Hollywood men are stepping up in the wake of the #MeToo movement and Time's Up initiative. According to an open letter published in The Hollywood Reporter, men in the entertainment industry are fighting back against sexual harassment with a new initiative called #AskMoreOfHim.
The #MeToo movement, which was founded by activist Tarana Burke, has empowered individuals to share their stories of sexual harassment. The Time's Up initiative, which was started by 300 Hollywood women, pledged to combat the culture that allowed sexual abusers to thrive in the first place. Time's Up created a legal defense fund to "help survivors of sexual assault and harassment across all industries challenge those responsible for the harm against them and give voice to their experiences." In an open letter, the organization stated that they will fight for laws that hit back against those found guilty of sexual misconduct.
Now, a group of men — which includes David Schwimmer, David Arquette, Jane the Virgin's Justin Baldoni, and Hunting Ground director Kirby Dick — are standing with their sisters to battle this toxic culture. They've even created their own hashtag.
The open letter in The Hollywood Reporter states:
"As men, we have a special responsibility to prevent abuse from happening in the first place. After all, the vast majority of sexual harassment, abuse and violence is perpetrated by men, whether in Hollywood or not. And in entertainment — like many industries — men continue to hold most of the decision-making power. Therefore, one of the most powerful things that men can and must do is make it clear to other men — including their friends, colleagues and co-workers — that sexual harassment and abuse are never acceptable. This goes for everything from sexist and degrading comments, right up to domestic violence and sexual assault."
The letter adds that men must hold themselves accountable, even if they aren't "perfect."
"We believe that men must speak out against sexism, even as we engage in our own process of critical self-reflection, personal growth and accountability."
The letter concludes with a call to arms.
"So consider this our pledge to support survivors, condemn sexism wherever we see it and hold ourselves and others accountable. As advocates, actors, writers, producers, and directors, we hope that our actions will inspire other men to join us. Until now, only a small number of [men] have been actively engaged in this effort. This must change. It’s time we #AskMoreOfHim."
It will be a matter of time to see how #AskMoreOfHim engages with the movement that is happening right now, but it's encouraging to see men stand with survivors of sexual misconduct, rather than, say, question those same survivor's experiences. We need men to hold one another accountable and shut down problematic language and behavior when they see it in their peers. A public initiative could be the important spark that encourages this shift.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).