentially translates into, “Most men exercise basic decency and don’t harass or abuse women. Now put us on a pedestal and praise us.”
When we applaud men for merely knowing that sexual harassment and abuse is a bad thing, and that consent should be taken seriously, we encourage their complacency. We must also keep in mind that there is a difference between saying one is against sexual abuse, and actually standing up to people when someone is harassed, or when distasteful comments and jokes are made. Not calling out harassment or abuse, or laughing along to “locker room jokes,” is a lot like siding with the perpetrator and encourages such behaviour.
Men understanding that they are not entitled to sexual encounters, be it in a relationship or otherwise, is not an achievement, and doesn’t make them “woke". They have outgrown the need for basic manners to be spoon-fed, and have the capability to think and act for themselves - which is what they’re expected to do.
While it's great to have men support the #MeToo movement, understand consent, and respect boundaries, we shouldn’t be applauding them for just being good human beings.